The Great Walls of Xi’an

The great wall? Xi’an? Isn’t that in Beijing?

Yes, the Great Wall is in Beijing. However, if you happen to travel to Xi’an for the most likely reason of the terra cotta warriors, you may or may not notice that surrounding part of this big city are four huge ancient walls. The walls protected the city and are one of China’s oldest military defense systems.

Anyway, if you are not in to history then I won’t bore you with the facts but you can go to this website to get more information. Rest assured, I won’t give you anymore Xi’an facts just now. We decided to pay 20 yuan (student price) to clamber up these walls on a beautiful sunny day in Xi’an. Our plan was to walk the 13km on our feet. What’s that you say? That’s crazy. Yes. Yes it was. So half way through the walk, and I was so happy to have made it half way, we paid the fare and did what most were doing and rode bikes for the remainder of the way.

The walk and ride itself was quite nice and looking out over the walls and peering in to the city was a really good experience. Every meter or so of each of the four corners had something different to offer to us. Whether it was traffic jams, people playing table tennis in the park or the innocent park sleeper laying restfully for the afternoon, it was quite pleasant to poke our noses down at the day to day runnings of this city in an unobtrusive way.

What was also so great about this experience was that it really showed you the infusion of old and new that China seems to do so well. All around us there were brand new skyscrapers and buildings, there were cars and motorbikes humming around on a rush to wherever they were going. In between all this city life, which most of us know or have experienced, however, you get to walk around a part of the town that has stood longer than probably most things we got to look at have. The thing that was even more great about this is that it wasn’t just a temple that they have left standing, or an old church or pagoda. It was actually a whole fortress, surround the whole city and every part of it was looked after and cared for.