Same Home but a Changed Me

After a little over a day of travel from China back to the United States and the struggle of trying to switch my sleep schedule by 12 hours I finally had some time to sit down and put my thoughts down on paper. After 17 fantastic days in China still, I was excited to come home and see my Fiancé and my dogs and cats. Though I knew that since I had left home to go to China that I was coming back a changed person. When I say changed, I don’t mean a completely different person but rather a changed perspective on life. I am someone who has never been away from home for longer than 2 weeks before this trip, and when away, I typically stay within 3 hours drive of where I live. So, my world perspective had been somewhat limited until I went to China.

As I mentioned, China was an eye-opening experience for me. The culture shock was something that I wasn’t fully ready for, despite me trying to be as mentally prepared as possible. As far as the typical “American girl” is I am on the end of the extroversion scale! Like so much so I would rank past Jennifer Lawrence. So, when I first met the Chinese and Indian students, they were all more kind, soft-spoken and sweet which was a big difference from my friends back home who I would describe as very loud, extremely outgoing and not afraid to tell you exactly what they are thinking. I knew that 100% Kyla might be a bit much to take at first (especially because even back home 100% Kyla can be way too much) and that it was best to be a bit more relaxed. The Chinese students were incredible and welcomed us with open arms! They were amazing and helped us out with anything that we needed. Sometimes I felt guilty because I couldn’t repay all their amazing kindness back. Back in America, I’ve never felt such hospitality, and it taught me a lot about how the Chinese culture treats their guests and its truly inspiring and it’s something that I hope I can bring back to the states with me.

Another thing that was so incredible was the passion the people have for their history. It is so different from back home, which we have a very limited history compared to them. When we got taken to the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace our guide was terrific in detailing the history of those breathtaking places, and you could see the Chinese people paying their respects to these amazing pieces of history. It’s hard to express just how majestic it was to be there seeing with my very own eyes these structures that were over 2000 years old. The effort and the detail that went into their creation was inspiring. It shows the true power of the human specials, and how incredibly innovative and resourceful we can be. For instance, the Great Wall was created without any heavy machinery, something that is almost unfathomable, but yet it was done. It does remind you how humankind can honestly do anything that we put our minds to and to never limit your imagination because it can become a reality.

Blog Post 3

Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

            As we first approached Tiananmen Square in Beijing, I was taken back by the size of it. It seemed to stretch for nearly half a mile. In the center was a large pillar and there were many significant buildings lining the square. For example, chairman Mao’s gravesite was a huge building dedicated solely to him. He was the founder of the people’s republic of China and many people came to pay their respects to him. There was a line that stretched around the building of people who wanted to come and honor the founder of their country. There was a large building near the center of the square that is used for political legislature events. This building is featured on the 100 Yuan bill because of its significance.            

The square was crowded with thousands of people, yet there was still room to move because of how massive it is. At the entrance to the Forbidden City, there is a large gate tower. Chairman Mao’s picture is hung in the center for everyone to see. You must cross a small bridge to reach the gate and from this point you can see how large the gate is. Once inside there is a courtyard and a path lined with trees that leads you to the next gate to enter the Forbidden City. After you buy your tickets you can cross under the gate and into the palace. Inside there is a gigantic open space which is only the front entrance into the city. You then pass through multiple building, all of which have their own specific purpose and are massive in size. The palace seemed to be never ended as you crossed into multiple courtyards and climbed stairs that led to various buildings. You could truly spend an entire day within the city and still not see all of it. I now know why it is called the Forbidden City!

