After a quick two days at sea we arrived in Shanghai. My first day in the city some friends and I did a lot of exploring and found a counterfeit mall that had about everything that you could think of. We shopped for a while and then ate at a Chinese restaurant and I tried dumplings for my first time.

The second day was the start of my field program with SAS. We hoped on a plane to Xi’an (pronounced Sian). We first visited the Wild Goose Pagoda which was built in 652 AD during the Tang Dynasty. Then we went to the Ancient Wall on Xi’an which was decorated beautifully for the Chinese New Year, the year of the dog. The walls were built in 1370 AD and surround the old city of Xi’an. To end the day, we went to have dumplings at De Fa Chang and there they served us 16 different kinds of dumplings (there was only about 3 that I didn’t like) and then went to settle into our hotel.

The next morning, we visited the Sun Village Orphanage which is home to about 50 boys and girls whose parents have been imprisoned. After playing with them (in the freezing cold) we headed to the Terra-Cotta warriors. The Terra-Cotta warriors were discovered in 1974 by a group farmers who were digging for a well. These sculptures were built about 2100 years ago to accompany China’s first emperor in the after-life. The sculptures were quite amazing in the fact that there are so many and there is not one that is alike. Afterwards, we walked through a food market on a street which had lambs hanging from food stands, fried squid, and other foods I had never seen before. Then to end the day we went to The Tang Dynasty Theatre to have dinner and watch a tradition Chinese show.

On our third day, we had to wake up at 5am for our early flight to Beijing. As soon as we landed we ate lunch and visited the longest man-made structure, The Great Wall of China. It was a beautiful day and the view was spectacular. Some friends and I hiked from the 6th lookout point to the 14th point. And on the way down we were able to take a toboggan down which was so much fun. Afterwards, we went to a famous duck restaurant and had pecking duck, which is actually very tasty.

On our last day in Beijing we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (which was miserably cold). We went to small tea house to warm up and tasted 5 different types of tea they prepared for us. We then took a wooden rickshaw to a local’s house for lunch. Then we headed for the Temple of Heaven which is a sequence of temples and alters in a park. We visited the Pearl Market and had free time to shop for a bit. We had an early dinner then crashed at the hotel.

On our last day, we had another early flight at 5am to Hong Kong, where we met the ship. I saw some really amazing things in China and it was a very busy couple of days.

China probably not my favorite country because of how many people live in the city, and the way people drive there is insane. But I’m so glad I was able to see so much in such a short amount of time. Next stop: Vietnam!

A few things I learned:

  • People in China are very pushy so you have to be willing to push back a little.
  • A lot more people speak English in Hong Kong rather than Xi’an or Beijing.
  • Hello on Chinese: ni hao
  • Thank you in Chinese: xhi xhi (pronounced shey shey)