A Travellerspoint blog

eating like kings in Beijing

ok, maybe queens

in short, we ate duck, turtle soup, veggies and pork first night. I describe more of this at the end of the entry

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After our early 2 hour flight we arrived in Beijing! I couldn’t believe I was so close to seeing the great wall.

I was so surprised how old this city looked compared to Shanghai, definitely Beijing is more historical and Shanghai is more modern. One thing about Beijing I learned, it looks as if there is a fog over the city, but I guess that’s pollution. It’s just this white fog that’s more prominent on certain days; its hard to take photos from a sky view because of it. Oh yeah, and there is no green here. All the trees are bare and there is just dirt. I feel like I understand a little why some Asian people are obsessed with the nature in Washington. I do miss the evergreens. oh! One more thing I noticed, Kacey pointed out that people from Beijing have an accent. And I can hear it! Certain words suddenly have an “er” sound attached to it. Certain phrases sound familiar except now it sounds as if their mouth is full and there are “ers” at the end. weird!!

We wandered through the town looking at old buildings and shrines our first day. The first shrine we ran into was by mistake. We actually were on our way to see the lama temple but found a shrine. I have no idea which one it was but the artwork on the ceiling, the big bell and the decorations inside were amazing! It was a nice little detour.

I really love the use of gold throughout the city. This door in particular caught my eye. It’s a door with 81 gold dots on the front. Kacey informed me that the #9 in China is lucky and that 9X9 or 81 is twice as lucky. That’s why some doors on businesses and temples have these gold dots on them.

We made it to the lama temple, it was closing just as we got there, it happened to us again!!
We wandered through the street and wound up listening to a small tour. The guide was speaking in Chinese so I couldn’t understand but Kacey seemed to catch bits and pieces. As he was speaking, I felt as if I were one of those people in old times, who while they were in cathedrals,would stare up and be mesmerized by the stained glass because they didn’t understand the language the sermon was in.. Even though I couldn’t understand anything the guide was saying, I wasn’t bored at all. There were so many details to feast my eyes on in the tiny shrine. Not an inch was spared. I have no idea how long it took to create. I was blown away by the attention to detail. I felt as soon I was done looking at a section, another small detail would catch my eye, then that lead to another then another….so much detail in the tiny space, sort of visually exhausting.

Our first night in Beijing and we wanted a feast. We had duck (Beijing classic), pork, veggies and turtle soup! the duck is a little a more meaty than I would expect. kinda like roast beef. it came with a sweet tangy sauce with wrap and veggies. so good! I really wanted to try the turtle. It was green and had a funny taste. To me it kinda tasted like incense. It tasted how it smells if that makes any sense, that’s the best way I can describe it. It also had bits of turtle meat! And these hard things that I had to take out, I realized it was bits of shell!

Later that night, I tried to withdrawal money from an ATM and my card got stuck. The bank was closed…my first night in Beijing and my card got stuck! I was supposed to blog later that night, but I was so stressed out I fell asleep right after and slept for over 12 hours!! (I got my card from the bank the next day, it took maybe 1.5 hours).

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pics later when I have better connection

Posted by MissT 07:21 Comments (0)

Teaching a snake how to say “what’s crackin?”

The snake I’m referring to is Andy, but more on that later….

This was our last day in Shanghai. We sorta took a morjority of the time planning our itinerary. But we ended up setting up our flights from Shanghai to Beijing, Beijing to Xi’an, then Xi’an to Nanjing (where Kacey begins her program). We used C-trip (thanks for the recommendation Renee!)

Our flights were so cheap. We flew from Shanghai to Beijing (2 hr. flight) for $44!! The cheapest train tickets would have taken us a little over 20 hours.

I think I will leave Nanjing a little early and head back to Shanghai, there are still some cities I ‘d like to see. I thought I’d see Suzhou, but I’ve heard from other hostelites (?) that Hangzhou is definitely the jewel of China. Ughh, guess I’ll have to try both. After we booked, planned, and skyped our parents to let them know we were alive, we tried to go to the museum. We meandered, and got lost. Once we found the Museum we wanted, it was closed. Fyi, there are many museums; there is a shanghai art museum and shanghai museum that are wthin close proximity. We wanted Shanghai museum (free) with over 1000 art artifacts.

Not letting our disappointment get us down we asked around, we decided that we should go to the expo center (the only thing that’d be open that we haven’t done). It was kinda cool taking the metro to what looked like the middle of nowhere. Btw, I’m loving the street names. My favorite station stop is Yaohua street or “yaohua da” it’s just fun to say.

I guess the expo was this prism looking oblong structure that lighted up. It was in this deserted mall. Other than the lights, it looked really dead inside. The few stores that were open were all to eager to talk with us and take our order. I was overwhelmed. Not knowing Chinese we had 3 people on us at a time, all talking to us (probably because we were American, assumed we had money…wrong!) but the exhibit at the expo was interesting, these splattered paint structures.

