It has been quite a while since this blog was last updated (Japan and Taiwan seem so long ago!), but I am excited to finally share my China adventures! I had planned to write about each day as I traveled throughout the country, but soon realized that it was impossible to access Google, email, photos, internet,…. and just about everything else I needed because of China’s MASSIVE firewall. Not to worry though, I snapped hundreds (… thousands?) of photos and excitedly wrote down each day’s events to preserve the memories. Without further ado,
(welcome to China!)
This day was a travel day like all international travel days usually are. It started early, ended late, lasted forever, and left me feeling like I got hit by a train by the end. To make things a little better though, I got to watch Guardians of the Galaxy on the flight. Woohoo for checking another movie off my ever-growing list!
11 hours of flying + a 14 hour time change later, and we had arrived in Beijing! Mom and I collected our luggage and waited to meet the other people in our tour group. Unlike previous travels, this trip was facilitated through a travel company called Vantage. The company worked to make everything as hassle free as possible- providing all of our accommodations, organizing travel between hotels and sightseeing locations, offering add-on excursions, and providing a great local guide for each major city we traveled through to help educate us on the area. Extremely different than what I was used to, (exploring on my own, staying at cheap AirBnBs, getting lost on mountains, fitting in with the locals on crowded public transportation, etc), I was interested to see how the experience would pan out and excited to venture around China without the worry of getting lost.
Our hotel was close to the airport, but the drive took over an hour because of the traffic. Along the way I learned how incredibly difficult it is to obtain a license plate to drive in Beijing (through a lottery system, only 1% of applicants get accepted). For those lucky enough to have a plate, there are regulations in place to limit the number of cars allowed on the road at specific times each day, on specific days of each week, and in specific places throughout Beijing. I could see how all of this was necessary though- outside the car the sky was hazy and the moon, bright red. Hello pollution.
We finally reached the hotel, an ornate Shangri-La complete with sprawling red carpets, a grand jade display, and live musicians in the entryway. By checkin, it was already evening time and I was famished. We found a Chinese restaurant in the mall under the hotel and I scarfed down a deliciously thick mushroom and chicken soup plus a lamb and scallion dish. We had another plate which comprised of luffa (a type of squash) with garlic sauce, but that one was a little bland and weird.
It was good to get food in my belly and it was fun to finally have Chinese dishes in China! After dinner it was back to the room. I was spent and ready to rest up for the first full day!