A long one – but a good one! =)
I’M IN CHINA!!! –
So today I woke up around 0730 to see us sailing into the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Honestly when I say beautiful I mean beautiful. The structures of the buildings, the architecture, it all! Just wow it was amazing to see. – so the ship was cleared around 1100 or so, and by 1130 Maria, Mario, Dani, Charity, and myself were off the ship and ready to go! – We were going to DISNEYLAND HONG KONG!!!!!!!!!!! So exciting!! And Maria has never been to Disney before so this was even more exciting. I was so pumped! – so first off, we were docked not near shopping but literally inside of shopping! The ship, not like how south Africa was meaning a couple of feet walking to the wall buttttt we were actually docked INSIDE the mall- like you walked off the ship and it was ‘hey wuts up ToysRus!! It was crazy!! So we had to walk through this huge mall just to get outside to the street. Let me tell you outside the weather was perfect! It was like 80degrees! Ah amazing! Outside on the street was all these beautiful Christmas decorations- all purple though but they were so pretty!. But anyways we walked a little ways down to the train station (we got lost once of twice in our attempts to find it but its cool) – we finally asked 2 locals (well they were actually from Singapore but they lived in Hong Kong) where the train station was and they happened to be going there so we all walked together. we got to the train and it took a little bit of time to buy our tickets because it was soo confusing and we did not want to mess up! – we finally got our tickets and we were off!! – We grabbed our train, and then had to change trains two times after on the way. Our final train was the Disneyland express! It was so cute. it was a regular train, but like a monorail. The windows of the train were all in the shapes of Mickey Mouse! Inside the train was like everything Disney! : the little hand things that you hold on to when standing were on the shape of Mickey, the seats were all satin blue, there were old black and white pictures of Disney, and they also had like gold statues of characters. It was amazing, probably one of the best trains I’d ever been on! Haha. So it took us in total like 40minutes to get to the park, if that. When we arrived we got off the train and we are faced with this huge sign that says – “Welcome to Disneyland Hong Kong!” SO EXCITING!!!!!!!!! So of course we started our photography skills right then and there! So right when we walked into the park so saw Mickey and Minnie!! We were very excited so we decided to wait in the line of like 15people to take pictures! I honestly think that I took my best picture ever with Mickey and Minnie here in Hong Kong! I love it! – Disney already began to have all these Christmas decorations up – I love Disney at Christmas time! The tree was so cute! after the amazing Mickey and Minnie we met up with Goofy to take a picture with him! Oh amazing of course! we then walked down a ways down Main Street USA! And the castle was in site! – oh so small!!! Sleeping Beauty’s castle in like 70% smaller then Cinderella’s castle! Wow! So anyways, we made out way into Tomororwland! Oh amazing, it was so alike to Disney World, Florida I loved it! we first hopped onto Space Mountain with its whole 5minute wait! Gosh so long! Haha – it was crazy, that ride gets better from each park I go to! (weirdness) after Space Mountain we grabbed a quick bite to eat at one of the fast food restaurants in Tomorrowland. I got a delicious chicken teriaki sandwich! And some weird mango pudding in the shape of Mickey! Somewhat tasty! Well after lunch we headed over to Buzz Lightyear star command! Oh how I love this ride!! I am still though just a regular star commander, I can never win in that game! Boo! Its still so much fun though haha. Then we headed to there like little indy speedway- yea I totally got to drive on the left side of the road (while attached to a track of course going like 3mph!! Haha) but also with the steering wheel on the right side of the car! Weird! be jealous! We then made our way up to fantasyland! Oh so much fun!!!! I love it! we did a few rides and then went to main street to watch the –Disney on Parade – Come join the Magic – the afternoon parade. It was actually really good! After the parade we headed to adventure land to do some stuff over there I got to see and take pictures with Woody and Jesse from Toy Story over hear! Very exciting! And then the we watched the High School Musical Parade- love it! we did lots more of course, the park was SO empty, we didn’t wait more then like 10minutes for a ride it was great! we definitely had a good time here! The park closed at 9pm which is when the fireworks began which were all beautiful over the castle! We then did some shopping of course! and then headed back to the train around 1045 or so. We arrived back at the ship around 1130 or so. Outside of the mall had all the decorations lit up, it was beautiful… When I got back onto the she I called home to talk to everyone which was very nice. I love talking to my fam! I sat outside on the deck of the ship on the phone watching the amazing skyline of Hong Kong! The buildings all had neon lights that changed all the time and reflected over the water, it was beautiful. Each building had a different shape, size, and structure so they all just looked beautiful as they shined and changed colors. It was amazing. – so I ended up going to sleep around 0100 or so! Way to late then I wanted to, but I had to be up at 0630 for my trip to Beijing that was leaving at 0730!! AHHHH WHAT AN AMAZING DAY AT MY ALL TIME FAVORITE PLACE!!!!!!!!!!
