Yes I’ve finally realised that the desert is home – at least for the next ten months.  My time in Xi’an, whilst good – I got all the supplies I needed and met some fantastic people – it’s nice to come back to my little apartment, with my familiar things and the reassuring sounds of music from the school at the end of classes again.

I should have left Xi’an yesterday as the day was basically a write off because of the crowds – a combination of it being a Saturday and still being National Holiday week meant that everywhere was still horrifically busy.  I got a tuktuk car down to the Shaanxi History Museum, stupidly thinking that it might be quiet.  Having stood in a queue that was about two thousand people long and moved about three steps in an hour, and that was only to get the ticket, the museum was free, I gave up and got another tuktuk back to the hostel – thank goodness they are cheap! 

I decided to walk down to Starbucks but realised there was a sort of historical street across the road, so had a wander down that.  It was really fascinating, it sold basically lots of craft things and calligraphy stuff and the old buildings were amazing.  Apparently the Stele Museum (basically exhibiting lots of steel but on the guide map) was down this street, yet another thing I’ve come soooo close to seeing!  Trying to walk down to Starbucks was awful, it was only 1pm and everywhere was crowded, so I grabbed a coffee and decided to do a final Walmart sweep in case I had missed something.

Result – microwave noodles and rice 🙂  I know that is sheer laziness, but you get excited over things like that that you can also get in the UK…..or perhaps its just me!  I was back in the hostel by 3pm again, sat and relaxed and chatted to some people and headed out about 6pm to try and get some night time shots of the city wall.  Thwarted again – seriously, where do all these people come from??  You could barely get up the steps to the wall, so I gave up – again – and felt a final Starbucks was in order.  In the weirdness of coincidences that my time in Xi’an has thrown up, I met one of my female students walking in the underpass under the Bell Tower….8 million in Xi’an and I keep seeing the same people over and over again!

The bus journey home was uneventful – my familiar driver wasn’t on it but he was at the station, so more hugs and trying to explain I’d been on holiday.  Getting to the bus station was eventful – always ALWAYS check what bus station you arrive at, in a big city…how was I to know that my bus didn’t leave from the main bus station, but from one that wasn’t even on m y map!  Thanks to the help of a random Chinese guy (there’s always lots of random people appearing and helping me!) he managed to hail a taxi for me and tell the driver to take me to the bus station to get to Jingbian.  I even managed to buy my ticket myself and be understood!

So laundry is done, I’m all unpacked and my frosties have pride of place on my kitchen windowsill…I’m not sure I can actually eat them, having craved them for so long,  It’s lovely to be back, to be sitting in jammies and a cardigan and standing on my balcony feeling the breeze of the desert rather than the sweat running down my back whenever I move.  My familiar lady at the shop waved to me when I came to the apartment block, and even I think understood that I’d been in Xi’an.

So the main purpose of the trip was achieved.  I got everything I wanted, and more (can’t wait to go to bed to sleep on my pillows!).  I met brilliant people, sat and chilled and drank wine and chatted about the problems of teaching in China, and swapped notes and stories and experiences.  I saw 50% of what I wanted to see, I will go back to see the Warriors one day, just not during holiday time.  Here is now familiar and comfortable though, I love my little apartment, I can look up and see students and hear the familiar sounds, and I know my way around Jingbian fairly well now, even which supermarkets I can buy what food in.  Yulin is only an hour away by bus, so I can go there at weekends if I desperately feel the urge to get away from here, but tonight I’m going to curl up under my furry blanket with my precious white wine and a packet of Walmart Smartprice microwave popcorn that somehow jumped into my suitcase, and just reflect on how far I’ve come in the last nearly two months. 

And this week is the week that all my parcels should arrive….we live in hope 😉