re: China pt. 3

With the Beijing section of the trip behind us, we were on sleeper trains every other night, spending around 2 days in each city before heading to the next destination. So arriving in Xi’an, we wasted no time in dropping off our bags at the hostel and catching the bus to the site of the Terracotta Army! Skipping past the tour guides milling around the entrance and opting for an audio guide instead, we made our way to Pit 1. I was fearful of being underwhelmed, but it was absolutely spectacular to view the army in real life! The excavation site is massive and it was fascinating to walk around and observe the tiny differences in detail between each soldier. Pit 2 and 3 are much smaller, but offers terracotta horses and a little museum exhibit explaining distinctions between the soldiers. Finishing our visit with a final look in Pit 1, we had lunch in a noodle restaurant nearby before catching the bus back into the city. To make the most of our visit to Xi’an, we headed over to the Bell Tower, which we observed from outside, and then to the Drum Tower… also observed from the outside. If we had more time, I would have definitely entered the Drum Tower, if only to hit the huge drums! The Muslim Quarter was a road over and packed full of food stalls and restaurants to try!

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Sitting down in a restaurant, I ordered what I thought was a noodle soup dish, but was given a bowl containing two pieces of hard undercooked pita bread. Was this some sort of accompaniment to my main meal? Sensing my confusion, the waiters motioned that I had to break the bread. (???) So now I had 4 pieces of broken pita bread. (???) Finally a lady came to the table to demonstrate that the whole thing needed to be broken down into little pieces. Following her actions, I hoped she would see that I had understood and stop, but she continued breaking bread and in attempt to be helpful, so did my friends. The four of us, concentrated on tearing bread made such a hilarious scene that even the waiters were laughing! After all these hands touching the bulk ingredient of my meal, it was whisked away into the kitchen to be cooked in a spicy sauce, with some actual vermicelli noodles thrown in. While the flavours of the dish were nice, the texture of the pita bread soaking up the sauce wasn’t exactly to my taste and I guiltily left most of the bowl uneaten. Making a swift exit out of the restaurant, we roamed the market searching for something more appetising to eat. There’s a yoghurt drink that’s everywhere in China and which I now regret not buying more of since the jar also doubles as a cute little souvenir!

Our last day in Xi’an, we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda where it was so cold it started snowing. To escape, we headed into a coffee shop to warm up and watched the fountain show opposite before saying goodbye to Astrid who had to catch a flight back to Hong Kong! This left my friend Sandy and I to wander around the area, including the Shaanxi Museum (free entry!) until it was time to catch our next sleeper train! Apologies if the writing sounds a bit rushed, but let’s just say it’s purposefully done to reflect the nature of this little inter-railing trip around China (heh). Stay posted for the final instalment!

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