North America, Asia · 50 Days · 94 Moments · November 2017

Kaitie's journi to China

10 January 2018

Last night I had a dream in Chinese. There were people talking to me in Chinese but I did not understand them. It’s crazy how I dreamt up what other Chinese people were saying. We’re heading off to the Shanghai pu dong airport to head back to the USA. I had a great time while in China, and I would definitely come back to experience more as long as I went with different people or by myself. Overall it was a great learning experience and I am glad I was able to experience a different culture and be so immersed within a foreign land.

9 January 2018

We went to the expo center where in 2016, 20 world leaders met to discuss issues. The building was huge!! And I feel like they built it just for the three days of the expo. There’s a square character that symbolizes 20 that is found in all four corners the main expo room. There also separate rooms for each of the meals. The lunch room is found on the roof top where the largest rooftop garden in Asia is. In the lunchroom, the chair for China faces the door and through a circle in a wall can see the 100 year old tree that only is 40 cm tall.
We then went to west lake. At west lake we walked around for a bit and then took a ferry ride around the lake. The sites were fairly pretty especially with the mountains in the background.
Our first stop was the xi xi wetland area. When we first got there we took a ferry boat and went around the channels observing the nature and hearing about the history. After this we walked through some of the area and went to several shops. It’s interesting that there are shops everywhere. We did not see much wildlife other than some ducks and stray cats.
More from xi xi wetland.
Xi xi wetlands.
The view from the hotel room this morning and breakfast. We had to check out at 7:30 this morning and we headed to hangzhou.

8 January 2018

After visiting wuzhen, we got to our second to last hotel! This hotel is fairly nice and there is a restaurant inside of the hotel where we ate dinner. Tomorrow we are checking out early in the morning.
Wuzhen ancient city. It is all man made and is known as the Venice of China. We took a ferry boat over to the other side at first and walked around. We saw silk being dyed, where they scrape limestone over a stencil so the fabric is protected by the dye. They also made the boats we took in the area. There were many shops and the area was pretty big so we didn’t get around to much of it. It also was fairly cold out. At a coffee shop we went to I got a pineapple bag that had red bean paste inside and an egg tartlet. They were both delicious!
This morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to the film park which is in Shanghai. Here we walked around for a little while and saw the sets where they film Chinese movies. We then went to a martial arts stunt show which was like a play. It was pretty confusing because they spoke in Chinese and it was basically the actors fake fighting each other the entire time. It was interesting that the voices and all of the sounds were from the speaker and the people just mouthed the words. The speakers were so loud that it hurt my ears. From here we walked to a coffee shop to warm up and then headed to the museum. At the museum, it mainly just was the history of Shanghai and not of the film park. After this we headed to lunch. The temperature today feels pretty cold, it’s about 1 or 2 degrees centigrade. In the film park we saw at least four stray dogs, which was really sad and Hailey tried feeding one.

