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Rich’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2005

Location: China

MapFrom Ulaan Bator we headed for China and Beijing. We visited the Forbidden City, went for a ride around the hutongs (back lanes of old Beijing) on a rickshaw, and generally eat too much food - every meal is like going out to a good Chinese restaurant back home.
There seems to be a smog that sits over Beijing, stopping the sun from shining on us (and spoiling our photographs).
We went out to the Great Wall for a 5 hour walk, this time in the blazing sunshine. It was the most energetic thing we have done so far. The hardest thing was shrugging off the persistent traders who wanted to walk the whole Wall with us, trying to sell us water and postcards. They weren't even put off by Rich pretending to be from Romania so he couldn't speak English!
After Beijing we headed to Xi'an to take in the Terracotta Warriors which were pretty amazing. They still have loads to uncover. We also met up with a Chinese student who took us to loads of nice restaurants and taught us how to make a real mess when eating - this being the done thing!
As we were now due in Vietnam, the next 5 days were spent trying to escape from China, which sounds easier than it actually was, as train tickets were scarce due to the millions of Chinese going on their holidays. Consequently, we got to take unscheduled visits to Chengdu (pop. about 10 million) and Kunming (pop. about 4 million) - have you ever heard of them?
We eventually got a night bus to the Vietnamese border, and by that time we were almost cheering to be leaving China (not that we didn't like it).