We woke up super early this morning to head out on a tour of Beijing. We rode on a bus all over the city. It was a Chinese tour so Kyle and I had no idea what was going on the entire time but it was still pretty cool.
We drove past Tiananmen Square! Then headed off to the Great Wall :)
We rode these little carts up to where we were going to enter the wall.
The Great Wall of China:
I feel like there are not a lot of words necessary.
The pictures say enough.
It was super super super windy there but The Great Wall was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It was so unique. It was quite a challenge getting all the way to the top but we did it!
I love them!
My best friend!
After we got done with walking the wall, Smile fed these little cuties!!
After the Great Wall we went around the city to some tombs, some shops and a wax museum. The Great Wall definitely wins hands down for the favorite part of the day.
Once we got back from the tour, which was around 9 hours, we headed off to dinner. Kyle and I were dying for American food so we went and got Pizza Hut. Their Pizza Hut is quite a bit fancier than ours but it was still just as delicious. Tonight has been pretty relaxing which is great considering we got around 4 hours of sleep last night. I’m actually ready for bed now because we have quite a big day ahead of us again tomorrow.
It’s almost time to head home to the US!!
Today was basically a day reserved for travel. We woke up and began packing right away. It was actually kind of difficult to pack up all my stuff. It was scattered all over Smile’s house but I’m pretty sure I didn’t forget anything. At least I hope so.
Smile’s mom took us to the airport in Chengdu where we had KFC for lunch. Then Kyle, Smile and I boarded a plane for Beijing! The ride was pretty rocky. Kyle and I thought it felt somewhat like a roller coaster but the 3 people around us puking their guts out clearly did not agree.
Once arriving in Beijing we got all of our luggage around and headed out to the street. Beijing is different than Smile’s city in a lot of ways. It’s busier, louder and we could not find a taxi to save our lives. So, we had to take a 3 wheels. Now a 3 wheels with all of our luggage was a pretty interesting (and probably dangerous) experience:
I thought we were going to tip over but somehow we made it to the hotel in one piece. I actually love riding the 3 wheels, they are pretty relaxing.
After getting all settled in at our hotel we headed out to the city for some shopping. You can bargain like crazy here. Kyle got a pair of shoes for 200 RMB less than the original selling price (he’s a champ). Then we ate dinner at Subway (and it was so American and so tasty). We ended our shopping at the Vertu store. We obviously didn’t buy anything (way too expensive). One of the cellphones we were looking at was 48,000 dollars… yeah, such a joke.
Now we’re watching the Grudge. We really like scary movies around here.
PS- for anyone who doesn’t know we are ending our vacation in Beijing so we can tour the city and The Great Wall, Forbidden City etc. We only have 3 more nights left in China… went so fast.
My eye was even more swollen when I woke up this morning at Noah’s Ark. Please ignore the awful picture and just imagine the pain I was in.
It freaked me out pretty bad so Smile decided to take me to a Chinese hospital. First of all, their hospitals aren’t organized like ours. It was mass chaos in there. They are also quite different in the sense that you pay, go to a specific floor for a specific doctor, then their specific room and then get your prescription filled at the hospital. They also have dentists in there as well. But according to Smile the Chinese never go to the dentist unless there’s a serious problem. I got a ton of Chinese medicine for my mosquito bite - two creams and two sets of pills. I was kind of afraid to take them considering I can’t read the packaging but I did and I’m still alive which is probably a good sign. My appointment was only 5RMB which is roughly 1 US dollar. Such a solid cultural experience for basically no cost.
After that we went shopping again. Kyle and I love the prices of DVD’s here. We bought around 60 different DVD’s (many including more than one movie/show) for only 35 US dollars. It may not be the most legal thing we’ve ever bought but whatever. We got so many great videos for such a great price so it’s definitely worth it.
Then Smile and I got our nails done and got popsicles. I love popsicles! :)
We spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing at Smile’s - playing on the computer, napping and drinking these wonderful yogurt pouches.