Forbidden City Entrance in Tiananmen Square
Inside the Forbidden City

Overall Thoughts

            This trip has taught me many things about myself and other people. I was able to leave in a country that felt like a completely different world for nearly three weeks and learned to adapt in it. Along the way I created many friendships with people that were on the other side of the globe. We exchanged ideas and our cultural differences which make each of us unique. Working together we created a business plan for a new product that we had developed. Everyone was able to share their input and we created something that we all were proud of. I got to see many historical and significant sights across China that not many people in the world get to see. Going to the Great Wall was on of the best events of the entire trip. The scale and size of the wall is nearly unexplainable. You always see pictures in books or movies, but once you are standing on top of the wall you don’t really know how insane it is. People built a giant wall that stretches for thousands of miles on top of a mountain without any modern technology. This puts into perspective how great human beings can be when they work together on one common goal. During our trip we visited some great technology companies and was able to see 5G technology. Many people do not even know what this is and how it will change our future. This was a great opportunity to get an inside look on the significance of 5G in the coming years. China and the United States will be in a close race to see who can create and launch the technology first.

            To anyone who is considering going on this trip, or any study abroad, I would highly recommend it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet so many great people and learn about different cultures in the process. You will create many memories and experience so much in just a short amount of time. Any doubts you have about traveling abroad should be put aside and you should experience the world for what it truly has to offer.

Plane Ride Back to Boston

Beijing

After saying our goodbyes to the students in Nanjing it was time for us to head to Beijing for the final leg of our journey. We took the bullet train from Nanjing and let me just say it was probably on one of the most impressive modes of transportation I have ever taken. The distance from Nanjing to Beijing is 630 miles and a normal train would take 9 hours to get there. The bullet train got us there in three hours almost a third of the time it would take for a regular train to get there, which was absolutely incredible.

Waking up on the first morning, the weather was sunny and ninety five degrees. The itinerary included a trip to Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city. When we first arrived at Tiananmen Square I was in awe at the sheer size of it and its location within the city of Beijing. There are currently six rings that encompass the city and each ring connects all of the different parts of Beijing. Tiananmen Square is locate exactly in the center of these six rings, which puts it at the heart of the city. While walking through the square you see Chairman Maos Mausoleum and the lines of people that are about to go in to pay their respects to the man that changed the country of China. There is also a pillar in front of the Mausoleum, and the Great Hall of the People where legislation occurs. All political members across the country meet in that building. Across from Tiananmen Square is the entrance to the Forbidden City, which also plays an important role in the country’s history.

Great Hall of the People

The forbidden City was the living place for the countries emperors, and it is called the forbidden city because common people were not allowed to enter. If they did enter they were immediately killed. Walking around and seeing all the architecture, the colors, and the size of the city just goes to show you the history and the architecture the Chinese have. There are different sections of the palace, which include rooms where the emperor met with officials, rooms where parties and gatherings occurred, and the living quarters, and the garden which was located at the very end of the city. Looking back at it if I was the emperor I would be so sick of walking, because it’s so big.

Panorama Of the Forbidden City

After the Forbidden City we got lunch and headed to a counterfeit market. In China there are many of these places that sell counterfeit goods. Many of the products look identical to the real thing, however they are not. The whole point is to negotiate prices with them, for example a shirt that I bought had a starting price of 800 Yuan, roughly 114 dollars. The final price we agreed on was 200 Yuan, which is about 28 dollars. I purchased all of my gifts from this market and ended up paying a lot less than going to a souvenir store. This was a good experience because I like to negotiate and I had a lot of fun doing it. At night six of us decided to get lost in Beijing, so we took the subway to a street with a lot of shops and found a restaurant that had superb food.

The next day was a day that I had been waiting for since the trip started, going to the Great Wall of China. At first glance you don’t really see much, however once you start climbing it and getting higher up in the mountains you really get to see how immaculate and amazing the Great Wall really is. You see it in pictures and movies, but you never get to really appreciate the construction, beauty, and the mystery the Great Wall possesses. We only had two hours to get as far as we could, so Evan Danny, Mike, Liam, and I just booked it. The climb consisted of steep drops, steep inclines, and a lot of steps. We ended up going three miles and when we finally sat down to rest it finally hit us that we were on The Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the world. The trek back however was not as easy. Since we went downhill for about a mile we had to go back uphill, which was probably one of the most grueling things I have ever done. The climb was almost vertical, and after we got off the wall my legs were shaking due to the intensity of the trek, but it was all worth.

