Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beijing

        On the night before our big trip to Beijing, Once again I burned myself, this time it was my fault. Cleaning my water bottle with boiling hot water, the bottle became pressurized the water burst though the lid, spraying all the hot water over my hand. After endless comments from Scott and my roommates, little would we know it was a bit more serious than they thought.
                      

           I took 3 three days off from work to go to Beijing with Scott and spend Christmas there. We left on Thursday December 23rd and came back on Monday the 27th. After flying to Beijing, we spent an hour or so trying to find our hotel, The Kings Joy Hotel In the freezing cold. After getting bad directions from the Internet and facing the language barrier, we got a real glimpse of real China. While it was said that in Beijing they speak more English, I found this theory to be wrong.  After multiple unsuccessful trips with taxis not knowing where to go, we finally budged and knowingly got ripped off by a hush hush taxi that knew where to go, so that we could get out of the cold.  The hostel/ hotel that we were at was quite nice considering we only were paying roughly $6 a night. Our roommate was an old guy from Malaysia who was very reserved but nice. After walking around for about an hour around our hotel, we were literally within 200 meters of Tiananmen Square without actually knowing it. Fighting the -11 degree weather and being in a different environment, Scott got a bad case of Homesickness.  The next day we explored the town going to many of the various tourist attractions. We went to Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Jingshan Park, and Beihai Park. Unlike Shanghai, which has a fantastic metro system, that has a station every few blocks; Beijing is not so fortunate, which meant that there was a lot of walking and getting lost trying to find paces.
Temple of Heaven
Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen, Water was frozen over











            The next day we Spent Christmas going to the Great Wall. While many of you were cuddled up in blankets opening Christmas presents, Scott and I were in the cold trekking up one of the greatest structures to ever be built and one of the 7 wonders of the world. There are 3 different locations where you can visit the Great wall but based on the departure times of the guided tours, we decided to visit the Mutianyu part. After an hour and a half bus ride we were finally to the Great Wall. Because of the terrain and limited time (an hour and a half at the wall), we had to take a cable car up to station 11. With an uneven pathway and steep and never-ending amount of stairs, walking the Great Wall is not as easy as it looks.
           By days end Scott and I trekked it up to station 23 but due the time limited time, we were just short of station 24, the highest station. The Great Wall was quite an impressive structure to see and it blows my mind with the history behind it.  I can only imagine all the work it took to build the intricate wall as well as the thoughts of the Mongolians, when they first saw it. The final part of our Tour was to the famous Silk market museum. The museum explained the history and importance of Silk to China and it was very interesting to see how Silk was made. Inside the museum there was people actually making silk and turning them into products. To top off the day, Scott and I had a romantic Christmas dinner at Pizza Hut. Known as a classy, ritzy establishment in China, we sat down for a Christmas pizza. Although it is much nicer than the Pizza Huts in the states and offers an environment similar to that of the Olive garden, it is still funny to think that Pizza Hut is for the classy and rich, not college students. To top off our Christmas, we went out to a place called Vic’s, which was a bar/ club for their Christmas party. Filled almost an even ratio of locals and expats, it was nice to see that we weren’t the only ones away on Christmas.                                        

                           
                                    Merry Christmas From the Great Wall!
Great Wall staircase leading to station 17
On the Great Wall
Gotta Rep that O
Above Station 18
Christmas Dinner @ Pizza Hut
Vic's Christmas Party















         On Sunday we went to the Forbidden City,Olympic park then explored the Summer Place. All trip I had wanted to walk on the frozen ice but unfortunately I had not had a chance to do so, that is until we went to the Summer palace, the summer destination of the emperors, hence the name, is located right next to a big lake. With the temperature in the negative degrees, this lake was completely frozen over and many people were out on it walking around, skating, and even sledding on it.  While at the Summer Palace the sunset was unbelievable.At night we went to the street market that sold a variety of  interesting street foods including starfish,scorpion,maggots,baby birds, and tarantulas.
At Olympic park in front of the Birdsnest
Being a Rebel @ Summer Palace
17 Arch Bridge @ Summer Palace


Another view of 17 Arch Bridge












Statue on 17 Arches Bridge











Sunset at the Lake at Summer Palace







Joyriding in a Tuk tuk
Some of the Yummy Street Food
Caught red handed eating scorpion











            It was real nice to come home to Shanghai. While it was great to experience the traditional culture and all the history that Beijing had to offer, I couldn’t see it as a place I would want to live.  My time with Scott was a dream come true and the best Christmas present I could ever ask for. Not only were we together exploring the world, something that we had always talked about doing from a young age but also it gave both of us new prospective of life. For Scott, he has a case of the travel bug and realized that the world is bigger than life outside the States and there is so much to see, while for me I was struck with the reality that I am turning my dreams into reality and doing what I have always wanted to do. While a simple trip, it has been the best part of my time in China and one of the best in my life. It is not every day you can say that your best friend is with you exploring the unknown and across the world,turning the page in a book we call life.



        

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