i arrived in Xi'an early in the a.m. today. we were greeted by a representative of the hostel where we booked a bed and the three of us hopped on a bus from the train station. Xi'an is a very old city with lots of history. its city walls are still intact, with much of the new city overflowing outside the walls. in the very heart of the city is the bell-tower, built in the 1500's and restored in the 1700's. its surrounded by a roundabout with the four main streets heading in the directions of the compass. our hostel is in a building located on this intersection. it is a great location. the beds cost a mere 30 yuan (about $3.50) per night.
the city seems much like beijing to me, only smaller (but still large at 5 million). the streets are busy with cars, buses, bikes and people. they are lined with shops and stores, markets. its sensory overload and takes some getting used to. i went to the muslim quarter where the largest mosque in china is located. we walked through the streets in the muslim neighborhood (didnt see any other foreigners) and saw open-air meat markets with huge slabs of red meat hanging from poles, along with many other "unidentifiables" and animal parts you dont find in the states. i did try some mutton (lamb) kabobs, though, and was so glad i did. man, it was tasty!
we also took the hour-long bus ride east to view the Terracotta Army. it was quite a sight. no one should visit Xi'an, or even China, without seeing it. i think ill write a seperate post for this topic and try to explain it in more detail.
on the 14th at 4 pm, ill board a train to Xiamen on the southeast coast. itll be an 18 hour ride. when i wake up the next morning, hopefully the smell of the salty sea wont be far off.