Xi An, a better surprise!

My train arrived to Xi An on time. Despite it was an early arrival, people woke up me even earlier (6am) and then the coach assistant woke me up again at 6.30 for changing my card for the ticket I had changed when taking the train. I never found out what the card was and there was no door in the compartment because I obviously was travelling in the cheap class.

After a sweet or two everything looks better early in the morning and I went to the tourism information office outside the station to ask for a map and information about what bus I could take until the Westin hotel where my host was working and we had arranged to meet. The personal was as helpful as usual (very little and also very rude) and I went in the other side of the station to get a ticket to get out of Xi An in a couple of days. There were no tickets for sleeper and I didn’t feel as adventurous as taking an overnight train of 14 hours in a seat, also because I knew how the seats were going to be and I decided to stay one more day. Anyways, accommodation is free and it was raining that day so I could take it easy and relax. I had enough days and although I was taking a day from Beijing I felt it was fine.

Once everything was sorted I felt ready to take the bus to the Westin hotel. I arrived there with my shorts, my sandals, my raincoat and soaked. An overly nice guy welcomed me the minute he saw me and asked me to see if he could help me. Wow. This is what happens when people pay, they get the service as well. And now I do because I am here. I told him I was meeting a friend there because she was working there and I would text her by the free public Wi-Fi in the hotel. He invited me to sit down and in between, a couple that was getting married left the hotel with the whole show of the fake rose petals all over the place. Anyways, Huiyuan, my host, answered me and told me she wasn’t working but she would come to pick me up and I waited for her. She arrived in a taxi and we went to her place after eating together something that would be between breakfast and lunch for me. We arrived at the house and we relaxed and fell asleep. I had a great siesta, it had been a very long time since the last one and I was tired enough to manage to sleep two hours no problem. Also, I had planned to climb mount Huasan, but it was further than I thought and the rain wouldn’t allow. Apparently it is a quite dangerous climb already… So I desisted on my first ideas and preferred to sleep

I only woke up thinking that maybe she wanted to do something and I was going to be sleeping all the time…but she was chilled as well.

Then, she asked me if I was hungry and as every time I take a nap, I was. We went for food although only I ate and then she told me she would call her friend that speaks Spanish and I could speak Spanish. I was happy with that and an Indian guy living in China and speaking Spanish appeared 10 minutes after. After speaking a while, seeing that it was only the two of us, he invited me to go for a glass of wine to his place, just 14 floors above in the same building. I rarely say no to wine and we went up and were chatting about life in India, because I never get tired of it and because you can speak about this for hours and hours and it never ends. We also talked about my host, how they met each other and that typical stuff and I confirmed what I already suspected: she was a daddy’s girl getting a lot of money from him. She was great anyways, and always asking me what I needed and if I was feeling okay and all. Really thoughtful.

After a couple of glasses I felt I was getting too happy and told him I wouldn’t drink more and I was tired which I actually was. He dropped me back to Huiyuan’s place and after, he was going to get some food and as she wasn’t going to eat anything, I came down with him to grab some noodles to take away and eat them back at his apartment. Then he dropped me downstairs again and I prepared to go to sleep also again. Another guy that was sleeping in the other room was around as well but he didn’t say much and the situation with him seemed weird for some reason even though Huiyuan had told me “my friend is staying here, sometimes he does sometimes he doesn’t I hope you don’t mind”. He didn’t seem his friend but I wasn’t sure about the situation and didn’t want to ask.

By next day my host woke up super early and I of course stayed in bed. I enjoyed the feeling and sleep and sleep and… God, I had to get up and do something with myself, I couldn’t spend ANOTHER day sleeping!

So, I got up and got my shit together. Had for breakfast the leftovers from the previous night that became handy to help me because I was still feeling tired and made my way out. I closed the door, locked it and outside the building I decided I wanted to take some food from the street stalls for later. Or not because then I realised I forgot my wallet in the house and there was no way in back. In the drowsy stated I was that morning, I could have left my head, but fortunately that one is attached to my shoulders (for no purpose). I thought about what to do and came back up to knock the door of the Indian guy, in case he was staying there and could help me out. But he wasn’t. Then, I came back to Huiyuan’s to get Wi-Fi from her apartment and text her. She wasn’t answering and I knew she was at the Westin, so I told her I would go there but it would take me a while because I would have to walk as I had not a single coin for taking a bus.

