Xian mosque and market

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Xian mosque and market

I was surprised to find out that Islam is the 3rd largest religion in China behind Buddhism and Christianity (Taoism is 4th). So on our second day in Xian we paid a short visit to the local mosque.

The atmosphere in the mosque was very different from those we’d seen in other countries. There were no minarets and little evidence of Arabic script. Instead there are traditional Chinese roofs, a pagoda and lots of Chinese writing. It seems that instead of imposing their ways on the Chinese new religions establishing themselves here were forced to adapt and incorporate Chinese culture.

It was also more relaxed and felt less intense – while women were required to cover their shoulders, Kate was fine to go in her vest top being a child. Similarly we were not asked to remove our shoes.

After visiting the mosque (for about 20-30 minutes) we spent an hour walking around the local market, run mainly by Muslim people from the local area. It was a good reminder that not all Muslims are of Arabic origin – these people are almost entirely of Chinese origin.

The markets are a good place to spend some time and money. The narrow streets have stalls on all sides selling the mandatory Chinese tourist souvenirs – T shirts, chess sets, hand bags, Chinese clothing, Terracotta Warriors, Chinese hats etc.

The people are perhaps less openly friendly and I found it difficult to get a good price on a new memory card for the camera paying 100 Yuan (£10 GBP) for a 4GB card even though I know I can get them for half that price in the UK.

But maybe that I didn’t negotiate hard enough. Kate did well to get a dress down from 500 Yuan to just 70 and we did also pick up a Chinese had for 25 Yuan and a Chinese chess set for 55 Yuan. Coming out of the small market streets we walked down a wider road where many of the shops had fixed prices. Tom picked out a egg shaped flute for one of his friends and we were shocked to find it was only 10 Yuan. Just to make sure we asked if we could have 2 for the same price but the determined head shook – fixed price, no discount.