Friday, August 26, 2011

Study Tour to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, final destination: Kunming!

Note: This will be a very long blogpost so bear with me, if you can handle reading).  
    As most of you know, I'm in China, for 6 months, and for the first month I was involved in a Study Tour of China. The first city I explored was Beijing, for 5 days or so, and enjoyed the sites my professor lead us to. The ancient temples, pagodas, the Great Wall, and other historical places. Seeing Mao's body at his memorial was really interesting, and I'm glad I was able to see it. However, I felt rushed, so I don't think I got to feel the real importance of seeing a true leader in his memorial.
There were many things to get used to while in Beijing and the other cities we stopped over in. A highlight of Beijing was the spa and how we were treated well there. I found it humorous that we had to take many subways to get there, and ended up in the middle of nowhere. The place itself was really nice, and the attendants were so kind to us. They laughed at us (my friends) because we had never been to a Chinese spa, and didn't understand the steps to just relax and enjoy what they had to offer. Saunas, showers, the works. =) We then took a train to Shanghai, a sleeper, and boy was that an experience. First off, since I'm not used to being around those that smoke constantly I had to get used to those breaking the rules and smoking in the halls of the car. I met the nicest man, who's the president of an important company in China. He spoke pretty descent English, which I was very grateful for. I slept along time, since I was uber tired, and needed sleep. I'd been racing around Beijing 5 days straight, early mornings and long nights. Shanghai was amazing, and it definitely was modern looking. The tall financial building, known as the tallest observatory in the 100 levels! We traveled around Shanghai of course taking many pictures and enjoying the sites and sounds of a beautiful city. I liked it better than Beijing since the air is cleaner and such. The Shanghai accent is definitely something to get used to, so that was one of the differences between the cities. Also Beijing is known for its ancient sites, whereas Shanghai is more oriented for business and so forth. It's grown in leaps in bounds, so it's no wonder why many come to visit for business or touristy things. Of course there were sites we saw that were ancient and all, but not as much as Beijing. We only stayed one night, so it was a short stay until our the next destination was Xi'an. I liked this city alright, although I think I'm more of a city girl. I do think the country side is nice, but this city wasn't as hygienic as I liked. Then again we're talking about China, and it's a nation that has its quirks regarding cleanliness. I couldn't get used to the "hacking a lung" because of the terrible air pollution. Everywhere people, Chinese, mostly are just spitting everywhere. It's got to be the most un-attractive traits of a true Chinese person. I know the air's terrible, but there's got to be a different way of clearing those lungs. Enough with the rant, but that's something that I have yet to ignore and not pay any attention to. So Xi'an is known for other ancient monuments and Chinese history too. I believe it used to be China's old capital, so there's lots of stories with this city. So after our excursion to Xi'An we flew to Kunming and settled into our hotel, YunDa BingGuan for more adventures to come!