Today was a very exciting but also sad day. It is our last day in China so we all knew that we had to go hard and make it count. A couple kids from the group and I walked around Shanghai for the last time and tried to decide on something that would top the night off. Everyone from the group decided that it would be a good idea to go to the Sky Club. A few kids form the group had already been there and told us that it was 100 yuan for all you could drink. We had already taken the subway to a different club with Joe so we had a little experience when it came down to us traveling by ourselves. The club was a lot nicer than I had expected and was pretty similar to other clubs we had been to in Tianjin. The bar was constantly full but I think we all had our fair share of free drinks. Like other clubs, Sky club had some pretty incredible dancers and played mostly American music. We stayed out extremely late and realized it was time to head back, after a Mcdonalds run of course. We then headed back to the hotel dreading the morning to come. I was nowhere near ready to leave China. I had the greatest time I have ever had in my life and met some amazing people.
Recently in In Shanghai Category
Today we went to a place which I believe is the tea capital of China or something along those lines. This was our third tea tasting and for sure my favorite. One of the employees there let us try some green tea and also showed us some really neat tea pots. Almost everyone in the group ended up buying something. I walked away after spending a hundred U.S. dollars with a bunch of tea and some sort of natural pill that supposedly detoxifies your body. It was a lot of money to spend but it is some of the best green tea and I figured I wouldn't be able to find it anywhere else.
Hangzhou was the last stop before heading to Shanghai for our last stop on our tour abroad. I feel Hangzhou was very different compared to the other cities we visited. Our tour guide explained that Hangzhou was a richer city that enjoyed their leisure time. People from Hangzhou enjoy visiting Shanghai on the weekends as Shanghai becomes less busy on the weekends. Like Wuxi and Suzhou the traffic here was much less chaotic then Beijing or Tianjin. We I thought distinguished Hangzhou the most was its quality of air. The air pollution was much much lower than any of the other cities we visited. I also think it was the most beautiful city. The Lion Garden and the Bamboo forest were absolutely amazing and breath taking. The waterways, vegetation, Chinese architecture, and rock formations all combined was incredible. Our group noticed that the bridges at the Lion garden zig-zaged which was strange to us. Our tour guide Joe explained this was to allow the women to enjoy the scenery. In ancient China, Chinese princesses were always supposed to look straight and not turn their heads. The zig-zaged bridge allowed the women to enjoy the scenery as it forced them to look around and enjoy the scenery. I can't imagine how tempting it would be not to turn your head to see more of this amazing garden. The Lion Garden also had a bonsai garden that I really liked. I had a bonsai tree when I was growing up, but I didn't take care of it nearly as much as I should have. The bonsai trees in this garden were amazing and so interesting to look at.
Another beautiful place we visited was the bamboo forest. This location had the cleanest air in China and it was very refreshing. At this destination I let the group get ahead of me because I wanted to be by myself in this forest. It was so peaceful, calm, and beautiful walking around listening to the silence. I found it extremely relaxing and very different compared to all the busy cities we had been to in China.
Today we went the Shanghai Zoo and I was more than excited to see what I have been waiting to see in China a panda bear! I didn't only get to see one panda but I got to see four! I was very excited when I found out that Shanghai had a zoo with pandas in it! Whenever I go to a big city I like to go to the zoo! I love animals so I have always liked going to the zoo. When I was younger I'm pretty sure I went to the San Diego zoo and saw a panda but all I remember was seeing killer whales and dolphins. Although I was most excited about the pandas, I was also very impressed with the overall zoo. They had a variety of animals ranging from African animals like elephants, giraffes and zebras to wild horses, snakes, and flamingos. For most the exhibits there were multiple animals which I think is always a good thing in zoos. Also they exhibits gave the animals a lot of room which I didn't expect because the city is so overpopulated, I thought maybe they just wouldn't have that kind of space for zoos in China. In the United States I know that most zoos try to preserve the natural habitat that the animals would live in to make it as real as possible, I wasn't sure if that did that in Asia but from visiting the Shanghai Zoo I would say that they do.
China Day 28 (Shanghai-Chicago-Minneapolis)
Today was our last day in China. It's hard to believe that this trip is already over. They say that as you get older time seems to go by quicker and quicker, and my China experience seems to be an accurate reflection of this saying. We were supposed to get on the bus at 9 AM this morning, however, my roommate and I slept through our alarm and were awoken by Dahui at 10 AM. I was shocked when I realized this and swiftly gathered my things to get on the bus. Before going to the airport, our group went to a shopping mall. This was a pretty cool mall and I ended up buying a few more pairs of Ray Ban sunglasses for my family, as well as a Mario and Luigi figure for myself. After our hour at the shopping mall we went to have our last Chinese meal. We went to a seemingly high class restaurant and the food was incredible. I think I will really miss the food here. That and a lot more. After lunch we took off for the airport. Surreal. We said goodbye to Joe and, soon thereafter, our professor as we eventually went to our gate back to the United States. The flight from Shanghai to Chicago felt like it took forever and I was very restless the entire time. I think I got sick from being on the plane (just a cold). After arriving in Chicago we had a three hour layover until we could board the plane to Minneapolis. This ended up being more like a four hour layover until we finally got on the plane. Once the plane took off it had to fly around over Eau Clair, Wisconsin because of the storms in Minneapolis. The captain announced that the flight had to be diverted and at this point I was livid. Too much plane for one day. We flew back to Chicago, they refueled the plane, and finally we were cleared to land in Minneapolis. We got there at around 1 AM when we were supposed to get in at just under 10 PM. I don't think I've felt so tired , hungry, dirty, and just plain glad to be standing up in my life. One thing I noticed immediately once I got outside... the air is so much fresher here. I could see the sky! It's good to be home but I am thinking I will need another go-around in China at some point.
