(Cross Posted from G+)
In Xi’An, you can take the subway to any of the four city gates (each something of a large citadel), climb up onto the city wall and… rent a bike. The wall is well over sixty feet wide, and one of very few intact after China’s recent cultural revolution. And it runs rectangular a total of 18 km – two walls of 6 km running east-west, and two more north-south running 3 km. Making ancient Xi’An 18 square km rectangle. The city has since sprawled well beyond these boundaries, but somehow the walls here have survived, when the walls in almost every other city are almost completely erased. I visited over 10 cities in China, and while they all had walls at one point – only two remained. This one, and the one in Hangzhou.
With many interesting “portally” things along the way – and even more plainly visible on both sides of the wall. The inside teems with commerce and culture, the brilliant progress of a city that is nearly three thousand years old, and the outside more of the same, but growing less focused as the city sprawls away off into the grey, misty, filthy air, off into the distance, as only a Chinese capital city can. Those hazy construction cranes in the background smog are an omni-present symbol in modern China.