Steps on The Great Wall
Danny, Me, Liam, Mike, Evan on The Great Wall

After looking back at this whole trip and realizing the situation that I put myself in, traveling to a new country, surrounding myself with people who I was unfamiliar with  I can honestly say it was all worth it. This trip was probably one of the best experiences of my life and I am forever grateful that I took this opportunity to study abroad in China.

Beijing, China(北京, 中国)

Leaving Nanjing for Beijing:

Two weeks and an unforgettable experience, the day had arrived to leave Nanjing. After final presentations and cake, it was time to leave the place and the friends I have grown attached to.  Out of all of the places I had traveled to, Nanjing was the most difficult to say goodbye to given all of the really close friends I had made during my short stay. Around 4 PM, we were taken to Nanjing South Rail Station where we boarded a high-speed train bound for Beijing South Rail Station.

The high-speed rail from Nanjing to Beijing far exceeded my expectations. Called 高铁 (gao tie) locally, the speed of the train traveled at a sustained speed of  350 kilometers an hour. Despite such speed at which we were moving at, the train ride was quite comfortable. It was surprisingly quiet inside of the cabin and interior was modern, clean, and spacious. After three and a half hours, we arrived at Beijing South Train Station just after 10:30 PM where we were greeted by our tour guide for the next few days.

Beijing:

We had a very early start to our first full day in Beijing as we met our tour guide at 8 AM headed for the famous Tiananmen Square. Once inside, we walked through its entire length, passing by The National Museum of China (the largest museum in China), The Great Hall of the People (building where the government convenes), The Monument to the People’s heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (building which holds the body of the former chairman Mao).

Adjacent to Tiananmen Square was the main entrance to the world-famous Forbidden City. The Forbidden city had seven different sections each with their own gate signifying their entrance. As we walked through each section, I was amazed at how similar each section looked to one another. By the time we reached the middle of the city, it was impossible to tell if the next gate was the end of the city or if it just marked the beginning of a new section.

The next morning, Sunday, we headed off to The Great Wall of China. The section of the wall visited was the 八达岭 (Ba Da Ling) section of the wall located about an hour and a half away from Beijing city. It was super foggy when we arrived, and it never cleared completely. Everything was damp, making the walk up and down the very steep inclines and staircases difficult. Despite all of this, I still had a fantastic time walking one of the Great Wonders of the World. The fog kept the air temperatures down around 20 degrees C, allowing me to explore more of the wall than if it were 40 degrees C and sunny. It was astonishing to personally experience how people, 600 years ago, during the Ming Dynasty were defending China against their invaders.

In the afternoon after a lunch break, we visited Summer Palace where the Emperors of China used to spend their time during the summer months. The palace was immense – around 4 times larger than the Forbidden City and very beautiful with 昆明湖 (Kun Ming Lake) located directly in the center of the area. We were only able to see a small fraction of the palace before it closed for the evening and we headed for dinner.

Of course, our Beijing experience would not be complete without trying the local food so we were brought to QJD (全聚德) restaurant where we had Peking Duck. Having eaten Peking duck elsewhere in the world, it was a special experience having it in the city the food was named after.  This was a great to end an unforgettable trip to China!

Entrance to the Forbidden City from the Direction of Tiananmen Square
The Ba Da Ling Section of the Great Wall

Part of the Summer Palace with Kunming Lake in Front

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China (南京, 江苏省, 中国) Part 2

Mausoleum and Museum

The packed schedule continued on Sunday when we met early in the morning for a bus trip to the mausoleum of Sun Yat Sen, the first leader of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist party). Once there, our tour guide led us to the bottom of a very long staircase at the base of a hill that contained the actual mausoleum.  We climbed all 392 steps of the staircase to the top where there was a fantastic view. On the way down after visiting the mausoleum, we stopped by some damaged metal cauldrons by the side of the walkway. The tour guide explained that the cauldrons were damaged by bombs dropped by the Japanese during World War II. The cauldrons were kept unrepaired as symbol of remembrance for all of the lives lost during the Japanese attack and subsequent massacre in Nanjing.

