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Anna’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 01 Aug 2006

Location: Urumqi (Wulumuqi), China

MapHello all, we have had such a brilliant past week and Ive been uber lazy with this webpage (due to lack of internet access), so I'll start from when we left Beijing (the last thing I wrote about) and bring you all up to date, its gonna be a long-un, so feel free to log off when your eyes start drooping!
I just tried to upload our photos (we have quite a few) but it would take half an hour for just one! We are in the desert, so fair enough. I'll wait till we are somewhere less remote and try again.

(In Beijing) We did have enough time to go to the underground Beijing. Its a vast network of tunnels below the city that were dug out to provide shelter in a war that never came. The tunnels spread a really long distance and link up to the main attractions ie Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City. It would have been much more interesting if we could have seen more than we did, but a lot of it was restricted. Still, Im glad we got to go.
Before we left Beijing we had Peking Duck, it was pricey, but sooo delicious - definately a must if you go there.

From Beijing we took a train to Pingyao, a small town surrounded by the only intact city wall remaining in China from the Ming Dynasty. We walked around the wall and there was no-one else up there, surprising as thats the reason the place is famous.
All the buildings in Pingyao are the old traditional ones, like in LiJiang, they are really beautiful and we were staying in a lovely hotel built around a small courtyard. It was really touristy on the two main roads, but was nice and peaceful walking around the back streets.

From Pingyao we took the train to Xian. We didnt spend too long here as we will have loads of time to visit next year, though we got a good, quick look around.
One evening we were sat across the road from the Bell Tower and close to us were three chinese women all dolled up and taking pictures of themselves posing infront of the Tower. But I don't think the woman who was taking the photos had used a camera before because she was holding it the wrong way around and was struggling to look through the lens the wrong way. We could see the flash going off in her eyes everytime she took a photo. We were thinking about telling them, when they came and asked Neill to take a picture of them with me. Neill obviously held it the right way, and I could tell by their confused glances to each other that they thought he was doing it wrong, but didnt say anything - maybe didnt want to embarress us! Poor women they had got all dressed up and for all that effort will get a film full of close ups of her eye and one photo with me. Needless to say we enjoyed laughing at it.

From Xian we took a train to Lanzhou, an industrial town on the banks of the Yellow River. It was pretty dirty and didnt really have much to offer - though we were only stopping over. We really struggled to find a hotel and finally arrived at what we thought was a hotel. We checked in and were very surprised at how cheap it was, much cheaper than we are used to. Slowly we realised that it wasnt a normal hotel but more like a seedy-ish spa hotel. We both needed showers after the train ride, and (no en-suite) were led seperately to communal shower rooms, where we had to hand all our clothes to the attendants and then shower in a massive room with loads of other people, it was weird, but ok. Then after coming back from booking our bus tickets we noticed all the VERY scantily clad women walking around the hotel and decided to check out and find a real hotel. The only other hotel that had rooms was a pricy one (16 pounds).

Our quest for Urumqi was proving even more difficult and it was impossible to get train tickets so we had to resort to a sleeper bus. We'd heard and read some horror stories, but were pleasantly surprised. It was pretty comfy for the first 20 hours or so, but, due to the man infront of Neill constantly farting (the worst Ive ever smelt), by the 34th hour we were ready to get off. We enjoyed the bus ride and got to see loads of the countryside, we drove for 10 hours through the desert on a road that was no more than a dirt track, it was bumpy but great.
We were dropped off in Urumqi (Yay - we finally made it!!!!) at four in the morning and sat outside the train station until day-light before heading for a hotel.

Time is up so I'll write about Urumqi and Heaven Lake when we next get to a computer.