I had a few days off between the end of the school term and the starting of a summer course so I decided to travel to Xian for 3 days. Alone. And I loved it! I’d originally planned to carry life-size (ok, as big as poss and would still pass as carry-on luggage) pictures of my friends with me and have myself photographed with them (and sure my imagination soon wandered to us sharing a beer, and noodles of course, canoodling with the terra-cotta army and me cycling with my amigos’ 2D version on a Tandem bike on the Xian city wall. These things never happened. Still, I must say, the three days in my own company was most enjoyable and I’ll probably invite myself for such ventures again in the future.)
Right. So, in a minute you’ll see a bunch of pictures and you’ll probably find that some, with me in it, are a bit off. It’s because when one’s alone it’s hard and awkward to keep trying to hold out and smile to me into the camera plus the poor random strangers I grabbed out of the crowd would, naturally, never make the effort to find a suitable angle for me; that showed yours truly in a more favorable light, i.e. less sweaty/fat/tired/wrinkled/morose/pale or just less friendly. I’ve now tried to make it a bit playful with PS, so I hope you’ll all like them.
Vanity here, vanity there, let’s turn back to Xian. First, apart from the clay soldier army of course, I was totally stunned by how hospitable Xianese people are and how incredibly good their food is! One day, for instance, I spent half an afternoon at a local book mansion. I picked a few good-looking books, sat down on the floor and prepared to have a few hours of great, quiet, reading, time.
What was I going to read? Nothing much. Why? Because either the store staff kept finding me, offering me a chair to sit down on (opting for the floor in China is generally considered really weird. They don’t get it that some people would find this comfortable. I guess it makes sense, knowing how often they spit etc. I also abandoned this old habit of mine (alas, those good old carpets of uni libraries and those filthy garage rock band concerts/summer festival grounds!) but this place seemed particularly clean and in the scorching heat, the cold marble floor seemed so inviting.).
So I was either invited to sit down (up) properly on a chair or on one of the shelves (!) or one of the shop assistants, a young, very sweet girl wanted to share her dinner with me. When I declined, she disappeared for a while and brought me some rice cake. Which I ate, while still sitting on the cold marble floor and I was patiently holding bilingual editions of a Dale Carnegie, Hemingway and The Animal Farm, and while I chatted, and was over the moon for being able to use my Mandarin finally, I also secretly waited for a momentary solitude to share with those books.
Second, the food. I’d read before that Biang Biang Mian was a big thing in Xian and since it was the first on my on-the-beaten-track list, I tried it the first moment my airport shuttle bus kicked me off in the centre. I loved it so much that, to be honest, it was the only dish I kept ordering for the rest of the trip, entertaining myself with their comparison at the other locales while seriously figuring the combo of the spice cocktail they gingered up this dish with. I would put down the name here in Chinese as well, but apparently, the character is so complicated, no computer software can yet type it in! And indeed, I saw that on menus, that were otherwise printed very neatly, and previously written in a word program, the image for Biang was cut out from somewhere and manually pasted on the paper.
Well, Xian, I’ll be back for sure! I’m noodle folk!
P.S. I’ve deleted the pictures with me in them. No PS could make them presentable, I’m afraid.