Capital in capital

XI ' year in Beijing we discover one another China. Urban China, North China so different from that of the South. But it is also 15 days of reception by great people.


After 6 h of bus, we arrive at Xi' year on 24 April. This city, which has a history of more than 3 100 years, was the capital of China and was then named Chang'an (2nd century BC). The old centre is still surrounded by a wall and moat. But unfortunately apart from here and a few episodic households, the soul of the city and its history were not preserved; It looks very much like another Chinese city... What a pity! Today, it is one of the ten largest city of China, with 6 to 8 million people.

First Chinese warmshower

We spend 3 days in the city, greeted at one warmshower adorable: 'Link'! It also welcomes the first day 2 other riders - do you know if you follow our adventures of almost -: Kim and Simon, of bike4afuture. We spend very good moments to share all 5, then all 3. Link is someone's very generous, we leave the bags a little more alourdies by ancient Chinese coins and lucky charm bracelets. It is also a very good cook; He is super good food and teaches us to make Dumplings.
His sister is a student hairdresser and wonder if it can put makeup on me and styling me: the face and hair of the European are very different from Asians, it makes it a good exercise, explain to me. In short, a family in gold!

A few visits

In the city, after a first impression very average, there's still a few sympathetic neighborhoods.
There is a park around the ramparts which is very nice. And still the elderly - often, but not that - who play, dance, make of taichi, music, physical exercises, discuss... The atmosphere found in parks in China is a really a trick that we will keep in memory!

There is also the Muslim district of Xi'an, where one finds the lively atmosphere and the bustle of the Turkey; There are even smells of this country, and especially the smell of coal. The Chinese papis with their white beards and their djellaba that chatter before the mosque we are beautiful images.

Terracotta Army

XI' year is also the city of Army of Earth soldiers cooked. This army, dating from 210 BC, had intended to keep the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Tomb, not far away. All was discovered in 1974. Today it is one of the most popular tourist places of China; and who says popular said exorbitant price and host mass. All that we love... But still, we regret not to be gone! We were first in the small museum where a very interesting exhibition explains the colors of soldiers - originally, all were painted after cooking, and in every detail. First look - very carefully - these mysterious soldiers with faces all different, and their horses in terracotta.

Then, we did not visit in the traditional sense; but as it had advised it us, completed by the main room: one keeps the best for last! Wise decision, which allowed us to discover little by little these large pits where are / were buried thousands of Terra Cotta soldiers. In the end, despite the crowds, it is a very impressive place.

Tuesday, April 28, we are ready to roll all night (by bus!) in the direction of the current capital... Beijing, Beijing, the city to the 9 million bikes.
But before... We have the bad surprise to discover that the station that sold us the ticket is not the starting point of the bus for Beijing. Slim, it has been having as Blues by touts when we bought the ticket! …
Station, a lady with us to get a first bus... which deposited us on the edge of the road, where the sleeper bus must pass. When he arrived, the driver of the bus-berth is all a story for our bikes despite the fact that on have "bent them" so they take minimal space (remove the wheels and turn the handlebars), loose not the case, threatens to leave us there and obliges us to pay 100 yen extra - money that goes of course directly in his pocket!
The bus is old, inside the cleanliness of the berths is limit and berths are of course too small for Thomas who finds himself the head back and rounded back; but we still spend a night not too bad.



At 7 o'clock, come us to Beijing!
We spend almost 10 days, interspersed by 3 days to go and see the great wall of China.
We were again greeted by super hosts: Tony, a met french Laos at the bottom of the Boloven plateau ; and Ina, a warmshower Dutch, prof of English in Beijing. Like the other one they helped us much, and it has shared great moments.

To start with the negative, our "disappointment" in Beijing: we were flying on our bikes the elements that could withdraw easily: bag saddle with the bike (too well multi-tool, patches...) repair equipment, lights, 2 tensioners, and... our french flag! It was not too serious, but damn annoying! Fortunately, they did not hit our stools formed after more than 9000 kms well to our butt!

Beijing is a city with very many expatriates. Suddenly, food level, it is hyper varied, found everything: lacquered duck (traditional dish of Beijing) at the restaurant Spanish, Turkish or Russian; passing through the grocery store "Chez Gerard" where it was found that cooking a french meal for Ina and his roommate (with cheese, fresh bottle of wine of Hérault, cream for a whipped cream with strawberries! Yum!). Short, for once well cracked it and it has been fun Western food level!

