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Asian Tour 2000


BangkokHanoi | Xian | Qingdao | Seoul

Thursday 22nd - Awoke really early and started the long walk to the border (and yes, it is a long walk). To make a long story short, caught a lift to the station with a Japanese guy, took a Seven hour train trip to Nanning then almost immediately caught a night bus to Guilin. Got to Guilin at about five in the morning.

Friday 23rd - After getting to Guilin took a taxi straight to the airport even though it wasn't open till 6:30. Caught a flight to Xi'an at four (delayed) and got into Xi'an about six. Walked for ages trying to find a hotel that wasn't too expensive. Had first good meal in nearly two days and then found internet cafe.Too tired to type now. Will continue soon. byeee!!! 
Saturday June 24th 2000 

Okay, now still in Xi'an and in yet another internet cafe. Just checked my e-mails and had a load of jokes from Andy Hanlon and Berta (Thanks guys, needed the laughs!) not that I've a reason to be sad, far from it. Still trying to sort out the muddled strings that is my life. Xi'an muddles them further as it has a big bearing on certain events in my past, although this is the first time I've been there. Got up later than anticipated as I didn't hear the morning call. Left my baggage at the hotel (for a small fee.) and took a walk to the bank to change the rest of my US travellers cheques and to take a bus to see the Terracotta Warriors. On the way met Brett O'Niel from Canada and chatted on the street for about ten minutes. Pretty much convinced he should take up teaching in Taiwan and having told me about a cheaper hotel near the train station we said goodbye and moved on.

Got a bus (306) to the Terracotta Museum. The difference in landscape (which I would have enlarged on while writing about travelling from the border to Nanning if I hadn't been so tired last night) is worlds apart. It's surprising to see such a difference in neighbouring countries so near the border. Where Vietnam is lush and green, just over the border China becomes fairly wide spread out, open, dusty, bleak. True there are really impressive parts where huge phalic rocks thrust themselves from the very ground in what must have been some spectacular geological show of nature's forces. but it's a whole lot different. People just stand and watch a train going past and maybe it's an assumption but maybe... just maybe they're wishing they where going somewhere else. Houses that have seen better days and now are practical ruins dot the landscape. People working in the fields, toiling would be a better, stronger word. The further north you go, the less promising it looks.

 As soon as you get off the bus you're almost immediately swamped by people clammering to sell you everything they have. I'm quite happy that I kept my calm in that almost instant abuse of the senses. I stepped back and did the Dr. Evil stint with Scott Evil. You know the one? "Zip it! Ziiii-iiip! Let me tell you a story about a man called Zip who lived in a land called Zip!", and then added (in Chinese - damn it's getting good.)"... if you don't stop trying to sell me stuff like that I'll just move on to the next one and won't buy anything." That did the trick (just in case you should ever need to use the phrase it would go like "Lang wo gaosu ni yi ge gushr, you yi ge ren jiao Zip zhu zai yi guo jiao Zip," and then "Ru guo nimen hai name shi shi kan mai wo dongshi, wo bu mai, wo zou lu. Hao bu hao?" Then pause for response... if they've stopped trying to sell you stuff it's worked and if they burst out laughing then you need to work a little on pronunciation perhaps. Apparently with the wrong tones this could also mean "if you're trying to buy my genitals, I don't sell, I just walk.) Anyway, later I did end up buying more than I anticipated - I just hope I don't have too much weight for the plane.

The museum itself is a must see. It's an incredible sight to see so many figures together in one place and must have been painstaking work. Was hoping to get a spot of time to sketch one of the guards but time was a little pressing. Anyway I hope the photos come out okay, because it was a little dark in places. One thing to see is the circle-cinema which used nine cameras to shoot a 360o panaramic scene of the stone figures and how they were excavated, also if you go - go on a weekday and see the archaeologists at work. I unfortunately went on Saturday and missed that part. Once outside it's easy to get another bus back to Xi'an - there are plenty of mini buses that'll do it for Y4. Got on the bus just in time as as soon as I did the heavens opened up. The thing is with these buses you may have to wait a while until the bus is full. Luckily only had to wait about five minutes before the bus got under way. The rain was really flooding the poorly drained roads and people sat outside, but under shelter, marvelling it seemed at the force of the rain.

 On returning to Xi'an at the train station, I avoided getting soaked by ducking into a small eaterie and having 'Xiao leong bao' (small dragon balls - as opposed to small dragging balls) and some kind of sweet bread. Next, when the rain had died off a little, I made my way to the Cheng De hotel to say hi to Brett again before he heads out to Beijing. Funnily enough just walked into him as he made his way to the station. We stopped into a restaurant (a little more expensive than I'd usually plum for but there was a rushed need) for a beer. We chewed the fat for a good half hour and talked about our respective trips and then it was time for Brett to catch his train (I didn't ask but I'm sure that must be a dang long journey!)

 I started back to the hotel and was accosted by someone touting for really cheap accomodation. Just to make sure I'm okay - The address is Dong Chi Lu, Jian shi jau dan suo. and the phone number is Xi'an 742 8804. I'm sure there'll be no problem but it's a little out of the way place and I'd rather be safe than sorry. I stopped off to buy a few VCD's for the collection (at these prices I couldn't resist) and now I'm in the aforementioned internet cafe. 

Tomorrow - Qingdao.

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