Then we decided to do a photo shoot for our last night at Smile’s!
Again ignore the awful swollen eye.
Soul sister! :)
Panda lovin’ <3
Dinner was ready when we were done taking photos. Smile’s mom made us such a nice meal and gave us gifts for our last night in her home. Such a sweetheart. It was weird to think that it was our last night in Smile’s house after adapting to life there. I’m going to miss it that’s definite. At least Smile’s mom told us we could come back anytime (if only it wasn’t so expensive for a plane ticket). We ended the night by watching The Ring and The Ring 2.
I love quality time with my two best friends.
Today I woke up with a decently swollen eye. Smile said it was from a mosquito bite. In the photo below you can sort of tell what it looked like at the beginning of the day. After we got up and got around we headed out to go shopping for a little bit. It still amazes me everyday when I see how different life is here than in America. It’s so evident in the way they go about their daily lives.
In a lot of the places we visit here in China, there are flags of all the countries up (usually small). Yet the United States is always left out? Hmm?
These popsicles are the best tasting popsicles on planet earth.
After shopping for a bit we went to this place called Noah’s Ark. You pay a fee and then you go in for a total of 18 hours. When you’re there, you’re pretty spoiled. It was like living in royalty. Everything was so soft and so gorgeous. We got our own private locker to put our things in and they gave us specific outfits to wear, along with shoes. There was a pretty big pool there and you had to wear a swim cap and boys had to wear speedos. The buffet was huge too except majority of the food was Chinese. We even saw our first dog as a food item. There was a computer room and a gaming room. There were also special rooms for sleeping. It was a bunch of chairs that you could sleep on. They were actually comfy. You could move them to fit your body better and they were quite soft. Overall the place was super interesting, there’s nothing like it in the US.
The continuation of my reaction to the mosquito bite. Super gross, I know.
I’ll end this blog post by showing you Mr. Kyle Clifton in his required speedo.
Today was the hottest day yet. It was boiling outside. I even got some color on my cheeks from the sun! Regardless of the heat, it was the best day ever because we went to the panda base. Pandas are my favorite animal and they are the cutest creatures on earth. Smile’s city, Chengdu, is where all Pandas come from. So it makes this kind of event super special. Take a look at these pandas. I fell even more in love with them the moment I saw them.
Did you know that Pandas are close to beng extinct? The base we were at is working hard at helping them reproduce. It was awarded for it’s prestige.
This is Smile’s friend Kiwi :) She is super sweet and speaks pretty good English. She got Kyle and I gifts! She’s my favorite by far.
Smile picked a flower for me :)
Kyle and Kiwi ;)
Pandas love their bamboo!!!
PANDAS <3 <3 <3
The group :)
After the pandas we went out to see Madagascar 3 in 3D. Smile’s “little brother” wanted to hang out with us Americans so that’s what we did. Then after that we went back to Smile’s house and all laid in bed to watch The Grudge 2. Smile had me try these Chinese face masks, which didn’t even stay on my face. Oh well, it’s a good life here in China :)
Smile: I want a Chicken bruto.
Kyle & Kassie: You mean burrito?
I LOVE PANDAS.
The highlight of today was driving out to this gorgeous mountain. Jackie’s cousin took us out here in his Mercedes. It was the first and probably the last time i’ll ever ride in a car that nice.
We went white water rafting on a river that runs through the mountain. The water was super cold but the view was amazing and it was actually really fun. Smile used her Chinese to her advantage and told the workers to send me down the hills backwards. Although it was scary it was still pretty sweet. And you can’t deny that our outfits were pretty sweet too…..
Obviously white water rafting was a little much for someone…
After we finished rafting we went for a walk around a pretty sweet cultural area where we tried a bunch of different snacks. To go to the bathroom you had to pay $1 which is funny because they aren’t even that nice and they don’t provide you with toilet paper.
