Thursday, June 21, 2012


Wow, it has been a while since a post. I am already prepared with a bunch of excuses as to why it has taken me so long to finish telling the details of my Spring adventures in Asia. First, there was the jet lag to tackle. And yes this was quite the ordeal. I don't know if any of you have traveled back to the U.S. from Asia before, but to put it simply, it was the worst jet lag I have ever experienced. You are up during the night, sleeping during the day, never know what day or time it is, can't figure out if you are supposed to be hungry or not, and to top it off, you are supposed to resume a "normal" life according to everyone else's time clock. Needless to say, it took me about a week to feel normal again, but don't fret, we finally got there! After the jet lag would have been a perfectly acceptable time to write about China, but then the best parts of summer quickly caught up with me. I did a lot of this:

There was way too much to do with all of my naps, reading, more naps, more reading, and the occasional Downton Abbey episode. As you can tell, I have been quite busy! (To help you read through the sarcasm, I have also worked several shifts at the hospital so far and have loved it!) As some of you know, nursing school leaves me with little time to do one of the things I love most- reading [for pleasure and not just my textbooks]. Throughout the school year, I collect book titles that I want to read once the summer term hits. To prove my nerdiness, I even have two lists- one on my computer and one in my planner, just in case one is not nearby. Now that summer has officially arrived, I have delved into this list and am already on my third book. It's a problem. Hence, the lack of a blog post. Anyways, enough of excuses! Let's move on to the good stuff. China!

After Taiwan, about half of my group (including my instructor) traveled to Beijing for 9 days. The last three days of our trip, we were on a group tour hitting all the major sites. The days before that we were left to fend for ourselves. Naturally, this included a lot of shopping. I felt like we hit up about every market we could find in Beijing and revisited some of them up to three times. Another problem. The pearl market was my favorite. This was probably the biggest of all problems because I am IN LOVE with all things pearls and always have been since the day I got my ears pierced. So much so that I probably only go about 9 days out of the year without wearing some sort of pearl on me. The pearl market is exactly what it sounds like- thousands and thousands of pearls in all shapes, colors, and sizes stretching as far as the eye can see. I may or may not have left here tripling the amount of pearls I owned back home.
A little bit of heaven on Earth
Bargaining in action. I was pretty much the worst at this part and always had to have someone help.
The markets were a blast! About 90% of us had to invest in an extra piece of luggage to make sure we made it home.

We also went to the Beijing Zoo one day. It was just like a regular zoo except that it had a panda house, making it about 10x more amazing.

Apparently the panda wants nothing to do with us. Rude.

I REALLY wanted to touch the turtle.
First time petting a zebra! I was scared, I'm not going to lie.
I want this as a pet! Seriously.

Beautiful lake in the middle of the zoo.
We also experienced the night markets in Beijing. These were somewhat similar to the ones in Taiwan; however, some of the food was... different. For one, they eat taranchula on a stick. Not. Okay. Sorry to all my viewers, but you will not being seeing a picture of that tonight. My extremely large fear of you-know-whats prohibits me from posting a picture of it or even having one circulating around on my computer; thus, I did not take a picture. I couldn't bring myself to even stick around the things long enough to take a picture. I am sure Google images has some lovely ones to make up for my slack.

The real question is, what do they not put on a stick? Scorpions? Check!
*You walk up to the stand. Say (meaning point to) you want some scorpions. The guy then grabs a stick of scorpions. THEY ARE STILL ALIVE AND THEIR LEGS ARE MOVING AS IF TRYING TO RUN AWAY. The guy tosses them behind him, into a large fryer. Apparently the fryer evaporates all the poison from them (pretty sketchy if you ask me). Oh, and the stinger is still attached and definitely edible, or so the guy told us. After a few minutes the guy pulls them from the fryer and you eat. I couldn't bring my self to do it (between the poison and the stinger), but some of my friends did. And they are still alive and kicking!

