China | Terracotta, Please

Oh, the train.

Why did we choose to take this not-so-rapid beast for several days, when our only comfort was the brief upgrade to sleeper class and fried rape (which, turns out, is soggy veggie stems of some kind)? To see the views of course. While nice they were, this is China after all. The train to Golmud (Geermu) is crowded and long, without any mercy from the poorly padded chairs. We quickly learned to linger about the plush dining car when the staff was eating so we could plead with the kind, older waitress to serve us whatever they were eating instead of the limited (and horrifying) menu items.

It did go quickly enough, however, and soon we were in Xi’an, a rather large place, in the middle of the night (naturally). It was quite a fiasco to find our hostel, but once we did, it turned out to be one of the best places we have stayed, with fantastic rooms, free beer/tea/wifi, and a downstairs bar. Everything is shiny, new, and clean – perfect for a real rest.

Alas, there was much to see, and the next day we marched ourselves to the bus station in order to see the Terracotta Army. Happily, this was not a disappointment. There are three main pits, and one is quite small. Of the other two, only one is mostly excavated, revealing thousands of clay soldiers, each personalized and flawlessly detailed. The other pit is mostly covered, but displays the best warriors neatly in glass cases, allowing one to walk around them completely. Overall, a very worthwhile experience indeed… Xi’an is something to see in itself; we really liked the people and environment. We even ran into a troupe of aerobic dancers in the middle of the day, which was, needless to say, prime entertainment. After, we went to an old carnival and rode the ancient ferris wheel to see the views before eating dinner at a place that kebabed everything one could ever want.

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