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August 18th 2011
Published: August 22nd 2011
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Up and out early and we were heading for the city centre...in the rain! The weather reports had been right and the temperature has massively dropped and the rain has come. However this has not ridded the air of the smog and it is still hard to see very far in the distance in this smoggy country! We also had to let Yilera know our decision this morning and there are 6 of us that have decided to split from the tour and head to the Yangzte river on our own. So Liz, CJ, Emily, Holly, Tabitha and I are all heading together to the river on our own. We have all got really close and are sharing a room together here and we all really wanted to go and its nice that we can stick together. The others will be heading to south China and then we will all meet up in Shanghai at the end. Also we only have a 13 hour train journey to our next place whereas the others have a 29 hour journey, something that we did not feel would be worth it for only three days in the south of China.

This morning we headed straight for the city walls of Xi'an where we got to ride bikes around the 13.7km wall. This is something I had always wanted to do and I was so excited to finally do it. We also got to ride tandem bikes, again something I always wanted to do and Lizzie and I shared a bike and had an absolute blast on the wall for an hour or so. We had so much fun riding tandem and it is something I would do all over again I loved it so much. The city wall was amazing and just as good as I thought it would be, in some ways I preferred it more than the Great Wall! It did rain the whole way around by only lightly and it added to the fun of it all.

Once we had finished cylcing the wall we had a bit of a 'playtime' as our guide called it, where we played with skipping ropes, hula hoops and shuttleballs outside of the city walls that were provided for free for people to play with. We had real fun being kids again for an hour and we all were ready for lunch by the end of it! We were taken to the Muslim Quarter for lunch and I just began to fall more and more in love with the city with everything I saw. The Muslim Quarter was an eclectic mix of Chinese and Muslim culture and the food in the local restaurants and street stools was amazing. The whole place was so vibrant and just what I had pictured China to be, finally! We had a real mix of foods as we were able to go off and try our own thing and we had some bread stuff that was very nice, a Chinese pizza which was deep fried bread stuffed with egg, spring onion and some meat and then we finished it off with some hot noodles. We also had a dish that we thought was potato but unfortunately it was actually a jelly like substance that was not good! We had some desert from a local street vendor that was like sweet rice on a stick dipped in seseame seeds, sugar and some sweet brown liquid. It cost 10p an it was very good.

After lunch we spent some time going up the Bell and Drum towers, two gorgeous old towers that gave a good view over the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the rest of the Muslim Quarter that had an amazing market section that everyone loved and I split off from the group for about an hour and had a great time wandering on my own and soaking up the local way of life and all of the hustle and bustle. I absolutely loved it and I do really like Xi'an, I think it is my favourite place here so far.

We headed back to the apartment, had some dinner and headed out this evening to a kareoke bar with the group. I was dreading this but it was actually okay and the place was pretty interesting. It was more in town and the bar was very cool. It was on the fifth floor of this very bland looking building but when the elevator opened up we were greeted with four Chinese men bowing at us and we were taken to a private room that was decked out in black and chrome with a massive TV in it and it was all set up for our kareoke session. We picked some songs (luckily they did have English songs) and headed to the 'bar' for some drinks. The bar was unlike anything I have ever seen, it was actually a supermarket within the kareoke rooms that you went in with a Chinese person following you carrying a shopping basket and you picked your drink, put it in the basket and they took it to the counter where you paid for it, then they carried it into your kareoke room for you, amazing! We spent the night singing kareoke (I didn't actually sing, I am tone deaf) but I enjoyed listening to the others, some of which were good whilst some sounded like strangled cats. After a few beers and a bit of a singsong we headed home after an excellent day in Xi'an.


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