Posts Tagged With: celebrations

Xi’an: A Few Thousand Terracotta Warriors and Some Christmas Lights.

When we were ready to leave Xi’an, I think we were both ready to leave China. Everyday people spat more and more, including one idiot on a marble floor in a dead posh shopping mall. Everyday people stared more and more, including one man on our way to the train station who I couldn’t help but question very loudly in English. The shoving, the spitting, the starting and the sheer undeniable rudeness of the Chinese people had become far too much, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to 5 more days in Beijing before we leave China.

This is a shame, because having said that, Xi’an is actually a really nice place and as close to rural China as we’re going to get on this trip (yes, I’m aware there’s a population of over 4 million). If you love history, you could hang around for ages because there’s loads of ancient tombs etc all around Xi’an. However, the main draw is the Army of Terracotta Warriors – self-dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. This was our Christmas Day! And what with it being Christmas ‘n’ all, we treated ourselves to a tour rather than making our own way on the bus. This turned out to be a bonus as you’d never notice it from the side of the road and would probably end up somewhere even more rural.

Anyway, we woke nice and early Christmas morning after the hostel Christmas shin-dig the night before. It was all very exciting. There was music, and competitions and a magician. I’ve always wanted to see a magician!…but a tall person sat in front of me for that bit. Back to Christmas morning – up we gets, out we goes and in the reception we waits.

“Are you waiting for a tour? To the Terracotta Warriors?”

“Yeah”

“I am your guide for the day. Welcome! Come with me. Merry Christmas!”

“Aww!! Thanks!” It’s Christmas!

It was quite nice that the other 3 people on our tour were an English family. We hadn’t met many, and the first we do we’re spending Christmas day with! On the way to the Terracotta Warriors, we stopped off at an ‘Art and Ceramics Factory’. It turns out that this place batch produce hundreds, if not thousands of mini and full-sized Terracotta Warriors for the tourists to buy. Do you ever watch Willy Wonka and think, “It’d be ruined. The wonder of his magical chocolate’s taste, fizz and scrumdidillioumptiousness would be ruined if you went there.”? Well that’s what this commission grabbing tourist trap did to my view of the Terracotta Warriors. But there’s more….

When you arrive and after the 360° circle cinema you finally walk into Pit 1 (there’s 3 pits altogether), it is actually quite impressive. As I wondered around, however, it became less impressive, and I couldn’t help but think “Is this a conspiracy?!”.

Fact #1: The weapons found in the tomb used technology not invented until 1939 in Germany.

Fact #2: The bodies aren’t all together. Some are headless, saves  bit of work.

Fact #3: The factory. They can be made so easily!

Pessimistic I know, but something felt a little odd.

It did make for a memorable and different Christmas day though. Worth a visit if you’re in China I think it’s fair to say.

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Categories: China, East Asia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Observations On Malaysia

I’m gonna throw it out there, no backlash please, but Malaysia is nicer than Indonesia. It feels safer, friendlier and just generally a nicer place to be. Here’s why…

  • ANGRY BIRDS.  This isn’t why Malaysia is better than Indonesia, it’s just an observation. Malaysia loves Angry Birds. You can buy Angry Birds fans, t-shirts, balloons, cakes, lanyards, iPhone cases and even toothbrush holders. I know because my sister has one.

 

 

 

 

  • ROADS. Malaysia’s roads are a much more pleasant experience than those in Indonesia. Not only are then generally well surfaced, but drivers don’t overtake for no apparent reason. To top it all off, their CAUTION signs remind me of one of my favourite films…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • CELEBRATIONS. Maybe I just got lucky with this one but Malaysia seems to always have a reason to celebrate. I think having so many different religions helps, but since being in Malaysia, I’ve seen the National Day, Hari Raya (end of Ramadan), World Wakeboarding Championships, Sarawak Independence Day and some people standing very still to Scotland The Brave…

 

 

 

 

  • FOOD. I hate to sound like I’m comparing Malaysia and Indonesia all the time, but in Indonesia, most food is goreng. Fried. In Malaysia, however, you can get plenty of fried food if that’s your thing, but you can also get curries, laksa, Chinese and Indian more so than in Indonesia.

 

 

 

 

  • FRIENDLY. I’ve given up now, it’s impossible not to compare. In Indonesia, people see your white skin and their eyes go ker-ching. In Malaysia, people are just generally more friendly and willing to help. Or wanting to take your photo, like this lot last night who had more cameras than an Argos stockroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like Malaysia. It’s a welcoming country with plenty to see and do, and despite being one of the more expensive destinations in South East Asia, it’s still possible to live for a tenner a day. I don’t mind that I didn’t climb Mount Kinabalu, or dive Sipidan, or see sea turtles because I know that Malaysia is one place I’ll be visiting again.

Categories: Malaysia, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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