Having thought about it since posting my photo “essay” on The Great Wall of China I probably should have mentioned the awesome toboggan ride down from the top. It was a great end to a fantastic hike and although you have to walk much further than the cable car exit it’s so so worth it!!!
I don’t have any pictures of the way down but take my word for it when I say it was so much fun!!
Anyway on to our next day, another early start – 5:30am – which does not make for a wonderful start to the day as neither of us are morning people. However, we managed it and caught the underground to the Beijing West Railway station. The underground was yet again efficient, clean and cheap!
Beijing West Railway station was also efficient and clean – it was also HUGE! I know major railway stations in China are huge to be able to deal with the influx of tourists around the national holidays but it is still a shock when you come from England thinking King’s Cross St Pancras is big!!!!
Having passed through passport security we found our correct waiting room and waited for boarding with a coffee. Having learnt last time that there should be a special queue for First Class tickets we managed to avoid the massive crowds.
Our seats were wonderful (not quite as special as our last trip), spacious, clean and reclined a long way without annoying the person behind! It was a 5 and a bit hour trip to Xi’an so we settled in and caught up on some sleep.
Lunch time came around and we decided to partake in a Chinese “tradition” of noodles cooked in hot water with sauce for lunch. They were essentially giant super noodles! All the trains in China have hot water taps on them so you can fill up your tea or fill up your noodles!!
We arrived in Xi’an mid afternoon and met our guide for Xi’an Jim from Xi’an Private Tours. He advised us very quickly that Xi’an was a relaxed city and everything moved much slower than Beijing or Shanghai and it was a more relaxed environment. We headed to the city walls for a look round and Jim filled us in on the history – it’s the most complete city wall that has survived in China and is 13.7km in length. 12 meters high and 14 meters deep it is a huge defence for the city and has 4 gates and each side.
We spotted some people hiring bikes to cycle round the wall and knew we would be back later! After checking into the hotel and having a small rest we did indeed head back to the wall for an evening cycle!
We chose a tandem bike and instantly regretted it as there was no suspension and it was not comfortable to ride! It made for a grueling 13.7km 2 hour cycle but we made it with many photo stops on the way round! We spent most of the time cycling in the dark but the wall was wonderfully lit so it was very pretty.
With very tired legs we decided to try and find a restaurant that Lonely Planet recommended in their guide book – Ding Ding Xiang. When we eventually did find it (we still hadn’t cracked China’s road system yet) we headed inside and upstairs, ordered beer, sweet and sour pork, rice, spicy green beans and some potato dish (which was meant to be beef) – it was all delicious and one of my favourite meals in China. What was even better was the price – 77 CNY which is about £8! Yup £8 for all that food!
(Again I failed to take any pictures of this wonderful meal – must work on this!)
Unfortunately our day ended up with us getting very very lost on the way back to our hotel and we took a massive loop. After about an hour of walking we finally managed to make the 15 minute walk back in the right direction and finally got to sleep!
Another epic day!