I’ve been in Beijing for 1 week now. It’s been the longest week of my life but soooo worth it. From the day we got here, it’s been nothing but non-stop moving around the city. Monday, the first full day, was spent at Master Kong noodle factory where we learned the process for making ramen. One of the more interesting sites was the visit to the US Embassy to speak with US Commercial an executive agency that helps ensure that when American companies want to conduct business abroad that they have an equal chance with competitors in foreign countries. Additionally, Jennifer Pan who owns China Sense, the company that organized all our group’s site visits took time to meet with us and share what she thought made a successful entrepreneur.
While the business sites were interesting to me as a business major, I was really more interested in the cultural sites because that’s really why you travel. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was our first stop and this section is totally unique. This part of the wall has a special architectural style making use of watchtowers and numerous fortifications on both sides of the wall. Another defining characteristic of the area is the perilousness of the wall. Unlike many of the pictures that are shown of the wall, this area isn’t a flat wall that changes with the terrain. This was a series of steep climbs and descents through the hills. Running stadiums has nothing on walking this part of the Great Wall– there were certain parts of it where it seemed insurmountable but we still managed. Going down is without a doubt wayyyy more fun than going up. The area has a toboggan slide system that rockets you down the hill. It was so much fun that it made up for the fact that I was so tired/hungry I felt like passing out after we made it to the high point of the area. Wednesday, at the Forbidden City, we embraced our celebrity status. People we’re running up to us asking to take pictures with us as well as photobombing ones that we were taking. From Tiananmen, which is outside the Forbidden City, all the way back to end of the palace is about 6 miles but you zigzag through the area so it’s always more. Then we decided that we needed to go to the Temple of Heaven, which added more walking, and more awesomeness to the day. A little background on the temple: 4 large pillars in the center, which represent the four seasons, support it. These are the sole support of the temple and there are no nails used in its construction. In America it was a big deal that a Chinese sculptor used Chinese marble to create the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial however I’m going to speculate that it’s simple them getting back at us. At one point, the central pillars needed to be replaced so trees from Oregon were crafted into the replacements.
I still can’t believe that I’m here in China. This has already been a trip of so many firsts– 1st time leaving America, 1st time going to a bar (and having a jagerbomb) 1st time having a Big Mac and I know there will be so many more. We’re planning to go white water rafting one day, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. China is a magical place where (so far) only good things are happening to me and I love it.