We arrived in Xi’an at lunch time and it was really hot, possibly the hottest weather we had experienced particularly as the skies were so clear. We took a walk around the city to acclimatise and were shown the main landmarks. The old bell tower is the epicentre of everything which we thought would be helpful to know in case we got lost.
We made our way to the Xi’an city wall which is essentially a massive fortress protecting the city. Obviously now the city has outgrown the walls, but the original city is distinctive due to the fact that, traditionally, buildings were not permitted to be higher than the city wall resulting in a square of buildings no higher than 15 foot tall juxtaposed with much bigger tower blocks around the outside.
I had been rather apprehensive of the wall, as the planned trip was a bicycle ride around the full perimeter; my only experience post-stroke of bike riding was the tandem in Yang Shuo. In true Briggsy style I decided to give it a go, and it really paid off. The terrain was a little bumpy but largely flat, making it a great opportunity to get cycling. I only crashed into one startled Chinese lady, so I figure it was a rather successful 8 miles in the scorching heat.
Unfortunately for Matthew though, Marek got rather distracted by ‘strings floating in the air’ (which soon revealed themselves to be kites) and managed to crash straight into Matt. They were largely uninjured but it certainly took them both by surprise! Matt was second back to base, and I was third, which I think may have surprised me more than the crash surprised Matthew! I’m now officially a cyclist, and I’m looking forward to giving it a go when we get home too.