May 11, 2018
It was an early morning for us at the Penta Hotel in Beijing. We met in the lobby at 6:00 am and bussed all the way to the train station. It was a little crowded, but we were able to get onto the bullet train on time. We made ourselves comfortable because we were in for a six-and-a-half-hour ride to Xi’an. We had finally arrived and bussed to the hotel called the Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel Xi’an. This hotel is nicer and a lot larger than our previous one in Beijing. It also has a courtyard behind the front desk in the lobby where there are giant statues through the window.
A note that I forgot to mention in my previous blog was that seven of the twenty-four of us ending up becoming sick on the last day of Beijing. Everybody was completely fine during our busy day. However, when 8 pm struck, we got a notification that one of the guys was very sick and taken to the hospital. Within a span of five more hours, six others had the same problem and were brought to the hospital as well. It was crazy because it hit those seven people relatively around the same time. So, they had to stay in Beijing until everyone was out and feeling better while the rest of us traveled. They are all better now and will meet us in Shanghai, but we still don’t know the source of the sickness.
Now back to Xi’an. We then turned the corner from our hotel and entered an area called the Muslim Quarter. Our tour guide said that the people who live there are all Chinese yet believe in the Muslim religion. I have never experienced anything like it before in my whole life. There were street vendors and shops lined up on every street that traveled for miles. Most of the streets were also very narrow and technically the equivalent of one traffic lane. However, this “single lane” was shared by cars, mopeds, bikes and thousands of people. It was extremely crowded and people in vehicles were honking at each other constantly. Although it was nerve-wracking walking through these streets, it was very intriguing to see the different types of food and stuff at shops being sold.
Shifting through the crowd of people, we found ourselves in an open area and headed to this extremely famous dumpling dinner. Some of us decided that the word “dumplings” was too long and decided to call them “dumps”. This restaurant was quite unique and their dumpling recipe was said to be 1300 years old. There was also a huge golden dumpling at the entrance which symbolized good fortune. Everything was delicious and there were so many different types of dumplings. The meal began with two baby dumplings in soup. Next thing we know, seven more plates of exotic flavors are served to us. It was a dumpling feast! I ended up eating a lot this day…
We ended our first day in Xi’an with a visit to the Drum Tower, which lies in the heart of the city. Along with the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower was originally used as a musical instrument. However, it soon transitioned to tell the people of Xi’an what time it was. There was a main drum at the entrance of the tower and then multiple smaller ones surrounded the walls. We then climbed up to the top level of the tower and had an amazing view of the whole city. The sun setting in the background made for a great sight to end the day.