Almost an hour later I arrived to the Westin hotel, where they received as friendly as always and then managed to talk to Huiyuan. She offered to give me the keys of her house but as I told her, I don’t have money to go to your house again and then I need to bring them back to make sure you can go to your house once you finish work. Maybe it would be possible to borrow some money instead? She immediately agreed asking me how much I needed and I gave her a high number because I wanted to go to see the Xian terracotta warriors and that had been my plan for the day. I asked for 200 yuans that she very quickly made 300 just in case. I felt terribly bad because I absolutely hate asking for money and having any kind of trouble because of such a stupid thing as money. I tend to think money gets the worse of the people and creates many more problems than it solves. So it made me a bit paranoid of what she could be thinking of me or if I was up to something or… who knows. And I assured and reassured her that I had the money home and the minute I was back I could get it back to her. She was as chilled as usual and that made me relax a bit.

And like that, after all the stress and thinking I had ruined the day because it was also raining and it was not a good day to wander around the city, everything was sorted and I took a bus to see the warriors! Hurray! Firstly, I saw the two bronze chariots of which I had no idea about their existence. Then, I got to the pit number 2 and what I saw blew my mind: The whole site, the excavations, the warriors, the immensity of it….Even the fact that you could see so clearly how things are still going on. It is the most impressive thing I have seen in the last two months. Maybe three. The only thing I didn’t like was that it was crowded, as any other attraction in China. Then, I kept going and I saw two lads that were more than happy to see a foreigner, me, in between the crowds and invited me to high five. I exchanged with them the typical “where are you from”, they were from Australia and thought I was American first and then British, which is happening a lot lately for some reason (especially American).

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Terracota warriors at pit 1

I could go on with the feelings it brought to be there, I will just say that I enjoyed it very much and thought very penny had been worth it. Then, I went to see the actual tomb of the emperor, which result that was only a hill with no access that was a nice break from the crowds and had a few more pits around although not as impressive and big as the first ones. I had to rush my way there because I didn’t want to miss the last bus to Xi An and I didn’t even have enough money to find a solution to that if happening.

I decided to go back to the house despite I was starving and ask Huiyuan if she wanted to go for dinner or something, to spend some time with her, but when I arrived, and it was not late, she was already in her pajamas and in bed. She gave me the key and I managed myself to get some spicy noodles and a few skewers Chinese Muslim style.

The next day was my last day in Xi An but I had all day ahead before getting into a sleeper train. So I did the best thing I could do: sleep it off and wake up to take it easy in the house, get my things ready without any rush and with all the space and then make my way out because I had no food and I was about to die of starvation (again).

I went to the train station to leave my bag there and then I had a nice walk around the walls of the city. Only part of them because Xi An happens to have the biggest city inside a wall in the world. Then I decided to go to the Muslim Quarter and what a nice place! I loved the Chinese Muslim combination and had a great time walking by the street markets. The food, the people, the stuff around… it was all different and kept me entertained for a good while. There was a mosque but I didn’t get into because I will be in Iran in a few days and I am expecting to see beautiful mosques. By the way, I think mosques are my favourite building to see and visit, at least architecturally speaking.

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At the muslim open market, anybody a lamb skewer??

Then, I thought I would try my luck finding some clothes for Iran and I got to try a dress quite nice. I was about to take it but the bargaining didn’t go the way I wanted and I had my doubts about it. Firstly I wasn’t sure it was okay because it didn’t cover my ankles although it did cover everything else and second, I was almost sure that I would never wear it again after Iran because it was making no shape at all on me, which was good for the purpose that meant I wouldn’t pay too much for something I was only going to use for a very short period of time.

I continued to walk around, kind of upset because I wanted to buy but at the same time I didn’t want to buy it. Until I ended up back in the station, all ready to take my train to Beijing.

