9 Jul 2015

And I'm home! After spending 10 very long days travelling to and from and the in between of having adventures in China I'm home and eager to share with you all that I experienced. I'v decided like last years travel posts, I am going split each post up by place starting with the longest of them all Beijing and then Hangzhou and Shanghai over the next week or so.

On 28th June we arrived in Beijing after a flight from Manchester to Abu Dhabi and a close shave getting the connecting flight to Beijing. There was no rest for the wicked as, as soon as we arrived, we met our tour guide Dave and headed out for the day very tired but still excited. After stopping for some lunch, we went to the Temple Of Heaven; our first experience of Chinese traditional buildings and as we walked to the Temple, we walked through some gardens where people had just set up a CD player and would start dancing and other's would just join in. Some were ballroom dancing and some doing aerobics. They weren't busking but just doing it for fun and relief; this really made me happy seeing this and made me excited for the rest of the weeks adventures.  We spent a couple of hours here looking round and coming to terms with the extent of the heat which I wasn't expecting. We all had grown extremely tired at this point so we headed to our hotel before going out to find something for tea and exploring the centre of Beijing and what it had to offer. It was very much like London with shops and restaurants around it including very busy roads will non stop traffic.
We were all shattered so we made sure we got to bed as soon as we could so we could be ready for the next day and we definitely were as we were all raring to go to The Great Wall Of China where we spent the day walking up the Juyingguan section of the wall. There were times when I was about to give up with my legs shaking and aching. This is where I was grateful for being in a group who pushed me to go a little bit further than I thought I would. While I didn't go as far as most, I felt I'd really accomplished something that day and it's something I don't think I'll be forgetting very quickly. With everyone's legs shaking uncontrollably, we went for  lunch at a local Chinese restaurant before going to a Jade shop where we learnt about making Jade and how to tell the real from the fake; this was one of many government owned stops we had to make because we were on a tour package holiday- these stops are compulsory to make while on this holiday in China. After that we had a relaxing afternoon in the hotel as well as having another chance to explore the hotel's surroundings.

Day 3 was the busiest day heading to Tian An Men Square which can be one of the busiest places in China. It's where Mao Zedong- former leader of the Chinese Communist Party- is embalmed and is one of, I think, 6 people in the world to be embalmed and on display. It's probably best to mention here that this tip was with my sociology course and from a sociological point of view it' very interesting to see people form all corners of China visiting this dead leader to present him with flowers and being moved by someone who the believe helped their country through a lot which was a really interesting experience. We spent a few hours in Tien A Man Square where we were stopped a lot by Chinese people wanting photos. Chris, our teacher, had warned us of this because many Chinese from the country side may have never seen a Westerner before. We had fun with it though and I didn't mind feeling like Kim K for a few hours! We then went to the Forbidden City which is where Mao lived and is, obviously, no longer forbidden which was great to hear more about China's history. After lunch we headed to 798 Art Zone which was an area where young, hip Chinese people had turned an abandoned factory into a place of modern art. We then went to see something that many were not looking forward to and that was the Beijing Peking Opera which is far from ordinary Opera; it included acrobatics as well as the "singing" was more whaling and screeching; however, it wasn't as bad as expected.

Day 4, our last full day in Beijing started with the Summer Palace which was a gorgeous place and we saw it on a gorgeous day as the sun was really shining. We were able to just stroll round the palace and take some photos and have some ice cream. After a few hours in the sun we headed to another Government shop with this one being for pearls. We learnt about the different pearls, how to tell the real from fake as well as the health benefits with pearls now being used for face creams. I did pick one up for my mum and me to give a go. After another Chine lunch, we headed to the Lama Buddhist Temple where Dave taught us a lot about the Buddhist religion and I loved looking round the temple and seeing a enormous Buddhist statue that to fit in a room had to be built around and still skimmed the roof. We all wanted to do some shopping so we were taken to some indoor markets where we could buy some presents as well as attempting to haggle. I was very bad to start off with, being ripped off straight away but by the end, I think I got the hand of a it and got some really good deals on presents. We got the China Subway back the hotel where we got an early night after packing up our stuff ready for the five hour bullet train to our next stop: Hangzhou. 

Beijng was an amazing experience and we all fell in love with our tour guide Dave who was just amazing. While Beijing was a tiring first stop, it didn't take away from the fantastic experience I had. 
It's good to be back blogging and I hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

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