So I know its been a few weeks since my spring break, but I know that I needed to catch you all up on the rest of our vacation.
Qibao is always a fun spot to go to (if you’re in Shanghai and haven’t gone yet, please do!) and the day that we went had beautiful weather. Upon entrance, my mom and I took the usual tourist-y pic (with the awesome lion!). It was early in the day, but already getting packed. I’ve never gone to a tourist spot in Shanghai when it isn’t busy. You could go on a workday morning, and it would still be packed to the gills with people. In Chinese, there’s a saying “仁山仁海” which literally means for a large open space to be completely packed with people. That did not deter us, however.
My mom needed to get some presents for people at work and family (FOR THOSE OF YOU READING THIS, ITS A SURPRISE :)), so we got those right off the bat. Then my mother spotted a Qipao (different than Qibao) store. Qipaos are the traditional Chinese women’s dresses with the semi-high collar, beautiful silk patterns, and high slits. This store had very beautiful dresses, but my mother decided on getting a very nice purple Qipao jacket (she’s probably worn it to work a few times). And we didn’t even need to bargain about the price!
After a long day in Qibao, the next day was a travel day. On to Beijing! I was excited to see China’s capital, and to see the differences between Beijing and Shanghai. People always told me that Beijing was “more Chinese” than Shanghai, so I had to see it for myself. And of course, one of my mom’s dreams has been to see the Great Wall. So, we hopped on a train for about 5 hours and landed in Beijing. It was a little colder than I expected, but we lucked out and had beautiful weather while we were there. The pollution was not as bad as people said it would be, but we bought masks just in case it got worse (it didn’t).
After arriving at our hotel, we were both so exhausted that we didn’t want to do a big tourist-y thing that afternoon, so we just walked around our neighborhood. Our hotel was in a “胡同”, or alleyway. Beijing’s 胡同 are actually quite famous; they are definitely one-way streets with little houses on both sides. It was nice to be located in a quieter section of Beijing, coming from living in a very busy section of Shanghai.
The next day was the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I obviously had not done my homework before coming to Beijing, because I had no idea they were right across the street from each other! My bad. However, that made it very convenient for us. We started off in the Forbidden City early, hoping to escape most of the tourists. That failed. But the human traffic wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.
Walking into the first entrance of the Forbidden City you can feel the history around you. I was just trying to imagine the sheer number of people that not only lived there, but also worked and served. The first few buildings are absolutely colossal. As we walked through (I have to be honest, I have no idea what some of the buildings we went in were called) we passed by private quarters of past emporers, concubines, servants, advisors, the list goes on and on. It isn’t just called the Forbidden City, it is an actual CITY. I don’t know how long it would take someone to actually go into every single building. No idea.
After a few hours in the Forbidden City, my mom and I were both getting a little tired and getting run over/shoved by school children and little old ladies (they are FIERCE). So we decided to leave the city and go see Tiananmen Square. Now it is simply used as headquarters for a lot of government officials and people walk through it everyday. However, it was still important for us to go and see it. It wasn’t very special to look at, but still definitely necessary.
The next day was THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA DAY!!!! All the excitement. We got up very early so we could, once again, get there before all the tourists, and we were actually somewhat successful. We went to the section called Mutianyu. We rode cable cars up (you can also hike up, but we decided against it) to the top; the ride was about 10 or so minutes, maybe not even. Once at the top, we could finally admire the INCREDIBLE view. Breathtaking. I don’t actually think I’ve seen something as magnificent. I’ve also never felt smaller in my entire life. As we stood on the wall, Mom and I slowly started to take in the actual age of the wall, the huge effort that it took to actually build, all of the people that died on the wall (and are still there, EW) and the fact that you can see it from space. AWESOME. The air was also so pure and fresh, you would never even know about pollution. After a few hours there, we took pictures, ooo’ed and aaaahhh’ed, and took the cable car back down. Mom and I bought the mandatory Great Wall and “I <3北京” shirts. We finally arrived at our hotel early afternoon and decided we definitely needed a nap.
The next day we came back to Shanghai. We got back to our hotel at around 2ish (I think?) and decided to do a little shopping. With East Nanjing Road right next to us, how could we not? That night we went out for some AMAZING hot pot right across the street from our hotel. That’s one of the things I love about Shanghai; good food is always right there. The food coma after good hot pot is also very necessary to the hot pot experience.
Mom unfortunately left the next day. We were luck enough to squeeze in Yu Garden before she left. Yu Garden is so beautiful, very peaceful and has a decent shopping district outside of it, if you’re looking for pearls, silk, tea, or any China knick-knacks. I dropped Mom off at the airport, a little tearful, and headed back to school. Luckily I still had a few days before classes started again, so I took the opportunity to relax and just hang out.
Next Blog Posting: The epic Strawberry Music Festival!!