*I've broken my trip into three parts (Xi'an, Luoyang, Xi'an) for easier reading. I've put up a lot of photos (including a bunch with me in them) on my yahoo page. Let me know if you want the site address.
After taking a 12hour ride in a hard sleeper from Baoding to Xi'an (西安), I arrived on National Day (Oct. 1), at 6:30 in the morning. Luckily someone from the youth hostel was there to pick me up, or I'd probably have gotten lost in the crowd outside of the train station. The youth hostel was really nice, in a traditional Chinese building, and the staff were great. When I came back from Luoyang they remembered my name, and welcomed me back! I would highly recommend it if you're travelling to Xi'an (and no, I'm not getting commission).
I met up with Gary (a Chinese friend from here in Baoding) and his girlfriend Kitten in the afternoon, and we had lunch in the Muslim quarter before wandering through some of the lanes and doing some shopping. I got one of those name chops that I've always wanted, as well as some other touristy things. At first I wasn't so fond of the bargaining, but I love it now. When you realise that the vendors expect you to bargain and enjoy it (especially when the foreigner speaks some Chinese), it's quite fun. It's also interesting to hear the different prices quoted, depending on if you're Chinese, a foreigner who can speak some Chinese, or if you're fresh off the plane.
My second day in Xi'an was a crazy 12hour tour of the Eastern sites, including some museum, LiShan (骊山), the Tomb of Qin ShiHuang (秦始皇陵), a museum where they guess what his mausoleum might look like, a "Jade Museum"， the famed Terracotta Warriors (兵马俑), and finally Huaqing Pool (华清池). We spent more time in the "Jade Museum" than anywhere else, excluding the warriors. We were told that it was a special museum only for Chinese, and not foreigners -quite strange since the lady quoted us prices for pearls in US Dollars!
I had heard mixed reviews of the Warriors, but I loved them. I've wanted to see them ever since I learned about them in elementary school, so it was really cool. They had a museum off to the side, which had an exhibit about the creation of the museum. A museum about a museum?
One great thing about travelling is the people you meet. As happened most nights in Xi'an I stayed up much later than I had planned to, chatting with fellow travellers. They often have interesting stories, and good advice about what to see or skip. For the National Holiday and for the Moon Festival the youth hostel showed us how to make fried pumpkin cakes (南瓜饼), which were pretty good.