If your New Year Resolution is to travel more and explore the great outdoors, then Nashata’s blog is the right page to follow. For 2019, I am delighted to share my experiences. Traveling and the great outdoors not only enriches our lives – it is also encouraged by our religion to explore: “It is He who made the earth tame for you – so walk among its slopes and eat of His provision – and to Him is the resurrection.” – Surah Al-Mulk, 15.
So exploring did we go. For this episode of traveling, we went to Xi’an to experience winter in China. As one of the few Muslim-friendly places in China, I highly recommend for anyone to come here. To make your traveling experiences easier if you want to come here, I have summarized a list of Do’s and Don’ts:
- Go to the historical sites
- As one of the ancient capitals of China, Xi’an has witnessed various dynasties, with emperors trying to outdo each other with their palaces, defense structures, and tombs. A historical place that you must not miss is the Terracotta Army.
- Xi’an is also said to be the starting point of the Silk Road. So immerse yourself in the unique local culture that is a product of thousands of years of intermingling with India, Mongolia, Persian, Arabs, and Greeks. A cultural place that you must not miss is the Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque of Xi’an.
2. Thorough research
- Read on historical sites to gain appreciation of their significance
- Find a reputable hotel with a strategic location, preferably near landmarks in the city centre like the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, or Muslim Quarter.
- As China is moving towards a cashless society, credit cards and debit cards are phasing out. Ironically, travelers will need extra cash because we could not use the cashless system as we do not have a local bank account. So make sure you budget accordingly.
3. Try the local food
- The Muslim population in Xi’an is sizable, thus, there are many halal options. Most of the items listed are easily found in the Muslim Quarter, but there are many halal restaurants out of the city too. Top 5 food you must not miss are:
- Go shopping
- Most of the products is not that unique and mass produced. In fact, I saw the same handicraft that was available in Bangkok, Phuket, Indonesia, etc, It looks like everything produced in this world really are “Made in China”!
2. Never forget to bring tissues
- Always pack wet tissues and dry tissues
- Soap is not widely available at most toilets
3. Don’t expect everyone to understand English
- Unfortunately, I don’t speak and read a word of Mandarin. And English is not widely spoken in Xi’an. There will be moments of frustration when people don’t understand. To overcome the language barrier, download a Mandarin-English translation app.