A Travellerspoint blog

Walking The Ancient Xian City Walls

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya So, am I to begin calling Xian home? For some reason I always end up back here! The train journey last night was bloody tiring.....very bloody tiring. We departed Xinyang station around 7:30pm and arrived at Xian nearing 9:00am this morning. All done in Hard Seat. Happily for me though most of it passed by quickly in mist of various conversations with different seats of people who wanted to spend time with a foreigner. For those who know, this of course can become 'too much'. But last night I was more than happy to share my foreign self around. At first it was a young girl, probably in Grade 5 who wanted to ask questions. She was really cool and even though she had never met a foreigner before she was more than happy just to try talking and NOT to force her school books upon me as her aunt was telling her to do. As her attitude was very cool we swapped QQ numbers. Her aunt followed a little later and her English was not so bad. Next up was the beauty next to me who began talking to me a hours later and her English was pretty good but like most, she was hesitant to use it just in case she made a mistake.. Strangely one of the best English speakers I've encounted for a long time was sitting right next to me across the isle. He was around my age and every now and then I could see him wanting to join in the conversations. He even offered to swap his Chinese novel for my English novel without saying anything so I thought he was one of 'those' trying to get a laugh out of me for his friends. It wasn't until several hours later that he began speaking. One of the ladies near me was having trouble understanding something I was trying to describe and I had exhausted all descriptions and then along came Super English Man. It was like being in a movie. Everyone around us simply stopped and for once they stopped staring at me and all stared at him. Then an hour after he joined in he was having trouble understanding what firecrackers were. I was playing charades and blowing things up yet it still wouldn't sink in. Then a girl in her early teens turned around from her seat in the next section and began explaining to him what firecrackers were. Even though she was explaining it in Chinese I remembered the Chinese word for firecrackers once she said it so I knew her comprehension was good. At first I thought her English was much better than his but like with most Chinese once you leave the standard 'text book' topics that is pretty much it. He on the other hand could converse with me on almost anything. Except fire crackers.....hahahaha! She was from Qingdao City (in the coastal province of Shandong) and had only ever spoken to one foreigner before. Being from Qingdao though, she had seen many of them walking around. She was with several other students who were all going to Xian for a week of Summer Camp. He was a Politics Teacher in Xining City in Qinghai Province. As we both got along very well we swapped phone numbers and emails in hope that next summer I will finally get to Xinjiang Province. I will be hoping to head back to 'Main China' through Qinghai Province and he has offered to take me too many places that most never get to see. Around two everyone slowly slumped in what ever sleeping positions possible. I of course felt about as tired as...um...someone who's not tired I guess. I sat up listening to music for most of the night and around half past five a line of people began slowly passing me by on their way to the boiling water tap with their green tea jars ('bloody jam jars' to most foreigners) and instant noodles. By the time we pulled into Xian Station I was very much ready to depart the train as thirteen and a half hours had gone by in hard seat and with the last several days of absolute rest I was ready to run a million miles just to loosen up and feel good again. After saying good bye to everyone I grabbed my pack and walked all the way to the Bell Tower Mc Donald's for a feast of Mc Muffins and elcheapo coffee!. Here I met a happy girl from the Chezch Republic who was munching away on her breakfast. She motioned to join her and over all things 'China' we quickly devoured our food leaving nothing but wrappers and empty coffee cups. She had been in China for only several weeks and would be returning home within the next week. As she seemed in want of an adventure in her life I gave her Buckland's web address and my travelpod address. From the little time we spent talking it seemed as thought she wanted to 'do something' but for the last few years had not done much about doing anything about it. I can only go on a few things she said that reminded me of many similar things I used to say many years ago. Anyhow, I know she will read this soon enough so I will offer once again to help her and her man in any way I possibly can if they do choose to come to China and 'do something'. She then began to make her way towards a day with the Terracotta Warriors and I walked the rest of the way to the South Gate where I checked into the happy hotel Luo Wei and I stayed in last time we were here. They tried charging me nearly double because of the Olympics. I then showed them all my Visas and my receipt from nearly two months ago. The owner, though very sorry for thinking I was a rich American tourist was still hell bent on making me pay the 'Olympic Extra'. After negotiating for awhile we were both happy with 10 Yuan extra. INTERMISSION</b> For those who have read all my blogs for this summer you will have read parts on the Chinese Government making sure that we foreigners stay in 'bigger hotels' for extra safety precautions. Well the most trippy thing just happened and as I write this it is just after midnight and I just had a knock at the door. Standing there was the hotel security and two policemen! I nearly began jumping around yelling 'I didn't do it! I didn't do it!' But I didn't have anyone to point at to pin the blame on so I chose to remain quiet. They all filed into my room and with my heart pounding the police then began showing me how to lock the door using the door lock, the swingy arm thingy and the slide lock thingy. It wasn't until I had shown them I knew what to do that they were happy enough to leave. I then went down stairs to get a beer and found two security staff sleeping on the couches in the foyer. They weren't there when Luo Wei and I where here at the beginning of July. I would say they will be here tomorrow night and maybe the next if I decide to stay. As the Olympics finished tonight I would say the extra security it will end soon after.. OK, let's go back many hours as I'm getting myself confused. I slept from eleven to four in the afternoon and then decided to head out in search of something to do. I wandered around aimlessly and soon found myself back at the South Gate. I then decided to do something I had never done here in Xian yet I had done in Kaifeng and Chongwu. It was time to see the city from on top of the city walls! <u>Xian</u>[/i]<u> City</u>[/i]</b><u> Walls: (I think this was from www.travelchina.com)</u>[/i]</b> </b> [/i] One of only two cities with intact surrounding walls in China. [/i] [/i] Xian's has been restored and is wide enough to easily ride 5 bikes across. You can hire one at the top of the South gate. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes approximately 3 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers.[/i] [/i] When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should 'built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,' so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. [/i] [/i] After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang dynasty (618 -907), creating the modern Xian City Wall. It's the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. [/i] [/i] After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it. [/i] [/i] Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. Besides, the distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side, so that they could shoot the enemy, who wanted to attack the city, from the side. [/i] [/i] On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5948 crenellations, namely battlements. The soldiers can outlook and shoot at the enemy. On the inner side, parapets were built to protect the soldiers from falling off. [/i] [/i] Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north. The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one.[/i] [/i] It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square.[/i] [/i] Each city gate has three gate towers: Zhenglou, Jianlou and Zhalou. The most outside is Zhalou, which stands away from the City Wall and is opposite to Zhenglou. It was used to raise and lower the suspension bridge. Jianlou with small windows in the front and flanks was used as a defensive outpost. Zhenglou, in the inner, is the main entrance to the city. The wall connects Jianlou and Zhenglou Towers. The area between them within the wall was called 'Wong Cheng', in which the soldiers stationed. From Wong Cheng, there are sloped horse passages leading to the top of the city wall. Initially, the wall was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract. [/i] [/i] Throughout the time Xian City Wall has been restored three times. [/i] [/i] In 1568, Zhang Zhi (the government officer of that period) was in charge to rebuild the wall with bricks. In 1781, another officer, Bi Yuan, refitted the city wall and the gate towers. More recently (since 1983) the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the city wall again. A circular park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xian.[/i] <u>So how was my adventure on the city wall?</u> I loved it and would suggest it to anyone who comes to Xian though I would probably suggest to hire a bike and not walk it like me. As stated above, the walls are around fourteen kilometers around and if you don't stop and look around and do nothing but walk staring straight ahead then you would not only be an idiot but you would complete it in around three hours. But! If you begin around four thirty in the afternoon, stop to admire many of the views of not only the city but the actual wall and its moat, zig zag here and there and do it at a relaxing pace then the walk will take you around five (or more hours). Not only will you get to see a lot more of both inside and the outside of the walls of Xian City but your day will slowly turn to night when you are around three quarters though your walk. The entire walk way is lined with red lanterns and small towers. As the days light slowly fades the wall and tower lights come on to begin to show you your way. Adding to that, both inside and outside of the wall the city also begins to turn on its colourful neons for the night. All this creates a memorable experience that I guess you would miss if you hire a bike to do it in under an hour. Life is what you make it and it is your time and your choice. Also being in a city such as Xian you must choose wisely. I have been to Xian city on many occasions and now that it has become my 'home' (so to say) I can now relax and do things at a much more relaxed pace. Though I have seen much of what Xian has to offer there is so much more that I haven't seen and both Luo Wei and I will be using any time possible to see many of these over the next year. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by Live The album was 'Throwing Copper' __________________________________________________________

