DISTANT LANDS

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A sad farewell to all my co-riders, including Caroline, Gary, and Don shown here. The consolation: I get to join them in September on the Iranian border for the final leg of the Silk Road adventure across Turkey into Istanbul.

I’m always asked, “What were the highlights?” Unequivocally, my co-riders. But I will also miss the beauty of China, its food, people, and the optimism for the future.

What do I most look forward to at home? Cappuccino, IPAs, and popcorn!

Standing archer.

The former farm fields are now beautifully landscaped gardens with museum buildings over the excavated pits.

But it was this former farmer who brought worldwide attention to Xi’ an when digging a well in 1974 he discovered the Terra Cotta Warriors.

According to our tour translator, in the late 1990s, the Chinese government wanted to prepare him for a visit by President Clinton. They gave him a crash course in English with such phrases as “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, and you?”

But when President Clinton arrived he got flustered and said, “Hi, who are you?” Quick with a reply, Clinton said, “I’m Hilary’s husband.” The farmer smiled and said, “Me too!”

Public sculpture is common.

To the east of Xi’ an is the city of Huayin, a popular tourist attraction for the Chinese. Five peaks, including Mount Huashan, prove irresistible for hikers and gondola riders. In the evening, as throughout China, people gather for synchronized Chinese line dancing.

Near Xi’ an, in a seldom-visited road side park, lie relics of the Silk Road going back to the 3rd Century BCE.

The size of New York City at 8.5 million people, Xi’ an is just one of 13 emerging megacities in China. At the official start of the Silk Road, Xi’ an is one of the four ancient capitals of China.

After 13 days and 900+ miles of cycling, we reached the “new” city wall of Xi’ an constructed in 1370. Seven and a half miles in circumference, nearly 40 feet in height, and up to 60 feet thick, the wall is considered the most intact ancient city wall in the world.