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July 14th 2015
Published: July 19th 2015
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Xi'an is the start of the Silk Road.

We had two full days here. The first day was a bright and early start to get to HuaShan, one of the five sacred mountains of Taoism. This is a truly spectacular, and surprisingly expensive, place. We semi cheated by taking the cable car part of the way up before hiking the rest of the way. Plenty of incredible views, sweating, a little swearing but no spiritual revelations for us. On the sheer face of the south peak is an amazing only-in-China experience, the plank walk, a narrow (~40cm wide) "path" bolted to the side of a 2000m vertical drop. The whole thing is a bit chaotic, you pay your CNY30 and are strapped into a safety harness, then it's down a vertical ladder to the walk itself which is about 30m long. It's 2 way so those going out use the lower safety line to clip on to and stay closer to the wall, those coming back use the upper safety line and go around the outside of those going the other way !!! We loved it and surprisingly never felt in any real danger. After completing the circuit of all the peaks we took a different cable car back down, in itself a spectacular journey and great feat of engineering.

The second day was more sedate but special in it's own way with a visit to the Terracotta Warriors. The scale, time, effort and resources needed to create the warriors, horses, carriages and artifacts is astonishing - years of work by hundreds of thousands of people all to be buried to protect their emperor, amazing. That night we headed to the Muslim Quarter for dinner which, as always in China, was delicious - but no beer, a taste of things to come as we head further west.

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