With an unexpected spare day on my business trip to China I decided to indulge in a trip to Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors. Choosing a hotel was a rather random affair, and I stumbled upon the Grand Soluxe (ex Xian Diamond)
I arrived to find it a well appointed hotel at its price, and was pleasantly surprised. Well appointed, nice decor, spacious rooms.
Being Muslim, I was quite prepared to not find adequate food nearby. Much to my amazement, there was a Muslim street cafe right outside their doors (well two doors to their right to be honest, but close enough). I walked past it a few times, trying to gauge if it was safe to try. There was a friendly enough guy tending the fire outside, and the smells from the barbeque skewers finally got the better of me.
I ordered 4 skewers through gestures as no-one spoke a word of English. Magnificent! I ordered 6 more to round off my meal. Satisfied.
The next morning, being my free day, I wanted to go to the warriors as planned. By chance the guy at reception suggested i try the bus. Not having tried buses in China before, I decided that it was now or never. Being right opposite the train station was now a serious advantage as the buses left from the station square. Bus 306 to be precise. One leaving every hour, and a pleasant luxury-ish coach too. Really cheap at RMB7!! I kid you not. Would have paid about RMB150 for a taxi, and yet the bus goes right to the warriors. A dedicated service. I was now very very happy with my choice of hotel.
After a morning of excited discovery at the archaeological treasure trove, I returned to the Xian Diamond hotel and enquired as to how to get to the Grand Mosque. Directions were scribbled onto a card in Chinese, and off I went.
The taxi presented me to the "Islamic Street": a kaleidoscope of color, fruit stalls, curios, crafts, and searing fires sizzling meats, and a hustle and bustle to rival any market anywhere in the world.