China – 10 Cities in 19 Days: Xi’an

The 2nd stop in our trip was Xi’an where the main purpose was to see the Terracotta Warriors, something I had wanted to see for some time now. We were tight on time and had arranged a private guide to show us around here. Allen picked us up from the airport, we checked into the hotel and after a short break we were back out at it again. Unfortunately, the air was worse here and I felt thirsty all the time.

There were still signs of the anti-Japanese riots around the streets. Owners of Japanese cars covered up the logos, banners hung up and fencing on the sides of the streets. Stores selling Japanese goods were closed and there were stories of crowds trying to break into hotels with Japanese tourists. I’m glad we didn’t get caught in any of that.

As one of China’s ancient capitals there’s a lot history here. The emperors of many dynasties chose Xi’an as their capitals due to its good feng shui. Unfortunately I got a bit confused after a while…..keeping track of historical dates and names is not my specialty.

Second stop: Xi’an (Sept. 23-25)

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Pagoda was built in 652 AD with only 5 levels at the time, then in 704 AD another 2 levels were added. It was then that the 7 level level pagodas became standard. Due to an earthquake in the 1500’s the pagoda is slightly tilted. Rose and I paid the extra fee to climb all 7 levels of the Pagoda, from the windows you can look out at the city and see the mix of old and new. Here’s the view from the top:

Tang Dynasty Show & Dumpling Banquet

Anyone that knows me will know I love dumplings and vinegar but I was once again a bit disappointed with the food. I have to say some of the dumplings were made into fancy shapes and had special fillings, nice to look at but I wasn’t all that impressed. It turned out the favorite among the 3 of us was the “home-style dumpling” – on the top right.

The show was entertaining, there was singing and dancing, the costumes were beautiful.

City Wall

Xi’an’s city wall is one of the oldest and best preserved in China. Along the Wall there were buildings that were partially demolished in preparation for something new to be built. There are some reluctant to move from their homes and continue to live there even when parts of it is already torn down. A city where old and new are trying to co-exist.

New buildings inside the City Wall aren’t allowed to be too high and must be built with a traditional style roof, while those outside don’t have to.

It was here that I learned about the Pi Xiu. I know there are a lot of Chinese mythical and auspicious creatures but this one was new to me. Pi Xiu is the 9th offspring of the dragon, that eats everything but nothing comes out. There’s also a proper way to touch or pet it…it was interesting….

Terracotta Warriors

This was another trip highlight. China’s first emperor had this army built to protect him in the afterlife, complete with soldiers, horses and chariots. The attention to detail is incredible, they’re life-sized, varying in height, rank, weapons and facial expressions. The soldiers’ heads, arms, legs and bodies were created separately and later assembled together.

Originally they were all painted but fade or peel quickly after being exposed to air, they’re still trying to find a way to preserve the colours.

Muslim Quarter

We went for dinner at a restaurant in the Muslim Quarter, it was fun walking along the street looking at the tables of knick-knacks, shops, food carts and restaurants. We ate at a restaurant called Jia San Soup Pau Restaurant, it’s supposed to be famous. My mom ordered the specialty dish, Mutton & Pita, looks kind of like bread soaked in broth (bottom left).

The soup dumplings were quite good, though they look very deflated here.

Food Cart
My mom braved a busy food cart one morning and tried one of these pita/wrap/bun things so after seeing that my mom’s tummy was “ok” after (thanks for being the guinea pig mom) the next morning Rose and I got one too. It’s pretty much a piece of steamed dough wrapping cabbage, bean sprouts and whatever else you wanted. It was very flavourful and at 3 RMB (under 50 cents CND), it was a descent breakfast. But food cart in a foreign country, definitely not for everyone….


Stand Mixer Cover

I had ordered a super cute cover for my stand mixer from a seller on Esty. It finally arrived!

It fits perfectly and is super cute. I also had some pinch-style potholders made at the same time.

Hmmm maybe this will inspire more baking….

If Only Shoes Grew on Trees

If only, huh?

