Such a relief to leave the dust bowl of Pingyao and upgrade to the normal smog of Xian.
Pingyao was a major banking center and how did it all get started? A trumpet player in the 18th century married an heiress and turned his head to business, founding the incredibly wealthy Wang banking family. See Mom? It’s not always a disaster to marry a musician.
Xian was once the starting point of the Silk Road and you can still get lots of silk in the tiny Old Town along with Gucci bags, jade bracelets, Lacoste shirts and much, much more!
More authentic wares line the streets of the Muslim quarter. OMG the food. My beloved sesame noodles were a revelation. Then there were these fresh fried pastries stuffed with dates or sesame with honey. I had two.
Which brings me to my 10 Surprises:
1. Despite the fact that there are food stalls, snack stands, noodle shops and restaurants every 10 meters I have not seen one single overweight Chinese person.
2. Tea shops are there to sell tea not serve it. This is not a cafe culture.
3. Xian is dazzling at night.
4. There’s an automatic medicine machine at the hotel. I don’t know what that’s about.
5. In the muslim quarter men sit around with a caged bird or two next to them chirping away.
6.Chinese women have a case of the sparklies. Sparkly stuff is glued on to hair ribbons, shoes, coats, bags. You name it.
7. Napkins are rarely placed on the table.
8. There were more fake Kipling valises for sale than Vuitton.
9. The Grand Mosque of Xian had inscriptions almost exclusively in Chinese; very little in Arabic.
10. Chinese original programming on TV is overwhelmingly costume drama.