Xian's Muslim Quarter is a fascinating place. Located in the heart of the city, pedestrians pour into the streets every night to buy food and to people-watch. Some vendors shout to get your attention, others blast music from outdoor speakers. Not many cars brave the streets, but plenty of rickshaws and motorcycles force their way through the crowds, honking their horns the entire time. It's a loud and brash environment, and the energy is intoxicating. Most tourists only come to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors, but you should also take some time to walk through the Muslim Quarter.
Are you planning a trip to Beijing? If so, then make sure you include a visit to a hutong in your itinerary. These shared-housing neighborhoods offer a fantastic real-life glimpse at traditional Chinese culture. Unfortunately, many of Beijing's hutongs have been leveled in favor of apartment towers, but a few have received historical status, protecting them from demolition. Here are some pictures I took during a recent visit to the hutongs of Beijing's Lake District.