After our donut break, we arrived at the Muslim Quarter. This, apparently, was where all the people in Xi’an were hiding. The streets were packed with people and the pavements lined with streets stalls selling dumplings, noodles, herbs, meat and some other unidentifiable, but seemingly edible, food items. We loved exploring the sights and smells of this area. As with the rest of China, the health and safety rules are slightly different to those in the UK or USA. We particularly liked the cooking contraptions that shot balls of fire out from various angles.
As often happens in crowded places in China, I was stopped by random Chinese people and asked to pose for a photo with them. I pretty much always say yes to this as the one time I did say no, because I was feeling ill, the young woman looked like she was crying when she walked off! I don’t really mind as, I guess to some people, a blonde haired person is still an unusual sight. It’s not always giggling but shy teenagers or young people that want a photo. The following day on Hua Shan we were stopped and asked to have photos taken with whole families and also by rather serious faced, middle age men. At one point we were resting, having a snack when we were thrust into a photo mid mouthful. Another time we had to run off because it looked like a queue of people was forming wanting to pose with us! I do prefer it when people ask though. Many a time I’ve seen people try to stand next to me while their friend takes a ‘secret’ photo.
Later that evening we set off to try to eat some authentic Xi’an food. The area is known for it’s noodles and we had picked a noodle restaurant from our LP guide that sounded as if it would be relatively easy to get veggie food. I was also feeling confident having practised saying “Hello waiter, I am a vegetarian and I don’t eat meat or fish” a million times in last Chinese lesson.
We walked down a pleasant pedestrian shopping and food area and found the corner where the restaurant was supposed to be. But there was nothing there with the restaurant name on in English or Chinese (Justin had memorised the characters). We walked back and forth a few times but it definitely wasn’t there. Unfortunately, quite a few of the other restaurants around there were shut for the holidays and the ones that were open were either unappealing or were Mcdonald’s or Baskin’ Robbins… We ended up eating at the sister hostel (although it was pretty good) and later found online that that restuarnt had closed down! There was another location outside the city walls. I guess that’s why you shouldn’t rely on guidebooks! too be fair to the LP (which I use all the time), they have recently released a new version so it’s probably our fault for being to impatient to wait to get the new one when we found out we were moving to China!