A short flight from Beijing and we were in Xi’an.
First thing we did to get our bearings was head to the wall, where you can hire a bike and cycle around the top of the old wall. It was a great way to feel like we had arrived in the city and get a bit of an overview, juxtaposing the old with the new.
Xi’an felt quite different to Beijing. There were lots of big skyscrapers around the outskirts of the city, but lots of them were incomplete, empty shells. It is difficult to imagine what they will be used for and how the city will expand into then, but I am sure that they will. It also felt a bit like the oppositite of cities in places like Australia where all the skyscrapers are in the central business district – here the centre was the smaller, older buildings (though peppered with modern shopping centres).
After our ride we headed to the Muslim Markets, which were amazing. We walked through a modern shopping district before emerging in the markets – there was so much good food! The best bit was watching the making of peanut brittle (and then eating said brittle). It basically involved smashing peanuts with a giant hammer!
I also indulged in some yummy savoury stuffed pancakes. There were lots of interesting sweets, but unfortunately not really a confectionery person, but it was amazing what could be dipped in sugar.
The markets were very close to the Drum Tower, which seemed like it glowed in the dark!
While in Xi’an we stayed at the Hantang House hostel, which for better or worse was very much aimed at Westerners in that it seemed to have been in partnership with a place called JavaBlue, which is a coffee chain I have seen in Australia, and had a nice, but very Western style bar, where they had live folk/country music…
It was also very close to the entertainingly named ‘Facebook Hostel’…
That night at our hostel then did a dumpling making workshop – which was fantastic because I absolutely 100% love dumplings. Though they definitely weren’t the best dumplings we had on our trip, lots of filling escaped during cooking!