So before taking on Thailand I decided to stop by China with my parents for some family vacation time. On my bucket-list was seeing the Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City. After hours of delay (because Hainan Airlines is never on time), we arrived to China around two in the morning and our first impressions were not too welcoming. People that clearly look like foreigners are approached by men that claim to be taxis and even though I knew this would be a scam the official taxis did not want to take us to the hotel. So in the end we overpaid six times what a taxi from the airport is suppose to be. If I learned anything in China it’s that foreigners are an easy target and scams are rampant. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way, from a manicure that cost us $200, to a trip to the Great Wall where they tried to sell us everything from jade, comforters, tea and Chinese medicine. After the second day we knew better than to trust the overly friendly locals, we got a map and did everything on our own efficiently and cheaply. But the Forbidden City and The Great Wall were just as magical as I imagined. I felt like I was inside the movie Mulan. Here I added some of my favorite pictures.
One of the highlights in China for me was the Summer Palace. Less crowded than the Great Wall and Forbidden City, it is the place I felt was most authentically Chinese. I loved that the palace felt like a park surrounded my trees and paved roads, it was like an Eastern Disneyland for me. There is a great lake in the middle and I took a boat to the other side of the park where you can get off and walk around the lake surrounded my beautiful willow trees and water lilies. Beijing in general is a fast-paced city, you will literally get trampled in the subway, but here everything was at ease, like the China of years past. I went on the foggiest day that week, and although it made for bad pictures the peaceful atmosphere it created was priceless.
One of my favorite pastimes is to fly kites and never did I think in China that this would be a great place for it. In Olympic park there are hundreds of long kites in the sky. I knew that before I left I had to come back and fly one. I went around 5:30 p.m. in order to catch the sunset and see the stadium both in the day and lit up at night. It was probably the best nights in China, flying kites, playing with little kids and running around the ultra modern Olympic Park and of course eating some of the delicious food they sell in the food court.
China left me a little anxious about my plans to study abroad in Thailand. It was so cutthroat and I constantly felt out of place. It was a scene straight out of Lost in Translation. I come from Miami where the people are friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. I felt that in China I had to look over my shoulder for the next scammer. There were policemen and cameras in every corner everywhere! I felt a constant sense of unease because it was just so different from what I was used to. If Thailand was anything like China I really had a lot to get used to.