Tip No 2 when traveling alone on the search for social contact: Book a hostel-organized-tour. Sure, DYI is probably cheaper, but a tour is, besides being less stressful planning-wise, probably the best option to make new contacts. On our way to the Terracotta Warriors we introduce ourselves to the rest of our mixed group; it feels a bit like being on a field trip. There is Sharon, American with Chinese ancestors, who visited her grandfather’s hometown (he left China when he was 8), and now travels the country – her parents not knowing the last part. Anthony, who has been traveling for the past 13 months through Asia and is now on his way back home to France, slowly. Unfortunately not by Transmongolian railway, as he planned to, because it is almost impossible to get a Russian visa from abroad… yes, we know this feeling. A tall Dutch guy who lives in China and teaches English, he seems a bit absent and we almost lose him later that day because he wanders off. A girl from Boston and her friend from Chile; since she met him during her exchange there, they meet again each summer and travel to a different place in the world.
And Adam and Chris, two Polish friends, Adam lives in London now, though. We invite them to join us in the evening for the fountain light show at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and they give us tips for our Mount Hua climb tomorrow. Also Anthony has some tips for us, and we reward him with me recommending the Great Wall part to him, as his next destination is Beijing. He has a hostel in Yangshuo for me.
Back in the hostel, while waiting for Adam and Chris, we meet Jesse again, who also joins us for the fountain show thing, and then Yan, a backpacker from Israel, enters and is happy to find a pre-prepared evening plan he can join. On the way to the Pagoda, we pass by a Dutch girl from Rotterdam, who didn’t have any particular plans for the evening, and we take her with us without hesitation. A German girl happened to come along at some point, as well, so she can make up for Chris, who didn’t feel well and is missing (all these food poisonings in China constantly…). We are quite a group!
After the show, we have dinner in front of our hostel. Hot Pot. It’s a really great evening, I am happy to have met a bunch of nice people, with whom I at least partially will maintain the contact also after this, for sure! Except for Adam and Chris, they all travel alone. Jesse leaves us to continue to his next destination, and it is highly unlikely we will run into each other once more in China. I wonder what it must be like, also for Anthony, to always be on the run for months, never longer in the same place than a couple of days. Even though you meet a lot of great people, you have no chance to bond with any one of them on a less superficial level (or if you do, you lose them quickly again). Doesn’t that feel lonely at times, despite being not alone?
Maybe at some point, I need to find out by trying.