Blog Entry 3!
Well, Pamela and I are off to see the great wall, and are currently sitting on the floor of the train to Badaling station. For the day, we decided to split up with the rest of the group after getting an early start to the morning. We're on our way to see the great wall of China, and it's starting to rain - but who cares, because this opportunity is amazing.
The Great Wall
The great wall at Badaling is humbling, and even amongst the 5 degree weather, pouring rain and hoards of people, it still was an awesome experience - costing only 25 Yuan - who would have thought! We did accidentally by a 40 Yuan ticket to a 360 degree theatre playing movies about the wall in Mandarin though… Oops!
It took about 30 minutes, but ew climbed the wall to the highest point. With huge slopes and near-vertical stairs, this thing was not designed with trans-wall mobility in mind. What I was surprised about was how much it curved back on itself, slithering across the mountains with more S shapes than a sidewinder. All in all, it was a good day, finishing it off by trying to get a look at Tianamen square, but being unable to because of it's "closing".
I'm currently sitting on a flight from Beijing to Shenzhen where we'll cross the land border into Hong Kong. To spend 5 more minutes in the air (I can see the Hong Kong airport now…) and land at HK international would have costed us about $200 canadian more… I don't think I'll ever understand airline prices.
Our last full day in China, we got a mid-early start and headed first to Tian'amen square. I explained the story of the '89 protests to everyone and the censorships imposed by the chinese government, while trying to understand and pay respect to those who lost their lives to a country which slaughtered it's own people.
After that, we went across the road to the forbidden city and entered the gates under a large picture of Mao Zedong. The amount of detail painted in tot he roof of the buildings was astonishing. After having enough of the crowds, we made a group decision not to wait in the (kid you not) 500+ people ticket line to get into the inner temple.
The outer forbidden city was still very beautiful! But being fed up with the crowds, we elected to go to an area of the city with less people - the temple of heaven. Walking around the massive beautiful grounds I felt a cool sense of peace.
Splitting up for a little bit, Pamela and I went to a traditional chinese antique market, while Miranda and Sanne went to a clothing market. We unfortunately got there right as it was closing, but Pamela managed to blow a ridiculous amount of money at the extensive, expansive expensive market. I on the other hand was on the lookout for a specific item - so I didn't purchase anything. I was looking for a Kung Fu bamboo flute - the kind David Carradine played in Kill Bill, only without the killing people and autoerotic asphyxiation. Not too sure when I because such a flute aficionado - I should look into that.
When we were finished with the market, we took the Beijing Subway back to our hostel - except it was a bit busier than normal. At our station, we tried to get off, but found that people wouldn't move out of the way. I was a few feet in the crowded car from the door, and watched people start to board despite seeing us trying to exit the car. All of a sudden the door close sound started to play…
Now I'm normally not a violent person, and I'm not entirely sure what came over me, but when I heard that sound I actually though to myself "f*ck no, this is not happening". So with all my strength (which is more than I imagined it was) I pushed myself towards the door, including pushing 4 people (who had just boarded) off the train all together.
Pamela wasn't so luck, as the door closed right behind me. She got trapped on the car, and the train pulled away as I flipped everyone off who had not let us past.
I was rattled.
All turned out to be well though. Pamela came back ten minutes later on the next train, and we got some fried chicken and spent the night chatting to other globe trotters in the hostel.
We also happened to run into two other exchange students from our university in Hong Kong - which was totally unexpected, but awesome.
We slept in the next day, caught our flight and are now on the shenzhen metro on our way to LoWu, where the air is "clean" and the internet uncensored.
There have been things I've loved, liked, disliked and hated about this trip - the latter two more than normal, but I think that comes hand in hand with going to a country so far different from ones you've been before.
I also recently came to the realization of how much money I spent on this trip - about $600 including everything. That's twice the amount I intended to spend - but traveling is the only thing you can spend money on to make you more rich… or something like that!
It's also given me a lot of time to think about what I'd like to do this summer. I'm not quite sure what that entails yet, but I know it's going to have to be cheap because I'm bleeding cash. All in all, the trip was definitely worth it though.
So for those who'd like to travel, you should. And for those who are worried about the money, these are my thoughts.
I'd rather drive myself into a little bit of debt traveling today, so I can work tomorrow rather than working my life away and possibly missing out on things that can make me genuinely happy.
To all those reading, thank you, stay sweet, live like you're dying (because you are) and as always, Happy Travels!