Archive for the ‘China: Xi’an’ Category

Xi’an – Day 2 – Huashan and eating

I was absolutely exhausted that I didn’t even hear my alarm. I was in total deep sleep – which I think I needed!

Day 2 started off with breakfast from across the streets again, which suited me fine! We still got some bau’s but different ones. The one below is made out of rice with pork and vegetables, it was a little spicy but GOOD!

We also got some pastries with pork, which was a favourite amongst the travelers!

Today we decided to go to Huashan – we had enough of the history and wanted to see nature and what China has to offer. Huashan is a good 2 – 3 hours drive away from Xi’an, about 120kms away. Mt Huashan is known as ‘the number one Preciptious Mountain under Heaven’.

We arrived near Huashan about 1pm and believe it or not was quite pekish! So we ate at one of the local restaurants there. I have to admit – the food was extremely ordinary – so not sure if its worth writing about it! We had sweet and sour pork, stir fry spinach and soup which were all below par. It was just so unsatisfying!

Anyways, back to Mt Huashan. The driver couldn’t take us up to the mountain as no cars were allowed in, so we caught a bus and then a cable cart to one of the peaks. As I was with my family – walking was just not an option! They weren’t keen on the idea of walking 2.5 hours to the top so we caught the cable cart. If Hubby was with me, we would have DEFINITELY walked up! Here is the start of the stairs… I was tempted to go up on my own but that probably wouldn’t be a smart move.

Here is the view from the cable cart – it was quite magnificent!

We did have to walk these set of stairs to get to the top though… which was quite easy I thought, but the family seemed to have struggled!

The mountain has five main peaks, of which the tallest is the South Peak. We only went to the North Peak, which was the lowest of the five peaks. From here you can see a series of paths rise up to the four other peaks, the West Peak, the Centre Peak, the East Peak and the South Peak.

It was good to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. The air was fresh and the scenery fantastic! Bit out of the way but a must see if you are ever in Xi’an.

We arrived back in Xi’an city late at night and were seriously ready for some food! Our driver took us to this restaurant which served traditional Xi’an food. After a disappointing lunch, I was absolutely ready for something GOOD, more than just ‘good’ food actually and this place did not disappoint!

It was a set meal, for about 10 ppl, which consisted of 6 entrees and about 8 main meals – I kind of lost count with all the different types of food!

We started off with these fish fillets – which was served warm and with sweet and sour sauce. It was surprisingly tasty!

Then these mixed vegetables which was refreshing.

Traditional Xi’an beef – tender and moist – it was extremely flavoursome!

Pork spare ribs – these were served cold which I thought was a bit weird but was indeed meaty and tender.

Xi’an vegetables (not sure what it is called) but I thought these tasted a little rubbery. It had a lot of flavours though which was good.

Honey snap peas – a favourite of mine! It was crunchy and a tad oily but TASTY!

This believe it or not is not soup but CHILI! It wasn’t as hot as I thought but it was incredibly yummy!

Main courses: fried chicken – skin utterly crispy, and meat succulent.

Chicken with cashew (sorry picture is a bit blurry!) – this was so so – only cause I know I can make this dish myself! Lol

Curry Lamb – deep fried – I didn’t enjoy this – only cause I don’t appreciate lamb as much as the others!

Rice noodles, supposed to be eaten with the sauce – I didn’t have any of this as I wanted to eat others, but F thought this was very very good.

The below was rice – again I didn’t try this as it didn’t look very appetizing. Dad said it was ‘nice’ – not a man of many words!

Shredded pork with man tao – this was a favourite of mine. Pork was tender and succulent, and the man tao was soft.

Next came the soup – this was incredibly tasty… it had full of flavour. Fish soup – although there were a lot of bones in the fish which was a pain.

We also had celery stirfry which I didn’t take a photo off but it was refreshing!

Dessert: this is Xi’an’s most famous dessert – handmade – its red bean and the pastry were thinner than a piece of paper. It really just melted in your mouth. It had the right amount of sweetness to it and was one of my favourites! I could easily have eaten more than one!

