Xian is home to one of the man made wonders of world, the Terracotta Warriors. Only in the last century did a farmer come across a head of a statue buried in the ground. He ran away scared of this demon head, which turned out to be one of the greatest archaeological finds of recent history. The Terracotta were quite memorizing as there were hundreds of them lined up but each were all unique in height, weight and even facial expression. There was a funny story about the farmer who discovered the head of a warrior, who has since become a celebrity. Bill Clinton was coming over for a visit to China and when going to Xian he wanted to meet the farmer. The farmer knew no English so learnt a few phrases like “how are you?” and to reply with “me too”. On meeting the former president, the farmer accidentally said “who are you?”. Bill being the laid back guy that he is replied with “I am Hilary’s husband”. The farmer added, “me too”.
On the first day of Xian we were not feeling the effects of sleeper train travel and decided to ride around the city wall. We were first greeted by some tough looking guards in full gear, that we decided to pose with. This was followed by a dramatic game of shuttlecock (the Chinese version of hacky sack). After many attempts we managed to keep up the shuttlecock ten times within our circle. This demanded some restraint on my behalf not running into other’s ‘designated’ areas. This was followed by a relaxing leisurely bike ride on top of the city wall that took under two hours to complete. Well, I say leisurely until I challenged Phil and Ed to a race to the finish line. Those two young pups gave me a run for my money
The Muslim quarter of Xian contained a lot of mouth watering spicy food and quaint little shops. There is nothing I enjoy more than haggling with shopkeepers. Sometimes I would haggle for something I don’t even need just to see how low I can get the price. I made sure no one in the group would buy anything without me being present. I managed to get Ed some retro watches, Gina a scarf and some chopsticks, Andy a t-shirt with some extra socks thrown in for the fun of it as he mentioned earlier he was running low on pairs. I did manage to get a free old coin for Phil thrown in with my ceramic ying-yang stress balls. The best deal I did however, was with Felipe. Towards the end of the day I walked towards the group who had gathered together at the edge of the bazaar. Felipe asked, “who wants to come haggle some cheap Ray Bans for me?” in a tone that seemed that it was a chore. Everyone looked at their feet. “I’ll do it!” I shouted in delight. Felipe and me came across our first victims, I mean store, that had two young girls on it. We started throwing prices around and they did not want to go lower than 50 Yuan and Felipe seemed to be defeatist and was willing to agree to a high amount. I walked away and told Felipe to leave the talking to me, the girls called after us that we would not get cheaper. At the next place, after some sweet talking, I managed to get two pairs of Ray Ban sunglasses for a mere 20 Yuan. Walking past the first girls they asked us how much we got the sunglasses for, “10 Yuan each” Felipe laughed. The girls jaws dropped and said something in our direction in Mandarin angrily, most likely something offensive.
That night we tore it up in Xian. At one of the bars, a young man with poor English, gave us a few bottles of beer as a kind gesture, sometimes it pays being a Westerner. Then we went to a night club Jade suggested to us. It was quite stylish inside but the Chinese are not really the dancing type. At first we were a bit of an attraction, some random white people dancing and singing loudly. Our fame soon died after an hour as we must have become a bit tedious for the crowd. It was a good night.
In our last day in Xian we went to a dirtier suburb where we had some PAPA JOHNS! I love Papa Johns and did make a change from a week of Chinese food. After barely finishing my sizable pizza I needed some dessert. Gina funnily called over a random Chinese man who she thought was a waiter. I went along and hungrily pointed to the dessert I wanted like some madman. The guy did not even work at Papa Johns.
Below is a video of me riding around the wall of Xian. Apologies for the shakiness but it is no easy feat to film yourself while riding a bicycle. At many points during the clip it appears that I am about to fall off…
No Ryans were hurt in the making of this video!