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).
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.
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.