We are back in Xi’an for our last couple of days of this trip. It’s really hot, 106 today, and we made an early shopping run this morning, hoping to avoid the big heat of the midday. Xi’an is vibrant no matter the weather or time of day or night, and we meandered through the crowds to finish up our gift gathering.

Summer is a rough time for these training trips. In some ways the taiji is better, the body is warm and supple and stances can be long and strong. But the energy drains quickly, and the flies and mosquitoes can drive one to distraction. The moments in the AC become so appreciated, especially when a working unit is not guaranteed. I haven’t experienced a real winter in China, but I can imagine the yin to the summer’s yang, the opposite end of the weather spectrum.

Of all the places we visited this time, Chenjiagou remains closest to my heart. I have loved seeing the village change over the last decade. The things I can count on – the corner store with the really cold drinks, the bun stand with the yummy lunch/dinner substitutes, and dependable clothing stores – these things remain. The training with Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing remains superbly consistent (regardless of the continent). Walking around seeing so many people practicing taiji warms my heart.

The rest of the trip was fun. I enjoyed Huashan, although it wasn’t what I expected. Louguantai was more crowded this this time, and the hotel was different, but the teachings were top notch. I found my moments of silence when needed. The other students with whom we traveled were lots of fun – Ireland, Germany and Switzerland were all represented.

It’s nice to be back in Xi’an to close the trip. Our hotel room is nice, with all the conveniences, great shopping nearby, and the Olympics on the tv. Next year will be taiji in Germany with Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing and Master Chen Ziqiang. Returning home tomorrow I am filled with excitement at seeing my cats and sleeping in my own bed, and as always, a bit of melancholy at leaving Chenjiagou behind again, not knowing when I’ll return.