AsiaChinaXi'an

Xi'an's Old Town

Xi'an Travel Blog

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Beijing > Xi'an Train
The train from Beijing to Xi'an was a different experience entirely than my first sleeper from Hangzhou.  For starters, I stepped into my car and every face that looked at me was foreign.  Every single one.  I literally exclaimed out loud "I've never seen so many foreigners in one place!" and an American voice answered "we're not foreign!"  The entire car consisted of two tour groups, one French and one American, and me.  My bed was in a French berth, but I hung out with a bunch of American retirees from Milwaukee and Wisconsin, who fed me tea and cookies and marveled at my traveling alone.
Bell Tower
  (Literally could not communicate one word with the French beyond "bonjour" and "merci.")  There was even a western-style toilet, and the bathrooms looked exactly the same in the morning as they did the evening prior.  It was refreshing not to have to straddle you don't want to know what while trying to pee on a bumbling train.  The halls were quiet, there was no screaming or pushing, it was a far more relaxing experience overall.  I don't know if it was accidental or intentional (my hunch is the latter), but that entire first car was clearly the dedicated "foreigner car;" when I exited in Xi'an and walked along the train's length, pretty much the rest of the train was Chinese.

I was then greeted at the station by a giant poster with my name on it.
Drum Tower
  I could get used to not having to wander the streets in an effort to hunt down the hostel.  Nice. 

I met Chris, a boy from Belgium who's been traveling for six months already, and gave him my maps of Beijing so he wouldn't have to buy one and was rewarded with a newer travel book for Southeast Asia than the one I currently have.  Pretty sure I got the better end of that deal.  We set out together and wandered the Muslim Quarter, which is fantastic.  Absolutely love it.  The Muslim Quarter is a section of Xi'an that is a network of dozens of streets and alleys that are lined with vendors selling everything from food to local wares to kitchy tourist souvenirs.  We found a noodle man who made us two bubbling bowls of soup, teaming with seaweed and bok choy and mushrooms and a bit of tofu.
Muslim Quarter
  Very yummy.  From there we kept walking through the city, until we hit the north wall.  (Xi'an's old city walls are still perfectly intact; the "Old Town" is contained within the walls and is where our hostel is, right up against the south wall.)  We turned east and walked to the north gate, where you can (for a fee) climb to the top of the wall and walk along it if you like.  So up we went, where we walked along the north and west borders of the city, before climbing down and exiting at the west gate.  (We walked a LOT; we walked the city several times over by the time we were done.)  From the west gate we wandered back into the Muslim Quarter and checked out the Great Mosque.  (Or as Chris and all the locals say it, the Great Mos-kee.)  The Great Mosque was about as un Mosque-like as they come; I think it resembles a Chinese temple more than anything Muslim.
Muslim Quarter
  What do I know.

At this point it was closing in on 4pm, and I was dragging.  Not great sleep on the overnight train + walking the length of the city twice + not feeling my best and blowing my nose every other step = one tuckered out buckaroo.  Came back to the hostel, showered, and mellowed out for a couple hours.  Around 8pm we set out for dinner, and stumbled upon something like a thousand Chinese doing the electric slide in the dark.  I need to say that again.  A THOUSAND Chinese people doing the ELECTRIC SLIDE.  In the dark.  Dancing around, grinning like idiots, to the completely wrong music -- HYSTERICAL.  We just stood there howling with laughter.  What the hell are these people doing dancing in the dark on a Sunday night??  Is this standard protocol?  Did I miss this in the guidebook somewhere?  Freaking HILARIOUS.
Muslim Quarter
 

From there we walked along a highway until the sidewalk suddenly was no longer, with no shoulder to be had, pressed against a wall with massive buses whizzing by like smashing foreign pedestrians was a favored hobby of theirs.  Crossing four lanes plus two merging in from a different direction in the dark with no crosswalk or stoplight or what have you is a feat unto itself.  We were definitely almost roadkill on more than one occasion.  (Hi Mom!)

Dinner was eh.  Probably the saltiest meal I've had in China yet.  My mouth was on FIRE, and not because it was spicy -- because the salt made my mouth so raw it hurt.  Ugh.  That, and the waitresses fought over who had to serve us.  Literally, screaming fight.  Not because they wanted to serve us.  Oh no.  They wanted no part of us.  Which was made clear throughout.  I then came home and zonked out cold; Chris went for a few beers in the bar downstairs.

Not a map to be had, but thanks to Chris and our extensive on foot tour, I've got Xi'an's grid pretty much memorized.  Comes in handy, that's for sure.  Talk about a full day.
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Beijing > Xian Train
Beijing > Xi'an Train
Bell Tower
Bell Tower
Drum Tower
Drum Tower
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
DELICIOUS quail eggs in the Muslim…
DELICIOUS quail eggs in the Musli…
Handmade dumplings of some sort
Handmade dumplings of some sort
Dude making our soup
Dude making our soup
North Wall
North Wall
Playing cards
Playing cards
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
North Gate
View along Xians city wall
View along Xi'an's city wall
View from the wall
View from the wall
View from the wall
View from the wall
West Gate
West Gate
West Gate
West Gate
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Random Temple in the Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
Blue eggs!
Blue eggs!
I thought weed was illegal in Chin…
I thought weed was illegal in Chi…
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
Great Mosque
MASSES of locals doing the Electri…
MASSES of locals doing the Electr…
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate
Xi'an Hostels review
Decent Spot in Xi'an
Shuyuan in Xi'an is a pretty standard, decent spot. Nothing out of this world, but is lightyears better than the rougher options in China. Not a fan o… read entire review
Xi'an
photo by: Deats