Hong Kong Day 2 – Mainland China / Beijing Day 1!! – So today I woke up around 0630 or so. I had to make sure I had everything packed and make sure I was ready to go! I at 0700 I ran upstairs with my bag packed to go to breakfast! At 0730 we were off for the bus. There was about 30 people total on my University trip to Beijing. We would be staying at Tsinghua University. I was very excited! So we got on the bus I sat down and was going to relax for a few but I decided to take out my little camera and I happened to open the bottom where the battery goes in- yep I totally left the battery on the counter in the bedroom! Ugh not happy about that! Butt luckily I had my other good camera with me! The little one was just convenience but hey wutev at least I had one! – it took about 20minutes or so to get to the airport. Once we got there we checked in right away. Well once we checked in we came to find out of flight was like 2 hours delayed. Woo. So me and this girl Kelli decided to walk around the HUMONGOUS airport before walking through security. So the outside of the security area had a lot of stores but then we decided to go through security and it was like oh hey we are at the mal! There were SO many stores here it was crazy- and it wasn’t just like little convenient stores it was more like David Yurman, Burberry, Coach, Armani, Mac→ gosh everything it was crazy!! We also decided to walk past the little cafeteria and oh yea, I saw a 2 geese there hanging ready to be cooked it was crazyyyy… okay so we got on the plane around 1130 or so and we took off around 1215… I sat next to this really nice couple form Wales. I talked to them for half the plane ride and slept the other half! It was fabulous to be able to sleep! We arrived in Beijing around 315/330 or so. We had to go through immigration and pretty much like a H1N1 clearance before we could actually enter into Mainland China! (I forgot to mention that the day before we arrived in Hong Kong the whole shipboard community had to get there temperatures taken for the Chinese government and immigration and if we had a fever we were not allowed off the ship – they could also deny access to the whole ship → luckily I passed and I think pretty much all of the ship did! Phew!!) so anyways we had to go through this clearance section but we weren’t questioned or anything – it was pretty intimidating seeing everything they had there though, like screenings and stuff! so once we got through we found our guide that was going to be with us for the next four days – Cindy! So we walked outside and bam!! I am hit with a burst of cold wind!! It was literally like 20degrees with SNOW all over the ground! (let me remind you Hong Kong was in the 80s! and I am pretty much from the southern temperatures of 80+!!!) Brr not cool! I was freezing!!! Haha so we got on the bus and we were off on the hour bus ride (with the heat on) to Tsinghua University! we arrived at the university around 1645 or so and we checked into our rooms. We were then told we had to be downstairs in the lobby at 1730 to leave for dinner – so we had like no time to get settled in. but oh gosh, dinner was AMAZING so it was okay! The bus ride to dinner took us about 25minutes or so – we walked in and were brought all around the world in this restaurant till we were brought to our certain room. So we sat down and literally courses and courses of food were just brought to the table! Omg yum! Beef dishes, vegetable dishes, chicken dishes, and then the best of all- Chinese style peking duck! Omgg yum so good! this duck had the most amazing flavor! Ahh it was like mouth watering I want it nowwww!!! The duck was made into little like wraps with Hoisen sauce! Ah my mouth is watering just thinking and writing about it!! ahh.. All the food was on a lazy susan so we just kept turning and turning it and oh the food was non stop! so we left dinner around 2000 it was so good haha! We arrived back at the university and went to a little lecture room to learn about where we would be going and what we would be seeing in the next few days. After the lecture we headed downstairs to the supermarket that was inside the university. I ended up purchasing a pair of gloves for 6Yuan which equals $0.75! and a hat for 10Yuan= $1.50! and legwarmers for 10Yuan also! So I spent under 4bucks on my winter accessories! Fabulous I know! Oh and two 1liter bottles of water for about $0.50! amazinggg! After the supermarket we walked back to the dorms we were staying at (#21!) all the buildings looked exactly the same so that’s how we had to remember it as! – now our rooms were all singles which was fabulous! Most of us just went to sleep because we had to be at breakfast around 0700 in the morning. It was a very good first day in Beijing! Woo! Time for more excitement!
