Monday, May 05, 2008

Xian 4/20-23

XIY, 40 km NW of Xian city center
When you arrive at the airport you can
  • take the shuttle bus to Bell Tower (last stop) = 25 rmb / person
  • you can get 2 taxis (just tell the driver to give us a call for directions)
  • we can arrange pick up in a minivan (180 rmb) - we went with this option for 6 people
HQ Hostel
We rented half the hostel, which was really one full apartment, including 2 queen beds and 2 bunk beds, a bathroom, kitchen, dining area, and living area. Great location, within short walking distance to the Muslim area. Downside was lack of any kitchenware or internet. But there is a coffee shop just around the corner with free wireless (however, their drinks are terrible - at least the italian coffee and the fresh milk were both horrendous).

Terracotta Warriors
Definitely do from least to most impressive order - museum, room 2, 3 and then 1. The folks that built the place were all killed and buried within to keep the location a secret. Only discovered in the early 70's. The places are booby trapped and only partially dug up - also because of the near instantaneous deterioration of the paint on the statues. Scientists are currently working on a way to preserve the colors so they don't disintegrate on contact withe oxygen.

Hua Shan National Park
About a 2 hour drive to the entrance, and then from the parking lot there are shuttles that take you to the base of the hiking area. We walked up the stairs instead of taking the cable car. It takes your breath away - both from the views and the steep incline. On the way, we only passed a few people. At the top, it was clear that people came in by the droves via cable car. We made our way up towards one of the peaks, but it was getting late and cold, so I rested while waiting for my partner to finish. There are toilet facilities near the top, but they aren't pretty (sight or smell).

The City Wall
On a clear day, go to the south or north gate and rent bicycles. They have tandem bikes (good for kids) and normal bikes. We circled around the whole city in one morning. Note: It's closed to biking during rain.

Delicious lamb and beef. Wonderful flat breads. Great noodles (liang pi were the best). We gorged ourselves silly knowing we couldn't get the wonderful spices and breads back in Taiwan.

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