Travel Blog Series – China, Chengdu to Xi’an – Post #9

We woke up around 11am and got showered (somehow feeling fresh. Paracetamols before bed works a treat) and decided to head to the town to go grab some food.

Getting a taxi, which cost us 90p….we pointed on the map to the shopping center with a huge giant panda hanging off and went exploring. We quickly came across at Twinings shop/cafe and dave was in his element. Even though I’m not a tea drinker, my peach iced tea was excellent.
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After this, we found a burger bar which contained every burger possible, full English burger, Caeser salad burger, humous burger…amazing. Having not eaten anything but a pot noodle and McDonald’s, 21 hours without food we demolished the lot. Dave ordered the biggest burger going and it was gone within 5 minutes.

Full tummies, we mooched around the shops a while and then went back to the hostel for a well-needed nap. When we woke, we discovered the group was meeting to go explore a Tibetan and Asian street. After a 20-minute sweaty bus journey, we found the Tibetan first. The streets were mainly filled with the same jewelry stands and the shops consisted of traditional clothes. It was very interesting to walk around, however, it could’ve been done in half the time if people didn’t stop off at every single stall that looked identical – it made us realise why the 5 of us always split off from the others.
We then moved onto the Asian street, which was little alleyways surrounded by Chinese lanterns, it looked absolutely stunning. Especially as we had gone at night, this was the most authentic thing I’d seen in China. I’m hoping to visit more places like this in the next few cities before we finish our tour, but who knows.
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After walking around for a while, the plan was for us all to try the Thai restaurant for dinner next to the hostel, however as it was getting late people began stopping off at stalls to eat the street food. Once I had heard Thai food my heart was set, so Dave, Serene and I shared a taxi and found the restaurant. Oh my god am I glad we went. I had to go for the Thai green curry, my fave, and it was incredible. Extremely spicy, but one of the best I’ve ever had. And if I can get something like this in China, I can’t wait to see what food Thailand itself brings in a few weeks!

By the time we had finished it was 10pm and as we were up early to go see the pandas have their breakfast, it was time for sleep.

Pandas at Chengdu:

 This morning we woke up early to get the bus to the Panda research center to watch them have their breakfast. This was the activity I was most excited for in Chengdu, and oh god what is worth it.

 Just big fat cuddly pandas everywhere you looked, chewing away on bamboo.

 They were all laid down with the bamboo sprawled across their bellies so they didn’t even have to use their hands to eat, so lazy! Firstly we saw the adult giant pandas, and then entered a building with incubators behind glass with baby pandas only 2 weeks old, about the size of a rat, and with no fur, they looked like one. Very surreal.

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As we entered the red panda section, one came up and run into the middle of the crowd to see everyone, we even got to stroke it. Such friendly little things! After we had walked around, we got the bus back to the hostel to gather our things to check out, and then walked around the shops again and got some lunch before getting another overnight train.

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Here’s a quick insight into the train station toilets. Over here all the toilets are single squat toilets, barring the hostel ones, and the train station toilet is like a large trough running through all the cubicles, and as you can imagine if you’re in the middle cubicle all sorts fly through underneath from one end to the other. After being told this, I thought I was really clever by going to the end so that no one would be next to me for me to see anything – only thing is I picked the wrong end.

If seeing someone’s poo flypast isn’t bad enough, when I came out I saw the victim as she had the door wide open, and was squatting with her arse and belly out. I’m still getting used to this Chinese culture. And the sound and sight of people spitting everywhere doesn’t get easier either.

Xi’an: 

From the overnight train we arrived around lunchtime into Xi’an which, once again, was another city area – however much more relaxed than the last ones. We felt like we could cross the road without death by motorcycles. We met our new tour guide Sasha, who is our favourite up to date. She’s very switched on and knows how to control the group which is a refreshing change.

We went straight to the hostel, which we were very impressed by. Similar to the last hostel in Chengdu, it was like a hotel. Very clean, good facilities and places to lounge and relax. This specific one was above a bar which was very handy when we wanted a drink.

After a quick shower and dumping our bags, Sasha took us to the Muslim quarters in the city, showing us the bell towers and explaining how it rings at 6am to get everyone up for work to start the day, and another in the evening to end it. This was the first real Chinese architecture we were introduced to, with the old buildings and lanterns – how I imagined China.

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We were guided to the mosque to go look around, and then were given the option to either go in or wander around the market. To enter the mosque, a scarf around the head was necessary which caused an issue as I didn’t have one, but I was also put off by a cart that was pulled out by a push bike into the street with two dead cows on the back. We later found out from others in our group that entered the mosque that it was a festival happening inside with animal slaughtering. I could not have been more happy with my decision to go shopping.

Dave, Serene and I walked around the markets which had the fake clothes and the stereotypical jewelry stands. It was nice to look around and Dave even managed to bag quite a lot of good fake clothes for a very decent price, however, the alleyway with the market was the width of a standard door and people were flying through on scooters and motorbikes every 5 minutes so we were beeped and pushed out the way.

We then took a walk around the food area, with lots of interesting things occurring.
The usual variety of meat on sticks, as well as fried seafood, a strange dough textured substance was being thrown around in the air and slung around a hook like a lasso, we assumed it was some type of bread. After Dave tried some spiced lamb, we found a stall with the fish tanks in to soften your feet and committed to giving it a go.img_7733

I’m so unsure as to why I did this. I have the most ticklish feet, ever. And I also hate fish, I freak out when I’m in the sea and something catches my ankle, let alone willingly putting my feet into a tank of them for 10 minutes. So after a good few squirming minutes and after a few people had enjoyed a good laugh at me, we walked our soft feet back to the hostel.

After an hour or so rest, we gathered up the other couple and all shared a taxi to a water show in the town center. This lasted about 20 minutes and was pretty amazing, but after all our traveling we were knackered and went back to get an early night.

 

Sophie Amelia

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