I only had twelve hours in Xi’an, and I certainly didn’t make the most of them. My train from Datong arrived at 8:56AM and my first task was to get myself to the iconic Terracotta Warriors.
If one thing about China was consistent, it was the fact that I got lost. ALL THE TIME. I came to expect it, and gave myself three times as long to get everywhere. Surprise, surprise – I got lost in X’ian! After about half an hour of wandering in the rain trying to find the bus that Lonely Planet promised would take me there for about $3, I momentarily lost hope and wondered why I had ever thought I was capable of travelling solo.
The next thing I knew, a lovely local who spoke some English came and offered to show me the bus (she brilliantly deduced that I wanted the Terracotta Warriors out of the kindness of her heart! Okay, okay, I had to pay her – but it was worth every penny for her to walk me about 30 seconds across the street.
I accidentally fell asleep on the bus ride (moving vehicles + me = dead to the world) and woke up in a panic, hoping I hadn’t missed my stop. Luckily I hadn’t – next thing I knew I was on my way to the Terracotta Warriors!
After paying an exorbitant $30 (don’t forget your student ID like I did), I walked into the complex, gazing in awe at all the other Westerners. It had literally been three days since I had seen a white person, and I was beginning to understand why everyone stared at me so much.
Once I found the actual warriors (the buildings are poorly labeled), all thoughts of staring were forgotten. Although it’s a bit hard to grasp what you’re seeing, the warriors are still a fantastic archaeological site that shouldn’t be missed.
Every blog I read pre-trip said to go from Pit 3 to Pit 2 to Pit 1, but I accidentally did the opposite. Pit 1 is the most impressive by far, so 2 and 3 were a bit underwhelming after walking into this:
On the way back, it was much easier to find the bus -and I even knew where to get off! However, every single one of my electronic devices were dying and if I didn’t have access to my phone, my parents would kill me the moment I got home. With that in mind, I found an internet cafe. Now the thing about the internet in China is that there’s nothing to do. I couldn’t get on social media, Bloglovin, WordPress, or Gmail. In addition, in order for anything to charge in the computer I had to hold the USB in a very specific position. I could only hold out until my phone was at 30%, and then I left to wander the streets some more.
I tried to find some cool Muslim street food (I had heard there was lots) but the rain and general confusion of where anything was meant I ended up at McDonalds. Yes, the only food I ate in Xi’an was from McDonalds. I hate myself too.
My favourite moment in Xian came in the train station. I’ve heard its one of the most chaotic stations in the country, and I believe it – the lines were unbelievable. Once I finally found a seat, I pulled out my Game of Thrones book and waited for my departure. Then a young Chinese woman came over and asked me something – I was about to brush her off, but I’m so glad I didn’t. It turned out she was an English teacher in Anhui Province, and her English was marvellous. We probably talked for an hour: she wanted to see Canadian money, hear whether I thought Chinese people were pretty, and learn about life in Canada. It was one of those amazing cultural experiences that you hear other people talk about, and I’m so glad I didn’t just assume she was trying to sell me something.
With that positive experience to end a mediocre day, I was off to what would be my favourite destination of the trip (and possibly ever): Shanghai.