Hello! Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable!

This is a blog about a Big Orange Truck and part of its journey across the world. It’s also about Anni and Shane’s journey from London to Beijing, overland.

It was written during 2010 as a way of reminding us what we were up to a year previously.

If you’d like to read the full story, you can start here, at the first entry.

Otherwise, you can jump to a specific country using the categories on the left of the page.



One year ago, and 146 days after leaving the UK, we arrived home in Brisbane.

The flight from Kuala Lumpur was with Air Asia, took eight hours and was quite uncomfortable. I didn’t get a wink of sleep, instead reading almost all of one of the Twilight books, but eventually the time passed and we arrived at Coolangatta Airport at 7:30am local time.

Our families were all there to meet us and took us to Kirra Surf Club on the way back to Brisbane for a much needed cooked breakfast. There was a lot of catching up to be done before any resting was allowed!

So we came to the end of this chapter of our world travels. It was an amazing journey, and even now a year later we haven’t begun to go through our photos, apart from what you see on our websites.

One of the questions we get asked the most is: which country was your favourite? Shane usually replies Turkey – it is a beautiful and varied country and very well set up for tourists. I loved Turkey but I did also really enjoy visiting Iran. The friendliness of the people and the amazing architecture and history makes it a fascinating country. Tibet and the rest of China were certainly highlights as well.

So what happened to the rest of the people we traveled with in the Big Orange Truck? Well they continued on south into Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, with a little bit of group drama but mostly together. It sounds like they had a wonderful time – we’ll get to South East Asia one of these days to catch up on what we missed. The Big Orange Truck was shipped back to the UK from Singapore, and the group moved on into Indonesia and then on to Australia, where they met up with a Big Orange Bus to drive from Darwin down to Adelaide and around to Sydney. Most of them headed to their various homes after that, but we have caught up with a few people since they arrived in Sydney last November.

What have we been up to in the last year? Well, it was first things first once we got home. We bought jeans, we ate Red Rooster, got jobs, moved into our house in December, bought quite a lot of things and caught up with a lot of friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for at least three years.

Where are we traveling to next? We’d love to visit South America, the US and South East Asia, but I’d also quite like to go back to the UK for a visit at some point. Perhaps after all this starting a family stuff is out of the way…

If you have any questions about the trip, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me! I’ve enjoyed reliving what we were up to, One Year Ago.

One year ago, we spent a last couple of days checking out the sights in Kuala Lumpur.

We stayed in KL for two nights, at Attapsana Guesthouse. It’s a small place with shared bathrooms but comfy enough and in a great location, close to the shopping district.

While we were there it was certainly monsoon season – it rained heavily a lot of the time and was quite sticky when it wasn’t. In the time we spent there, we got around to see a fair bit of the city – mostly by walking, but the central part of the city also has a monorail system which felt a little like being at Seaworld.

On our first morning there we headed through the shopping district to a local Yum Cha restaurant. Yuuum! We then got the monorail to go and see the Menara KL Tower. The view over the city is amazing from up there – it’s the 4th highest tower in the world. They also have other little attractions there like an animal area where they basically had a load of snakes and spiders in fish tanks, plus a few other bored-looking species of birds, monkeys and raccoons. They also had a “F1 simulator” which was just a computer game played sitting in a car thingy with pedals and a steering wheel. Shane was disappointed as it wasn’t even the Malaysian track.

After the tower we walked all the way to the Petronas Towers building but didn’t go inside. Everything in the city centre here is really close together but none of the streets are straight so it can be a little disorientating. In the afternoon it started bucketing with rain so we hung out in a posh shopping centre for a few hours and had nasi lemak for dinner. When we left it still hadn’t stopped raining but that’s the monsoon for you. KL is a pleasant city – not much to do here but it feels really modern and is probably a nice place to live. Plus, the shopping looks amazing.

The second day we did a big walk around the city, taking in Chinatown and the Central Markets, past the Jamek Mosque (which was packed with people praying since it was Friday), and the gardens near KL Sentral. Once at the station there, we realised that the bus was going to take longer to get to the airport than we had originally thought, so we just got the monorail back to the hotel, picked up our bags and came straight back again to get the Skybus to the LCCT terminal for our flight home.

