Day 07 - Sat 22 Mar 08
Up for breakfast at the hotel, which was frankly poor. Spend quite some time checking out of the hotel as it confused the staff that only two people were checking out (Alison is staying an extra day and flying down to meet up with us). Eventually made it out of the hotel and had a closer look at the Drum and Bell towers at either end of the street outside our hotel. Also worked out that the hotel we stayed at wasn't the one in the Lonely Planet that we'd selected - the name was similar but not identical!
Took a taxi down to the Big Goose Pagoda, there's a huge fountain outside with was part of a sound show, with the water spouts being timed to the music. The PA was the loudest I've ever experienced. Paid 25Y to get into the grounds, and about 20Y to climb the pagoda. Some great views at the very top. An American was trying to use dollars to gain entrance - no idea if he succeeded.
Another taxi gets us to the south gate, and 40Y entrance through a huge gate (past a pair of massive inflatable elephants with equally large monkeys on their backs) up onto the city walls. The walls are impressive three or four storeys high and as wide as a road at the top. There were a number of army units marching along it, the weather was warm, and they were all sweating.
Taxi back to the hotel to chill out - helped Alison dump some stuff from her backpack. Over to the railway station which was mobbed, but our soft class tickets gave us access to the soft lounge. Stocked up with goods for our 27hr train trip, and bundled onto the train at 19:15. Partook of the restaurant car on the train, and very nice it was too.
Purchased a toilet roll from the little trolley that goes up and down the train. It became obvious that the perforations are stronger than the paper so that when you come to rip it, it comes apart in your hands!
The train takes 27 hours, and Alison decided to spend another night in Xi'an before flying down to Guilin and meeting up with us. Her flight will only take a couple of hours.