Hey everyone! Long time no see (or hear in our case!). I know its been a while since our last blog, sorry about that, but its pretty hard to keep up to date with the world when you are having so much fun! Rub it in rub it in….
Ok to summerise the last 6 days (where the hell do i start?!), I might write up to our 11hr train ride to Xi’An and leave you again for another breather, as there will be too much writing. No one wants to read a novel right now! So we left our beloved Happy Dragon Hostel in Beijing for another pre-booked one in the hutongs (residential back alleys) near Tiananmen Sq. I was so sad to say goodbye to our first hostel, they were so nice in there and would recommend it to anyone. A little apprehensive, with our over-packed and heavy backpacks on, sweating our asses off, we walked through the busy streets to find our next place – the Leo Courtyard Hostel (a 300 year old traditional hutong brothel). When we arrived I was stunned by how beautiful the reception and courtyard was. There was a fountain in the middle with red lamps swaying from the ceiling and wood carved furniture dotted about. I thought to myself, oh yes this will do us nicely…then we were taken to our room. Fook! After walking down dark, damp corridors we were led to another hidden section of the hostel and were shown our room – a big mouldy cube with dirty looking bed sheets and a wet room/toilet that never dried out. Damn. Anyway, that night, feeling slightly home sick of the Happy Dragon, we went shopping and brought noddles (40p) and beer (20p) back to our room and sat watching some dude on tv sing both male and female parts to an opera. It was like I was living in the strangest of acid inflicted dreams! Ha ha! That night, the thought of bed bugs kept me awake.
The next day we visited the Summer Palace, a place where the Emperor and all of his court would stay during the summer months. It was breathtaking! Filled with different lakes, bridges and quaint buildings, we spent the day walking around the circumference of the park (which was around 6k) admiring the pink and red blossom, listening to frogs croak in the reeds and watching boats glide along the still water. I felt it was the first fresh air I had breathed in ages. We ate a bag of warm stuffed dumplings for 10p and a roasted sweet potato whilst getting lost down the many stone paths zigzagging through the forests on the hills. I met a monk dressed in red robes who had a Nikon camera round his neck (and I thought Buddhists didn’t have any belongings?) and he said he thought my picture of the cherry blossom was very good. We also kept being stopped by randoms for photos with their families. I felt famous for the day (but it was most probably my massive nose that they found amusing!) Its hard to think that some of these people have never seen a Westerner before.
The next day, we checked out of the Leo Courtyard (with a smile on my face) and went into town for the last time to post some postcards to the oldies in our family (oldies love a good ole postcard don’t they eh!). Later on we made our way to the biggest railway station I’ve ever seen – the Beiling West station – to catch the night train to Xi’An. We hopped on board, found our room and met the Chinese guys we were going to be sharing with for 11 hours. They were so quiet, they never spoke to each other, but one of them helped me and Andy get up to our beds on the top bunks (it was quite a flipping leg stretch to reach the step up!). I went to the toilet to clean my teeth once the train had pulled away from the station and immediately spun round on the spot when I entered, as someone had done the biggest turnout in the squat toilet, all down the side where you cant flush it away. F’ing gross! So I thought sod it, rough it girl, leave your teeth and go to sleep! So i did…or at least tried to but the dude underneath me kept farting loudly throughout the night ha ha!
So I’ll leave you guys on that nice thought and will write again soon about our time in Xi’an (including the Terracotta Warriors, the Muslim Quarters food market and the poshest hotel-type hostel I’ve ever stayed in for £4 each a night!). Happy days.
Emma over and out xxx