One year ago, we headed away from Koh Samui and took cars, ferries, buses and trains to get out of Thailand and into Malaysia.

On our last morning in Koh Samui, we had just enough time to grab some breakfast before our transfer arrived to take us to the port. When it did arrive though, it wasn’t the minibus we were expecting, but one of the ute-taxis. These are basically a ute, with two bench seats on either side of the tray and a canopy over the top for a bit of protection. This particular one already had too many people in it, but we threw our luggage on top and squeezed in, waving goodbye to Penzy and David as we zoomed off.

The driver took us right round the rest of the island, stopping to pick up 5 more people! How we managed to fit 17 people in one ute I will never know but we had 3 of the guys hanging off the back! We somehow made it to the port without losing anyone and were transferred onto a bus to drive onto the vehicle ferry.

Once the ferry was underway, we left the bus and went to sit upstairs during the trip to the mainland which took just over an hour. Little did we know, but while we were sitting upstairs, someone was going through our stuff in the bus below. Both Shane and my bags had been rifled through but we had wisely packed all our valuables in our hand luggage and the only thing missing was Shane’s manky thermarest pillow. They didn’t seem to want any of our other dirty laundry so at least that was good, but it was still very frustrating. Obviously Kathmandu combination locks are completely useless.

We were soon back on the mainland and in the bus, heading for Surat Thani town. The train station is actually to the west of the town itself, so the bus dropped us in town and had to take a public bus for the last part, but at least it was all paid for and quite smooth.

Once we eventually arrived at the train station it was about 6:30pm, and the train wasn’t due to arrive until 00:50. The area around the train station there is pretty much all tiny residential streets, but we walked up to some street markets to get something to eat. That killed about an hour. The rest of the time was a pretty long wait sitting on the train platform.

A little later on, we found out that the train was delayed until 1:35. It ended up not arriving until 2am, but at least once we were on, the 2nd class sleepers we had were comfy and we managed to get a bit of sleep with the help of earplugs. At about 6, we stopped at a town where a bunch of noisy people got on, and they prevented us from sleeping after that.

We got to the Malaysian border at about 10 or so and took all our gear off the train to go through customs. It didn’t take too long but we sat at the station for ages because the train was late and we had to wait for other trains to go by. When we got back on after the border the beds had been folded away and we had some comfy seats to sit in the rest of the way.

The train arrived at Butterworth at about 2pm, and we were happy to discover that all the bus tickets were the same price to get to Kuala Lumpur so we wouldn’t be ripped off. In the last week or so, Ramadan had started, so all the food places were closed at the station. We did manage to find some sandwiches and our bus, which was really quite comfy – much nicer than the one we got from Bangkok. As we pulled onto the highway we realised the suspension at the back was really bouncy – kind of like a really bad day at the back of the big orange Truck. No sleeping for us!

The trip was only supposed to take 4.5 hours but we stopped just after sunset for food – traveling during Ramadan can be fun in Muslim countries. We ended up getting into the city about an hour late at about 8pm. We got a taxi to our hotel because it was raining and we couldn’t be arsed working out a new city on very little sleep, after 34 hours traveling.

One year ago, we enjoyed the sun, beaches and various entertainments on the island of Koh Samui.

We were given a lift from the hotel on Koh Phangan to the port and the ferry to Koh Samui. It only took about half an hour to get over to Samui, then we were shuffled around different minibuses by a very camp ladyboy until we finally got taken to our hotel at Chaweng Beach. Penzy Guesthouse is a very nice place, just a street and a resort away from the beach. Penzy and her husband were very friendly and made us feel right at home. The only problem with the place was that there was a construction site next door, and for most of the day, a pile driver was banging in piles – RrrRRRrrRRRR-THUNK!!! RRRRrrrrRRRRrrr-THUNK!! Thankfully they didn’t start tooo early in the mornings.

