Opposite bell tower
The Kai Yuan Shopping Mall, is located in the centre of the city, in front of the Bell Tower. It is one of the biggest department stores in Xian. The mall has been praised as one of the most popular shopping places and contains a McDonald's and Starbucks.
My friend and I decided to...
My friend and I decided to stay at the hotel the first night and rough it the second night. During the first day in Xi'an, we had a meal at Mum's Home Cooking (mostly tourists, in fact it was all tourists). The owners were so friendly, that in jest my friend asked them if we could pass the night in the restaurant--she wanted to be up all night long till our departure from Xi'an. That second day, after visiting the Terracotta Warrior Soldiers, we went to Singapore Fast Food and killed an hour there (5-6 p.m.) then moved onto KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)--we stayed there talking away until the restaurant closed. Since our options had expired, we took a cab to Mum's Home Cooking. There we ordered dinner and planned to have a quite evening... Some of the employees and tourists had gone clubbing (we opted out of it after a long day). Meanwhile, the other employees began putting chairs together. At first, my friend and I didn't know what they were doing--but then we realized that they aligned the chairs because that was their bed. Oh, we felt so horrible for disturbing their usual sleeping pattern. We were about to leave, but the owners kept insisting that we stay--we couldn't get out of it. So we stayed, sitting, eating, drinking a half-way decent beer and smoking awful and quite apparent imitation American cigarettes. In China, if you buy Marlboro Lights, Camels, whatever the brand (non-Chinese), they all taste the same. The outside packing is a perfect imitation, however the actual taste is horrible. So for you smokers, bring your own cigs, or accept that you'll be smoking fakes... if you're brave, smoke the Chinese cigarettes. But there was no way that either of us would--the pungent disturbing odor and taste would knock us out. (The reason I know this is when I lived in Korea for a year, I shared a guesthome with 2 Koreans born and raised in China. The husband once had several other Korean-Chinese men over and they were smoking those horrible cigarettes (I know it's all relative and I shouldn't pass judgment, but they were so *#$! awful...), called Prince. Nasty!)
Back to my original point, my friend and I were sitting at the round table, talking and eating when all of the sudden we began to hear noises, squeaks and the pitter patter of something. Our worst fears were confirmed--RATS. It was bad enough there were many mosquitos flying around, but now there were rats, too! We quickly put two chairs together and put our feet on them so as to not make any bodily contact with the floor, and changed our clothes to longer garb. That night, I slept 30 minutes, with the help of my Lonely Planet China guidebook as my pillow. Face down. We were so extremely thankful when the sun rose and the restaurant's doors opened for business. Regardless of what we experienced that night, my friend and I had breakfast and ordered lunch from them and headed off to Guilin. Oh, looking back, I still can't believe we did that. Well, it wasn't the rats.
Banpo - an ancient civilization: Part 2
Banpo shows an incredible level of social organisation, and the village was divided into specific areas for living, pottery manufacture and burial. This and the fairly sophisticated tools and painted pottery suggest that there may yet be older cultures yet to be found in unsegregated, probably temporary settlements elsewhere.
The earlier houses were like tepees, with angled wooden posts supporting a thatched roof, over a sunken circular living space. Later houses were built at ground level and were rectangular.
The pottery is absolutely fascinating, and shows a variety of objects. The exhibition rooms at Banpo, and in other museums in China, have many different kinds of objects - many of them beautifully decorated. The museum shows how the Yangshao used and developed a fish motif on their pottery which is quite incredibly fresh and even contemporary, thousands of years after it was applied to a bowl by a potter. The fish and other designs of human faces and deer were seemingly reserved for the more imposing, special objects, while everyday items were either unpainted or used a basketweave or cord pattern.
Other designs, presumably earlier, involved pricking the wet clay with fingernails to give a scaly appearance, possibly imitating the scales of a fish.
Perhaps the most intriguing design element is that of the famous Banpo letters. Archaeologists have discovered many shards with what appear to be Roman letters. I know absolutely nothing about the development of written scripts, but is it possible that these primitive letters somehow moved from Asia to the Middle East to Europe. Some letters are very clear: T, K, and E. Others (X and I) are so universal that they can hardly be described as Asian or European-looking. Currently, the archaeologists suggest that these were used only to identify animals or goods, as there is only ever one letter found on a shard, never more.
Across an open area from the Bell Tower is the Drum Tower, right next to the Muslim Quarter. While we were there we were looking down into the narrow streets and watching a guy making noodles by hand. When he saw us watching he began waving and putting even more effort ibto his noodle making by swing them round even more.
Beiyuan Men Islamic Street
This street stretches northwards from the Drum Tower into the city's main Muslim area which includes one of the city's best attractions - The Great Mosque. The street is paved with dark coloured stone with green trees providing shade during summer; the buildings on both sides of the street are modelled on the styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Some of the constructions are restaurants; while others are stores. It is said that foreign diplomatic envoys and merchants lived here, then they married and had children, so gradually the population increased. Today, most of the inhabitants of this area descendants of those immigrants.