Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

24-28/12/14: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

Okay so. I’m not very good at updating this blog and I am so sorry. Or am I? ANYWAYS, the point is I’m going to try something a little different here so I’m sorry if I get rambly. That’s just sort of how I talk.

I started off my weekend trip in Beijing just so I wouldn’t be worried about ending up missing my train. I’d bought the tickets a couple weeks in advance because I was meeting my friend Bernard in Xi’an. (Bernard teaches in Wenzhou and I met him in Beijing. No, it’s not like a “oooOOOooooo you met a man in China?!” No offence to Bernard, mainly because he already knows this, but no. Nope. No. Friends. Men and women can be friends without all that weird “you must be interested in each other” bullshit. But like, as props to Bernard, we are actually friends. So it’s gotten to the point of friendship where hugs are o-k!) He called me a couple days before we were meant to leave to tell me his flight got rescheduled and he couldn’t make that flight, but he got it sorted in the end. Since his school isn’t as flexible as mine, our plan was to meet in Xi’an on Christmas Day since that’s when he would actually have off. Originally, I was only supposed to get three days off for Christmas, but because of the way I’d worked it out with the school (I would have off Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and “teach” the Christmas “party” on Tuesday), when they rescheduled the Christmas “party” to be exactly the same time as my train left Beijing for Xi’an, I ended up having the week off. Which was fine with me, haha.

Anyways, I went to Beijing on Christmas Eve and got pancakes at Grandma’s Kitchen (like I do literally every time I go to Beijing for anything) before wandering around a bit. I was wearing my new boots, so my legs/feet hurt more than normal but I COULD HANDLE IT. I went back to the hostel to hang out a bit and there was a Christmas Eve party happening where the other people staying in the hostel paid for the dinner (I had pizza nearby where the little girl of one of the people who worked there came over while I was waiting for my dinner and played with my phone, it was super sweet) and played games and stuff. I went and sat at the table with them anyways and used my wiles to help the other people. Mainly, they needed bowls and I tricked the Chinese guy who worked at the hostel to give them to me and then I would hand them to everyone else. I also spent a lot of time putting food into bowls since my chopstick skills are A++ now. After the food was finished, we spent the rest of the night chatting and dancing. (Apparently the way I was dancing in my cupcake pj pants was seductive because a very, very drunk guy propositioned me and then spent a good 30 minutes sulking when I said no. But seriously, cupcake pants that are at least three sizes too big.) Literally the rest of the night. The dance party ended at 4:30am.

I got into bed in the 14-bed dorm at 5am and couldn’t sleep because other people sleep so loudly and I’m a really light sleeper, so by the time 8am rolled around, I decided it was time to give up and take a shower while there weren’t many people up. At 8:45am, I climbed back up into my bed to get my stuff from the other end of it (phone, keys, glasses, etc) and debated going back to sleep but eh. Instead, I went down to faff around the hostel cafe for a while. Luckily, someone from the party was already up and I sat and talked with him before we went off to get breakfast. Just before we were leaving, though, we saw someone else for the party and I mentioned my lost skirt (Bart said it was because I drank all that tea so I must’ve been drunker than I thought, but I told him it must’ve been that half-sip of vodka someone brought me because the party insisted I get vodka instead of more water for my tea). Luckily, his sister had my skirt, so it wasn’t lost, just temporarily misplaced. When Bart and I got back from getting breaky, I sat at the table and chatted with the folks as they got up before I got my skirt back and headed to Beijing West Railway Station to catch my train to Xi’an. I got to the train gate right as the sign went from “Waiting” to “Checking”, so it was really perfect timing. The train was one of the high-speed ones, so it was a 4-5 hour ride instead of 15 and when I got to Xi’an, it was a 30min subway ride and a 10min walk to the hostel. Bernard was already there so when I got a little lost, I called him and he gave the receptionist his phone to give me directions and I got unlost. But then when I got there, he had gone back to his room even though it was really only two minutes or less later, so I kept saying how he and I weren’t friends anymore. The receptionists laughed at me because I kept fumbling the money and muttering to myself honesty, I’ve been in China for this long and I still struggle with the money but I got checked in and went to find Bernard. I played Marco Polo and he said he could hear me coming, which was totally the point. I set my stuff in his room before we headed off to the Muslim Quarter for some food. Unfortunately, because of my lack of sleep the night before (although I did have a 2-hour nap on the train), my new boots, the dancing, all the walking, and the usual aches of being me, I was really hurting when we got back to the hostel. My feet were all swollen and it was not good. We hung out a bit and headed off to our respective rooms to sleep because we were going on the Terracotta Army tour in the morning and had to be in the lobby by 9am.

