22 08 2009

We took a bus from Pingyao down to the major city of Xian.  Xian (formerly called Chang’an) is one of the oldest cities in China and was the capital of China during some of the ancient dynasties.  The ancient wall around the main part of the city is intact, and makes an interesting juxatposition to have the very modern core of the city encircled by the old wall.  There is also a small Muslim minority here, with a fascinating Chinese style mosque.

On the bus ride down, we saw fields of corn and many fruit trees, in addition to large coal-burning power plants (which also explain the grey, smoggy skies, where we can stare directly at the sun, if we can see it at all). In Pingyao, many street merchants sold delicious asian pears, and in Xian street vendors sold roasted walnuts and pale green pomegranates (the ripe flesh is green).  We also have seen all kinds of tasty melons, which seem to be in season here in northern China.

In addition to having many famous archaeological sites, Xian is a very modern city, and the inhabitants are very fashionable.  Alexa visited the Terra Cotta warriors (Jason has seen them before, and the tickets are not cheap) and Jason went to the regional Shanxi museum.  The Muslim part of town has a vibrant street market, with vendors selling kebabs, fruits, walnuts and all sorts of things.  You can tell the Chinese Muslims by the skull caps they wear.  Some of the women also wear a simple headscarf.

Then we headed for Lanzhou and other areas further west.




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