Well we got back to Xian a couple days ago and are glad to be home after having what might be one of the worst travel days of our lives. But we had an incredible trip and here’s a rundown of the second part.
We headed back to our favorite Western café, the Greenhouse, to get some pizza and cinnamon rolls. After that, we, along with a family we’re friends with in Xining, went back to the People’s Park to check out a kid’s area we had missed our first time there. It was incredible. This is how I know it was incredible, my kids played for 3-4 hours and never once wanted to go home. Even when we wanted to leave it was us parents who initiated it (as opposed to the typical fashion, which is my kids whining to leave). One side note about this time was that Sydney and her friend found a butterfly at the park that they played with. Unfortunately the butterfly’s demise came when it was stepped on; luckily, it was given a proper funeral. That night we watched a movie and had some noodles.
The afternoon of Day 5 we boarded a bus that was bound for the mountains. One part of our family trip was going up into the mountains with some friends of ours and we were very much looking forward to it. Going up into the mountains was really cool and really reminded me of the area just outside of Denver. When we got to the campsite/resort we were going to be staying at we were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. That night I was playing with Lily and I made a paper football for us to play with and the first thing she says to me when I finished it was “I’m gonna make it pretty” and then proceeded to color it and make it ‘pretty’. Footballs aren’t made to be pretty! Man I need Caleb to get a lot older a lot faster.
Much of this time was spent getting to know some foreigners that were also with us. It was fun hearing about their experiences and lives in different areas of China. We had a couple bonfires and even got to eat hot dogs and smores… yummmmmm. There was a beautiful river that ran past where we were staying and the kids loved running down to it to splash and play. They also spent, no less than, 10 hours each (over three days) playing next to a pond that was built in the middle of where we were staying. One afternoon Heather, Sydney and Lily even got to go see a waterfall, while Aubrey, Caleb and I rested. It was cool to get to see our kids playing with tons of other kids during our time in the mountains and to do some fun activities like go on nature walks (which they don’t get to do in our big city of Xian). In the end our time was very refreshing and much appreciated.
Day 8 (Travel Home)
(Note to reader, some parts of this story involve throwing up, if you don’t care to read about it I suggest moving along. If you’re brave, continue on.)
This was quite possibly the worst or second worst travel experience of my life. Like I already said we were staying in the mountains alongside a river. Well each night we would have a heavy thunderstorm, which was cool, because it’s not something we experience in Xian. What wasn’t cool was that the afternoon we were supposed to leave the road had been blocked by some mudslides from all the rain we were getting; we heard that it would take 2 days to clear the roads…
I was pretty stressed, because our train was leaving (with or without us) at 9:15pm that night and it was supposed to take 2-3 hours to get down the mountain and would take another hour to get to the train station. The bus that was going to bring us down the mountain was not coming, so we were stuck. It was around 3pm that we heard of some locals willing to take us down the mountain (for a price), however, they were going to take us down the mountain the long way, which wasn’t blocked. We set off at 3:40pm and our family (plus another girl) all crammed into this guy’s small car and started off. It was a bit scary as we drove past areas where rocks had been washed over the road, not knowing if more would come down on us. About halfway through our journey Lily said to Heather “My tummy hurts”, this is never a good thing to hear. A little later I had her come up to the front of the car and sit on my lap and hold a plastic bag. And yes, you can guess the next part, she throw up in the bag. What you might not be able to guess is that the bag had a hole in it, yuck! Our children got pretty antsy as the trip wore on (which is understandable) and our journey down the mountain took us 4+ hours. A lot of this time was spent driving through small towns that street’s were muddy and filled with potholes. And not a single minute of it was I relaxed, because the thought of missing our train (and losing a bunch of money) constantly loomed in my mind.
We got to Xining and quickly switched our stuff out of the car taking us down the mountain and into the van that was going to be taking us to the train station and we were off again. We got to the train station 15 minutes before our train was to depart (due in large part to a friend and his wife helping us get onto the train).
We settled in and the kids fell asleep and I was sure it would be smooth sailing home. That was until the guy sleeping in the bunk bed above ours fell asleep and started snoring. I laid there struggling to fall asleep. I woke up around 4am to a familiar scene, Aubrey telling me “My tummy hurts”. By the time I climbed down to her bed she had already started throwing up. We got the bed and Aubrey’s clothes all changed and cleaned up and all went back to bed. That morning sweet Aubrey’s tummy still hurt and she had some accidents in her pants (poor girl). It was 9am and we were supposed to arrive in Xian at 9:55am, we were tired, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted from our travels. But we held on hope that we would soon be home, that was until we were told the train was going to be arriving 2 hours late.
We arrived home at 1pm, nearly 21 hours after leaving the mountains of Xining. (And at 2pm I went to teach for 2 hours, hahaha.) We’re glad to be home and know that we wouldn’t have survived our trip home if it weren’t for our friends helping us tons and people praying for us, thank you.
In a few days I will post some pictures from our time.