We met up with a bunch of Smile’s friends for dinner. Kyle and I got really excited about the fact that we could actually eat something American. This was the first restaurant we’ve been to that had forks. Such a glorious sight. Pizza has never tasted so good.
Just us and our Asian homies.
On our way home from dinner there was a little showdown. Our taxi driver got into an argument with another driver over something stupid. The men got out of the car and kicked our taxi. So our driver got out and they all just began yelling at each other. It’s so funny to listen to people yelling at each other in a language you don’t understand. We got it on video so hopefully I can post it soon.
Things are getting creepy here at Smile’s house. Last night there was an extremely loud crash right outside of our room yet no evidence and nobody around. Tonight it’s thundering and lightning and we are all just laying down watching TV. Just a little bit ago the latch on Smile’s door moved and the door slowly opened. I’d say something is definitely going on here.
We began our day with walking around and shopping in a very cultural area. It was super pretty and showed a different side of China that we had not got the chance to experience yet. I feel like it resembled a lot of what movies portray China as. It looked a lot like what I had thought all of China would be like before I actually got here.
While we were there I let this Chinese man clean my ears. Normally i’m super afraid of this kind of thing but I figured I might as well go for it. He put many different tools in my ears and cleaned them out quite nicely. In my left ear I had been experiencing muffled hearing and ear infections off and on for the past few weeks. He said that he could remove what was causing my infection. Although it was kind of gross it actually worked. It was definitely scary but now my hearing is back to normal and I’m not experiencing any pressure in my ear canal. I’d say a success even if it was a bit sketchy. And yes, Smile had to hold my hand the entire time.
These candies were created by the man above right in front of our eyes! It was super neat. You just spun the little thingamabobber and whatever animal it landed on was the animal he would make for you. I got a rat and Smile got a butterfly. They were delicious.
I absolutely love the potatoes here. They are always so spicy and so good.
I love Pandas so much. I love this store so much.
Starbucks in China… still just as good.
After we finished at Starbucks we decided that we wanted to go to that awesome Karaoke place again. It was such a solid good time. Kyle and I make pretty awesome duet partners if I do say so myself.
Once we finished up with Karaoke we went and got dinner at the Ramen place I love :) We finished the evening by going out to a movie with a friend of Smile’s. We saw Mirror Mirror which was corny but cute. The Chinese theaters are way different than ours. When you buy your tickets, you pick out your seat. So basically the seats are assigned and then you have to sit in a waiting area until your movie is called. Once your movie is called you can head inside and find your seats. During the movie people would answer calls, talk freely, move around quite a bit and do whatever. We assume most of this was because the movie was in English with Chinese subtitles so for most in the theater it didn’t involve listening, just reading.
Other interesting things about China:
- They don’t drink water with most meals in restaurants. For example, in the USA the waiter brings out water for free, to everyone at every meal. Here in China it’s a form of tea and is usually very warm.
- At meals people don’t normally order one meal for themselves. The group of people eating order many things and then share.
- The elderly people here look so much healthier than those in the USA.
- Unlike the USA most public places do not have WiFi.
- Asian babies are SO CUTE.
Kyle would also like to recommend anyone that is looking for a new diet to try out Travelers Diarrhea. Seems to work well.
Today was probably the longest day yet. We left Smile’s house around 11am and didn’t return until 1:30am. We had such an adventurous day. We began our day by taking a taxi to downtown Chengdu which is about 40 minutes from Smile’s house. The past few days haven’t been very sunny but today was! It was so very hot but it was nice to see the sunshine.
We ate lunch at the same authentic ramen place as before. I got the exact same thing - it’s like a form of beef ramen and then mango juice. Mango juice might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I’m obsessed.
After eating we shopped around a bit and played in an arcade. We found the weirdest video game there. The game was to race on horses and you literally rode on the horse provided. I decided to try the game. So I hopped on this mechanical horse, did my best to race it, completely lost and made a fool of myself. Chinese people were staring but what else is new?