Mainland China- Beijing- Day 2 → okay so I awoke today around 0710 for breakfast on the campus. Now I did not know what to expect for breakfast but I was very excited to see. We got there and it was a buffet set up with different kinds of dumplings (fruit/vegetables/and meat,) some just random food that I could not tell you what it was, some type of porridge and then egg drop soup! Yum amazing!! and then they had a chef actually making fresh scallion pies which were AMAZINGG!! So I experience Chinese style breakfast → and loved the scallion pies and the egg drop soup! It was soooooo good!!! they also either just had boiling water to drink or hot soy milk – very interesting but hey it was cool… After breakfast we were going to be doing some Tai Chi (they spell it Taiji) the very exciting thing after breakfast was as we were waiting in the lobby of the dorms to get ready to go to Tai Chi I noticed a vending machine so I decided I was going to get a drink – well not only does the vending machine have cold drinks but it has hot drinks like coffee- that come out in a can that is like boiling hot. Ohhh it was amazing!! so yummy!! Finally a coffee that isn’t that ships crapppy coffee!! ahh– well anyways, let me tell you that this campus has about 33000 students and is HUGE!!!!! We finally got to this other building for Taiji freezing our butts off figuring we were going into the warm inside to do this, we were staying outside! Ahh well we did Taiji for about an hour- it was pretty cool and it actually was a lot of fun! I strongly dislike exercising!!! But it was cool, something different! So at 0900 we headed for the bus and we were off to the Beijing Zoo. The zoo was of course freezing and I felt SO bad for all these animals. We got to see the giant panda’s and let me just tell you, these animals were adorable! The zoo had a bunch of panda’s and birds but it also had a few other animals like random type of cheetah cats and lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, etc. The poor little (well big) lions you could tell were so cold. The big guy huddled himself into a ball and you could tell he was like freezing! I felt so bad!! But anyways – all the animals were super cute and the zoo was fun! After the zoo we headed back to the school to have lunch on the campus at a fantastic restaurant. Again we were served oodles of food on a lazy susan and ohh my it was delicious! We honestly probably had like 10thing different things to choose from on the table! Maybe more! oh it was so yummy! After lunch we headed over to the Summer Palace. We arrived at the summer palace and we were there for about two hours. This place was HUGE but honestly everything looked the same to me. It was just like little palace areas or courtyards that the queen or king would use. They were beautiful within the painting, the architecture, and gosh just everything. This place was built in 1750. I personally had no clue what it was before we went. But it was the summer palace/imperial garden to the Qing Dynasty. It is a major natural culture historical place that was opened to the public in the 1980s. Yellow means wealth so if you had a yellow roof it meant you were wealthy which is what all of the roofs of the buildings were. Also inside the summer palace was a ship made out of completely marble. The queen wanted this made but of course the marble could not set sail in the water. But this marble boat was just beautiful. It was just so like old fashioned and like old looking but it was just amazing. So of course we took loads and loads of pictures here. We also literally like all bought these Panda hats which are like winter hats that look like a panda head – they were super cute! People were literally selling things ALL over the so we took lots of pictures with those, that was fun! So we left the palace around 1400 and were on our like 30minute bus ride back to university. Of course as we are back on the bus the tour guide decided to tell us to check our money- he then proceeded to tell us that a lot of the people inside the Summer Palace tend to sell you stuff and then give you back Russian or Taiwanian dollars and you don’t notice – some people lost literally like an equivalency to like $50-100 US dollars due to this. I luckily lucked out and didn’t loose any money! Phew! I would not have been happy! Well we arrived back at school around 1625 and we had to go meet some of the students at 1630! Gosh no time to breath! – but we met up with some of the university students that were going to be showing us around campus for a little bit. So Grant Charlotte and myself were with this student named Lu. Now Lu started out our conversation by saying my English isn’t very good and he was just like so nervous about it. but it was cool he was good. Except we started out going the completely wrong direction – we got to the end of a road which was an exit to the campus and he was like ohh wrong way! 15minutes into the walk haha fabbbulous! So we turned around and walked around – he showed us like the major lake on campus which he said is the only exciting thing on campus. Other then that we really didn’t do anything but walk around for like 1.5hours – it was pretty boring but hey whatev… we ended up then going to one of the many dining halls on campus for dinner – but this was no dining hall – this was a 6story cafeteria with probably 20-25 different stations on each floor. It was HUGE!! And there was so much food to choose from! I ended up eating this weird stir-fry dish with god knows what in it. it was um spicy and interesting. It was fun though, nice to see the campus and nice to see especially the area. some of these people would finish there meals in literally 3minutes total. It was pretty interesting to see all of this. what a different dining experience!! Around 2000 or so we finally headed back to the dorms. Me and Charlotte then decided to take a quick walk down to the store to buy her a hat and some snacks! We were back to the dorms by around 2100 and we were off to sleep. Although I did not fall asleep until at least midnight ughh… I ended up just watching Superbad woo even tho it’s a good movie haha.. But it was a fun day – we got a lot done today!! Now tomorrow is another busy busy day!
