A Travellerspoint blog

The Wall

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One activity that is a must if you are in Xian is riding on top of the old wall that surrounds the town (and eating the lamb and bread soup). We did a late afternoon ride, which I think is the best as it is cooler and you get to see all the pretty lights come on and then go and have a beer at a local bar.

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Posted by Arkgecko 00:20 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xian and her soup!

And I found a recipe online!!!

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Arriving and leaving Xian were two experiences I do not wish to repeat, but I did love staying in Xian, a very different experience to Shanghai. After a long night on a train (though I must add a very comfortable, air conditioned train with no children pooing) and having to walk from the train station to our bus in the heat, we arrived at our hotel to find the power was out and that we could not check in until later that day. Off we all went, smelly, tired and in desperate need of a shower and a coffee! But instead we went on a walking tour of the main areas of Xian. Whereas Shanghai is a modern city, Xian is the complete opposite and the main point in the centre of the city is the drum and bell towers. The city is also surrounding by a wall – the north, south, east and west. After finding out that we still couldn’t check in, we decided to go for lunch and Tao was very excited about where he was taking us – a restaurant that only sold a lamb and bread soup.

The walk to the restaurant was wonderful. We went through all of these streets selling the most amazing food and such a variety too. Walnuts and dates were everywhere – yum! The stall owners would pre-crack the walnuts and then throw them into this machine that would heat them and allow salt to fall into the cracks and then they sold them – warm, salty nuts mmmm!! Back to the lamb and bread soup! This has been a traditional meal for some time as it is very nutritious, filling and warm! We get to the restaurant and you are given a bowl with 2-3 pieces of flat bread. The customer must then break the bread into very small bits, the smaller the better as Tao kept telling us, as it will soak up the soup. It was actually harder to do than first thought but it the end we had a bowl full of small bits of bread. Then you take your bowl downstairs to the cook and hand over your bowl and you in return get a tag with a number on it and a plate of pickled garlic. Not too long after the swap a waiter comes upstairs with your bowl calling out your number and you make the swap and have an amazing bowl of chunky lamb and bread soup in front of you that you eat with the pickled garlic.

You have to eat the soup from the outside in and do not stir it all up – I don’t know why but Tao insisted that this was the best way to eat the soup. OMG it was amazing – one of the best meals!!!!

http://sunflower-recipes.blogspot.jp/2011/08/xian-torn-bread-with-lamb-soup.html

Posted by Arkgecko 23:33 Archived in China Comments (1)

Beautiful (but HOT) Xitang

Did I mention it was hot?

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Surrounding Shanghai are many water towns. Today we visited the gorgeous little town of Xitang, which is a little Asian Venice. Unfortunately for me it was an EXTREMELY HOT day. Unbelievably hot. Ridiculously hot. Stupidly hot. It was hot! After a wander around I bought some very funky postcards and found a very funky AIRCONDITIONED café, had a great salad and wrote on my postcards. I attempted to leave quite a few times but there was something about that café that kept me in there – oh that’s right – AIRCON! No, I actually did manage to leave the café and meander through the laneways. There were so many cool little shops – it is a good thing that I have no money! There were a lot of ‘western’ objects and I decided that since everything we buy is made in China, they decided to create a little town that sold everything that was made in China for other western countries!

That night was another train trip but this time it was on a new aircon train – bliss!

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Posted by Arkgecko 03:10 Archived in China Comments (3)

Propaganda

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Like many countries around the world China has had its political turmoil. Alongside such turmoil usually comes some form of propaganda and China has an amazing history of propaganda use. Propaganda is something I have a real interest in so finding out that Shanghai had a propaganda museum was something I got very excited about. Even though China is now ‘open’ about it’s history and ‘opposition’ is allowed, many still feel unsafe about being open. The propaganda museum is the work of a Chinese man who is just generally interested in propaganda and its history in China. The museum is located in the basement of an apartment block in the middle of an average area of Shanghai. When you arrive at the apartment block the security guard gives you a business card with the directions to the museum – it is all very sneaky. The museum was amazing and the posters and artwork that the collector has is extraordinary and not all of it is on display. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos but I bought 3 fantastic posters, a child’s text book from Mao’s time of rule and a copy of Mao’s little red book. Mmmmmm I wonder if I can claim my trip on tax!!!! Definitely one of the highlights for me on this trip.

http://www.shanghaipropagandaart.com/

Posted by Arkgecko 02:51 Archived in China Comments (2)

Walking Shanghai

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I really loved my time in Shanghai. There was a lot of walking to be done and sights to see. On our first afternoon we were given a small tour by Tao. Walking through skyscrapers and hundreds of people was a new experience. But best of all was the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. The Bund is a huge area to walk and sit along the river. Like Hong Kong the water separates the two parts of Shanghai. There are many ways to get across – boat, subway, bridges or the BUND SIGHTSEEING TUNNEL. One of the members of our group had read about it and suggested that we go through it. Firstly let me regress for a moment back to Hangzhou and to the Scenery Elevator at the hotel which is situated at the front of the hotel. One would think that this was a glass fronted elevator where you could get a view of Hungzhou! But no it is an elevator that goes up passing little staged sets of Chinese gardens, orchards, houses and whatever else the hotel thinks a tourist would want to see – hilarious. So the name of the tunnel is the BUND SIGHTSEEING – one would think that you would get to see the sights of the Bund area. Oh no – what one gets is a completely unique experience that is very difficult to put into words and I had gone without my camera!! I have found a descriptipn on trip advisor that perfectly describes the experience

“Approach the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel with a strictly take-what-you’re-given-attitude.
No, there may not be any Bund sights, (contrary to what the name suggests), but nothing about the five-minute underground journey in the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel makes any sense. But what's not to love about the sudden appearance of blow-up dolls, flashing colored lights and booming, disembodied voices saying vaguely apocalyptic words such as "magma" and "hell." You won't get that on the metro.
Think of the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel as a slightly more expensive and hugely more fun way to get from Puxi to Pudong, and you won't be disappointed.”

I am not sure what to make of this experience except I can tell you that there was a lot of laughter!!!!!!

The next day we went on a huge walk around the city. Through shopping districts, leafy streets, temples and bridges. We had bought a ticket on the hop on hop off bus. We got on first thing in the morning and it was a great way to see the city but then we made our first big mistake. We got off about ¼ into the trip. I mean that is the whole point of hop on hop off buses right! We wandered around but manged to walk far away from a stop. That was okay – we went into a Confuscious Temple and had a lovely tea ceremony and tasted lots of wonderful tea. Moving on we meandered through leafy streets of the French Concession area til we came to a stop. The bus turns up and it is PACKED – it no longer looks like a tourist hop on hop pff bus but a public bus that you have to push and squeeze to get on. No longer can you listen to the audio guide for two reasons – one you can’t get to a earplug hole to plug in your free earplugs and secondly the noise level of parents yelling at children or talking on their mobiles is excessive. That was the demise of our hop on hop off bus tour. Lesson learnt – do not get off the bus!!!!!!
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Posted by Arkgecko 22:16 Archived in China Comments (1)

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