Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 3 - Keep Climbing

Great Wall of China day! We got up early in the morning, I believe it was 5 or 6am? Then we hopped onto the bus and most people fell asleep for the 2/3 hour long ride, I couldn’t even though I tried really hard to. When we got there, a couple minutes into the walk, I felt tired and hot already but I kept walking for a long time.


Mini Wall before we started our hiking

Next thing I know, there is a huge steep flight of stairs that was uneven and very poorly done. I got dizzy looking up at it, and when I looked down behind me, I was scared as hell. So I just looked down at each step as I climbed it, one by one, reminding myself to breath now and then. This was what the rest of the climb was like. One step at a time, terrified. We made it up there after 1¾ hour and it felt awesome.


Steep scary stairs


Me. Midway there.


The group at the top. Minus a couple people that came late


View

After we rested and took pictures, we went back down the same way we came. Going back was much easier, but by then, I could feel my feet hurting. The slopes going down was scary too because it was hard to find good footing and my legs could easily give way since they were so tired.


Jon me and Jmanners bravely climbed the edge... scared as hell though

We went back on the bus and visited a village nearby to have lunch and a dialogue with the vice-mayor. She was a very cute and nice woman with a good head on her shoulders. She seems very understanding and patient, respectable. She spoke about the history of her village, what she does for it, and mainly about birth control as well as what the government is doing for the village and her role. It was very educational. Then she had her blind friend, who was getting help from the government, play some folk songs for us. He had a nice powerful voice. We left and after that, we were free.


Musician and us watching


Our blue-eyed handsome TA

We showered and split up. Some people stayed behind to have a talk during dinner with Jake’s father about international business and investment banking. The other group that I went with, ate dinner near the hotel then went to HouHai where we all bought 40s of Tsingtao and just drank on the street outside. Relaxing.



Houhai river


Drinking outside

Then we went to a hookah bar to chill.

Hookah

And finally went home. I, again, was wicked tired and slept like a baby.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 2 - Intensity

I woke up at 4:00am. We went to the flag-raising ceremony at Tianmen Square. It was really, really early, and the weather was chilly and biting at the skin of my legs, which turned pink and itchy. I honestly did not know what to expect from the flag raising ceremony but it neither surprised me nor bored me.


At Tianmen Square. There were a lot of people.

We walked back to the hotel, ate some more breakfast, and were off to the Temple of Heaven. We took the train there. I must say, the train station is extremely clean and seems very safe because we had to go through a security check. There was a lot of pink too!! Hen ke ai!


Jackie, Kyle and Tom on the pink/gray chairs waiting at the train station.

The park surrounding the temple of heaven was filled with elderly citizens practicing Chinese yo-yos and exercising.


Old man playing with his chinese yo-yo. Behind him, an old lady doing some tai chi.


A lady on the "outdoor gym" that looks like a playground.


Deutschbag John laying on the ground next to a group of elderlies doing TaiChi

The temple of heaven was huge and colorful, it seems like it was repainted again and again because the colors were so bold.


Kyle in front of the Temple of Heaven

The echo wall was pretty cool. We were chanting “Let’s go Red Sox / Let’s go Huskies” to the other group who was on the other side of the wall. We moved on and I got to stand at the place where the emperor communicated with the gods! I was exhausted and hungry by then though, too bad I couldn’t connect with any god to ask for food. Haha…

After that, we took the bus to the Forbidden City. It was crowded to the max. I wish I wasn’t as tired and as hungry as I was by then, otherwise I would have taken my time to really appreciate the architecture and cultural value of this historical landmark.


Outside the Forbidden City - a huge picture of Mao Ze Dong.

We finally got in and it was just a vast space with a lot of people spread out and a lot of sunshine hitting us hard.

We finally had lunch, which was at some noodle place. Pretty yummy. I got full immediately. We weren’t done yet though, but our next activity was pretty cool. We got dropped off at HouHai, a nice place to hang out near a lake surrounded by bars and hookah cafes. We sat in a bar with nice couches and drank, then we went to a cheaper place on a rooftop and drank.


This is a stand at HouHai. It's colorful. Everything else there was colorful like this during the daytime. You should see it during the nighttime. Beautiful.

Then we went back to the bus where we got driven to a local comedy place. We just sat and waited to leave. There was a family of cute dead-looking cats/kittens napping. They were cute. Then we ate roast duck, my first good meal, and fell asleep at the Peking Opera show. Almost everyone was nodding off. The grown ups were laughing at us. The day was completely jam packed. The minute I got back, I showered and fell asleep with no problem at all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 1 - Welcome to China

I finished my finals for Northeastern University and spent the last few days in Boston celebrating the end of the year and the end of a couple of my senior friends’ college career. On April 29th, the day before I was leaving for China, I started packing. I was excited to go, because I rarely travel, especially out of the country, but it did not feel like I was actually leaving Boston. I slept and woke up later than planned. I finished packing and my parents drove me to the airport, after dropping off my youngest sister to BLA for high school. I said my goodbyes to my parents at the airport, and went in search of other dialogue members. We signed in, got our tickets, checked out luggage, went through security, waited for the plane, got on the plane, fell asleep immediately, got off the train in Chicago after 2 or 3 hours, waited for the next plane, got on, somehow managed to survive the 13 hour flight and then I was in China, nothing too special though. They fed us Chinese noodles, it was called Chinese noodle.

The airport was clean, and there was a train that took us to the baggage claim. We claimed out baggage. Then went to wait for the bus that was taking us to our hotel.

Here is Jack Lo, aka J.Manners, in front of the airport

We got on and rode to the hotel, taking pictures of China as we passed by. Seemed very American-like. They have a vry popular brand name of clothing called Kappa!

Word.

The hotel was nice.

Kyle in the hotel phone booth

Jacquie was and still is my roommate. She’s a cool Beijing girl. We dropped our stuff in the hotel room and then went to a nearby local restaurant to eat dumplings and other food. Not really that good. I was hungry though, so I ate.

Not-so-yum

I was extremely exhausted but the night wasn’t over yet. We walked around the streets at the night market. It was pretty interesting, but I was too tired to truly enjoy it.

Night Market guy. They had a lot of stuff on sticks.

We finally walked back to the hotel. I showered and knocked out around 10pm.