After a bit of a board meeting about the danger of lack of exercise and over indulgence on the food front, we decided to walk around the wall of the old Xian City.
So, after a bacon sandwich (I like to live dangerously and this is probably the last hotel to do western food for some time!) we set off for the West Gate. Unexpectedly it was not raining and there was sun but also a cooling breeze on the wall.
The Xi’an City Wall is said not only to be the most complete city wall that has survived in China, but it’s also one of the largest and most complete ancient military systems of defense in the world. The city walls here were actually built on the fortifications of the Tang Forbidden City which was apparently four times the size of the Forbidden a City in Beijing. The military defense facilities here in addition to the city wall, included a city moat, drawbridges, watchtowers and corner towers.
We walked the 14 kilometres of the wall in just under 4 hours which was not bad considering it got hotter as the morning wore on. It was a good way to see the ancient and modern side by side as, to a large extent, the really tall buildings of the current city are on the outside of the wall. Inside we looked down on a street market, a Taoist temple and a lot of residential buildings as well as hotels, shopping malls and office blocks. On the north to south axis we saw the bell tower in the distance which marks the centre of the city. All the time we were accompanied by mandolin type music playing softly through a loudspeaker system. The only hazards were the cyclists (single and tandem) and golf buggies carrying other tourists but this problem was mainly at the four gates, the crowds tended to spread out a bit after a hundred metres or so either side of the gate.
We arrived back at the West Gate at about 12.30 so went straight to the Muslim Quarter for a street food lunch and a drink. We then went back to the stall where we had seen a Mah Jong set with English instructions. Keith re-entered his negotiations with the stall holder and we came away with our game despite paying a price which was going to leave the family without food for a week or so it seemed from the heart wrenching scene played out by the salesman!
By now we were beginning to droop so we purchased some melon and walnuts foe supper and headed back to the air conditioned comfort of the hotel and a shower, very pleased with our morning’s enterprise.