Snake on a stick? Check!
Thinking about it.

Doing it.

Not too sure about it.

Some more critters on a stick? Why yes. Just ask around. They have pretty much everything on a stick!

As mentioned earlier, the last three days we were in Beijing were our tour days. We saw so much during that time and for the sake of all of your time, I will just devote a few pictures to each place.

Tiananmen Square: I guess I am not really sure what I was expecting to have happen here, but the whole situation shocked me. The feeling I had while being here was palpable and a little disturbing. It is actually really hard for me to put into words. We all know the history behind what happened at the square and I felt like we were the only ones that actually did. I asked our tour guide to explain the events that took place and I was not prepared for her answer. She told us that some people were protesting socialism in the 1990's. And that was about it. We asked her questions about some of the things we knew about Tiananmen Square and she did not understand what we were talking about. She just kept repeating her same explanation over and over again. It was clear to us that the government has told them one thing and conveniently left out the rest of the details. This is something that is very interesting and different to me. We spent a short while walking around the square, but I was more than ready to leave that pit in the bottom of my stomach behind. I will never forget what it was like to be standing there where so many people lost their lives and yet being surrounded by many people who do not know the truth of it all. After we got back to the hotel that night, I tried looking up Tiananmen Square on Wikipedia and it was completely blocked.
Interestingly enough, this was about it.

Our group. And a random Chinese friend in a red shirt who wanted to be a part of our picture. This was how it always was. So funny to me!
Entrance to the forbidden city
The Forbidden City: I wasn't expecting it to be an actual city! But it was and we walked the entire thing. Loved it! All the architecture looked pretty much the same, but cool to stand where emperors once stood.
The emperor was the only one allowed to go through the middle doors because they were taller. The rest of us/commoners were required to go through the shorter doors which lay on either side of the emperors door.

Dragon Boat ride across the lake:

A Tea Ceremony: The fruit teas were delicious!

Jim and I are demonstrating proper finger placement for a male and female while drinking tea.
Ming Tombs: I was really excited for this part, but to be quite honest, it was a let down. The only tombs we saw consisted of a mountain side where the emperors were buried. It is still cool to say that I have been there though!
This was also the only day where we saw BLUE SKY during the entire nine days. It was beautiful. Beijing has terrible pollution. In the other pictures, what may looks like a cloudy day is straight up pollution, not clouds. My allergies were out of control.

Jade Factory:

"Ball of Happiness"

THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA: Everyone always asks me what my favorite part of China was. I would probably have to say the Great Wall of China! Part of me couldn't stop thinking about the opening scene in Mulan the whole time I was there, but I was still able to focus on the history that occurred here. It was incredible!
We rode the gondola's up the mountain.
I was a little nervous to ride the gondola's in the first place, but then when one showed up like this, I really got nervous!
First step onto the Great Wall!

Some parts were crowded.

Some parts were steep. Okay, the whole thing was steep.

The gang.

This picture makes me laugh. This was not staged at all, but the guy on the ground in the background captures what a workout the Great Wall really was.
Acrobatic show:

Temple of Heaven:

Playing games in the nearby park
Rickshaw ride:
Silk factory: We saw the entire process. From the silk worm to the finished product.
I wanted to buy it because it was so incredibly soft!
Beijing Olympic Stadium:

We are the Olympic rings. Check out that air pollution too. They say that for every 6 days you are in Beijing, it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette. Nasty.

The torch
It's hard to believe that this marks the end of my adventures in Asia. Flying home was bittersweet. Not a day goes by that I don't think about all the fun I had and the many things I learned. I am sad it is over, but at least I have 2000+ pictures/videos to relive it by!

We arrived safe and sound at LAX and took one last picture to complete the journey. Okay, well it turned out to be three because there was a slight interruption.

This was not planned! But absolutely hilarious he managed to walk right in front of the camera as the picture was being taken. Classic.
It wouldn't be the end without a good ol' peace sign.
Next stop...

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