To get to Xi’an, we took another train, the journey was about 11 hours from Pingyao. With it being a national holiday in China, the sleeper train tickets were sold out.
So, we had to settle for a hard seater ticket which didn’t seem like much fun. But when we realised that some people had standing tickets, I think it’s safe to say that we got off lightly.
One guy, for reasons best known to himself, was sleeping in a sink. I’ve no ideas why but I never took a photo of him and I regret not doing it. I’ll probably always remember seeing it but I can’t share it with anyone with is disappointing.
When the train arrived in Pingyao, I struggled to see how we’d get on the train, especially with a full 66 litre backpack on my back.
It ended up being the case that I had to edge my way along the train, while knocking some poor innocent bystanders over. When I found my way to my seat, someone was on it but it was fine, they moved without any problems when I showed them my ticket.
So how you do you survive an 11 hour train journey which is overnight and very busy ? It wasn’t the most enjoyable journey of my life but it wasn’t the worst either – that was the flight home from Cuba as there was even less space on that.
When we eventually arrived in Xi’an, we had been told to get a bus to a drum tower and then another one to the hotel. It turned out that the bus we were told to get doesn’t exist. We get a different one which ended up being the wrong one.
As we only had the name of the hotel written down in English, the local taxi drivers had no ideas where we looking for so we couldn’t get them to take us there.
Eventually, we found a place which was a pretty fancy looking aparment block or perhaps a business centre. We went in there and asked if they had any ideas where we had to go.
The staff there obviously took pity on us as they sent us to a waiting area and brought us some tea while they looked for our hotel and got directions for us.
When they had the directions, they wrote them down in Mandarin and just told us to give the piece of paper to a taxi driver – which we did and we got to the hotel.
By the time we got to the room and got checked in, we had been on the go for over 30 hours so we were really pleased to find that it was a lovely big room with robes, slippers and a huge comfy bed.
The next day, was our first proper day in Xi’an and we walked for a good few hours. We were going to see the Giant wild goose pagoda – I don’t know what it has to do with geese but the walk there took us through some streets with lots of offices on it and then on to another little market place which had lots of food for sale.
The pagoda is a Buddhist worship site. It was quite busy round about and another impressive thing to see.
After spending a bit of time there, we walked down a narrow little alley where we had some lunch – it was a cafe we went to, we didn’t just take food to an alley way.
A lot of people seem to suggest going to a smaller place to eat is the best option and we found this place was great. We got a filled pita bread and a massive pot of lamb soup to share – some people might call us fat for eating so much but we had a long walk ahead of us and needed the excess food to give us energy.
We moved along towards the old town of Xi’an and were almost lost until a local woman came up and saw us looking at our map. We were able to point to where we were trying to go and she pointed us in the general direction.
After some more walking, we got to the bell tower and to the drum tower. We never bothered going in them but we spend a bit of time walking around the grounds and trying to find a bus stop that would take us back to where our hotel was.
From the drum tower, we knew that the Muslim quarter was nearby and we had read that there were some nice food places there so that’s where we went.
The streets in there were manic, you could barely walk in the direction that you wanted to walk in, you just had to go where the crowds were going.
But some maniac in a little van still thought it would be a good idea to drive down the street. After a lot of horn beeping and shouting out his window and not going very far, we passed him as we (and the rest of the crowds) were going in the opposite direction.
The guy in the van could still be there for all I know ! ! !
Other than that, there were various types of food on offer, tofu coated in a spicy basil oil which was good. At one point, we saw a sheep tied to a lamppost in the middle of the street.
We saw another trailer with two dead sheep in the back, horns and coat were still on so I have to assume that they were only very recently slaughtered and were on their way to the butchers.
In amongst all of that mayhem, we found a guy selling spring rolls which were being cooked to order so after waiting for them and subsequently burning our hands on them, we had dinner.
Without doing very much in particular, it was a really good and enjoyable way to spend a day in a new city.
Today, we’ve been pretty lazy and haven’t ventured far from the hotel but that’s why you pay for the luxury hotels. We expect the next places to be a bit more basic so we’re making use of the continuous wifi and comfort while we can.