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Mission Accomplished (Joanie)

An organizer learning the ropes

sunny 74 °F

Micah and I have been moving from city to city every few days or so. We're trying to take in as many of China's highlights as possible. I didn't realize how much of a struggle it was going to be to live out of a backpack. The constant unpacking and repacking, rearranging so you have access to important things like umbrellas, snacks and toilet paper on top, keeping track of important documents like passports and train tickets...it's not easy. It's making the organizer in me a little crazy.

Last Monday we were preparing to leave the city of Xi'an for Luoyang via train that afternoon. I took my time and carefully packed my backpack, situating heavy items on the bottom so the weight would sit on my hips, not my shoulders-my last packing mistake. As we were about to check out of our hostel a flood of fear washed over me as I realized I was missing my passport. I took a deep breath and we dove in to tear my bag apart not once, but three times before we finally found it tucked into a discreet location (so it wouldn't get stolen of course). Everything went precariously back into my bag, Micah cracked a joke to get me to loosen up and we set off for the day, my shoulders hurting. Project fail.

The train station in Xi'an was a sardined cesspool of humanity. We pushed and shimmied through 1,000's of people, searching to find the gate for our train...in Chinese. There wasn't a word of English in sight. It took a few games of charades with some confidant looking people in uniforms for us to find out that our train was delayed. Defeated, we set up camp atop our backpacks on the loogie washed floor.

After a few hours of "I spy" and "We're going on a trip to Luoyang and I'm taking..." our 5pm train departure finally showed up on the board to leave at 22:45, which eventually turned into 23:45. Sometime between 22:45 and 23:45, I managed to tuck my train ticket into a safe, discreet location. I'm guessing I did this absentmindedly because Micah and I were trying to avoid creepy, bad breath, leg touching, smiley guy who had been bugging us for hours. Relief came in the form of hearing the unlocking of gates. We quickly mounted our gear and joined the queue of shuffling sardines into the passageway. Then it hit me. The day's 2nd wave of panic flooded over me when I realized that I had done it again. " I just had my ticket! Where is it?" I persuaded Micah to go on, while reassuring both of us that it must be in one of the 20 cargo pockets in my pants. Ok. It must be in one of the 4 pockets in my jacket. Or maybe one of the 65 pockets in my pack?

I'll never forget the look of mouth dropping disbelief on Micah's face from the other side of the steel gate. Ready to burst into tears, I looked at him in total and squeakily exclaimed, "I don't have it". Luckily, the station worker about to lock the gate (as everyone had passed through but me at this point), had some sympathy for our panic stricken faces and allowed me to pass. At our next check point Micah yelled, "Joanie just get on the train" as I stood, struggling with the charades game that demonstrated I bought a ticket and had it an hour ago, but it was lost now. I hurried past the worker and got onto the train. 2 checkpoints down. We didn't have to worry again until leaving the station at the end of our ride.

Of course our adventure couldn't stop there. Our train stopped moving around 2AM. After a fitful, sleeping upright, night's sleep, I awoke at 7am to discover that we were in the same spot we were in 5hrs earlier. As if that wasn't bad enough, creepy, bad breath, smiley guy was sitting on the end of my seat and greeted me with a cheerful "Herro!" I said hi, and faked sleep to try to get rid of him When I peeked my eyes open 1/2 hr later, he had moved across the aisle and was sleeping on someone else's seat.

Around 8, a train employee with an electronic megaphone started shouting commercials for toothbrushes, smokers toothpaste, towels and magazines. Annoyed, Micah grabbed his camera, marched up to her and started taking pictures. The train erupted out in laughter and she turned off her megaphone in a huff and continued on with her toothpaste proselytizing. When Micah returned, creepy, in need of a toothbrush, smiley guy hovered as Micah put on his ipod and tried to take an earphone out to have a listen. Micah flatly refused and so he sat himself down across the aisle and plastered his smiley gaze in my direction.

A young, English basic speaking, Chinese girl showed up and plopped down next to me just as the men across the way were starting up a conversation about Micah and I that involved staring and pointing. She became the interpreter to a round of questions that included, "Where are you from?. Are you married? How hold are you? Do you have kids?" and comments like " His feet are huge. He is a giant. Your eyelashes are long and pretty".

An hour and an interrogation later, the train started moving again, putting us into Luoyang around 11am.

One last check point to get through. I confusedly gazed at the ticket taker at the exit gate, flashed a smile, a "Nǐ hǎo", and walked right past him.

Mission accomplished. Adventure complete. Whew. Someone tell me. When does the vacation start?

Posted by bucketbath 07:34 Archived in China

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Looks like you guys need to head to the thai islands or Bali a lil early!! - - = = Beaches

by Chad

What an adventure! You are traveling on "asian time" now. Makes you really appriciate the travel in the US that you sometimes thought was bad, hugh. Glad you made it there safely. I am sure that many of the people there haven't seen too many white Americans- you are truely ambassadors!

by Mauri Johnson

Loogie washed floor and bad breath! You will come back and think the subway is dreamy.

by Cari

ha! you are so funny, joanie! love this. maybe you guys should start flying! :)

by chinkara

Wow and double Wow. I know what you are going through Joanie must have been stressful but I couldn't help laughing at creepy smelly breath smiley guy who is in need of a toothbrush (should have bought one from the lady with the megaphone for him). I hope you lost him finally when you got to your destination. Wow the stories you and Micah will have to tell.
Enjoy and be careful Love you

by Aunt Pam and Uncle Hal

Love this! Thanks for posting. Though I may not be commenting, I'm reading it all.

by Karen

Sounds like every trip I have ever been on with Micah. Just wait until he forgets the map and realizes miles later.

by JB

LOVE the stories!!! MISS YOU!!! xoxo Court

by courtney iverson

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