After lunch, we gathered again, this time headed for the Nanjing Museum. Once we got inside of the main exhibit hall, it became very apparent that the museum was very large with many different exhibits. I personally explored a few exhibits about ancient Chinese pottery and metallurgy, seeing many ancient artifacts along the way. There was also a section of the museum that was set up to replicate the streets of Shanghai during the early 1900’s. I did not have a chance to see all of the museum since it closes at 5pm.

China Unicom and Suning

Early Monday morning, everyone got together to visit the headquarters of China Unicom located in a newer district of Nanjing.  After being greeted by a company representative, we were all given a guided tour of a section of their building, learning about the company and the extent of their technological capabilities. After the tour, we were given an opportunity to board a special bus to experience the next generation of technology in the world. We were driven around the local area to experience the 5G (fifth generation) technology in action, on the bus, with unbelievable internet speeds and download speeds of around 2 GB per second.

In the afternoon, we split up into two separate groups that visited two companies located in the city.  I was part of a group of 17 students that visited the headquarters of Suning (苏宁), an enormous fortune 500 company with assets in many different markets. While there, we were able to interact with some of the company’s latest and greatest technological inventions including a smart mirror and automated vending machine that utilized WeChat to both unlock and automatically charge the customer based on what they bought. We also were able to walk through one of their company owned shopping centers. Inside, we found many different shops including a supermarket where we bought some snacks and drinks.

That night, three of the Chinese students took all of the US students to a fancy shopping mall where there was a restaurant that specialized in 杭州 (Hangzhou) regional cuisine.

We had the most famous dish in 杭州 cuisine 东坡肉 (dong po rou) – a type of slow braised pork belly that was literally melt in your mouth tender. We also ordered duck sushi, local green tea, and a bunch of other fantastic tasting dishes. The best part of it all was that the entire meal was only 65 RMB (~ 9.40 USD) per person. So little for such a memorable meal!

Steps Leading up to the Mausoleum of San Yet Sen

The Main Entrance to Nanjing Museum
The 5G Bus

A welcome to Suning

The super delicious 东坡肉 (dong po rou)

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China (南京, 江苏省, 中国) Part 1

Arrival

We landed early in the afternoon on a Friday after a two-hour flight from Hong Kong.

After passing through immigration and picking up our luggage, we were greeted by the head Chinese volunteer of the program.  She guided us to the small bus that would take us to our hotel close to campus. An hour or so later we arrived at the hotel, got checked in, and were able to rest for a while. Dinner that night was at the restaurant located on the second floor of the hotel. Our first proper sit-down meal in China included bamboo shoots and wood ear fungus along with some pork belly and a type of Tibetan cabbage. After dinner, we all went to bed early as we had a long day ahead of us.

Salt Lake City

On the first full day in Nanjing, we met up with three Chinese students and a tour guide who were all nice enough to dedicate a day of their weekend to accompany us on our first adventure in China. We all boarded a small bus and an hour and half later, we arrived at a location named Salt Lake City. The name of the place confused me as when we arrived I saw no evidence of a salt lake or a city.  As the tour guide later explained, the location was not actually a true “Salt Lake” but rather just a lake with a replica ancient Chinese settlement build around it.

The area which this lake was located just happened to also contain many salt reserves underground. Thus, the name Salt Lake City was given to the place. While there, we got a first-hand experience of what life was like in China during ancient times. We were also able to buy souvenirs from the shops located in the ”city”.

Xuan Wu Lake (玄武湖)

On Sunday, we met the other Chinese students who we would be working with for the next two weeks. After morning icebreaker activities, we all walked to one of the most famous lakes in Nanjing, Xuan Wu Lake. The views as we walked along the lakeshore were spectacular. I was able to get some very beautiful pictures of the Nanjing skyline and enjoy the sunset before we headed off for dinner.

