We woke up early this morning to catch an 8am bullet train to Xi’an. The train ride was actually pretty cool. The ride was unbelievably smooth for travelling at 200mph, and thus made a 1000-mile trip only 5 hours long. It made me wonder why there wasn’t something like this in the United States. We certainly have the money, and it would a convenient and more affordable alternative to flying everywhere. Either way, I think the high-speed rail infrastructure in China serves as another reminder of how active the country is in modernizing itself. After that, I managed to catch some sleep on the plane, waking up just in time for a quick lunch on the train before reaching our stop.
First impression of Xi’an: calm. None of the frantic jostling and overcrowding of Beijing was present in China’s former capital city. People were out walking their dogs or going for afternoon runs, and there were less car horns and bumper to bumper traffic; it was a peaceful city.
We checked into the hotel and dropped off our things, then we headed over to the Drum Tower for our first taste of Xi’an. This may have been because we were at a tourist site and there were many people from rural China, but the people of Xi’an were very fascinated with foreigners. At the Drum Tower, random people would ask to take pictures with us or sometimes even just sneak pictures of us. I didn’t mind it too much, but I could see it quickly getting old. Unfortunately, we just missed the drum show, but it was still an interesting visit with great views of the city. The Drum Tower served as a way to disseminate important information. Prior to modern watches and clocks, a chorus of drums would ring out each hour to let the city know what time it was. Also, certain patterns would warn of an impending attack or invasion.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed through the Muslim streets. This is a section of Xi’an filled to the brim with local shops and restaurants. We went through it quickly, but I made note of some shops and stores I hope to visit in my free time.