3-5th August 2004.

The ancient Chinese capital of Xi'an was our stop over point on the long-hual from Jinghong in SW China to Beijing in NE China. Xi an wasn't our favourite city in China...

First stop the "Big Goose Pagoda."

This monk is lighting candles, instead he removes from the holders after the punters have paid to light them so that more punters can pay to light some more.

The full employment policy seems to be working with this chap being sent out to "grip" the slippery tiles in the square kilometre complex with and axe and a broom.... the management are hoping he has many children to help him accomplish the pointless task.

Staring/Gawping is also a highly important occupation.... but not looking away when "sprung" takes courage. Although this simpleton might not have any idea what is going on.

The fountain in town is cool.

At set times everyday very loud music plays around a fountain.  The water covers around 300m by 50 m, this squirts locals in time to the music...and they all rush in for photos thinking they can catch a lull in the water.

It's no wonder the locals are confused. Another genius, literal translation.

Crossing the road is also a serious and very risky business. They never stop and you can't help thinking they are trying to run you over.

This new age "lolly-pop-man" is taking no chances with the eyesight that is so important to keeping fatalities to less than last years 32 deaths at his intersection.

The muslim quarter of Xi an made interesting exploration.

Would you like the runs from the Semolina or ....

.... the kebabs.

Causality is a bugger sometimes and not knowing who to blame when you don't know which end to point at the porcelain isn't good either.

The best bit about Xi'an (ignoring the Terracotta Warriors and taking the piss out of locals) was the speed we left at! This train had good beds, movies playing on a personal screen, and arrived on time after a 1,000 kilometre plus journey between Xi'an and Beijing for about £25.

How does that compare with your £168 journey from London to Manchester before 9.30am that "will be late"?... oh yer and you might have to stand if you don't book a week in advance in low season.

The answer is .... SHIT!

Sneak down to your train yard tonight and paint this on the carriages to see what happens... and make sure you sweep the leaves of the lines first as we know any excuse is a good one!

Did we mention Xi'an is completely enclosed by an ancient wall and rather beautiful if you can ignore the 80% of the population trying to steal from you!

Due to the near martial law in China the term "steal" is used to refer not to traditional theft but rather to the type of commerce practised by many Han Chinese and supported by the bureaucracy of a communist government who see tourists as walking wallets undeserving of competition unless you are the brother of the local top-dog (read brother of arse-licker with monopoly).

Question: Why are white, round eyed, big noses unable to buy train tickets even they speak enough Chinese to get the job done?

Answer: We put the Han in Chinese and does anyone want to play Monopoly?

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