If there is one thing that China is famous for it is walls. We had just arrived in Xi’an after a 15 hour overnight hard sleeper train from Shanghai and couldn’t wait to stretch our legs, which was just as well really given the next thing on our itinerary was to cycle round the city wall.
The city wall of Xi’an is slightly less famous than The Great Wall, it is also slightly shorter given it encompassed the old city of Xi’an rather than protecting the entire north of China. Neither of these facts made the wall any less impressive, it is much wider than the great wall and in some parts there is a moat which would have originally been around the entire exterior.
We arrived at the wall at what I suspect was the hottest part of the day, and rented our bikes from a stand at the top of the wall. The wall was wide enough that it was very comfortable to ride along the top, even for someone afraid of falling like myself, it was in fact probably wider than a lot of roads back in the UK and had parapets on one side and a raised section on the other.
As we set off I noticed that, with the lanterns hanging from dragon figures the Xi’an wall had its own unique beauty. While The Great Wall wound up and over hills, the Xi’an wall was straight and flat, giving the impression of an unstoppable force.
I mentioned the dragon figures and here again we noticed the same four animals, this time supporting lanterns on each side of the wall as we made our way around.
The bikes themselves were a bit rickety, but I was glad for the suspension on them compared with the bikes we had seen people renting on the street. We turned down the option of a tandem as we thought it would be better to each have control of our own vehicle. I wonder if we made a mistake though as I saw a few tandems, usually with one person doing all the work while the other relaxed and took in the scenery. Not sure that my husband would have stood for that though.
There were watch towers along the wall, which insured the ride didn’t become too repetative. Although the views from the wall also kept things interesting. The highlight of the views was the only Tibetan monastery in the city, which shone from afar.
After our ride, everyone was ready for a good dinner, and we were in for one with a dumpling banquet. We were shown in to a rather fancy dining room with many tables and a stage at the front of the room, as a music and dance performance were included as part of the banquet. There was a selection of fourteen different dumplings to try; and each had been shaped to look like the flavour, for example the duck dumpling had been shaped to look like a duck.
All of the dumplings were delicious and we had all eaten our fill when the performance began. The performance was a selection of traditional music and dance from the Tang Dynasty. The sets and costumes were visually stunning and I took a few photos before settling in to enjoy the rest. I particularly enjoyed the dancing, while my husband enjoyed the music since it was heavy on the percussion and he used to play the drums.
After the performance we made our way back to the hotel passing the wall we had cycled around that afternoon while it was lit up in all its splendor.
Not a bad way to end the day after having started it on a hard sleeper train that morning.