Xi’an/China – Beijing/China

I reach the origin of the Silk Road, the city of Xi’an. Here my route crosses the one of Jule and Karsten, friends from Berlin, travelling the world with their backpacks. (www.kreutziger.net) I had the thought, that I could meet them just like that, on their way to their hostel. However, Xi’an “just” has a bit more than 7 Million inhabitants and on this journey so far it happened twice in big cities, in Cairo and in Chengdu that I met somebody again coincidentally. Well and it really happened again. I met them in the middle of the street. The next two days we spend together, stroll the city, eat together, do things for the China-Visa and organise some spare parts for the bike. We saw the woman of the German national football team winning the final of the world champion chip and of course we were chatting a lot. Impressing 28 months they are travelling already and are still curious and open for more. No trace of boredom and aimlessness. It’s nice to meet some friends as them here in Xi’an and I am happy that they stay a day longer because of me. The hostel is a nice one and for the second time I have the feeling, that I could stay a day longer, just to relax or also important, to update the blog. But the remaining days of the Visum let me mount the bike rather earlier than later. Then, the next evening, when I had diner in any of the food places along the road and later when unpacking my sleeping bag on any field, I feel a bit lonely.
Visit of the Terracotta-Army, together with many, many other people. It’s the 1.10., National Holiday and first day of a nationwide week off. But supposedly at this world-famous site it’s always crowed. It is one of the biggest tomb structures worldwide, built with the help of some estimated 700.000 workers. Part of the complex is a complete live-size army of Terracotta soldiers with real weapons and wagons with horses in bronze or clay – about 7300 soldiers and 130 wagons and only a fraction has been excavated so far. The broken soldiers have been put together in an elaborated way, but of the original colours only a few traces remained. Still it is impressing to see the whole ensemble, the huge number of figures, the abilities of the craftsmen of that time and the fact, that there are no two identical figures. I pay with my prominent status. Earlier, 3 times, while eating, some people were so interested about my trip, that I had to get out the Chinese newspaper article, where they describe everything in detail. This way the restaurant owners sponsored my food twice and once another guest. A noodle meal only costs about 50 Eurocent, but it was still a very nice gesture.

The one guest who had paid my meal later brought me to a hotel, which looked much better then the low-budget places, where I normally stay. I wouldn’t have stopped here by myself to ask for a room, but my “guide” insisted, asked me for the newspaper article, disappeared for a while, looking for a telephone. In the lobby of the Hotel people were gathering around me. I was getting a bit impatient, because it was already dark and I was looking for a quiet and reasonable place to rest, while I was feeling still far away from it. At last the hotel management sponsors me a room for one night and a very good breakfast. Another woman wanted to give me about 20 Euro (in Chinese currency), for Chinese relations a lot, I could live with it some days, but I denied friendly. The next morning a TV interview. An official for tourism of the government wanted to fetch another newspaper, but all were in holidays and no reporters available. Unfortunately I missed a school visit as well for the same reason. A teacher was inviting me.
Then I met Dan from England, who started his bike trip in South Korea and wants to cycle to South Africa. (www.koreatocapetown.co.uk.) He definitely will not pass again through Ethiopia, because what had happened to him there on an earlier journey, was bad and painful. He had had an accident there, hit together with a woman on his bike and was himself still under shock, when some guys started to kick him, to hit him with sticks and to throw stones. Also caused of the fall, they left him with broken ribs, a broken arm and a broken shoulder, which now shows a wide scar and also his leg was injured. Hearing that, our own Ethiopia experiences seem to be harmless.
For the first time I also met cyclists with the same direction, a Chinese couple on their way to Beijing. They are members of a bike club and every larger town seems to have bike clubs. They are informed about the arrival of the cyclists, receive them up to 20 km outside of the town and arrange food and accommodation. So I became part of the party. There are invitations to eat and cheap accommodation. Both follow a route plan with fix legs, always staying in cities. Their time plan is quite good, but for my Visa one day to long. So I had to head on alone the next day. Some 100km onwards the reception committee awaits the Chinese couple and wants to invite me as well. “Thank you very much, but I still want to keep on going today” A bit later another member of the club, who was informed by telephone, was waiting for me and I was convinced to stay in this town, again with newspaper interviews and camera man. A big diner in a seafood restaurant with many other members of the bike-club followed. It was a sociable and loud night. Some time later my Chinese friends arrived as well. The food was free, because the owner of the restaurant is club member, as well the hotel, because the owner is the uncle of some club member. The next day we started the three of us. Both go ahead with a firm speed. 70 km onwards they slow down, send me on alone and I add some 100km more this day.

Of the widely broadcasted destruction of the environment in China, I didn’t see much along my route. Only on one leg the air was very contaminated. My clothes looked like they were never washed and after a half day cycling my face and hands were black.
Before I reached Beijing, I managed to cover more than 1200km in 9 days, despite some head wind. Tourbirthday! 1 year on the road. 20700km shows the counter…


translated by Maik

pictures to this article: Xi’an/China – Peking/China : Fotos
press: Yan Zhao Metropolis Daily, China, 10.10.2007

9. Januar 2008 - Tom & Maik | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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