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have a foam bath

unlikely luxury

overcast 15 °C
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Friday 29th March 1985.
Up at 6. Noodles in dining car. High volume fast service here. Pack and ready to leave train at Xian at 7 am. Photograph steam trains in station. Jiefeng hotel near station, no dormitory, single room 50 Y. No thank you but the Swedes check in. March to the Xian peoples Hotel. Massive soviet style hotel compound

Massive soviet style hotel compound

A vast imposing affair in three blocks, with fountains playing, all walled in as a compound. Dormitory bed 7 Y, FEC accepted. Large dormitory on ground floor in block 3, for the foreigners. Six large comfortable beds and our own bathroom fully equipped with bath, mirror and sit down loo. Have a foam bath for one hour! Luxury! Walk around the block and eventually find the Chines International Tourist Service office in the hotel itself. There are two trains to Chongquing, number 7 and number 9. Get the chinese and tourist prices. Trudge off to the advance booking office. Closed for lunch as it is now midday. Locate appropriate queue for train number 9 and stand in line for one hour. Request hard berth to Chongquing, but get big 'no no', I think because the train does not start here. International driving licence passes for student identity card and after much bluffing and pretending not to understand unwelcome developments and by being very patient and ignoring all her protestations I get a local price hard seat in Reminbi. She short changes me 3 Y in her anger, total price 30 Y.

Wander around Xian. The city is neatly laid out on a North South grid, this ancient city is now dull concrete and dust but it was once equal to Rome or Constantinople as a capital city. The massive city walls are still much in evidence. Right at the centre of town is a large solid pagoda, this used to house a big bell which announced the time of day to the city. The walls mark the boundary of the ancient Tang dynasty’s Forbidden City. The visible bits of wall are Ming rebuilds. The wall forms a square with a 14 km perimeter. It is 12 meters high and 12 meters wide.
 Xian has been an important city for 3000 years. Xian is the capital of the state of Qin, and this was the first state to conquer all the others, thus Emperor Qin Shihuang was the first Emperor of all China. He died in 206 BC and left, in his longing for immortality, a huge tomb guarded by many thousands of life size terracotta soldiers. After his death the Qin dynasty collapsed to be replaced by the Han. Xian stands on the site of Changan which was at its best under the Tang Emperor's (618-907 AD). When it had a population of one million.

Enjoyed some very tasty yoghourt in its own Ming vase. Refundable deposit. Sealed with waxed paper and an elastic band, you thrust in a straw and suck out the cool contents. Dine on well spicy Sichuan food with two young English brothers. The older is traveling before going to University and is on his way to Indonesia.
 Sleep in empty dormitory. My throat is sore and my nose is running.Spot the spitoon

Spot the spitoon

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in China

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