Meeting terracotta warriors in Xi’an

As we pulled into the ancient capital, I couldn’t help but feel that this was my homecoming.

Something about “China’s Athens” struck home for me. Maybe for the first time in my life, I was starting to embrace what it meant to be Chinese, at least with equal interest as I’ve always identified being Canadian. Or maybe I was just struck by the vast sight of a sea of sculpted warriors standing in perfect uniformity.

But photos really don’t do them justice.

I decided to take a group tour to make the day trip fuss-free, where I met a lovely pair of Italian cousins. One was finishing her Chinese language studies in Beijing, and was happy to play translator for the day. After the tour ended (shortly after we saw the gigantic snake emerging from the trees near Qianling Mausoleum), we wandered the night markets and bargained for overpriced souvenirs.

By the time we worked up an itch for cold beer, we discovered what an ordeal it could be to find a bar within the walls of Xi’an! Silvia was the true MVP, tapping into her linguistic strengths and found a recommendation for a nearby venue thanks to a moto-driver (who was visibly charmed by the Chinese-speaking Italian woman).

He took us to a neon sign in the middle of a quiet, residential street.  From the outside, it didn’t look very promising. But as we descended three flights of sticky stairs down, down down… the audible karaoke gave me hope.

We were pleasantly surprised by the sight of a local drag show, on a Tuesday evening of all nights!

On my final afternoon I’d planned to bike the city walls, but sadly I didn’t have enough cash on me for the deposit (rookie mistake).  So I did the next best thing I could think of: Get a $2 haircut and enjoy some sidewalk seafood with my new Italian friends.