i think beijing has been more or less covered. one more thing about beer before we move to xian. beer was the drink of the day in china. lunch and dinner. one free one with each meal and you could buy more. $1 for a big bottle and most of the beers were ok. just depended on which city you were in on what beer you got. usually the local favorite. we got by the one beer deal by having the ladies order beer as well then we would drink theirs. they would in turn order bottled water. by the middle of the tour we were getting as much beer as we wanted. guess the tour guide liked us. don’t know and didn’t ask. don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. without beer at lunch and dinner the long slogging walking days would have been very hard to deal with. trust me.
off to xian. meaning another trip to an airport in beijing and the security hassle. g/f had trouble with here lap top she had dragged along as she had to take it out of it’s suitcase. i was watching her and sat my video camera bag on the ground. then promptly forgot it and walked away. i realized i had forgotten it by the time we had almost gotten to the plane. i sprinted back for the bag ala the old oj hertz airport commercials. of course, it was gone. i’m asking everyone around where the camera bag was. they just looked at me. then some american yelled at me as he was leaving and said it was over at this counter. thankfully it was. they had it out of the bag and were looking at it. in order to get it back i had to sign some form that was all in chinese. guess i may have copped to the oj murders and the peterson case too. at least i got the camera back. then the 3 hour flight to xian.
xian is a very old city. one of the oldest in china. a walled city on top of that. for some reason or another lots of japanese have always lived in xian. they still do. interesting. the trip from the airport was a long ride and a trip back in time as the country side and small settlements reminded me of nam. lots of flashbacks. amazing. once we got into the city it reminded me of saigon and more flashbacks. i was starting to get creeped out in a good way.
we stayed at the sheraton in xian. the lobby was nice but the hotel itself had seen better days. our air conditioning in the room didn’t work very well. which sucked. xian has horrible smog. just god awful. all the farmers burning old corn stalks and sugar cane fields.
while in xian i got to watch a little tv. some drew carey and the simpsons via satellite in our room. it was strange watching homer do his thing in a hotel room in china. we were told that the government didn’t allow cnn to be aired in china. though i do recall seeing it on a tv or two in passing.
while in xian we went to a bunch of pagodas. the big goose pagoda being the largest and nicest. or in some places known as the wild big goose pagoda. a ton of nice photo ops with the buddhist monks or nuns as g/f calls them. chinese pagodas. we saw several every day. in general they were a very peaceful place even with a vast amount of people wandering about. some better than others. a personal thing i suppose. i enjoyed the pagoda experience. i imagine not unlike the cathedral experience in euroland. though i’d rather wander through pagodas.
we also visited the main gate house for the city back when the city was still confined behind this massive and impressive wall and moat. a very cool place indeed. the day we visited the main gate the local japanese were setting up for some sort of ceremony in a light rain.
on the way to see the terra cotta warriors we stopped off at a very nice hot springs place. a very lovely place where chiang kai-shek made his last stand against the communists in 1948. there are still a number of .50 caliber bullet holes in the walls of the buildings.
xian is the place where the old buried terra cotta soldiers were discovered. before going to see them they took us to a terra cotta factory so they could sell us shit. they did that a lot on the tour. a jade factory. pearl joint. tea place. silk place and a couple of other places. interesting but…
while at the terra cotta factory there was a guy standing around with big sony video camera on a tripod. i went up and started talking to him about his camera. he had an odd accent. turns out he was a russian tv news photographer or that was his story. he said they were doing set ups as putin was visiting the factory the next day before he went to see the actual warrior site. there was a talking head with him but i didn’t talk to him. anyways, after chatting with the ruskie and getting him to pose for some video i wondered off taking more videos. suddenly this really nice looking chinese babe came out of nowhere like a sudden heart attack and asked me in very good english if i’m getting some nice pictures. this kinda freaked me out. who was she? where did she come from? i said yeah and blew her off. i think she may have been chinese langley. did she and the chinese think i was cia as well?
years ago some old farmer found the terra cotta warriors while digging a new well. the government took the farm away from him but gave him a job as greeter of the place, ala joe luis in vegas years ago. he sits there all tabbed out in chinese mob style splendor in one of the buildings and autographs books about him finding the warriors. he sits there smoking these horrid stogies and waits to sign his name if you buy a book. one of the people in our tour bought one of the books and i got him signing it on video. i threw him a salute and he gave me one in return. nice.
the terra cotta soldier deal is amazing in person. nothing at all like seeing it on the tube or in photos. just an incredible place. we spent over 2 1/2 hours going thru the 4 buildings they built over the site. really nice. our local tour guide in xian was one of the guys who worked on the horses after they were dug up. nice guy and very bright. he spoke better english than i do. the history behind the whole place is amazing and very interesting. if you like that sort of thing you may want to check it outelse where. we also had lunch at the museum cafeteria. it was ok but nothing special and a long wait to get anything to eat.
while we were at the terra cotta digs 3 guys in bad suits walked past. i immediately made them for russians. one of them stopped and gave me the eye for a minute or two. guess he had heard about me from someone at the terra cotta factory. i ignored him. putin was to be there as well the next day. so i guess they were just more russian ‘cultural’ folks checking stuff out in advance. did the russians think i was cia too? what was going on?we heard a day or so later the chinese closed the place for 3 hours so putin could look at the shit by himself and not be disturbed. i hope he enjoyed himself.
that night back in xian we had a wonderful local meal. a very famous dumpling dinner. it was excellent. after dinner we went and saw some old time chinese stage show in a theatre in downtown xian. an ok show with some ok babes dancing around. i was busy drinking beer and enjoying the show. i’m not real sure but i think one of the hot babe leads may have been a man or something. or so i heard.
that pretty much covers xian. the next morning it was off to airport and heading south to guilin. another security deal but nothing left behind this time. just another 3 hour flight.
the wild goose pagoda.
the warriors today.