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Xian from Xi'an

Ok, so here we are in Xi'an.

Of the items on our list in my last entry, we only managed to cross off the Summer Palace and the Lama temple before getting too tired from walking around. Oh we also got to see Chairman Mao in his Mausoleum - completely different experience from Lenin. Also the tacky gift shop in the back is a hoot. Paul and I got Chairman Mao zippo lighters that shoot green flame and play the Chinese anthem when opened.

I'd really like to be able to upload a pile of pictures and share them with you but I've had enough trouble uploading our latest podcast when we got on the train Monday night. I've finally uploaded it just now, so listen away. (Much better quality than the last one too!)

We've been to see the bell and the drum tower here in Xi'an, and today we went on a grand tour of the Hot Springs complex, the Emporer Qin's tomb (huge) and of course the Terracotta warriors dig site.

We've got plenty of pictures of the warriors themselves, you can't get very close but there's several good bits on display around the pits. One thing that I didn't know was that a lot of the weapons were quite well preserved because they were chrome-plated - something that the western world didn't discover for another 2000 years or so. Also most pictures show the terracotta warriors in their grey/brown clay colour they were found in. Originally, they were all painted quite vibrant colours.

Of particular mention is our tour guide; here in China most tours are organised through the government agency CITS (China International Travel Services). The tour we had to the Great Wall in Beijing followed a similar routine. The tour itself will be for a couple of popular tourist attractions, however the tour also includes "scheduled" stops at various places in order to encourage you to buy stuff. (I think I've mentioned this previously)

Our guide put it to us like this: We have to stop here. Everything here is really expensive. Look quickly and then we can leave. If you really want to buy something, then let me know and we can buy it.

Plus he gave us an early warning of what the traders would be like in exiting the Terracotta warriors dig site/complex. ("They will say 'one dollar!' what they mean is, one piece is one dollar. They will start at 500 yuan. Then 300 yuan. Then 100 yuan. Finally they get to 5 yuan. If you don't want to buy then close your eyes and walk past them") Total champion!

Anyway we are here for another night, then we are off to Wuxi for a few days. We have an early departure from Wuxi than planned as the trains only run on even days in March. We were going to leave on the 9th but will leave on the 8th.

We've decided to do podcasts on every train on the way home, and a final one when we get into Brisbane airport on the 12th.

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