First day in Xi’an

12 02 2010

So Xi’an is actually a super-nice city. I’ve heard lots of bad stuff about how it sucks and it’s smoggy (which it is, but this is China, people), but it was mostly a nice-looking place with great food, interesting sites and … I don’t know, an interesting vibe. We got in after our rather bumpy flight through the storm that seemed (and still does) to have blanketed China, and arrived at Han Zhong Inn. And I have to say, I think this is my new favorite hostel in China. It’s more of a boutique hotel with a hostel-like bar on the first floor, but we recommend it heartily. Cheap beer, decent food, guitars strewn about the ubiquitous “hang-out area” every hostel has, rooms with heated floors (no I didn’t make that up), HBO – this place has it all.

So after sleeping in a bit, Dorian and I met up and wandered around the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, a cool area near the city’s large drum tower. On our travels, we encountered quite a bit of stuff we haven’t seen elsewhere in China: this apple cider-like drink (sugarcane and pomegranate juice were also available), pots full of this dish where they cut thick noodles up to look like slices of potatoes, and giant chunks of lamb on skewers (this they have elsewhere, but it bears mentioning because it’s particularly delicious in Xi’an).

The girls met us for lunch, after which we all headed to the Xi’an Train Station, then caught a bus out to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. The Chinese consider the terra cotta warriors – I made a decision only to capitalize on first reference – the 8th wonder of the world, and they are impressive. I for one thought they are really cool, but it’s such a tourist thing that it’s impossible to completely feel the ramifications of the discovery, especially if you look at these ancient statues and then head to the on-ground Subway for a Terra Cotta Warriors Italian BMT. They didn’t really have that, but they might as well. Around the park where the warriors are is a large shopping area featuring vendors selling a lot of junk, but mostly lots and lots of little terra cotta warriors. Takes a bit of the impressiveness out of it. Anyway, here, Missy is concerned about a creepy terra cotta warrior marionette and an even creepier girl marionette next to it (not shown):

After having dinner at the hostel (as well as a few drinks), we ambled over to the local KTV establishment, which I think might dabble in other business, but we won’t go into that. The selection of English songs was so-so, the beer was expensive, the room swank, and the talent on display was extraordinary. Here is a picture from KTV, courtesy of Theresa:

-Jeremiah

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