Definitley though, the coolest part about our last night in Shanghai was meeting the hostelites. We met this gregarious guy John. He was from Texas, kinda big, really expressive (pretty sure he was gay).
Me: “which city in China do you like the most?”
John: “*sigh* that’s tough…Shanghai is def a close second, but Hong Kong is my baby” ha! He was so fun to talk to.

Then that just opened the door to meeting like 16 more people from the hostel. One of them was Julie, a woman teaching French here (In China, I know! They’re going to know everything! 0.O). she was really dispelled any reservations I had about traveling alone and learning a new language. (I hate not having a facebook and meeting all these people!) We all ended up going out together to celebrate this Chinese guy Andy’s birthday. He turned 24!!

On our way to the club, Kacey started teaching him some American slang. We started teaching him to say “what’s crackin?” it was so funny, we all laughed so hard. Then we were teaching him to say “goo huskies!” extra points if he was able to throw up some dubs (you’re welcome Seattle). He and his friend started teaching us some Chinese curse words in Shanghai-nese but I don’t remember anymore. The sounds were very strange.
I really like Chinese clubs, the music is awesome. Mostly American pop hits mixed with a dubstep beat. For me, the best part was when this Chinese guy tried to speak with me in English. I couldn’t really tell where the conversation was going at first, and then he asked “you go make happy time?” 0.0 …. I just laughed awkwardly and fled

  • *oh, btw the song Gangdam style is still popular here. It plays everywhere, clubs, stores and on the street. Me and Kacey did the dance move across the crosswalk haha!*

Ended up sharing a cab with our roommate Don. (we wanted to give him a new name, not sure how he came up with that). Didn’t really get to know him that well, but he was so nice. He wouldn’t let me pay for cab

“no, I pay because I gentleman”—Don

I’m really going to miss Shanghai and the people we met, it’d be nice to cross paths again.

After we came back we got 4 hours of sleep and then we were off to Beijing!

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will try to post pics later, not much for this entry

Posted by MissT 07:20 Archived in China Comments (0)

Two tickets to paradise!

(aka Yu Garden new year)

I really love Shanghai. I haven’t been to New York, but I imagine it’s what it would feel like, and that’s what other people mentioned. Very metropolitan, and it would be much cheaper than living in New York. We were staying in a hostel that was roughly about $6 USD a night! One of our roommates had been living there for 2 months. Oh and our hostel (Soho international youth hostel) was close to the metro. 2-4 yuan will get you almost anywhere you want to go within the city (less than $1 people!) we would take it frequently to peoples square and spent about 50cents.

Anyways, yu garden. CRAZYYY!!! It was sooo packed!!! It took us forever to find the actual garden. So, fyi the garden is connected to the bazaar or marketplace. This is also referred to “garden”. This was really confusing. We pushed, shoved and wandered around for almost 2 hours! We almost gave up. It didn’t help that we were calling it yu yuan garden….meaning “yu garden garden” no wonder people were confused.

But OMG. The pushing! It wasn’t anything like that the day before (this day was the first day of the new year). We were literally moshing across the bridge! I even cried out a few times. I tried taking a video of me being shoved into Kacey repeatedly. I wasn’t even sure where we were going, I was just hoping the crowd was taking me where we wanted to go. It was scary and hard trying to keep track of kacey (who is 6ft) can you imagine trying to keep track of a 4 year old? For reasons I can’t understand, people were being stupid and brought their infants and their 95 year old grandmas. ..in wheelchairs!!! I tried really hard not to be shoved into them, but I could only do so much. I felt bad for them. There were some areas where they must’ve been stuck for like half and hour (the wheelchairs). …I think they were bringing the elderly to the shrine for good luck, or longevity or something. I get that. But maybe the trip ironically shortened their life a little? (I feel like it did for me at least). Even my new keychain broke because the crowd was so intense.

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But the garden itself….awesome…totally worth it once we got there. It wasn’t even crowded. Maybe people wanted to just buy things or go to shrine. Either way, it was a breath of fresh air.

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Pretty scenery, architecture, and green water. It seems like a cliché image with the Chinese erhu playing the background (the Chinese violin type things) and advertising Chinese tea or tourism or something. But it is something else when you are there. I felt like I could stay forever. Unfortunately an hour would have to do, that’s how much time we had after battling the crowd. The gardens were about to close.

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Oh, at the garden Kacey was somewhat of a celebrity. Lots of Asians wanted her photo. I usually helped take the photo. We joke now that we should charge them. Even I could make money if they wanted EVERYONE in their group to be in it. Seriously, every corner a new photo. People would sneak them discreetly or blatantly put a cellphone in her face. When they would ask, the girls would squeal then bring her friends, then their friends then a new group …then another 5 minutes of picture taking ensued. It’s amazing we got through the gardens at all haha. Maybe it’s good luck to a see a white person for the new year?

