Monday, October 03, 2005


I had hoped to be able to convert my brother to the joys of the spartan backpacking lifestyle, but after 2 weeks we both admitted that he would forever be a pampered bourgeois (he insists on taking taxis, doesn't mind spending more than $2 on a meal and changes his clothes every day). So we checked-in to the Xi'an Sheraton. There are mitigating circumstances though: we arrived in Xi'an 4 days ago and it has barely stopped raining since. I have never in my life seen such depressing weather, and I'm from Scotland! It has therefore been difficult to motivate ourselves to go out and see and do things so we've decided to slob about for a couple of days and wait for the sun (apparently it's meant to be nice tomorrow). Plus it's unlikely that I'll ever stay in a Sheraton hotel so I wanted to do a bit of anthropological studying to see how the other half lives (at least that's how I justified it to myself). Oh yeah, and it's free!

But that said, we have seen Xi'an big tourist drawcard: the terracotta warriors of the first Qin emperor. The army of over 6,000 life-sized clay figures, each one unique and different from its neighbours, were buried over 2,200 years ago to protect the tomb of the first Chinese emperor. And although many of the clay figures are broken, an amazing number are still completely intact looking precisely as they did the day they were made (well, apart from the colours which have oxidised and faded over time). Such is the appeal of the terracotta warriors that nearly every hotel and most shops have their own replicas scattered about their premises, giving the whole city a rather kitsch atmosphere.

Although Xi'an was the capital of the Chinese empire for over 1,000 years (although then it was known as Chang'an), there is very little left to attest to its illustrious past. Apart from two towers in the centre of town (the bell and the drum towers), a few odd pagodas and the (almost complete) city walls the city is entirely new; though fortunately also cleaner than the majority of Chinese cities. Right, that's about it for now. I've really got to go as I've got a packed schedule of watching TV, lounging in the jacuzzi, sleeping and helping myself to the complimentary buffet.

P.S. As I've had a bit more free time lately I have been tinkering about online a bit more than usual and so I have added a couple more links to other blogs. Particularly interesting is Pete's entry of the time he spent in New Orleans about a month ago, when he spent a few nights at the Superdome. Plus I've added a few more photos and hopefully will be adding some more in the next couple of days from my time with Mark.

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