Local traditions and culture in Xi'an

  • umbrella repair man!
    umbrella repair man!
    by angiebabe
  • doing a brilliant job!
    doing a brilliant job!
    by angiebabe
  • living in a city of high rise apartment buildings
    living in a city of high rise apartment...
    by angiebabe

Most Viewed Local Customs in Xi'an

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    Getting a coffee fix in Xi'an

    by angiebabe Written Feb 7, 2014

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    Even though its said coffee is grown in Yunnan and that coffee from there is great stuff ,coffee is a fairly expensive commodity wherever Ive been in China.
    Living here in Xi'an its interesting to see the coffee and cafe culture that has developed - and its also been a popular inroad for foreigners to get their foot in the door so to speak, to live and have a livelihood...ie working visa, in China.

    So theres a lot of cafes around Xi'an - generally known as western style cafes and then if they are a Chinese run western style cafe or a foreign run western style cafe - it interesting to see what has developed.

    The Chinese run western style cafe generally has amazingly elaborate cakes and pattiseries - definitely with the Chinese flair to be ornate and have a huge amount of face. The cakes will be enormously popular and in demand for the range of celebrations through the year - including of course weddings and birthdays. They all tend to be the same layered sponge cake inside with huge layers of thick mousse type cream, maybe with a few bits of fruit like peach.

    The bakery for example in our area I know really likes that a lot of us foreigners are seen frequenting their shop - particularly because they make and sell western style bread both white and bread as Chinese style western style bread tends to be very sweet. The western style brown bread is great - just like back home. And to be seen to be popular with foreigners is in the way that the Chinese works brings great face to the business.
    These bakeries will also have a seating area for milk tea - which is really like an adaptation of the western adaption of Chinese black tea with milk lol - but very sweet. and coffee is also available.
    We tend to shop around for places that have coffee available for 15 rmb a cup whereas the real WEstern cafes such as Starbucks and Pacific coffee and UCB are very expensive at around 30-35 rmb per cup.
    Ive just checked out the prices at the airport and wow! 58 rmb for a cup sit down or 35 for a takeaway - cappacino - I splashed out for the takeaway and it was a very very nice coffee though.

    But the main point of this type is about the price of coffee. Many businesses have expanded into sellling coffee beans - brands such as Greenhouse coffee - are really establishing a good name for themselves. Ground coffee has to be sold within a month of production so there is a higher market for beans rather than ground - a government regulation to keep the quality up, and as its a known that coffee beans officially do not keep fresh if ground.

    Ive tried Chinese brand instant coffee, even paying for more top end and its not that nice - i went to Ren Ren le, a department store with a large supermarket known for having a few more foreign products, to buy Nescafe gold blend at 86 rmb for a 100g jar! pricey - so bring some with you if you are coming for a while, and especially if you are visiting expats here in China!

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    What is this complex character?

    by meteorologist1 Written Dec 27, 2013

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    If you are visiting Xi'an, chances are that you will notice this very complex Chinese character. Made up of 58 strokes, it is pronounced "biang". What is it? It is a popular local type of noodle, as in biangbiang noodles. It is a long and very thick noodle like a belt. You should definitely try this noodle out while you are here; just look for this character in front of restaurants.

    Chinese character
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    Monks

    by solopes Updated Dec 19, 2013

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    Be aware that, like everywhere else, temples are praying sites, and, despite their old and exotic look, they may keep being used for their religious purposes.

    That is the case of the Wild Goose Pagoda, where we tried to do not disturb the praying monks, but… only their great concentration helped us.

    VT now allows the inclusion of video. As son as I edit it, I will be able to add the interesting waving sound of the prayers. It’s a promise!

    Xian Xian Xian
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    Birds

    by solopes Updated Dec 19, 2013

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    Maybe because of the excess of population (maybe because they eat them…) dogs and cats are not very visible in China, where pets seem to be mainly fishes and birds.

    Birds deserve a special attention, with people taking them to the parks to “meet friends” and exchange melodies. Without surprise, selling birds is an important branch of local commerce.