7 January 2018

After dinner we went to the circus which was just acrobats. I was happy that there were not any animals involved. The show was amazing!! The people were so flexible and the show had me on the edge of my seat. There were so many dangerous movements, I was scared and stressed out. Some of the acts was a guy spinning a vase on his head, motorcycles rode around inside a ball-there were 8 in it at one time, there were girls spinning plates and people springing people off the end of a teeter totter and onto a height of four people.
We then went to an art sales place. There were many art shops that apparently change all the time. In the galleries, the artist was usually in there and they had their work for sale situated around the rooms. It was pretty cold since it was open to the outdoors. After this we walked through an indoor furniture mall, to get to the restaurant called the red chicken, that sold so many types of mattresses. At the restaurant the food was pretty good and the rolls were delicious.
Next we stopped at the bund and saw the bay side. It was raining but I thought it was pretty interesting to see the views during the day time. On our way back to the bus we walked down nanging street which is the number one shopping street in Shanghai. Some domes in this was forever 21, and apple store and many other stores that I have never heard of.
After a pretty good lunch, we went to Starbucks. This Starbucks was a reserve and it was the largest Starbucks in the world. It had two floors. On the first floor there was a bakery, and the normal coffee shop. There was also an area where they were packing up coffee beans for shipment, which was pretty cool! The prices were pretty expensive but it was such a cool shop.
Within the pearl tv tower was the Shanghai museum. This museum was huge and there was so much information inside that began a long time ago and went through time until almost modern times. On the ground floor it went through the timeline of vehicles. Above this floor there was the timeline with dummies and remakes of certain buildings.
More from the museum.
More from the tower. Also in this tower is the highest up mail box in the world.
This morning we headed to the pearl tv tower which was about an hour from our hotel. We went up to the second highest floor but not the top floor due to how expensive it was. Today is very foggy so we could not see any of the skyscape from the top but when we went down a ways we could. Here I bought an icecream cone and my tour guide told me that she was going to call me icecream from now on. There also were people from our group that we’re going on a VR roller coaster but it cost $10 USD for only a one minute ride, so they didn’t do it.

6 January 2018

The hotel we are staying at is in the Pu dong area of Shanghai. It is super nice and fancy. The beds are the comfiest we have had thus far and the bathroom is the nicest. What is interesting is that the wall of the shower is see through and it goes into the bedroom.
After the tour around the bay, we had dinner where I tried the fried pork rinds.
After the garden we went to the bay and took a ferry ride around the bay and saw all the buildings lit up at night. It was very pretty. The pearl building reminds me of the space needle in Seattle and it is 438 m tall.
More from Yu garden
More from the garden.
After the museum we stopped at a very populated shopping area that used to be a temple. Inside this was a garden that had many features of the ming dynasty. Throughout the garden there was only 5 dragons.
After lunch in Shanghai, we stopped at a contemporary art museum that was showcasing Harper’s bazaar. This showed a lot of fashion and photography of models. It was very interesting. On our way into the art museum we walked through a people’s market. This market is where neighbors and parents try to sell their sons and daughters and try to find them a mate. To do this they stand on the sides of the sidewalk, and have an umbrella with a sign on it that says the gender, height, weight and if they have an apartment and their education level. The place was crowded and there were many people offering money so their kid could be married.
At the museum.
Cost of living is very expensive. In Shanghai, 1 sq meter of an apartment costs $80,000 Yuen. This is not the most expensive we have heard. It was way more expensive in Hong Kong.
This morning the bus left the hotel at 5:30 am unluckily for hailey and I, the three alarms we set did not wake us up. We ended up waking up at 5:22 to a knock on our door. Luckily we got ready quick enough and didn’t make people wait for us for too long. We got to the airport and got on the plane for an hour and 50 minutes. Although it wasn’t too long of a flight we did get a meal. The yogurt was so delicious!! And I’m unsure of what the other stuff was besides the bun filled with pork sausage. We arrived to shanghai at around 11:30 am. So far the differences are there are actual houses and not all buildings are super tall.

