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Xi’an with Lisa B!

I realize that I neglected to write about my brief trip to Xi’an. As I have mentioned before, I am lucky that my mother also works in China, relatively near by and my father also gets to visit once or twice a year. I am also incredibly lucky to have had a friend visit me in Zhengzhou. In March, Lisa B. came to visit from Canada. Her sister also works in a Sino-Canadian program in Guangzhou, and she also had another friend in Korea, so Lisa had multiple excuses for an Asian adventure.

I picked her up at the train station, took her to my apartment, apologized for the state of my apartment and took her “Out the Back Gate” for dinner. (This is what we called one of the restaurants we frequented. It was found by going out the back gate.) The next morning we hopped the train for Xi’an. We found our hostel quite easily and then wandered around this city. We found a Taoist temple, a Muslim Temple and market.


I drew a crowd shopping for scares and Lisa had her picture taken on the sly which was a new experience for her. The guy was a little shocked and she shot right back.

We had an amazing dinner at a dumpling place near the square. So many dumplings! So many delicious dumplings! They just kept coming and coming! And they were shaped like cool things, like walnuts and little fishies.IMG_9323

The next day, we got up early and set out to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. We were told by the people at the hostel that it would be crowded and that we would have to go early. So we did. We sat on the bus that drove, with almost everyone else getting off before we did. We ended up in a huge vacant parking lot. A little confused we asked the driver. He told us we were in the right spot.  A young lady came across the parking lot, who was wearing a suit. She was a government guide and asked us if we needed one. We ended up agreeing and she took us toward the gate. The entire site was still confusingly empty. It was about 8:30 am. At the gate she asked us if we were students. Lisa still had her card from her Masters, but me – no. (The discount is substantial so if you are going, make sure you have your student card or and ISIC Card.) She asked me if I had any other cards that could pass. She saw my driver’s license and said that will work. It did.

We walked up a path through a park like area, that used to be a parking lot. The guide noticed my jadeite bracelet and explained why Chinese women wear it and how the jade from the hills of Xi’an is famous and transformative. (I’ll maybe write more about jadeite and jade later. Moral of the story – she liked my bracelet.)

IMG_9355When we entered tomb one, we were the only people in there. Lisa, the guide and I were the only people in the giant, airplane-hanger, football field sized room, filled with hundreds of warrior statues built and buried over a two thousand years ago. It was amazing. It was quiet. There was no pushing. No competition for pictures. Just us. The guide answered our questions and explained the story of how farmers in the area had worked the land for a millennia, with no idea what lay beneath until one day when they were digging a well and found odd pottery shards. We moved through the area, and into the other tombs. The warriors were amazing, and definitely a China must see. If you go, follow our example and go incredibly early. It was worth it to beat the lines. Public transit also is a great and cheap option to get out there. Ask your hostel people. They’ll know.

We made conversation with our guide who seemed to be about our age. She gushed about our appearance and thought that Lisa was slim like a movie star and I had sexy lips. (Yes- we tipped her.) She asked us about life in Canada and marriage. How young do people get married? Can you live with someone before? She told us that in China women get married young and often do not work. If the husband is rich, he’ll often have a young girl friend, but the wife can’t leave because she has no where to go. So it goes.

She directed us to a little restaurant near the museum for lunch and ordered this deliciously spicy dish with large, flat noodles, potatoes and chicken. It was delicious.IMG_9470

We made our way back into the city, where we got over to the city wall. Crossing the street to the city wall was an issue, but  eventually, after playing Frogger and finding the oddly snaking crosswalks, we made it. We were going to rent bikes and ride around on top of the wall (which is apparently the thing to do, however we decided we didn’t have time. We walked a bit and took pictures. The top of the wall offered great views of the city.

I was in need of coffee desperately and we headed for one of many local Starbucks. After receiving my extremely hot Americano, I promptly poured it all over myself. Lisa and a large Ginger man with bright red dreads came to my rescue with napkins. Oh Ginger Man – thank you. I hardly knew ye.

We set off from Starbucks thinking we had lots of time to catch the train. We walked toward the subway (which had previously proved quite navigable) but for some reason the entrance we needed was not where we remembered it. When we got on the subway, time was ticking. We were watching the clocks, and watching the stops. By the time we got to our stop, we sprinted off the subway car and ran up the escalators. We were so late. Lisa fell and skinned her knee. Still we ran. We emmerged to…nothing. It appeared to be some sort of suburb. Wrong stop. Train missed. We got back on the subway and got off at the next stop. We asked for help from some “ENGLISH” speaking train station volunteers with incredibly, unnaturally puffy hair. They had no clue. I corrected the little grammar of which they were aware, and we found the proper place to go. Ticket was changed. We left a few hours later after a delicious Big Mac meal.

It was great that Lisa could come visit. Not only did I get to hang out with an old friend from home, she got to see my apartment, such that it was, and experience a little bit of how I was living there.