Xian and the surrounding area
10.04.2008 - 12.04.2008 17 °C
After a 12 hr train journey from Beijing we arrived in Xian at around 6.00am. The train was really comfortable and nothing like the dirty trains in India no beggars, lepers or dirty toliets. We even had pillows and clean linen sheets on our beds.
The driver from our hostel collected us and we got some much needed sleep. After a rest and some breakfast we strolled around Xian for the day and checked out the local sights which included a very interesting Muslim quarter. The cobbled lined streets were full of butcher shops, dried fruit shops and street vendors. The Chinese in Xian had very little English and trying to order something for dinner that didnt include some sort of animal extremity was very difficult. Ben was tempted to go for the sheeps endtrails or the fried dog but we ended up going somewhere safer for dinner and we were lucky enough to get the old reliable fried veg and steamed rice!
We booked a sight seeing trip to the Terracotta Warriors with our hostel which was a great day out. We were lucky enough to meet the farmer who made the discovery back in 1974 when he was drillling a well on his farmland. He is now employed by the government selling signed copies of his book on the Terracotta warriors.
There are 3 pits opened to the public and pit 1 is the best which includes around 6000 warriors and horses. Supposedly, no two soldiers faces are alike and I would well believe it. It really was mind boggling to see them all but we could only view them from a platform. We didnt exactly get upclose and personal but managed to get some good snaps. We met some lovely people on the tour and Jerry was our guide for the day. I got chatting to an Australian girl Jenny and we both decided to go on the Panda tour!
I couldnt sell the cute Panda bears to Ben so the following day I headed off with Jenny, a Dutch girl Kate and a Czech guy. We all got on really well and had some great laughs during the day.
It was a good 2hr drive from Xian so we left early before the Panda bears fell asleep for the day.
When we arrived at the Panda conservation park we met a number of Chinese vets who were in to do some AI business. Panda bears live such a solitary life and they are even to lazy to mate so the vets dropped by to lend a helping hand. We met an English guy who was working there as a volunteer and gave us some good information on the bears. Some of the bears had been brought in from the wild for rehab after accidents. We saw a cute 18mth old bear who had broken his leg in the wild and he was in for some treatment. They eat so many bamboo shoots and after about 10am they usually sleep for a good part of the day. The panda reserve was well maintained because of the interest from tourists and the government pay money towards its keep but attached to the Panda reserve was a "zoo" more like an institution for some other animals like monkeys, deer and black bears. Their living conditions were appalling no green grass only concrete yards and metal cages. I dont think the Chinese understand the whole concept of animal conservation. Animals are there to be eaten and thats about it.
When we returned to Xian Ben and I were off again. We were very lucky to get a discounted plane ticket to Guilin which was even cheaper than the train so we grabbed it as fast as we could and made our way to Guilin.