Xi'an... dont fall off the wall

Hi Guys,

Well I'm in Xi'an, at a "Redwoods Network" internet cafe - which
isn't far from the hotel, it's actually pretty good (not too
smokey, which is a miracle).

Last night through to this morning I was travelling on the hard
sleeper train (basically groups of 6 bunks (3 high per side)
facing each other, and no real seats or doors.  It's not a
bad way to travel, you generally just end up drinking a little..
playing some cards and doing bugger all else (once it's dark you
don't see alot, and the trips are generally always at night).

However this'morning there was some fantastic sites as we
headed into the city, cooling towers, coal burners, chemical
plants... All with classic chinese-soviet chiq... ignoring the
rather "the worlds going to shit" aspect, it's truely imposing to
see the rolling expanse of never ending factories and power lines
scoring the landscape with the odd local farmers terraced plot in

Xi'an is a pretty amazing place, smoggy and thrumbing (like every
city we've visited) but with it's own character - it has the most
impressive city wall that I've seen in China, the thing is huge
and in good condition... we hired bikes and travelleed on top of
it today, about 14 kilometres (apparently) - it's amazing how
wide it is....

Tonight me and a few of the other people in the group are going
to head out to the Muslim quarter to explore the markets (the
Muslim quarter is quite confined, with a number of big mosques
and ...somehow they squeeze 25,000 people into it).  It
should be a good opportunity to find some spicy lamb and do some
haggling for crappy tat.

Tomorrow we're off to see the Terracotta warriors and then that
evening we're on another train and heading off again...

I'm feeling pretty good now, just a bit of a cough/sore throat..
but otherwise not so bad, still haven't got my appetite back -
but then that's not necessarily a tragedy ;o)

It's hard to believe that my trip through China is almost at an
end - other then a couple of days in Datong and Pingyao, we're
going to hit Beijing and that's pretty much it... A month is no
where near long enough!

...but at the same time I dont think I would want more at this
point - not without a break at least, China can be quite
challenging, especially if you're not used to smoggy frenetic
cities... it's well deserving of a culture shock rating :) as a
country goes.

Written on March 25, 2005