My first sleeper train ride during this trip was very comfortable so I arrived in Xian rested and full of energy to explore the capital city of Shaanxi Province, a place with important ancient past and once eastern departure point of the Silk Road.
I included a visit to Xian in my travel plans to see the famous Terracotta Army. I first found out about Emperor Qin Shi Huang and his warriors back in 2008 when the British Museum organised and presented The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army exhibition in London. With the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing that year China was on everyone’s lips and there were many cultural events and significant media coverage dedicated to this blockbuster exhibition. Learning about this archaeological discovery and the Emperor, who wanted to rule in the afterlife was incredible and I promised myself that one day I will go to China to admire this impressive site.
Seeing the Terracotta Army did not disappoint me, it is amazing but I was surprised how much of it is still not excavated and that there are extensive ongoing works taking place there. I only wished there was more historical context provided to the visitors as that was certainly a strong point of the British Museum’s exhibition.
Military force and clay soldiers aside, Xian’s street food offer within its Muslim Quarter was my absolutely favourite food experience during my trip in China. In the heart of city’s Muslim community I came across a mind-blowing variety of street food from the dishes I have known, recognised or even tasted before like dumplings or noodle soups to some rather obscure delicacies. China never fails to amaze you in that department!
I tried famous rou jia bing, a steamed bread sandwich with lamb, snacked on red dates and sweet doughnuts with rose jams and bought a huge flatbread with sunflower seeds and a couple of smaller Chinese breads to take with me on my next sleeper train to Chengdu.
In Xian I had a great company and spent time wandering the streets of the Muslim Quarter or walking along the city walls with Filip, who was also travelling around Asia since October. In fact our routes were so similar that a friend of mine, who follows Flip’s blog and Instagram profile encouraged me to get in touch with this friendly-looking Polish guy. When the time came to go our separate ways we decided that after few days in the cold we had to meet again somewhere nice and warm and swap hot teas for mango shakes!
Han Tang Inn Hostel was an excellent choice and I am really happy that I decided to stay there. I would highly recommend it to anyone, who is planning to visit Xian.