October 08, 2006

Part 3...
I was excited to be back in Xi'an, although it was a bit strange too. There were a lot of foreigners at the tourist sites I went to (yes, I know I'm also a foreigner). I will admit that when there was a big tour group with a lot of tall, blonde haired Dutch I couldn't help but stare until I noticed a group of Chinese girls taking photos of them. Have I been here too long already?
The first place I went to in the morning was the Drum Tower (鼓楼), which is in the centre of the city. They had a short musical perfomance of some drumming, which was really cool. The drums used to keep time in the evening, which the bells kept time during the day.
I did a little more shopping before going to the South Gate (南门,城墙). After paying admission, I climbed up on the wall which goes around the whole old city (about 14km I think). It gives you a different view of the city, and it's cool to see some of the old ramparts.
I went to the Forest of Steles (碑林), which was a bit disappointing. There weren't too many English translations which made it difficult to understand most of the calligraphy. Later in the evening I headed up the Bell Tower (钟楼) to check out the city in the evening. They had another musical performance (3 traditional songs followed by Auld Lang Syne).
My train out of Xi'an left the next day at 21:15, so I had the whole rest of my last day to wander around. I checked out the Temple of the Eight Immortals (八仙庵), the largest Taoist temple in Xi'an.
I met up with some friends from the hostel, and we headed out for the famous local Mutton Stew (羊肉泡馍). After more shopping (notice a theme here?), we went to the Great Mosque (大清真寺), one of the largest mosques in China. It was a quiet break from the hustle and bustle around the outside of the mosque. Of course, as soon as we left, we were accosted by a number of vendors who were just waiting for us to exit. It's almost comical. A few of us headed to the Shaanxi History Museum (陕西历史博物馆), which was quite interesting despite the whole room devoted to mirrors.
I decided it was time to have my coffee -the first real coffee I'd have in about seven weeks. Seven weeks! That's a long time. I will say without hesitation that it was worth all 10kuai. The hard seat back to Baoding was a bit like hell frozen over -they crank the AC so that everyone freezes. You can't really sleep because there's not enough room and the whole train is packed (try going to the bathroom, haha!). The seats are full, and the aisles are packed full of people and all manner of luggage.
But I made it back OK, and I start back with teaching English tomorrow morning, bright and early.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is "WOW"!! You are so lucky to be able to see all of those awesome sites I only get to read about. Keep up the blog and photos.

Stephen said...

I'm always amazed by the people that I meet when I travel. In Xi'an I met people who had travelled the Trans-Mongolian from St. Petersburg through Mongolia to China, then to SouthEast Asia (not to mention everywhere else they had been!).
I'm glad that you can live vicariously through my adventures though.