After a nice sleep on a sleeper train (in which we decided never to go on a sleeper bus again), we arrived in Xi’an late afternoon.
The first day we went to the Muslim district and ate lamb pao mo 羊肉泡饃which requires you to peel tiny bread bits from two biscuits after which they add the broth. This meal I thought was too labour intensive as the peeling process took 20 mins. But it was an interesting process none the less. At night we went to the luo ma shi 羅馬市 market to do some shopping. Basically it’s a giant underground mall of cheap mostly women wear. My shoe shopping experience failed as all the shoes were too small for me. I am only a size 37!!! We also checked out the city wall that surronds old Xi’an, every city should have a wall.
Step 1: peel biscuit to itty bitty pieces:
Step 2: add broth and meat
A evening stroll on the wall, even that isn’t free!
The price of admission included a cheesy performance, the fat one was very lazy:
The day after we went to the Terracotta warriors 兵馬俑。 The entrance fee is ¥160 but with student ID it is 50% off. The warriors were nice and cool. The warriors were originally painted and excavation work is still in process. The area around it is quite touristy but of course this is one of the “must see” sights. Lots of Caucasians visiting Xian and the warriors as well, compared to the very few foreign tourists where we were previously.
I won’t talk too much about the warriors since their reputation precedes them, I personally am amazed at the first emperor of China and his power over his people. Throughout history he was greatly disliked but some of his accomplishments include: unifying China, standardizing Chinese writing, “building” the Great Wall, and damming up some big rivers all through forced labour. His empire did not last past his death. His tomb located several km’s out hasn’t been excavated but with the rumoured ‘rivers of mercury’ it is probably even more amazing than the terracota warriors. I hope to be alive when then open it to the public.
Most of the warriors were broken into pieces (as they are made of terracotta!), archaeologist have painstakingly put them back together like humpty dumpty:
The day after we got up super early to get to Hua mountain 華山。 It is one of the most sacred Taoist mountains in China. It also happened to be 37c that day, nothing like climbing a mountain in the oven. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to climb all the peaks nor do the cool plank walk on the south. The climb was incredibly tiring since it really wasn’t a ‘hike’ and more like climbing 6000 stairs. By the time we got to the North Peak, I felt like I had been on Stairmaster 3000 for 5 hours already. We went up to the West peak before backtracking to catch the gondola down. Amazing views, but next time I will gondola up to the North Peak and walk to the other 4 peaks instead.
Buy some lucky charms and you won’t fall off the mountain!:
Hua Shan is fairly steep:
Dragon’s back, to get from the North Peak to the other peaks:
I am so sweaty at this point!
There are many temples and buildings on the peak, all were and still are built using manual labour. This old man is lugging marble tiles (they look over 100lbs) up the mountain. He only gets 50-70 Yuan per load… ($8-12). It probably takes him a day to carry the load.
On a personal note, I don’t understand why westerners are so afraid of leaving their hostel to eat. We stayed in a hostel full of westerners and many times I saw them eat overprices western food at the hostel or eating cup noodles 3x a day instead of enjoying the amazing diversity of cheap food in China. If language barrier is getting in the way, just point at what other people are eating!
– busses to Terracotta army (7-8 Yuan) and Hua Shan (22 Yuan) are located near the train station by the North gate
– For Hua Shan, the last stop the bus will drop you off is the route to the gondola or the soldiers path. If you want to take the longer but prettier and more popular route, hop on a taxi (10-15 Yuan) and ask them for the west gate (Xi men).
– Last bus leaving Hua Shan is 5pm, there are probably other ones picking up laggards but likely more expensive.