AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Xi’an to Hong Kong


Posted on Jun 5, 2014

This trip is all about experiences, some more famous or popular than others. For example, if you embark on a trip to Japan you will have many people asking about the Bullet Trains (Shinkansen). But putting China and trains in the same sentence you think of another kind of train experience. Overnight trains, Trans-Siberian, train to Lhasa. High speed trains generally don’t spring to mind. But, as we entered Beijing on the Trans-Mongolian train back in November 2013, we passed a gleaming station, brand new and filled with these amazing looking trains. Bright white, sleek and curved, they looked good. After a bit of research it turns out that China has a large high speed train network. So I decided that one thing we should do in China was take one of these high speed trains. With nothing more to do in the west of China we decided to go to Hong Kong. This was a practical necessity as well, our visa was a group visa for Tibet and couldn’t be extended. We didn’t have enough days to see everything we wanted in the east of the country so we’d have to leave the country and get another visa. Hong Kong is the only practical place to do this. Hong Kong is about 2,500km by train from Xi’an, another long overnight train or a 9hr trip during the day. We picked the latter. At the train station buying the tickets we really fulfilled the stereotype of the rich westerner. The place was heaving with people buying tickets and everyone had a few bank notes on their hands. Usually a couple of 10s or 20s. They were buying tickets costing maybe 50 Yuan (£5). Our high speed train cost 900 Yuan each (£86). We handed over a huge wad of 100s and got out fast! The high speed lines don’t go to Hong Kong, which is why they’d never come up in my search for trains. But on the border of Hong Kong is the city of Shenzhen and the high speed line terminates there. The train station is connected to the border by metro. Then over the border in Hong Kong is the MTR network which would get us to within 500m of our hotel. Perfect. The high speed line left from a different station to the one we’d arrived on. It was a 30 minute ride on the Xi’an metro. I really like cities that have metro networks, it makes getting around really stress free and simple. The station was very modern and large, built from lots of shiny metal and with shiny stone floors. Even better, no...

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Xi’an: The Terracotta Warriors


Posted on Jun 5, 2014

Warning: This post is filled with many negative comments and complaints. The warriors are hugely underrated and a massive disappointment. If you don’t care about my thoughts and just want to see some photos then skim through this post to the photos! When you think of visiting China there are a few attractions which immediately spring to mind. The Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace and the Terracotta Warriors. We were pretty excited to be visiting one of those today! The hostel we were staying in offered tours to see the warriors. Actually the tour was only transport and the entrance fee. They wanted £34 each! It was really easy to get there by ourselves. We caught the bus from the bus station for 70p each which took us straight there. Then we only had the £15 each entrance fee to pay. Half the price and no stupid tour timeframe to follow. Just to complain a little (I feel I don’t complain quite enough!) there was absolutely no information about the buses. We only know because other tourists have written blogs or put information on Trip Advisor detailing exactly where to go, what to pay, where to get off, etc. But, what really annoys me is in addition to no information there are touts taking advantage. As a white guy walking around I’m their prime target (this is the same everywhere). They have another bus. A better bus. Why not go on their bus? With some mis-information they can easily prey on any tourist who isn’t 100% sure of where they are going. And the Chinese authorities think this is acceptable! It’s not! I hate it! They will arrest people talking about freedom, rights and carry out the odd massacre or two, well not so much in recent years. And yet, in a Socialist, nay Communist system of government, they don’t help ordinary people by signposting information clearly nor stopping touts who lie, cheat and rip people off. That roughly sums up the government’s attitude. Opps… I’ll get back to the point now… Approaching the ticket office we were bombarded with people wanting to be our guide. After ignoring those we easily bought the tickets and hired an audio guide (tour guides cost a lot more and have an agenda, you go where they want you to go). At the gate we were told we couldn’t enter without paying extra for the buggy to the entrance. We would have to go the long way round. And bloody hell was it the long way round! From the ticket office to the entrance was at least 1km of shops and restaurants. Looking...

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