23 September, 2011

The terra-cotta warriors

As good as the warriors were, the drive there was just as interesting;
particularly the bit where the mini-bus crashed into a car in the
middle of a six lane roundabout, then stopped there, blocking traffic,
while the drivers of the two vehicles got out and argued in the middle
of the road.

In Xi'an

...where the excellent 7 Sages hostel can provide kitty snuggles in
addition to the good rooms and a good restaurant in a courtyard.
Other photos are from the bell tower and the drum tower in the centre
of the city.

On the train to Xi'an

We arrived three hours late. Heavy rain for two weeks beforehand meant
there were lots of track repairs going on. But when we weren't
traveling at 15km/hr we managed. A respectable 100-160km/hr. I know
because the GPS told me so.

The Temple of Heaven

...for sacrificing animals in order to ensure a good harvest. Most
impressive, and set in another nice park.

Chinese Railway Museum

Since we are doing a lot of traveling by train on this trip (something
like 4000km of it) it seemed appropriate that we should visit the
railway museum in Beijing. It's rather fun! Lots of train related
bits-and-bobs, including various pieces from the new 350km/hr trains
that run in parts of China (but not the parts we're going to).
Also, the original Apple store?

Tiananmen Square

It's a sign! And Bei Hai park

From our last day in Beijing. I highly recommend Bei Hai park for a
nice stroll around the lake. The entrance fee is about $7 and includes
entry to the temple on the island in the lake, with good views south
over the Forbidden City.

20 September, 2011

A successful day!

We'd only been able to get train tickets as far as Xian, and it seemed
like we would have to give up on our plan to go to Tibet since no one
seemed to know how to get the necessary travel permits, and everyone
said there were no train tickets available. Then we found Michael Wang
at the travel desk in the Beijing Dreams Travel Hostel. This is a
total plug for him; he phoned around various people in various cities
to find train tickets, suggested various plans that would have us
traveling to Tibet via different routes and generally was helpful and
showed initiative. And he was friendly. Drop in and see him if you're
in Beijing and need something arranged. Or send him an email
(bj-tour@hotmail.com) if you want something done from outside the
country. So, we now have in our possession, train tickets from Xian to
Xining to Lhasa!
The photos: lunch after sorting out tickets, at a rooftop terrace.
Then we walked a whole hundred meters or so and had tea at a place on
the edge of Qianhai lake. Walking around the lake afterwards, N was
asulted by an old Chinese womN who sat her down on a stool, beat her,
and then demanded 50 Yuan after claiming that the incident wasn't
asulted, but rather a full body massage...

Pets in China

If one wants, one can buy a small (10cm^3) sealed plastic pouch,
filled with coloured water, and a small goldfish of turtle. I guess
they live for about a day before the colouring or the lack of air or
the general being trapped and worn on a neckless kills them.
These fish were much luckier. They happily live in a cafe near our
hotel in Beijing. There are many excellent cakes!

A fried thing for breakfast.

Puffy deep-fried bread and a bowl of hot soy milk.

More from the Military Museum

More delights from the Military Museum! it had the most amazing
mish-mash of military bits-and-bobs, all set out with no real focus on
information or education, but rather, the overall effect that a hall
full of silver missiles and large guns might have on small children.

What were we doing there, you might ask? We were on our way back from
getting train tickets to Xian and the museum was the biggest,
gaudiest, most imposing building in the area. The subway stop was even
called "Military Museum". Also, entry was free after showing our
passports. Just in case we were, well, I don't know. Who would you try
to keep out of such a place?