My trip to China was split up into three parts:
Beijing and the Great Wall
Xi’an and the Terra-cotta Warriors
Shanghai and…. shopping!
To be honest, whenever I thought of visiting China it was to see the Great Wall. I have dreamed of seeing the Great Wall, taking pictures on the Great Wall, touching the Great Wall, walking on the Great Wall, ever since I can remember. I would have gone to China (and paid the ridiculously expensive VISA price) for the Great Wall alone. After last week though, I am incredibly grateful for my travel partner and friend, Joëlle, who basically planned and organized our whole trip (and by basically I mean did it all). What a great travel buddy. I had to warn her before the trip though, that when I go on vacation I switch modes… it worries some people. I am not going to lie, I cannot be go-go-go, always telling a story, extremely go-lucky and bubbly all the time (okay, maybe I could— besides the point), and when I go on vacation I love to read, and be silent. Haha, it’s totally weird.
We arrived in Beijing for the first leg of our journey and our first impression was, “Wow… it looks an awful lot like Korea.” From visiting the Forbidden City, to the Summer Palace, and hiking up over 2,000 steps to get to the Great Wall we concluded that Beijing was the land of STAIRS. I have never gotten more exercise in my life. It is hard to describe how amazing all of these places were. The Forbidden City, is actually— a CITY. When you go you gotta commit, you walk through a courtyard, and another, and another, and another… holy cow it is big. Really big. I couldn’t get over the enormousity (made that word up) of the place.
Our first priority on our first night in China was to find a private taxi service to take us to the Great Wall on Monday morning. We wanted to go to the Mutianyu section, which was about an hour and a half away. The doors to The Wall opened at 7. We asked to get picked up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and the lady went, “What?!” We were ready, but didn’t get picked up until 5:45, haha good thing we called to check up on her. Waking up early was the most rewarding thing I have ever done. We had The Wall all to ourselves for almost two hours. Then we started to get annoyed when other people were in our pictures, hahaha. All of the pictures I am including in this blog post are only ones I took on my camera. Joëlle’s camera is full of amazing pictures as well… I will get the majority of pictures up on facebook next week! But for now, here was the first leg of the trip:
The above picture is of a German couple we met, they were on their way back from Australia and had a nine hour layover. Why not see the Great Wall? I almost died when they took their coats off to reveal matching jumpsuits!
Once the Great Wall was out of our system we jumped on a night train and headed towards Xi-An. I have never taken a sleeper train before, and I loved it! Twelve hours to read and then be rocked asleep by the steady motion of a train going over the tracks? Joëlle and I slept so well! And then when we woke up, we were at our next destination.
Did you know that the terra-cotta warriors are considered the eighth wonder of the world? Me either! As I stood their looking at these men carved out of clay I couldn’t begin to imagine the history that I was staring at. To think that farmers were just looking to dig a well when they came across the first relics. It. Was. Cool.
This last picture is after we visited the terra-cotta warriors and took a leisurely stroll on this giant wall that circles (or, er- squares) the city of Xi-An. It was pretty nifty.
After one night in Xi-An we hopped on a plane and flew down to our last stop in China, Shanghai! If you are ever in the area, you must take the almost three hour road trip (when all is said and done!) to China’s no. 1 Water-town, Zhouzhuang. Joëlle and I visited during the day, but oh- how we would have loved to stay at night as well (there are hostels, we ate at one!). It was beautiful, we got in a boat and enjoyed the blooming flowers in the trees throughout the whole town, as we were serenaded by our boat captain. There were many neat shops and obviously the gazillion touristy souvenir places. THEN, there was the random cardboard museum. Everything was made out of cardboard, EVERYTHING. It was even attached to a restaurant that had everything (chairs, tables, lights) made out of cardboard too (no pictures of this anomaly are in this post though, strange).
After we got back from Zhouzhuang, we headed to the Bund in Shanghai. Holy cow. The lights!
The best thing about Shanghai was meeting Joëlle’s friends from back home in Canada, a married couple teaching at an international school that were gracious enough to host us for a few nights. They took us to the best shopping markets, taught us a new card game (I learn the best card games from Canadians— except Euchre which ORIGINATED in Michigan, true story) and fed us yummy western food (what? we eat culturally all the time- we LIVE IN KOREA).
Joëlle with our amazing hosts!
What a week of blessings. Though there were some hard times too (aren’t there always?!). To be honest, I didn’t really like China- the country China… Too much pollution, even more people spit on the street there than in Korea (really, I think so!), and I just didn’t feel comfortable. I almost couldn’t wait to be back in Korea where I at least know a LEETLE bit of the language and have become much more familiar with the customs.
Would I have done it all over again? Absolutely. The sights were phenomenal, AND Chinese people love to dance. We would be in the park and see groups of people practicing dance, performing dances, or just setting up a boombox and letting the music move them. Any country that has that much dancing is A-okay in my book.