“We all really felt as though Xian was what we expected from a Chinese city and initial thoughts were that we were going to enjoy it here…”.
Now Xian Was More Like It!
Beijing was fun but too expansive for my liking and I felt as though Beijing had no real character or soul. Onwards to Xian, we travelled via the appropriately named Bullet Train. The train blasts through the countryside at 300km an hour and made the 1,000-km journey in under four hours. Xian is a beautifully authentic chinese city which mixes the old and the new majestically. We all really felt as though Xian was what we expected from a Chinese city and initial thoughts were that we were going to enjoy it here, and we did.
The Astounding Terracotta Warriors Tour
Day One in Xian, we met our specialised guide for the day Lena. I say specialised as we were going to explore the Terracotta Warrior pits. The terracotta warriors itself is considered the 8th Wonder of the world and is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites only discovered just over 30 years ago. Chalk this down as something you have to see in this lifetime and the stories behind the warriors and surrounding area absolutely mind-blowing.
Take for example, the fact that the 8,000 so far discovered warriors involved 700,000 workers and took 40 years to complete.
Not only that, EVERY SINGLE WARRIOR IS UNIQUE.
In Xian, we also hit up the infamous city wall expanding 14km around the whole city of Xian which is considered one of the oldest cities in China. The city wall protected the people and architecture within. You can rent bikes and cycle around the top of the wall which was a highlight of the entire trip!
More Bullet Trains Please, The Sleeper To Shanghai Was Rough
To get to Shanghai we travelled by overnight sleeper train. I would like to say it was just as effortless as the bullet train but wasn’t near. The overnight sleeper trains in China are infamous among tourists as a way to travel not because you want to but because you have to. The train itself has two different classes, hard sleeper, and soft sleeper, we were in the soft sleeper carriages and we all agreed after a 15-hour overnight journey that we would not have wanted to see the hard sleepers!
We made the best of an “out of our comfort zone” situation and did what an Irish group would do, cracked open a few beers and swapped a few stories. 15 long hours later we pulled into a melting Shanghai to begin our final leg of the trip.
After the sleeper-gate we were too whacked for giving Shanghai the full treatment on the first night so we just pottered around taking in our initial urban surroundings.
Mission Possible to Xitang, Without Tom Cruise (Thankfully)
The next day we visited the historic Xitang water village located about an hour and a half outside of Shanghai, the water village is one of the oldest villages in China and dates back beyond our typical time measurements! If you’re familiar with the latest mission impossible film, they shot an incredible chase scene here and filmed all on site and you can see why they choose this location. I didn’t watch it (I hate Tom Cruise) but it must have been a killer scene as it was a stunning spot.
Authentic Chinese architecture throughout, Xitang is basically the Venice of China due to the canal system. Our lunch was booked with a view down onto the canal and narrow streets below. Great way to spend our last day in China. That eve we took a trip down to the Shanghai Bund to witness the city skyscrapers lit up at night competing with one another to be the brightest most flamboyant thing since George Michael in Club Tropicana. Incredible to see and a great way to finish off the trip with a group that made the experience what it was.
Thinking of taking on China for yourself in 2018? There’s still time to be there for Chinese New Year, or even if you can’t travel in February, the numbers of Irish visitors to China is only increasing. Check out James’ itinerary here or pick out one of your own and let’s start planning.
Email James.ODonoghue@usit.ie, grab him on Whatsapp or pop in-store today.