Friday, January 9, 2015

Steph's visit part 1: Beijing to Jinan

The first stop on our trip was the Great Wall. We went to one of the most touristy parts of the restored wall--Badaling. We took the metro to the North train station and then got on a train to the wall. The wall is located about an hour outside of Beijing.

It was absolutely freezing! We took a cable car to the top of the wall and were told that we may not be able to take it down because it was too windy. 

The wall is located in the's insane to think about all of the slave labor that went into building it. The part we climbed was literally up-and-down hills. Some parts were so slippery or steep that we were holding the railing for dear life. 

When we were tired of climbing the wall, we went back to the cable car to go back to Beijing. It was too windy, so we couldn't take the cable car down. We decided to walk down, but legit could not figure out how or where to go. Every pathway to walk down was closed off. We were about to jump a fence--there were no guards or people who worked there around and no other foreigners around to ask. We tried asking some Chinese people but they didn't understand me (even with my charades). After about an hour of trying to get the eff off the Great Wall we finally found this sketch looking toboggan-car ride down. 

At the bottom there were cute black bears. It cost money to feed them pieces of sweet potato--this poor guy was begging for food. It's incredibly sad to see how much animals are used to make money in these touristy places. I wonder if it's the same in America (it's definitely not something I have noticed before)--it seems like the animals are starved and live in really terrible conditions. 

After getting out of the park, we had to figure out how to get back to the train station. So many taxis were trying to over-charge us to get somewhere that was only about a mile away. Steph and I managed to follow signs back to the train station--we ended up jogging there because we were so cold. 

Next we went to a hutong--narrow alleyways with courtyard residences built around the Ming Dynasty (around the 1300's). 

This one was transformed into a huge shopping area. 

The final stop of the day was Wangfujing, a huge touristy area. There is a food street and a bunch of stores and malls. 

Had to stop by starbucks--steph prefers soy milk with her coffee. It was fun trying to ask the workers for substitutions and special requests in English...

We decided to try starfish and scorpion. 

I think the most popular touristy areas among Chinese people are food streets and shopping. 

We were exhausted after walking around all day (in the freezing cold) so went back to our hotel and passed out. The next morning we headed back to Jinan on the fast rail. 

I had to teach on Thursday and Friday so Steph came to work with me and checked out the campus. 

The students have about 2 hours for lunch. They go to school from 7:30-5:30 then often spend the evening studying so it's really their only time to socialize, walk around and relax. 

We grabbed street food for lunch...a baked sweet potato then walked around

The mall was fully decorated for Christmas (Smufs everywhere)

Then we headed to one of the most famous tourist destinations--another food/shopping street

They have tons of "ten yuan" shops (about $1.50) that are filled with tons of random junk-Steph was amused with the random trinkets

Finally we walked around the main square and the springs which Jinan is famous for. 

Friday after my classes we headed for the fast train again--next stop was Shanghai--my favorite Chinese city! 

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