Today started out quite early at 6:15am as we headed down to the high-speed trains to travel to Xi’an. They were basically set up like airplanes but there was so much more leg room, the bathrooms were more spacious, and there was a lot of space to get up, stretch, and walk around. I expected the trains to move way faster than they actually did, and it didn’t quite feel like I was on a high-speed train. The only times I felt the high-speed was when we would pass by another train and feel the drift of it pulling us.
I whiled away time playing cards with my friend, napping, and trying to type out some blog posts. Six hours later, we got to Xi’an and headed to the hotel. From the moment we stepped into the hotel, I was blown away. It was such a nice hotel and an upgrade from our previous hotel, although that hotel was also great.
Later in the day, we walked over to the Drum Tower where we learned about the routine ringing of bells at sunrise and hitting of the drums at sunset. It was cool, but I was a little too exhausted from walking through the Muslim Quarter to really enjoy it.
Then for dinner, we had a dumpling banquet! We tried out about 8-9 different styles of dumplings and feasted away. They were all shaped differently, and some were even orange. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed every single one even though I didn’t know what was inside them and I was unaware I could enjoy dumplings that much. The fillings were so flavorful, and the dumplings were so creatively folded.
After dinner, we walked through the Muslim Quarter and vending streets. I really disliked the experience because there was just so much going on around me. Cars, buses, bikes, and carts were all trying to squeeze through pedestrian sized streets, people were vigorously honking left and right, people brushing and pushing their way through the crowd. I felt so clustered and jammed up. There was so much raw meat hanging in the air, and people smoking making it hard to breathe in the already congested crowd.
In a way the vending streets reminded me of certain open markets in Nigeria. I always hated going to the markets in Nigeria so seeing a place just as similar brought back unpleasant memories of congestion, people rubbing against me, too much noise, too much activity, and a lot of persuasion to buy things.
We kept walking through the streets and I begged that they would end but they just kept going. More bends, more cars, more vendors, more honking. I also really disliked it because we weren’t doing much of anything. We were just looking around, walking, and struggling not to lose each other in the crowd. This visit was easily my least favorite experience on the trip so far because I just felt so clustered and uncomfortable. Words cannot explain the feelings of joy I felt when we eventually made it back to the hotel.