Walking the streets of Xi’an

I’m catching a train tonight to Chengdu where my signs supplier is so I decided to take a casual stroll down to the Xi’an wall. This is still the original ancient wall that surrounded the old city and is about 4km by 3km in a rectangular shape. My hotel is on the inside so I thought that if I walked around the inner boundary then I couldn’t get lost.

Here’s a photo of the wall I took last night. It is a real mother of a construction and must be at least 15m thick and 20m high. Even the yanks’ armed forces wouldn’t tear this one down.

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I’d also heard that you could get up onto the top of the wall and rent a pedal bike and take a ride around the wall. Stupidly I didn’t find out where this was and made the assumption that there would be many access points onto the wall. I was wrong of course and after walking 2 sides of the wall I eventually called it a day and left that bicycle ride for another year.

However I did spend time on the streets and went into some really shady places (read that as dodgy places). It was really hot (probably about 35C) so I wasn’t much in the mood to take photos but there were some really interesting sites. Many street food stalls – the one had squid laying in the sun (who knows – maybe that tenderises it?). The cooking pots and utensils gave me the heebie jeebies, so that put an end to eating off the street.

Crossing streets is a nightmare and you should really only cross when the locals cross. It is almost a free for all. They have pedestrian crossings (zebra stripes) on most corners but they are only for decoration. It seems that you have to use intimidation at intersections. Everyone just goes and either work through gaps or play chicken – the buses don’t seem to stop (you want to get into a fight with a bus?) and it works its way down from there. I’ve been in a bus a few times where you think there is going to be a collision when at the last moment the person who is not in the gap stops. They cam miss by a few centimetres. Bicycles and these small electric scooters go anywhere (on pavements, in busways) and they have no rules – across traffic, against traffic.

With all this chaos though I haven’t seen one accident or remnants of an accident. The vehicles aren’t bashed up. Wierd. Maybe they are just brilliant drivers or maybe if you drive to expect an accident you are better aware.

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4 thoughts on “Walking the streets of Xi’an

  1. Will you be doing driving courses for our taxi drivers and bus drivers with your new experiences of traffic and driving in China?

    Enjoy!

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