Following our adventures in Beijing and the Great Wall, our G Adventures tour group headed to Xi’an, which is about a two-hour flight south west of Beijing. Our evening flight there will unfortunately be featuring as one of my pits in this post, but our short time in Xi’an was certainly an interesting and eye opening experience!
Terracotta Warriors and Horses
There is no other way to describe this historical site except incredible! The Terracotta Warriors are a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. They were constructed in 246–206 BC. and along with the tomb of the Emperor it took 720,000 builders. These figures laid underground for 2,000 years before some local farmers discovered them while digging a well in 1974. It’s regarded as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century and is also considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world! To be able to witness this incredible site with my own eyes was an experience I will never forget. A must see on your China bucket list!
Home-cooked lunch at a local farmers house
After our morning exploring the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, our tour group was treated to lunch at a local farmers house. The home cooked food was very different from the restaurant meals we enjoyed in Beijing, but equally delicious! My favourite dish was actually the dessert, potatoes covered in candied caramel. At first we thought it was apple, until we took our first bite!
Experiencing ‘real life China’ on the overnight train
The anticipation of the overnight train from Xi’an to Suzhou had been building since the beginning of the tour, none of us knew exactly what to expect but it was definitely the worst based on what we had been told. Thankfully, the sleeper train was under sold and over delivered and it turned out to be a great experience. One of the highlights for me was meeting a young Chinese girl named Nancy who came and introduced herself to me on the station platform because I assume she wanted to practice her English. She was 10 years old and ended up being only a few cabins away from us on the train. She came to sit and chat with our group on the train a number of times and blew us all away with her English skills. I really admired her courage and her desire to learn and I genuinely hope she has a wonderful future ahead of her.
Flying to Xi’an – I don’t like to dwell on negatives in my posts but sometimes a combinations of things all happen at once culminating in a less than ideal experience, exacerbated by the fact that your physically and emotionally exhausted. After an amazing full day hiking along the Great Wall, we headed straight to the airport for our 4.30pm flight to Xi’an, sweaty and exhausted, our flight unexpectedly changed terminals (despite our tour guide having checked our flight bookings earlier that morning) so we had to take a bus 15 minutes from the domestic to the international terminal and raced through the airport to check in and go through security.
Here’s another bonus tip for you – Beijing airport security is a very inefficient compared to other large international airports I’ve been to. So make sure you allow ample time so you’re not running to the gate (literally) as the plane is boarding like we were. Fortunately there were 14 of us all running so they didn’t leave without us. Unfortunately it doesn’t end there… Our two hour flight ended up taking four hours due to bad weather and not being able to land in Xi’an, so I am very grateful for the on board meal that was included. Lets just say once we finally got to the hotel room at 11pm, there were a couple of over-exhausted tears from me and a much needed shower for both mum and I and a good nights sleep!
Muslim Quarter Markets– I think my mistake was having expectations, because I really was way off the mark. The Muslim Quarter was an interesting place, chaotic, vibrant and great for picking up bargains. But I will be honest and say that is wasn’t my favourite experience because I was confronted with a lot of things I wasn’t expecting to see, from hanging animals carcases being carved to parents letting their kids go to the toilet in the rubbish bins and then seeing beggars searching through those bins for scraps. With so much happening and so much to look at in the market place, I’m sure many would have missed the things I saw. I have tried to look past these initial shocks and the Muslim Quarter certainly has plenty to offer many people but it personally wasn’t one of my favourite experiences and I think its okay to accept that you’re not always going to love every single experience no matter where you are travelling in the world.
Be prepared for random weather – Despite being summer, its also wet season in China and apparently our flight wasn’t able to land in Xi’an due to a typhoon! Most of our morning in Xi’an it was pouring with rain, so I’d recommend having a small umbrella or poncho handy just in case.
Be careful when eating street food – When we visited the Muslim Quarter markets our tour guide warned us about ‘Foreign Stomach’ and to be careful if we decided to eat anything. So I thought I’d share that same advice with you. Markets are great to explore and observe but be careful about trying any street food especially if you don’t know how it’s been prepared because it may not agree with your foreign stomach.
Have comfortable, enclosed and supportive shoes – Our day exploring Xi’an was also day four of walking and being on our feet constantly so I was definitely starting to feel it. The first thing I always forget about my travelling experience and the thing people never mention is how much pain your feet are constantly in, especially if you sit in an office most days of your home life. So wearing comfortable and supportive shoes is a must if you want to last the whole week! Not to mention what your feet may tread in on your walking ventures.
I hope you enjoyed this Xi’an instalment of our Asia Adventure! Up next is going to be my photo diary from the Great Wall of China and another ‘Peaks, Pits & Top Tips’ post all about Suzhou, which was one of my favourite Chinese cities! Thanks for reading!
All photos by me.
This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.