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Exploring Tian'anmen!

In a spur of the moment business trip to Shanghai, my boss left me with a three-day vacation. I wasn’t sure what to do, being that I still hadn’t learned any Mandarin besides, “Sorry, I am an American; I speak English.” So with that in mind, I decided to spend it doing one of the most touristy things a Beijinger can do: visit Tian'anmen Square. 

I knew from the moment I stepped off the Tian'an Men East subway station that I would be in for a crowd. Hordes of tourists, mostly from other parts of China were squished into three small security checkpoints. It seemed like almost an hour until I was finally free from the jostling and shoving at the exit. After successfully emerging from the bottleneck, most of the visitors walked to the right to visit the Forbidden City, complete with a welcoming painting of Mao Zedong at the entrance. Wanting to save that venture for another day, I proceeded to the left, took an underground tunnel, and found myself a vast concrete square, Tian'anmen Square. 

The square really wasn't much aside from a few key monuments and buildings. The first was a very large gate that marked the original entrance to the city of Beijing. The second was a mausoleum to Mao Zedong, where visitors could pay their respects and look upon his mummified remains. The next was a Monument to the People, and lastly was a Chinese flag that visitors would watch rise and fall at dusk and dawn. And all throughout my perusals, soldiers in green uniforms would patrol the square. While Tian’anmen was hardly a relacing or tranquil tourist destination, it was definitely worth a visit to understand the dual nature of Chinese society: honoring the ancient past across the street at the Forbidden City and envisioning a rebirth of a nation at Tian’anmen Square at the same time. Although my day trip was short, I definitely came back a little more enlightened. 

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Shanghai

After traveling to Hong Kong, I spent a few days in Shanghai. I had wanted to visit Shanghai since the moment I arrived in Beijing, and although it took a long time to actually make it there, it was worth it! Shanghai is a fun place to visit and the city itself is much more compact and easier to get around than Beijing in my opinion. While in Shanghai, I stayed at the amazing JW Marriott and had a killer view. I did lots of shopping, saw the skyline from the bund, went to the Yu Gardens (so beautiful, a must see) and walked around the French Concession area. Overall, the scenery and nightlife in Shanghai was spectacular and I hope I can go back again one day! 

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Traveling to Hong Kong

All my life I have always wanted to see the amazing city of Hong Kong. It did not disappoint in the least bit. When I arrived I was happy to find how clean the city was. It was also very lit up and vibrant, even more so than any place I had ever seen in China. Since I  was there during Chinese New Year I was able to see some amazing performances by dancing dragons and watched some spectacular lettuce eating ceremonies. I truly enjoyed the noodles and fish balls that were typical of Cantonese food. The amazing part about Hong Kong besides the Peak (view of the city from above) and the huge Buddha was the fact that it is only a short one hour ferry to Macau. One of the days we traveled to Macau and it was amazing! The city used to be Portuguese owned so you could see the European influences in the architecture and the many street signs written in Cantonese, English and Portuguese. Overall, Hong Kong was vibrant and beautiful! Hope I get to go back someday!

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Trip to Sanya

This week I was lucky enough to spend in the Hainan provence of China. Me and my two American friends that were visiting took a trip to Sanya (pronounced San-YA). Not only was the weather beautiful, but the people were very friendly and the food was amazing. During the four days that we spent there we went to the beach, learned how to surf, drank out of fresh coconuts and explored the southern culture of China. I found that the south was full of happy and relaxed people. It was truly a nice get-a-way from the cold and smoggy city of Beijing. I hope that I can return to Sanya one day! 

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Trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou

Shanghai has lots of beautiful skyscrapers. Very modern and elegant.

Shanghai has lots of beautiful skyscrapers. Very modern and elegant.

The famous Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

The famous Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

General landscapes of "Tall Shanghai"

General landscapes of "Tall Shanghai"

Yuyuan Gardens

Yuyuan Gardens

Monks sitting down with foreigner

Monks sitting down with foreigner

“Lei Fen Ta” Temple seen from the ground

“Lei Fen Ta” Temple seen from the ground

“Xihu Lake” famous attraction in Hangzhou

“Xihu Lake” famous attraction in Hangzhou

One of the good things of being in such a great country is the possibility to go and visit other places, as long as time isn’t too tight due to the long distances to travel.

Visiting Shanghai was a “must” on my list, not only because I had a friend staying there but due to the multicultural differences in the city. It seems you have moved away from the Asian continent and you are submerged into another common European style city. Foreigners are not in greater amounts than in Beijing, it’s just that their culture there is taken to another extent and it seems that China is trying to adapt to them, rather than the other way round, which is what is mostly seen in the country’s capital in most occasions.The tall skyscrapers are the main city’s attraction and can be seen stretching high at most spots in Shanghai, from the other side of the river, the Bund, or at their feet.

Hangzhou, on the other hand, has a more traditional style, however still keeping the modern buildings style. The air felt much more humid and damp, with the sky being grey at mostly all times. This is a common landscape seen in China, hard to get away from, but it’s the price paid for their rapid growth.

Amazing views of Shanghai

Amazing views of Shanghai

Details inside the gardens

Details inside the gardens

Traditional Chinese Architecture

Traditional Chinese Architecture

Views from “Lei Fen Ta” temple, Hangzhou

Views from “Lei Fen Ta” temple, Hangzhou

Sightseeing spot seen on 1 yuan note, known as “33 moons”

Sightseeing spot seen on 1 yuan note, known as “33 moons”

Water lily’s, not in their best season (July)

Water lily’s, not in their best season (July)


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