I had a blast at the first two hours of the journey. Firstly I caused a human traffic jam at the corridor, but everyone acted very nicely and patiently. I couldn’t believe it! And then, I got a very good seat by the window to see the sunset and have dinner, because my life is romance. That is where everything started. While I was watching the sunset of a cloudy sky with some lightenings and decided to get some hot water poured on my noodles, the mate in front of me, a lovely old Chinese man thought of having his noodles as well. He was absorbing them really loudly and so did I, just for the craic. Both of us were about to finish when the conversation started. I don’t know what kind of conversation, because he was speaking Chinese and I was speaking whatever I wanted that usually is a mix between English, Spanish and body signs. My Chinese is limited to two words: hello and thank you. So it was impossible that I was understanding and he couldn’t either but somehow I explained I liked China, I was from Spain, I was here for two weeks and my itinerary. The hardest part was to tell them where I was from. They initially thought I was English, in a misunderstanding where I told him I only knew English and not Chinese. Then, he was wearing a Rome jersey so I pointed at his jersey trying to make him guess that my country was Spain and he got to guess Italy, France… no Spain. I was disappointed. Half of the compartment and two more people of the compartment next to us got in the conversation until someone got it and made the bull sign. Yessss, that’s Spain! Bulls, bulls.

The situation became hilarious. Everyone was trying to talk to me in Chinese and then they decided to make use of the few English words they knew: hello, good afternoon, one, two, three, four, thank you and good.  And repeat them randomly. Funny as it was, it got better and someone got a phone to translate Chinese into English. The first question they got to ask is if I was a student. I said no and the next was: then you must be a boss, which company so do you work, can you talk about it? I couldn’t stop laughing. No boss, no boss! I said. But they (the phone) said: “no no, your look is like the one of a boss”. They were taking the piss and I couldn’t stop laughing. Then, I managed to explain I was an architect (that was a tough one and I ended up using a dictionary). And they recommended me to see the buildings in Beijing, where we all were going. In between I was offered fruits by the wife of the guy that started everything, lovely as she was she insisted on the fruits.

The situation more or less went for over an hour and made me think how much I enjoy this stupid stuff, especially in trains. It made me sad that I was not doing the transmongolian, where I had planned a 55 hours train and left me wondering how many things like this might had happened in that train.

And like this, I might get some sleep now that everything calmed down to see what tomorrow has ready for me in Beijing.

Nanjing, getting up early

My train arrived to Nanjing as the night was falling and the first thing I did was to get my ticket out of the city. Lucky me I did because there were no tickets left in the trains I wanted and I had to take one leaving a bit earlier and arriving quite early in the morning. But it is done.

Next thing was to take the metro to the station where my host lives. I had agreed with her to meet her up in a KFC quite close to the station, where I could get Wi-Fi and wait for her to finish her late meeting. As I had time I also had dinner in the meantime and after an hour or so, she picked me up. Her house was really close and after getting a shower we could catch up a bit with our lives. She gave me some maps and some hints of where I could go the next day and that was it, because she was working the next day and I had to leave with her. Which meant I had to wake up at 7am.

I had a nice sleep in her couch but the wake up was dreadful and I quickly got ready and left the place with her. At the corner of her house there were several food stalls where we got our breakfast for the way. She asked for me a roll of red rice with other stuff rolled inside and she got rice porridge for herself that I wanted to try as well so I got one for me as well. It was weird to have salty food for breakfast, I mean, I was used to the noodles and the rice but this was different… I missed nutella sooo much. And then I missed coffee.

But the real revelation of the morning was to see the metro at pick time because if it had shocked me to see how many people were in the street at that time, the metro was something else. Yvonne knew the exact time that a metro was passing by empty and we waited for it. I couldn’t believe how people run to get a free seat as they were running for their lives. I didn’t get one and stood next to her, who was trained in the art and sitting down. I got off a couple of stops after Yvonne to go to the Purple Mountain. A mountain where lots of imperial tombs had been built and where it seemed to be nice to wander around. I had absolutely nothing ready of what I wanted to see when I arrived to the city and no idea what there was around but this had seemed a good idea the previous night. But it was too early to have any feeling close to joy. I used to be a morning person but surely I am not any more.

After taking my time to get to a point where I was something closer to a person, I started my hiking around the mountain and got lost here and there and got to check different of small museums, a garden where some old people were making Chinese music and singing and also got to the free tomb. I was not interested in seeing them all and I also felt that I have had a very good experience with this in Vietnam and was way much better because I was with my friend Phuc who also was an architect and made the experience very cool. Yvonne told me that the other tomb was very worth it in autumn but it is almost summer so it was decided. It was cool and there were good views although not perfect because of some fog around that I wasn’t sure if it was due to the humidity or the pollution.

