Wow-time really does fly when you’re abroad! In the blink of an eye it’s been a few weeks and I haven’t uploaded any new posts!

A few weeks back during the last day of our independent travel week, two of my friends and I woke up, having no idea what the day would hold for us! All we knew is that we had to be at the Xi’an airport by 8:30PM. The plan for the day was one we were all particularly excited for: Spa Day! It was meant to be a relaxing day of hot springs and massages after a week of walking and 1 1/2 months of living in China. We looked up a natural hot springs near Xi’an and traveling there was a lengthy adventure in and of itself. We were flying in the wind and asking many locals which way to go. They were all so kind and it was fun to use the Chinese we’d been learning! During this trip I realized I had become more comfortable speaking Mandarin and more confident in my listening skills. They were certainly put to the test on that day!

After jumping into an authentic Chinese experience at the hot springs, we knew we had to return to Xi’an, but didn’t know how. We ended up taking inspiration from the old adage “follow the north star” and walked down the mountain, westward towards the now-setting sun. [Advice: Keep in mind what direction home is! If you can’t find your way back, you can at least put yourself in the right direction.] In an attempt to find one of the unmarked bus stops,

Our kind Xi'an friend
Our kind Xi’an friend

continued walking until we ran into a middle-aged local lady on the path who was also waiting for the bus. No more than 10 minutes later, we find ourselves on the way to Xi’an, literally piled up-my friend was on my lap-and hitchhiking in the back of a local man’s small, private rental car. The kind lady had talked to the nice man and his driver, telling them about her “American friends” who needed to go to Xi’an, and they helped us out with no hesitation. I would define the following 40 minutes of my life as cozy, lively and flabbergasting. The five of us talked the entire time, became friends on WeChat and were even introduced to the nice man’s son, who lives in Beijing and could show us around if we ever went back.

Piled-up but happy hitch-hikers!
Piled-up but happy hitch-hikers!

There was a lot of laughter and conversation with some selfies thrown in. We had no idea how far they would be taking us or what other transportation we would take afterwards, but we were together and knew we were headed in the right direction. Without any requests on our part, they got us onto a bus, which took us to an inner-city subway stop, and helped us pass through the subway during rush hour. It was like magic! There was no way we would have made it to our plane in time without them; we were the last to board the plane with ten minutes to spare and hadn’t wasted much time getting there from our hotel.

During that day we used 8 different modes of transportation and probably spoke to at least 40 Chinese native speakers (we got really lost a few times)! All three of us found the value in staying positive and thinking outside of the box in the confusing moments. We helped and reminded one another to pull back our frustration and soak in this day (no pun intended). Our trip could have had a resentful ending but it really turned into a remarkable day I’ll never forget!

Chinese words: 搭车   dāchē   to hitch-hike

难忘   nánwàng   unforgettable; memorable

Leave a Reply