From Beijing to Xi’an: First evening in Xi’An

As you might have followed my previous blogposts about my trip to Beijing and my 3 days there, you know that the city was a very exhausting one. There is no denying it, that it is beautiful, has a lot of culture and history and I saw so many different things I couldn’t have seen anywhere else, I can be sure that I would never want to live in this city, even if the smog disappeared one day. This also doesn’t mean that I dislike big cities, quite the contrary actually, I really love big cities. I am in love with Shanghai for example, and I could seriously imagine living there, but Beijing was something different. It’s nice for a trip, but that’s all.

If you have missed the posts, you can read about them here:

ArrivalΒ | Day One: Great Wall |Day Two: Forbidden City

When I woke up on my fourth day in Beijing, I took my bags, checked out and headed to the train station to catch my early train to Xi’An. The train station was smaller than expected and super busy. There were almost more foreigners than chinese people. I also saw like three travel groups full with german people.

Taking trains in China is so convenient and the prices are pretty good. Way cheaper than the trains here in Germany. That’s one of the things that I miss the most about China.

Anyway, I arrived in Xi’An in the late afternoon. By the time my taxi driver took me to my hostel it was almost early evening. While I was on the train and on the taxi, I was texting my friend Qiqi, who lives in Xi’An. I met her on my travels to Suzhou in September as I posted on this blogpost, and I promised her to visit her in Xi’An before I left China.

She told me that her friend would pick me up and show me around town until she made it out of work.

By the time I got my things inside my dorm room which was huge by the way and very clean and almost empty (only 2 other people with me there), Qiqi’s friend texted me that he arrived and waited in the lobby for me. We planned to go visit the Drum Tower and Bell Tower and then go to the Muslim Street Food Square. I was starving, so this was a great idea.

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This guy was legit fire spitting in front of the Bell Tower
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Drum Tower

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It was really nice of him to show me around. His english was also quite good, so he could do a little bit of translation between Qiqi and me. Qiqi’s english was around the same level as my chinese. We somehow managed to communicate, even if it was just through smiles, gestures and hugs. But it was nice to somehow be able to communicate with her through her friend.

The Muslim Square actually blew my mind. It was my favourite part about Xi’An, and I would love to return just for the food sold there. They have everything from Kebap, Nut Candies, Muslim noodles, soups, pita-like breads, Fruits, Juices, Milk drinks, Fried stuff, just EVERYTHING! I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to look at and what to eat.

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This is how the nut candy is made. The white stuff is a sugar mixture they use for any kind of candy. It was very relaxing to watch this.Β 

We sat down at a traditional restaurant that sold soups and meat. My friend told me that this place was a very old family restaurant, and all the locals knew about it. I ordered a normal noodle soup, my friend ordered the spicy version and he also ordered a dish made of intestines. He didn’t know that I don’t like intestines, but I tried to see how it tasted. I definitely didn’t like it :D But he appreciated that I tried.

The food was delicious. We continued to roam around the streets a little bit more. I found a stand with the pita-style bread and bought one. It looked yummy, but it tasted a little bit dry.

Then I saw something fried. It was dough filled with vegetables and it looked sooooo yummy! We ordered some, shared it, but could only eat a little bit since it was really oily.

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The Street Food market has a lot to offer. I was so full after only 3 dishes, that I could neither eat nor drink anything. I regret not having tried the pomegranate juice and the milk drinks that are really famous here.

I still wanted to buy some boxes of the nut candy though. I love them and I wanted to bring them to Germany so I bought two boxes, one with sesame and one natural.

After that, we finally went to meet Qiqi. She came with our friend’s car which was a Jeep. We then drove to the Wild Goose Pagoda, another famous sight in Xi’An.

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The Wild Goose Pagoda does have its charm when it’s dark

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Bascially, on that first evening, I saw all the famous sights you can see inside of the city of Xi’An.

We took a lot of pictures there, walked around the square, and even found a park which had funny sculptures to pose with.

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One of the few nice pictures of me that day. I looked just so tired and exhausted, that I didn’t want to upload the pictures showing me in the park.Β 

It’s one of the best things you can do during your travels: Hanging out with locals who can show you around.

Unfortunately, it was getting quite late already, and I was feeling really sleepy. I had an early start and I had to wake up early the next morning as well, to go see the Terracotta Warriors.

Have you guys ever been to Xi’An? And let me know about your favourite street food you ever had.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

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China Travels: Trip to Shaoxing

Monday, June 22nd 2015:

That day was a holiday, so we all had a day off from work. We actually wanted to go rafting, but then we ended up going to the gym to play some badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It was quite a hot and humid day so it was good that we could play inside. At the end of the day, we all went home to take showe and then went out to have dinner together. We went to a Korean Barbeque restaurant. We ordered two pans, one with shrimps andthe other one with beef. I didn’t like the one with beef so much, because it was a bit greasy, but the shrimps were heavenly!

