What a great 17 hour train ride! The first trip we both got some decent sleep. We arrived in Xian at 5:30am to discover an ancient city encapsulated by a city wall with the old inside and new extending from the outer perimeter.
Straight off to the hostel to try and check in…success but we were located in the basement, but no big deal. Showered, ate and then decided that we should make the most of the day so we headed out by local bus to the world famous “Terracotta Warriors”. The warriors were unearthed in fields by local farmers who were digging a well and since then the area has became a world heritage listed site. The actual Terracotta Warriors the public see have been transported to another site and are on display in a very well preserved environment. We spent the trip with a guy called Brett from Seattle we ran into in the morning who was only in Xian for the day and wanted to warriors. Great, fun, interesting learning experience were the Terracotta Warriors!
That evening we saw the Bell and Drum Towers which look even more spectacular at night when they are fully lit up by all the surrounding lights. The Bell Tower is located in the very centre of the city walls and is one of the main tourist attractions. We also visited the Muslim quarters which is a must see area in Xian. The streets are buzzing with lots of lights and fantastic wofts from the many many street stalls and hole in the wall type feeding houses. We would again visit this area the following night as we really enjoyed it, but it was a different experience to see Chinese men with beards and all the Islamic garb! We also visited the actual mosque on our last day and I was being spoken to in Arabic by some of the visiting African Muslims. They said something like “Salaam Aleikum” and something else. I think they were saying peace to their fellow brother and were asking if I wanted to join them in the Mosque for a prayer!
The next day we decided to explore the famous city wall by bicycle! The only problem was that by the time we had attended to emails and booking hostels in the morning, it was now the hottest time of the day! So we biked the 8 mile (Eminem would be proud ;) city wall of Xian in the midday heat. It was an amazing experience and something we would recommended to anyone visiting Xian – it is just amazing to think how the Chinese built these incredible structures so many hundreds of years ago (although even more mind blowing experience were going to be ahead in Beijing with the big daddy of them all, The Great Wall).
Next stop was the big boy…Ich bin ein Beijinger…maybe I have the wrong city to use that phrase :)