So we were already inflicted with a case of road rage when we began searching for the hostel we had made a reservation with. We scoured the blocks around the point on the map provided by Hostelworld, and each time we would ask someone on the street for help, they would lead us to an expensive hotel that was not our hostel. When we finally called the place, we could barely make out that we needed to meet the hostel manager at a landmark hospital far from our present location so that he could take us to the rest of the way. Instead, we tried to find a cheap hotel in the location we actually wanted to base out of. However, several receptionists refused to let us take our bicycles into the room, which was the first time we had met any resistance with that in two months of travel. I am telling you, there is no love for the bicycle in Xian.
We gave up and reluctantly cycled to the obscure location of our hostel, where we had to fend off occupants of the 35-floor mixed residential and commercial building in order to squeeze our bikes into one of three slow elevators. The bizarre hostel manager took us up to the 13th floor to check-in, but our room was actually on the 11th, so we got the pleasure of repeating the elevator process again. By the time we got in to our basic room and slurped down some instant ramen from the corner store for dinner, it was 1:00am.
After sleeping in and taking advantage of a free washing machine the next day, we headed to the bustling Muslim Quarter where delicious street snacks were in abundance and we had a great time wandering the streets on foot. Close to sunset, I had the epiphany that we should watch it from Xian's city wall. We raced over to the south gate, bought our pricey tickets, and wheeled our bicycles toward the entrance. The guard pointed to them and shook his hand in the "no" gesture we have become all too familiar with. We argued back knowing that there were bicycle rentals directly above us up on the wall. He made a show of radioing someone to confirm, but did not budge in the end, citing safety concerns. Somehow it is safer to ride a rented bicycle that you are unfamiliar with than your own... I would have rather that he just explained the situation for what is really was: a way to make more money! Anyhow, by the time we locked our bikes up outside the gate and climbed the stairs to the top of the wall, we saw just a sliver of sun set behind some skyscrapers for half a second, so the second aspect of our vision was denied as well.
Since we still wanted to complete the 14-kilometer loop around the wall, we reluctantly walked over to the bike rental station to get an overpriced tandem. We managed to fail at this too since we were short approximately $7.00 on the whopping $34.00 deposit. They preferred to lose a sale rather than trust us not to ride the bike off the wall. Now we were really bumming, but did our best to enjoy strolling along in the dark with the ornate guard towers brightly lit up. Descending the wall, we thought it would be nice to ride back to our hostel via a park alongside the moat encircling the city walls. As soon as we turned off the busy road to enter the park, the security guards gave us that emphatic no-love-for-the-bicycles shake of the hand again. Of course. No one wants us to be on the road and no one wants us to be not on the road. We decided it was time to be done with Xian.