Our day started bright and early today. We were to be in the lobby by 6 A.M. in order to get to the train station in time for our train. Beijing’s high speed train station was massive and extremely crowded- it reminded me of an airport. Although it was insanely crowded, the station was surprisingly very clean and didn’t have a worn down look. We had about thirty minutes of free time to go around the station and look for snacks to eat on the train. I saw a lot of American chains (KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks) but only one chain of Chinese supermarket. The same store was dispersed throughout the train station. Once in the train, we scrambled to find room for all our luggage and then made our way to our assigned seats. The train was relatively comfortable which was good since the ride to Xi’an was 6 hours. The train had a lunch cart that we indulged in as we wouldn’t be having lunch once we arrived. The train’s highest speed reached was around 300 km/h.
The first thing we all noticed when we arrived was the heat and the polluted air. Although it necessarily visible, we could tell that the air we were breathing was definitely worse than the air in Beijing. The heat was unbelievable. It felt like we were in an oven. After walking for about 5 minutes we were glad to have reached our air conditioned bus.
We were first bused to our hotel to settle in and then we were bused to the Drum Tower. The Drum Tower is a historical site that was once used to tell time by banging on the drums. The Drum Tower was open to the public and you could walk up to the top. Inside the tower there was a museum that showcased furniture that was considered ahead of its time. Outside of the museum, drums lined the tower walls.
We then walked to Muslim Street, an extremely extremely (I cannot stress this enough) crowded street filled with tourists and natives. The sidewalk was lined with food vendors that sold exotic Chinese food and drinks. The vendors would have neon signs for their store and would stand in front and try to reel customers in. Since it was very crowded and we had to stay as a group, we quickly walked through the street and could only look and not buy. Hayley and I came back though during or free time and purchased fruit pops and yoghurt drinks. The people were friendly and tried to help us as much as possible even with the language barrier. On our way back to the hotel we saw a roller blading rink that we were thinking of going to tomorrow. It was only 25 yen for unlimited time!!