A two-hour flight from Beijing got us to Xi’an where we spent three days. With another personal driver to pick us up from the airport and drive us around town, it was wonderful stop between the two major cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
• Sofitel at Renmin Square Xi’an. 319 Dong Xin Street, Shaanxi, 710004 Xi’an, China. Thanks to Jay’s cousin for setting us up in this luxury hotel. It was absolutely beautiful and the rooms were HUGE! It had an amazing indoor heated pool and we took advantage of the ping pong table where Jay showed off his Chinese ping pong skills.
• Terracotta Warriors. The main attraction of Xi’an. In 1974, a local farmer was drilling a waterwell and discovered this terracotta army. More information can be found on the Internet. It’s very impressive. And more so by looking at the buildings in which these statues are housed in. They spent some bucks and knew it would soon turn into a tourist destination. Upon exiting the facilities, vendors line up the walkways trying to sell you souvenirs. Remember, whenever you are purchasing, BARGAIN. I have a hard time doing so, but luckily, Jay doesn’t. I wanted to purchase a souvenir of the warriors, which the saleslady claimed it was crystal. Jay took it in his hands and tapped on it. In Mandarin he said, “Crystal my @ss! Who are you trying to fool? This is acrylic!” as he took my arm to walk away. After conversing for a while in Mandarin, Jay finally agreed to buy the souvenir at half of what she originally asked for.
• The Drum and Bell Tower. It’s a tower. With drums. And a bell. I’m sure it has some history about it. What I remember from it was standing on top of the tower, overlooking the streets. It was a great smoggy view as we watched the pedestrians walk across busy streets. It was the classic arcade game of Frogger. Be careful when walking in China. Motorists don’t care and pedestrians don’t have the right of way.
• Big Wild Goose Pagoda. A Buddhist pagoda. The pagoda itself was tall and I did not want to climb it. And Jay reminded me we had to pay extra. No thanks. I’m sure it was a good view, though.
• Huaqing Hot Springs. It’s the site of an imperial bathing pool. Visit here if you are here in the wintertime. For about 1 yuan you can wash your hands in the hot spring water. It was well worth it and I would have even paid double – it felt really good on a cold day.
• Bike around the Xi’an City Wall. The wall is approximately 8.5 miles around. I am not good at math and Jay informed me that it was only 13.7 kilometers, so I agreed. We each rented a bicycle for 100 minutes and I thought to myself, “Yeah, no problem.” Only after we reached the first turn that I asked Jay how many miles 13.7 kilometers was. 8.5 miles?! What? Are you crazy? After many rest stops (to admire the view, of course), we realized our 100 minutes was nearing an end. Not wanting to pay another fee, we sprinted the last mile, reaching the rental stand within minutes of our 100 minutes time period.
• Again, I can’t remember what we ate five years ago, except one cold night where we ate at KFC (much to Jay’s dismay, but it was freezing and he was outnumbered). And the reason I remember this meal out of the entire trip was because this man who was blatantly staring at each of us. Not just a glance. An in-your-face-what’s-wrong-with-this-picture stare. I assume it’s because we are all Asian-American (Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino), speaking English trying to figure out what to order. And the next thing he knew, there goes Jay stepping up to the cashier ordering in Mandarin with no apparent accent. The guy was floored as he kept looking back at us even after he got his food.
• Don’t forget to bargain. Bargain for everything!
• Three days was enough to explore Xi’an without feeling rushed and busy.