Chestnut pudding – this was not a favourite of mine. I had a bite and had to politely put it away. It was too gooey for me, but my parents seemed to have enjoyed it!

Another dessert that I enjoyed – these red bean fuji apple thingy – the outer layer is made from fuji apple and the inside was extra sweet red bean. It was unbelievably sweet!

Eating this made me go beyond full… I was beyond stuffed.. I was about to burst into tiny pieces!

Clearly we didn’t finish everything – it was virtually impossible to finish it all really! It was a meal for 10 ppl, and there were only 6 of us! Thankfully, we could ta pao (doggy bag) and E took it home for his family!

We all waddled out of the restaurant, believing that we have all gained about 2 – 3 kgs from this trip! We thought about going for a walk around town but when E suggested a foot massage how can we say no? So we all got one. I’m not usually big on reflexology – for me – it HURTS!! But surprisingly it was really good and I really enjoyed it! It was certainly a great way to end the trip.

We got back to the hotel a bit before midnight, and like the night before, crashed and missed my alarm again in the morning!

We didn’t really wander around Xi’an city itself. It was a jammed pack weekend, full of history, sightseeing and eating! I, for one, didn’t want the holiday to end but was missing Hubby and Hong Kong! The flight back wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I fell asleep… again! As much as I love to travel… it was definitely good to be home!

Xi’an – Day 1 of Sightseeing and eating

My brother loves history – all sorts of history, so when we were trying to organize our China family trip, he couldn’t resist but suggest Xi’an. I didn’t know much about Xi’an except for the Terracotta Warriors but I knew I was in for a real adventure!

We arrived late Friday night in Xi’an and luckily I organized a pick up from the hotel. I just couldn’t imagine haggling taxi drivers at that hour of the night with my parents, brother and sister in law. With the five of us traveling (hubby couldn’t make it as he had to work!) we would have ended up with two taxis anyway, so a pick up was the best solution! Little did I know that the driver became our ‘tour guide’ for the weekend as well as our driver! He was indeed one of the best driver / tour guides I have ever had. He took us to our hotel (we ended up staying at Citadines Xi’an and was near town. It was ok, bit old but for the price, it wasn’t too bad!) and then offered to take us around for a couple of hours!

Xi’an is absolutely gorgeous at night, with all the bright lights.

The streets and trees were all lit up – it was just stunning.

In the morning, our driver was going to take us around – to see the Terracotta Warriors amongst other things. We agreed to meet at around 8.30am (that’s EARLY!) but we managed to get up a little bit earlier than that to get breakfast. I really didn’t want to eat breakfast at the hotel, I mean, come on… We were in China and there are heaps of food, especially street foods!

Across the street from our hotel there were a row of shops that sold food. Below is a photo of a man who made my breakfast every morning I was in Xi’an!

His specialty, as you can see are bau’s (which are steamed buns). He made all sorts of bau’s – vegetables bau’s, pork bau’s, red bean bau’s – you name it – he had it and it was unbelievably cheap!

At 0.50 Yuan each, these were incredibly cheap and incredibly tasty! Let’s just say that we bought many different types of bau’s – all costing us about 8 Yuan!!

We also got something that resemble an omelette but was served with lettuce and chili. My brother absolutely loved this! He seriously ate two on his own!

Here is a view of the Bell Tower from the streets across our hotel.

Our first stop was Xi’an city wall and it was absolutely amazing. “The wall was started by the Ming Dynasty in 1370. The wall measured 25.7km length, 12 -16m in thickness at the base, and the area within the wall was ca. 36 km squared”.

Here is a photo from a different angle.

And one last one…

Next stop was the Terracotta Warriors factory – where they are all made. The terracotta army figures are manufactured both in workshops by government laborers and also by local craftsmen.

“Studies show that eight face moulds were most likely used, and then clay was added to provide individual facial features. Once assembled, intricate features such as facial expressions were added” it was quite amazing to see how these were made and there were many different sizes – they all vary in height, uniform and hairstyle in accordance with rank.