5 January 2018

We had our farewell dinner at the same restaurant we went to on the day of the spa trip. The food was way better this time which was good! It was nice getting together with all of the people who planned our trip and get to know them even better.
We went to the coastline of the South China Sea. I touched the water and gathered some sand. The water was not very cold but wasn’t warm either.
More from the academy. We found a dog there that was most likely a stray. We found him digging through some bricks. We tried to have him come up to us but he was timid and was not interested.
We then went to a khan academy. This was where a very wealthy family lived that had relations with the government. The dragons outside symbolize the money the family had and the drums symbolize their relationship with the government. The dragon with a ball under its foot is male and the one with a lion cub under its foot is female. To this day they still have meetings in this location and we also found a WiFi router.
Next we stopped at a shopping mall for lunch. We ended up going to Pizza Hut and I had butternut squash soup because they didn’t make cheese pizza. After eating we had several hours of shopping and within those hours I had hagan das icecream.
We then went to a tea shops where we saw a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. We drank many rounds of tea and learned that the first round is not drank and is to just to wash the leaves. The second round is bitter but you do drink it and the third round is the best. While we watched the lady prepare the tea, there was chines music playing and then afterwards we spent time with friends. Which is the process of the ceremony. All the while there was incense burning which is meant to be calming. Everything always seems to have meaning.
We then went to an art museum that showcased a famous artist. This artist apparently is Tom’s son’s fiancé’s great uncle. His art is with carving wood and stamping it. Every color used within his work needed a different stamp. He mainly painted about events that were occurring in China during the time. Throughout the rest of the museum there was modern art that showcased work from artists done in 2017. There were many sculptures of the fat lady and I had also seen one the previous day on the island. Apparently it is the artist’s style and this artist is fairly popular.
Our tour guide from the past couple days is Kalvin. He has been very good and informative. He is 30 years old but he seems like he is in his early 20s. He told us that he chose Kalvin as his English name because of Calvin Klein but he wanted both Calvin and Klein so he mixed them together.
We went to the elec-tech factory this morning. They make several products that I was familiar with like oster and whirlpool. Along with appliances they make renewable energy products like LED light bulbs. We only saw the showroom of their products and not how they were made which was a little disappointing.

4 January 2018

More from the landscape of the restaurant
Lastly, we stopped at a restaurant that had a beautiful landscape. There were many ponds and koi fish. It was kind of difficult to see because we went when it was getting dark out. Along with the ponds there was a rose garden and a swimming pool area. After we ate at the restaurant which was okay. I tried steamed powder which was interesting but I liked it.
We stopped at an island that was full of houses and had schools. We saw children outside marching in place and it seemed like they were training. There also were older boys who were wearing camo and running around the island and working out. Apparently they were training for basic training. The houses on the island were very nice and expensive looking, they were $12000 USD for 1 sq m. The island was a destination for wedding shoots and other pictures for models.
More from the garden.
More from the garden.
Next we stopped at an art museum garden where they had porcelain and calligraphy works. And a lot of work by a famous Chinese artist. There also were many ivory fans and many stores selling great art and tea.
After visiting the temple, we headed to a Cantonese restaurant. The area the restaurant was in was beautiful and the food was much better than the last Cantonese place we went.
More from temple.
More from the temple.
Our first stop in Xiangzhou was at the six banyan tree temple. At this temple we looked around and also lit three incense sticks, waved them out with our hand and went up to a Buddha figure, wished for something many times and fast and then bowed three times. Also, I almost ran into a monk and he bowed to me.
On our way to Xiangzhou. Two hour ride from our hotel.
We went to dinner with three UIC students at a traditional Chinese place where we got a separate room to eat in. The food was better than usual due to us being able to order what we wanted. The noodles were delicious! After this, Phillisha and I went to the spa on the third floor of our hotel and got cupping done! It did not hurt really, it just made me feel as though I was paralyzed. Once I was done, the bumps I had were very enlarged and you could s e them through a shirt. The next day, they flattened out more and feel like a slight sunburn when I touch them to something.

3 January 2018

Today we had our last day of classes at UIC. One was about China becoming the new super power of the world and the other was about traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. After this we had lunch in a cafeteria on campus called oasis. Observation: a lot of there meat still has bones in it and some pieces will be just bones. After this we went to a surplus shopping area that sold clothes that were actually our sizes and they were very cheap. Now we are heading back to the hotel.
Observation: dogs just seem to roam the streets, with no collar or tags. But they usually are someone’s pets. Also: there aren’t many lanes for cars to drive in or stop signs so honking is crazy here and they basically honk to let smaller vehicles know they’re next to them.

