China Trip 2k17

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Recently I had the awesome opportunity of taking a trip to China with my school (through EF tours) and I wanted to retell the experience here on my blog, writing down every detail I can remember so that I won’t forget it 10 years down the road :)) I’m going to focus on my favorite/ most significant parts of the trip I experienced.

    Well I’ll skip over the 14-hour flight from Toronto to Beijing and how all our Air Canada flights were delayed on the way because it was all just frustrating in itself but I tried to gloss over it so that it wouldn’t ruin my initial mood in China.

The trip overall was very cool and insightful, but it wasn’t a completely perfect trip and it definitely had its lows. First stop was Beijing, which honestly wasn’t my favorites but a lot happened while we stayed there. We went to the Beijing Zoo where there was an actual panda, an animal I’ve never seen before this trip. Besides the zoo and the amazing architecture of the city, I could’ve skipped over Beijing. It was extremely crowded and smog ridden all over. At the end of the two days we were there, I had a headache from all the smoke I was inhaling, I should've really thought about investing in a face mask. Oh -yeah. The Great Wall. There was also that. It was pretty amazing, and the main reason I feel obliged to say that Beijing wasn’t a total bust. It was really scenic and kind of unbelievable, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks of the world and I was actually standing on the steps of it taking Boomerangs for Instagram. Crazy right?

The next city that really blew me away on the trip was Guilin. Unfortunately, there was a flood in the town of Yangshuo the day before we arrived so we couldn’t stay at our scheduled hotel, but because of the thoughtful people at EF Tours, we were relocated to a 5-star hotel within the city. It was beautiful, totally boujie, and had a top quality breakfast. This was a great first introduction to Guilin.

The next day we went to a small village house in Yangshuo, which was the first time we actually had been to the country side during the entire trip. It was very picturesque and really what I had expected to see when I envisioned this China trip. The air was also very clean and fresh which was a great change to the terrible smog that was pretty much everywhere up to that point.

That night in Guilin, some of my friends from my group and I wanted to go to the large shopping mall in the city to check it out. I almost didn’t go that night because I was a little worn out from the day, but I decided to go anyways. God I’m so glad I decided to go: The mall was about 10 minutes away, so our tour guide said she’d arrange a taxi for the 4 of us. Well the ‘taxi’ was a Vespa/motorcycle with a cart with two benches attached to the end. We were in late night traffic, zipping past cars and huge trucks in this small cart that this woman was pulling us in, and we were having the best time, and things only got better when we got to the mall itself. Outside, there were huge neon lights around a big fountain when we got off the sidewalk, and it was surrounded by a string of attractions. All around the outside entrances, there were miniature cars and even a train going around the outside. In addition to that, they had an outdoor inflatable pool the size of a typical community one, with inflated hamster balls to walk on. There were bungee jump chords and a complex, massive outdoor jungle jim kinda resembling the one they have in the Palisades. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to ride on any of these, so we went inside the mall and decided to check out all the unique shops in the 4-floor mall. We ended up going to an arcade and playing Dance-Dance Revolution to MJ’s Thriller. This entire night in Guilin, along with the day in the city, was honestly the highlight of the entire trip.

Next, in Shanghai, we stayed for 3 eventful days. The first day we went to a knock off market, where they had all the designer knock off items you could imagine. It was also the most aggressive market we had visited the entire trip, the vendors would follow you yelling lowered price after lowered price trying to convince you to buy something from them, even if you don’t want to. I bought Yeezy Boosts for only 20 USD, which is insane, even for knock offs. The knock off markets are the #1 reason I’d go back to Shanghai.

We also went to GE (General Electric) headquarters for a tour of their medical and aviation departments. It was really cool and interesting to see how all their business has moved to China and how they operate. They have a very interactive work process, which I thought was really innovative; In their shared spaces there were whiteboards on the walls with notes, brainstorms and marked charts where everyone was able to share their ideas. It seemed like a collaborative space.

  That night after the tour we went to a light show in Shanghai, where we went to the harbor and got to see the show from a boat. Even though it was very underwhelming compared to light shows at Disney or Las Vegas, the city skyline was unbeatable by any American city. It’s pretty amazing also how all of the buildings were pretty much made in the last 20-ish years. After the light show we had a much needed American dinner of KFC, which is surprisingly popular in China, and not only were the chicken pieces insanely tiny compared to America, but they also didn’t even sell biscuits! Crazy.

Anyways, fast forwarding to the end of our trip, the last stop was Hong Kong, which was the best way to end it with a bang. We went to a beautiful beach and even though most of us didn’t get to swim, the view was still beautiful and I got to get my feet wet. But my favorite part was that the hotel had the best breakfast out of all of the hotels we had been to, and I definitely needed it the morning of a 16-hour flight.

Overall, China trip was a success, and very enlightening. It was cool to see how different the culture was to the U.S. and even how different Hong Kong was to the rest of China. I wouldn’t visit again I don’t think because the lack of diversity made me a bit uncomfortable. There would be times when I’d be on the street where people would come up and kind of snicker and take pictures of me, whether they asked to or not. It was overwhelmingly obnoxious. Nevertheless, a great trip! :)) Enjoy my over extended photo gallery.

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