I had last week off work, due to the students doing their mid-terms. My parents took this opportunity to visit and they stayed a week in Beijing, seeing the sights and doing touristy stuff. Arriving late Monday afternoon (Beijing time), we all departed early Saturday morning to head West, to Xian. We went by bullet train, departing Beijing West station at approximately 9.30. It was due to take about six hours; however due to an unknown delay on the way, we were 90 minutes late and arrived at Xian North about 5pm.

Taking the subway added another half hour or so and it took us a while to find the hotel. Eventually, however, some time after 6pm, we happened upon it. Because it was late, and we were tired, we decided to eat in the hotel. Following this, we went for an evening stroll around the surrounding streets, before turning in for the evening…..

The following day, our only full day in the city, we had a lot to cover. After breakfast, we headed for Xian train station (different to Xian North, where we had arrived the previous day), and shortly after 9am we got on a bus to take us to see the Terracotta Warriors, about an hour outside the city.

On arrival, we made our way to the entrance, where we were approached by a guide offering their services. We were unsure at first whether we should accept, but we relented and actually it turned out quite well because she was able to explain a lot of information which we would otherwise have missed (it was not well signposted).

The site itself is still being excavated, and was very, very busy. Nevertheless, we were able to see some of the unearthed warriors.

Following this, we went back to Xian, and decided to go and look for the muslim quarter. We knew vaguely where this was – close to the bell tower – so we set off to find that and navigate from there. Upon arriving at the tower, we realised that we had exited here from the subway the previous day, and not seen the tower! Still, we paused for a break before finding the quarter, and an interesting market, with a narrow street full of stalls. Behind the market was a packed street full of food vendors and even more people.

After taking in the sights and sounds, we returned to the hotel, and had a rest. Then we had something to eat, before heading out to the city wall in the evening and taking in the night air again.

On Monday morning, we had breakfast and then departed. I was returning to Beijing on a bullet train, my parents were heaving to Shanghai, on a sleeper train.

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