We also went to a sort of flea market on one of the streets. It was huge and there were so many people. Everything there was pretty cheap. I found a wallet I really liked but the price was kind of high so Smile bargained for me and got it super cheap. Bargaining is a skill I should learn.
Remember how I had mentioned it was sunny? Well many Chinese use umbrellas on the sunniest of days to avoid getting any color. To them being pale is very very beautiful.
We met up with some of Smile’s friends at an interesting drink shop. I got a type of Mango ice and it was super good but then again I’m also the one obsessed over Mangos.
For her birthday we went with a bunch of Smile’s friends to a karaoke joint. Now this karaoke joint was nothing like you’d picture from America. You rent out a room and you go in with your friends for about 3 hours. There is a box where you can choose songs and you just sing with/to each other and nobody else is there to see you make a fool of yourself. Kyle and I thought the place looked like a gentleman’s club with low lighting and leather seats. It was unlike anything I have ever seen! There were people there serving us popcorn, fruit and flavored water. It was pretty awesome. Kyle and I sang karaoke to “Party in the USA”. Seemed appropriate.
Kyle with his many friends.
We went to dinner with the same group that was at Karaoke. For the most part the dinner was about the same as all the other things we have been eating except Kyle (the brave eater) tried Frog. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Also, we ate with one glove on our left hand to handle the meat in a more cleanly manner which was probably for the best.
After dinner we went to continue the birthday celebration at a Chinese night club. This was way different to me than an american club. First of all you can drink at 18 and I swear nobody got carded. All of our group got in without being carded and I didn’t see anyone get carded for alcohol.
These toilets freak me out. I refuse to use them unless necessary.
Awkward sign distinguishing the men’s bathroom from the women’s.
New friends! All of Smile’s friends were super super nice. Not all of them can speak English but some do. The ones that do talk to us quite a bit and they are so sweet. Those that do not speak English always smile at us and do their best to make us comfortable.
Here are some picture collages Smile made that kind of summarize the first part of our Chengdu vacation! :)
And goodnight America.
It’s about the only way I can communicate with people so I’d love to hear from you :)
This morning we woke up later than the other days. I finally got a full nights sleep and it was the best! Once we got around we decided to head into town for the day. We went shopping again which is great because like I said before everything here is so cheap for us.
We made a stop at our favorite spot to get drinks and I decided to try something new. I tried Strawberry Ice Sand and it was extremely delicious! :)
After shopping we stopped for lunch and ate some delicious chicken and noodles and I bought some chocolate mousse! :)
Then we went back to Smile’s house for a relaxing afternoon. Since so many people have been asking for pictures of Smile’s house I decided to go around and take some to share.
We went to spend our evening at Smile’s boyfriends house. When we got there his mom treated us to some very expensive fruit. The grapes were huge….. and so very good.
His house was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. His mom was so sweet and allowed us to take photos of their palace! :)
This bed alone cost 200,000 RNB. Which is about 30,000 US dollars.
This painting was hand painted and took months.
While at Jackie’s house we watched a movie in his home theater :)
And ate some Chinese Cake!
We also went and visited a Buddhist temple. On our way in we were able to see Buddha but on our way out of the temple the building was closed that Buddha was placed in. We asked all the workers and they had no idea why it was closed. Kyle and I have this theory that Buddha sent a message to the nuns telling them that Americans were present so the doors had to be closed.
Afterwards we headed out to dinner at a super pretty restaurant. We tried many different kinds of Chinese porridge from pineapple to beef to duck egg. We also tried Chinese potatoes and they were so good! They tasted just like american loaded mashed potatoes (which are my favorite).
Now we are all ending our day playing on our electronics. Smile on her iPhone, me writing this blog and Kyle doing CC homework. It’s a relaxing ending to another great day here in Chengdu, China! :)
Today we went to a Chinese amusement park called Happy Valley. It was such a great place! It’s super super super big, bigger than most parks in America and very decorated. We were the only non-Asians there… but we’re getting used to that by now.
