Sunday, December 19, 2010



beijing.train ride
the train ride to beijing was great because of the following things:
hard sleepers. they’re no soft sleepers but they’re better than hard seats.

the indonesian friends we made. one of the girls’ mom was there and took care of us by sharing all of the chinese treats you could imagine with us. made me miss my mom.

the little girl in the bed below me. she was cute, shy and so good at her spongebob game. (i’ll forgive her for throwing up twice)

a giggly little boy who wouldn’t stop laughing with his mom. cutest little giggle.

the old guy on the top next to mine and his loud snoring.

when we got off the train we were supposed to meet our tour guide. but where was the question. hailee didn’t have a cell number to call them on and she didn’t give them mine. so we were at the beijing train station at 11 pm and had no idea where to go. only a few minutes went by before our guide found us and then the drama started. the tour company didn’t know how young we were and said they’d lose money if they still let us do the tour. we stood our ground until 2 am and after many phone calls, awkward conversations, and a few different hotels we finally got things figured out. they changed our tour guide to the cutest girl ever: cynthia. cynthia wore everything nike each day. a nike jacket, nike shoes, nike shirt etc. and she wore mickey mouse diamond hair clips in her hair every day. she is five foot, 90 pounds probably and is a such a sweet heart. one
i had been looking forward to going to beijing ever since i decided to go back to china. i loved (almost) everything about beijing a few years ago and i was so excited to go back. so naturally, i got sick the first night i was there. although i wasn’t feeling up to par i still enjoyed what did. we saw the biggest standing statue (a 26 meter tall buddha) at the lama temple, enjoyed some food at a chinese buffet (we were easily 20 years younger than everyone in the restaurant. gotta love our tour) that had definitely been in the danger zone for too long, and saw a kung fu show! after the kung fu show we had the famous beijing duck dinner. i didn’t particularly love the duck but at least i tried it.

note to self: never let an asian take the picture...(crooked)

we ordered a lot of my favorite chinese dishes along with the duck so we stuffed ourselves silly with green beans, king pao chicken, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour pork, vegetable fried dumplings, and steamed rice. we got dropped off at the hotel after dinner but the night was still young so we decided to go out. we were going to walk around and explore but we were stopped two feet from our hotel. there was a hair salon and that meant one thing-hair wash. melanie loved getting hair washes while she lived in china and i loved getting one when i visited her. it’s basically a head massage but they use shampoo so your hair is clean after. it was just like i remembered, even better maybe. the girl who did my hair was so cute because she tried to re-french braid my bangs after she dried my hair but she had no idea how to braid. we all had quite the hairdos after they were done with us. bless their hearts.

five out of seven girls either puking or dealing with diarrhea…that doesn’t sound like a good day for the great wall of china, now does it. the famous beijing duck dinner was everything but good for five of us. we all woke up, not well rested and still feeling rotten. cynthia took us to the pharmacy and got us medicine and wouldn’t allow us to drink sprite even though we all thought we should because that’s what our parents have told us to do. but she took care of us and was very sincere and sweet while doing it. we took it easy in the morning and saw the ming tombs and went to the jade market. i bought a jade bangle. i felt a little pressured to but i semi wanted to. maybe it’ll get passed down for generations…maybe not.

for lunch we had chinese again at a tourist restaurant. i didn’t eat much. then we were off to the great wall. i love the great wall. i had such a cool experience the last time i went. it truly is so amazing and the history behind it is unbelievable. this time however, the great wall was packed with tourists. we went to the badaling section of the wall which is beautiful and amazing, but it’s for those very reasons that it was miserably crowded. we didn’t have as much time as i would have liked at the wall but we had an agenda to stick to. at times i wish we would have just gotten ourselves around beijing.

