Thursday, March 12, 2009

Buddha, birds and Chinese bagels

Yesterday Jodee and I started out by taking the bus to Xi’an’s Big Goose Pagoda.

The pagoda is pretty standard, nothing too exciting, but it had a good view of the surrounding area and it is quite old (AD652) so the building is simple and different than the more modern pagodas that are all over the city/country. There is a fountain and light show at 8pm that we decided to pass on, but we saw just the fountain part at noon (they happen throughout the day) and it was quite impressive. Also, the surrounding Da Ci’en Temple is peaceful and beautiful. Strangely, there were all these birds in cages around the temple buildings. There were a few that were literally throwing themselves against their cages repeatedly in an attempt to get out – it seemed rather un-Buddhist, although I don’t know much about Buddhism. There was also one locked-up bird with a boyfriend/girlfriend bird on the outside hanging around – wistful.

From there we went to lunch at a place listed by Lonely Planet that supposedly has delicious yangrou paomo, a regional specialty. First the waitress brought over flat round breads that tasted like unsalted bagels and instructed us to tear them up into tiny pieces and drop the pieces into our bowls. Then she took our bowls and returned them after pouring beef broth with clear noodles and a bit of tender beef into them. Either their yp is not all it’s cracked up to be, or this dish is just not to my taste, but I ended up just picking the beef out of it and trying to salvage what I could of the broth that hadn’t been soaked up by the bland bread. (And I only put a third of the bread she wanted me to put in there! It’s like she was trying to fatten us up for the killing.) What was delicious was the marinated spinach I ordered as a side and the dish of marinated garlic they brought us, presumably for the yp. They marinate vegetables just like in Korea, similar to what we ate in Guilin, it’s such a pleasant surprise. The good thing about this disappointing lunch is that it left plenty of room for street eating in the Muslim Quarter, which was far more satisfying.

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