Gujiming (古鸡鸣) Temple

After our first week of classes, we gathered on Saturday morning to explore more of Nanjing. At 8:30, we headed out towards Gujiming Temple. We took the local public bus most of the way to the temple and walked the rest of the distance. During the walk our group met a man from Ohio walking on the street. After talking with him for a few minutes, I discovered he was a fellow Plastics Engineer in Nanjing for business. Meeting him was the last thing I expected.

When we arrived at the temple complex, we all received 3 complimentary incense sticks and told to keep them with us until we reached the top of the hill where the temple was.

After climbing many stairs, we reached the top where there was a room for everyone to light their incense. The room was extremely hot and crowded with all of the fire and number of people inside. After lighting my incense, I made my way with everyone else to the front of the temple where I made 3 wishes before placing the incense sticks in a cauldron.  The rest of the time at the temple complex was spent observing the beautifully crafted architecture of the place.

The Lake at Salt Lake City
View of Nanjing Skyline from Xuan Wu Lake
The Main Building at Gujiming Temple

Nanjing Week 2

Buddhist Temple

            The day came when we were scheduled to go to one of the Buddhist temples in Nanjing. This temple was around 1,000 years old, and was the most famous one in the city. Out of all the sights we were going to see, this is one that I was most looking forward to. The best way to get there was by bus, so we all boarded the bus and headed to the temple. The bus dropped us off after about a twenty minute drive, and we walked the rest of the way. The walk was nice, even in the 95 degree heat, because it allowed you to see the downtown city area. We ran into a man from Chicago who was in Nanjing for business. He told us he was alone and just planned on wondering the city, so we invited him to come with us to the temple. There were hundreds of people there when we got there, but we managed to climb our way up the stairs and to the main courtyard of the temple. You are given incense and you light them in a room full of candles, after that you walk them across the courtyard to a large fire pit. Here, people gather around and pray, then stick their incense into the fire pit. It was a very interesting ritual that I enjoyed taking a part in. I could imagine the millions of people who have visited this temple over the past 1,000 years and preformed this very exact ritual in the same spot. There was a large structure that towered over the temple. It has lasted hundreds of years and the fact that people were able to build it with such basic tools was impressive. The best view took a little exploring to find. After seeing some people standing on the outer wall of the temple, I knew I had to find a way to get up there. I went down some side stairs and around one of the buildings and found a staircase that led up to the top of the wall. The view from this location was breathtaking. You could see the entire city and the large skyscrapers in the distance, a bridge that crossed a lake, and behind you the temple. The tower stood over the temple and it could be seen from outside of the walls. At one point, this was the largest structure and was the center of an ancient city for hundreds of years. The huge skyscrapers now towered over the temple, and it looked like a child’s toy in comparison.

Tea House

            During the second week of the trip, we visited some companies in China. China Unicom was the first company we visited. This company was the leading developer of 5G technology. This theology is able to download data 10x faster than 4G. This company had many great ideas for the future of 5G and they were planning on implementing it the city within the next couple years. China Unicom was interesting, but I was more excited to go to the incubators in the afternoon. These incubators were small startup companies that all shared a common building. Some of these companies were funded by Amazon and were working on many various products to help improve daily life. We took a tour of one of the offices where everyone was busy working in a company that focuses on shipping packages much like UPS. The man leading us through the tour was wearing traditional Chinese dress, a shaved head, and looked similar to a monk. He lead us out of the building and to his tea house that he was an investor in. There was just on single long table in the shop that we all gathered around. He sat in the center of the table and invited us all to join him. Behind him was a wall full of tea pots that extended all the way to the ceiling. He began to brew tea the traditional Chinese way and taught us along the way. Through a translator, he explained each precise movement and why it should be done this way. He was very calm and I could tell that he had a true passion for tea. He explained that he had spent a lot of time in the mountains visiting temples and learning the correct way to brew tea. I was sitting across from him and he asked me to brew a second pot of tea. I had just watched him do it, so I tried to mimic his actions. The process was to be done in a very reserved and delicate manner. We then discussed different business ideas and the future expansions of his tea house company. I could tell he was a very wise and knowledgeable man by the way he talked and carried himself. The experience was one of my favorite so far on the trip.