next on the agenda was an appointed meant at dr. tea’s house. i’ve never had tea before and it was cool to see how it was made and learn about it but i’m really not a fan. which made it all that more awkward when the lady who taught us about it was insisting that someone bought some tea. i’ve never been in a more awkward situation in china. picture this: seven of us around a table in a small room with a cute chinese girl demonstrating how to make tea. randomly she whips out what is known as the “pee pee boy” and tells us in her cute voice how it works. if you pour cold water on it then the baby won’t pee. if the water is hot then it will. she showed us and that baby sure does pee if the water is hot. i was sitting about four feet away, just sipping my tea while watching her and all of the sudden i was getting hit with hot water. i spilled my tea all over my shirt because it startled me so much. when this girl was trying to sell the tea she threw in a pee pee boy as a free gift. one thing led to another and after the girl brought out a smaller, cheaper container of tea i found myself saying that i’d buy some. hailee, michelle and rachel joined me and we were able to finally leave and make it out of there unscathed.  i bought the fruit tea (basically hot fruit flavored water) and will probably end up giving it away. i was excited about the pee pee boy until i was able to get a close look…it is way more graphic than any of us thought it was.  it was a huge waste of money but whatever. i had to do it. you don’t know the look she was giving us while trying to sell the tea. death stare.

mickey d’s treated us to dinner that night and we couldn’t have been more grateful. we practically begged cynthia to not have chinese (which is so sad considering i love chinese food) but the thought of chinese made everyone sick. our receipts from mcdonald’s are hilarious. i thought a picture would do a better job than i would trying to explain.
yep, they deliver.

day three consisted of…
the panda zoo. i saw more monkeys there than pandas.
the pearl factory. i bought too expensive of pearls. darn.
the summer palace. 14,000 different paintings in one corridor. china’s crazy.
the birds nest and water cube. michael phelps. enough said.
the silk factory. silk worms really produce that much silk?
scavenger hunt to find the kro’s nest. best pizza ever.
uhhh where's the panda?

have two funny stories about today. the first is short and sweet and so chinese. i bought a couple watches on the street for way cheap. it was fun and i thought, what the heck. i put on one of them and felt pretty good about wearing a white chanel watch. when we were at the water cube we had about 30 minutes to walk around and then we were meeting back up with cynthia. i was the one with the watch so i kept my eye on the time… my great watch somehow became 20 minutes slow within the few days that i had it so we were really late for our next appointment. oops.

the second story is also pretty chinese but it has a happy ending. one of the best pieces of pizza that i’ve ever had has been in china at the kro’s nest. i was determined to make it back there while we were in beijing and nothing was stopping me. kurt made some maps for me but i wasn’t able to open them so i had a vague, written explanation from him as to where the kro’s nest was in relation to the silk market. we had cynthia drop us off at the silk market, we said goodbye to hailee, hannah, and tori and started our adventure. we asked an english speaking asian where the closest outback steakhouse was (kurt’s instructions said if we could see outback then we’d be close). she told us how to get there via the metro so off we went. we found outback but it was in the basement of a hotel and it was surrounded by a huge shopping district that didn’t look familiar. we walked around and found a help desk of some sort. we asked them if they knew about the kro’s nest. the gentleman didn’t but he was smart enough to use google to find it for us. i guess one of the girls suggested to google the address the day before but i was so sure that my instructions from kurt would be enough. it was a humbling experience indeed. anyways, he wrote the address down for us, we got a taxi and were on our way. the taxi driver looked at the address two different times but we were starting to get nervous because we had been driving for quite a while…and we were on the freeway. i was sitting shotgun and hating myself for dragging mich, rach and britt along. i was so frustrated and discouraged because nothing worked as planned and we could have been shopping at the silk market. i looked out the window and began to recognize a few things. i thought maybe we had gone in a circle but then i realized where we were-the birds nest. he had taken us right back to where we were an hour earlier for our tour. he was ticked. we were ticked. and we were starving so we insisted he take us to the right place. he flipped his meter for us (which was very nice of him) and started speeding (like 120 km on the freeway) back to the area from which we came. it wasn’t too long before we pulled up to a familiar looking street. i paid the taxi driver for the two rides (i didn’t want him to hate americans) and got out of the car, standing directly in front of outback steakhouse and looking at a sign that said the kro’s nest. i was so excited that i started crying. it was a cry of relief and excitement but also of homesickness. the last time i had been there was with my family and i missed them. we walked inside and hated ourselves for almost thinking that it wasn’t going to be worth it. it was definitely worth it. the smell was even worth it. to take full advantage of it we ordered two plates of cheesy garlic bread, a large pizza ½ with pepperoni, ½ with vegetables and a side of ranch. an order of that size allowed each of us girls to have three gigantic pieces of pieces and half of an order of garlic bread. you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that i was the only one to finish everything entirely, drink included. it was worth the stomach ache i got later, believe me. four
on day four of the tour we visited tian’anmen square and the forbidden city. i love walking around the forbidden. i love the buildings and the finely crafted details. after that we had a tour of the hutongs via rickshaws and ate lunch at a womans home. it tasted pretty good but it was quite similar to the canteen food that is at the school.
notice how the girl next to us is posing for her picture. this was not an unusual thing to see. i almost started doing it myself...