    Xi'an
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    Discipline

    by solopes Updated Dec 19, 2013

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    One thing that I noticed is the rigour used by the workers in their jobs: In shops, restaurants, everywhere, the staff lines the corridors, occupying predetermined places, and standing rigid until a client needs their service.

    In a long and empty store (yes, it happens also), sometimes, it looks like a handsome military parade.

    Xi
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    Flowers

    by solopes Updated Dec 19, 2013

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    “No need to pay!”

    Where did this small girl learn this English, how does she know that, of course, accepting the flower that she gently offered me I had to offer her back… some generous RMB?

    Is this already a sophisticated selling technique? A part of a scholar program?

    “Thanks dear girl! I will offer it to my wife!”

    Xian Xian
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    They like it spicey here...food with firepower!

    by angiebabe Updated Dec 13, 2013

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    a local noodle restaurant which is the first local restaurant eaten at since arriving in Xi'an - really yum noodles....and told this is beef noodles even though it appears without the beef on top that I had asked for at the counter....theres sauce underneath with bits of beef to mix through and woo hoo its hot....very tasty but...

    next barbecue grilled spicey chicken, barbecued slices of beef, grilled eggplant and fried rice....even though some without spice are asked for for our group of 12 but the food seems to be only in varying degrees of chillie heat - hot, hotter or flamethrower hot....and have been back here a number of times as it seems to be a favourite of the long term people in our group.

    Now eaten at quite a number of places around the area since arriving in August - there are plenty of commercial/foreign restaurants and cafes around for western dishes but interstingly KFC and McDonalds has Xi'anised its menu (which is great to see) and there are burgers and wraps with chillied versions available....and I hear they are rather hot! (rather hot means much like 'just a little bit of chillie' really means blow the roof off your mouth hot...its been an interesting journey experiencing eating out around Xi'an!)
    again nice dishes but hot.

    many small eateries around with street seats
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    Markets in your area

    by angiebabe Updated Dec 13, 2013

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    About 5-10 minutes from where we are living in a southern part of the city of Xian is a large vege market tucked in behind the main road - with a good range of fresh looking vegetables, fruit and eggs.
    Could see meat stalls in the background but didn't close to look at this stage - and then decided to buy ingredients for a Moroccan omelette - eggs, tomato, red onions, spring onions and coriander (the spices are at back at the apartment, the trick of thinking how long a year lasts!)

    Heading in another direction we found another area with a collection of vege and fruit stalls.....wherever there is a community there will be shops and stalls according to supply and demand....so it pays to have a walk around and enjoy the cultural experience in your area

    WE VISITED THESE MARKETS IN AUGUST - IN LATE OCTOBER POLICE VANS APPEARED AT ALL THE ENTRANCES AROUND THE ENTIRE BLOCK AND WE REALISED THE PLACE WAS EARMARKED FOR TYPICAL PROGRESS IN CHINESE CITIES....IN NOVEMBER AT THE DEADLINE FOR ALL THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO LEAVE THE AREA DEMOLITION COMMENCED...

    Still other markets around the streets and alleyways in our area so wherever you come to visit or live in China there are plenty of places to do your shopping and support the locals.
    Most expats and locals that we congregate with here say they continue to eat raw salad vegetables as a regular part of their diet by washing well under tap water and then washing well with the bottled water that most people buy in huge 20 litre bottles. Vegetables for cooking can be washed well with tap water and then boiled. Recommended to remove the skin from vegetables and fruit - I have washed apples and eaten them with their skins on but have heard that with the some of the pesticides and wax used here its probably safer to remove the skin.

    down a side street off the main road a fruit and vege shop nearby on the main road Durian for sale!
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    Getting your umbrella fixed!

    by angiebabe Updated Sep 29, 2013

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    Today, after being here one month, when arriving almost at the gate to our apartment complex noticed a man fixing umbrellas on the footpath - this is the first time ive noticed the availability of umbrella repair people.

