Day 23

Friday 11th March

Today we have a train to Shanghai to catch so we have time for some final visits and lunch before catching train Z94. Our first stop was the Bell Tower which we accessed from underground in the middle of the roundabout upon which it is located. The Tower was built in 1384 and gets its name from a huge bell that was hung within it and used to inform people of the time (this was at a time when people did not have clocks). The Tower is a mixture of brick and timber, is 36m high and with an architectural style of the Ming Dynasty.

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Looking towards the South Gate

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Plant watering with musical accompaniment.

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Looking towards the East and West Gates.IMG_0913 IMG_0915  IMG_0922 IMG_0923

The Drum Tower as seen from the Bell Tower.


Later we went to the Drum Tower which was built in 1380 and got its name from the huge drums laid in the Tower in order to tell people of the opening and closing of the city gates. It is 34m high and again of the architectural style of the Ming Dynasty.

IMG_0930IMG_0941IMG_0944IMG_0959 From here one can see from above the Muslim Quarter which we crossed for the last time after lunch in order to return to the hotel.

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Mid afternoon saw us take a taxi to the railway station. It is suggested in many travel guides to have the name of your destination written in Chinese script. Up until today this has worked marvellously. Today however, a misunderstanding by a receptionist at the hotel informed the taxi driver, without us knowing it, of the wrong railway station! After difficult negotiations with the taxi driver, who at one time suggested that a member of the team drives the car because he seems to know more than the driver, we did finally discover the error and with great speed negotiated the traffic to arrive at the stain in good time. It is here that another form of ‘fun’ starts because outside the station there are hundreds of people milling around and inside even more hundreds in the so called lounges waiting for the trains. Once through the ticket barrier everything is easy and on this trip we shared with a young couple from London who are currently living in Xi’an. A Z train is an intercity express with modern red and green carriages, bunk beds and more modern conveniences. We are in coach 7 this evening, beds 1 and 2. Our locomotive is a red, electric one and upon leaving Shanghai takes us speedily through the suburbs and as the sun sets we are crossing the loess (sandy plains) and travelling parallel to motorways, the River Yangtze and marble mountains. Tomorrow morning we will arrive in Shanghai.

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