finally the time came to go shop. i had been waiting for this day for a very long time. i can’t tell you how many things i took out of my suitcase because i just said, oh i’ll buy it when i get there. let me tell you something about my first month in china-i couldn’t find anything that i needed to buy. so i was very excited about shopping in beijing. i was also excited to bargain. i wish that words could describe our shopping trip but they just can’t. so i’ll leave you with a few funny memories and some pictures to describe the rest.

-nine pairs of jeans, approx. $15 each.
-50 + DVDs and four new seasons.
-150 ties… enough said.
-two ugg boots.
-louis voiutton roller carry-on
-a bedazzled juicy suit

-yelling in a girls face because she was calling rachel ugly.
-ordering a subway sandwich and hating it.
-buying luggage just to carry my jeans and movies around the market.
-picking out 150 ties in thirty minutes.
-sweating while trying on 20 pairs of jeans behind a sheet that’s not covering me up.
-finding out that the shipping center in the basement is closed so i
have to lug around 150 ties.

we got back to the hotel with all of our things only to find the other three girls leaving for the hospital… hannah had really bad stomach pains and wanted an ultra sound to see what was wrong. they left and we couldn’t do much so we ate ice cream, drank pepsi, and ordered in kro’s nest (free delivery within 5 km. couldn’t have been happier.) we stayed up way too late packing up our suitcases. i couldn’t get to sleep that night so i stayed up even later and emailed my family and got a few things done. after my nap (i slept for two hours) we woke up and met cynthia to discuss the agenda for the day. we had planned to go to a couple parks but considering the fact that hannah had an emergency surgery we decided to go see her and only run a couple quick errands. one of them was to track down the christian woodcarver who made nativities. after a few phone calls and a lot of walking we finally found the right shop. the nativities were gorgeous and we were so happy that we finally found them.

after that we ran to the pearl market to get some more reasonably priced pearls. we only had a few minutes there but we were successful in those few minutes. we went to say goodbye to hannah (she decided to go back to
 america because recovery would take six weeks for
 her. we’ll miss her), picked up hailee and headed to the train station.

getting on the train was quite a dramatic experience for me. we were running a little late, we had to get money back for tori and hannah’s tickets since they weren’t coming with us, we hadn’t eaten since the night before so we were all starving (we got some mcdonalds to go), i had so many bags (and a stupid rice hat)-it was so awkward to carry everything, and we had to figure out a tip for cynthia and none of us had money left...we finally figured it out and said our goodbyes to cynthia. i really was so sad to leave her. we became good friends during the week. we started taking our bags to the train but i kid you not, i felt like i was about to break all over. i was so weak because i got two hours of sleep and hadn’t eaten, it had been a very long vacation (13 days is a really long time to be on vacation), and my bags were so dang heavy. my fore arms were going to snap, i had to carry my bags down stairs and my shoulders were being pushed so far into my body that i felt like i was shrinking. naturally this all ended in me in tears while stepping onto the train. i pulled myself together fairly quickly (i was actually quite proud of myself for how fast i stopped crying) and ate my micky d’s and went to sleep. next thing i knew i was in bengbu. home sweet home.

no more money to spend on essentials like food and warm clothes=successful vacation… 

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