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Published: November 29th 2012
The mosque is tucked away in the Muslim quarter. It's quite large but still manages to stay out of sight unless you know where to look. Inside, it's quiet and serene, which is surprising, given the hubbub on the other side of the mosque's walls.
The mosque has been there since 742 CE and people still come fives times daily to pray. A sign on the wall informs worshipers of the correct times to return. We were allowed to visit anywhere we wanted on the grounds, but we were not allowed inside the mosque itself since we weren't Muslim.
The bazaar surrounding the mosque is full of fun little stalls and shops to wander through. It's clearly for tourists (both Chinese and otherwise) and there's more to see than you'll even notice. Good treasures can be found with some digging and some haggling. I took photos of some of the stalls and I'm still seeing new things when I look back. Some of the items are clearly Xi'an specific, some are China specific, and one table was selling scarves identical to the one I bought in Laos 2 years ago.
What surprises me the most is how blatantly
the China paradox is on display: right next to each other on the same table are Warrior statues, Little Red Books, and playing cards with NBA stars and American millionaires. But that's China for you: a land of contractions, all effortlessly working together.
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