I've lived in China for almost 4 years now and I've done barely any traveling within the country, usually opting to leave for longer vacations and stay in Beijing for shorter breaks. I really want to explore more of this country that I call home. Luckily, T agrees, so we've been talking about possible trips we can take.
A lot of people we know have taken really quick weekend trips to Xi'an, so we decided we could easily do the same this summer.
Last Friday, our 11 month "anniversary," we took a 12-hour overnight train to Xi'an. This way, we wouldn't waste any daytime hours traveling, and we'd save money by only staying in a hotel one night.
It was the first time for both of us to take an overnight train, so we did a bit of research. Options were regular seats (no way, not for 12 hours overnight), a hard sleeper or a soft sleeper. The sleepers are bunk beds, and from everything we read, the main differences between the two are that the soft sleepers are 4 bunks in a compartment instead of 6 and you can close the door to the hallway. We decided to book a soft sleeper.
The train was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. T had a top bunk and I had a bottom, and the other two bunks were taken by nice strangers. The beds weren't too hard and although I woke up multiple times through the night, I managed to get a decent amount of sleep. Everything was clean, too.
Happy to be on our way!
All of this was only about $6 CAD!
We arrived around 8:30 AM, took a bus to our hotel, checked in, found food, showered, and then were off to see the warriors!
Tickets were 150 RMB each, and we also hired a tour guide, which was another 150 RMB. Honestly, it was more expensive than we thought it would be, but we were kinda like, Meh, what can you do? The tour guide ended up being worth it because she knew so much and was able to answer all of our questions! Plus she was very friendly and we joked with each other quite a bit.
I might get a little shade thrown at me for this, but: we were a little underwhelmed. But! At the same time, especially afterwards, we were like, Wow! How cool that we got to see the Terracotta Warriors! They're so old and so iconic...
They haven't dug up all of the warriors yet. This is what an area looks like that they're still working on.
There are different areas—pits—where the warriors are buried. Our guide told us that workers dig and reconstruct the warriors only in spring and fall because summer is too hot and winter is too cold.
The kneeling archer seen here is the only soldier that has been found completely intact. Because of this, he is considered to be lucky and symbolize luck.
Of course there were gift shops where you could buy souvenirs. I couldn't help myself and bought a mug with the kneeling archer :)
Side note: A highlight of the trip was this little juice shop being right down the street from our hotel. I drank my fair share of fresh fruit smoothies and juice!
We rested at our hotel for a bit (it was a really hot day!) and then headed to the Muslim Quarter. It was really overwhelming! Sensory overload! So many people and sounds and smells. But it was fun to take it all in.
We found the most delicious chuan!
And stood in a very long line to try what's basically a Chinese version of a pulled pork sandwich (minus the pork of course; I think it was lamb). The long line was worth it!
More meat sticks and the most delicious chicken wings.
A new meaning to curly fries.
We ate so much food, but in the end, we agreed that the chuan (meat sticks) were our favourite so we went back for more and walked back to our hotel, happy with full bellies.
Was Xi'an everything I thought it would be? No, not really, but it was good to see more of China. I'm thinking Taiwan will be next!
P.S. Welcome to China and highlights from Shanghai, Datong, and Harbin.