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Bikes, Bullet Trains and Burial Chambers - Finnair/Intrepid China Fam

24th October 2017 - 2:40pm

Brendan White (Tropical Sky) and Sarah McCarthy (Travel Counsellors) onboard the Bullet Train

Brendan White (Tropical Sky) and Sarah McCarthy (Travel Counsellors) onboard the Bullet Train

Shane Cullen (Senior Reporter Travelbiz) reports: A four-hour bullet train journey from Beijing brought us to Xi'an. The trip covered a distance of 1,216km, reaching speeds of up to 310km per hour in relative comfort (2nd class ticket provides seating with ample leg room). The evening entertainment comprised Dumpling Banquet Meal consisting of a multitude of various dumplings (excludes dessert) and entertainment in the form of traditional Chinese dancing and musical performances in the Shaanxi Grand Opera House Xi'an. While the Dumpling Banquet Meal (excl. dessert/drinks) is included in the package, our guide recommended the upgrade to include the evening entertainment (prices start at 170 Yuan (€22)).


The next day was an about turn in terms of pace with a walking tour to visit the ancient city wall, mosque quarter, bell and drum tower (the latter was subject to an additional, optional charge - Bell Tower and Drum Tower are 35 Yuan each or 50 Yuan (€7 Euro) for both. The group mounted bicycles to ride around the walls of the stunning, ancient city of Xian (additional optional cost of c.50 Yuan (€7)). One of the oldest and best-preserved defensive walls, this marks the end of the ancient trade route, the ‘silk road’. The cycle itself is along the top of the wall, is largely flat and covers a distance of about 13km. The route is interspersed with drawbridges, watchtowers, corner towers, parapet walls and gate towers. There is even a moat.

Also in Xi'an, are the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors. They are considered the eighth wonder of the world and while they date back to the 3rd century, they were only discovered in 1974 by a local farmer who had been digging for a well on his farmland. Originally, the Emperor of China wanted to be buried with his army and was coerced to accept a Terracotta Army to protect him in his afterlife. Each sculpture depicts an individual and each is unique. There are four large halls of statues of soldiers, archers, generals, horse-drawn chariots and cavalry horses. There are also non-military figures representing officials, acrobats and musicians. In total, there are more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all of which are hand painted. The museum housing the artefacts is modern and beside a village stocked with merchandise.

Xi'an was my personal favourite in terms of cities visited in China. Finnair flies direct from Helsinki and if you had to pick one place, this would be it for sightseeing, historic significance, value for money and shopping.

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Brendan White (Tropical Sky) and Sarah McCarthy (Travel Counsellors) onboard the Bullet Train
Faster than a speeding bullet - James O'Donoghue (USIT), John McGurk (Intrepid Group) and Anthony Efinda (Club Travel)
Anthony Efinda (Club Travel) and Gina Smyth (Best4Travel)
Kung Fu Panda's James O'Donoghue (USIT) and John McGurk (Intrepid Group)
Brendan White (Tropical Sky) and Raya Santagati (Shandon Travel) mingling with the locals
The gang outside the gates of Xi'an
The BMX Bandits
It takes two to tandem Anthony Efinda (Club Travel) and Gina Smyth (Best4Travel)
John McGurk (Intrepid Group) and Raya Santagati (Shandon Travel)
Anthony Efinda (Club Travel) offers Gina Smyth (Best4Travel) some words of encouragement as she dines with her chopsticks
Elegant dancing at the Shaanxi Grand Opera House
Another ribbon dance performance
The Emperor's concubines
Raya Santagati (Shandon Travel) and Sarah McCarthy (Travel Counsellors) at the Terracotta Warriors
Pit number one at the Terracotta Warriors
Brendan White (Tropical Sky) and Anthony Efinda (Club Travel) at the Terracotta Warriors
Sarah McCarthy (Travel Counsellors) with our excellent guide Lena
Lena with Brendan White (Tropical Sky), Anthony Efinda (Club Travel), Raya Santagati (Shandon Travel) and James O'Donoghue (USIT) at the entrance to the Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta archer

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