Chaweng Beach is 7km long and has beautiful white sand and clear water. The beach is lined with resorts all the way along but you can just walk through most of the resort grounds to get to the beach.

We didn’t get very far before we were stopped by a couple of Thai guys who were obviously selling something. They gave us a couple of scratch cards – I was a 3-star winner which was apparently very exciting for them (we were skeptical) but they said I had won one of these great prizes and bundled us into a taxi to be taken to the north end of the beach at the Chaweng Bay View Resort, where we were treated to 2 hours worth of “vacation club” selling from a pleasant English chap in order to get our prize – a week’s “free” holiday in the next 12 months, not including flights. We didn’t end up taking advantage of the prize, since it involved dragging someone else along to a sales pitch – I would have preferred the cash they were offering as a prize instead! It was an interesting afternoon just because we’ve never been to one of those before, and the resorts he showed us were beautiful, but with no money and no jobs we weren’t really in a position to commit to 30 years worth of holiday spending.

We stayed on Koh Samui for five nights, and mostly spent the time lying around on the beach. The weather had improved since we were on Koh Phangan and it was very hot in the sun, so we didn’t spend as much time lying around as we had been. One day we walked all the way up the main road to the northern part of Chaweng Beach, which is where a lot of the nightlife and shopping is.

The highlight of our time there was a day trip we did to Ang Thong National Park. The group of 42 islands lies about 1.5 hours sail to the west of Koh Samui. Apparently, it inspired the book and movie The Beach, although the movie was filmed on Koh Phi Phi, and it’s a mixture of jungly islands surrounded by reefs. It’s a very beautiful place and we were lucky to have a hot sunny day there. The ocean around these islands is so calm and very warm.

The first stop was Mae Koh Island, where after climbing loads of steep steps and rocks you are rewarded with a view over an inland lagoon that is connected to the sea by an underwater tunnel (which humans can’t get through). We were then taken on a sea kayaking trip around the edge of the island and were picked up by the boat about ½ hour later.

The islands are all eroded around the edges by the tides and waves so at low tide the islands appear to be floating on the sea. There are caves around the bottom as well but we could only go into one of them in the kayaks at low tide.

In the afternoon they took us to another beach where some people climbed up the mountain for a view over the islands, but we took some snorkelling gear and a kayak and headed off to another beach to have a bit of a snork. I saw a black tip reef shark in the shallow water and there were a lot of fish and coral around, but the visibility was only about 40 cm so there wasn’t a lot to see. The water was lovely and warm though, even if the rocks near the beach were very slippery and slimy.

The boat chugged back to Koh Samui and we were taken back to our hotel, worn out with the most exercise we’ve done in months!

One year ago, we spent a few days on the beach on the island of Koh Phangan.

The ferry to Koh Phangan left Chumphon at 7am. We stopped at Koh Tao on the way through, which is the home of many dive companies – it looked so beautiful, but we hadn’t been able to find anything except very expensive accommodation. Maybe next time.

It took about 5 hours to get to Koh Phangan. It appeared our bags hadn’t been tampered with so at least if we were scammed on the price, we didn’t have anything pinched. Koh Phangan is the home of the famous full moon parties, but we had found a place to stay on the other side of the island – a tiny village with the most awesome name of Hat Salad. When the ferry arrived we were mobbed by taxi companies but found one pretty quickly.

We stayed at Smile Beach Resort – there was a short walk to the beach but it was close enough. The rooms are all bungalows with private bathrooms – quite simple but included aircon so they were perfect.

The beach was smallish and quiet, which was just perfect for lying around doing nothing on for a few days. It was around 32 degrees and very hot in the sun in the middle of the day – I got a bit burned (as usual) the first day so we hid a bit through the other days. The water at low tide is very shallow in the bay and it’s protected by a reef, so the water is really warm, just like a bath.

We ate most meals at the resorts along the beachfront, and the sunsets with cocktails were lovely. Being the wet season, there were storms and showers at times, but we didn’t have any days where it rained all day so we got our fair share of sunshine. There were a lot of Germans and Italians about, as the summer holidays had started in Europe.