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Climbing to the top of the tomb

On my way back I really needed some food that I got covered with part of the breakfast but then I got a craving for sweet because I had been thinking of it all day and I went to look for some shop where I got some milky tea I getting addicted to. Since I left the mountain, I decided to check out some part of the city that seemed interesting and I had marked in my map and I happen to come across a huge museum. I got in and it was more than worth it, it had a bit of everything, very well sectioned and it surprised me the most when I got to some recreation of an old Nanjing, with shops, a tea shop and… A Chinese opera performance that I stayed to enjoy a bit. Although it was obvious that I couldn’t understand anything, I got to gather that the first performance I saw was something similar to Romeo and Juliet. The other one I was not sure but I stayed to hear them, to see their makeup and dressed, to listen to the music and to be amazed by their gestural performance in general.

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Watching Chinese opera

Then, I realised there was some free Wi-Fi in the place and I sat down to have some rest for a while and also to download pictures and make something nice to wish my sister a happy birthday later on, once I had called her. That made me waste a lot of time, although I also needed to rest a bit, and at the end I didn’t have time enough to climb to the viewpoint where the funicular was going, but I suppose it was alright because of the fog anyways… And after they were closing down the museum I only got to a lake at the foot of the mountain where the sun going down was reflecting, making a too romantic scene for a person alone.

I went back to the closest metro station to go back home and the mess started: I had to find the building and the apartment and they all were the exact same. Also, it had been to early in the morning to have a fresh good memory of my exact steps when I left the building with Yvonne and I only had written down the apartment number, the floor and the building number. The building numbers were in Chinese so the last piece of information was pretty useless. I also knew the front door of the building was supposed to be unlocked all the time because it had been broken in some fire event… I went to the first building where I was almost sure I left this morning. But the front door was locked. Well, I thought it could have been fixed just that morning. And I waited for someone entering the building to sneak in with them. I went to the 12th floor and… the number of the apartment I was looking for wasn’t there. So I was in the wrong building. As this seemed the last building in the row of buildings, I went back and tried my luck in the one before it with the same tactic. Once in the 12th floor, I found the number of the apartment but something seemed odd in the exact location of it. It was like in the opposite side of the building as I was remembering. I had my doubts but there were also some red Chinese stickers on the door as Yvonne had at hers. I turned on the Wi-Fi on my phone, as it should be connecting to hers immediately but nothing. Okay, not here. I was not knocking this door if I was not entirely sure simply because I wouldn’t be able to explain the mistake. I went down and checked the building before but just looking at the entrance I knew it wasn’t it. I thought of going upstairs again but I was afraid people started noticing me too much and this is full of police everywhere checking your bags, your key and everything and I was feeling like a terrorist. So I went back to look for Wi-Fi in the KFC where I met her the first day only that I found it closer and then I texted her to come and pick me up. When we arrived to her building I saw what had been my mistake: the first building I sneaked into was the one, only that it was split in two and I never got to see the other entrance where the apartment was. So close!

I was expecting a bit more of interaction with my host that night but I don’t think she was in the mood and she kept on her phone and went to her bedroom to watch something so I did my own stuff.

Next morning we woke up at 7am again and the same procedure only that I got something different for breakfast (some fried stuff with sesame that seemed more tolerable than the rice porridge) and I also got a seat in the metro. Things were improving but by the time I got to the Confucius Temple some of the shops around were not even open. Which made me realise of how early it was again and I went to get some milky tea and free Wi-Fi while I watched the square getting cleaned up. When I felt like, I started walking around the buildings, the bridges, crossing the river and appreciating the nice area I was located. And then I got in to the Confucius Temple and I took very long there because firstly it was big and secondly there were tourists but it was not loaded up with them and that was something new. I felt so comfortable there that I sat down on a bench in a side of the temple and then felt inspired to put words to some things that had been going on in my head about going back home, which will happen but not with immediate effect. I spent like an hour just writing stuff and thinking.