Mainland China- Beijing- Day 3 → so today we woke up again around 0730. I bypassed breakfast unfortunately – I was so tired. So I ended up just meeting in the lobby at 0800. We were off bright and early to the Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. It was FREEZING today omggoshhhh! We walked outside to the bus and almost froze it was so cold! It was about a 30minute bus ride to Tianamen Square and also the Forbidden City because they were right next door to each other. Tianamen Square was pretty big as was expected. It was a big open space though which I thought was very interesting. We walked around Tianament Dwuare for a little while and saw where Chairman Mao was. After Tiananmen Square we walked across the street to the Forbidden City. We waited outside the entrance to go in for like a good hour as we waiting for Cindy to get the tickets! Ugh it was so cold and totally not fun as we waited! We finally went in and we just pretty much walked through all these places – there were tons of people there, literally you could get lost in the scramble so it was a must that we stayed with the group! Most of the temples/buildings in the Forbidden City all looked alike in my opinion, just like the Summer Palace. There were 14 buildings/temples if I remember correctly that made up the Forbidden City, and they were all a distance behind the other. It was unbelievable to see how this was all made up. It was pretty cool- everything really was just beautiful. So after the Forbidden City we headed back to the bus to head out for another fantastic lunch. Yummi, oh how I love Chinese food. Lunch of course again was an abundance of delicious stuff. After lunch we headed to the Temple of Heaven. We spent about 1½ hours here. The Temple of Heaven had a stone that was considered “the center of the earth” so this was a major thing that of course we needed to take pictures of – then we went to see the actual temple – it was beautiful, butt it was FREEZING! This place had like a part set up to it though, it was great – just seeing locals just hanging around the area, enjoying the air, enjoying the scenery wow it was great – we also got to watch a huge group of locals dancing and like Salsa/ing in the park area, it was amazing to see- it was really cute too. – well after the Temple of Heaven we headed over to the Silk Markets – which were pretty much a mall with EVERYTHING that you could possibly think of – in which you could bargain for – pretty cool but wayyyy to big for me likings of a mall! I purchased a jacket so I did not freeze my butt off anymore! Ahh snow and cold is not my thing! We ended up shopping/walking around there for about 3hours wooww! Way to long! And then Grant and me got some yummy Italian pizza for dinner! That was tasty too! 3 hours of shopping, eating pizza quickly on the bus, and then we were off to the AMAZING cultural experience of an acrobatic show. Now this show was just unbelievable. These people were just awesome; they were riding 12 people on 1 bicycles, 1 person balancing/twirling/and doing a full out show with-3 umbrellas (with her feet!) a guy doing flips, headstands, everything on just one wire connected by two poles – he even rode a bike on this! There were girls balancing (with there feet!) one, two maybe three girls! It was incredible! They were balancing everything, running up poles; wow this show was just remarkable. I will say the 12 girls on one little bicycle amazing me! This show was great, it was about two hours long as we got back from this very long but enjoyable day around 2100. Wow it was great! Now tomorrow is the most exciting! The Great Wall of China!!!!
