Study Trip: Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, Chengdu

Xi'an City Wall

On the way back to our hotel we stopped to walk along Xi’an’s ancient city wall, which was surprisingly massive.

Street Vendors

Some of the poorer areas of Xi'an

That night we went to a specialty restaurant that served what my teacher touted as the best 饺子(jiao zi)—dumplings—he has ever had.  They were each prepared beautifully and in the fashion of what was inside.

Duck and Frog Jiaozi (Dumplings) on Display

After dinner we walked the area’s busy night market street which was teeming with life.  Vendors of all types lined the cobbled road along both sides and in the middle, gesticulating wildly in an attempt to sell their merchandize or food.

The next day we went to Xi’ans Muslim quarter to visit the Xi’an’s Great Mosque.

Xi'ans Great Mosque (one temple of many within the complex)

Shoes of Chinese Muslims at Prayer

Exotic Tree

It was right outside the mosque that I bought a small black sword from a vendor.  Tony, Pierre, and I walked around the Muslim quarter (Xi’an has a large Muslim population–all ethnically Chinese) with while the azan (or Muslim call to prayer) echoed throughout the crowded streets.  I have never seen such a lively and interesting cityscape—every corner was packed with meat sellers, noodle or tea shops, or locals enthralled in a Chinese poker game.

Dog Furs for Sale

Street-side Chinese Poker

China's Religious Diversity--Hindu Children in the Muslim District

Trying Some Delicious Street Food

After a few hours of walking around what was a fascinating and incomparably lively neighborhood, we had Xi’an’s famous dish for dinner—Yang Rou Pao Mo.  Tradition demanded that we first grind up rolls of bread with our fingers into tiny pieces into our own bowls.  After twenty minutes of twisting and pinching, the waitress came around and took our bread-filled bowls and returned them to us now filled with a special broth and spices.  To be honest, I didn’t quite see what all the hype was about and why this dish was revered as Xi’an’s best, although it was still a great experience.

That night, we took a plane to Chengdu—the capital of Sichuan province—where we visited the well-known Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center the next day.

Walking through the Panda Research Center

The extensive Center has a theatre in which a documentary plays describing the lives of the Pandas and what absorbs the researchers every day.  They manage all the pandas on behalf of China–leasing out Pandas to other zoo’s around the world.  The facility covers 92 acres of natural habitat for all sorts of endangered animals—Giant pandas, lesser pandas, black-necked cranes, and white storks to name a few.

Giant Panda

Lesser Panda

Pictures of Infant Pandas

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