On our way from North to South (don’t forget that we have India on target 🙂 and already more than 12000 km behind us 🙂 ), our route was more or less defined by itself and somehow classical. A first step in Xi’An, capital of the empire for many dynasties. A second step in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, door to Tibet and especially known for Giant Pandas.
For us, it was also synonym of better temperatures… Ouf, finally!
Due to Spring festival week, our movements in China also started to be more and more complicated. Trains got almost full and places started to be costly…
Hard seat : chinese immersion
What does it mean ? No chance to get any soft or hard sleeper… nothing ! No other choice than travelling in Hard Seat…
Hard Seat is the most common class and the most basic one in China. Obviously, it is the cheapest class. In fact, there are 118 places in one wagon. Each raw has 5 seats facing another raw (3 + corridor + 2). Well more than seats, we would say “kind of bench”. The space is very minimal… most probably, it is Asian standard. Backs are very straight and hard (nothing surprising so far 🙂 ). So, at the end, except the 4 (lucky) people at the window, you have 6 sad people 🙂 in the middle travelling without any way of resting… Tough!
For a short way, these seats are most probably comfortable and the adventure great… it is a perfect opportunity to meet local people … But when you decide (like us) to make Beijing – Xi’An in night train (13h) in order to save time and a night in a hostel, what a crazy adventure 🙂
Well, it was tough 🙂 . Not too much sleep, some certain pain and a huge satisfaction to arrive.
What we cannot deny is also the way how chinese people travel. They are authorized to smoke between the wagons; which means IN the wagon at the end of the trip. They eat all the time… and it is not small sandwiches. No! Instant soups, chicken feets, sunflowers seeds and other aliments non identified yet 🙂
And last but not least, silence is a notion not commonly accepted. Everybody does what he wants … if you want to talk at 3am, you talk normally … Looks like it is the rule and nobody complains. So let’s live it!
For information, courageous and audacious, we did it again 2 days later from Xi’An to Chengdu for 12h train. We promise that we are not maso. We just like it. And by the way, we met Yuang Chang Chang and talked with him quite long (by phone application)… Great !
Xi’An and the discovery of islam in China
Xi’An is a popular and appreciated city in China. Indeed, the city was the capital of the empire for many dynasties. Surrounded by a fortress wall, the old city is very enjoyable. Architecture is a mix between traditional and modern.
By the way, we stayed in a nice hostel, a traditional house with 3 courtyards. Charming!
Our step in Xi’An was too short to be able to discover entirely the place. Nevertheless, we discovered by coincidence a piece of Chinese history: Islam and Muslims. China has more than 20 million Muslims in the country. They come from different places and arrived at different period of time. Xi’An has the oldest mosque in China… a mix of Islam and traditional Chinese architecture. We loved it, a true peaceful moment in such a crowd around the mosque. Indeed, when the night arrives, the Muslim neighborhood gets crazy. Locals and tourists come to taste street food, snacks. There are so many specialties and most of them are prepared in front of us. Great!
The atmosphere in picture...
The terracotta army
This picture of China is most probably known and maybe more than that. But we still wanted to visit it and see it with our own eyes.
At the end: impressed! Impressive!
Because, what can be the feeling in front of such piece of history? Apart of being one more tourist?
- Some huge part of the history have been discovered only 50 years ago
- How many sites/monuments are still hidden, underground, unknown?
- Archeology is a science that requires a lot of patience
- How to rebuild/discover history from such small pieces, fragments ?
Terracotta warrior army is an archeological site still active. A big part (maybe the biggest part) is still with excavations.
In short, impressive especially when you get up at 5h30 and are ready to enter the site at the opening time (the army is 1h30 away from Xi’An). We had the place only for us. Very quiet. Top !
And you, any other surprise in/around Xi’An ?