One year ago, we headed to Thailand and spent a few days in Bangkok.

We flew out of Tianjin early in the morning and first flew for 6 hours to Kuala Lumpur with Russ and Heather. The flight was horrible, with really bad turbulence in the middle of the flight which left me a wreck. We later found out that there was a typhoon over Taiwan at the time that we would have flown fairly close to, so that was probably why it was so bad. In any case, the Air Asia planes are comfortable and roomy. There’s entertainment but by this stage we were used to bringing our own.

In Kuala Lumpur we only had about a 2 hour stop, which was slightly rushed as they hadn’t let us check all the way through. We had to go through immigration, get our bags then check in again. Fortunately the whole process was very smooth and we had enough time to eat some McD’s before saying goodbye to Heather and Russ and heading off to get back through immigration and to our gate. The flight to Bangkok was only 2 hours and in a smaller plane which wasn’t quite as comfy but we had 3 seats between the 2 of us so it wasn’t too bad. We arrived in Bangkok just after 5 local time (gmt +7) and found a taxi to take us to our hotel.

We got a cheap deal on the Heritage on Silom Road from Hotelclub and it was really lovely. Everything was either white or black in our room (apart from the wooden floor) and black carpet in the hallway was a little strange, but it was very nice and in a great location too.

The weather was a lot nicer in Bangkok than in China. It was still really humid but at least the sky was blue and the sun shining.

The first morning we were sucked into doing a canal tour instead of going on the public ferry into the centre of town but it was quite nice to be driven through the canals in a private boat anyway. It took about 1.5 hours to get to the Wat Pho stop. A guy stopped us near one of the gates of the Grand Palace and said that it was closed this afternoon for a holiday, and then tried to sell us a tuktuk trip to some other temples. We ran away to get some lunch at a nice café nearby, and then realised it was two of the scams warned about in the book – firstly the palace wasn’t really closed, and second that cheap tuktuk rides usually end at expensive shops.

After lunch we went back to the palace and sure enough it was open and full of people, so we decided not to trust any more friendly locals. The Grand Palace itself is a huge complex with a many buildings, including the main wat with the “Emerald Buddha” (really made of jade). The buddha has a costume that is ceremonially changed by the King three times during the year. The complexes were beautiful and had lots of shiny buildings – we’re lucky that it was a sunny day.

The next block over contains Wat Pho, which is another large temple complex. The largest temple houses the huge reclining buddha, and there are many more temples as well as a working monastery and a massage centre there.

We got the ferry back to the hotel and then got ready to go out again – this time to Patpong night market, the infamous girly-bar area. The markets there are actually really great shopping – lots of knock-off shirts, jewellery and bags. We did a little bit of shopping and had nice dinner, and then went to a ping pong show. No, I don’t have any photos of that.

Next day we headed to Khao San Road, the famous backpacker hangout to see what it was like. The Bangkok traffic is so terrible that in most cases it is much better to take the skytrain monorail, but to get to Khao San Road we had to take a taxi, which took a long time. Khao San Road itself is lined with hotels, and covered in markets selling every kind of tourist tat and a lot of clothes. It was good to see but we are glad we’re not staying there – it just looked like any soulless touristy area.

Later that evening we paid 500B each for Thai ladies to beat us up for 90 mins – okay it was a Thai massage, with knees and elbows and everything! Shane enjoyed it but I felt a bit bruised.

We went to visit Jim Thompson’s house. He was an American army man who was posted to Bangkok and fell in love with Thai culture, and had a traditional Thai house built here to live in. The house is actually made up of several separate buildings connected by walkways and is all wooden – it’s very open and has lots of arty objects inside. Jim himself disappeared in the 60s in Malaysia so it’s now owned by a trust. They take you on a tour around the house and then you can look around on your own. It’s very well organised and both the buildings and garden are beautiful.

