I stayed for a glorious smog-free day in Beijing and then continued with an overnight train to Xi’an for my 4 days in Xian. Although I had a berth for this overnight ride, it was the 3rd (top) bunk. I made sure I didn’t drink anything before bed because the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt myself falling down on the way to the loo!
Upon arrival in Xi’an, I immediately met an older gentleman at the hostel who was from Austin, MN. He had often visited his grandparents in my hometown, not far away. We made plans to visit Hua Shan in a couple days. Proves what a small world we live in.
I spent my first day visiting the two pagodas in Xi’an and walking many miles. I really dislike the over-restoration of historical sites in China. These pagodas look like they’re brand new and one of the pagodas is surrounded by shopping and fast food restaurants like KFC and Burger King.
The next day, Dane and I took the bus and cable car to the top of Hua Shan, one of the 5 sacred mountains of China. It was a bit like Disneyland – a very expensive trip and the cable car had a 1 hour snaking line with music videos blaring on flat screen TVs about our head. The top of the mountain was beautiful but overcrowded. It was a granite mountain with several small temples.
My remainder of days in Xi’an included a morning visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors. Top Tip: go very early in the morning to beat the crowds. There is nice, natural light in the morning on some of the Warriors. It’s easy and cheaper to do this trip by public bus.
And a visit to the Muslim quarter and great mosque.
It was great walking the city walls at sunset.
I stopped in a little roadside restaurant for a $1 hot pot.
There were several shows to see at night including a fountain show and Chinese dance show.
I like visiting parks to see what local life is like and upon visiting one park came upon a large group of people with papers and pictures they had posted on trees and handrails. It turns out it was a weekly “meet-market” where people and families are looking for spouses for themselves and their loved ones. Many of these papers had vital info like occupation, height, etc. A lady who spoke English tried to get me set up but I hightailed it out of there!
Traveled Aug, 2012