|Traveling Chinese style - Xian Railway Station, Xian, China|
|Soluxe International Hotel - spacious, very clean and good facilities|
|The reception was quiet when we arrived just after midnight|
Then, another cab stopped near us and we saw a foreigner arguing with his driver and refusing to get down. I knocked on his window and I told him "You have to get down here...he's filling up his tank." He's French and speaks English well...we had a short conversation with him and we bade goodbye when our driver was done. The journey from the Xinjiang Airport to downtown Xian took about one hour and the taxi fare was Reminbi 150.
It was midnight and we were glad to arrive at Soluxe International Hotel , where we will be putting up for 2 nights. We purposely chose the hotel because of its close proximity to Xian Railway Station and we were planning to get the tickets to Zhangye tomorrow. I did my homework on China, prepared my dialog script and my husband planned to use Google translate to facilitate our journey, not realizing that Google is banned in China and so are other social media. Like usual, we decided to do the tour on our own, but we did not expect that it will be a difficult journey for us.
|Xian Railway Station - huge building and full of people|
|Electronic board displaying the train schedule|
At the hotel, though it was a huge beautiful 4 star hotel, few staff spoke minimum English but most do not speak English at all. Next morning, we went to Xian Railway station and like "Alice in Wonderland", we were utterly perplexed with our surrounding. Nothing in English, the train schedules were all in Chinese and we didn't understand anything. We spent a few hours browsing through the huge railway station packed with Chinese travelers. I told my husband that we should give up on Zhangye, not only the journey will be too long but we may get into more serious problem as it will be further north and we have very limited time. We have to manage our time efficiently and with the long queue and language difficulties, it would probably take the whole day at the railway station. I also read that getting train tickets especially the soft sleepers need to be done at least a week before.
We both agreed on the change of plan. We managed to get a taxi and lucky, the word Muslim brought us to the Muslim Quarters. The rain never stops since we arrived and we just have to manage with the weather. I was amazed with the crowd in the Muslim streets and bazaar regardless of the rain. The street were lined with food vendors and big restaurants. Just go to any stalls and ask them..."Yuan?" and show them what you want. They showed us their fingers or calculators to tell us the price and transaction was done. We survived the day at Muslim Street and had great lunch at one of the Muslim restaurant. The tender grilled lamb was succulent and delicious. I love the spice they used which was basically crushed cumin and of course chilly flakes. The aroma was so enticing that we ate like we have been starving for days!
|The vehicle that took us back to Soluxe Hotel - RMB 20 (expensive)|
|This is how close the vehicle gets to the pedestrians!|
|Buildings are huge in China|
|A brand that needs no translation :)|
|How simple traveling can be in China - you don't really need fancy suitcase|
|Day 1: raining day and night - in front of the rail station|
|There were huge crowd everywhere at the station|
|Trying to figure out what it says - hopeless|
|We bought an umbrella for 10 yuan|
|We spotted few Muslims at the railway station|
|We looked at the electronic screen...trying to make sense :)|