You don’t need film.
My final full day in Xi’an started slowly as I didn’t roll out of my bed until 11 am and leave the room till about noon. I guess I was more tired than I thought.
I made a plan to go see the two famous goose pagodas in Xi’an the small one and the big one. I knew some of the history behind one of them, but overall I was just on a “wild goose” chase to see the Wild Goose Pagodas. (I think I’m just beating my dad to the comment section with the Wild Goose chase joke. Pre-emptive jokes are hard to beat)
I was impressed with both of them, but particularly impressed with the mini museum next to the Small Goose Pagoda. The big goose pagoda was quite interesting well. If you’ve heard of Journey to the West a famous Chinese folk tale this pagoda has quite significance to that story. However the highlight of my day was riding a bike around the city wall.
Many Chinese city walls are not intact if even noticeable at all, However they have refurbished and rebuilt an entire portion of the wall in Xi’an. It encircles some of the more Historic parts of the central part of Xi’an. I entered at the South Gate and rented a bike for 20 RMB to ride around the wall.
I started off and it was another hot day in Xi’an. My plan had been to ride the city wall till about nightfall, watch the sunset and take photos along the wall.
I rode around each turn with each bump and hole in the city wall walkway rumbling beneath me as I rode across with the city below me. The bike I was given was not quite the best bike I’ve ever ridden on, in fact it might have been one of the worse, but for 20 RMB I cannot complain too much.
So turning round the east side I felt the sun as it shined in my face and the breeze followed me and kept me cool high above the streets below. I made each subsequent return stopping periodically for a photo and drink of water. I rumbled over to the West gate where the sun had begun to sink low and sky grew darker in the east.
I pulled out my camera to begin to take some photos, but then I stopped.
This trip had been full of finding “that photo” or telling “that story” but I hadn’t just stopped and wondered at the beauty of something. So I did. I put my camera away and put my fingers together as to frame the photo and I flashed in my memory a mental photograph of the sunset.
That moment seemingly simple and perfect left me watching the sunset slowly dip into the west as the breeze blew the beads of sweat on my brow away.
I rode my bike to the end of my journey with the last bits of the sun disappearing behind my back. I turned back as I was looking back at an old memory or an old friend. My western sunset and I were in that moment seeing each other eye to eye and face to face. I’ll always remember it.
A photograph stored away for another day.
Photos below are of the small goose pagoda and big goose goose pagoda before and some on the wall before I decided to put away my camera. I know it’s ironic to have photos on a post named mental photography, but I figured you’d want a little photographic evidence.