The journey along the Silk Road(s) have been quite well known across the world for trading and exchange of all things created along its path. David and I are traveling the main path across China from Beijing to Urumqi with over 10 stops along the way. Even after the first stop out of Beijing (Datong) many changes are noted and as you move West they increase drastically. This is quite an amazing cultural encounter and opens your eyes to the effect of intermixing cultures on a defined trail.
The most notable change is of course the change in population. As the percentage of Muslims increase – the things in shops change, the interactions among people, and of course the food. Xi’an boasts an amazing Muslim quarter full of glorious street vendors and every meat you’ve ever wanted on a stick, roasted on an open charcoal grill with delectable seasonings. Do yourself a favor and try the eggplant – I swear even non-vegetable lovers will die (of happiness) at the taste of this. When you see a street vendor with whole eggplants in front of their grill, just point at one and they will get it made for you.
If you’ve been to Turkey or any number of locations in the Middle East, this will hit home with you and it may be your first stop upon arrival to the city. Outside of the Muslim quarter happen to be the two most beautiful structures of the city (just to the East you find the Bell and Drum Towers). Just to the West you’ll find the popular night clubs Salsa and Muse (tables go for $100 USD for 6/pp). The Muslim quarter itself shuts down around 11pm, but the street vendors by the clubs stay open much later (at least 2am).