Mount Hua we conquer all by ourselves. That means no organized tour – of course there are still approximately 500 Chinese tourists per square metre besides us. At least at the peaks, which are reachable by cable car – on the steep and long way up, we have more space around us.
Unfortunately, we have to leave Yan behind. At the train station he realizes he left his passport at the hostel, a necessary item in China for purchasing train tickets. He brought his friend CC, a Chinese student whom he met some cities ago, but that is not enough for buying a ticket. After some pointless discussion, he gives up and returns to the hostel to get the passport, we hope he still makes it back on time – which he doesn’t. The worst in this whole story is probably that 3 minutes after he ran for a taxi, the strict Chinese lady who didn’t wanna accept his driver’s license (also with a picture) as substitute, changes her mind. Too late for us.
We take a “slow” train to Huashan, it takes about 2 hours for the 130 km, and then a taxi from the train station to the entrance of the mountain (yes, of course you also need to pay an admission fee to climb a mountain). The taxi driver tells us our plan is impossible, it is noon already and we want to climb to the North Peak and then walk over to the West Peak, where the longer cable car is that could bring us down again. It closes at 7 pm and he says we will never make it, and then we are on top of a mountain and it’s too dark to climb down. But we believe in ourselves – we’ll just have to walk a bit faster then, right? The woman at the entrance tells us it’s 6 hours to the top. That means we have still one hour to get to the cable car. Totally doable!
We are actually even faster. After only 3.5 hours we are already on the North Peak. We celebrate that with a long lunch and coffee break. To the West Peak it takes us another 2 hours, we are mainly slowed down by all the weak and old people who came up by cable car and are now crawling around the peaks and clogging the stairs. Our schedule works perfect nevertheless, we have enough time for pictures and sit on the cable car just on time, to see the mountains turned orange by the setting sun. At the train station (for the way back we choose the faster train, we really need a shower), we meet the Canadian couple that was with us on the Terracotta Warriors tour the previous day. They had taken the earliest fast train and spent the entire day on the mountain, visiting each of the 5 peaks. Impressive.
My last day in Xi’an has I think +43 degrees. Additionally, I got a blister now, and so Lianne and I are taking it really easy, walking lazily to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, and then to the souvenir market in the Muslim Quarter, where she teaches me how to negotiate. I buy sunglasses, wallets and a selfie-stick (because in China this is legit), and pay maybe 20% of the initial prices they claim. It’s awesome! Also, it’s like a game, it’s even fun – I think the vendors would be insulted if you just paid their first price instead of bargaining.
And then it’s already time to move on, and hop on a train again. At the bus stop, something really weird happens: out of a sudden, the sky turns darker and darker, and then an incredibly strong storm comes around the corner, breaking trees and pushing branches, sand and rubbish through the air. Almost me, as well. One woman grabs my arm and pulls me between the bus stop signs for protection. For a moment I am scared to soon get hit by something – then it is over already. For 1 Yuan, which is like 15 cents, I take my first bus in China, to the train station. Off to new adventures!