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Some family praying in Confucius Temple

Afterwards, I felt ready and hungry to move on. Got some food, had a surprise lunch because after 10 minutes trying to get an understanding I preferred to point something on the menu randomly and got some rice with pork, green peppers, fried peanuts and soya beans in some spicy sauce. It was spot on and I continued my way to a huge park in the area full of memorials and gardens where I got lost the whole afternoon. Here I must make a special mention to the public toilets. So far it had been okay, consisting in squat toilets where the toilet paper was absent as usual but also there was no bum gun. But just now I remembered the conversation on toilets I had with a couchsurfer in Hong Kong. It was almost comical but I still didn’t feel like laughing: no doors so as you find your “toilet” you see other ladies squatting doing their business and no toilet, as nothing made of ceramic but a built-in trench where…there is no need to be more explicit as much I like the topic.

I decided to go back to the place I was staying a bit earlier with the desire of having time with Yvonne and get along with her a bit more. On the way I got pissed off with some stuff back home and debated myself in between not seeing anybody and continue my plan and put my mind off it. I continued with my plan, found the apartment easily this time and asked Yvonne to go for dinner because I didn’t have anything and I wanted her to show me something local. She thought a walk would be a good idea and went somewhere close for local noodles with pork´s blood, pork´s liver and tofu. She was surprised that I liked it and I was delighted to pump up my iron intake. Then we took a walk and I got to see around the shopping centre the karaoke cabins, where 3 people were in singing at that moment; the kids area with lots of activities like dance studios, battery classes and so on and the gym. We also went for a milky tea and maybe it was the sugar overdose or how pissed off I still was, that when I heard she wanted to get her hair cut and there was a place at the corner of her house she wanted to check because they were doing 5 RMB (0.65€) haircuts, I told her: If that’s truly the price, I will do it with you! And it was.

I had a hard time explaining how I wanted my hair, but I was doing nothing too crazy and anyways my hair will be covered in a week for a while so I had not much to worry about. The excitement of doing this kind of stuff always gets me back up and a change in the hair is always the answer to a change in your life or something to face.  I didn’t adore the result but only to get it washed it was worth it. Then, we went back home and she wanted to watch a movie, which happened to be a Spanish movie. It was great because it was in Spanish and subtitled in Chinese but it was a pretty bad movie and she went to bed and I stayed because my bed was the couch and finished the lame movie. Next day I didn’t have to wake up early because it was Saturday so it was fine!

By the time I woke up next day, I had breakfast, packed my things up and prepared to leave because Yvonne had already asked too many times when I was going to be gone. I had the feeling she didn’t want me around more time and I didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable so I left. The only thing that bothered me was that she didn’t really care if there were no lockers to leave my big bag and I didn’t understand what the hassle was leaving the bag at her place and coming back for it later, considering she had told me she was going to stay home and had no plans. But well, I would figure things out then.

Once at the train station, I asked for lockers around and some guy paid me attention and offered to help. I did my best with my body language to explain to him what I was looking for and he was only answering in Chinese. Difficult understanding between us. He offered something, started taking me somewhere and once I realised that it wasn’t leading to the train station I knew something was wrong because nobody here had been so helpful before and I apologised and made my way there on my own. I asked a police man in the middle but he just pointed the entrance. After asking many times with no proper answer, I came across that the lady checking my ticket at the entrance spoke some English and could understand me and clarify me a few things. I finally got a locker.

Feeling light, I could walk around the lake and the islands in the middle of the lake and enjoy my day until my train was due. I even walked around college and once back to the station, the mess started again because I took the Southern entrance and I couldn’t find the way to the North area where the lockers where. I asked so many people in the station. In addition, I suspected something was wrong with my ticket because the lady checking tickets at the entrance had said something to me 3 times and pointed repeated times to some words in my ticket that were in Chinese so I was not understanding anything.

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Lotus Fairy from an island in the lake

After a while I gave up and exited the station to go around it and enter by the North Entrance. By the notice at the walls with the trains, I could see how this was also the entrance for my train, because before in the other entrance it was listed but instead of a platform assigned to it, there were two Chinese characters. Just on time, I could fetch my bag and then find my train, where I would sleep for the night, just like the old times. I was exhausted after so many early mornings, so much walking and rushing up for the last hour with all the stress of not understanding anyone. It seemed like it was going to be a good sleep.

Hangzhou, cycling around the lake

A couple of hours in a “hard seat” in a train took me to Hangzhou. And the first thing I did when I got there was to get a ticket to get out, as my time in China is limited and I want to make sure I don’t get stuck in the first place I fall in. After that, I took the metro until a stop in a centric square where I would be meeting my host in this city.