    Its a local custom here to use umbrellas instead of hats to shade the sun or the heat of the day....so we have a collection in our apartment and Ive been using them quite often. Last week one that was otherwise in good order broke, which I went up to obtain and brought it back down to the umbrella repair man at our gate.

    He had a good look at the problems that needed fixing and told me his charge to fix it would be 8 kuai - was that okay/keyi ma?
    What a bargain to keep a good umbrella going - and watched him as he went about his work. What a good job and then fixed the broken spoke in the other umbrella Id had with me for the afternoon - which he fixed for 2 kuai.

    That's about £1 to fix both of them....was very happy to help him with some work and save our umbrellas from being unnecessarily thrown out into the rubbish - as happens in so many western countries - and save some of our money!.

    umbrella repair man! doing a brilliant job!
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    High rise apartment living in a Chinese city

    by angiebabe Updated Aug 27, 2013

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    highrises everywhere - but just as seen in Hong Kong, when there for a few weeks 15 years ago, consideration is made for incorporating day to day needs of those living in a city to maintain community.....noted exercise areas and garden areas including covered seating areas for sitting out in all seasons scattered through the area so they were more than just isolated areas but provided enough outdoor area for a large population.

    Small grocery shops attached to each building complex along with larger supermarkets and vegemarkets not so far away.

    Each building complex has a security man day and night.

    living in a city of high rise apartment buildings hazy sunset from our apartment on the 12th floor

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    Celebrating Christmas in Xi'an

    by ann_enc Written Jun 8, 2012

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    Mainland China may not be your typical yuletide holiday getaway but just as I thought I will have another dry Christmas in 2011, I was surprised to see the national park in Xian with it holiday trimmings, giant golden Christmas tree and families driving to the park to get together. Morever, it was delightful to see the dancing fountain played to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. One big department store I visited even played a Mandarin version of Jingle Bells! to entertain its customers.

    I was overwhelmed at the sight and felt so at home, in this country often perceived to be naive and cold to Christian festivities.

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    Eating Baozi

    by socrates_07 Updated Jan 26, 2005

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    If you are in Xi'An you have to eat Baozi. (actualy not only if you are in Xi'An)That´s definitive a cultural tip.
    I like those dumplings very much but if you dont know Chinese language it may be a surprise what is inside the dumplings. (especially when you buy it in the street market) It may be pork, beef, seafood, vegetables...

    Besides, its also important to order it in the correct way. I mean the correct pronunciation. Once I made a mistake when I ordered it in a restaurant. Fortunately the waitress understood English otherwise they would give me a newspaper.

    Eating Baozi

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    called Chang'an in ancient...

    by taoxn Written Aug 26, 2002

    called Chang'an in ancient times, more than 1 million years of condensation of history. During Xi'an's 3,100 years of development, 12 dynasties such as Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang, held it as their capitals

    Climatic Features: temperate and continental climate; cold and dry in winter and hot in summer and rainy season comes in July, August and September

    Average Temperature: 13.3C annually
    Rainfall: 604.2mm annually

    Mountains: Mt. Huashan, Mt. Taibaishan, Mt. Lishan

    Rivers: Hui River, Wei River, Feng River, Jing River

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    This is the entrance ticket to...

    by l_joo Written Aug 25, 2002

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    This is the entrance ticket to see The Terracotta Warriors cost RMB65.00, if you need a translator they charge extra RMB40.00. So what the hell is Terracotta Warriors? Those warriors are earthenware made to fulfill Emperor QingShihHuang's desire to have a perfect world after he died. So these warriors and horses and many more are part of his mausoleum as decoration or whatever purposes, all these were discovered by a farmer called Yang Zhi Fa many thanks to Mr.Bill Clinton.

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    INCENSEIn the chinese temples...

    by SirRichard Written Aug 25, 2002

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    INCENSE
    In the chinese temples you can always smell the scent of the incense floating in the air. They offer incense sticks to their gods, placing them in places suited for that purpose.

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Xi'an Local Customs

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