After the house we got the skytrain back to Siam Square and went to see both Transformers 2 and Harry Potter 6 at the IMAX cinema there. They were in English with Thai subtitles, thankfully, and the HP movie even had a section in 3D at the start which was awesome! Before each movie starts they play the national anthem and you have to stand up for it, which I thought was quite sweet.

Our last day in Bangkok was a Saturday, so we took our bags to the train station and left them with the travel agent people there, and headed off on the metro to the Chatuchak weekend market. The market is enormous, with whole huge sections dedicated to clothes and accessories, jewellery, pottery and handicrafts. We bought a couple of presents but spend most of the time wandering around lost. If we hadn’t had to carry everything home we could have spent a lot of money there.

Bangkok is a really nice city, once you get over the people everywhere trying to get your money or trying to sell you a suit. They are very polite people and absolutely adore their royal family – it was the Queen’s birthday while we were there and there were pictures of her and the King everywhere!

One thing we certainly did a lot of in Bangkok was eating! We found some great places along Silom Road including a little café in a side street that served cheap and delicious lunch. Shane had the most delicious garlic and pepper calamari and he’s been trying to find one as good ever since! The pad thai is also awesome as you can imagine – and we discovered that green curry really is hot hot hot!

A few days earlier, we had gone to the train station to try to organise train and ferry tickets to get us to Koh Phangan. We had mistakenly gone to a travel agent’s info desk rather than the real train station desk, so when we tried to book trains the lady there convinced us that the train was fully booked and we should take a VIP bus instead. Whether the train was fully booked or not we will never know, but the bus cost more than we should have paid and we later read that some people have had stuff stolen out of their luggage during the night. But it’s the only time we feel we’ve actually been scammed this whole trip so I guess that’s not too bad.

For a VIP bus which we paid a lot for it was really very uncomfortable – hardly any legroom at all. We left Bangkok station at about 7pm and stopped at about midnight at a food stall place, then drove on until about 3 when we stopped again. Turns out even though our tickets said Surat Thani, we were actually being dropped at Chumphon and had to wait until 7am for the ferry to leave. We just lay around on the ground out the front of the ferry terminal and waited. Backpacks aren’t the most comfortable things to try to sleep on. There was a nice sunrise though.

One year ago, we took our last overland part of our journey to Tianjin.

The morning of the 10th, we visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing (see Beijing entry), but after lunch it was time to pick up our gear and be heading off.

Getting to the South train station was easier said than done. We tried unsuccessfully to get a taxi to stop for us but they just wouldn’t… is was very frustrating, and in the end we ended up walking down to the bus stop and taking two buses to the station. The bus didn’t actually stop there – we had to walk a little way and then take a little free shuttle bus inside the station itself – you can’t just walk in for some reason.

We were heading to Tianjin, since that’s where Air Asia flights go from. You may not have heard of it, but it’s a major port city and the third largest in China. Tickets were easy enough to buy from a machine and we didn’t have to wait long near the platform. The very comfortable train only took 30 mins to get there because it went at over 300km/h the whole way!

Since Tianjin isn’t much of a tourist city, there was precious little to help us out when we arrived there. We walked all over the station trying to find the buses and eventually found someone who could tell us where to go. Then we had to work out which bus to catch – no-one spoke English so we looked up what “airport” was in Mandarin and found out a bus number that way.

The bus arrived and took about an hour to head out of town and get onto a motorway – and then we were dropped off on the side of the highway with the driver saying, “airport, airport!”. We think we were still about 5km away, well outside the airport itself. Amazingly there was a guy there with a little 3-wheel taxi who took us the rest of the way to the airport for 10 yuan. Then we had to get to the Holiday Inn in the Airport Industrial Park, which was another 50 yuan taxi ride away. We should really have just stayed in town and got a taxi to the airport in the morning.

One year ago, we bid farewell to the big group and started our own journey home.

