Friday, October 9, 2009
Asides from missing out on the parade, me and my bro skipped out of town in an impromptu trip to Xi'an, where the Terracotta army are hiding. I'd heard mixed reviews of this spectacle, from unbelievable to wuliao (boring). In the end, i squeezed in among the other thousands of visitors to observe the terra cotta gang in an environment that could potentially be a touch creepy, if not for the bustling hordes and their cameras.
We also went to Hua Shan, a mountain outside the city, which was pretty epic. We hiked 7.5 hrs, but didn't quite get to the uppermost peak for fear of missing our return trip bus. The mountain is famed for its vertical slopes, and ubersteep staircases, which require chains to hang on to.
However, near the top you will encounter the lazy gang who opted to take the gondola up, the gang who will destroy the serenity you strained so hard to reach. "kinda makes you appreciate Canada's solitude," commented my brother. Not to complain. We were nonetheless stoked to have made it up as far as we did, and to actually get a bit of exercise in finally.
And the last point of interest was our return trip home. As we had planned our trip mere moments before we departed, we were super lucky to have found beds for the overnight train trip to Xi'an. However, for the return trip there were zero tickets available to be found anywhere.
But we went anyways.
Only from Xi'an were we able to discover the Standing Room Only tickets for the return trip. 6:30pm -6:30 am.
But we bought little mini folding stools for $1.50 each, which we were extremely happy with. You manage to find a spot in the aisle, and plop down. Then every 4 minutes you pick up and squeeze into some seated people's laps so the workers selling beer and instant noodles out of trolleys can pass.
We met some people and chatted some which was pretty fun. Though i was a bit annoyed when they told us that the stools should only cost 75 cents. Ha, oh well.
Eventually it was night, some lights dimmed, and the trolley convoy eased up. People were crashed all over the aisle, on the sink, crammed in next to the less than tidy bathroom stalls. And yes, some people stood for the full 12 hrs. Crazy.
I did manage a few hours of sleep, though D managed zero. I was kinda surprised when upon our arrival he said, "well, that was a lot more interesting than the trip out."
I also rather dug it, though i don't think i'd want to do it on a regular basis. Or with my girlfriend. Or parents.