"Waiting for me with McDonalds..."
My short journey began on the 25th of June, which was the start of the Dragon Boat Festival in China. A holiday of eating Zong Zi and racing boats all while remembering a tale of a noble who died... or if you're like me you take the opportunity to travel. Though I may not have gotten far from the Martial Art School, its far enough for me to forget about my constant training, sweat, and soreness for a little bit.
As I laid back on the thin, creaky, train bed I thought about how odd this trip really is. I'm going on a vacation from my vacation. I'm going from learning Kung Fu all day to relaxing all day. Taking a moment to appreciate, and cherish, the opportunities life has given me really "connects" it all for me.
The long hours at a potato factory, dealing with the cold and clogged machines. The hammer mill that would start to smoke because of some "genius" idea to run craisins and practically sawdust together. Or even go further back, to Illinois where I was working a simple job with a lot of responsibilities. Going in early, leaving late. Never, would I have guessed that I'd be here in Xuzhou, China wandering around eating spicy foods with a very wonderful girl.
I hope all those that I've met before are doing on their own "adventures".
Friday Foods @ 大张烙馍 地道徐州味
"A wide variety of flavors and foods to match your taste"
When I got into the cab I really didn't expect much from this trip, I thought it would be a nice couple of days exploring a new city with my girl but it turned out to be so much more. Of course food was the main focus throughout the whole trip as we met at the train station and ate some McDonalds and soup dumplings. Sadly, as we walked around buying food, snacks, and checking into the hotel my body felt very weak, tired, and my stomach wasn't well. Most of my first day was spent sleeping as I battled this "stomach problem". It wouldn't be until later on that I realized my body has been so malnourished and tired that I had these problems.
Xuzhou ~ "As always, cool things to see in China"
"Not a big tourist attraction but, Xuzhou still has its sights."
Friday was another fun day of sleeping, relaxing, walking (a little bit) and eating some delicious Chinese food. Our hotel was next to a lake which we decided to walk to in the afternoon just to get out and see the sights. Sadly, fatigue and stomach issues still plagued me. I wasn't able to walk around the town like we'd normally do because of how tired/exhausted I'd feel after walking only a few blocks. This feeling followed me into the evening as well which led to me seeing most of Xuzhou through the window of a cab. I will say that Xuzhou is a beautiful (smaller) city day and night. Greenery is nicely placed throughout the city and the mountain backdrop brings it all together. At night color changing lights line the roads; the buildings are illuminated as well giving a nice "futuristic" vibe to the whole city.
Hot Pot @ 九鼎轩脆毛肚火锅
"How can you go to a new town and not try their hot pot?"
Saturday was a better day of exploring as I started to feel "healthy" again. My girlfriend wanted to go jogging in the morning so I joined her to see how I'd feel. I felt great. Not only was I able to see how the area was around our hotel but I also felt better than when I arrived in Xuzhou. Full belly from breakfast, a warmed up body from jogging, and a relaxed mind from a good nights sleep really changes a person. Saturday was also the day that we ate hot pot, which is a must have if you come to China. It might not be the most filling meal but with friends/family it is a nice experience. Trying out new foods, making your own sauces, and just talking about random things. All of these elements are what make eating hot pot with others such a great experience.
Mall Munchies ~ 酸辣粉，饺子，鸭血粉丝汤，小酥肉
"A trip to the mall led us to an unexpected dinner!"
Then, it was Sunday. A day that was supposed to be the last day of the trip. In a spur of the moment thought we extended our stay at the hotel one more day since I wasn't feeling the best early on (and slept most of the first and second days). I don't regret extending the trip at all. It was a day of relaxing, swimming, exploring, and (of course) more eating! It was also a day of good conversations with me talking over my thoughts about the Kung Fu School and future plans.
I felt better. I felt stronger.
The Last Supper @ 新贝乐意大利餐厅
Monday was a wonderful day that started at 6 in the morning. My body or mind must have been preparing for my return to the kung fu school as my morning thoughts were completely different compared to the rest of my "vacation". I got up from the extremely soft bed and began packing my things so that I wouldn't have to worry about that through the rest of the day.
We started our day by organizing our things and then heading to the hotel's gym. The gym was quite small and simple but I still made the most of it by running for a bit on the treadmill, lifting some weights and then stretching. Breakfast feels amazing after a morning workout but its even better when you can enjoy it with someone close to you. The pleasant conversation made time fly quite fast which meant we had to check out of this paradise of a hotel. A few cab rides and short walks around Xuzhou later, we finally reached our final "fun" destination... the steakhouse where we consumed quite a large amount of delicious food. Steak, Brown Sugar Pudding, Pasta, Pizza, and even a little "strawbeary" short cake.
I was full.
Somber Return ~ "难得相聚，好好放松一下"
"My last glimpse of Xuzhou followed by the crowded train station"
Although it was time to say goodbye, we had such a great time that it didn't feel too sad like before. What was made me sad were the realizations that I had during this trip: how weak my body had become, how poor of shape the Kung Fu School was in, how low my morale was before, and that I wasn't too happy about going back. I'm learning Kung Fu, hard work, and how to be more confident through this martial art but I couldn't even lift weights because of how poor shape my body was in. I couldn't walk around the town with my girl without getting fatigued. My stomach... oh man. I won't write about that.
All of this flexibility, these flips, techniques, and more that we are learning are worth nothing if the body isn't healthy enough to deliver. The way I feel now compared to how I felt when I first arrived in Xuzhou are so different... two kilograms worth of difference. (I went from 66 kg to 68 kg in just a few days, note: When I arrived in China I was 72 kg). I knew this place would change me, I just didn't know that it would change me so much. Going forward I still want to train like I usually do but I'm going to try something different.