This is what you’ve all been waiting for! I’ve taken ages it seems to write this. I’m so sorry it’s taken this long. I’ve been visiting family and friends, going all over New England and working. But the wait is over!
Let’s go back to August 10th the day my mom arrived! I woke up at 5am, and let’s be real I really didn’t sleep because I was too excited. I met the car taking me to the airport to pick up my mom which was kindly arranged by my work, they got reallllllly nice and surprised me. We waited at the exit for my mom and she finally came through and I got a big smile on my face and waved and wouldn’t you know it being the only white girl with semi-blonde hair in a sea of Chinese people, she didn’t see me. I started towards her and she finally saw me she gave me a big hug and started to cry a little bit! We made our way back to my apartment in the hired car and I made her breakfast, a big American breakfast with eggs, bacon, yogurt, coffee, potatoes, and oatmeal! The rest of the day we walked around my neighborhood, she met some of my friends and we went to dinner with people from my work! There were supposed to be more people there but they couldn’t make it for whatever reason. Oh well. Jessica and Neal are great so my mom, Jared and I didn’t mind. We had a great dinner with no weird food besides the inside of bamboo which looked like a wet sock and had quite an interesting texture.
August 11th: We packed, cleaned and moved out of my apartment. It ended up being an ordeal. The Chinese have to make it so hard sometimes. I apparently never paid my water bill but in my defense I thought it was this other bill that I was paying. It wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t a lot of money but it took like 4 hours to settle that and the little bit I owed for the 10 days of August. We went to our hotel near the airport called the Days Inn. Let me tell you, it is a 5 star hotel. We walked a little ways to get there in the rain and the back of my legs were covered in mud. We walk into the hotel and the maître d’hôtel brought me wet wipes wearing his white gloves. We get into the room and the tub is so big it could fit like 3 people! I almost cried. Y’all know how my bathroom was, this was like a dream come true. The beds were like heaven too. It was amazing! It’s definitely is the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
August 12: We flew to Beijing and met up with Jenny! We went to Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and to an Acrobatic show.
August 13th: It’s time to see the Great Wall. We all get up early and meet up with Eric and his friend Stephen. We take a bus to the middle of nowhere where we had to hire a guy to take us the rest of the way to Mutianyu which is a little farther away from Beijing but definitely worth the trip. There weren’t that many people and it was beautiful! We met another American along the way and he was really cool. We even had lunch at Subway and some Baskin Robins… go figure. Fun facts about the Great Wall: You can see it from space, it is a little over 13,000 miles long, the stairs on the Great Wall are scary- some are short, some are tall, some dip in the middle and some of them are missing! That night we board a train to Xi’an.
August 14th: We arrive in Xi’an pretty early. We go to McDonald’s and get some coffee. Then we try to get a taxi but no one will take us. Seriously we walked around the block and no one would stop and pick us up. We were standing on a corner wondering what we should do and this guy came up and asked where we were going. I showed him the address and he said he’d take us for 30rmb which hey isn’t that bad it’s 5$ and I have no idea where our hotel is. So he takes us and then we try to communicate in Chinese with my limited Chinese skills. He wanted to know where were going to go that day. It took a while and the help of a translator to figure out that he was asking us if we wanted to go see the Terracotta Warriors. He told me he’d charge us a certain price and we said ok hell ya we get a private car for the day. Well, he kept talking to me and translating things on his phone and being a little creepy. We saw the Terracotta Warriors and walked around for a few hours. It really is amazing how many of them there are and sad it is that they are so faded and broken. My mom was in heaven. She loves those kinds of things. I thought it was a little boring honestly. You can’t anywhere near them and they are all in ginormous pits that are about 25 feet or more down below you. On the way back things got really weird. This guy was a little older and was asking me if I had a boyfriend and asked me about the claddagh ring I wear. He then stopped and bought me pomegranates and touched my leg. He then pulls out his phone and translates something into “We go tonight” I was like umm yeaaaa nooooo! I have plans with friends. He got mad and called someone and talked about me and then charged us double when he dropped us off. It wasn’t a lot of money really and I couldn’t wait to get away from this weirdo.
August 15: We walked around the city and then caught our plane to Chengdu in the afternoon. That night we just ate dinner at the hotel and walked around a little bit.
August 16th: We got up early and went to the Leshan Buddha. It ended up being a 3.5 hour bus ride and then when we got there the lines were ridiculous! I’m not kidding we waited in line for like 3 hours just to get to the bottom of the Buddha. It almost was anti-climatic since we waited so long and people were so rude pushing and shoving even down the stairs. The Buddha really is incredible though. It is the largest sitting Buddha in the world. We were going to go to the Sichuan Opera but the ride back took forever and we got back too late but we did have a nice dinner of fried rice and veggies!
