My plan is to be at the wall when the bike rental shop opens in the morning. After an easy ride, I’ll eat lunch and hop on the bus to see the Terracotta Warriors with plenty of time. Okay.
I walk to the city wall entrance and climb the stairs to the top to the bike rental shop. There’s only a few people. I get two hours to ride and set a timer for halfway.
The ride is bumpy so there’s no chance of coasting very far after pedaling. The road conditions very. Even at its smoothest, effort is needed. There’s a few pot holes.
There’s pictures of course. Lots of pictures. I see this group of guys posing and I just had to take a shot. They catchup to me and one of them wants a picture with me.
I barely reach the second corner when my timer goes off. Eep! I spent the hour on very little riding and lots of photos.
I set my timer again for thirty minutes to power through. There’s still photos of course but not as much. I notice I’m not the only one rushing.
The sun is higher and the smog is thick in the distance. I’m getting a taste of what Beijing’s air is usually like.
It’s crowded near the entrance and I struggle through the groups of people. The bike shop is in sight…! The city walls aren’t over yet. I walk out at the exit where you’re in a park like intersection facing the front of the wall. I think it would be more impressive at night all lit up.
I leave the city walls behind to find lunch at the Muslim Quarter. I see a line and get in. It’s for a meat sandwich and it’s not the first time seeing a line for it. It’s shredded meat like pulled pork but I don’t really get the reason for the line. I continue on to get freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. I keep seeing this rice dessert on a stick. Apparently they don’t want my money because I had to go to three places before I get one. I think it was supposed to be rolled in sugar but he didn’t have any. With the plums it was good. I also buy some kind of pull apart bread as a snack for later. Gotta do as the locals do.
I hop on the metro to get to the bus. It’s suppose to be near the train station. I’m confused for a moment when I remember that there’s two train stations and as always the names are very similar. I was thinking of the wrong one but was still going in the right direction.
The buses are lined up in lot outside the train station. I look for a grey bus with 305 on it. I see a grey but it’s for the blood bank. Ha. Further away I spot the bus. I just miss it but there’s another one already waiting. I confirm with the attendant that it’s the right bus.
There’s no pattern to buses like many other things. Do I buy a ticket before boarding? Do I buy one as I’m getting on the bus? No, get on and at some point the attendant will come by to exchange your money for a ticket. The stop I need is the last one. That’s easy.
After all the silent pointing, as I’m getting off the bus the attendant tells me in English where the return bus will be and when the last one is. Awkward. I do appreciate when they know or at least try to test their English skills. I get tongue tied with Chinese and I have trouble hearing the proper sounds.
I follow the rest of the group through the parking lot to the ticket office. I go through security and have four buildings to explore. The first is the center piece of the whole place– with the most warrior statues on display. The fight to get along the front railing was intense.
I decide to make my way around and go there last. Big mistake. Despite there being an hour or so left, security starts closing down areas so people can’t linger. Funnel everyone to the exit. I back track from the exit and fight my way to a spot in front. What’s disappointing is you’re so far from the statues. You can’t appreciate all the details that they like to brag about. No two statues are the same! What person could tell at this distance?
The second building (pit 3) is a tiny version of the first. You’re closer but still far above the statues.
The third building (pit 2) is larger than the pervious one. It shows an excavation in process. Basically it’s mostly dirt mounds with some pieces uncovered.
The last building I thought was going to be about weaponry but it was a museum talking about the era of the time of the tomb.
I walk through one of the longest street of souvenirs to the bus stop. The bus is already there and we’re off.
Since I now know which train station I’m at, I take the bus back to the hostel to see if my roommates are around to go to dinner. At least that’s what I wanted to do. I thought there was one more stop but really I ended up passing the hostel! Ugh. The next stop is the Muslim Quarter. I get soup dumplings, eight treasure rice and plum juice. So full!
I’m almost ready to go back when I remember one last site– Bei Yuan Men 144. It’s an old courtyard home that you can walk around and see a traditional shadow puppet show. I arrived a couple minutes before the show. I don’t know the story exactly but am amused by the older couple narrating and their soundtrack. The puppets have simple movements and special effects are based on how close the puppet is to the screen, growing larger or smaller. I really enjoyed the short performance and at the end the couple literally pulled some puppets out from under the rug to show us the mechanics.
And with the end of that it is time for bed!