AsiaChinaXi'an

Xi'an

Xi'an Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
Inside of an old courtyard house

Xi'an is a much bigger city than I expected (as is the rest of everything in China...just all bigger than the China in my mind).  Spent the first day checking out the sights:  catching musical performances at the Bell Tower and Drum Tower in the center of town, and shopping/grabbing some street food in the Muslim Quarter.  Again, I just queued up where all the Chinese queued up...watched what they were making and it's usually the best way to eat.  I had some kind of white cake that I assumed was glutinous rice (later found out it was made from water chestnut flour) coated in some brown goop, 2 sticks shoved in the bottom and coated in two kinds of powder.  Don't know what the hell it was, but it was slightly sweet and had a slightly flowery flavor.

Bell Tower performance
  Yummy!  Also noticed folks grabbing these fried crepe-looking things with different kinds of fillings like pork/spring onion/chili/etc., so I got one of those, which was quite good as well. 

There's an absolutely gorgeous mosque in the middle of the Muslim Quarter, so I spent a load of time taking photos there, and then shopping in the bazaar...bought a couple of leather shadow puppets and some silk stuff and met Jackie for dinner.  We had some local specialties including whole shrimp w/chili on a stick, a delicious eggplant dish, and caramelized sweet potato (crunchy on the outside and delish...but pretty much dessert).

We met a couple of backpackers wandering around trying to figure out what street food to eat...Jackie was helping these 2 British brothers figure out all the food (one of them was a bit picky), and we wound up bundling them into a taxi and taking them to the Muslim Quarter where there were more choices.

Xi'an Mosque
  They grabbed a bunch of things and we took another taxi to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to see the fountain show.  Kinda like the Bellagio in Vegas, but a much larger terraced area...plus people were allowed to stand in the fountain area.  It was packed with kids getting absolutely drenched when the huge jets burst into the air.  Fun.

I went back to the hostel's pub with the guys and met about 6 other backpackers and went pub/club-hopping, swapping travel stories.  The pubs were fun, but the clubs were mostly dead playing crappy loud house music so I left at 2am.

The next day I went to see the Terracotta Warriors just outside of town.  3 excavated pits are open to the public - fascinating in that all the statues are different.

Terracotta Warriors
..and there are thousands of them, and they haven't excavated them all.  It was for an emperor who had planned to have thousands of warriors buried with him when he died.  Luckily someone convinced him that the empire would be undefended if he did that, so maybe he should make life-size statues of warriors instead.  He put a load of people to work making these things...a helluva feat.  They found one that was completely intact...very detailed, down to the tread on his shoes.  They were all colorfully painted, but 3 days after excavation, the color apparently all fell off.  They've left a lot of them in the ground for this reason...trying to figure out how to get them out and keep the color on.

Apparently Bill Clinton and his family visited there in the 90's and made quite a stir.

A few new warriors...
  They were allowed into the pit and photographed with the statues.  The farmer who made the discovery of the warrior in the 70's was there...he was still a farmer...not paid much for the discovery or use of his land.  Clinton asked him for an autograph, and the guy replied that he was just a farmer and didn't know how to write.  The government was embarrassed and employed the best calligrapher in the country to teach the farmer how to write.  Nowadays, he sits in the museum (he's in his 80's) and signs books.  His signature gets prettier and differs every year, they say.  But if you take his photo, he flips out and screams at you!  Big sign saying "No Photo" in front of him.

I spent the afternoon getting completely lost on "Calligraphy Street" - full of folks doing calligraphy and paintings, and selling all kinds of stuff (but less aggressively than the Muslim Quarter.

Pit #1 of the Warriors
..less tourists).  Jackie and I went to a hotpot fish place with a Tibetan flavor.  A whole fish, in a chili sauce (too spicy for Jackie, just right for me...I think I'm getting used to hotter food or something), and as it cooks at the table, you add veggies of your choosing to the sauce.  All the food places we're going to have virtually no laowai (foreigners) - which is the way I like it! 

Missed taking a bike ride on the city walls...it was just too freakin' hot and humid, and seemed like a loooong way around.  Air pollution is pretty bad in Xi'an as well...about as bad as Beijing right now.  On to Yangshuo...

 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Inside of an old courtyard house
Inside of an old courtyard house
Bell Tower performance
Bell Tower performance
Xian Mosque
Xi'an Mosque
Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors
A few new warriors...
A few new warriors...
Pit #1 of the Warriors
Pit #1 of the Warriors
Xi'an
photo by: Deats