29 Aug - 31 Aug 2012 Xian

East Asia
People’s Republic of China aka Red China
Shaanxi Province
South Gate
Ancient Street Youth Hostel +862987264259 hostelbl@hotmail.com
Small and barely adequate double room with a/c and shared bathroom for an overpriced CNY 120.- or US$ 18.80 per night. No wifi inside the room. Arrogant and xenophobic staff.

Click below for an interactive satellite view of the Ancient Street Youth Hostel and for directions:
Note the random 0 - 500 m misalignment between Google’s maps and satellite views of the motherland, courtesy of the paranoid Chinese Communist Party.

Circumnavigating Xian’s large city centre in two-heel drive, in a healthy clockwise direction, along the formidable old city wall (12 m high, 18 m wide at the bottom, 15 m wide at the top; admission from the south gate: CNY 20.- or US$ 3.10 per person for senior citizens; length of walk: 14 km, duration: 4 ½ hours) which is touted by the comrades in charge of national tourism as "...the world’s largest and oldest city wall": built in the Ming dynasty (approximately 1368 - 1644 CE but who's counting) on the foundation of the Chang'an imperial city wall of the Tang dynasty (approximately 618 - 907 CE but who's counting) and fully restored during China's last communist dynasty (1947 - ? CE) in the 1980s.

Exploring the atmospheric backstreets in the Muslim Quarter aka Islamic Street, home to Xian’s relaxed and non-jihadist Muslim Hui community (no worries, YouTube is banned anyway in Red China), full of exotic fruit/veggie stalls with dates, pomegranates and persimmons, fantastic curio shops, secretive mosques hidden behind battered wooden doors, grinning Chinese men in white skullcaps and smiling Chinese women with their heads covered in coloured scarves, and later visiting Xian’s Huajue Great Mosque (admission: CNY 25.- or US$ 4.- per infidel), a magnificent blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture with the central minaret cunningly disguised as a pagoda.

Visiting, together with hundreds of domestic tourists, Xian's solidly built 14th-century Bell Tower, whose large bell used to be rung at dawn, and Drum Tower, where the city drummers used to mark nightfall (admission: CNY 40.- or US$ 6.35 per person).

Click below for more blog posts about Xian
06 Sep - 13 Sep 2012 Xian
05 Sep - 06 Sep 2012 Hua Shan
31 Aug - 05 Sep 2012 Xian

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2012 Map Konni & Matt

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