Sunday, June 15, 2008

China Day 16: The Islamic Quarter

We drove over to the center of town where the Drum Tower and Bell Tower are located, but I was on the wrong side of the bus to get pictures.

We were a bit early for lunch, so Fred took us for a walk through the Islamic Quarter, where he and his friends used to go have shishkebab in their college days. The fraction of the population who are Muslim is higher the farther west you go, and there's a concentration here in Xi'an because of the Silk Road. In fact, the Muslims here are considered one of those fifty-odd minority peoples; their official name is the "Hui people". Despite this, the people here look as Chinese as anyone - a thousand years of intermarriage with native Chinese can do that to you.

We only had time to walk up and down one or two streets, but it was fun! Here's the entrance to the Islamic street:
You can see it would be very pretty at night with the arches of light bulbs lit
but it was lively and festive even in daylight. A couple of locals were giving their pet birds an airing.
We window shopped,
and I managed to find a place to pick up more terra-cotta warrior figurines for the purpose of giving to everybody I know. They asked 10 yuan, and I didn't even bother to haggle. By the way, can you tell which set of terra cotta warriors cost 380 yuan and which cost 10 yuan?
Here is a bicycle-based bread vendor:
His loaves are so huge I couldn't see how anyone could eat one before it went stale, but I noticed that there's a partial loaf on top so he must cut pieces off for people.

By this time Fred started chivvying us back towards the restaurant where we will have lunch. The restaurant faces onto this mall area:
Take a good look at the petunias in those beds. They just planted the flats straight into the ground, plastic and all! I guess that makes it quick and easy to replace any that go bad.

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