When we finished and on our way home, we found a little back alley market. It was seriously the wierdest place I’ve ever seen. You never knew what you were going to see SO much food. SO. MANY SMELLS!!! It was really strange. I’m fairly easy-going and up for anything, but the smells coming from that street….putrid. I tried really hard to bear with it, it looked so visually appealing. But it was the one time I felt physically limited and doubted my ability to go on. …smelled much worse than poo….like 10 farms, so many layers of smells, getting over one then hit by another…INSANE. Great for shopping though. Kacey made out with a fluffy help kitty (Ni hao Kitty) jacket for about $8! (it originially started at $16)

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When we left the market place, we passed yu yuan again, this time all the lanterns were lit. Even though we were tired, we looked at each other and were like “dude, we have to go in!” …what can I say? it was so beautiful….and this sounds ridiculously cheesy but I don’t know how to say other than…magical and romantic. (you can stop laughing now)

We were soo happy we came. We joked and laughd at the Chinese people who were concerned that we were traveling during this time. They were worried that we’d “get lonely”. For Chinese people, Chinese New Year is really about emphasizing time with family. It’s like their Christmas. So, we cheerfully joked back and forth throughout the night how lonely we were as we gazed all the lights and sea of lanterns.
It took so long to get home, so many things to see, so many pictures.

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Do you believe in magic? ;)

Sorry this post took me so long, I wanted to wait till I could post photos.
Thanks for reading

-Misty :3

photos!

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wish I coould post more, but it is so dang slow.

Posted by MissT 10:47 Archived in China Comments (0)

3 Huskies in Shanghai

sunny 1 °C

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first off, we switched hostels. It was such a pain, me and Kacey looked like wierdos as we carried our backs from our hostel all the way from people’s square. Maybe a mile? I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating. But yeah it was far, pretty sure people thought we were runaways. people kept staring at us. Maybe because our packs were so huge, but it’s probably because Kacey is so tall, white AND has a ginormous pack. (as if being 6ft and white wasn't enough haha) People here don’t avert their gaze either, they just keep staing like it’s ok. It’s very strange. We were soo exhausted when we arrived

  • sidenote** crossing the street in China is dangerous. the green pedestrian light probably represents "cross at your own risk", I feel like you are just as likely to get hit when it is red.

" I saved your life like 3 times!"

"It's like you're my child!!"

-Kacey Ingalls

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Then we took the metro to Yu Garden (we’re becoming soo local!). It was New Year’s Eve here, it wasn’t that crowded but more than yesterday. It’s crazy, the day before was blustery and snowy and the next day its clear skies and sunny (still cold).This is where we found the husky! You don’t see many big dogs here, apparently they have regulations on how big your dog can be? I have no idea what this is based on, housing? income? We meandered through the central street, seeing all the shops, and the tourist center or bazaar. So much to see, and red red red lanterns everywhere!!

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  • note** remember this photo when I compare to the next day*

by the time we were done looking at the bazaar (my first attempt at steet food: battered crab legs) we made our way to the garden and found out that it was closed! A lot of things have reduced hours this week due to the New Year. They celebrate New Year for a few weeks though, I just wonder how long do they actually need?
On the way back, we went through the Bund again. It looks so different compared to the day before. Now I can see why people think it’s so pretty. Before, it was so snowy and grey we couldn’t see ANYTHING.

Later that night, we met some really cool people at our hostel. Maggie (Chinese) Ben and Robin (from England). They invited us to go out for a drink then go to a club. It’s so easy to get distracted here! Originally we were going to see fireworks at the Bund (New Years countdown) but ended up going out and making new friends. **Unfortunately my camera died, so Kacey has photos for this part**
It was a lot of fun! At DaDa (name of bar) we met Julie (Norway) and her boyfriend Jean. They are going on an around the world trip for 6 months! Their next destination was Yunan then Thailiand! They ended up going to the club with us. (I loved the way they danced. They didn’t have to be on each other all the time, and they had cool boxy movements. Kinda like cool groovy cavemen)** I can’t add people, I hate not having facebook here!!

The club was No. 88. It was the best one I’ve been too. Not only the space, but there’s no cover and coat check was free! Awesome lighting and great music! There was a lot of American music, each song got better and better and the bass got louder pulsing throughout the place. Psy Gangham style, Flo Rida—I get a good feeling, Super Junior—Sorry Sorry (---Holle, Kali!!---pretty sure I lost it at this point!!), Nobody but you (this catchy Asian hit that I’ve been hearing everywhere) and then….they ruined the flow and played a classic American song “It’s my life” by Bon Jovi (ha! Eric I thought of you!!)…I like classic songs, the placement was just so odd.

