China 2012

Website for the PDS trip to China!

June 18, 2012
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Xian: Day One


Big Wild Goose Pagoda

We started off the day by visiting the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a very important Buddhist temple in Xi’an.  As we approached the temple we noticed that the large pagoda was tilted slightly.  We came to find out from our tour guide that thas begun to lean due to the over use of underground water near by.  The temple exemplified classic Chinese architecture from the Tang dynasty, a time of cultural growth in China.  At the end of our visit we were lucky enough to see some of the amazing artwork done by local artist and students.

As the day progressed we went to the old city, and saw the largest single structure still standing, the wall of Xi’an.  The wall is about 15 meters across, spanning over 6 miles. Many of us chose to ride bikes on top of the wall, which was needless to say an amazing experience.  Some students tried to go as fast as possible, Brandon Frank managed to get around the wall in 30 minutes.

After all of the excitement of the bike riding on top of an ancient wall in china, we figured it was time for a little rest and relaxation.  Our last stop of the day was a dinner and theatrical performance.  The meal consisted of 16 different types of dumplings, all of which were amazing.  The performance had many interesting and diverse components, each of them direct examples of Tang dynasty entertainment.  One of the most interesting pieces was known as “Harvesting Chinese Dates,” a trumpet solo.  Much to our surprise there was an additional component to the act,  a crazy form of vocal or trumpet beat boxing that I’m sure non of us had ever heard before.

All in all the day was jam packed with history and excitement. I have no doubts that everyone on the trip will remember everything we did today for years to come. It was very nice way to kick off our Xi’ an experience. – Alex & Anthony

June 18, 2012
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Shopping in Beijing

Panjiayuan Flea Market

We woke up to another hot day in Beijing. With plans on going to the Panjiayuan Flea Market and the Silk Market, we brought sunscreen, sunglasses, and put our bargaining hats on. After some training on Wan Fu Jing Street, we were ready to take on the venders. At the Flea Market we had a wide variety of bargaining tactics. Colby learned various Chinese phrases such as “you look good”, and “I love you” in order to win over the hearts of the venders. However, her favorite phrase by far was “Tai guile!” which translates to “Too much!”. Matt proved to be the winner at the market after buying a full-size sword. We have yet to find out if it will get through customs, though. My favorite part of the Flea Market was the full size replicas of the Terracotta Warriors. Charlotte said that her Dad wanted her to bring one home, but after attempting to pick it up, she settled on a picture instead.

Silk Street Market

After a nice lunch, we headed over to the Silk Street market, which was thankfully in-doors and air-conditioned; a much needed change from the near 100º weather. With a whopping 2.5 hours to spend, we all went our separate ways and began to bargain for clothing, jewelry, toys, electronics, and many, many other random things. I have dubbed Hadley the most hated by the venders. She doesn’t buy a product for more than 20% of the asking price, and walks away if she doesn’t get the price she wants. Fun fact: Walking away will get you what you want (I plan to use that tactic when I get home, Mom & Dad).

I have a warning for the families: expect lots and lots of random, pointless gifts. It’s getting to the point where we are buying things just for the sake of bargaining. Luckily, I have a rather large suitcase, so I will be able to fit in all of my gifts for my friends, family, extended family, teachers, pets, and classmates. I am glad I ignored my mom’s request to use a smaller suitcase, although Matt has asked me to put his sword in my bag already, because of the extra room. Finally we concluded our last day in Beijing with “Beijing duck” at restaurant located near the train station.

Train to Xian

Following dinner, we all hopped on a nice air-conditioned, train to Xi’an… or at least that’s what we thought we would be doing. Immediately as we boarded the train we were all shocked by the scorching temperatures, a combination of 90 degree weather outside mixed inside a metal oven (the train). As the panic began, after a half hour of sweating, we soon began to cool down, it was a hoax, the train just had to startup. So at last within the hour we left the station and shortly after we almost all fast asleep and we were on our way to Xi’an. – Nick & Brandon

June 18, 2012
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Just a quick note. We made it to Xian this morning via overnight train – quite an adventure! Everyone is doing just fine. We checked into the hotel, ate breakfast, and are heading out for a day of sightseeing. Check this space for blog entries later!

June 17, 2012
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Travel Day: Xian

We will be traveling tonight to Xian and won’t likely have internet access for 36 hours or so. Look for blog updates later!

June 17, 2012
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Beijing Attractions

After a quick breakfast and Wi-Fi session in the hotel lobby, we began our day with a trip to the Great Wall of China. Needless to say, it was pretty awesome, despite the heat and steep inclines. The view from the top was incredible, and both of us received a great deal of attention from the locals, who took countless amounts of photographs featuring the two of us. One man even screamed “Obama!” as we walked past. We all managed to alleviate our fatigue and discomfort from the climb with the toboggan course we took to get back to the bottom of the mountain, which quickly turned into an extreme race track for our friends. This was followed by name-your-price bargaining at the local market and lunch.

After lunch, we went to Summer Palace, where we saw temples and went on a boat ride. It was crowded, and the two of us received even more attention than usual from the locals, who must not view staring and pointing as rude mannerisms. We ate dinner afterwards – the usual lazy Susan buffet. We passed the Olympic Stadium on the way back to the hotel, but unfortunately didn’t actually go inside.

We ended the night with shopping in the streets surrounding our hotel. By this time we had all gotten better at bargaining, and realized how easy it is to demand a specific price.

Overall, today was a good way to end our stay in Beijing. – Cami & Natesa

June 15, 2012
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Behai Boat Ride

Before supper, we made a stop at beautiful Behai Park and some of the more adventurous spirits took a boat ride!

June 15, 2012
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Lama Temple & Confucian Academy

After the Forbidden City, we went had a great lunch and were fueled and ready to make our next stop at the Llama Temple. We learned that this temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in China. We also learned that Buddhism is the largest religion in China; 97% of the population is Buddhist. This is interesting because the Communist government try to train the people to be atheist. There were many beautiful temples, and we saw people worshipping to different Buddhas at each one. There were also people burning incense for the Buddhas. In my opinion, the most amazing thing that we saw there was the “Buddha of the Future.” This Buddha is 26 meters tall and is made out of one large piece of wood. Next we arrived at the Confucian Academy. This is where scholars are trained in Confucianism. We saw huge tablets where names of the men who completed their studies were written. All of the buildings in both the Llama Temple and the Confucian Academy are magnificent in size and design. One neat thing that we saw at the Confucian Academy were red “plaques” hung on a fence that was around a statue. Parents write their children’s name on them so that they will have a good education. People are not allowed to touch the plaques or else the “lucky will be taken out of them.” Today was a very fun but long day of walking and we were all excited to get on to the bus to sleep on the ride back to the hotel. Once we arrived back, many of us ventured back out onto Wangfujing Street to continue bargaining. We all have lots of fun communicating with the vendors and buying souvenirs. – Kate