One Phase Ends, One Begins

Trip Start Jun 03, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Had a good breakfast of baked goodies, then my last class with my student. It's always sad to say goodbye.

I had lunch and then sent Ada a message on WeChat to see when she is coming by. I am anxious to see her and get going on our trip to Xi'an. Everyone I knew before, except for Scott and the people that work in the office are gone. They've all gone to their camps. It's so quiet around here.

So Ada got here around 3:30 p.m., and we looked at our transportation options. Since we have more time, the fast train is a better option than flying to save money. It will take about 5 hours to get there. We went to the office to see if they had a system for getting train tickets since they do it for the volunteers all the time. Ada was concerned about their being seats available because it's high season.

The office couldn't do anything more than we could do online, so we walked nearby to a travel agency that's in a hotel. There we booked, paid for, and received our tickets. I didn't quite have enough cash to cover mine, and I needed to go exchange some money anyway, so we then went to the Bank of China, at their main office.

It's gorgeous, and the air is so...fresh. I wanted to just stay in there and breathe for awhile. I filled out the paperwork, and Ada had gotten a number. So we didn't have to wait long before it was our turn. I was amazed at the efficiency. When I expressed this to Ada, she said it's because it's the main branch and all the big bosses are there. The other branches are not so efficient. Ahhhh.

Anyway, with money exchanged and I paid Ada back for my train ticket, we then went to Joy City for something cold to drink. We ended up at iTea. We got these cool drinks made of green tea, aloe and some sort of fruit with little strange seed-like things. It was good, and they came in these cool bottles.

From there we decided to go to the lakes area to sightsee and have dinner. We took a taxi because the subway doesn't go there. We decided to take a pedicab around the area to see everything, around the lake and through the hutong. Ada got a better price for us. Go Ada! The driver explained almost everything in Chinese and Ada would translate. Occasionally though, he would say some things in English.

It was a really beautiful day. The skies were clear and the temperature was relatively mild. The lake with the boats on it, the bridges, the old buildings, it was very magical. We then walked over to the the drum tower. We'll have to go inside another time; it was already closed. There is another old tower across from it. The drum tower is 800 years old.

We walked through the shops and went in a few. It was great fun. We shopped until we worked up an appetite. Then we ate dinner at one of the restaurants. We had mutton (kind of like pulled pork, sort of) that you put inside a sesame cake, like a little sandwich. It doesn't seem very Chinese at all, but it is very traditional, and it was very good.

From there we walked around the lake and went back to a tea house we had spotted on our pedicab ride. They first had us go upstairs, but it was too modern for me. We ended up sitting at street level in front of the tea house on the little "porch." I absolutely loved this place. We ordered green tea scented with osmanthus, and the hostess did a complete tea ceremony. It was very cool. Then we sat and drank tea and talked about America and China and our respective governments and education, etc., for quite some time.

When we first got started, I noticed that it was 9:30 p.m. Uh, oh. I didn't say anything, because it was already too late to get back by 10. When Ada saw the time later, she asked what I could do. I shrugged, and said, "I don't know. Everyone I knew and had phone numbers for has left for camp." She made a phone call. Good news. Guo lives on the 3rd floor! She would let me in. Guo saves the day!

Ada's parents came and picked us up and took me to school. It was almost midnight by the time we got back.

I am really looking forward to going back to that area. The coolest thing is that with our tea ceremony, we basically bought a little container of tea. They store it for us. So now we can go back any time, show a card they gave us, and they will serve the tea that is ours. How cool is that?
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