|Left Beijing on Thursday morning and headed out of town to the great wall, to a very quiet area called simao where there are barely any tourists (white devils). Bus journey was eventful - the driver thought he was a jedi and obviously felt the force when none of his passengers did - a favourite manouvre was the "on the phone to mate overtake on blind bend in fourth gear" Our chinese isn;t up to much but we could have swore he was saying to his mate "this'll put the s@*ts up the white devils!" He was right. So by the time we got to the wall we were ready for a diazepam and a large whiskey but instead headed off on a 10k trek over the wall - took three and half hours and we visited 28 towers - although it was really gruelling in parts we both really enjoyed ourselves and had a great chance to really appreciate were we where and what we were doing - the pictures are great but you'll just have to take our word for that at this stage!
Stayed in a "hotel" near the wall and was delighted by the banquet that the staff laid on - specialities included - thousand year egg, a preserved egg that is basically black and mouldy - didn't stop garbage guts though (aka Simon) but I had to share a room with him! Other dishes were a bit better but not the greatest feast ever. Breakfast the next morning strangly resembled exactly the same dishes from the previous night. The hotel reaked (literally) of faded grandeur and the creature noises at night made for an intersting nights attempted sleep - Penny was particularly fond of the large spider that jumped about 1 metre from Simons bed when he tried to get in.
Next day briefly popped back to Beijing to catch a train to Xian which is where we are now. It was an overnight sleeper train and proved to be a real laugh as we indulged in several bottles of 'great wall' red wine with our new tripmates. Didn't sleep much though.
So you get the picture by now we're seriously sleep deprived - arrived in Xian at 6.30am on Saturday and walked to our hotel through the livestock market. With dodgy guts and nausia already in tow the sight of chickens being beheaded, sharks in tanks, sheep heads, crabs clicking claws, pigs bits (of all kinds), skinned rabbits and a rabid man bashing a skeleton with a machete we thought it quite an achievement to make it to the hotel without parting with our breakfast! Its rained constantly in Xian so everytime we go out from the hotel we have to walk through market and its variously coloured puddles. Today we woke up and the sun was shining so we went and bought new shoes!
Went to the terracotta army yesterday which was really good and tonight we get on another sleeper train (this time for 17 hours) and head to Shanghai which we're both really looking forward to.
So we'll update you once we've hit the streets of shanghai.
Until then take care
Simon & Penny