I am finally caught up to Xi’an, which is where I am right now (although I am leaving tomorrow morning)!
So we took a plane to Xi’an from QingDao, and arrived at around 2:30 am on Saturday, August 10th. Our plane was delayed by an hour, and Earnestine’s aunt’s friend (or Earnestine’s aunt-like person as I like to refer to her as) picked us up from the airport with her daughter. It was really nice of them, because they then drove us to our hotel, or what was supposed to be our hotel. Apparently even though we had reserved a room, they just decided to book it because somebody else came and wanted to spend the night there. Rude right?? I was outraged, except for the fact that I was falling asleep in my seat, did not speak Chinese, and basically could do nothing about it. What kind of customer service is that?
So the poor woman and her daughter drove us around for the next hour or so (I am not sure how much time passed), from one full hotel to another full hotel, until we finally found one with a spare room. By the time we got into our room it was 4 or 5am, and I was contemplating staying up until 6am for breakfast (until it turned out that there was no complimentary breakfast).
Needless to say, we were tired.
So we slept in the next day, and went out for dinner at this place that served this mutton dish with this bread soaked in it. Apparently it is a traditional food native to this specific city, so we tried it, except that they did not have mutton – only beef. So we checked out the beef, and it was pretty good albeit greasy. We had to break up the bread ourselves (work for our food!) and then we gave them our bowls and they filled them up. We also had these delicious, though spicy, noodles. We tried to have vegetables, but the waitress just walked away while Earnestine was speaking, which outraged me once more but I was at the time dealing with the spiciness of the noodles and gulping down strangely warm juice.
Their bread was stamped:
The soup with broken up bread pieces in it:
At the end of this dinner, a little boy and girl came over to me and asked to have my picture taken with them, which was adorable but kind of embarrassing. They were so sweet, and the entire time I was thinking that I probably had a chive on my tooth or something embarrassing. But I survived, and they left, and when I left one of the children waved bye bye and it warmed my heart. :)
After that restaurant, we walked to the Bell and Drum towers, which are kind of in the center of the city. By the time we were walking up to them, it was getting dark, and they were lit up really beautifully.
The Bell Tower would ring out the time of day every day on this huge bell:
The inside of the Bell Tower was really beautiful too:
The Drum Tower would be used for different times of the day, like once in the morning, and once at night to warn people it was getting dark, as well as for different weathers that they might encounter.
You can see two huge drums right at the first level here:
Drums for various purposes:
Afterwards, we found a really lively street that we explored, and I bought some souvenirs. I think this street was like, the ultimate China experience. It was like a night market with all kinds of street vendors, stores, everything! Everywhere you looked there were delicious foods and snacks being cooked, and people milling around. It was really quite magical, and what I felt like a night market would feel like.
I bought the round bread seen piled up in little towers on the cart on the right:
There was also this adorable guy in glasses and a hat making food in a badass kind of impressive way:
On our way home I tried to get shaved ice, but it ended up being like an ice shake? Interesting:
The next morning (Sunday August 11th) Earnestine’s aunt-like person picked us up in the morning and took us out to lunch at this local place where we tried some DELICIOUS food:
Above is tofu, on the plate below, and above is some kind of spicy noodle dish.
We were also bought this drink called Ice Peak, which is a traditional drink of this area. Coca Cola apparently tried to buy the company, but they did not succeed. :) It tasted like delicious Fanta. I also loved the really tall, think straw that was always served with it (even on the street):
Noodles with beef:
Afterwards, Earnestine’s aunt-like person and her husband drove us to the Terracotta Army! There were tons of exhibits and explanations of all the various things found there, etc… but what we were really waiting for was Pit 1, or this:
I was BLOWN AWAY!
I have no words for how I felt when I saw this. This was amazing, and the sheer size of it was staggering. It was just something that I will never forget, and I am so incredibly happy that we got to see this during our time here. :)
After that incredible experience, we were driven on to a site known as the hot springs where the emperors used to bathe:
A bathing pool – I think the concubine’s bathing pool to be exact (or something):
The grounds were really beautiful!
And they even had water that came up from current springs at around 40 degrees Celsius, which was uncomfortably warm in the 37 degree weather.
Me dropping .10 yuen into a wishing well:
A really cool stone that says something (no idea what though):
Incense burning in a shrine or temple? At this point we were all so tired and exhausted from the sun that we were taking sitting breaks at every shady area we could find.
We then found this really nice little area for lovers, with little wooden tags that people put their wishes on:
Amidst all this beauty, I struck my “I don’t need no man pose”:
And then went promptly back to photographing the sunlight coming through the tree (I forgot to mention there was a tree with the wishes hung on it from wooden tags and red ribbons):
Beauty of the surrounding area:
We dragged our dehydrated bodies back to the car and were greeted by a pleasant surprise – snack time! Earnestine’s aunt-like person and her husband bought us these little bread things with something inside. I don’t know what they are called, but they were so good. :)
We then napped off our headaches, and met back up with everybody at night. We headed back to that area that we were in the first night. I caught some fun things, like a full pig hanging from a string:
They first treated us to this really delicious rice cake thing, which is apparently a local Muslim specialty (note the yogurt, which I had later!):
We were then treated to this juice made from a fruit in China that Earnestine doesn’t know how to translate. Earnestine said it is called a sour berry in Chinese. It tasted really good!
We were then treated to yet another snack, which is a little square cake made from green beans:
Here is a close up I took later:
I got myself that yogurt drink I mentioned before:
And the final thing we did that night was eat at this restaurant where photos were prohibited:
We had soup, and steamed soup dumplings. I am so hungry right now that all this is making my stomach growl, but it was so good! And then we slept!
The next day (today) or Monday, August 12th, we slept in recovering from our crazy day and started the day off with a late lunch at a noodle place at the local Wanda Plaza (we found one here!). We then walked around the mall looking in stores (Earnestine bought 2 shirts) and stopped to get manicures. I think this was my second manicure in my life so I was pretty excited. It was also funny because Earnestine had to translate everything for Grace and me, but everything came out awesome anyway:
After that, we took a bus to a water show (apparently the biggest water show in Asia! – I mistakenly kept referring it to as “the world’s biggest light show in Asia”):
We were really supposed to see this pagoda, but we got there too late. Instead we too pictures from afar:
On our way back I got a happy face snowman ice cream <3
When we got home, we decided to put on these moisturizing masks that we got at a Rite-Aid equivalent earlier that day:
I was wondering if they were made for Asian features, because I had some trouble putting it on as you can see:
Anyway! Xi’an was great! :)
I liked it a lot, and I was really completely and utterly blown away by the Terracotta Army. It was one of the most moving things I have seen during this trip, and will definitely stick with me for the longest time. Also, once again we are surrounded by kind people who are willing to show us around and help us experience the culture as well as we can in such a short time. I am so grateful for Earnestine, her aunt, and her aunt’s friends for their kindness and hospitality. :)
I would write more but I am losing steam and energy (traveling takes a toll :( ) and I hope that I will regain some of it for everything we will do in the next 2.5 days before heading back home on the 15th!
We are ready to head back to Beijing tomorrow via train, but before then, Chinese Yuen!