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After dinner we talked about our Shaoxing trip again. We actually wanted to watch a movie but I was too tired that I just wanted to go to sleep.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015:

That day, we woke up early in the morning to go to Shaoxing. That’s a city quite close to Yuyao, only 10 minutes with the fast train and 40 minutes with the slow train. We took the slow train because the station for that is closer to the city centre in Shaoxing and it is cheaper. The train got quite full, though, but we luckily had seats.
When we arrived in Shaoxing, we also bought our tickets back. I decided to stay there one night together with our friend, so we bought our tickets for the next day.
So after that, we first planned to go see the Pagoda. The weather was extremely hot and humid that day. I think it was even the hottest weather we have had since I have arrived. And stupid me was wearing dark jeans. I nearly died from the heat.

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The way up to the Pagoda

Anyway, when we finally walked up the pagoda, we stayed up there for about half an hour because we were exhausted and sweating really badly, and the air up on the Pagoda was cool and fresh.

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The view from the Pagoda. It was quite smoggy/foggy, but too hot and humid. On top of the Pagoda, there was a little breeze so we stayed there quite long.
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These umbrella trees looked lovely

However, we got hungry soon, so we decided to look for a place to eat. We found a subway in a mall.
After the meal, we wanted to go to the Shen Yuan garden. When we arrived there, we went inside and it was really beautiful, despite the rain that started to drip a little bit.
After some minutes, something caught my eye: There were wooden boards hanging down with something written down on them. They were wish boards which could be hung up. Of course, it wasn’t free. You had to pay for the boards to write on and hang them up. But it was only 25 rmb, so I got one. I wrote something on it, which took a while, and hung it up. I hope it will still be hanging there for years after that.

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That’s what I wrote on my board. I wrote in all the languages I am fluent in.
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Merve in China, Zhejiang, 2015

Anyway, after that, we went deeper into the garden. Inside, it was really beautiful, quite simple maybe, yet you could find many fascinating details in the untouched natue which made the area look unique in its own way.

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After some beautiful snapshots, we got out of the parc. Together we walked around and found the area in which a famous chinese author used to live, the Luxin Native Place.

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There were many little shops lined along the streets. We decided to walkΒ  through the tiny streets that unfortunately smelled like stinky tofu, a famous street food offered in Shaoxing. Suddenly, something strange happened: Many moter bikes appeared and tried to get past us. We were confused where to walk and tried to get out of the way. Then, out of nowhere we heard loud dog barkings. Three stray dogs were running towards us. At once, we all started to run away from them. I realized that it wasn’t the best solution to run away from dogs, so I screamed to the others to get into the shops. We immediately stormed into the next little shop. You can’t imagine the frightened looks on the two women’s faces who were surprised by some crazy foreign girls who came running into their shop, screaming loudly. When I think about that moment, I still have to laugh. The women were first angry with us, but when they realized that we were running away from the dogs, she gave us an understanding look.

After that, we needed some cool drinks. We went out of that area and found a little fruit juice shop in town. I got a lemon-cucumber juice. In that heat, I just needed something refreshing with cucumbers in it. As we were sitting in the little shop, something droppedon our table, and now guess what it was: A freaking cockroach landed in front of Geet. We all stood upand didn’t know what to do. There was a chinese woman who could speak english a little bit so she killed it. After that we decided to better finish our drinks soon and leave the place, but the fear of the heat was bigger, so we stayed inside a bit longer.

Soon, it was time for two of our friends to go to the train station. Me and our other friend looked for the hotel, and after some help from strange chinese people, we found it. It was actually in the area where the author lived. Our hostel was quite nice, small and cute. Our room’s walls had drawings on from the visitors who stayed there before. I decided to do a drawing of us as well :D

After we took showers, we met my friend Geet’s friend Dylan from New York. He picked us up in front of the entrance wall and we first went to his apartment to meet his 2 roommates, a chinese girl called Ashley, and a Ukrainian girl called Anna. They were both quite young, too, and they joined us in our plans to hit the bars. The first bar we went to was quite cozy. There was a billiard table and someone preparing hookahs. We didn’t get one, but Anna told me that that the guy doing the hookahs was a turkish guy and was actually working in the turkish seafood restaurant in front of the bar. Ashley knew him from the restaurant and the told me I should talk to him. After finishing my beer and talking with the others for while, I decided to talk with him which turned out to be a good idea. His name was Samet and he seemed to be quite surprised and happy to see someone who could speak turkish as well. His friend came, too. He was learning chinese in a language school, and sometimes working at the restaurant and the bar, too.
Unfortunately, we had to leave soon, because Dylan wanted to show us another bar and Samet also had a lot of work to do in the bar. That bar was a bit louder, and maybe more like a club, but we had fun playing that chinese dice game :D Shaoxing is really not a bad place for bar hopping and meeting different kinds of people.

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At about 1:30 am we returned to the hostel. We had a bad shock at first when we couldn’t open the entrance doors. I was freaking out, trying to bang the doors open violently, then suddenly, someone moved inside, right in front of the doors. A man was sleeping there, and he woke up to open the doors for us. We were so confused, but relieved that we didn’t have to sleep on the streets :’D
Anyway, we were really tired and went straight to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up early since I had to get my train back to Yuyao. Geet also got up at the same time because she was meeting Dylan for a sightseeing day.
I arrived home safely that day, but had to work unfortunately. Still, Shaoxing is bigger than I thought and definitely worth a visit if you want to see a classical small chinese city.

Today’s rating:

Sightseeing: 3/5
Food: 3/5
Shopping: 3/5
Nightlife: 3/5

Transportation: 3/5