Our wake up call came through at 6am this morning to ensure we were ready to board the bus at 7.30am. After almost an hour on the bus we arrived at Nanjing Airport and checked in for our flight to Xian. There were a few anxious moments as some people found their suitcases close to the allowed weight limit – and the best shopping is yet to come!
On the way to the airport our guide, Sam, said goodbye to us and sang us all two songs – one in English and one in Chinese. Lewis made a speech thanking him for looking after us so well and teaching us a great deal about China. He presented Sam with one of our tour shirts and an Aussie Rules football.
When it was time to board we walked down onto the tarmac and caught a bus out to our plane. The flight took about 1 hour and 40 minutes and we passed over a very dry and rocky mountain range as we approached Xian. The weather is much drier here and it seems there is more smog in the air than anywhere we have been so far.
We had another 50 minute bus ride to our hotel and the check in was a nightmare! despite the best effort of our guide to arrange everything yesterday the hotel insisted on waiting for us to arrive before they worked out our rooms. It was a long wait for room keys and a long wait for elevators before we finally saw our rooms.
Everyone dumped their luggage quickly and headed back downstairs for our visit to the Ancient City Wall. It was fantastic! We entered over the drawbridge and walked around to a huge courtyard where a performance of drumming and dancing was just starting. This was a great introduction to the wall and got us all fired up after a long day on planes and buses. After the performance many of us posed for photos with the guards and soldiers from the performance and we then walked up onto the top of the wall.
Most of us chose to hire bikes to ride the 14km circuit around the top of the wall. What a fantastic way to experience the wall and its history. Others chose to do a little walking and then watch the spectacular acrobatic performance. We discovered this wall was the inner-wall and the Emperor and his family lived inside this huge area. Originally there was an outer wall as well. There was a mixture of tandem and single bikes hired and those involved seem to relish to opportunity to do some exercise. Wyatt and Georgie ran into some trouble about a third of the way around when the back seat of their tandem broke after taking a big bump at high speed. Mr Chester and Mr Johnston swapped the broken seat with one from a bike chained up at another hiring point and helped them on their way. About half way around Cameron from Neerim started having trouble with his bike. It became worse and could not be pedalled so Mr Johnstopn and Mr Chester pushed him the rest of the way around as they rode their tandem.
We finished the ride in the dark and the wall and the observation towers looked fantastic all lit up with bright lights and lanterns. Once we all returned from our cycling adventures it was time for dinner and then home to bed for an early night.