Sticky Rice—IES Abroad Xi’an Trip

Crystal Mak
July 13, 2016
Xi'an Bell Tower

I never thought Xi’an would be an interesting city to travel to.  I only knew that it was the home of the Terracotta Warriors and that it is the hometown of my Chinese roommate, Braven.  Other than that, I thought it was just a city that thrived on the achievements of its past as a tourist trap and nothing more. Well Xi’an, you pleasantly surprised me.  

After we finished our second round of exams and frantically raced to finish our Chinese history midterms, my Chinese teacher Zhao Laoshi, Louis, the RAs Joel and Alexa, and all the rest of the IES Abroad students headed off to Xi’an via a 13-hour long sleeper train.  It was my first time on one of these types of trains and it felt like I was stepping into a Harry Potter movie boarding the train to Hogwarts.  It wasn’t the most glamorous of trains, but it was a great bonding experience sharing the same cabin together.

“Hello ok, we have to stick together like a sticky rice!”

That was the first thing our tour guide Benny said to us when we got off the train the next morning, and we mostly did stick together for the rest of the trip.  We rode bikes around the 9 mile the city wall under 95 degree weather, visited a foodie paradise that was filled with a variety of Halal food, saw the Terracotta Warriors, ate some more, walked around a lively shopping district, danced with some locals, explored the Dayan Pagoda, and enjoyed the lit Bell Tower at night.  Before we knew it, we were boarding the high speed train back to Beijing.


Trip Highlights

My roommate Braven actually met up with us in Xi’an and she took us out to a restaurant in a mall that had interesting décor and even more delicious food.  After dinner, we decided to catch some fish and pop some bubbles with little kids.


This special and ancient Shaanxi snack is China’s version of a hamburger, which literally means “meat burger”.  It was really tasty, but I think it would have been tastier with some Sweet Baby Ray’s drizzled over the pulled pork. 

Bian Bian Mian

This noodle dish is famous for its extremely thick noodles and its ridiculously complex Chinese character.  Mine was mixed with some eggs, tomato, and cilantro in a slightly tangy sauce.  Very delicious!

Body Confidence

I’ve seen this a few times in China, but I never got a chance to swiftly take a picture of it.  In China, when it gets hot, men with large bellies tend to roll their shirt up and walk around like it’s nobody’s business.


I think what really stood out to me on this trip was that everyone in the city was either a tourist or at least aware of the large tourist culture.  My previous trip to Datong really contrasted to this one due to the lack of foreigners visiting that city.  For that trip, I felt like we were able to talk to many more locals because we didn’t have people taking care of us the entire time and had to figure out our plans on our own.  Even though sticking together in a large group under a tour guide prevents many stressful events, but being a single grain of rice away from the group isn’t so bad either.

Crystal Mak

<p>I'm a senior studying Media and Communications &amp; Chinese at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I enjoy traveling, hiking, and delicious food. I am so excited to share all my new experiences in China with you all! Join me as I journey to find the tastiest dumplings, peking duck and noodles that Beijing has to offer while I balance my studies.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Maryland+ Baltimore County
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