Anyway, I was getting very hangry and had just pointed to some vegetables in the food court and they wouldn't let me pay because I had to have paid beforehand (not a card thing, just paying a random lady in advance). HOW DO YOU PAY BEFORE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT OR CAN EVEN GET. FFS I hate stupid systems. Luckily someone took money out of my hand and walked to another end of the hall to a random woman behind a counter just like all of them, and then came back with my change and a receipt?? How was I supposed to figure any of that out? Oh China why do you HATE ME.
Luckily, they had easily identifiable bowls of vegetables and I ate them and it was okay in the end.
Getting back to town was even worse.
There were no signs ANYWHERE for buses. We walked for ages through a maze of parking lots and random buildings and kiosks - still on the grounds - before we found signs for buses. They went to Xi'an North Station, which is quite far from the downtown and isn't the main station. All we finally saw for the main station - for getting freaking to the city from this huge site - was a hand-written piece of printer paper taped to a pole that said 'Xi'an Station'. So we followed the arrow drawn on it to the street and found a lady who said 'Xi'an?' We said yes and she dragged us onto a PACKED bus, with no seats. We said nah we will wait for the next one. Then that bus pulled ahead and stopped a bit farther along the curb, and she yelled go go go! and forced us to get on the same exact bus! The three of us were in the aisle trying to figure out if maybe there were seats and then before we could get off because there weren't, it was too late! Ahhh we were freaking out. The crazy lady - who was ALSO onboard now - starting pulling random kids out of seats and putting them elsewhere, like putting 3 kids in 2 seats, to make seats for us. And we couldn't tell her to stop so it was just soo embarrassing. And then it cost 10 yuan instead of 8! I was so mad about it all but then it got us back faster than the bus there so whatever. Oh what a mess EVERYTHING we try to do here is!
OK. FOOD TIME.
This is where I LOVED Xi'an. We went to a few restaurants but mostly ate at the Muslim Quarter market, which was sooo much fun. First, I'll share the good food we had at Ding Ding Xiang restaurant, a recommendation from our guide book that had good food. A man started smoking and we complained to a waitress, and instead of stopping it, she brought him a bowl to use as an ashtray. Oh ffs, China. We moved upstairs (so many restaurants have so many empty floors) and they protested no don't go up there! but we were like, we're either sitting away from the man you're allowing to smoke in here or we are leaving. So they relented and luckily the food was good. I couldn't walk away from a place that actually had vegetables! So hard to find in these parts.
I also found good vegetables at what we think was Muslim Family Restaurant, part of the Muslim Quarter but a sit-down place instead of only stalls on the street. (They had a kebab counter out front as part of that.) They had a salad bar type set up of veggie dishes, and it was a little hard at first to communicate that that's all I wanted, and then we learned to ask them for 'side dishes' and it was clear! I just pointed to which of the 8 or so dishes I wanted on my plate and it cost like 15 yuan. It was all fine and I went several times to find veggies because there were none in the market.
I leave you, as usual, with amazingly ridiculous things we saw around Xi'an, including restaurant names, song lyrics as a store name, and the weirdest thing in any Apple store ever in the history of the world.