Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eight Miles on a Bicycle Built for Two

K, seriously, it's going to take me *forever* to get through the China pics at the rate I'm going. But I'm now finished with my class so maybe I'll get faster...'cept for the part where Lee is soon to start on his ginormous research paper so I won't be on the computer as much. So maybe I'll get some stamping done instead :)

So when we last left off, we were in the Guilin airport headed to Xi'an, which was the capital of China for quite a few of its dynasties and is still kind of the historical heart of the country. It's also the birthplace of feng shui, so we heard a lot about that during our time here. Once we arrived in Xi'an, we checked into the most beautiful hotel room I've ever stayed in:

This is the Sofitel, which is a five-star PLUS French hotel which was designed by a Chinese architect to have good feng shui. And we got a free upgrade. Pretty sweet, huh?

'Nother view of the room. The next day, we met up with our new guide Tracy and went out to the Xi'an city walls. The walls are somewhere around 2,000 years old (or at least they started building walls that long ago, not sure if this one is the exact same one) and is unusual for the fact that it's still pretty much intact.

There we are on top of the wall. The oldest part of the city lies within the wall (as does our hotel, so it's not all old buildings in there) and is generally comprised of short, old buildings in a small area with a lot of history. Outside the walls, the city is taller, bigger, and newer.

View of a courtyard on the outside of the wall. We saw several groups of people out doing their morning tai chi in the courtyards all around.

Like that one. :) Xi'an has a problem with air pollution so you can't really see as far out in the distance as you might expect, but it was still interesting and beautiful.

In the 1980s, the wall had to be repaired, so the Chinese followed the same techniques as were used in ancient times to refurbish parts of the wall. In olden days, brick makers had to sign each brick with their name, and then if their bricks broke or something like that due to shoddy workmanship, then they were killed. When the wall was repaired in 1984, the workers once again signed the bricks, but I'm pretty sure none of them got killed this time around. At least, I hope not!

Tracy told us we could rent bikes and ride along the top of the wall if we wanted to, so that's exactly what we did:

We could have just done halfway around, but nooooooooo, we had to go all the way around the city wall. EIGHT MILES around!! My knees were not too happy with me at the end. Probably because my seat was way too low, I didn't realize how low it was till I saw the pictures.

We figured out pretty quickly that the best way to work the two-person bike is for the one in the back to start pedaling while the one in front walks with it a bit until you build up enough speed to balance. Missy and I let the guys steer and we were very happy to report that they didn't run over anything.

One of the corner towers.

K, so I just love shots like this, couldn't resist including it :)

The wall was originally built to keep the Mongols out (of course, that could be said about most walls in China, right?) so they had some weaponry displayed all around the wall that we got to look at, or in Lee's case, taste test.

Another view of outside the wall.

And all the stairs to get up to the top of the wall. Are you sensing the theme of this vacation? Stairs, stairs, and more stairs? :)

I took this picture four times in quick succession so if you flip through the pictures on the camera, you see Bennet and Missy steadily get closer in the background.

Xi'an is also home to the army of terracotta soldiers, so we saw a couple replicas out on the city walls. This picture cracks me up :)

And here's Bennet showing us exactly how the dude lost his hand. Heh. We stopped quite a bit along the first and second sides of the wall and then realized that we were running out of time on our rented bikes, so we totally booked it for the second half. Still it was a lot of fun despite my dislike for physical activity and the fact that I somehow neglected to pack ANY shorts for this trip. One more picture...

My sweetie pie. Ain't he handsome?

1 comment:

CCsMom said...

LOVE the picture of Bennet and Lee next to the soldiers -- the old guard and the new guard. Sure is smoggy there, but I heard that was a problem, even if there aren't that many cars. Well, there probably are NOW. But I'm really enjoying this tour.

We were talking about furniture and Lee wanting something to put the TV on -- why don't you see if they have a buffet with the cherry blossoms? Since that's what you are using now, maybe that's what you need. Anyway, anxious to see what you end up with.

And I'm anxious for you to come here for a visit and SHOP. I know that terrifies Lee. We'll try to keep it in check, especially since I'm thinking I need to start saving for England!!!

Love you! Mom