The first thing that hits you when you get off the Onion smelling bullet train. Apologies, but the guy next to me for some 5 hours was reeking.
Lets start again. The first thing that hits you when you hit the street of Xi’an, is it’s a lot more modern than Beijing. Straight away there is a lot more vibrancy and energy. Scoping all the youngsters kicking about on the tube ride down town, they seem hipper, more snazilly dressed, with a lot more colour than the Beijing Tube.
I arise from the metro to a blazing sun, luggage in hand, jacket on, heavy cotton top and jacket, quickly removed. The noise is just crazy, I need to find my bearings quick and get a march on to the gaff. Having Google mapped it, there’s about 2-3 schools in about my area and if I judge it right, I can get there before those little rascals come running out and use the yellow buses to gauge where I am.
I’ve been in Xi’an for almost two days now and its a hoot. Visit to see the real Terra Cotta Army in my plans, tasty eats in the Muslim quarter and a scoot around the City Wall that surrounds the square inner city and is adorned with a moat. It is the most complete city wall to survive in the country, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.
For today, a ferret about the local shops and Revolution Park. Just a stones throw from the hostel and is free to explore. Classical Chinese style gardens including lakes, bridges and plenty of interesting rock and statue features, an easy 2 hours dondering about for the big man in amongst all the locals who come here. As I walked around I see people exercising in group activities, differing group dancing, people practising writing in water on stone and a bit of culture and history. There’s even a boating pond that takes me back to the days of the South inch.
Hidden at the back, is a massive, supremely out dated and fairly rundown fun fair including some questionable unsafe looking rides. I quickly shirk through, feeling a bit awkward and not wanting to take photo’s.
I wander the shop fronts and am bewildered as to how many similar shops there are in the streets, all very similar, all stocking the same goods and all fully stocked. How do the owners make any money?? I get that rather than home’s these people eat, sleep and live in their shops, but how can they make money?
Shops with Printer paper, size A1, tons of the stuff. Shops with just photocopiers, coloured paper. Fruit grocers, convenience stores, hardware stores, bakers, cafe’s and basic workshops fixing anything from bikes to kettle’s and the likes. Clothes stores at night and oh yes, foot massage. I got my first proposition today looking at rucksacks in one shop. Woman said, ‘massage, massage’ and I quickly said no. She tugged my arm and pointed to my groin and said ‘massage, massage’, I quickly exited the building. Jeez!
A good day all the same and hopefully a good start to a great couple of days exploring Xi’an.