The annual Army & Navy shoe sale on Wednesday was the next best thing, VIP access didn’t hurt the process   🙂

This year I bought 4 pairs, less than the 6 from last year but I was really trying to keep myself under control.

There were plenty of name brand shoes such as Steve Madden, Nina, Rocket Dog, Guess even Coach, Ralph Lauren and Cole Haan could be found for those lucky enough to spot them in their size. Average prices were in the $19.99 – $39.99 range, a steal if you find shoes worth 10 times that.

If you ever consider going to the sale, here are some tips:
– grab a basket when you first get in
– wear shoes that easily slip on and off (flip-flops, flats)
– bring as little with you as possible, it gets hot in there
– buy what you love and love what you buy because all sales are final
– if it catches you eye, take it with you, becuase once it’s gone, it’s gone
– keep your basket with you….if you leave it unattended, someone will be eyeing it (yes, it’s that crazy)

The sale is on until May 6, and they usually re-stock throughout the day.

Here are the new additions to my shoe family!
Can you believe I used to hate shoe shopping???

Vancouver Sun Run

After much anticipation and anxiety, the Sun Run was today. The 10 kilometer run draws thousands of people every year and this was my 2nd time running it.

At 4km I was wishing I’d trained harder but at least I (think) I beat last year’s time. Results will be in tomorrow’s paper!

My legs hardly feel like my own right and I know it’ll be a sore day tomorrow but it the satisfaction of crossing the finish line was worth it.

How those people do marathons or half marathons, I’ll never know (and a wholly moley to you!). I’m crawling to bed while I still can, good night!


When it Rain, it Pours

Raining cats and dogs on my way home from work today. Got completely soaked from the knees down, an umbrella was no help…..bad day to not have rubber boots.

Living in Vancouver, I’m used to the rain, it’s just miserable when I’ve got a cold 😦 I’ve been banned from the kitchen in fear of spreading my germs…hopefully I’ll be back at it on Monday.

Good night to stay in doors. Hope you’re warm and cozy this evening!


Snowy Vancouver

The sunset looked spectacular from the office last night. I couldn’t resist snapping some photos. The weather reports continued to say we’d see snow in the morning. But look at it – how could it possibly start snowing? It was beautiful out.

Well, I guess the weather people were right about the snow. The storm that to hit Vancouver went over to Seattle instead and we just caught a bit of it. Great news for us, but sucks for Seattle (hope everyone there is safe and warm!). We still got some flurries but doesn’t look like much is sticking to the ground, at least not downtown, anyways.

This is perfect weather for comfort food. I’m craving some sort of stew, soup, or noodles. I’ve been trying to get inspired in the kitchen but this weather also makes me want to curl up in my pajamas with a book. There are a few soup noodle recipes I’m excited to try so I promise I will cook up some good stuff when I get back from San Francisco.

Crisp Winter Air

After a stressful morning I decided to take a walk after lunch. It was 2 degrees (Celsius) with a wind chill of -5 outside but I just needed to get out. It was sunny but cold, the crisp air was just what I needed to clear my head. I walked towards the water down to the new Vancouver Convention Centre. I thought I’d share some of it with you. Here’s a look at Vancouver’s North Shore mountains.

I’m still working out all the bells & whistles on my iPhone 4S but these photos don’t do them justice. Come and see for yourself!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas??

Kinda feels like Christmas this morning, too bad it’s January 16.

We’re expecting some more in the next couple of days and I’m driving out to Bellingham, WA Friday morning to catch a flight to San Francisco. I hope this snow isn’t going to cause any problems on the freeway or at the airport…we don’t get a lot of snow around here so I think people forget how to drive in it….ugh.

Well, happy Monday everyone. Hope it’s warmer than mine.


Bowls are Separated!!

My friend separated my bowls! “Using physics” was his explanation…he put ice cubes into the inside bowl and immersed the entire outside bowl almost up to the rim (had to the past the top of the inside one), after a minute, wedged a butter knife between the too flicking the inside bowl out. Like magic! So happy to have them back!

Hopefully this never happens again – these bowls are staying away from each other from now on.