So the journey continues….
We have had just an amazing time in Xi’an, the former capital city of China and
also the region where the famous Terra Cotta army is. If you do not know what
the Terra Cotta army is, look it up here :
We took an overnight sleeper train to Xi’an, which was pleasant. There are four
beds in the room and we both slept in the upper bunks. As we trained West, I
had a nice conversation with a young Chinese man who spoke english and also
an elderly Chinese man who had been pushing educational reforms in the country
for seven years. It was nice to have a discussion about the educational system
in China and looking forward. This elderly man told me that China would have
been stronger if it were not for some of the wars and history under Mao. He says
they are on the path to prosperity though and is continuing his projects.
We arrived at the hostel, and it was nice. It was an old courtyard building very
close to the south gate of a city wall that surrounds the city. I love staying in
historical hostels. One time I spent a night in a 900 year old building in Austria.
This building is probably a few hundred years old. Though there is traffic on the
street 50 yrds away, you couldn’t hear any of it inside.
Throughout our few days, we met some very nice people. This is why
I love hostels, they bring people from all over the world into a shared space.
You start a conversation with a simple question “So what brings you to China?”
or “Where are you from?” and the conversation blossoms into this shared inquiry
about each others culture, history, family, hobbies. For my sister, it was one
of her first real hostel experiences, for me, well, I’ve had a lot, even working at
a hostel for 9 month of my life.
We met some very cool Israelis, who I chatted with about the history and conflict
that exists today, a Finnish guy who worked in building schools in Tanzania with
support from the Finnish government, Chinese travelers from Beijing, American,
British, German, French and Cameroon english teachers, who congregate at the
local pub, which is conviently located below the hostel for expat companionship.
(Some of these english teachers teach far out, so for them getting together on
Sundays and Mondays is the happening thing to do once a week) Italian students
who are learning Chinese in Shanghai, the list goes on~ We actually met a person
from our neighboring hometown! Considering there are only 7,000 people in these
towns, this makes the world very small ! But I love it. I always make so many
friends in hostels around the world. After you meet, you may meet again in life if
one or the other travels to the places you live. It makes life exciting, don’t you think?
You don’t even need to share a dorm with people, I’m almost getting too old for
sharing an 8 bed dorm with a bunch of guys. I’m content with a 4 bed dorm, or a
private. Conversations can happen in the restaurant or lounge as opposed to ones room.
Ok, so I don’t need to tell you how much hostels are great and that everyone at
one point in life should stay at one when traveling. Back to China~
The Terra Cottas were fascinating to see, I’m not going to write a lot about them,
just go if you make yourself out here. If you want more of my perspective on the
Terra Cottas, then read my previous post on the Great Wall, and substitute Terra
Cotta Warrior tomb for the Great Wall. It was a pleasure to see and my sister was
in awe of the whole spectacle. She really was the one who wanted to go, and I’m
glad we did. Take a tour if you do go, its worth it. 220 RMB= $33 USD
So at the hostel on Wednesdays they have a ping pong table downstairs and a
teacher who comes to play and teach students. I had to participate seeing how
China dominates Ping Pong. To say it lightly, I was humbled.
I come down to the basement and I meet the "Master." A man wearing a blue worn
blazer, dark slacks and a sweater. He motions me to the other side and hands me a
paddle. The paddle was the stickiest one I have ever held (not literally sticky, but
a sticky that adds to the spin of the ball when hitting) and we start rallying each other.
EVERY ball I hit back to him flew high over the table. At first I thought it was my
paddle, and then I realized that this guy was putting so much spin on his serves
that no matter how I hit it, it would fly way off the table and I thought "holy s***,
this guy is good." As we played for the next thirty minutes, we practiced and I became
"student." I'm a decent player by my american and friends
standards, but this guy was on ANOTHER LEVEL. I decided to show my respect by
listening and heeding his sharp instructions to me. We would hit back and forth to
each other as he would count in Chinese. The first time we hit 30, then we hit 155,
then he would come and grab my arm and hand show me how to point the paddle
a certain way and how to swing, enforcing what he was saying in Chinese, even though
I don't much understand the language, I was picking up what he was laying down.
I was BLOWN away how much my game improved.
I thanked the Master afterwards and went to grab dinner with my Sis. I know my
Dad would of cracked up seeing this lesson happen between student and Master
as we are a family that can appreciate a game of Pong. Jeez!
I have to mention this one night a few of us hostellers went to get dumplings.
It was a lovely night, where 8 of us got together from all different countries
and shared on the round table of eating dumplings. It was great, so go grab some
one day in your local Chinatown or in China. amazing meal. It’s meals like these
that are shared by people from all over who get together for one night, and will probably
never see each other again, that makes me love life and all it’s variety. I’ll post
a cool panorama shot my sis took later.
OK! Lots more words, so thanks for reading. I am back in Beijing.