Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Terracotta Warriors in England

When Jon and I were in England recently, we visited the Dorchester Terracotta Warriors museum.

Dorchester is a small town in southwestern England not too far from the English Channel. Originally, we'd planned to see the English Channel on a day trip to Dover for the last day of our train pass. But that morning, I'd been looking something else up in our guidebook's index, and saw the listing for the Terracotta Warriors museum. Being Sinophiles, we decided to go there instead. We got to Waterloo train station at 9:33 a.m. A train, headed in the right direction, was scheduled to leave at 9:35 a.m. Somehow we made it through the ticket gate and to the platform. We hopped on the first available car, with the doors closing behind Jon who got on after me. We were on our way!

At the time we got on the train, we figured we'd have to take the train to Weynouth, then backtrack, but fortunately the train stopped at South Dorchester. The museum is about a 20-minute walk from the train station, but it took us longer because we didn't know where we were going and we ended up going the long way. Plus, many people we asked directions of had never heard of the museum. The warriors museum shares space with a teddy bear museum, so if we were to go again, I think I'd ask for directions to that instead.

The museum is small, but quite educational. I've been to see the real thing twice in Xi'an, but managed to learn some new things about the warriors in Dorchester. The information is very well presented, with tableaus, warrior replicas, a short film and photos. Museum officials don't permit photography inside, so you'll have to settle for seeing a photo of the terracotta warriors on my first trip to Xi'an in 1997.

It takes less than an hour to see the holdings, so this makes the admission fee expensive in terms of what's there. If you're in Xi'an, you can see the real thing for about the same price. Jon has never been to Xi'an before, but wants to go the next time we go to China.

I've written an article about the musseum for You can read it here.

For more information about travel in China, check out my website. Or, email your questions to me, and I'll try my best to answer them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birmingham buffet

We had ate Chinese food once in Birmingham, England, at a small restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel.

It was an all-you-can-eat buffet, thought not in the way we think of buffets in the United States, where you walk through a line, piling food on your plate.

At the Lychee retaurant, we were presented with a menu that listed about 80-90 dishes. You ordered the dishes that you wanted, and they were rushed hot to your table, each individually prepared. You could order as many dishes as you wanted, but if you didn't eat everything on the plate, they'll charge you the a la carte prices. Oh, and you were only allowed to eat for two hours. Two hours! My gosh, I had problems eating just three dishes: shrimp tempura, chicken in a spicy sauce (where's the spice?), and crispy duck that was seasoned with cinnamon. The food was very good, and I can see why the retaurant has been in business for almost 30 years.

I didn't take any pictures of the food we were served at this restaurant -- in fact, the only food pictures I took were of Jon eating nachos at a pub and "high heeled shoes" made from chocolate at Cadbury's. The picture here is one I took of deep-fried shredded potatoes when we were in Beijing last fall. They taste like potato chips.

See my website for more information about travel in China, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.