2 January 2018

From the Macau border we took a cab to our hotel by showing the driver a business card of our hotel. First one in a cab! The driver was on the phone while driving in this taxi, crazy!!
More pictures from Macau. On our way back to China we stopped at a shopping mall where we bought kimonos and I bought a belt since mine broke today.
We visited a casino in Macau. It was very ornate but we were not able to visit the largest casino in the world, the venicio. The age requirement for entering a casino is 21 so I wasn’t able to enter so I just looked around the lobby.
More pictures from Macau and the cathedral.
Entering Macau and we took a shuttle to a casino and walked to the cathedral. The cathedral had ancient tombs and the building was ruins from a typhoon. We had lunch in a mall and had huge sandwiches. I ate it all! Macau has portugués influence so the buildings had Portugal architecture and signs were in Portuguese along with Chinese.

1 January 2018

The Chinese students that have gone to dinners with us and hung out with us. They took a liking to me and added me on wechat.
At the open air hot springs, we spent three hours. There were many types of baths that ranged from cold to warm. There also were flavored baths, like coconut milk, wine, coffee, fruit, and lavender. There also were relief baths for colds, foot diseases and circulation. There also was an aroma room that had recliners where people relaxed and slept.
After the monastery, we went to a Cantonese restaurant. The food was not very different from Chinese food. An interesting thing was that with the meat, the heads were left on the plate. Also, the shrimp wasn’t cleaned and apparently in China you are supposed to eat them shell and all.
More pictures from the monastery.
More pictures from the monastery.
We then travelled to a Buddhist monastery where they were celebrating the beginning of the month. There were a lot of people there worshipping. Also, there was a figure to touch to bring good fortune for this coming year. I touched it and walked around while placing my hand in different places. There also were monks and common people chanting.
More pictures from the village with the temples.
In the fishing village there was the house of Mr. Shu and he was a huge communist and we toured the house.
We went to a fishing village in Zhuhai and walked around. It was pretty run down but we visited several nice temples. There was a temple for the god of the villagers and then one for the god of thunder.

31 December 2017

We went to a fish market in downtown Zhuhai. It smelt horrible and there were all types of seafood. Crocodile, turtles, frogs and a giant fish. After the market, we went on a bus tour and saw the fish lady statue and the opera house. We then went to a hot pot restaurant where you cooked all the food yourself in the middle boiling broth. It was pretty good. People tried weird things like duck feet, blood vessels, pig brain and other things. A Chinese Student named Doris has been talking to me and is very nice.
Today was spent taking three classes. The first class was about Tai chi and we learned the sparrow movement. We had an economics class and went to lunch in the cafeteria. Lunch was okay, I thought I got noodles but it was needle mushrooms. Disgusting!! We then had another economics class and learned about urban and rural spaces in China. Now we are on our way back to the city and going to your downtown zhouhai.

30 December 2017

After getting back from campus and going to the super market, we got massages. The massages were very deep and they were almost chiropractic because they adjust my back and neck. After the massage we went to a rooftop bar and had spaghetti and Long Island ice tea. It was very strong and not that good tasting.
For lunch between class, we walked to a museum place the had a restaurant on the roof. The house was built by a business man for all of his lovers. The food took forever and it was alright.
Today was spent mainly on the UIC campus. We had a whole person education class and a language class. Before the classes started we learned about traditional Chinese instruments and students from the college performed. It was cool that the music is written out in their characters that tell which finger to use, what kind of technique to use and what fret to be at.
Breakfast this morning at the hotel and the view from the hotel windows. Some observances: the trunks of trees are painted white to get rid of pests, a lot of people ride bikes or mopeds, motorcycles are illegal, a lot of honking happens, there is not much open land and people sleep when they are working. Not many people know English here and it was very difficult to find out when breakfast was, I had to show a translation on my phone. There were a lot more noodles and dumplings for breakfast. Also, no one really uses dryers but just hang their clothes outside. Houses are a lot more run down and people seem more impoverished.

