I’m sad to leave Beijing, but today we traveled to Xi’an by bullet train. We had to leave relatively early, so it was nice for the hotel to pack us breakfast in to-go bags. We were the first to board the bullet train. Just as its name suggests, the front of the train was shaped like a bullet. The train reached over 300 km/hr, but surprisingly, the ride was very smooth. It didn’t feel like we were going that fast. As we were heading to Xi’an, I noticed that the suburbs of China were filled with open green land and electrical towers and wires. You could tell the gradual shift to modernization in some areas where many tall buildings were built or in construction around old-style buildings. I wonder if any of those constructed cities are a part of China’s “Ghost cities.” In high school, I read about China’s “Ghost cities,” and they are cities that have everything for a modern urban lifestyle, such as high-rise apartment complexes and skyscrapers, except for the people. Perhaps, China plans to move people to the empty towns, but I could still see many buildings that were under construction.
We arrived at Xi’an, and first thing I noticed was the blue sky and the fresher air. After getting situated in the hotel, we met our new tour guide, Rocky. Rocky took us to the Muslim Quarter. The Muslim Quarter is the hub of the Muslim community in Xi’an and is inhabited by over 20,000 Muslims. As we walked more and more to the heart of the Muslim Quarter, the more modern it got. I was amazed the amount of street vendors there were. Many shops sold unique food, such as goat leg. We stopped at the Drum and Bell Tower Plaza, and it was sure busy. For dinner, we ate at a dumpling restaurant that was over 1300 years old. As expected, their dumplings tasted phenomenal. Each dumpling was very unique, such as the ones that were shaped like a chicken and a monkey. During our dinner, two women were playing music. One was playing erhu, a two-stringed instrument, and the other was playing the yangqin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer.
After a delicious meal, we climbed up the Drum Tower. As I walked up the steps, I was amazed by how many swallows that were flying around the tower; there must’ve been hundreds flying together. The Drum Tower was traditionally used for timing. At specified intervals determined by the location of the sun, the drums of the Drum Tower would be hit so everyone in the community would know what time it was. The view up the Drum Tower was great; I didn’t realize that the sun had gone down as we were touring the tower. The moment we went back on the main street, all the lights and neon signs were beautifully lit-up. While the night market began, we headed back to the hotel after a long day. After exploring the hotel, playing rounds of ping pong, and a few card games, the day came to a close.