Well, please take this the way that it's intended: China needs to get their frickin' act together. To get to Xi'an, I was actually quite excited, because we had booked a really new (supposedly quite nice) overnight train. It was my first time trying it, and even better-- I was finally with my friends!! (Greg and ShiLei.. of course I was staying with Greg, so I saw him every day and ShiLei most days up until then, but finally we were sightseeing together, yay!) Buuut.. gha. We were in the sleeper section, so we had little beds. I don't like sharing rooms with dirty men at all, but I can get over it as long as my friends are nearby (I don't have any problem with guy friends or with women, but dirty-looking office men do not make me comfortable, sorry). So I was a little out of it. Then the train got unbearably HOT. There was no way to open any windows, and it was at least 85 degrees inside, I'd say. I was sweating, and I'm one that likes heat! But that wasn't the worst-- see, it's not permitted to smoke in the train cars (yay), but it IS permitted to smoke in this special section between cars. But since nobody closes the doors and the ventilation is poor, basically, it was like living in smoke. I HATE smoke. Smoking around me is not only uncomfortable, it intentionally murdering me, and I do NOT take it lightly. I got up multiple times to close doors at either end of the carriage though it did little good. It was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep a wink. When I was already worn out from sightseeing for a week, being in the freezing cold every day, and plus knowing that I had a whole day in even colder (inhumanly so) weather coming ahead, the smoke just made me SO ANGRY. I want to strangle them. It was a dirty and one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I will never EVER ride on another one of those trains again. You couldn't pay me enough. Sick sick sick.
So, now that that is over (believe me, I'll have more to say on it at the end of all of my China posts, as during our return trip to Beijing from Harbin we had to ride on another train, and there was an altercation.), I am going to try hard to put it out of my mind (this is a real effort, as it nearly ruined the entire trip for me. Yes of course my health is that important to me!!). We arrived at Xi'an, and I noticed.... OMG it was FREEZING!!! O.o;;;; Whoa. I don't think that I'd ever been so cold in my life up until that point.. So we caught a taxi to our hotel on zero sleep (for me) and then went out.. for quite the bloody day... O.o;; (And yes I mean that literally..)
It turned out that our hotel was REALLY nice!! (Despite costing about $10 a night per person... oh China of cheap prices). I was not really surprised that in such a gorgeous place, they still let people smoke in the lobby (but beyond complaining for the moment, I was just so cold.... x.x) I forgot to take pictures, and instead went straight in to wash as much as possible in 10 minutes before we left. We were going to take in the Terracotta soldiers, but it turned out that it would start getting dark (it was quite far from the city after all) before we really had a lot of chance to see it, so we decided to do it the next day instead..
And out we set.. since I was hungry (and cranky), we stopped to eat the most AMAZING breakfast I've ever had! Apparently it's a traditional northern breakfast--- some kind of spicy red tofu soupy-stuff!! OMG ._. how have I lived without it? I don't know... And fried bread, which went just PERFECTLY. Then... and then, I had something that changed my life forever-- warm chinese soy milk! o.o I've never had it before, and it was so sweet and so delicious....... I need to find out where to get that here! I became addicted to it and asked for it everywhere after that (to my complete sadness when I couldn't find it). I am sad that Japanese soy milk is 100% different, though I've found a thai version here in the import store that will be a good substitute until I can find the wonderful chinese version..
Anyways, this is the lady running the little local stand, frying up the bread. It was like on Japan overload though-- I get stared at here, but I live in Tokyo so usually it's not THAT bad. Foreigners just don't stop into these little stalls in backwater parts of tiny cities in the mountains in China, I guess.... ._. It was like eating on display. But I would do it a million times again, because it was the most delicious breakfast EVER! Does anyone know what that soup is called? o.o (sorry I didn't get a picture of the soup-- it was dubious/scary-looking but after the first taste I was too busy scarfing it down to take a picture!)
Speaking of delicious-- something that I tried on the way to Xi'an -- OMNOMNOM yuuuuuum! It's hawthorne juice, and at first I thought that ShiLei was trying to make me drink tomato juice.. Ooooooh man was I wrong! I have been looking for this in Japan as well but have met with epic fail. Anyone know a good chinese market?? (Yokohama maybe?)
After that, we set out walking... Another uncommon sight, apparently, LOL.
But look, China celebrates Christmas too! Well, sort of..
Greg was trying to get me in a better mood, I think.. I was so tired that I had to wear sunglasses. If I took them off, then my eyes started hurting like crazy (and of course drying them out in smoke hadn't helped). But I really tried my best to feel better... Can you tell?
Greg snapped this picture of a couple right after that.. How cute, I really love seeing old couples walking together, no matter the location ^-^. They were staring at us, so I think that it was fair to take their picture too...
