I am alone. I don’t wanna get up, what will I do the whole day, with whom will I share my thoughts on everything I see (because not even facebook works here!)?? If I start talking to myself, people will notice it immediately, because they are staring at me constantly. So I sleep more, and when I finally get up, I have a nice breakfast with yoghurt and fruits and cereals in a booth next to three girls chatting. While I half-heartedly plan the activities I wanted to do in Xi’an, I notice that the girls sound as if they don’t know each other. It’s a question-answer-game. And it sounds like English. Should I just… but what if they find me weird? I decide to finish the cereals, and if they are still there then, I will ask to join them with my coffee.
They are, and they let me. It’s two sisters and one girl that is also traveling alone, Lianne. They are all Dutch (no idea why it sounded like English to me), and Lianne also just arrived – so we plan the day together. We bike around the inner part of the city on top of the city wall, walk through authentic Chinese markets without any tourists, and visit the Temple of Eight Immortals, and then later the Muslim quarter. In one day in Xi’an I think I have seen more of China than in 3 days in Beijing.
(scroll down, more text after pictures!)
During our evening beer in our hostel I see a familiar face again: The British guy who was in our hostel in Ulaanbaatar, and on the ride to the train station in the morning we went off to China. I invite him to sit with us instead of alone. His name is Jesse and he also travels by himself – slowly I start to think this seems to be an uprising trend, and the better alternative indeed. Like Lianne and I, he plans to see the Terracotta Warriors the next day, though we booked a tour with the hostel and he takes the DYI approach. He quit his job as a charity shop manager in Manchester and is now traveling half the world. By train. He’ll continue through Asia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and be in Australia and New Zealand by Christmas. Lianne and I are impressed as we are “only” on holidays – she had a conference in Beijing and now continues traveling the country alone for some weeks. She is a PhD student in Statistics. Jesse doesn’t know yet what he will do after the trip. Hopefully teach English somewhere, he says.