The following is a summary of my May First holiday, also called Labor Day. I had a little over a week off. I took a train up to XiAn, up in Shaanxi Province, then took a train to Shang Hai and then flew home. It was not one of better trips. There were just too many people everywhere.
The first place I visited was the Terracota Warriors. These were impressive, but not as impressive as I was expecting them to be.
It was interesting to see them and learn about them, but they didn't allow you to get down near them.
It was nice to know that they had "safe passage" to other areas. It kind of makes you wonder what the other passages are....
I must be following this guy because I keep seeing pictures of him at the places I go to. The Chinese seem to really like him. He actually gave a speech in Shenzhen in the end of May. I guess it went a little too long because people started taking off their translated headphones and falling asleep.
The city of Xi'An isn't actually all that nice. It's kind of dirty. It is a walled city, as shown, which is kind of interesting to see. It even has a moat going around it, but the city is larger now, so it extends past the wall.
This is one of my favorite breakfasts, and sometimes lunch. It is called baozi, which is just a thick dough around some kind of meat. They are fairly tasty and really cheap. I can get several, which fill me up for about 5 kuai (65 cents).
Eating lunch one day, I saw across the Street from San Da Fei (Chinese pronunciation). I just can't seem to get away from it.
This was in the city square on May Day. I was starting to get annoyed at how many people there were. People had warned me that it would be crowded, so I should have expected it.
I went hiking up Hua Shan, a nice mountain near Xi'An. Throughout the climb, I saw many signs similar to this one. Unfortunately, other people didn't take notice and would be walking as they were looking up or to the side and run right into other people looking at the same thing.
This last picture shows some of the many locks that were found all the way up the climb. Each one represents a wish that someone has made. Many of them have inscriptions on them, presumably telling a little about the wish or who they are, but I couldn't read any of the Chinese.
It's amazing that all the way up these mountains are people selling things. This one was a computer setup to paste your picture onto a nice day picture, so you would have a good memory, even if the weather was bad. Other places had inscription machines where you could buy your lock.
Here's me at the top. I made it there. As you can see, the weather is not so good. Actually, it's quite cold and I didn't bring a jacket. For those of you who can't read Chinese, that is 2160 meters (the much more intelligent standard of measurement, not the foot based system).
As I was going there, many people kept telling me how dangerous climbing Hua Shan was. It was these kind of scenes that made me understand why, but it still wasn't very dangerous. When I was leaving, a couple of college kids told me that they climbed it at night because it was dangerous. I said that seemed backwards, but they said that if they couldn't see it, it wouldn't seem as dangerous.
These next three pictures show the reason I started getting irritated with how many people there were. Was I was coming down, some guards stopped me and a bunch of other people. We waited for about 20 minutes and then he let us go. After about 100 meters, another guard stopped us. This continued for about 2 hours. I was really getting mad because it was cold, starting to rain, and I was just standing around waiting for some unknown reason. Well, as I got closer, I found out that there were just too many people trying to get off the mountain. There was only one small path, about two people wide, and thousands of people trying to get down. Well, after about 3 hours, the path split and many of people were going down the tram way. I guess everyone climbed up in the morning and got scared of a little bit of rain and couldn't get down. So, after standing around in the cold rain for three hours, I was not so happy.
After this exciting mountain standing expedition, I got on a train to Shang Hai. This was 28 hours of the next two pictures. Oh, these pictures were taken at 3:37 AM, just after I was unpleasantly awoken.
They sell standing room only tickets, so in a train with 78 seats, at one point, I counted 117 people. So, needless to say, there were a lot of people leaning over you and pushing to get your seat if you stood up. I had a seat, so I didn't have to stand the whole time, but trying to sleep was a nightmare. They have the headrest positioned just perfectly so that when you relax, your head will fall forward, not stay back. The woman in the seat across from me was snoring the whole night. The man on my right kept poking his elbow into my side. Well, he would stop for a few minutes after I pushed his arm away, but it would tend to come back. At 3:30 AM, the man across and to my right decided to eat some noodles. That is fine, but he ate them in the normal way they eat them, which is to slurp them up. If you have ever been woken up to someone loudly slurping up noodles, it is not a pleasant experience. Keep in mind that these are the 'nice' seats; they also have hard seats. I've been on them, but not when it is this crowded - I can't imagine.
This is a picture of Shang Hai at night. In general, Shang Hai is just another big city. Cities are fairly similar from place to place.
Shang Hai is interesting in that it has a lot of European influence. It was been a major port city for more than 150 years.
China is very proud that they will be hosting the 2008 Olympics.
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