This is the chinese version of a convenience store..
It's my turn to take pictures!!!
This is Greg~
And this is ShiLei~
Some random and yet delicious!looking regional specialty:
NOMG sugar caaaaaane! I think my wish was granted-- the most AMAZING natural product EVER. Where can I buy this in Japan?!
We tried this, and it was.... not that great. But the booth was pretty!
Little did I know what this prophecy was going to mean for my day... I should have never set foot in that mosque, and wouldn't had I known that this was just a taste of what was inside..
We passed this gate, or at least underneath.. ^^
There were so many pretty kites.. ^^
On the way to the mosque.. Harbringers of bad times... Just after this, we passed, I kid you not, a COW BEING BUTCHERED IN THE STREET. I nearly threw up... I mean, ON THE STREET.. A poor cow with it's side cut open (and apparently a still-beating heart) as many children and adults alike gathered around. I tried not to look, also trying to avoid the huge streams of blood rushing down the pavement. Wtf? (No, I didn't take any pictures.. gah, but I mean how inappropriate is that?! I could go on for a while but I will save the outraged monologue for another time!)
Then finally we were at the Great Mosque of Xi'an, one of the oldest and most reknowned mosques in the country. Had I known that what was inside was a grand-scale imitation of what we'd just walked past outside, I would have saved myself the entrance fee and stayed outside. Yes. A warning would have been NICE. But of course nobody thought that there was anything strange about RIVERS OF BLOOD.
It was so pretty at first..
The first courtyard had been fine, right?? Great! No problems-- in fact, it was quite beautiful!! But inside the second... well, none of these pictures were taken by me, but I'll put them here for people that might be interested. It's funny, I remember a lot of children crowding around the butchery which took place on the permanent stones of the mosque! Duuuuuuuuude, that isn't something for children. And I do NOT believe in animal cruelty. Not only did it disgust me (they were definitely cutting sheep open while they were still alive and whatnot.. x.x), it was straight-out CRUEL. Just kill it and be done with it-- and I don't care what anyone says, to me public butchery is wrong, and 'sacrificing' living beings to a god is wrong, and forcing children to think that it's something normal to see soo much blood is just wrong. Say what you want, but don't say it to me if you disagree with me. Someone ever tries that in front of me in Japan or America and I will make them understand how the animal must feel!!!
Degrading, disgusting, and barbaric. :/ I am not against eating meat. In fact, I like it quite a lot! But I do not believe in making a spectacle of killing anything. To me, that is akin to murder. Kill to eat, do not kill for a show.
We went on from there, me refraining from exploring any more of the mosque. I couldn't stand it, I was so angry at what was being taught to these kids. Maybe I couldn't do anything that day, and was in such a shock that I wouldn't have known what to do anyways. But one day I will help change the world!
We went to the drum tower and bell towers after this.. It was so gorgeous in the fog-- and the fog sure rolled in quickly! Xi'an is a very dirty city (smoggy, trash everywhere, dirt everywhere), but with the all-encompassing fog it just seemed so... ethereal..
Taking pictures of better things now..
Big bell!! I forgot the story behind it now.. I really need to read up on Chinese history..
It was THIS big! XD
And some views down the street.. I love the mood in this picture..
Down the outside hallways..
Even the terra-cotta soldiers celebrate christmas!! By the way, he's holding a cell phone! It was so absurd I just had to take a picture. XD (It was a window display advertising cell phones XD)
The drum tower now..
This is the market that we'd passed through earlier.. ^^
Photographing a photographer :D
More of those kites! ^^ How can China create such beautiful things and such terrible things at the same time? Such is the nature of humans.. *sigh*
We had lunch in a really delicious place that carried Hebrew (??) food!! Whatever it was, OMG it was so delicious!! Must find recipe for this delicious sandwich-thing!!
Won-ton soup of yum! It's much more tasty than it looks!
On the way back, we headed through.... this. o.o;;;;; The place you go where you want to buy.. this stuff! WOW! :OIt's so interesting to see things like this! Dinner, anyone?
This black things are... silk worms! X.x;;;; Not really my first choice to break fast upon.. You? :D
And and and.... I had the pleasure of trying this AMAZING concoction...!!!! Fruit on a stick (I chose Hawthorne's because, omg yum!) covered with a sort of hardened sugar-syrup! I think I was in heaven!! :O
For dinner, those oh-so-delicious chinese steamed buns. Mmmmmmmm!!! Gah these things are so delicious! I could live off of them! Until China, I'd never had them this delicious. I'm so spoiled now!
*yawns* Time for bed! It was quite the rollercoaster reliving those memories!!