In Beijing, we were able to repair our bikes with the help of Chang. This architect sino-anglais, passionate about cycling, has spent 3 hours with us to seek a new carrier before Thomas, in stores and on the Internet. And the same day, he introduced in his circle of friends (expatriates mostly) and at its weekly meeting Wednesday cine, with that day there showing a philosophical film on the ideology based on analysis of films. Amazing to see this in China, and exciting!


Beijing is one of the (few?) cities of the country where the history is a little present. It is already in its Hutongthat we find a China as seen in the movies. These narrow streets and traditional houses of full-foot, gray brick, give a village atmosphere. You get lost in its streets with the sandstone of our desires and it is always very nice.

We visited the Lama Temple (Les Lamas in Buddhism are people with an advanced level of spiritual realization). It is a Tibetan temple, where one finds these colours we liked both in Sichuan. It is a very beautiful place.
We have the pleasure to see in true our first true Tibetan Mandala (IE sand!), and I spent a long time watching every detail: too good!

But also, we have been to the Summer Palace. This Palace is in a huge park of lakes and hills, designed to meet the Chinese philosophy of balance between man and nature. It was built by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty in the 18th century. In short, much of the world for those early spring days in Beijing, but a beautiful place.

And above all,. the forbidden citythe place where Chinese Emperors lived. Two days before the visit, we looked at the film The last emperorwell, what has helped us to locate the place and its history.
We enter this succession of large courtyards and palaces. The place is super well preserved and very impressive. In the main course, there are many, it feels like sometimes a first day of balances so some grow to see first. Then on the side West, it is more quiet. visit homes, places women's lives in the Palace. And on the side is in the Museum of treasures, observed carefully the jewelry of the emperors (unlike some Chinese who take pictures and leave without even having watched the object directly). What was pleasant to us the most, it is Opera emperors, and the explanatory model/Cup. This opera is a very beautiful and ingenious construction!
Short, the forbidden city, a huge place and worth the visit!

The place Tian' Tiananmen : from the aesthetic point of view, the place has nothing exceptional. But the event that is passed There are 26 years make it a special place... Found more in detail these events with our passage to Beijing, terrible part of Chinese history. And there is even a special atmosphere. At the entrance from the square, it is identity for everyone, and even record the identity of the Chinese who are returning. The on-site monitoring is omnipresent: hundreds of surveillance cameras, military and police stationed every 50 metres.
Big Bother is watching you...

The great wall of China

As was said above, we interrupted our Pekingese stay by a round trip by bike to the great wall of China. Encountered expatriates had advised us a place, Great Wall Fresh. In all respects it has met our expectations, we keep beautiful memories...

We first drove 85 kms to find this guest house. The output of Beijing is fairly easily, even if we have not bad pestered so unpredictable driving of the Chinese. After 40 km of city and flat start mountains. It moves next to two sights of the great wall of China. It is all renovated, it gives a good overview of what could be. But we remain on the road and continue our way.

Arrived at the Great Wall Fresh guesthouse, it made the acquaintance of a whole group of anglophones, teachers of English at Beijing (Yes, still!). They announce that they plan to mount on the wall tonight to make a fire. After a super dinner all together, we climb to the wall and we spend an unforgettable evening in this so mythical place, illuminated by the full moon.

The next morning, Chen, the owner of the guesthouse takes us by car to the foot of the wall. She is damn damaged, just maintained so we can walk there, and must sometimes stand and pay attention to the stones that slide. We wanted an authentic place and not too touristy, could not be timelier! We are all alone to walk. The landscapes are beautiful, and the mountains in front of us, the only element created by humans seems to be this wall which can be seen a few other pieces. Trees are a bright green, the little flowers grow on the path, it smells good spring! Okay, there is still a sacred wind on these heights; We picnic sheltered from the wind, in the Sun. The suite, which is part of a more "family" 2nd loop is less sporty, but also pretty.

Note to go to GreatWallFresh do not expect to arrive at the bottom of the Valley to follow the indications given by the web site at paragraph"Drive yourself"as we did - the road is misleading to a place and it can prevent you from losing an hour!

In short, we return to Beijing with beautiful images full head!

Small Bonus!

  • Since the beginning of China it is surprised by the infants pants: not the crotch seam! Suddenly, easier for the little pee alone, and as a result, they are own much faster!
    We managed to get a picture for you!
    For the record: in Sichuan, in the Tibetan family where we were welcomed, le petit qui devait avoir tout au plus 18mois s’est arrêté à un moment au milieu du salon, s’est accroupi, et psss… pipi sur le beau parquet du salon ! 🙂
  • And another bonus, some pictures of the Pekingese Skytrain and its controls of baggage systematic but unnecessary (I went with my Swiss army knife without problem)...