I was called crazy. When I told my family and friends three years ago of my plans to travel around the world, most thought I had just gone insane. I remember getting a few phone calls from concerned friends to make sure I was feeling okay. I respected it but I still wanted to go backpacking. The American culture isn’t so accepting of wanting to go travel. I did have to go through some hurdles but it all worked out in the end.
Month: May 2011
Upon embarking on my first solo trip in April 2010, I was, admittedly, a bit arrogant. Having travelled around Europe with two accomplices a couple of years earlier, I assumed the identity of the knowing, weathered traveller keenly aware of the woes that accompanied group travel – growing weary of familiar company, the struggle to make new friends, the relentless need for compromise. Don’t get me wrong, there were good aspects too. In times where we got lost with the added pressure of 15kg backpacks, foiled by the debilitating affliction of monolingualism, there was strength in numbers: the presence of familiar faces from home lifted the weight off the challenges of a new country, culture, language, and public transport system.
At the time of course, I didn’t appreciate these things. Rather, I felt like I had taken the easy, safe route; like walking my way through a 5km marathon, or downing a shot of tequila shot in little sips. I was craving to belt out some year ten German in Berlin without an audience, to find my Venetian hostel on my own, and suffer in silence as I attempted to navigate the Colosseum in 40-degree heat. In short, I wanted the struggle.
I love receiving emails and I especially love emails that keep me motivated. It’s flattering and encouraging to know so many people read this blog. Below is an email I got from Christian. I’ve been asked this question many times and thought it’d be perfect for an article. With Christian’s permission, I’ve included his email and my response.
For a city that burns trash on the streets, the last thing I’d expect is the promotion of it being a environmentally friendly city. Xi’an is the host for the 2011 Horticultural World Expo. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t be surprised unless you’re in China. It’s advertised everywhere in China but no one else has heard of it outside of China. Surprisingly, there’s nearly two dozen nations contributing to the expo. Pakistan, North Korea, Bolivia, India, Japan, Thailand, Russia, and more.
The Muslim Quarter is one of the most popular attractions in Xi’an. At sundown, this area really shows its colors with streets packed with food and random products. The area has an incredibly strong scent mixed from all the surrounding kitchens and street food vendors all so close to each other.
Most of these snacks and dishes date back hundreds of years and each with their own story. There doesn’t seem to exist a full list of what everything is in the Muslim Quarter and so I went on to investigate. Below is everything that the Muslim Quarter is popular for and what can be found there. Since this also happens to be one of my favorite spots in all of Xi’an, I’ll be keeping this list updated with more of my discoveries.