Xian City Wall Adventure

Xian City Wall Adventure


1-Xian City Wall Adventure

1-Xian City Wall Adventure


2-Xian City Wall Adventure

2-Xian City Wall Adventure


3-Xian City Wall Adventure

3-Xian City Wall Adventure


4-Xian City Wall Adventure

4-Xian City Wall Adventure


5-Xian City Wall Adventure

5-Xian City Wall Adventure


6-Xian City Wall Adventure

6-Xian City Wall Adventure


7-Xian City Wall Adventure

7-Xian City Wall Adventure


8-Xian City Wall Adventure

8-Xian City Wall Adventure


9-Xian City Wall Adventure

9-Xian City Wall Adventure


10-Xian City Wall Adventure

10-Xian City Wall Adventure


11-Xian City Wall Adventure

11-Xian City Wall Adventure


12-Xian City Wall Adventure

12-Xian City Wall Adventure


13-Xian City Wall Adventure

13-Xian City Wall Adventure


14-Xian City Wall Adventure

14-Xian City Wall Adventure


15-Xian City Wall Adventure

15-Xian City Wall Adventure


16-Xian City Wall Adventure

16-Xian City Wall Adventure


17-Xian City Wall Adventure

17-Xian City Wall Adventure


18-Xian City Wall Adventure

18-Xian City Wall Adventure


19-Xian City Wall Adventure

19-Xian City Wall Adventure


20-Xian City Wall Adventure

20-Xian City Wall Adventure


21-Xian City Wall Adventure

21-Xian City Wall Adventure


22-Xian City Wall Adventure

22-Xian City Wall Adventure


23-Xian City Wall Adventure

23-Xian City Wall Adventure


24-Xian City Wall Adventure

24-Xian City Wall Adventure


25-Xian City Wall Adventure

25-Xian City Wall Adventure


26-Xian City Wall Adventure

26-Xian City Wall Adventure


27-Xian City Wall Adventure

27-Xian City Wall Adventure


28-Xian City Wall Adventure

28-Xian City Wall Adventure


29-Xian City Wall Adventure

29-Xian City Wall Adventure

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login