I had a couple of days in Xian, China, in between trips to Chongqing, Yan'an, and Pingliang last year. It was brutally hot, but I tried to get out and explore for at least a few hours each day. The town's a common stop on the tourist route; the Terracotta Warriors were found not far outside the city.

But on this visit, I decided to spend my time mostly outside the city walls in the growing outer districts where people live. I went to out-of-the-way parks, took subways and buses to the ends of their lines, ducked into alleyway markets, found small temples not listed in tourguides, and otherwise just tried to go to places where a tourist might not have reason to go.

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