Thursday, July 12, 2007

Final Chinese Adventures

I am back from the visit to the Ger Camp and we have a day in the city of Ulaanbaatar with only a walking tour scheduled. I am hoping to get this blog completely caught up before we head out on the train tomorrow. I appreciate Niel keeping the blog updated with the basics when I have not a chance to post.

Now back to our time between the visit to Barry's village and when we boarded the Trans-Siberian railway in Beijing. We arrived in Xian on the speed train in the evening and planned to stay at a youth hostel. We decided to get our train tickets to Beijing while we were at the station so that the next day could be fully devoted to sightseeing. That turned into quite a mess as Barry and I waited in long lines for tickets which we were unable to purchase while Ruth was watching the luggage. We gave up for the night and got a taxi to the hostel. However, the driver took us to the wrong place and we eventually took a hotel which turned out to be more expensive than we were led to believe. However, we did get some sleep and started out the next morning on the quest for tickets to Beijing which we had thought originally would be no problem. We waited in line at a travel service and were lucky enough to get tickets on a sleeper train that would leave that evening. By the time we got back to the hotel and got all checked out there was just enough time to do the terra cotta warriors before we would need to get to the train station.

I did enjoy seeing the warriors up close. Tourists get to walk around the three excavation sites and at some points are quite close to the soldiers. I estimated I was less that 20 ft. away at one place. I really hadn't comprehended how many warriors there were and there are still more to be excavated.

We left in the late afternoon and proceeded to the train station. We checked the luggage in a storage facility while we found some supper and walked around some. We enjoyed seeing a gentleman playing traditional music outside his flat and saw a couple of groups playing badminton in the street.

We went back to the station and found it was a real zoo. There were big lines just to get into the waiting area. We pushed and shoved with all our luggage and managed to make it on the train. The train was nice and clean but there were berths three high in each compartment. Of course, Ruth and I had top bunks. I wasn't sure how I was going to get up and hoped I wouldn't feel claustrophobic once I was there. However, it worked out and I actually got a pretty good night's sleep.

In Beijing we stayed at a very nice youth hostel and caught up with laundry, repacking, buying food, etc. Daniel was also in Beijing on translating business and met us there. We were supposed to meet his parents but that didn't work out as their plane from Lanzhou was delayed. The next day we caught the early morning Trans-Siberian train at the train station right across from the youth hostel. Daniel picked us up and helped us with our luggage, bought fruit and water for us, and saw us off.

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