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May 29, 2009

Last day in China--a great trip

Today is our last day in China. This trip went so fast, and we saw and did so much. This really is the way to experience China. Our guide, Lui Li, made this trip so easy. She did an excellent job making this the best experience possible from selecting activities to ordering us the best food. If you are coming to China for the first time, I'd highly recommend hiring a local guide. We've also had local guides in each city we visited. Kathy Chen, our Beijing guide, really know everything about this city. Each local guide has a college degree in history and the languages they speak. All in all, a great experience.

Driving out to the Great Wall now. It is a perfect day for hiking--25 C and sunny. Below is some history of the wall from Kathy.

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The Great Wall was built in 7th century BC. Built different sections, and in 221 BC, a kingdom defeated the others and unified China. At this point, all the sections were linked up. Additional construction during Quin dynasty. Ming dynasty was the last dynasty to rebuild the wall. Most of what we see is from Ming dynasty (600 yrs ago). Workers were forced to build the wall. Service usually lasted 1 month to 1 year until individual laborer died. Workers who dies were buried near mountain areas. Wall made of stone, bricks, and mixtures of. Wall also has arms towers and beacon towers that communicated signals via torches and gunshots. There will additional beacon towers on the way to Forbidden City to convey messages to the Emperors.

Invaders wanted to enter China because it was a rich country in ancient times. Over 600 km are open to the public today. The section we are climbing

May 27, 2009

Job opportunity?

We had interesting lectures today from the International Network of Bamboo and Rantan. I may have found a potential job opportunity: INBAR needs to increase their government relations activities in Washington DC to achieve their goals.

May 26, 2009

Lecture at Tsinghau University

Attended a great lecture today at Tsinghua University (TU). TU is the best university in all of China--comparable to Harvard in the US. The professor who spoke to us is the dad of one of my good friends at CSOM. I didn't know this until today--small world! Prof. Yang's lecture was insightful. A key take away for me is the need for a better understanding in the US of why China has a Communist government. Prof. Yang provided strong rationale for the need for a Communist government, namely to prevent social unrest that plagued China previously and stunted its growth. The US does not have to support the Chinese political system, but it does need to understand why China support its political system. Prof. Yang also expressed the need for the US to move past the unilateralism it practices for the past 8 years. All in all, a great lecture.

May 25, 2009

In Beijing

Just arrived in Beijing from the overnight train. Good night sleep on the train. Met by our local guide, Kathy. Looking forward to learning the history of Beijing from the capitol city. Beijing is the cultural center of China, whereas Shanghai was the financial center.

May 24, 2009

Train to Beijing

We left Moganshan this afternoon for Beijing. We are riding an overnight train. We are in 4 bunk sleeper cars, and its the softest bed I've had all trip. Sitting here now with Kevin, Aaron, Paige, Mal, Laura, and Roxy looking out the window and discussing our favorite trip aspects so far. My favorite trip aspect: trying new foods!! Best food: Chinese style jap chae (bean-based noodles with beef and cabbage). 2nd favorite: cucumber soup.

Had great time in Shanghai and Moganshan. Looking forward to Beijing. Can't wait to see the northern culture and learn the history of China. Had some awesome food in Shanghai. Looking forward to a good hot pot and Peiking duck in Beijing.

Got to get back to the group. More later from Beijing.

Zaijian! (Good bye!)

May 21, 2009

19 May--Shanghai

Jade Bhudda Temple:
Temple had several different statues and monuments for worshipers to pray to. The courtyard in between buildings was filled with inscents smoke. There was a constant flow of worshipers who came to pray. Also stopped at the temple's tea garden and tasted several different teas. The hostess explained the benefits of each as part of Western medicine.

Fabric Market:
Stopped at 3 story building filled with hundreds of small vendors who owned their own tailor businesses. After finding a shop you like, you pick out fabric from hundreds of patterns. The tailor measures you and asks your preferences for cuffs and collar design. I ordered customed tailored dress shirts and a pair of pants. They were made to my exact measurement and delivered to the hotel in 24 hrs. Would highly recommend the fabric market to anyone who visits. Find a tailor who speaks good English because they do exist. My shirts and pants fit better than ones I've bought in the US. A nice dress shirt in the US costs about $55; I got mine customed tailored here for $15.

Shanghainese dinner:
We had a large, family-style dinner our second night in Shanghai. All great food. The best was bamboo in vinegar and the steamed fish in soy and vinegar. Chinese custom is to not flip the whole fish over on the plate--it will bring bad luck to the fisherman. Instead, you have to eat the side that is facing up, then remove the bones and finish the remaining side.

Went out at night by taxi to a bar/club called Zapatos. It was the hang out for airline crews on layover in Shanghai. We took 4 cabs, and the drivers thought it would be fun to race each other. It was a wild cab ride.