North America, Asia · 10 Days · 27 Moments · March 2017

Christina-Marie's adventure in China

25 March 2017

And just like that, it was time to take off the following day(3/26). Destination? Home! I had a trip of a lifetime, making new connections and getting the opportunity to experience a new country through the business perspective. China is evolving so quickly and I can't wait to see what these places look like in 10 years!

24 March 2017

Hong Kong: we flew to Hong Kong next which is technically still part of China although its systems are completely separate - it used to be a British territory. That night we went on a boat cruise around the bay and saw a short laser show on the walls of some skyscrapers. Then we went out in the Soho district where we found many bars and restaurants. I didn't take pics but we had a fun night. The next day we visited Stanley's market and other shopping areas. We stayed near the hotel at night for dinner.

23 March 2017

3/23: Midday we had some downtime so we hung out with at a coffee shop nearby. In the evening, we celebrated my birthday activities! We had a small gathering in our hotel with our new Chinese friends and the university staff - everyone sang happy bday to me and Josue made a nice toast with champagne. Afterwards, a few of us headed to Karaoke! I have never seen a Karaoke place located in a mall with private rooms for parties - it was so much fun! We alternated between American and Chinese songs. I had a blast (:
3/23: Later we visited an ancient tower, where we also saw original walls with Chinese carved into the rock. Along the way we came across a lady selling tops - however I had never seen one that you have to whip to continue spinning. The whip was loud and resembled one used for a horse. We had a nice lunch at a market; the sign I'm holding says "best friends."
3/23: The next day we went to Old Ganzhou and walked through a small fishing market on a floating bridge! Small vendors were there selling their catch of the day and other snacks to eat.

22 March 2017

Later that day, we visited a private pharmaceutical company that is working to standardize ancient Chinese medicine and possibly combine it with modern western medicine. My favorite part though was dinner - the Lazy Susan (traditional Chinese table) allowed 32 people to eat together! Amazing!
Next stop was a liquor factory in Ganzhou. We first had lunch with the company's CEO, and then got a tour of the production process itself. Baijou is a typical Chinese rice wine but it really tastes like hard alcohol and is about 50-60% proof, depending on how long it is fermented. First, the yeast must be cultivated under the red rock ground and then a machine combines it with rice. Then the combo is stored in a cave for various amounts of time (could be up to 10+ years) before it is ready to drink. Our entire stay in China consisted of several shots of Baijou at each formal meal/business meeting. It is customary to toast in the beginning of a meal, individually to each guest throughout the meal, and at the end of a meal. A few shots of Baijou makes you real nice and warm inside and in my experience, you may even begin to speak some Chinese (; The last picture shows my two professors, the CEO, and myself. I had just given a traditional thank you gift to the CEO for hosting us.
Ganzhou (gahn-jo): We arrived to our third destination, which was a much smaller city than Shanghai. Ganzhou is in a more rural area near mountains and is made up of almost 8 million people. My school has a relationship with Gannan University in Ganzhou and so we spent most of our time here getting to know their students and faculty through various activities. Our first stop was the Navel Orange Research Center, where research is being conducted to stop the Orange Greening disease that has wiped out 1/3 of Ganzhou's navel orange industry. In addition, new species of oranges are being studied to find ways to expand production. The navel oranges tasted very sweet and are being used for essential oils among other things. It was an interesting experience.

20 March 2017

Our last night in Shanghai was an adventure. Josue and I explored downtown and went to the Grand Hyatt's 85th floor (see pic of floors)! Then went across the street to the Ozone (highest building in the city), and finally the Oriental Pearl which looks like a big needle. At the bottom of the Pearl is a shopping center where we enjoyed some ice cream and met a group of Chinese ladies that worked there. The gesture in the picture means "my heart." Getting a taxi home after 11pm on a Monday was difficult but after 45mins of trying, we met a kind young Chinese woman who added on our ride to her Didi (China's Uber). The last picture shows us with our tour guide,Summer, who was amazing and took us out off the clock to dinner and shopping around the city.
K11: This is a luxurious shopping center equivalent to Rodeo Drive. You have to spend $800 a day to get a membership here. The unique part of K11 though is how it combines art with retail. Throughout the many floors, there are art exhibitions displaying artists' work from around the world, even incorporating pieces with virtual reality. When you walk in, you smell fresh trees and can hear birds chirping. It feels as if you are in a forest, hitting all 5 senses. They have created a getaway experience to lure online shoppers back to offline sites.

