With no plans today, I had a lazy morning, trying to catch up with this blog. In the early afternoon I decided I really ought to go and see something of the city, so I decided to take R’s suggestion of going to walk – or cycle if possible – on the city walls. After asking at the tourist office near the train station, I eventually found the ticket office, and asked about cycles. They were about another 20 minute-walk along the wall. Bikes can be hired for 3 hours and there are hire places on each side of the wall. There is part at the South gate that is pedestrians only; you get given a ticket to continue the ride on the other side.
The wall is quite amazing! Firstly it is wide – certainly wider that any city wall I have seen before. Secondly, it is complete – you can go all the way around the centre of Xi’an on it. The books say it is 14km (9 miles). Yes, some of it is obviously not original having been restored more recently (I suspect in particular the part near the railway station is relatively new, with its wide, sweeping arches, which, apart from that the structure looks like it is supported by steel, would not give any protection to the town, completely defeating the point of the wall’s obvious defensive purpose elsewhere), but nonetheless I don’t remember any other walled city I have visited having such a complete wall.