The 14 hour non-stop Qingdao to Xi'an bus - loving the bunks!
As you can tell from my title, we packed lots into our time in Xi'an! My travelling companion Laura, who was a classroom helper at our school, and from Hertfordshire, and I were dropped off at the long distance bus station in Qingdao by her home stay family and sent on our merry way, complete with a rather off packed lunch of cold jiaozi, cold scrambled egg and tomatoes, a fist full of bananas purchased from a station vendor and tins of mango juice! No chopsticks though, so eating the scrambled egg would have been impossible!
The bus was a sight to behold! With bunk beds lining each side and the middle of the bus, it was unlike anything I'd ever seen.
Laura and I were on the top bunks, her on the left of the bus, me in the middle. There was a Chinese film showing on the on-bus TV system, with a screen right behind me head, and yes, I bumped it. But we got pillows, duvets and sheets - it really was entirely more civilised than trying to sleep sitting up in bus seat.
But it literally didn't stop moving or 14 hours! I think it slowed at a toll road, but we're sure it went through the night. It may have stopped while we were asleep - perhaps for petrol - but it got us to Xian quickly and comfortably, arriving around 7am. The sun was already out and hot, so we got a cab to the hostel, and checked in. Our room was in the basement - see review - and only just verging on comfortable. We found out a tour to the Terracotta Warriors organised by the hostel was leaving at 9am, so we had a shower, changed, and dumped our stuff.
I checked my emails - Mark was about to become an uncle so I was waiting for his email, that and I wanted to see if he'd been in touch. I was clearly head over heels by this point and we hadn't even been on a date yet! Anyway, we jumped on the mini bus and off we went, via a terracotta warrior factory, where we saw how the little tourist souvenirs were made - it actually was quite interesting, but the sales pitch was horrendous! We were followed by two sales assistants all the time, and that made us all the more determined NOT to buy anything. We then went to a jade showroom - again big sales push, but I bought a pearl pendant, mounted in silver, for about £10, and it even came with a certificate of authenticity! It's really pretty, with a faint pink tinge to it, and I still wear it. Needless to say, no jade was bought!
The firing kiln for souvenir terracotta warriors
We FINALLY arrived at the Terracotta Warriors site, and walked up to the compound from the car park.
It was so impressive - you can't describe enough the scale of the pits, the number of figures exposed, and when we were told how many they think are still to be excavated - wow! The pictures are really the best to show it all off. We saw around everything on site, including the 360 degree film about its history, which we watched eating a Magnum ice cream! I ended up buying a pair of figures on the way out in a cute little box for about £2, so I wasn't concerned if they broke, but I did like them. We were warned if you handle them too much your hands get black smudges on them, and true enough just running a figure over the base left the promised smear, but they're not meant to be played with! They're currently in my Mum and Dad's lounge - I must get them back!
The Warriors are truly an amazing sight. I'd love to go back at some point and spend more time there.
YHA Shuyuan Youth Hostel, Xi'an
We got bussed back to the hostel where we dumped our stuff. Laura was on the top bunk and sat up too quickly and the spinning ceiling fan cracked her above the left eye, splitting the skin quite badly. Fortunately a French girl in the room had some medical alcohol with her, so between the three of us (although Laura was a tad upset at this point and not making much sense) we managed to clean it up and Laura seemed OK. We were a bit worried she might be concussed but she didn't want to venture to a Xi'an hospital. So we had something to eat at the hostel's bar/ restaurant/ cinema! I think I had SpagBol made with noodles! We wandered about the city at night, and also booked our train tickets and a hostel in Chengdu for the next night - we were planning to see the pandas, so it was back to our damp room and attempting to sleep with a very loud snorer in the room!