I feel like Chinese guys don’t really know how to dance with girls. It’s like they want to, then they freeze. They’re just really good and dancing alone, or they just prefer to stand there and watch. It’s weird. We pulled up this guy on the platform to dance with us ( cuz, he was obviously watching), he was so nervous, he kept covering his face. Pretty sure he was going to cry. Haha! Awkward… poor guy.

But yeah, a good day, felt like we were really starting to see Shanghai

some random pics

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  • *starbucks asia-fied, here you go Melanie: I've can only bring myself to get the Peach Blossom latte--it's the bomb.com

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  • haha, yes, this says Dudu tea. haha ewww..

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1) Kacey On the Bund (or waterfront at Hunagpu river) with Pearl tower in the background--Pearl tower has beautiful lightshows at night!

2) Nanjing road at night :)

thanks for reading!! I'll have to tell you about yu garden and the chaos on New Years day. more soon!

zaijien!

Misty

Posted by MissT 16:12 Comments (2)

$2 meals, nuff said!

well actually, there's a lot to say but still! :o

snow -1 °C

more on the food, in a minute but,

  • note this blog is a day late (2/7/2013)...it's takes long to insert photos**

from the airport, It's super cold outside, it's snowing again! (I didn't pack the right clothes) it's atleast 0C or 32F, usually colder (but still warmer than Korea) It was was crazy as we tried to get to our hostel. Here in China, we took the metro, it took us for about an hour ride for only about $1. But be warned! the train stops in the middle of the route then goes backwards!

we stupidly thought everyone had the same stop and were glad we finally had a seat. someone (in english) pointed out that we were idiots or obviously foreign and that the train was about to go back to the airport. -__-;

first thing we saw when we got out of the station was a giant forever 21!! it was about 5 stories!! I was sooo excited! . we wandered around asking for help in broken Chinese/English and we somehow magically found it. we've had really good luck so far. our hostel is in kind of a old looking alley, it doesn't look like it would be here. And it's freezing cold! I've noticed a lot of businesses look like that. maybe because it's new year, but you'll walk down a deserted street and see old buildings that look like they haven't been in business. As you look more closely inside, there's a person behind the desk in the dimly lit main area. maybe it's new year so they're "closed".

but yeah, yesterday was our first REAL day. I feel like we did a lot, I'm trying to only say the cool details.

I've been waking up to birds chirping, not kidding Chinese birds sound different. there's more rising and falling sounds. oh yeah, I also woke up to meat...slabs of MEAT, hanging outside our window. wtf?

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we got ready and finally got breakfast!!! <3 after wandering we went into a random shop where a little kid took our order. I made out with noodles and beef, Kacey got same with Chicken. we paid 24 yuan for both, about $4 USD for both people!! soooo awesome!!and it was goodd!! Even though I've only been here two days, I already feel stingy. our hostel has meals around 30-40 Yuan and not even near as good. it's going to suck going home to reg. price. I'm turning chinese already lol

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We then wandered around some and went through people's square. we tried to look for our next hostel for a long time. we even ended up walking in the wrong direction! It was snowing and cold, I was even beginning to worry if I were going to have to sleep in the street. On the way back we went to a Starbucks. I got a peach blossom tea latte. it was so good! it's about the same price. As we left, a chinese man persistently tried to shine my shoes, ...apparently theres no Chinese word for "no", (read that again...I was told you just literally can't say "no"...you say "mei o" which means "don't have" "not here" etc.) so I didn't know what to say. I kept saying "thanks" hoping he would get "No thank you" he didn't...sorta had to run away. he put this white paste all over my shoe. by "cleaning" it, it got more dirty :<

we tried to go to the Shanghai art Museum but its closed for New Year. :( I'm hoping a lot of attractions aren't like that. It's cool though, because it's new year, we can take advantage of the giving spirit. Kacey got a great deal on pink beats headphones by Dr. Dre.! (ha! dr. Dreee eric!) She got them low enough to 400 yuan, (~$60 USD). sweet! and we learned Happy New Year is Shen nien quai Luh! (not sure if I spelled it right)

My big purchase of the day was a cellphone car....you read that right, a cellphone that literally looks like a toy car. I still need to activate it somehow so I'm able to call the states. It's ridiculously obnoxious, the settings are on super loud and I have no idea how to turn it off. when you pressed the numbers a chinese voice would scream them out. uhhh! but yeah, it lights up and makes car sounds. awesome (tai cool luh!)

I'll write back soon! Zaijien!

Misty

  • **I'll try to post later today....I'm so pissed right now. I think I lost all my pictures. my external harddrive isn't responding to my computer. Im so frustrated. I think I just lost EVERYTHING...OMG I HATE COMPUTERS

Posted by MissT 17:52 Archived in China Comments (1)

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