Xi’an’s Muslim Quarters is where tourists walk around eyes wide in delight; or mouths closed in discomfort. It is active, busy and raw. For many travellers, this place can be seen as a hidden lifeline in the make-up of Xi’an. Stereotype images of Chinese food give way to ethnic dishes rich in spices and freshly baked breads. Home to 50,000 Hui muslims who live, work and socialise there. It’s place where sellers and buyers quietly haggle, workers refuel, people watch, and devotees attend prayers in China’s oldest mosque.
One of those perfect discoveries travellers look for when walking around. At least I do. There are streets set aside for tourists with shops packed full of souvenirs; and junk, but there are also streets beyond the tourist zones that exist soley for the locals. Food is sold alongside clothes, meat sit in the open air with women gently moving fly swats backwards and forwards. Modern amenities often don’t exist as many of these tired looking shops are on the verge of falling down:old, derelect but still full of character.
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