Xi’an Page 2

One of the best attractions in Xi’an is its City Wall. As I discovered soon after climbing up, it is possible to hire a bike (also possible to hire a tandem) to cycle around the battlements. The hire price then (2009) was for 50 minutes or part thereof. Looking at the Travel China Guide website now (2021), that seems to have changed. I got around in just under 50 minutes, having stopped a few times to enjoy the view and take some pictures. I also wanted to get down and into some shade, since it was seriously hot that morning. It would have been worth more time (and the price of another 50 minutes), if it had been about ten degrees cooler.

The Wall encircles the old city and, among other points of interest, there are views of the artists’ district (then newly-built, and not to be confused with Xi’an Qujiang Arts Centre, which opened ten years after I’d left Xi’an), together with youth hostel and tourist bars (actually, the whole area seemed like a purpose-built tourist trap), and the always busy old railway station. I visited the artists’ district later on (not very exciting, because it consisted of shops for artists’ and calligraphers’ materials, and not galleries), but it was too early in the day to visit the bars; they weren’t even open.

About 25 miles northeast of Xi’an city centre is the site of the famous Qin Dynasty Terracotta Army. When I visited, there was a half-hourly bus to the site from nearby the train station, but that has probably changed. There were only four other passengers on board the bus – a French family. The trip took about an hour and a half. Up to date information is available here and under the site’s official name here.

Warning: it can be very crowded – and noisy – indoors, and blisteringly hot outdoors – go early morning before the tour buses get there, and take plenty of water with you (there are vendors on site, but they charge what they like, which you might not like).

The figures being repaired/restored often have traces of their original paint – sadly, nearly all of that came off with the mud in which they were buried – try to picture what the warriors and horses looked like in their original colours, including flesh and hair.

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