On Monday morning I got up made sure I had everything with me and headed out to the train station. It was really strange not leaving on my bicycle. And carrying all of my stuff was a workout, but somehow I managed and was able to carry all of the bags on me. It’s a lot easier when my bike is doing the carrying. The train station was a bit chaotic and very crowded. But luckily the number of the train was on signs and easy to find where to go. When going in to the train there was three seats on one side and two on the other. And as I was walking through the train I was just hoping that I didn’t have a seat in the middle of two other people. And I was really lucky to get a seat on the side with two seats and also with a window seat. The train was absolutely packed and the seats were not that comfortable, maybe that’s why they call it a hard seat. But I was felt ready for 35 hours to Xi’an.
And the ride was really an experience. Even if no one knew a word of English I could communicate a little bit about where I was from and where I was going. And I could feel everyone looking at me since I was the only foreigner on the whole train. I’m lucky to be a very good sleeper and was able to get a couple of hours during the night and felt a little rested waking up in the morning with another 17 hours to go.
Outside the landscape had become greener then the dry west and it was interesting looking out of the windows seeing China pass by. But mostly I just read my book wanting the time to pass by much faster than it did. And eventually after a long, warm, sweaty, loud, smelly train ride we arrived in Xi’an at the middle of the night. I hadn’t gotten a invitation from any couchsurfer so I got in a taxi and headed for a hostel. The driver could find the hostel I wanted o go to but eventually found another hostel that luckily had a bed for the night. And after 35 hours in a train a shower and a soft bed felt like paradise!
Yesterday I had to change hostel since they didn’t have rooms available for the next days so I then went to the hotel I first wanted to go to. And I have to say the standards of hostels here in China are really good. I met two American guys who were in the same room and we went together on an hour bus ride to see the Terracotta Army. I is the big attraction here in Xi’an and it was really cool to see. And since we vent in the afternoon it wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. And somehow I managed to get in half price as a student by showing a business card from a man I met on the plane back to Sweden and was working at Stockholm University. It’s a good thing they didn’t look more closely at the name, because maybe I don’t really look like my last name would be Akaber =)
Another strange and funny thing that happened there was when a couple came up to me and I thought they wanted me to take a picture of them. But it turned out that woman wanted to be in a picture with me. That happens many times to me when I’m on my bike and meeting people, but I didn’t think I would happen in a touristic place like Xi’an when I’m out dressed like any other tourist.
Later that night I met up with Ruyang and his friend from Couchsurfing and we had a great night. First we walked around the Muslim quarter trying different food and then went for some beer and had nice conversation about everything and I got some advice about the rest of my time in China.
This morning I was woken up by a call on my phone from someone that spoke Chinese, so I just hung up and turned off the sound. But when I got up a little later I saw I had ten missed call and then answered the eleventh. This time someone spoke a little English and he was talking about my bicycle. I got in contact with my friend in Urumqi who called back and she told me that they just wanted to call and tell me that my bike had arrived in Beijing and was wondering when I was picking it up. It was a big relief knowing it’s there but until I have it in my hands I’ll still be a little worried. So tomorrow morning I’m getting back on the train heading for Beijing. But this time I spend a little more money on a speed strain that just takes 5 hours instead of 12 on the other train. I’m looking forward to seeing Beijing but at the same time I know it’s going to be a crazy big city with people everywhere. But at least I don’t have to ride my bike into the city.