We began our trip to this very ancient city by taking the super-modern Maglev train to the Pudong airport. This state-of-the-art magnetic levitation train transports passengers 20 miles in a mere seven minutes. For 50 RMB (one-way ticket), you can get to the airport in a flash, and experience the thrill of going from 0 to 427 km/h in just five minutes:
(It was my poor photography skills – and not the speed of the train – that prevented me from getting a smooth shot on this second picture. But you get the idea, right? It’s a FAST train.)
But getting back to the airport…
Thanks to our own personal tour guide, we were able to do just that. Bob, a private driver who contracts work through the Hyatt Hotel, picked us up at Xi’an’s airport (40 minutes away from the city) and right away offered us an optional sightseeing stop on the way to into town:
This was the first of several archaeological dig sites we would visit over the next two days. Since Ryan’s a dinosaur fan, he especially enjoyed seeing these dirt pits full of bones. But no Tyrannosaurus Rex here…
A theme of old vs. new seemed to be running through our adventure. We took the modern Maglev to begin our journey to a historic ancient city full of relics from the past. Yet the city is far from old anymore.
The contrasts continued as Bob drove us through the hectic streets of this booming manufacturing hub:
Xi’an’s famous city wall soon came into view. We had read that renovation had recently been completed to the wall so visitors could now walk or bike around the entire top. After a visit to the bell tower, we attempted to gain access to the wall, but were repeatedly unsuccessful. We walked the perimeter of one section where we had been told there was an entrance. But it was smack in the middle of a dangerous roundabout loaded with speeding cars, bikes and buses. Ryan was a trooper, following along during our futile attempt to get on the wall. Eventually, we sat for a drink and felt kinda like the guy at the table behind us:
So we gave up. Some walls are just not meant to be scaled…by us, anyway! We took it as a sign that we should be hunting out some good food instead of access to an ancient wall. Good warriors we’d make, huh?
We’ll be laughing about our adventure mishap for a really long time. And we started over dinner — yummy pizza and a round of darts at the Hyatt’s pub and pizzeria:
Bob was coming back at 8 am to take us to see the Terracotta Army, so we were soon off to bed. Part two of our Xi’an excursion will continue tomorrow…