Monthly Archives: June 2014

The China Chronicles – Beijing City Part 2: The Great Wall

Tuesday 4/15/14 

9:05 AM: Breakfast at the Jade Garden Hotel – an international mecca – was absolutely divine and included Chinese, American, French, and Italian cuisine.

Today we are off to the Great Wall of China. It will take roughly two hours. Our tour guide informs us about Chinese culture. For example, in China, passing the family name is very important and honored. Since the “1-child rule” was implemented in the 90’s to help control the population, and many female babies were aborted, there are roughly 4 million men to 1 million females. The dating scene in Beijing is a jungle, and Chinese women have a saying, “I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.” Chinese women take the opportunity to move up in class and are very direct in wanting to know if the man has a house, car, and job.

Great Wall Info: The Great Wall stretches 5,500 miles from east to west China and occupies a number of natural terrains such as grasslands, mountains, desserts, and plateaus. Made of stone, earth, wood, and brick, it was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by soldiers, prisoners, and locals. Many people died during its construction and therefore it serves also as a burial ground. Built for protection, it served three different states and is divided into three portions. Having undergone numerous extensions and repairs, it has become a unified wall during the Qin Dynasty though, to this day, portions of the wall lay in ruins 

We are almost at the wall!


1:30 PM: “Majestic” is the only word I can use to describe it. 


We arrived at the bottom of a hill and began walking up to the Great Wall entrance. From there we choose whether to ride a chairlift up to the wall or to climb up the stairs. I decided to climb, but I don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into! I took a second to remind myself that I grew up in the Adirondacks and I’ve done my fair share of hiking, even though I was halfway across the world – this was no different. After ascending the many steps – it took a while – I felt accomplished and got my second wind. 

This portion of the wall, situated amongst mountains, has many irregular steps that range from 2 inches to over a foot and I really needed to watch my step. Along the wall there are watchtowers – separate elevated areas where soldiers could watch for enemies. I joined two other students and walked all the way to the end where we could see the ruined part of the wall.


To get down, we could either walk down a zillion stairs, or take a toboggan ride. I decided on the toboggan. It was a long windy track and so much fun! I actually took a video of myself riding down! 

Next we are off to a silk factory and Olympic park.


5:30 PM: A few things I didn’t realize about silk:

  • One silkworm can produce a silk filament that is 13,000 feet long.
  • One silkworm can produce 50 feet of filament per minute.
  • It takes ten pounds of silkworm cocoons to get one pound of silk.
  • Silk rope is stronger than metal wire – it does not break easily!
  • Silk is cosmetically good for your body.  When your face comes in contact with silk, especially on pillows, it is less likely to become wrinkled. Not only because of the silk protein, but also because the texture is slippery, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to be gently ironed away.

The process of making silk was interesting and I can surely understand why it’s such an expensive material. I’ve been told while in China there are two things you must buy: silk and pearls! Luckily tomorrow we are heading to the pearl market! 

It was awesome to see Olympic park, but found it crowded and full of tourists. I was able to see the water cube and birds nest from the outside. It was brief, but I’m glad to have seen it. We had to hurry because rush hour traffic is horrendous.


Tomorrow we are going to the Pearl Market, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. It will be another busy day! I am exhausted and still not caught up on Beijing Time. Wish me luck!

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The China Chronicles – Beijing City Part 1

I’ve never been one to journal my every move, but I’ve decided that this trip to China is something I want to remember forever. So here goes…

4/13/14 – Sunday 9:00 am

Rochester International Airport: We are about to embark on a very long journey to Beijing with a short layover in Detroit. The longest flights I’ve taken were 2 back-to-back 10-hour flights when my family traveled to Australia – I was 12. We are flying directly over the North Pole today and it should take roughly 14 and a half hours. We land in Beijing at 2:20pm. I am very nervous to fly. It’s actually kind of funny because my brother is a pilot.

4/13/14 – Sunday 12:15 pm

First flight went okay. We are now boarding for Beijing. I’m feeling uneasy and excited. Hopefully this will be the fastest 14.5 hours of my life. Peace out USA!

4/14/14 – Monday 2:07pm – China Time/ 2:07am Sunday USA time

Ready to land in Beijing! That was rough. I don’t remember traveling hurting my body so much. Not only am I exhausted, but my knees, hips, and ankles are killing me. It’s going to be okay though because I’ll be up and walking around soon. Traveling over the International Date Line makes me feel like I’m in the twilight zone. I can’t believe I’ve been on this plane for so long. I am happy and excited to be here. Yay!

4/14/14 – Monday 9:30pm

We checked in to the Cui Ming Zhuang Hotel, which means The Jade Garden Hotel – an awesome location within walking distance to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The air quality here right now is poor – almost as if a misty blanket is covering all that is Beijing City. If you find yourself near 5-10 trees in one central location, you can breathe a little easier for a second. I never knew that photosynthesis would be something I could actually feel and sense with my own body.

We ventured down to what looks like the “Times Square” of Beijing. It’s a pedestrian street with many large shops, restaurants, and markets. There is so much to look at here – the culture, fashion, food, and even the architecture is really unique. Exactly how you would envision it. We walked by the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, but didn’t stop for long, because we have a tour planned at both these locations in a few days.

Next it was dinnertime. We ate across the street at a wonderful restaurant. They have amazing Chinese food – or what they here call just food. Dinner was an unfamiliar experience. The plates are very small – about the size of a tea saucer. The meal was served family style with many large dishes from which we could serve ourselves – no serving utensils, though, just chopsticks. Here it is either learn how to eat with chopsticks quickly or starve. Chopsticks take practice, but I enjoyed it. I ate a lot slower and in turn it felt better on my body. Everyone seemed a bit clumsy with our first family style dinner. After all, we don’t exactly eat like this in the United States. We passed food around the table over and over again.

I am so exhausted now – full, content, and happy.

Tomorrow we are off to the Great Wall! I am so blessed to be here – my face hurts from smiling.

(see photos below!)

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