Nanjing Week 2

Week 2 began with a trip to a Buddhist temple. In China there are many Buddhist temples mainly in the mountains. As we are walking through the temple I noticed all of the bright colors and the figures on buildings. There were many pictures depicting dragons various other animals, and of course Buddha. After the temple we went back to the lake we were at week 1. We wanted to take taxis to get home, but didn’t want to pay for them, so we devised a plan to get across the lake with the boats you could rent, but once we got to the other side the worker wasn’t having it and turned us back around right where we started. Two hours later we ended up spending the money for the cab. Looking back on that whole situation I can’t help but laugh because in our heads it was a great idea and it failed.

On Sunday we went to Doctor Sun Yat Sens Mausoleum. Doctor Sun was a very important man in Chinas history who treated many of the sick and eventually became the president of China. It was 95 degrees outside and the walk was long. Once you get to the mausoleum it’s another 400 steps to get to the top, and the reasoning for this is to show the people of China that the journey is long and nothing comes easy. Once I got to the top I realized it was long journey and there will be a long road ahead of me as a person to grow and learn.

On Monday we did not go to class and instead visited some companies. The first one was China Unicom and China Unicom is one of the largest telecom companies in China. When we toured the facility, I was impressed with all the work they have done. They are also in the process of bringing 5G to life. We went on a bus that had 5G on it and were blown away by the speed of the technology.

The second half of the day we toured an incubator where people with the proper resources gather to work on different projects. Half way through the tour guide brought us into a room with over a hundred tea kettles. We sat down and he said the problem with todays society is that everyone is in a rush and no one sits down to enjoy the simple things. He showed us how to brew Chinese tea the traditional way. We then enjoyed a cup of black teas, which was phenomenal. We then discussed his journey and his experiences and how he got to where he is today. He was probably one of the most interesting people I have ever talked to because when he speaks he uses philosophy to explain his logic. He would say things like slow is faster, which looking back at it he is probably right. Rushing through things and getting them done quickly makes you miss so many points  

In the class room we began to really work on our project that we had to present at the end of the class. Our project was called Life Pod and is an emergency shelter that can be set up by four unskilled laborers during times of crisis and natural disaster. For the project we really began to dig deep into the specifics like the business model canvas, competitors, and the overall market for our product. We had our presentation Friday and I felt we did well as a group and that Life Pod can be a useful product.

I learned a lot of new things from my group members and the students themselves. It’s interesting to think that a group of strangers who have never met before can just become so close and create close friendships in such a short amount of time. I think one of the greatest lessons I learned after completing this project is that life is all about adapting to certain situations and being able to overcome certain obstacles that can be very challenging. The most difficult part about this trip has been the language barrier. Communication is an important part of our daily lives and for the past two weeks I have had to really try hard to get by. Pointing at items to shop keepers using my body to communicate it’s been a challenge however at the same time it’s been fun, watching people’s reactions and getting excited when we finally get what we want. The people of China are probably the friendliest I’ve ever met and for that I am grateful for being able to study in a country where the people are accepting.

Next stop Beijing!!!

Top of the mausoleum

Buddhist Temple

Beijing Bound and Nanjing Reflection

While on the train now to Beijing I felt very inspired to reflect on the class and group experience that I took away from these past two amazing weeks. At the beginning of this whole thing there was a lot of questions buzzing around in my mind. Things like the language barrier, our age differences, and our cultural differences. I was worried it would be difficult being the group leader to navigate this new territory for me and still help everyone in reaching for a common goal.  When we first started out we were definitely trying to figure out how to best communicate with one another. It was difficult because for the Chinese students all the new business terms being taught they knew in Chinese but not so much in English. So, this put more stress on the fact that we needed to learn how to best overcome the language barrier and fast so that we all were getting the most out of the class! I found however that the Chinese students when asking me to clarify some things from the lecture that day actually helped me in thinking about each step of entrepreneurship and the business process in a different way. I no longer could use the comfortable buzz words that we are taught, I had to find different words to describe each thing that they asked and this helped solidify my knowledge even more.