We then visited a temple. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, so I only took a photo of the gate

and the entrance of the temple.

By this time we were absolutely starved as it was past lunch time! Our driver / tour guide, E, took us to this restaurant which was near the Terracotta Warriors. This restaurant is famous for their noodles – which is apparently handmade. Since it was their specialty, we ordered noodles with chicken and potatoes. The sauce was a bit curry like and the noodles were extra thick rice noodles. I thought this dish was a bit ‘meh’ – it didn’t really do it for me, it was nice but nothing ‘special’ about it.

We ordered some vegetables and mushroom stirfry. I thought this was definitely better than the noodles.

We also ordered chicken in some sweet sesame sauce, which was quite ordinary. The chicken was deep fried, it was tender but the sauce just wasn’t right. It had a funny after taste which I didn’t really enjoy.

Overall, lunch was a pretty ordinary, I would have been happier with my bau’s from this morning!

After lunch, we finally went to visit the Terracotta Warriors and OMG, I was totally and utterly amazed. This place was HUGE! We spent a good few hours here.

By way of background, “The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 in the eastern suburbs of Xi’an. The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the First Emperor of Qin in 210 – 209 BC. (He declared himself the first emperor of China in 221 BCE). There are seriously 3 pits.

Terracotta Pit No.1 – discovered by local villagers in March 1974 who were drilling for wells on a piece of barren land. The east-west rectangular pit, measuring 252 yards long, 68 yards wide and 16 feet deep – it was absolutely huge! There are over 6,000 terracotta warriors and horses in Pit 1, of which 1,000 have been unearthed.

From memory we went to Pit 3 straight after Pit 1. Pit 3 is the command center or headquarters for all the groups in the other two pits. Pit 3 measures 19.2 yards long from east to west, 23.4 yards wide from north to south and 15.7 feet deep.

By this stage I was overloaded with history and my feet were aching. I think we were all exhausted and skipped Pit 2. It didn’t seem long but we spent a good 3 hours here and were ready to go!

Our next stop was the garden and a place we could have hot baths. The garden was gorgeous but seriously by this stage we were just so buggered that all we wanted to do was sit and enjoy the view. I felt sorry for the tour guide, not E, but garden’s tour guide telling us what each of the places meant. I found a place to sit and sat there, observing the tourists and admiring the scenery.

Our driver, E, suggested that we have the Jiaozi (dumpling) banquets and Tang Dynasty performance. The performance had beautiful costumes, dances and live music. It was delightful to watch especially after our meal.

The jiaozi are well known for their different tastes as well as their attractive shapes. The materials of fillings are made from seasonal vegetables, poultry meat, fish, red meat and other delicacies from land and sea. Little did we know that we would all eat about 80 dumplings all up! No joke… we were first presented with a basket of 10 dumplings – 2 types – one pork and one vegetables, one each.

As soon as we finished these, another basket was placed in front of us.. and no kidding, there were 8 baskets in total.

Basket 2: chili pork dumplings (left) and pork and chives dumplings (right)

Basket 3: swan like dumplings – which were chicken dumplings (left) and lamb and vegetable dumplings (right)

Basket 4: pork dumplings (left) and spinach dumplings (right)

Basket 5: vermicelli and vegetables dumplings (left) and vegetables curry dumplings (right)

Basket 6: prawn dumplings (left) and fish dumplings with peas (right)

Basket 7: red bean dumplings (left) and chicken with vermicelli dumplings (right)

Dumpling 8: a plate of braised pork dumplings.

As you can see we all had over 10 dumplings each. All the dumplings were boiled and some were tasty and others were a ‘meh’. My least favourite ones were the curry dumplings and the fish with peas dumplings – it was just weird. I never thought I could ever OD’ed on dumplings but that night I certainly did. We were all stuffed! Luckily we had an hour and a bit to sit to watch the performance. Dinner was definitely more enjoyable than lunch!

We got back to the hotel at about 11pm and we were all absolutely exhausted. I showered and before I knew it was sound asleep! I was THAT tired!