Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Day in Beijing

Hi Everyone! I have returned from China, and there is so much to share with you all! Unfortunately, the minute I went to update my blog upon my arrival to Beijing, our tour guide, Karlis, told me Blogger was blocked in China.. I was so upset that I couldn't keep you guys updated while I was in China, but I am going to do a few posts this week about my trip to China. First, I want to say China was everything I expected and definitely exceeded my expectations! Everyone has preconceived notions of China, thinking it is a developing third world country. Yes that is true, China is developing, but in my eyes, it is no longer a third world country. When we landed at the Beijing airport, I couldn't tell the difference between the US and China. The country is beautiful. We all loaded up on our tour bus with our amazing guide Karlis. Karlis has been living in China for the past 5 years. He is originally born in Latvia, pursued college in Washington state, and came to China to study his Masters degree and PHD in Ecology. Karlis knew EVERYTHING about China and its culture and history. I was amazed with his knowledge.

It took us about 2 hours to get to our dorm rooms from the airport. One thing I learned about China within these first 2 hours was there is a TON of traffic. Makes sense, considering Beijing is home to 30 million people. To put things into perspective for you, NYC has a population of about 5 million.. Finally we arrived at the Beijing University for Foreign Studies. We stayed in dorm rooms that were livable. The dorms in China made me appreciate my dorm room in Ithaca. The group I traveled with quickly learned that we would need to take toilet paper EVERYWHERE. In China, mostly all of the bathrooms are Chinese style, a sunk in the ground toilet (a hole) in the floor. Only Western-styled companies and tourist spots had regular toilets as well as toilet paper. I thought this was pretty cool, definitely a part of the China experience. We had a saying "YOCO" You Only China Once.. We tried to experience as many cultural things as we could. This saying came into my mind when I tried street food. One thing my mom told me over and over again before I left for China, was to not eat the street food... Our group went to a street vendor as soon as we got to Beijing, because we were starving.. So my first piece of food on the trip came from a street vendor.. (Sorry Mom!) The food we had from the vendor was called "Tien Bing" It was an egg wrapped up with chicken, lettuce, and onions. It was actually pretty good, I was scared to try it at first, but you never know until you try..

Our first night in Beijing we went to dinner as a group with our professors as well as Karlis. We went to a place called "Chicken Restaurant". They named the restaurant this because there was a huge chicken statue inside the restaurant. At dinner, we had our own private room. In China, when eating as a group you sit at a circular table with a huge lazy susan in the middle. A traditional Chinese dinner consists of about 12 hot and cold dishes. Also, real Chinese food is completely different from the Chinese food we have in the US. For this dinner we had lotus flower root, which has a really sweet taste, as well as spinach with boiled peanuts. We also had a boiled chicken, rice, eggplant, bok choy and many other delicious plates. After this first dinner, I knew I was going to love real Chinese food.

Our first night in Beijing was rough. The beds in the dorm rooms were really hard. It felt like I was sleeping on bricks. Although I was so tired from the 13 hour flight, it was hard for me to fall asleep. Although it wasn't what I was used to, I was able to manage and get some sleep.
Getting ready to board the plane to Beijing!

Sign in the Beijing airport

The campus where we stayed, the Chinese call the area "Bei Way"

Our dorm room

Our first group dinner at "Chicken Restaurant"