The train arrived in Beijing at about 7:30am. The group stumbled off the train with all our gear and headed out of the station, following Steve and Sissi like sheep. Our hostel was supposedly right next to the station, but when we got outside they worked out that it was actually Beijing Central that it was next to and we had arrived at Beijing West. So, off we went to find a number 9 bus. We managed to ALL crowd onto one bus with all our gear much to the other people on the bus’s disappointment – it was a little cozy. It took about 20 minutes to reach the other train station but sure enough, our City Central Hostel was in fact just over the road from it. We piled our bags into one room since we couldn’t check in yet and went off around the corner for some McD’s for breakfast.

For the next few days Shane and I did very little while the rest of the group ran around trying to see all the sights of Beijing in three days. We spent a fair bit of time at the visa office because we needed to break off the group visa, as did Heather, Russ and Andrew so that we could leave the country. Eventually, thanks to a lot of mucking around by Sissy we got our shiny new individual visas. It was a bit of a nightmare but only ended up costing us about £15 each so we were happy. During that first few days we did get around seeing a bit of the city and also found one of the electronics shopping districts.

On the afternoon of the 6th we said goodbye to the group as they headed off to the train back to Xi’an to get back on the Truck. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but also kind of exciting because we were off on our own again and heading home soon. The rest of their journey involved heading to Chengdu to see pandas, then south to Laos and into South-East Asia. They also traveled around Australia and made it into Sydney during November, but unfortunately our part in that journey was over.

After the group left, we spent a few more days in Beijing, seeing the sights. Beijing is a very big, grey city these days. Most of the old, narrow alleyways in the centre of town have been knocked down and wide boulevards with concrete buildings built instead. Being the middle of summer there was a thick grey smog covering everything which didn’t help things. The weather was warm and muggy while we were there, with the occasional storm.

The city has a very good metro and bus system, and we used it a bit to get around because it’s very difficult for foreigners to get a taxi. Not many taxi drivers speak English so they won’t even bother to try to stop and work out where you want to go. It can be quite frustrating at times.

One of the days we hired a taxi with Heather and Russ to take us to the Great Wall, finding one that would take us to Mutianyu and back for 600 yuan. The drive took about 1:15 and it rained the whole way there, but it stopped by the time we got there. At Mutianyu they have a chairlift on the way up (the wall is on the top of a ridge) and a toboggan ride down again – it cost about 100 each for the return journey including entrance to the wall. The view from the top was obscured by cloud at first but after a while it cleared a little and we could see along the wall a lot further, at least as far as the smog allowed. The section of wall we walked along had been restored and was smooth with walls on either side, but the boys walked right up to the top of one section and there was some more parts up there that were crumbling away and covered with trees. The toboggan ride down again was great fun, but halfway down we met a small child who was going really slowly so the last part was a bit too slow.

We visited the Summer Palace by taking a ferry from the back of the convention centre – the ticket was 100 yuan including entry to the palace. The boat wasn’t too crowded when we first got on it and we thought we were going to have a nice peaceful ride, but then it stopped at the zoo nearby and filled up with people. The ferry ride along the canal was fairly pleasant though, and once we reached the entrance to the palace grounds we decided to walk around the edge of the lake rather than take another ferry as it was getting hot in the sun (even though we could barely see it through the smog). It was a nice walk though, through willow and pear trees and over old wooden bridges.

The summer palace itself is spread along the north side of the lake, and is made up of loads of different wooden buildings. Most of these buildings these days seem to be full of souvenir shops. We got a couple of little dragon Christmas decorations but nothing else. The highest point in the palace is the pagoda, which you have to pay extra to get up to and walk up loads of really steep stairs, but the view over the lake is nice and the pagoda itself is a really amazing building. Once we had enough of the heat and the crowds we walked down to the closest subway station, which looks fairly close on the map but is actually ages away. We were well and truly pleased to see it when we eventually found it.

The morning of the 9th we were out and about early to get into the Forbidden City. The line up for the tickets wasn’t too long when we got there and it didn’t take us long to get inside with our audio guides. The guides are great – they use GPS to track where you are and start telling you about something when you get near it. There are so many temples and palaces inside the place – it took us all morning to see only half the place and then we decided to go because we’d had enough of walking. The crowds weren’t too bad – we are taller than almost everyone anyway so had no trouble looking over people. The city has really beautiful buildings and also a lot of exhibitions around the place – you could easily spend a whole day there.