19 March 2017

Tea Time: at the Yu Yuan gardens, we were shown how various types of teas are brewed. The picture shows a Jasmine flower blossoming inside the tea kettle.
Yu Yuan Gardens: this place is so interesting because it is like a snapshot of China from ancient times but it is located in the middle of Shanghai city with its high rise buildings all around. This garden was a place for the emperor and royalty to relax and enjoy nature.
Next we went to the Urban Planning Museum and looked at everything Shanghai is doing to be the most environmentally friendly, technologically advanced city in the world. The 3rd picture shows a wall of QR codes, which is the most popular way for Chinese (especially young adults) to purchase groceries, transportation, clothes, online shopping and pretty much everything else by scanning the QR code of the product which pulls from your bank account. It works either through the apps Alipay or WeChat identifying you by scanning your face. This is so convenient to have all in one app. Looks like the U.S. could learn a few things from this city of 26 million people.
Today we visited the Shanghai museum. Lots of ancient Chinese history - everything from traditional wear, calligraphy, pottery and ceramics, to the very first Chinese currency. China has 56 different ethnic groups so the cultures are very diverse, each consisting of their own distinct history.

18 March 2017

The Bund: once we arrived to Shanghai by train, we stopped by The Bund to check out the old/British section of the city (see first 2 pics) and then the more modern part of the city on the other side of the river. The latter looks like Las Vegas on steroids - so many colors and lights! After a brief tour, I had Dim Sum for the first time. I'm definitely a fan of the shrimp and pork ones.
Then came the time to say goodbye to our our new friend and tour guide, Terry, at the train station as we headed to the next city of Shanghai. Terry was great - we wish he could continue the journey with us! We took the high speed train for a 5 hour ride to Shainghai (moving to the Eastern coast of China). The distance was the equivalent of LA to SF. The train went up to 180 miles per hour! It didn't feel like it was moving that fast though. This ride was neat because we were able to see the countryside as well as smaller towns. Some of the buildings were "ghost towns" because the apartment towers were empty - developers built too many apartments and they were never utilized. They looked pretty creepy.
Before leaving to the train station, we stopped at the Temple of Heaven. This massive park/temple/recreation center is a place where everyone comes together, young and old. The emperor visits the temple three times a year to pray for good harvest. Retired people gather here early in the morning to walk around and get their exercise (see them stretching calves on railing). Young people play hacky sack and dance together in the park (choreographed). I wish we could have spent more time here because it was very relaxing and I love seeing the community all coexist in one place.
Hutong (Alley): Today we visited a small neighborhood in the alley streets of Beijing. The first picture shows a stone in front of the house which signifies the occupation and status of the household. Most houses shelter up to four individuals (living in separate quarters) who are usually related. Also, many doors are red because it means happiness according to Fungshuai. Lastly, it is very difficult to get a license plate as the process goes by lottery - luckily their public transportation system is very good.

17 March 2017

Great Wall of China: The purpose of the wall was to help keep the Mongolians out of China by serving as a platform to look out into the distance. We traveled about 1.5 hours outside the city to see it and then climbed all the way to the top! Stairs were uneven and very narrow and steep, I think maybe steeper than Dodger stadium nosebleeds.
Lunch: they carved a duck for us and served it with a pancake (similar to a tortilla) with hoisin sauce, scallions, & cucumber...great combo. Then they used the skeleton to make duck soup! Lots of other dishes too. Cecilia was our honorary guest and sat in the lucky seat!
The Forbidden City (part two): built in the 13th century. First picture is the emperor's lounging chair lol. Then we went through the royal garden with juniper trees and rock formations.
The Forbidden City (part one): where the royal palace is located. There are a few layers of buildings to get through before you see the main palace.
Tian'anmen Square: building in picture is equivalent to the white house in U.S. This plaza is huge! and is famous for the many rebellions that took place throughout the years against the government.

16 March 2017

First night in Beijing. Night market. Fried scorpion on a stick is delicious!
We made it! #BeijingInternational #12hourflight
Preparing for take off! 🛫🇨🇳
Flight delayed... at least there's some cool wall art.