Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Last week was my summer vacation so my friend (and coworker) Bill and I went to China. It was such an amazing trip that really exceeded my expectations. I think that may have been because I didn't really know much about China before going, so I didn't know what to expect. We flew into Beijing and spent 4 nights there and then took the new high speed train to Shanghai, where we spent another 4 nights. The two cities couldn't be more different, so I will write two separate posts about my experiences in each.

Beijing is definitely a reflection of old China. Not only is there so much history there, but the people seem to be a few years behind in terms of fashion and other things. Beijing felt very crowded and the people there were pretty pushy. There were so many tourists, and a lot were Chinese. We got many stares but they seemed more curious than judgmental. It was very hot and humid (mid to high 40's with the humidity....I think that's about 110+ in Fahrenheit) and it rained a lot. Incredible amounts of rain that I don't think I've ever experienced elsewhere.

Just walking through the food market from the subway to our hostel, both Bill and I felt that we had seem more culture than in the 5 months we've been in Korea. Beijing is so interesting and unique and different to what we're used to in the west. After the food market, where Bill ate a scorpion, we visited Tienanmen Square. At night we took a rickshaw-type taxi to go out but nightlife in Beijing wasn't too appealing. But we still had fun adventuring around the city.

Food Market
Bill eating a scorpion!!
Breathe in that fresh air!

The next day we walked around the Forbidden City which was enormous and beautiful. Afterwards, we decided to check out the Summer Palace and as soon as we got there the rain started. It was raining so hard that the water managed to reach ankle level in some places. We waited it out and when it stopped we walked around the Palace. It's easy to get overwhelmed in these type of places. And because of their scale, it's difficult to really capture what's there with a simple point and shoot digital camera.

Forbidden City
Check out that rain!!
Summer Palace

The next day was more relaxing, we walked around the 798 Art District which was really interesting, especially in comparison to what the rest of the city was like. It covered a really big area and was made up of old warehouses that had been converted into art studios and spaces. Unfortunately, all of the major galleries are closed on Mondays so we didn't get to see any of them, but there was still plenty to see. Later on we went to a clothing market where we haggled till we dropped, I guess you could say...

Our last full day we did a trip to The Great Wall, which was definitely the highlight of the first half of the vacation for me. The bus drove us three hours away to a less touristy part of the wall and we had 4 hours to hike once we were there. I don't think my vocabulary has enough words that could do the scale of the Wall any justice. It's something you have to see for yourself. 


Beijing was a good city to visit but I wouldn't go back. I think I've seen all that I need to see there. Shanghai on the other hand...

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