29 December 2017

Today was pretty stressful. We had to find a ferry basically on our own. We had to get money out of an atm that did not function with most peoples’ cards. Tonight was pretty lame.. I was the only one that wanted to go out and do stuff but everyone else was too tired and complaining. I hate wasting my time and want to be out seeing new things.
We went to a restaurant nearby the hotel and had a huge assortment of food that was placed in the center of the table. The drinks were coke and sprite and tea. I tried some pretty weird things, like tofu, and weird purple spinach stuff. The dessert was watermelon and bread dipped in condensed milk.
After an hour long ferry ride, we arrived in zhuhai. Zhuhai is very different compared to Hong Kong. No one speaks English and the food is very different. Apparently pick pocketing occurs a lot here and fraud with money is pretty huge. The hotel we are staying at is the dragon union hotel. It is fairly nice except it is not very clean.
After the garden we walked to the boardwalk. After that we walked around the different shopping areas on our way back to the hotel. Many of the stores were high end and expensive. We went into Tiffany and co and adidas and Nike.
More from the park.
At the park that was a block from the hotel. It is crazy how much wildlife there was in the middle of the city. There weren’t many tourists there but there were many elderly Chinese people meditating and exercising. There were enclosures for swans, turtles, flamingos, and other exotic birds.
Breakfast this morning. Last one in Hong Kong.

28 December 2017

After getting off the ferry when we got back to the Hong Kong island from launtau island, we spent a lot of time wandering through the mall looking for a place to eat. We ended up finding a small restaurant that was pretty spendy and I had a grilled cheese.. near the pier where we got on and off the ferry, there was a Ferris wheel and carnival going on. We then took a ferry back to our hotel.
At a local fish market. There were many fried fish and fish parts and dried fish. The twin smelt like fish and there were not many people there.
We went to the temple located below the Buddha. There also was the temple of 10000 Buddha. It was very interesting and there were cows all over the place just roaming free. The cows once were owned by farmers but were released and live there now. All along the roadside down the curvy paths to get to the fairy to get back to Hong Kong there were cows.
More pictures from the temple.
Views from the cable car and at the Buddha. We went inside the Buddha and saw relics of the Buddha. Second largest Buddha in the world.
More from the walk to the garden and at a restaurant we stopped to for lunch. I had the Portuguese coconut chicken, it was very good
We were able to explore this garden. It was very relaxing and we entered the Buddhist temple where monks were chanting.
More of the garden and the walk to the garden
We took the train to a botanical garden that also had a monastery for monks.

27 December 2017

We are staying at BP international in Hong Kong. The room is pretty small but cozy and the beds are pretty hard. It’s interesting how much Christmas influence we have seen here with Christmas music and decorations. After settling into our rooms, we went to the night market to find a place to eat. Many places were closed or menus were in Chinese so we ended up going to a 7/11 convenience store and a grocery store. It’s difficult to wander around here due to such the huge difference in language.
We have arrived in Hong Kong! The flight over was very long and we ended up waiting at the airport for our driver as well. First thoughts: the people are relatively short, they drive on the opposite side of the road and the wheel in every vehicle except our coach bus is on the opposite side. Three meals were served on the plane. In the northern part of China, looking down from the airplane, it looked frozen and deserted. The further south, the more cities with lots of lights. The landing strip we landed on was right off of the water. Also, there are palm trees here and lots of nice cars.
After spending about three hours in the Chicago airport and after eating a nasty burger and icecream, we are finally on the plane that goes to China. 16 hours will be a long flight. When I first got on the plane I sat in the wrong seat.. embarrassing. Oh well, now onto China 🇨🇳
First flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. Flight was smooth but it took a long time for us to take off and also unboard. Next, four hour lay over until our flight to Hong Kong
Been sitting at the Minneapolis airport for around 3 hours.. taking off at 7:45 for Chicago. I got a yogurt parfait because I was craving it.
And I’m off! I got on the shuttle at 1:30 AM on December 26th. I feel nervous and anxious but excited. I know it’ll be a long day but I am hopeful this will turn into a good experience. The shuttle is very crowded and there is one other person that is going to China on the shuttle.