When I got up the next day and went down for a bit of food before we caught the bus, Bernard was already up and working in his Chinese workbook. nerd. I zombied out with my tea and my breakfast and Bernard kept having to repeat things because I was still mostly asleep, but we made it to the van thing on time and two other people from our hostel were going as well. They were American and we’re totally friends now. 🙂 We picked up one other person from another hostel and the tour guide and then we were on our way. I wasn’t really impressed with the tour guide’s personality because we were all introducing ourselves to each other (me, Bernard, Erin, Steven, and Phina) and having a lovely chat and she interrupted us to have us introduce ourselves… Then she told us history of Xi’an and the Terracotta Bros (as I called them the entire weekend, much to Bernard’s dismay) and I was looking out the window the whole time because why not? But at the end of her lecture she called me out and asked me to name the four types of statues, I remembered two of the four, but honestly it’s a tour I paid for on my holiday, if I don’t want to listen, what does it matter as long as I’m not interrupting the lecture and making it so others can’t listen? Ugh. But we got to the park place for it and we started in Pit 2, I think. We definitely did Pit 1 last…  ANYWAYS the statues in that pit were mostly crumbled because they hadn’t restored them yet, but she told us how a farmer was looking for water when he found the first statue, a kneeling archer who was still in one piece. There was one of each statue type all put back together and on display for us to see in that pit, but the tour guide kept disappearing so when I wanted to ask why the horse had a very deliberate hole in its side, I could only speculate since she wasn’t around for me to ask. (My speculation was correct, the hole was to keep the hollow horse’s body from cracking during the firing process, but still. I had to wait until we were in Pit 1 to find out!) The next pit was special because it was separated into “rooms” where different things happened, like the meeting room and the ritual sacrifice room. That pit wasn’t finished before the emperor who made the people build the warriors died so some of the statues didn’t have heads because they were unfinished. Pit 1 is the famous one with all the warriors in it, though, and it’s the most restored one, too. Some of the statues we saw were in the process of being restored (some had saran wrap cling film around them and I speculate they were glued and drying). There was a section of statues where each statue represented a different minority in China and then there was the big main section of the restored ones.

After the tour, we went back to our hostel and Phina came with us to our hostel and we walked around the Muslim Quarter again. I tried to find the tea lady from the night before to say hi because I bought some Jasmine tea flowers that bloomed and she gave me some of her favorite tea for free because I love tea and had to leave before I bought it all. I perfected my Chinese man squat by this time because I kept needing to rest my feet/knees/legs but there weren’t many places to sit. I bought a couple of cute keychains and some post cards and ate tofu and plum juice. I love plum juice. Then we went back to our hostel and Phina went on to hers and we hung out in the cafe until it closed at 11.

The next morning, I got up around the same time and went down to the cafe for breaky. Bernard was the next to get up and then Erin. Phina ended up coming to the cafe before Steven even though he was staying in the same hostel as us and she wasn’t. We gave him shit for it the rest of the day. We decided to go see the Forest of Stelae Museum and the Giant Goose Pagoda before touring around the wall. Of course, our plans changed a bit after we went to H&M for some warmer clothes and the ATMs and Steven decided to eat before we left, which of course we gave him shit for the rest of the day. Then we went to the Forest of Stelae Museum, which had statues of Buddha carved in the stelae style. My legs were killing me by that point, though, so I was hobbling around and squatting or sitting as often as I could. We then went to the Small Goose Pagoda after catching a subway train there. I hoped to find a place to get a knee brace, but hadn’t seen any. After we ate some pretty spicy noodles and walked in the wrong direction to the Gian Goose Pagoda, we did find a place I could get some knee braces to try and help with the pain a bit. Phina went to the train station to get a ticket to go to wherever she was going next (I forget) and we caught a taxi to the Giant Goose Pagoda since we’d spent a couple of hours trying to find it and Erin, Steven, and I were leaving in the morning. After sitting in the little plaza thing and talking for a while, we tried to catch a cab back to the hostel, but it took about 30min because it was changeover time and we were four. Phina was meeting us at our hostel at 8pm and so we were planning on going up on the wall, but it was 50元 and about to close, so we decided against it. (I was actually very, very glad because I had been almost in tears a couple of times that day from how bad my legs hurt, but I didn’t want to miss out on anything and I didn’t want them to try to miss out on anything in an attempt to accommodate me, so not going for a bike ride on the wall was great for me…) We ended up just hanging out in the cafe the rest of the night and said goodbye to Phina, although Bernard saw her the next day.

In the morning, Steven, Erin, and I went to the little outdoor market we passed on our way to the Forest of Stelae Museum and did a bit of shopping. I had to go earlier than them, though, because I was taking the subway to the train station and didn’t want to miss my train. I got there in enough time to get a Coca Cola from the McDonald’s above the gate, which was perfect. The train ride was 5-hours again so I finished half of a book, read another book in its entirety, then read some of Sense and Sensibility, and had a bit of a doze. The trip home had pretty perfect timing, though, because I got off the train, took the subway from Beijing West Railway Station to Beijing Railway, stopped at KFC to grab some chicken nuggets and fries for the road, managed to catch the quick bus that had only 1 seat left, got back to Langfang in time to pay my phone bill AND catch a bus back to the school. Once home, I tossed all my super gross clothes into the wash (which I still need to go start, shoot), unpacked half-heartedly, made my bed, and played video games before I went to bed.

Even though I was in super pain the entire weekend, it was totally worth it. 🙂

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