This being my first blog post on my new personal blog, I wanted to start by sharing my experiences from mine and Allison’s first trip to China!!
I’ll start by saying that I never EVER thought such a thing would be possible in my lifetime, and have been interested in China for quite some time – especially after the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the impressive opening ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEJg6SX-UZM.
The flight(s) were long as expected, and Ali and I endured them as best as possible. Fortunately, the flight over started in the evening (8pm), and as we were traveling with the rotation of the earth, it stayed dark the entire 20 hours of our trip. We were able to get a lot of sleep on the way over, and we arrived in Beijing at Sunday at 6am their time, disoriented but rested.
My first lesson was grabbing the first taxi driver that offered his services, and after a semi-expensive and harrowing ride to town, we got to our hotel – or what I thought was our hotel. I had gotten the address from the internet, not knowing there were 3 hotels with the same name, so our taxi driver dropped us off on the wrong side of town. Getting through the intense language barrier, the very nice concierges got us a ride to the correct hotel.
After getting to our room, (finally about 9:30am was when we got settled and showered) – we decided to head out on the town, and we decided to go to Tienanmen Square. Firstly though, we were hungry and decided to try and find something to eat. I am much more adventerous than Ali, so this proved harder than expected, considering English was just NOT something we could expect. Only photos, and our Google Translation app wasn’t functioning very well at all – in fact – I think China HATES Google in general. We found a noodle shop after much shopping, and I got my app to tell us at least what meat we were eating. I had Duck and Ali had Pork. We soon found out that ALL meat that is served in China is NOT boneless, and is in fact MOSTLY bones with very little meat attached. Still, we felt a bit better as the Pho like meal had a good broth and the noodles filled us up. So then it was off to Tienanmen Square.
I have known about this location since the 1989 Massacre and the famous image of the man facing the tank (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeFzeNAHEhU). We took a cab to the south western edge of the square and finally found a way in. The square is huge and Mao Ze Dung’s mausoleum is right in the center. We walked north and decided to go to the Forbidden City, another definite destination for me, and it was more amazing than I had imagined. It just kept going and going and got more impressive the further we went in.
We walked in as far as we could and then the day started getting to us and the exhaustion started setting in. We left via the east gate and ended up in a small “Hutong” area, a Hutong being a really old residential neighborhood. We were immediately approached by a couple of women complimenting our tattoos, and that suggested we go get some tea with them. Had a great conversation with them about China and the US and they were really delightful ladies. After we got the expensive bill, we found out that some tea houses hire ladies to get customers for them. So that was another lesson learned, but the conversation was worth the price in my opinion. They pointed us in the direction of a street market, and after walking a considerable distance following their directions, we found it right at the peak of our exhaustion. Deciding I would come back on my own, we thought it best to head back to the hotel and again try and find something to eat. I can’t remember what we ended up doing, because by that time we were both pretty exhausted, and ended up going to bed about 6pm China time.
On Monday we had found that Ali had the day off from her class, and only had to register. We went down to breakfast and then decided that we would try to go to The Temple of Heaven in southern Beijing. This temple was used by Emperors to make offerings to god for good harvests. It was a beautiful place for sure. Today, to avoid high priced taxis and the language barrier, I had resolved to get the Subway system figured out. It proved incredibly similar to the subways I have taken in The States and Europe, so this is how traveling was done the remainder of our trip. After the Temple we went over to the Olympic Village to check out the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. We later learned from a tour guide that the Olympic Village was placed on the very far north of the north-south Axis of the original layout of the city, with the South Gate, Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Drum and Bell Tower being formerly at the very top. It was also learned that the Bird’s Nest is round to signify HEAVEN, and the Water Cube is square to signify EARTH.
I spent the next three days on my own in Beijing as Ali was in class, so I did tons of exploring and learned a LOT. I went to the Drum and Bell Tower, and got lost in many many neighborhoods. It was quite a time.
On Friday we went with Ali’s classmates to the Great Wall and that was quite a sight. One that I will never forget. We didn’t have a lot of time there, but it was still an experience I will always remember.
Saturday was our last day, with our flight leaving at 9pm. We had gone to a silk factory on Friday and wanted to find some silk to bring home, so we did that and then decided to go to the Lama Temple and Confucius Temples as our final sites before the airport.
I will say that I never really had anything to eat that I truly loved, and Ali never felt like she got a good meal. It wasn’t until the last day when we got an Italian meal that she was able to really have a decent meal. I realized how truly lucky we are in this country and really wouldn’t ever want to live in China. It is just like a completely different planet, and I do not blame any Chinese for wanting to live in the USA.
The flight back was 25 hours, and brutal because we were going back in time and our clocks were SO much more jacked up than when we arrived in Beijing. So now I sit here typing early in the morning trying to get acclimated after a restless night. Fortunately, I have a couple days to get it back together. I have uploaded tons of pictures and maybe even some video links to check out for you if you care to!! Enjoy and I would love to hear your comments below.
PICTURES LINK: https://goo.gl/photos/LkCcn1YkZyh8aG3j6