Saturday, October 6, 2012

China, Part 2 of 3

Day 4 - There were a few hiccups on this two-day leg of the tour. Our day started super early with a 4:30am wake-up call. The guide wanted us to be at the airport two hours before our 8:00 flight. It seemed like a bit overkill as we were through security and at our gate by 6:20.

As soon as we arrived in Xi'an, we headed straight for the Terracotta Warriors. This was probably the second coolest thing I saw in China. The excavation site is pretty amazing. The main building is the crazy familiar one you generally see in pictures. It's rows upon rows of warriors. It's said that each one has a different face. In the back of this part is the warrior "hospital", where they take broken pieces and re-assemble the statues. Once completed, it is inserted back where they found the original pieces. What's amazing is the tomb all these warriors are guarding, that of the first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, is 5km away. Chinese archeologists are gonna have jobs for generations excavating everything in between. Like the Ming Tombs, because of the lack of technology to preserve artifacts, the tomb has not been opened yet. The farmer who first discovered the site while digging a well back in 1974 has a little desk in the gift store and signs books. Nice gig!

After the Warriors, the plan was to head back to the hotel, rest for a bit, and head out for a dumpling dinner and Tang Dynasty show. Ummm, not gonna happen! There were rallies against the Japanese with regard to the Senkaku/Diaoyu island and the protesters blocked traffic from entering and leaving the city for most of the day. We were stuck outside the city wall in the gnarliest traffic I've ever been in and ended up going straight to the dumplings and show. The show itself was good for what it was (nice costumes, good performers) but the food was terrible. I have no idea how anyone can steam dumplings and have them end up being dry and plasticy. We didn’t even make it to the hotel until 9:30pm and remember, we started our day in Beijing waking up at 4:30am.

The next day was a rude awakening. We were supposed to start our day at 9:30 but due to the protesters, access into and out of the city was going to be blocked off at noon so the guide and driver showed up at the hotel at 7:30. We were rushed to start the day and then 2 items on the itinerary were canceled because of protesters (bike city wall and museum). Lunch on the second day was terrible. The guide took us to a Tang Dynasty theater to eat a western buffet. We didn't want to eat there and she then brought us to another tourist restaurant and ordered our food for us before we even arrived and that food was really bad. We shouldn’t have assumed we would have a similar restaurant experience as Beijing. When we went to Shanghai, we made it very clear to our guide what our expectations were for food. Also because of the 2 cancelled excursions, we were at the airport 4 hours before our flight! I can't blame her for the protesters messing up various excursions but I think it would have been good if she had some back-up options. Her knowledge of Chinese history is also lacking... we were talking about Marco Polo and she was adamant that he was in China during the Ming Dynasty and our DK guide book was incorrect!

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