I’d previously been to Xi’an in 2008 so my sole purpose of coming here was to recharge my batteries. I arrived on Monday evening and originally planned to leave on Friday morning which would have given me three whole days of rest. It’s now Friday as I write and as you can see I decided to stay an extra day. It’s funny a number of people when they see me online always seem to comment ‘why aren’t you riding?’
I almost feel like I have to justify myself for staying an extra day. The thinking behind it is simple. Xi’an is a very tourist friendly destination. For example there are plenty of good places to eat both Western and Chinese. In addition it’s nice to also be able to blend in amongst other foreigners of which there are many in Xi’an.
I’ve been staying at my first hostel of the trip; Jano’s Backpackers just a stones throw from the famous Bell Tower. The room is cheap but comfy. The upstairs part of the hostel is in actual fact a Belgian bar. When I arrived in the dorm room it was only occupied by me and a Chinese guy named Xiao Yang who also works here. In a 6 bed dorm room I thought this was a result with just the two of us here. At about 11:30 that night as I lay in my bunk bed I was awoken by four very drunk English people stumbling into the room, 3 guys and 1 girl. They were really drunk and after a couple of minutes two of them left the room and went on a mission to find more alcohol. The other two passed out on their respective beds. Always the English isn’t it!
I met them all the next day and they were at great pains to apologize for waking me up, not that it mattered to me. It turned out that they were all 23-24 years old and teachers in the neighboring province. It almost reminded me of me when I was first in China. I went out later that evening for a few beers with them and we swapped stories of living in China.
I’d like to say that I’ve been busy going around all the tourist spots but the honest truth is I haven’t. Like I said I was here in 2008 and I ticked off most of the things namely the world famous Terracotta Warriors then. I’ve always found big tourist attractions a little bit of a disappointment in China as your ferried in with the masses and usually charged exorbitant prices.
The fact that my trip also coincided with a major Chinese holiday that of Qingming or Tomb sweeping festival was also another reason not to be out amongst the hordes of people on the streets.
I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on this blog, check over the bike, repack my panniers and eat plenty of good food of which there are numerous options in Xi’an. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had the bike too as it’s meant I’ve been able to ride all around the city and perhaps see parts of it that other tourist don’t get to see. Today I rode all the way around the inner wall of the city.
However the time has come to leave and I’ll be off tomorrow morning. I’ll miss the hostel and being able to talk freely in English once again but it’s time to go again. I have about 2700km to Urumqi which will be my last destination in China. Tomorrow I will start riding towards Lanzhou; it’s about 650km away so I guess I’ll be there in 5 or 6 days depending on the weather and that dreaded wind. I may also rest there for a day but I’ve heard it’s the most polluted city in China so with that in mind I doubt I’ll be there for too long.
I think it’s about time to break out the tent too and start camping soon especially if the weather stays as good as it has been these last few days. I’ve stocked up on pasta so I’ve food now for when I camp.
Well that’s all from Xi’an. Thanks to everyone who has given me positive feedback on the blog. I’ll admit I don’t find it easy to write, it requires a real level of discipline to keep it up but I’m sure in years to come when I look back on this trip it will be nice for me to have a permanent record of what I did.