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Sunday, 29 May 2011



A Chinese style building on top of a tower block! I bet this is worth a bomb, and can only imagine the views from there

As I mentioned in my last blog, we travelled to Xi’an on the overnight train. We travelled on the best train in the best sleeper compartments!! There are two kinds of sleepers on the Chinese trains, hard sleepers and soft sleepers. The hard sleepers consist of 4 bunks in an open compartment, and are probably as described – hard! The soft sleepers consist of 4 bunks in a compartment which has a door that can be closed and locked! As we were 3 ladies and we didn’t fancy sharing our sleeping arrangements with just anyone we opted to pay for the fourth bunk, which was a good idea. The seats/beds are upholstered in cream material with lace edged cotton antimacassar tops, very nice! The journey took 12 hours but we were kept fortified by the frequent visits of the trolley, Chinese beer is very nice!!


The South gate of the city wall

This part of our holiday was the only part where we had a tour guide, so we were met at Xi’an Railway station by Sindy, a lovely young Chinese lady, who was a really great guide. We were taken to our hotel which was inside Xi’ans City walls, and Sindy left us to have a day to ourselves. The hotel was new, and Very Big! It was so big that I realized you could fit the Library where I work into the foyer....more about that later!


On top of the Gatehouse, my daughter taking her own photos Smile


Yes, its a rubbish bin!!


Behind the South Gate, on our way to climb the city wall.



Amazing wall hangings in the South Courtyard.

We decided to visit Xi’ans city walls, so we took a taxi into the centre of the city. Xi’an is not as big as Beijing, but the traffic is equally as bad! Apparently they are building an underground system, but every time they start to dig they find another tomb. The day before we arrived they had found a tomb with a wicker basket filled with Chinese medicine. Finds like this obviously stop the work, so I wonder when Xi’an will finally get its underground system!



On the city wall



Buildings below the wall inside the city.

Xi’an city wall is 8 miles long and is the most complete city wall in China. It was built in the Tang dynasty and extended at a later date. It is surrounded by a moat and it is 40 feet high, and the same in width. Sindy told us that the mortar holding the wall together was made of mud, nuts, apple juice and orange juice. It must have been a good combination as the wall is just magnificent!






Modern and ancient!


We entered by the South Gate, and had a wonderful stroll along part of the wall in the blazing hot sunshine. Wonderful! We had read that there was going to be a Military Display in the South Gate courtyard, but we thought it was going to be a modern military display, not the Terracotta Warriors come to life! We watched the display from the top of the wall, where we had a great view. Once the warriors had finished their display the girls and their drums did their display, which was amazing.


A painted building, painted all over!


The Warriors in the Courtyard






Display over we treated ourselves to ice creams, coffee and frappuccinos in the cafe built into the wall, where it was lovely and cool – bliss.





Back to the hotel where we had an early night in readiness for the following days excursion, a visit to the Terracotta Warriors!! Guess what the next blog will be about?


Part of the moat, outside the city walls.


A carving on the bridge over the moat.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tian’AnMen Square, Beijing.



We intended to visit TianAnMen Square and The Forbidden City in one day, but as we all know the best laid plans etc....we took a taxi to the Square and entered from the Southern end, the square is the largest in the world, and is a fantastic space. Before we had got very far we were approached by a man who introduced himself to us a Guide. He told us that the building at the Southern end of the square was open to Europeans just for that day only, as there was going to be a visit from an important person later in the week. The building is one of the gates to Tian’AnMen Square with the lovely name of Zhengyang Men Gate. No I can’t pronounce it either! As it was such a beautiful building we had to go and have a look round didn’t we??





The Gate is a museum, which was fascinating, but I think the beauty of the building and the stunning views from the building were worth the visit. We met up with a friend of my daughters and his parents which was great. On the top floor of the Gate was an amazing art gallery, with a lovely gentleman who spend quite some time talking to us. He pointed out to me that China is very similar in shape to the cockerel, one of the symbols of the country. He also told us about the Golden Line, an imaginary line which runs through the gate, the middle of Tan’AnMen Square and right through The Forbidden City. This line also runs through the middle of The Summer Palace to the South. The line was plotted by the astronomers when planning the siting of the important buildings in Beijing.



Above are a couple of exhibits in the museum, below are some of the amazing paintings in the art gallery on the top floor.




Below are some views taken from the Zhengyang Men Gate


Looking across Tian’AnMen Square towards The Forbidden City in the background. The mausoleum to Chairman Mao is the building in the foreground.


The Forbidden City to the North of Tian’AnMen Square




On leaving the Zhengyyang Men Gate, we walked through Tian’AnMen Square, past the mausoleum to Chairman Mao and the monument to the People’s Heroes , and there before us was the well known Tian’AnMen Gate, recognizable to most people!



We realized that we had not left enough time to visit The Forbidden City, and we were hungry, so we left Tia’AnMen Square, had a lovely meal in a Japanese Restaurant, and wandered through QianMen Street which is a large pedestrianised shopping area. Sadly I don’t have any photos of this area, I do remember taking photos of a wonderful Silk shop, and a couple of this area, but for some reason I have lost them....maybe I only thought I took them....


An Imperial Lion

We were due to catch a train from Bejing West Railway Station for the overnight journey to Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors, so we left the shops behind and got to the station in plenty of time to catch our train. I will tell you more about our train journey and Xi’an in my next blog.


I like this painting especially as I was born in the Year of The Horse Smile