Our next stop after Beijing was Xi’an. Conrado and I have been dying to see the Terracotta Warriors so this was a must-do on our trip.
We took an overnight train ride (the Z19) from Beijing. Man, the walk into the Beijing West station was very sad and humbling. There are so many poor people and families with tattered bags sitting around. I know there are dirt cheap but crazy long train rides to the country, I can only assume they were waiting for one of those. Made me feel guilty about our splurge for a private 2-bunk sleeper.
The sleeper was a bit more dirty than what I remember seeing in the Europe trains, so that was disappointing but the ride was smooth. When we finally got to Xi’an we were hustled with a swarm of people toward the exit. Despite not having a great taxi experience in Beijing, I figured it would be better to take a cab to our hotel at this point since I was unfamiliar with Xi’an’s bus system (no subways there). However, the line for the taxis was hopelessly long and not moving. It was 8am, we were tired and wanted to drop our bags off.
I’m sure we could’ve walked a little ways from the station and hailed a cab, but I checked the public transportation directions on Google Maps (thank goodness for smartphones and international data plans!). It appeared there was a bus that would head right by the hotel so we went for it. We hopped on the 611 heading to the Drum tower (there was a booth near the stop and I had to show my phone to the attendant to ensure we were taking the bus in the right direction).
Once again, I found myself as the only white person on the bus. But on that ride, I immediately felt a connection with Xi’an that I didn’t get with Beijing. It was so much more quaint with a lot of traditional architecture.
We ended up having enough energy after checking in to go see the Terracotta Warriors. Luckily, the hotel offered us a driver for around $60 USD that would take us there, as well as two other nearby attractions. Since we got there later in the day, the crowds seemed relatively low and it was AWESOME. I absolutely loved seeing the Warriors with my own eyes. We walked around the pits but returned to the main one about a half hour before closing, there were hardly and crowds by this point and it was magical. Highly recommended.
Back in Xi’an, we decided to check out the night market in the Muslim Quarter. What an experience! Despite the crowd levels, it was so exciting being there. And the food, oh gaaaaaaaaaawd, the food. I loved the pork buns they had and the fried squid on a stick. Yum yum yum.
The next day we checked out the city wall and rented bikes to ride the perimeter. It was surprisingly relaxing. Xi’an also has some bad smog, but it didn’t bother me as much as it did in Beijing.
We only had two days here which felt like enough time, but Xi’an is definitely worth a stop if you are coming to China.