Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hello from Xi'an!

 Yet another early morning for us, we were up at 3:45 am to be ready for our 5 am taxi to the airport.  Traffic was very light, and as usual we were at the airport very early.  We went in search of a much needed cup of coffee and found one lone restaurant open.  We sat down and looked at the coffee menu.  I did a quick mental currency conversion--over $9 for a cup of coffee?? We quickly changed our minds.  We're not the Rockefellers, you know!

We had an uneventful trip through security, found our gate and sat down to read while we waited for boarding time.  About a half an hour before boarding time a large group of very noisy travelers swarmed into the waiting area.  Good grief they were noisy, loud and pushy.  We just watched in amazement--it was like a frenzy!  As we were lining up to board our flight a gentleman (??) started pushing David; seriously--pushing him with his hand on David's back!  David just turned around and glared at him, but that didn't change a thing.  We were calm and patient, and if someone really wanted to take cuts, I wasn't going to argue with them.  I do believe the whole plane will arrive at the same time!  I kept reminding myself that experiencing cultural differences is one of the reasons we love to travel.

After boarding, the show continued!  The entire flight was noisy, with much changing seats, yelling to the back of the plane, etc.  It was very bizarre and rather fascinating to watch!

We were glad to finally land in Xi'an.  We picked up our luggage and headed to the taxi stand.  They have a different system here--it's not orderly and efficient like in Hong Kong--it's a free for all!  The taxi drivers refuse to use their meters for airport trips; instead you bargain with them.  I managed to bargain them down about 50 yuan, and off we went.  I'll just say this about traffic and driving in China:  It's like cross between a very fast paced game of chicken and Russian roulette!

It was a long 1 1/2 hour taxi ride to our hotel in the heart of old town Xi'an.  Check in was quick and easy and we are happy with our room.  We actually have a studio apartment with a small kitchen and a semi-separate bedroom--for $55 a night.  It's not quite as luxe as the Sheraton we stayed at last night, but it's good enough for us!

Here's the night view from our window:

We quickly unpacked and hit the streets in search of a late lunch.  We walked about 2 blocks to the "Muslim Quarter", a 2-3 block area filled with food vendors and little shops.  We had read about the huge variety of delicious foods available, and were excited to try some new dishes.
Well, we might actually starve to death here in Xi'an. That is, if we don't resort to eating at McDonalds or KFC (there's a KFC on every block!)

We really didn't find anything that looked too appetizing, most of the vendors looked pretty unsanitary--no thanks!  We are very adventurous eaters, but I'm not sure we can eat this street food.  We chose a small indoor restaurant, and ordered some steamed dumplings.  They were not the best, but at least we weren't starving.

After our disappointing lunch/snack, we continued our walk along Muslim Street.  Although the food wasn't very appetizing, we enjoyed the hustle bustle and people watching.

Here are a few photos of Muslim Street:
Muslim Street, Xi'an China

Muslim Street, Xi'an China
Muslim Street, Xi'an
Daxeuxixang Mosque roof lineDaxeuxixiang Mosque
Daxeuxixiang Mosque
After we'd looked around the mosque, we slowly made our way back to the hotel, stopping along the way to pick up a few items for our kitchen.  I think our busy days and early nights are starting to catch up with me!  I took a little nap while David explored the area right around our hotel for some better dining options.  He found one with an interesting menu, here are some of the dishes we tried:

Lamb with vegetables:

Baby bok choi

After dinner, we decided to call it a night--it had been a long day!

Tomorrow in Xi'an:  We're off to see the Terra Cotta Warriors!

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