During October and November 2007 I set off on an adventure that took me from Australia to Japan, then on to Russia and China before returning home to Australia. I have kept my travel emails from that trip, so I thought it might be fun to repost them here and add a few photos. This blog is Part 6 of that journey (China).
I only started to send travel emails in 2007 and only upgraded to a blog in 2011, so I think I will post a series of them from my other trips around the world between those years in further posts as a retrospective view of my travels.
October 31st, 2007
I am now in the city of Xi’an (Terracotta Warriors nearby) – arrived this morning. So far I have only been to the Big Goose Pagoda – famous for where the buddhist monk Tripitaka (yes! from Monkey Magic!!!) brought back the buddhist scrolls from India for translation.
Then tonight I wandered around the city – all the shops etc stay open late every night. They have a great night market where I discovered these delicious red bean pancake things, I didn’t know what they were, but saw people buying lots of them. Glad I tried them. I also ate meat skewers in the Muslim section of the city, I was the only foreigner in the restaurant, they loved it, lots of Muslim Chinese sitting with me chatting amongst themselves, smiling and laughing. Was a lot of fun.
Just like in Beijing road rules are optional in Xi’an, stopping at traffic lights is at your discretion and it is mandatory to drive straight through pedestrian crossings – regardless if it is full of people or not!!!!!
The last few days have been very busy – back in Beijing I saw waxy Chairman Mao. I queued up with hundreds of Chinese to slowly walk past his embalmed body, the tomb at Tiananmen Square is surrounded by impressive Communist Statues and many military guards.
I spent hours wandering around the Forbidden City (a huge, impressive and very decorative place). The Emperor had the life – luxurious palaces and hundreds of concubines! I have also been to a number of gardens of the former Emperors.
I took a day trip from Beijing to the Great Wall of China – I chose a place called Simatai – this is a lot further away than where most people go to the wall so less busy – also it is much more rugged with mountain scenery and very steep parts of the wall (trust me!). An added bonus was that it had snowed up there – only downside was that some parts of the wall were icy so it was a bit treacherous on the steep descents! In some sort of miracle that day was a crystal clear sunny day – so had amazing views of the wall snaking off into the mountains.
Yesterday I went to Temple of Heaven park – lots of elaborate temples used by the Emperors and huge gardens.
Tomorrow I am going to see the Terracotta Warriors and the Emperors/Empresses tombs nearby.
Oh yes – my culinary experiments continued last night in Beijing! I ate Beijing Duck (they no longer call it Peking Duck) – but here they also eat the head – duck eye has an interesting taste!!! Then I had a pork stew – they don’t waste anything – this stew contained the following identifiable ingredients: Ham, fried pigs blood, pigs intestine (not a great taste!!!), fish, mushrooms, tofu, chilli peppers. Then there was this strange rubbery piece of the pig (with spikey nodules – what the hell??), my Chinese friend could not explain what it was in english, but there was a lot of giggling going on!!! Maybe I am better of not knowing?!!
2 more days here, then back into Hong Kong for a couple of days before going home.
I also paid a visit to the The Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing. A very good collection on the history of the Communist fight under Mao Zedong to take over control of China from the Japanese in WW2 and then in the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) against the Nationalists (who were commanded by Republic of China leader Chiang Kai-shek – but more on him in later posts on my travels in Taiwan in 2010). The Nationalists later retreated to Formosa Island and established Taiwan. Many military aircraft, tanks and weaponry are on display, along with historical displays and artefacts. Obviously everything has a very “anti-imperialist” and biased feel to it, but it is very interesting and well worth a visit for any military history enthusiast.