At my arrival, tight on time, I realised there were many different exits for the same stop and I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to be at, so I got one randomly. After waiting for a while and ask a group of young locals with the hope they would speak a little of English, I gave up and came back to the underground to pick an exit that could make more sense. I passed the security scan again and for my surprise, I met Cheng inside the station. Brilliant! Then, we went to her house and left my stuff there and meet her two kittens. They were called Flower and Idiot in Chinese. I could see why the last one had earned that name. Anyways, I got a few things in the bag that I use as a purse and headed out to have something to eat. It was this kind of stuff that people here must consider a sweet and I consider an almost healthy thing because it consists on some jellies with beans or sweet potato, ice and maybe syrup. No cream, no chocolate… What I was saying, almost healthy.

After that, we took a bus to hang out with her best friend, who also had two cats. We had something to drink and then went out for dinner. Dinner was marvellous. Cheng had previously asked me if I liked pig legs/feet. Naturally, in Spain we eat everything from the pork. Everything. Like in China, she told me. So that was the star dish of the dinner. Between others, because we ordered a lot of food that nothing had to do with any Chinese food I had tried before. During dinner, we had the chance to talk about a lot of stuff. I found out that they speak Italian perfectly, that they had been travelling around several countries but not around Asia outside China, and in general, a lot of girl talk that I was missing a bit. We also got to discuss durian pizza. Of course, they asked me about the situation with Asian boys. It was so funny when they said: “we have heard things about Asian boys”. Well, so did I. What have they heard? That European girls don’t like Asian boys. That was funny as well and I showed them a picture of an Asian friend of mine that I think is hot as hell. I don’t think he was their type though. Then, they revealed me that they would never get serious with a European guy and that even though marriage was not important for them, they would never get married with a European. I thought it to be very interesting. They also told me they like shy boys and that might be why they like Asian boys so much and I don’t.

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Walking around the canal

The night continued with a walk around town, where they showed me the old ladies dancing in the square. They found it hilarious and it was, but I had seen this before in Hong Kong. Choreographies and even a group dancing something like a Chinese pasodoble were around and free of embarrassment. We also took a few selfies and I learnt why they use a hand right next to their face: to make their faces look thinner. I have to learn how to bloody pose; I am a disaster, but taking notes already! Afterwards, we sat down in front of the canal and enjoyed the views of the cargo ships passing by. I found awesome the fact that the canal was as long as to get to Beijing, very old and not natural. It is amazing what the human kind has ever been able to create. To go back to the house, we took a couple of bikes and pedalled back. There, Flower and Idiot were waiting for us. I had been advised of their unsettled nature, but their behaviour that night was too much to bear. It was cute at the beginning that they were coming and going and going on top of you and curling around you. But every now and then, the cats were waking up, messing around, stepping on your face, playing with your pillow, climbing to the mosquito net and I thought one even peed on a sheet. I had a pretty shitty night and I woke up late, when the god damned cats were having one of their naps to get a bit more of sleep that what I could gather during the night. Once I got up, Cheng offered to get a bike for me with her phone so I didn’t have to rent one or worry about getting a card or any other stuff. That meant that I could not leave the bike at any station or I wouldn’t be able to get it back because I didn’t have the app on my phone or data to make it work.

That’s how my day started: cranky because I didn’t get enough sleep, without breakfast, with a bike I couldn’t let go and the heat hitting my head strongly. After a while pedalling, I ordered some dumplings to take away. The plan was to find somewhere nice near the lake and eat them up. The plan was more difficult that what it initially seemed to me because it was hard to find an entrance to the lake where I was allowed with the bike. There were too many people because of some 3 days festival that had been going on. I ended up stopping somewhere in the shadow to eat because I was about to bite someone if not. During the stop, I got asked a few times if I was leaving the bike (I think that what was people were asking, not entirely sure). Without the hunger dominating my thoughts I could go on now and I decided to take a direction and pedal that way before giving up and leaving my bike. I was almost sure that I could go around the lake by bike and not just around the big road going around the lake, where nothing can be seen. Indeed, I was right and I started enjoying myself between people and heat. The lake was beautiful and the day, though hot, was amazing and I got to enjoy a bit of heat (38 degrees as a bit). A few hours it took me to go around and I finally decided to finish the day off having a look to the Confucius Temple. There was nobody there, surprisingly, and I decided to ask the guards of the door if they can hold my bike for me while I had a look indoors. Obviously, they didn’t understand, so I went to the information window at the very entrance and asked in English and someone there asked for me. The guards agreed and I happily entered the temple and had it for myself for a few minutes. I went in and around and found something bigger than expected, where I wished I had had time to sit down and enjoy the quiet and peaceful feeling around but I didn’t want to have the guards holding on my bike for too long.

