There is always a certain danger that comes with expectations. When we build a place up in our minds to the point that no real place can live up to.
Similiarly, I’ve always hated endings to things, because your last day of school or your last day at a job are rarely special or memorable, but we always expect the ending to somehow make it significant.
So basically my last three days in china that I spent in Xian were doomed from the very beginning.
I had been looking forward to going to Xian, the ancient capital of china, since I decided to go to china. All I knew was that the Terra Cotta Warriors were there and since clearly I have such an overwhelming love of terra-cotta and architecture, seeing them would obviously be life changing and amazing.
Somewhere along the lines I learned about HuaShan and how its The MOST Dangerous Hike in the World…. and got really excited about doing it. I saw the crazy pictures people took of themselves climbing on shoddy boards and have had that high on my China bucket list. (I do indeed have a China bucketlist)
My first day in Xian was lovely, I got there in the morning, met up with a friend and we took off to ride bikes around the city wall. Xian is the only city in China to still have its city walls intact and it makes for a lovely bike ride. Also, for some unknown reason there were these crazy ocean displays that were hysterical to ride your bike through.
Afterwards we wandered the muslim quarter of Xian that was filled with some of the most delicious street food I’ve had ever, and then took a terrifying tuk-tuk ride through the crowded streets back to the hostel where we collapsed laughing. It was a great day, just wandering around checking out the city without any solid plans.
The next day we hiked Hua Shan…. and completely missed the part of the trail I wanted to hike on. I did zero research on the trail ahead of time, and we just climbed approximately 304948203408 steps. The sky was crazy polluted and I was probably the most miserable hiking partner ever. It was outstanding and lovely and I could not stop being grumpy I wasn’t doing the trail I had spent months planning to do.
The next day we went to the Terra Cotta warriors, my last day in china, my last great experience, like number 4 on lonely planet’s top china experiences, the greatest architectural discovery…..
I was over it in like 40 minutes.
I’m sorry but I’m not wildly fascinated by archeology, and once you see them, you’ve seen them. They’re not doing anything. I’m generally more nerdy about things but I could barely make myself read the information about them. They do all have unique faces and the excavation process in interesting…. but holy goodness, I’m not an archeology aficionado apparently- and let me be clear that I was interested- just for 30 minutes.
Needless to say I was disappointed by my last two days. I wanted to be overwhelmed by the magic of China and have some deep meaningful goodbye to the country I loved so much. I think I put so much pressure on the last adventures that nothing short of meeting a wild panda or seeing a fire breathing dragon could have really met those expectations.
Cities are just cities, they can be cool and amazing, but they can’t necessarily make us feel what we want to feel. Its like couples that go to Paris thinking its going to be romantic just to find that they’re the same couple in Paris as they are in Michigan. Xian is a very cool city, but it couldn’t give me some crazy magical experience just because I wanted it. Really the times I’ve been overwhelmed by a place is when I go just curious to see whats there. I has zero expectations of Langmusi and its the place in china I dream of going back too, I didn’t even think I would like Shanghai and I don’t think I stopped smiling when I was there. Maybe places can’t really carry the weight of our expectations and endings can’t always be always be the way they are in stories- with a huge significant scene that ties together the whole plot.
Later that night I left my hostel to get some noodles. I was feeling all emotional about leaving in the morning and got confused with my vocab while ordering the noodles . Some Chinese girls from my hostel saw me struggling and helped translate – then paid for the noodles. They were just helping a lost laowai girl, the way people had been doing since I first set foot in that crazy country.
It was probably the best goodbye China could have given me.
Have you ever set yourself up with too many expectations for a place? Do you have a good way to say goodbye to a place? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget you’re welcome to follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Bloglovin