It is amazing how eager the Chinese students are to learn and I would say the same for our Indian student in our group (It was his first business class ever)! I am happy to say that this class brought out not only the best in my but my team as well. I feel I grew so much professionally and also grew personally. These connections and the learning curve were a great experience and showed me that even with someone who maybe doesn’t fully speak the same language as you that it doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot together. With the world we live in and the technology that we have at our finger tips there is nothing that you can’t do. Professor Mehta also was incredible in helping us think critically and openly to new ideas and broadening what we thought was possible. I can say I feel much more open and confident to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur one day!

First Day in Nanjing

After a long 15 hour plane ride to Hong Kong. Stepping off the plane I did not know what to expect. I knew that I was going to experience a completely different culture, but I really was not ready for it. When we first landed in the airport in Hong Kong, I was taken away by how large it was. The terminals seemed to stretch for nearly a half mile, so far that you could not even see the other side. We landed around 5am in Hong Kong and the airport was nearly empty so I was confused as to why it was so massive. This quickly changed a few hours later when thousands of people flooded the terminals from all different parts of the world. Everyone was going on about their business and had their own agendas. One of the most interesting stores I found when exploring the airport was a shop selling all sorts of dried goods. Some of these items included chicken wings, fish, scallops, and chicken feet. I later found out that you can put these dried items in soups.

After another 3 hour flight to Nanjing, we finally had reached our destination. We left the airport and got into a van which took us to the hotel. The weather was extremely hot and humid and I was not used to it on the first day. The road from the airport to the hotel was where I got my first views of Nanjing. I was impressed by how clean the highways were and how much nature was spread throughout the city. When you think of large metropolitan cities, you do not tend to think there will be trees and flowers everywhere. There are large parks and lakes throughout the city that give it a very green and beautiful appearance. They have managed to place large modern skyscrapers in with parks which is what I found most impressive.

Once we reached the hotel, we decided to take a walk to see what the streets were like. There was so much life in the streets as people were walking everywhere and having conversations. Many people ride electric scooters to get around the city. These people seem to be natural at driving them with the way they are able to weave in and out of traffic and around the sidewalks, sometimes having 2 or 3 people on the same scooter. At one point I even saw a man with a small dog on the back of his scooter! The most interesting sight I saw was a man on a bike selling goldfish and plants. This is nothing I would have ever expected to see, as I did not think fish takes would go well with a bicycle. Somehow he managed to pedal around the streets with goldfish in the back. Lining the streets were shops that were selling all kinds of goods from food to cigarettes, even pets. Outside of the shops were vendors selling fruits and vegetables. It’s as if the city never sleeps because something is always going on at some hour.

Salt Lake

            The second day we went to a reconstruction of a classic Chinese town around a salt lake. There was about a 45 minute drive as we left the main city and traveled into the mountains. Once we got off the bus you could see a real Buddhist temple far off in the distance. This temple was at the very top of a large mountain and looked like it was straight out of a movie. As we headed into the park we could see from the distance a full city filled with ancient Chinese buildings. This combined the style of ancient Chinese buildings with modern interiors. The town was very beautiful and when you walked down the streets you were immersed in the town. It was as if you traveled back to ancient China. They had actors preforming shows and dressed in traditional Chinese attire. You started to imagine what life would have been like in the ancient world and how difficult simple tasks would become. We had a great tour guide on this trip who explained a lot of the history of China and how it evolved into what it is today. I enjoyed this trip because I was able to learn a lot about China’s deep history.