One of the most unique things about this amusement park is that they set a limit on how tall you can be to ride rides… This was almost a problem for Kyle and I and it was pretty funny considering we’ve never had the issue of being “too tall” at a theme park. Also, at Chinese theme parks they won’t start the ride until all the seats are full. I mean all the seats - not one can be open which makes for some awkward rides.
Also, we had our first Chinese McDonald’s experience… super delicious.
At the park they sell giant coconuts that you can drink out of :)
I didn’t think it tasted very good though.
I BOUGHT THIS PANDA HAT BECAUSE I THINK IT MIGHT BE THE CUTEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN. I’M IN LOVE. I looked like such a tourist for the entire day because I wore this and had my camera out 24/7. I love the looks I get here just because i’m foreign.
These are the cutest stuffed animals on the planet and we won them. It was so great because first of all we never win carnival games and second of all either do the Chinese. Supposedly this game was suppose to be extremely hard… but Kyle and I both beat it on the first try. Smile tried and didn’t even hit the target one time. When we won the workers were going crazy and Smile translated for us that they were so amazed by how we are foreign and we won. Let’s be honest, it made us feel awesome.
We rode two water rides throughout the day. On the first one we got these rain coats. Well mine was broken to begin with and then Smile thought it’d be a great idea to ride front row.. so we did. While we were waiting to go down the big waterfall, Kyle broke his rain coat as well. It was a hilarious disaster. And then as we were finishing the ride, Chinese people from the sidelines sprayed us with a crap ton of water. Probably because we’re Americans. Then we rode another water ride and thought because we had rain coats we wouldn’t get wet. Wrong. We got soaked.
For a late lunch we went to an authentic Ramen place.
And drank mango juice (my new obsession).
The awesome thing here in China is that fresh fruit is so cheap. So everything is made out of fresh fruit and it’s not expensive whatsoever.
So so so very good.
Clearly I liked the Ramen as well :)
It took forever to leave the park because Smile let her phone die and we couldn’t contact her parents. Therefore we had to search the different parking lots for them… and let me tell you, there are a ton of parking lots. After leaving the park Smile’s parents took us to a store called metro. It’s a store that only members are allowed into and it has a mixture of Chinese goods and American goods. We bought lots of snacks for the time we are going to be staying here and had fun seeing all the interesting things being sold and being on the look out for all American things.
For dinner Smile took us to one of her favorite restaurants. Basically, you pick out what you want and they come on sticks. We ate so many things! Broccoli, beef, sticky rice, chinese hotdogs, and tofu. You cook these items on sticks in that large pot which is flavored boiling water and then you dip it into the smaller bowl and eat it. Some of it was delicious while some of it… not so much.
PS - we have now mastered the chopsticks. WOOT WOOT!
Now Kyle and I have moved onto trying to master talking in fake Chinese. We want to sound like we are talking in real Chinese even though we aren’t. We’re getting pretty good :)
After dinner we went out shopping for a bit. We ended up buying a ton of candy. Then Smile took us to a hair salon where we all got head massages and our hair styled. The head massages were fabulous… I fell asleep during mine. Speaking of falling asleep, I can barely keep my eyes open now. While it’s daytime in America, it’s night time in China and i’m sleepy.
I decided that I wanted to post a small glimpse of my adventure here so everyone can see what I’m up to on a day to day basis.
I still can’t believe I’m even here in China, the place I’ve dreamed of for so long. After an extremely long day of flying and sitting in airports we finally made it! The internet here in China blocks everything (facebook, twitter) but doesn’t block tumblr or my e-mail which has been a blessing. The flying part wasn’t too bad… Kyle and I were basically the only Caucasian people on the flights and we couldn’t understand a word of what anyone was saying. We just got weird stares 24/7.
The first day in China began with waking up at 7 in the morning after a night of 2 hours of sleep. The first thing on the agenda was to attend Smile’s school graduation which took place in this gorgeous park.
