The Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I left Beijing and caught the train to Xi’an, I’ve been in contact through email to meet up with a friend of a friend to start cycling with and as she is on the road already I’ve arranged to meet her in Xi’an where she’s due to arrive in a few days.  Her plan is cycling from Beijing to Melbourne where she’s from, and it follows the basic route I plan on taking which is down through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and eventually to Australia, so why not by bike, it seems like an adventure to me.  So I head off to meet her and redirect delivery of my bike that I just ordered online while in Malaysia, to the hostel in Xi’an after clearance by customs, fingers crossed!  

The accessories I ordered with the bike arrived in Beijing soon after I got there, Sarah and I opened everything up and both did a double take at the saddle, knocked it a few times and burst out laughing… it is rock hard and looks like it will be hell to break in, what am I letting myself in for!  I then had to haul this huge box onto the train and squeeze it under the table I was sitting at for 12 hours until I reached Xi’an, the train journey was funny, I got many strange stares being the only ‘lao wai’ in sight.  

On the train everyone was eating what looked like giant pot noodles, they got their boiling water from a tap at one end of the carriage which seemed to have an endless queue.  A few of the guys beside me had a couple of pots but I can’t get over the size of them, they must be double what you would get at home.  Needless to say on a 12 hour journey as it seemed to be the only food around I ended up having one, but thankfully inside was a small fork so I didn’t have to embarrass myself trying to use chopsticks, I have to admit it was pretty tasty and not what I imagined it would be like, with 3 sachets to add instead of the usual one, it made all the difference.

So when I arrived at the hostel Jane was waiting for me, first impressions she seems ok, I’m surprised actually at her deciding to wait on me but from talking to her I think she’s more looking for company for the camping side of things, after all I haven’t cycled in years so I’m no help on that front, but I’m a dab hand at the ole camping.  After a couple of days and still no joy on the bike front, I was relieved when Jane went off to Hong Kong to renew her Chinese visa, it’s stressful enough waiting for deliveries never mind someone else breathing down your neck when it’s something out with your control... the joys!

Anyway I was delighted when Sarah arrived after me from Beijing, we visited the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an together which I loved, the scale once again is mind blowing there are thousands and thousands of warriors and their horses which have been uncovered in a number of excavations.  These have been skillfully pieced back together to stand as they once would have in an impressive display for everyone to see, set in a huge purpose built hangers.  We spend hours walking around, taking photographs and enjoying the displays, explanations, examples of excavations and how they are pieced back together, plus viewing some pits which are still being worked on until it’s finally time to get the bus back to Xi’an.  We had a fun day and I managed another tick off my ‘must see’ list that I’ve got going on in my head, although maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but I really enjoyed.  

Xi’an does ‘big’ as impressively as Beijing and Sarah and I have several outings wandering around the city, the layout is easy to find your way around and we’re in and out of several of the many, many malls which Chinese cities are full of, they love their 'bling' and there’s plenty of it around.  Near one of the malls a man is flying what appears to be several kites on a bridge over to one of the malls, there’s loads of kites all attached so a big line of them is heading up into the sky, various people are having as go at flying the kite but I’d be too scared of letting it go.  

Xi’an is a beautiful walled city and the architecture is stunning, I love the old pagodas and the wall with it's towers, and I enjoy being a tourist while I wait on my bike arriving.  Sarah and I went to look for bike shops one of the days and found loads of them, the Chinese seem to have shops together i.e. one street selling only bags, another selling only shoes, and the one we found was selling only bike stuff, I was in heaven.  From wee electric bikes to three wheel bikes, motorbikes and push bikes, this street has everything you could imagine all new or spares and repairs or accessories however, I don’t manage to find what I’m looking for until the next group of bike shops that I find.  I ask the young guy who served me if he would help put my bike together for me (when it arrives) which he agrees and I gave him the hostel name and my telephone number.

Thankfully my bike eventually arrives after customs held it for a full ten working days for no reason; I didn’t get any explanation from them just a duty to pay.  We spent a good couple of hours working on putting it all together and the young guy from the bike shop  (Lui Hui) was delighted to see I had bought a Brooks saddle, he held it in wonder as a thing of beauty, I got a major thumbs up for that one, so much for Sarah and I laughing.  He loved the bike and all the changes that had been made (which were recommended by John Mc, thanks for your help and support) and wished me well on my travels.  So after my first wee scoot out, a few adjustments of the saddle, handlebars etc the bike is feeling good and is in fact very comfortable which I'm really pleased about, it has all the best gears, cranks, wheels and now saddle of course so I am hoping it all serves me well.  

So after a relieved email from Jane when the bike arrived, on her return from Hong Kong she took one look at my bike and made some comment about having the wrong size of tyres, I can tell she’s not impressed as it’s not a 'custom built touring bike' (maybe the sign of things to come!)  anyway it’s time to bite the bullet without further a-do and head off to start cycling my way through China.  I say goodbye to Sarah who I hope to meet up with again on my travels and I get organised with my bike and all my camping gear for a new part to my adventures.

So, first stop from Xi’an is Chengdu which takes me over mountains with high passes… so wish me luck   I’ll certainly need it!!
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Nima sherpa bharkhule on

Hi clare , What of amazing and beauty place you arrived It,s unbelible. miss you so much.

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