After a surprisingly short and un-nauseating bus ride, we reached one of my primary reasons for visiting China: the Great Wall!
The actual real life Great Wall is amazing and beautiful and breathtaking and freezing cold in December. We only had an hour to climb, so I pushed myself a bit too hard trying to make it too high, but after mountain climbing in Puno (check out some of my earlier blog posts) I knew not to cause an asthma attack. Either way, it was gorgeous and I’m glad I came halfway around the world to see it.
My favorite part of the Great Wall trip was actually when my friend and I had come down from the climb and ran off to a side area where there weren't as many people. The views were spectacular.
Next, we had Peking Duck with a Chinese diplomat. Several people had mentioned Peking Duck and while it was good, it wasn’t anything to write home about. The conversation was fascinating; we got into talks about US-North Korean-Chinese relations. Listening to a Chinese career diplomat’s perspectives was an incredible opportunity.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel but it wasn’t the end of the day. Rather, we spent an hour talking with several foreign corresponded based in China from CNN, the New York Times and Buzzfeed.
Learning from them, the best advice given was: “I don’t interview sources, I speak with my friends.” Something I’ll definitely hold onto as I begin my own career as an international journalist.
Finally, we headed out for one last activity and acrobatics show. Casually the highlight of an already spectacular day.
The show was phenomenal. My favorite acts included a dancer who stood on point on a man’s shoulders and then his head! And a set of men in giant spinning hamster wheels on a teeter-totter who were blindfolded and running around outside of the cages 40 feet in the air!
My absolute favorite act was when the drivers of eight motorcycles circled each other at high speeds in another hamster wheel of potential death. I hadn’t seen since I was a child at the circus!
At one point there were four motorcycles circled; I was expecting a fifth to be added but the girl next to me was dumbfounded by the fifth, then to everyone’s shock they added three more at the same time!
I will note that the majority of the performers were children. Boys and girls between ages 9-16 or so with the occasional performer who looked to be in their twenties. You could insert a distasteful Chinese child labor joke here – but in reality, it really made me think about the spectacle being put on for a mostly American or European looking audience.
This day was perhaps our busiest day but I ended the evening by making friends and learning new Chinese words such as ‘popcorn.’
Back in D.C., I had a Lyft driver who informed me he was Chinese. At one point he offered me a piece of gum and I said ‘thank you!’ in Chinese. He then proceeded to say something back to me, that I’ve loosely decided to interpret as ‘You speak Chinese?’ I unfortunately do not, I replied, and say the only words I remembered were ‘thank you’ and ‘popcorn!’ We bought thought this was rather funny.
Next stop: the Forbidden City and a bullet train ride to Xi’an
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.