Last night in our hotel Nolan and I watched a talk show that was talking about the college entrance exams that Chinese students take to get into college. From what I could gather the entrance exam is like a super version of the ACT or SAT. The exam lasts for 3 days and it tests students on all the knowledge they've learned in high school. You then receive a score and this score determines which colleges you can go to. The talk show said the test is very competitive and very stressful on students. The hosts talked about some tricks people use to help their scores. The exam is more competitive in smaller towns because universities only select a few candidates from different districts. In smaller areas less openings into colleges are handed out so some students take the test in larger cities. I learned that some universities will only select the highest scores in certain districts and really prestigious schools will only select the best scores in all of China. This all seemed very confusing a very intimidating. I can't imagine what Chinese students go through during this time with all the pressure. I would have so much anxiety if I were a student. This process for getting into college is much different then what we have in America. We have a similar test with the ACT SAT but they're not nearly as important. I did not score well on my tests but I had a good gpa and class ranking. I'm really glad I did not grow up in China because I feel if I had to take this test my score would be horrible and probably wouldn't have made it to college.
Today we finally arrived in Shanghai and ate dinner at a rather unique restaurant. After dinner we got checked into our hotel and started preparing ourselves for the Club Joe was bringing us to. Joe told us that the club was called Muse 2 and it was one of the top three clubs in Shanghai. After riding the subway we arrived at the club and Joe had already reserved to VIP tables for us which was awesome. Shortly after we arrived and sat down the waiters brought out some whiskey, champagne, and some beer. The club was rather expensive but I wasn't too surprised because it was an amazing spot to party. After we ran out of the drinks for everyone a few others from the group and I split a bottle which ended up costing 880 between the five of us. It was well worth it, I could not have had a better time. The women performing were absolutely amazing and the music was great. A few of us ended up meeting the owner and he shared some of his extremely expensive liquor with us which definitely surprised me. He was very friendly and seemed to enjoy our company. I had an amazing time at Muse 2 and would definitely like to go back if I ever return to Shanghai.
Today was our last full day in Shanghai as well as China and I am really sad that this trip is over. To start the day off we went to the Yu Garden which is another very famous garden in China. It is cool to see the amount of work and detail that went in to making this garden. Seeing the Yu Garden made me want to have a garden myself. After the garden we had an option to stay at the marketplace or head back to the hotel and I decided to head back to the hotel even though I still needed a suitcase for all the stuff I had bought. Later a couple of the guys and I walked around to look for another place where we could buy a suitcase and surprisingly we did not have to walk too far. I was able to get a suitcase for 60 RMB which is a great price. That night all of us went out to Sky Nightclub to celebrate our last night in China and it's safe to say that we all had a blast. Overall, I have had an unforgettable experience in China and I will never forget the friendships that I have made.
Today was our first full day in Shanghai and to start the day off we took a walk around the lake where we had an awesome view of the city. We also were able to see the second tallest building in China, the Pearl Tower, which we were visiting later. After a quick lunch, we headed for the Pearl Tower which is 468 meters tall but we only went up 263 meters which is still incredibly high. It was cool to see the city of Shanghai from that high up but, unfortunately, it was fairly smoggy today so we weren't able to see that far. The coolest part of the tower was the see-through floor and I have to admit it was pretty scary looking straight down 260 meters. That evening after the tower we took a cruise around the city and if the height of the building wasn't amazing enough, it was awesome to see them light up. Shanghai is truly an amazing city and I am excited to see what tomorrow holds.
While abroad in China I was introduced to China's extensive tea culture. I had never drank tea before as I thought it would be like Brisk Ice Tea I tried when I was a child and didn't like. I also always thought tea originated with the British, not the Chinese. First in Beijing we were introduced to China's main 6 different types of tea. My favorites were green tea and the fruit tea. I really have enjoyed the tea we've had in China and Dr. Li says he likes tea more than coffee. I would really like to see if I can replace all the coffee I drink with tea as tea is much better for you. I'm really surprised that the tea culture in America isn't very popular as it is ridiculously huge in China. Our coffee culture is like China's tea culture. I people drinking tea everywhere. On our train from Tianjin to Wuxi I say a gentleman with a large mayonnaise size jar full of tea with a large amount of green tea leaves at the bottom. While in Tianjin we went to a tea shop and they let us sample some of their tea. While on the Chinese Ancient Culture street a shop owner shared some of their green tea with us. Its really been nice getting to try so much tea.
I really like how tea is so good for you. We learned that while the green tea is hot and steaming you can open your eye above the tea and the moisture from the tea is good for you eyes. Our guide at the Dragonwell production site told us that green tea leaves are rich in antioxidants and are good at cleaning out the body. We learned that its also healthy to eat the tea leaves at the end. I was most surprised to find out that green tea did give me a little bit of energy. I really want to try green tea back in America and see if it can help get me started in the morning.