In most Dragons trips the students are given an opportunity to test our planning, organizational, and of course Chinese skills through a project called X-Phase. While often overwhelming the planning process allowed us to be creative and also work on our communication skills as a group. Most of our planning time was spent finding a hotel. We spent hours searching the web for a proper hotel using Chinese sites and American sites alike. After spending so much time searching we had finally found an Air BnB that had enough room for all 13 of us and was within our budget. Mission accomplished! We were able to continue planning our activities and meals.
We first made our way to Xizhou Old Town by bus. We entered a rustic collection of shops, restaurants, and miscellaneous stalls and had to keep ourselves from getting side tracked by all that we came into contact with. We learned the name of a house turned hotel called the Linden Centre where we participated in a quick tour led by American students working as interns there. Following lunch we began to explore the old town spending time checking into stalls and taking interest in the tie dye patterns of Bai culture (a prominent ethnic minority in the Yunnan region). We then found a bus back to the Eco House (a guest house run by one of our instructors).
After a long walk from the bus stop we gathered our bags and made our way to the Air BnB. We reached the cross streets of the Air BnB in waves and when we all met up at the corner the news was broken to us, the Air BnB was a scam and the man we had booked the rooms with was no longer answering calls. Panic ensued as we realized that it was up to us to quickly find a new place to stay for the night. We broke off into groups quickly searching for a place to stay. We scoured the main street armed with nothing but our Chinese skills and came back 30 minutes later with a place to stay. In all of the chaos we found our own accommodations without the use of the internet or even the help of our instructors. After we put all of our belongings in the room we set out for a cheap dinner that we spent speaking entirely in Mandarin. Faced with a massive challenge on the first night of our X-Phase we ended up in nice and affordable beds with full bellies and excitement for the day to come.