The Terracotta Soldiers Chronicles

I have returned a conquering hero.  I may be 5 pounds heavier from all the gross McDonalds that the boys made us eat, but Operation: See the Terracotta Soldiers was a success! We also biked around the ancient city wall!

Oh! AND I found Starbucks! That beautiful green mermaid sign was the best sight I had seen all day.  Better than the Terracotta Warriors. 
Well before this post becomes a directionless rant let me lay out the weekend for you:
Friday afternoon we got on a bus to the city where the train was leaving from.  There were 6 of us going on this journey.  Me and my new Gege (older brother) Lee, the two girls from GA Kate and Alex, and the two boys from GA Josh and McKinnley all met at KFC.  After a quick dinner and watching them play spades we boarded our overnight sleeper train to Xian. 
Riding the train is a lot of fun, but the name “hard sleeper” is deserved.  My hips hurt the next day, felt like they had been bruised lol.  I really enjoy the train. I am excited that I will be riding one to Beijing in a couple weeks to see the Great Wall and all that jazz.
Once we were there the Lord really provided for us quite a bit.  We just decided to go to Xian for the weekend (how crazy is it that we can do that?).  The only plan we had was: see the terracottas.  So as we were standing outside the train station contemplating our next move a man came up to us and started describing this nice hostel, he took us to see it, and even got us a good price.
After we put our stuff in our rooms it was only 9 am so we went to McDonalds for breakfast. We didn’t realize that McD’s was on the top floor so first we walked into a noodle restaurant and nearly died of heart attacks that McDonalds served noodle soup for breakfast!  And thanks to that breakfast our risk of actual heart attacks has gone up… there is a reason I don’t usually eat at McDonalds. By the way, I am fan of a good bowl of rice noodle soup in the morning (good thing since I feel the calling to be here).
After that we asked around and found a cheap bus to see the terracotta soldiers.  While on the bus Lee made friends with a Chinese graduate student and his girlfriend.  Marty was a great man, very hospitable and friendly.  His girlfriend Vicky is one of the most adorable and beautiful Chinese girls I have ever seen, and she has such a sweet disposition. 
Marty ended up hanging out with us all day.  He was our tour guide so we didn’t have to pay for one, and he helped us get student discounts for our tickets!  He was definitely a God-send.  We even got separated from him for a while and after a few prayers were said we managed to run into them again.  Trust me that was a miraculous feet because there were thousands of people there.  What’s more: The next day Marty went to ALL he hotels around the train station looking for us because he lost our number.  When we got back we had a note waiting for us from him.
On that note, let me stop and assess the population situation of Xian briefly.  Xian has about 8 million people in it.  My home town is like 35,000 people.  Talk about a discrepancy!  When we were getting off the train there was literally a mass of people slowly shuffling as one out of the train station… you couldn’t breathe without hitting someone. Lol.  There are people everywhere in Xian.  You find yourself wondering… where do they all come from?!
The best part (ever, in the whole world): is that I am now used to it.  It doesn’t faze me to be the only or one of few foreigners in a mob of Chinese people, hearing Chinese spoken, and only seeing Chinese characters.  I honestly think it will be weird to be back in America where that won’t be the case by the time I come home…. I know I am weird.
In my element and loving it =)

Anyway after the Terracottas we spent the rest of Monday exploring and we stumbled upon Dairy Queen and more importantly on STARBUCKS!!!!  I am sure you have caught the many coffee references I have made in this blog… well I love coffee so Starbucks was such a blessing! Starbucks probably ranks 2nd on my favorite parts of Xian list (we will get to number one; hold your horses). 

Starbucks looked, smelled, and tasted like home.  It was amazing.  It was soooo clean, and it had a western toilet.  Did I mention that it had great coffee? Because it did.
Chinese and English on my coffee cup… doesn’t get much better.
The next morning we got up and after getting ready we all 6 of us had some time together just worshipping, reading, and praying.  Even if the purpose of our trip was primarily tourism that does NOT negate the call on our lives to be salt and light, so we set our focus on God.
That day we ate at McDonalds again… even sat in the same spot.  What we did next was the best part of the trip.  Lies, what we did later… next was just witnessing some fights at the train station when we got our return tickets.  But that day we went up on the old wall that goes around the old part of Xian.  Up on the wall you can rent a bike and ride it all the way around.  It was crazy hot, but that was the best part of the trip.  Despite the low visibility from the pollution, it was aweome to see the city, to fellowship, adventure, take pictures, ect… We were told the wall was 40km; turns out according to google it is actually just shy of 14km.  That is a bit of a let down, but still biking the ancient city wall is a must do if you ever have the chance to go to Xian. 
Continuing on with the chronology of my weekend:
We hit the town… actually we hit the shopping.  We went to this market where we bargained to our hearts content for some super adorable clothes… I know, I know.  But hey I am a girl.  While we were there McKinnley got some “manpris,” which he can surprisingly pull off quite well. Lol.
After all that we showered our grossly sweaty selves and ended up just hanging out at the hotel till 10:30 having ridiculous conversations (about guys and girls, and picking your nose. Don’t ask.).  At which point we discovered a great Chinese place open late across from our hotel.  It was that night we discovered that our hostel was actually in the red light district apparently. For the record we didn’t see anything really.  Just some girls on the street who would walk up and ask men if they wanted a miss.
The next day, Monday, was the day we all began our journeys home.  First the girls, then much later on the boys, then after dinner with Marty and Vicky it was Lee and I turn to begin our trek back here.  That was some journey.  The train was sold out of sleepers so he had the adventure of an overnight ride in bench seats, and then a couple hour bus ride home.  That journey was tiring, but I am glad I am a) small and b) have the ability to sleep soundly in wacked out positions.  I was born to travel. =)
Today has been relaxing, and now that I have wrote out everything that happened in Xian I need to spend some time asking the Lord to help me process everything I have seen, experienced, and learned so far.  I need to prepare to make the most out of the last half of my summer.
Over and out (for now),
Devra
Ps… pray for those who we made contact with this weekend… that the Lord would nurture those seeds.  
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