a relief after a series of ordeal
Going to Xian is never an easy feat.  

In a country where English seems to be foreign and road signs are appearing as if these were some sort of hieroglyphics, our travel to Xian was a feeling as if you have entered into another dimension. Certainly, every minute is an adventure waiting to be unfold.

The Terracotta Warriors Museum, located at Xian City, is one of our planned itineraries and we promised ourselves never to leave China without visiting such place. But we never thought this would be an adventure we will never forget for the rest of our lives.  

We decided to visit Xian City for a day. We decided to took the last scheduled train ride from Beijing and be back the following day.  

Locating the railway station posed as a challenge in the first instance, as locals don't understand English so you can't rely much on them when asking for directions.  We have to trust our instincts and our skill in map reading.  

It was winter time when we went there so you can just imagine how cold it was walking on the streets of Beijing looking for our desired destination.  It took us 30 minutes before we could find the railway station.  

Buying the tickets to Xian and stating our desired seat numbers was even more challenging.  Fortunately, we were able to manage.

Contemplating the Harry Potter series and related movies where long hours of travel on a train is fun, the contrary was our experience.  The train was like an ordinary bus going to the provinces in the Philippines with cramped space and dilapidated interiors.  We took the ordinary tickets and not the "soft sleeper trains" as they call it, which is popular for tourists.  

We were actually traveling on the side with the locals and a hard sleeper at that - slept in a sitting position for hours.  As we have no time for complaints and we have to accept whatever it is that we have, we just conditioned ourselves of what to expect in Xian after this ordeal.

train to Xian
the numbers were our guide as destinations are written in Chinese characters

imagine sleeping for hours in this train

After more than 14 hours of travel, we arrived at Xian City greeted by a portion of the Great Wall of China right outside the train station.   The morning mist and the freezing negative temperature was so unbearable.  It around 7AM in the morning.  

Before we proceed to our main agenda of the day, we purchased tickets first at their ticketing office right beside the train station, since we will be coming back to Beijing on the same day.

Everyone was talking in a language that was so unclear and we can't definitely understand and so instead of speaking English we begin speaking our dialect, "waray".  Fortunately, there was a stall for customer service and the personnel in-charge knows how to speak English and so we learned that we were taking a line which is not for Beijing.

It was holiday in China during that time, thus, tickets for soft sleeper trains were fully-booked back to Beijing.  Though we don't want to experience sleeping again in a sitting position for more than 13 hours, we have to bear with the situation, otherwise we'll be stuck in Xian for the next days.  We took that available schedule back to Beijing although the seats available for us were also on different coaches of the train.  

waiting for her turn to buy our tickets back to Beijing

arrival at Xian Railway Station with a portion of the Great Wall of China as backdrop

We are now then bound for the Terracotta Museum, which visit will be the subject of a separate blog entry.  The bus below led us there.

On our way back to Beijing, tired and exhausted, we went back to the Railway Station so early hoping we could be able to relax.  To our dismay, it was the most chaotic and crowded of all the railway stations that I have visited.  I just took photos of our situation as a remembrance of what we have went through.

After staying at the railway station for hours waiting for our scheduled trip and for at least someone to make an announcement that we are leaving anytime soon.  No such scenario happened. It was almost time for us to depart based on our boarding train tickets but we have no idea which part of the station we should at least be waiting. We began to worry.  

After roaming around in search of signs, we had a chance to ask a local who knows how to speak English and when asked, he panicked on our behalf and immediately told us that the train was ready to leave in a few minutes.  He directed us to where we should have waited and run along with us.  In a matter of minutes armed with an adrenaline rush, we run as fast as we could, as if we were running to save our lives from complete danger.  Running with a luggage in tow was so challenging.  We  decided to enter the first train door we could find and navigate our seats while already inside.

We made it to the last minute before the train doors closed. To our surprise (and relief), the train conductor lead us the way and we were assigned soft sleeper seats (or was it upgraded?)

GOD is really with us all the time.

Thanks to my travel buddy Fate for this experience.  I will never forget this trip to Xian City not because of the sites we have visited but because of the ordeals turned into an adventure.

For the faint hearted, visiting Xian City should definitely be planned ahead of time.

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