Mainland China- Beijing- Day 4 → so day we awoke for checkout and breakfast around 0720! Eww so early! Breakfast was yummy again; I had scallion pie!! Love it!! at 0800 we were off to the Great Wall of China!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited!! The bus ride was about 1 hour, so I got a fantastic nap in! we arrived at the Great Wall and honestly my face was in awhh – just as much as it was in awhh when I saw the Taj Mahal! It just stretched and stretched and stretched – we of course could not see the whole thing but it was just amazing. Like words really can’t explain this site. It just stretched over the mountains into the distance. We began our hike up the wall. It was totally verrrry tiring and I complained I think ¾ of the time! I’m not a fan of hiking. But in the end it was of course totally worth it. it was so cold the day we went! And the wind was just crazily blowing at us – I know all I wanted to do way get some heat on my body!! It was very interesting hiking up – the stairs were all so different from one another. some of the steps were like two inches apart, others were like two feet apart- you always had to watch your steps up and down because of the distance between some of them. Also there was so much ice on some of the steps because of the recent snow! It was soo difficult but soo worth it in the end! It is weird because I have never really thought about the Great Wall before, nor have I ever thought that I would get the chance to see it – but here I am! Standing right on the Great Wall of CHINA!!!! Amazing!! – like just the other day I was watching Mulan ( I know its silly since it’s a Disney movie) butttt I was watching Mulan and the beginning starts off with the Great Wall – and it was just like wow, I’m soon going to be going that, I’ll see the history and I’ll see the roots of it all. Its just like wow… so that was very exciting for me to be there. → I really want everyone just to picture stairs → but picture stairs that just keep going and going and going… it was just beautiful. It was just a remarkable place to see and I am sooo glad that I got the opportunity to visit. – so we left the Great Wall around noon and headed to lunch, again just fantastic! After lunch we headed to the Bird’s Nest and all of the other sites where the Olympics were held. The Bird’s Nest was pretty cool, but I did not go inside I just looked around the outside, it was in the beautiful shape and structure of an actual birds nest! The Water Tube was closed for renovations but it was pretty cool just to see the area. After visiting the area of the Olympics we were off to the airport!! We checked in and waiting about an hour or so before we began boarding! The plane was HUMONGOUS!!!! It was about 1½ long flight to Shanghai. We arrived in Shanghai around 1900 or so and got back to the ship around 2000. I ended up just eating dinner, showering, and going to bed. I had a SPLITTING Migraine and I could not focus on ANYTHING ugh!! and I was just exhausted! But from the looks of it, Shanghai looked like a beautiful place…
Mainland China- Shang Hai Day 5 → so today I woke up around 1000 or so to head off the ship by 1100 because on ship time was tonight at 1800. Yea I definitely did not get off the ship at 1100… but around 1130 an announcement was made stating “due to inclement weather on the water from Shanghai to Japan we will be extending on ship time and departure time till tomorrow, November 17th at noon – departure will be at 1400. So that was very exciting to hear! So me Dzifa, Carina, and Adair decided to eat lunch on the ship before we headed off. We actually did not get off the ship until like 1330 but hey it’s cool. So we got off the ship and just walked around for a bit. We went to some stores and really just admired everything about Shanghai. The only downfall was that it was pouring out. but it was still great… so we just walked and walked! It got dark so quick there, like literally we walked inside a store and back out in 5minutes and it was dark. But everything was just beautiful, all of the buildings were all lit up with neon colors, it was just unbelievable. Everything just glowed! so as we were walking we came across an outdoor museum which was pretty cool, the artwork here was just amazing. it was really nice – and then we decided to go inside the wax museum → except it was like $90 US dollars to go in so we just sort of stood in the entrance and admired a huge basketball player made of wax- it was crazy!! So then we decided to go look for somewhere for dinner where we came across the Radisson hotel. I said “hey maybe the hotel has a restaurant to eat dinner in” so we decided to go in. the restaurants were rather expensive butttt the hotel, on the 45th floor, had a revolving restaurant that overlooked the WHOLE city of Shanghai → so we decided to go up and relax and get a drink. I got my favorite drink ever that I haven’t had in forever, a Kir Royale. We also were given with our drinks some cashews, wasabi nuts that were amazing, and some other sort of nut. Delicious It was really just beautiful. We could see everything up here it really was just like wow! And as the floor slowly turned- really just wow… it was fabulous and totally worth going up there. So after our spending like 1½-2 hours in the Radisson revolving restaurant we decided it was time to go actually get dinner, by this point it was about 2130 or so. So we walked a little as we came across a restaurant called Ark. So we decided to go in and grab some dinner. Well we were the only people in there so that was weird… but let me tell you what we had to eat and how delicious and amazing everything was!!! → so we had pig ears wrapped in squid (good,) baby shrimps (tasty,) beef ribs with vegetables (very tasty,) smoked duck (freakin unbelievable,) and fried PIGEON!!! (omggg soo sooo goood!!!) all with some white rice… so now with the pigeon, they not only gave us the pigeon meat, oh no we got the WHOLE pigeon, head and all! It was crazy!!! So we just have staring at us on the plate, well a pigeon head.. very interesting… but omgosh it was just so good! this whole meal was amazing… and the whole thing cost (with beverages and all) $35 US dollars total for all of us… unbelievably cheap but delicious!! So after dinner we just headed back to the ship – we were so ready for bed! It was a great dayyy!
Mainland China- Shang Hai- Day 6 → Today I really didn’t do anything… I did not get off the ship because we had to be back by noon anyways… and the rest of the day from on ship time was a reading day – So pretty much I just did work ALLLL day! I sat in the dining hall all day working on a paper and studying for Global Studies – that was the extent of my day! wooo so much fun! But overall China was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will tell you though → going into China I had a lot less stuff then I did coming out → a jacket, winter hat, leg warmers, gloves, lots of souvenirs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, gosh everything! How am I getting it all home??