Another day we headed on the Subway to Tiantandongmen station to the Temple of Heaven. There’s one ticket for entrance to the park around it and a different ticket to get into the sights there. The complex is huge and the park around it even bigger, and even on a Monday it was full of people. There was all sorts of stuff going on there as well – people singing, dancing, doing odd sports and just hanging out. The temple complexes were beautiful buildings as well, where the emperor used to carry out sacrifices and rituals each year to ensure a good harvest. The main temple building there is supposed to be constructed of wood without any nails or glue – quite an amazing place.

We ate loads of delicious food in Beijing – dumplings, hotpot, sushi… we also found a great place called Grandma’s Kitchen which has branches all over but there’s one just near the Forbidden City on Nanchizie Dajie. It’s an American style place that does great breakfast and also huge burgers and really nice milkshakes too. We also had more than our fair share of McD’s breakfast!

One year ago, we visited the Terracotta Warriors.

The group were all up bright and early for a Truck clean, the first we’ve done since Amritsar, way back in India. The truck is filthy and well overdue for a clean – we’ve been to a lot of hot and dusty places since the last. It didn’t take us all that long though and by 10:30 Shane and I were back up in our room packing our stuff ready to take to the post office. We sent our camping gear and some cold weather clothes home since we won’t be needing them anymore. They gave us a big box to send it in and taped it up and everything, and it only cost just less than £50 to send about 15kg by surface mail. We’ll get home before it but at least we don’t have to be carrying it around. After that we were down to our backpacks and day packs each.

The final morning in Xi’an (August 2nd) we had planned to meet a few others to go off to the Terracotta Warriors, but since we were all getting into taxis to go to the train station we ended up splitting up and didn’t see many others all day. After we got to the train station we were glad that we hadn’t tried to walk there – the walled area in the centre of Xi’an is huge and it was quite a long way away. The 306 buses left from just outside the station, and once we found out where that was we joined the crowd waiting near the line of buses. The technique was that once someone indicated which bus was leaving next, the crowd mobbed onto the bus until all the seats were full, then waited nearby for the next bus to be indicated. After missing the first three buses Shane and I decided to get our elbows out and throw our weight around a bit and managed to get on a bus perhaps only slightly injuring the smaller Chinese people around us.

The bus trip took about an hour and only cost ¥7 each. It stops at a mountain outside of town covered by a national park with a cable car going up and down. It looked really nice but it was so smoggy you wouldn’t have been able to see anything. The bus also stops at the mausoleum that was part of the Terracotta Warriors complex, but we had been told it wasn’t really worth it because the mausoleum is just a big mound of earth. So on we went to the warriors.

The museum complex is huge and pretty tacky-touristy. From the carpark you buy a ticket (¥90), then walk for about a kilometre through this complex of souvenir shops and eateries. The museum complex is made up of several different buildings, 3 excavated pits and an exhibition hall. The most impressive is Pit number 1, where the warriors were first discovered and the most famous area. The hall covering the area is massive but we were expecting to see it a lot more densely packed with the warriors themselves – only the area just near the door was full of ranks of the figures. It was still impressive, but possibly a little underwhelming.

Pit number 2 hasn’t even been excavated yet so just consisted of the soil ceilings under which we are told are loads of chariots and horse figures. There were some neat examples of the different ranks of soldier in there on display though. The exhibition hall contained a couple of amazing terracotta chariots and horses, one half of their life-size and in great condition. I think it took us about 2 hours to wander around the whole complex.

It was very hot and muggy today so after we were done seeing the area we headed back to Xi’an and killed some time in Starbucks on the internet before it was time to gather up our stuff, say goodbye to the Truck and head back to the train station. Our train to Beijing was at 8:15 and was very nice, with plenty of leg room. The seats didn’t tilt back very much so it wasn’t super comfortable for sleeping, but we managed to catch a bit here and there.



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