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Going around the lake

Five hours after I left the house, I was back. Cheng was waiting for me and got the door for me and the first thing I did was to take a shower. Then, she got ready, gave me the keys of the house and left me with her two cats to do whatever I wanted. I wasn’t expecting that, but cool. That gave me time to organise stuff, more couchsurfing, pictures, updates… while her two cats were bothering me and messing around the whole time. They drove me a bit crazy and despite I had understood this cliché of why old ladies that stay single want to have cats, I also understood I don’t want cats. Ever. I went for dinner and thought of having a stroll but it started raining. I got some fruits for the next day and got pissed off when the guy tried to trick me. I don’t speak the language but that doesn’t mean I am stupid. I know how much should I be paying, more or less and I know that because I give you a small note you just not get to take it and fabricate a ticket with the exact amount of money I gave you. Not when you weighted the fruits. Anyways, I came back to the house and chilled for the rest of the night until Cheng came back home. She was all excited telling how she decided to chase a boy, a shy boy and how the next day she was going to ask him out. Then, we got ready to get some sleep. Her cats were one to each of my sides, quite relaxed and we were chatting when I noticed that the sheet that I was about to used was wet. So yes, one of her cats had peed on the sheet. She took the cats away and locked them out which made me quite happy and I got some solid sleep this time.

Next morning, Cheng left to work and I stayed a bit, with her cats and got my stuff ready. I was leaving and I really needed to leave because I couldn’t handle anymore the cat situation. The fact that I may be a crazy lady doesn’t necessarily mean I am a crazy cat lady, it is confirmed. I can’t stand that everything has cat smell, cat hair and that they walk on you or your computer or sit on the stuff you left strategically located just because they found it more irritating for you. So I took my bag to get a 6 hours train to Nanjing. I was quite excited about the journey, I love to get in a train for a very long time and see the time pass. I connect with myself while I disconnect from myself and everything pretty much. And I love to seat while the landscape passes in your window and you are left with yourself. It had been a while since the last time I did this and for some reason I don’t find the bus as good as the train.

About getting lost and finding yourself

The end is getting closer. Not that I want to but I can feel it. I can’t help to keep looking for Wi-Fi everywhere in a desperated attempt to keep in touch with those I miss. With those that bring me some familiarity with something. Also, some stuff is going on inside. But I started feeling I am missing way too many things. And that I don’t want to be as far as this and feel as left behind as I do.

I know that I always get the homesick feeling after saying goodbye to people I truly connected with: the break up syndrom. But this time feels, somehow, a bit different. Not that I have lost my fear to settle down. None of that, it still scares me. But I started missing a lot of stuff that I didn’t care about before. I started feeling uncomfortable by things that I didn’t mind previously. And I have lost interest in many things that kept me moving before.
Neither I have decided what to do with myself. There has been two questions I have been hearing continuously. The first one is: when are you back? The second one is: so are you going to stay in Spain or go back to Dublin? As there were only those two possibilities! Hilarious.
None of the big questions are answered yet. But none of the small ones are, either. And it doesn’t bother me now. What confuses me is the fact that I don’t know what I want. Me, always extremely decided on everything and driven by my thoughts. Me, obstinated in accomplishing everything that crosses my mind, eternally pursuing goals. I find very lost without one. But after more than 8 months on the road I think I got used to feel lost.
When I decided to start my journey, contrarily to what everyone  could think, it was never about finding myself. Actually, now that I think about it, I was never lost before. So I didn’t need to find myself. Maybe it was about getting lost. So now that I am so lost, can I come back and find a new purpose? Maybe come back to find myself.
Where everyone goes away to find themselves, I go to get lost and now I need to find myself. Sounds about right. Sounds just like me.