After her graduation we got food at the school “cafeteria” which is outside. We met so many people, including Smile’s boyfriend - Jackie. For all of you who know of Jackie, he is actually one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Smile ordered for us so we ended up eating chicken “burritos”, drinking these yogurt packets and pear juice. It was surprisingly delicious.
Once we finished eating we went with Smile so she could take pictures with all of her graduating friends. At first it was awkward but then the funniest thing happened. It’s like we were famous… there was more attention on us than on the graduation ceremony. So many Asians asked to take pictures with us because we are “cute” and “american”. Kyle even signed autographs and we gave out our e-mails to some students who wanted to practice English with us. It was super funny and I want to give a glimpse at some of the pictures we took from that.
PS - that thing that looks like a peace sign is actually a V and for them it signifies victory.
After being bombarded by photo after photo we went with Smile to watch some of her Chinese friends play basketball. It wasn’t really that entertaining so we took pictures instead.. typical us.
We had KFC for lunch :) it was delicious but quite different than American KFC. The nice part is that it was a lot less greasy…
After KFC we rode these “3 wheels”. This is a man on a bicycle taking you around the city in a little buggy. The thing about Chinese driving is that it’s so reckless….unbelievably reckless. It’s almost like they have no concept of rules. When we rode with this man he took us through oncoming traffic if that gives you any idea of their “reckless” driving.
We met up with a few of Smile’s friends to try some authentic Chinese food. The restaurant woman spoiled us because we are American. They even brought us out forks because they knew we couldn’t use chopsticks although i’d say we put in a pretty good effort! The meal really wasn’t that good but I guess it wasn’t disgusting either. I saw a chickens head get carried out of a bowl and that about did it for me….. appetite was lost.
After we ate AGAIN we went shopping around the city. Chinese clothing runs much smaller than American clothing so it was funny seeing how we figured out our sizes and what looks good on us. Also the prices here are AMAZING. You can get so much great stuff for such little “American” money. Also, I suck at paying with the Chinese currency… Smile has to help me every time. The shopping malls here resemble American malls quite a bit. It’s going outside and seeing the street vendors that is truly fascinating. They can be a little demanding and you have to hold close to your purse just because there are thieves hidden around the area. Once we were done shopping Smile took us to get an authentic Chinese desert in a pretty sketchy alley. The alley was so cool to see and the dessert was alright too even though it looks absolutely awful.
We took a taxi back to Smile’s house after we finished up our dessert. We came back and all laid down on Smile’s bed and fell asleep for a couple of hours. It was the best sleep ever. Her parents woke us up for an exchange of gifts and dinner. Did I mention her parents are great? Her dad speaks decent English and he is super chatty. Her mother only speaks Chinese but she’s a real gem - so sweet and gentle. They made us so much Chinese food but it was truly delicious. We ended our night watching a scary movie about vampires which I fell asleep during. Once the movie was over we sat in bed for a while and talked about random stuff and laughed about stupid things and old memories. When i’m done writing this I will actually be crawling into bed to get some much needed sleep.
Things i’ve noticed about China:
-They sleep on hard mattresses and when I say hard I mean basically as hard as wood. At first we thought this was going to be awful but it’s turned out to be extremely comfortable.
-The people are great!!!!!! They stare at us A LOT because we are American but most of them are so very friendly - they smile, they talk to you the best they can. I enjoy getting to know them and telling them about my culture.
-Oh and in public restrooms you have to bring your own toilet paper……
-The streets are busy at all hours of the night and the houses are very close knit in the city. Most people live in these tall buildings almost like apartment complexes or in villas without backyards. Smile’s backyard is the top floor of her “house” which is a garden. It’s actually gorgeous and I want to post pictures of it very soon!
Overall I am loving it here so far. The culture is fascinating and it’s a marvelous place. Plus being reunited with Smile has made me realize all the money I spent on this trip was completely worth it.
She’s my best friend.
Leaving for China in less than an hour.
This is reality.