Saturday, April 7, 2018

Xi'an. Random Moments, Random Photos.

Hotpot Dinner!

After our morning stroll along the top of the old city walls and through the old neighborhood around Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street, Yim and I decided it was time for lunch.  Little did we know how close, like less than a block from where we entered the old city walls (South Gate), we were to the fast food restaurant that we had our dinner at the night we arrived into Xi'an.

Yes, we went back there for lunch.  Convenient and delicious enough to tuck down into our bellies.  Today, I opted for a bowl of noodles as the rice porridge that I had for breakfast had long passed through my system.  Time to replenish some calories!

It looks spicier than it was.

Yim readily admits that she doesn't have a very good sense of direction and as I've gotten older, my compass is not as strong as it used to be so it was a true surprise to the two of us that we managed to actually find that Korean dessert place two nights ago!

Of course, we knew exactly what we wanted to order.


This delicious matcha concoction.  Today, we got to share the whole thing between just the two of us.  It was such a beautiful day outside that we sat on the front terrace, enjoyed our sweet treat and did some people watching.  I'm a strong believer in making the most of a sightseeing day but I'm also a strong believer that you have to balance things out with some down time otherwise you will burn out.  That's one reason why I don't really like packaged tours.  They cram things in and you don't get to take a break when you want to.  Sitting on the terrace, chatting with Yim and dipping into the bingsu creation before us, was the perfect intermission in our day.  We both enjoyed the break.


Back on our feet, we made our way back towards the hotel.  Of course, we stopped in the Taiwanese bakery that we had spotted two nights ago.  Then, I was in no mood to buy anything but now was a different story.  I had been to a similar store, in Xi'an, in 2016.  Back then, I bought and fell in love with the duck egg pastries a la mooncake but with a flaky pastry crust.  I knew exactly what the packaging looked like so I kept my eyes out for it and lo and behold, this place had them!!


The exact same thing!  This thing!  I'm posting up the photo as a reminder just in case I come across it in any place outside of Xi'an.


I just got two of them.  This bakery is so close to our hotel, I can always come back and get more.  I don't want to leave my stomach to try new foods so I am practicing some restraint.

We got near our hotel before deciding to veer off onto a side street. It was much too early to be calling it a day and heading back to our room.  Time to explore more of the back streets.


Yim and I did have a mini mission - to find and buy bags of the roasted almond seeds that we had delightfully munched on at afternoon tea yesterday.  Yim's thought was that those seeds would qualify as munchies and therefore, most likely be sold in convenience stores - the ones that also sell potato chips and bottled drinks.  So, we pretty much checked out every convenience store we came across and sure enough, she was right.  We find plenty of brands of nuts and we bought a few of the ones that looked appealing to us.

It's how Lay's does Pringles in China.  I was tempted to get a can of the Finger Licking Braised Pork Flavor.

The juice selections here are awesome!  Longan and red date sounds just up my alley.

Did I tell you that Chinese love to keep birds as pets especially song birds?  😁

 This owner's back balcony must get really noisy at times!

There's always a neighborhood tailor.

Window cages?  Is that how you would describe these things?  They most certainly serve as overflow storage and laundry hangers.

The tree lined back streets are wonderful for strolling.  Barely any cars in motion.

In the land of everything mobile phone, there seem  to be a lot of public service announcement signs posted up on walls.


Another cat cafe.  Very popular here.

Not that we were hungry or pining for tea or anything like that but pretty much all day long, we did keep in mind that our now favorite new hotel in Xi'an, aka Eastern House Boutique Hotel, does offer up a free tea every afternoon from 2p - 6p.  You can't miss out on free food (which you've actually paid for by paying for your room)!  So, Yim and I made sure we got back there in time to enjoy our tea time treats.  As you can see from the photo, there are tables that line a wall of windows overlooking the street.  Perfect vantage point for more people watching.



Starting around lunch time, Bro had been periodically texting me to let me know of their status.  By the time Yim and I sat down to enjoy our tea snacks, I got a message from him telling me they were on their way back to town and asking me where we were.  I told him we were enjoying tea at the hotel and to meet us in the dining room.  Lucky for them, they made it back in plenty of time for their tea refreshments as well.  Seemed like they really enjoyed their time at the Terracotta Warriors - mainly because they had an excellent guide.  Their take on Han Yang Ling was like ours.  Interesting but a bit of a let down compared to the warriors.  Well, the warriors are incomparable!

After tea, we had a bit of time to go back to our rooms and relax a bit more before dinner.  There's been a lot of eating on this trip!

Tonight, we headed for a hotpot restaurant nearby our hotel.  It's not a big restaurant but it was very popular.  We got our table and then with Yim and SK translating, selected a pot of soup.   This place is nothing like any other hotpot place I've ever been to.  To start with, there is no menu of ingredients.  Instead, the entire back wall of the place is lined with a refrigerated section.  It reminded me of the meat counter in a US supermarket but instead of containing meat, the entire display was of meat, seafood, and veggies.  Everything was on skewers.  There were no prices so it was evident that you pay for what you eat based on the number of skewers.  More expensive items, like shrimp, had two skewers running through them.  It's all help yourself.  You get a plastic tray and you go to town!  The selection of ingredients was incredible and it was really hard to not want to get one of everything!




To the side of the ingredient bar was the condiment bar.  And oh what a bar it was.  So many choices of sauces and other fixings!


As best I could tell and and as best as Yim and SK could tell me, they had ordered a large pot of herbal soup....or something like that.  No matter, it tasted good enough for us to start cooking our skewers of food in.



So let the hot potting begin!  We ate and ate and ate......



In all, we ate 195 sticks.  Yes.....four people ate 195 skewers worth of food....nearly 50 skewers each.  We were stuffed to the gills.  All admitting we overate.  The most incredible part of the dinner was that the bill came to barely $30.  Dinner for four people!


But the most memorable part of our dining experience was the fact that our waitress, a woman who was probably in her 70's.....tiny spit of a thing, had fallen completely in love with Yim.  And I mean completely in love.  In fact, she told Yim she loved her.  As a result, she tended over us....mainly over Yim, as if we were her family, eating in her kitchen.   She kept coming over to our table to chat with Yim, refill our glasses of water, top off our pot of soup, etc.  When we attempted to give her a tip for such good service, she responded by simply motioning with her hands the action of stabbing a knife through her heart.  Oh my God!  She would be insulted to even accept a tip from us.  I thought she was so incredibly sweet and I wanted to just pack her up and bring her home with me.  But her fawning so much over Yim made Yim quite uncomfortable.  So even though we really enjoyed our meal here and even though three of us voted we could return for another meal, that will not be.

Tomorrow, we have a full day of sightseeing.  I had arranged with Genessa (who is American by the way), from Old Road Tours, to do a day trip from Xi'an.  We'll be going to visit Guanzhong Folk Art Museum and an old village called Danjiacun.  I'm very much looking forward to leaving Xi'an behind for a day.

For now, some laundry, a shower and bed!

Goodnight from Xi'an!