August 17th: PANDA DAY! We got up super early and got to the Panda Research center by 7am. They opened at 7:30am and we got walk around basically by ourselves and see the pandas. They are so darn cute and they eat so loud you can hear from a mile away! At around 10am we went to the place where you make the donations to get to hold a panda. So my birthday present from my mom was getting to hold a panda! BEST. PRESENT. EVER. SERIOUSLY! It was 200$ and I had to wear gloves and a gown. I’m not exactly sure why, to protect the panda or me? Probably the panda… they are a national treasure. So they bring out this baby panda and start feeding him honey covered bamboo. I waited my turn and then I got to sit next to him and pet him and hug him. AHHH it was so cool. They are not actually that soft, I could feel his coarse hair through my gloves. After that we went to the hotel and grabbed our stuff and headed to the train station. I hadn’t bought tickets because there are 20 trains a day from Chengdu to Chongqing. Well, on that day ever single train and seat was sold out. How I have no idea. We ended up on a bus from Chengdu to Chongqing that took 7 hours. I couldn’t wait to be off the bus. They played back Chinese sitcoms the whole time so near the end I busted out some Florida Georgia Line naturally. Every Chinese person turned to look at us and guess what… yea there were no effs given.We were going to see them in a few weeks and they are my favorite band right now! We finally made it and went to our hotel near the airport. The 5 star Days Inn. Thank God. We didn’t want to leave!
August 18th: We contemplated whether or not we wanted to go to Guilin. We were tired by this point and we had some things we wanted to do in Chongqing. We ended up going and as it turns out we got there too late in the day to go on the river cruises which is the only reason we went there. So we walked around and it was really hot. It wasn’t that cool of a place, there was nothing there.
August 19th: We wake up to a Typhoon, literally. There was typhoon while we were there, so we couldn’t go anywhere and we had to go shopping for me because I didn’t have a coat! I ended up buying this really nice jean jacket from Only. It has this cool black and white Aztec pattern on the shoulders. Then we headed out to the airport and went to Jared’s apartment to have dumplings! Jenny and Jared were waiting for us. The dumplings were amazing and Jenny and I actually made them with the help of one of my students April. They helped us bring our stuff to the hotel down the block. It was FREEZING in that hotel! holy cow! I tried to get rid of some more stuff because we had too much stuff to bring back.
August 20th: We packed and went to lunch with my boss the dragon lady or Miss Yuan and Miss Liu who is really cool! We went to a really nice restaurant where we had excellent food. We even got to try on some traditional dress. Jared and I matched and we looked gooood! Then we brought our stuff to the Days Inn and went to the bank to convert the last of my money. Then we went to dinner with my students and friends. There were 17 of us and we ordered 24 dishes. I don’t even think we touched them all. It was a good dinner. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, especially Jared. Jared my closest friend in China and he will forever be my China Husband! One of my students Jerry even started tearing up. It was sad. Jenny came back to the hotel with us and got to use that lovely tub we had and we gave her some stuff. Then sadly it was time to say goodbye to her too. She is like my sister. I love her!
August 21st: We boarded the plane to Helsinki and off we went. We got to the hotel in Helsinki and made our way into the city to have a look around. It was cold there too! Seriously it was summer it should be hot not cold.
August 22nd: Our last day of traveling and we flew from Helsinki to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Toronto which my mom almost didn’t make it on. She checked in at the Helsinki airport but she couldn’t check into the other flights so she had to check in when we got there. And then we weren’t placed together obviously. It was a nightmare, but thankfully she got on the flight and we just asked the lady next to me to switch and she was like an aisle seat hell yeah! Once we landed in Toronoto we had to wait to go through U.S. customs and finally made it onto the smallest plane I’ve ever flown on (and I fly a lot) to Syracuse. It was literally one seat on each side of the plane, no flight attendants and I could see into the cockpit from the back of the plane which was only 9 rows. WE MADE IT BACK TO AMERICA!!! It’s 12am and we drove home! Our kitty was so happy to see us.
That is the China trip. Pictures are worth a thousand words so I’ll post a gallery of them next. It was an overall good trip but we did run into a lot problems with people being rude and not wanting to pick us up in taxi’s. If you ever think about going to China… learn some Chinese or you’ll get no where, and go with a tour group and save yourself the stress and problems of going it alone. And go to see the nature places. They are so much better than the big cities. You have to see the Great Wall while in China and maybe the Terracotta Warriors. Then I would recommend Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaugou, Giulin (down the river and the rice terraces), Wulong, etc. China has some of the best scenic areas in the world. I would love to go back and see Juizhaigou, Guilin, and Wulong. Hopefully one day!