We arrived in Hong Kong on the 11th and I was flying to Bejing on the 12th. We left the ship at 10:30am for our 2:20pm flight. Natasha and I were excited because we were going to Bejing for many reasons, but mainly to sleep on the Great Wall of China. When I originally decided to do this it never crossed my mind that it would e freezing in November. I took several layers of clothing along with anything and everything I had that might keep me warm.
Once at the airport Natasha and I finished writing some postcards, grabbed lunch and took advantage of the Wifi. I called my parents and Daphne. While we were immersed in our conversations and the writing of our postcards, I heard a crash and Natasha was on the floor. Her chair had broke; I have not laughed that hard in years! Then once we were on the plane, our flight attendant sat in front of us and she kept falling asleep, her head kept bobbing from side to side. This was the second funniest thing of the day! LOL During our 3 hour flight we were served an unidentifiable meal, so needless to say we did not eat it. Utilizing the small amount of down time I have I read a bit and caught up in my journal.
Before I knew it we had landed at the world’s 2nd busiest airport. This airport was huge. I wish I had been able to spend a few hours exploring it. The tour I was about to embark upon was hosted by The China Guide, it is an independent tour company, and there were over 250 SAS students signed up. Since we all signed up via the internet, the first thing they wanted us to do was sign our sales slips. So far it seemed a little disorganized.
As I opened the door to head outside to the bus, I stopped in shock. The coldest breeze I had ever felt just blasted me in the face. It was only 6:30pm and I was camping in this weather all night the following night. I had 24 hours to think about how cold I was going to be. LOL We arrived at our hotel for the night, The Red Wall; it looked a bit sketchy from the exterior but improved a little once we were inside. The China Guides disorganization showed again with the amount of time it took to get our room key. Unfortunately many of the SAS students did not care since they were already drunk! One guy dropped a huge bottle of Vodka on the floor; luckily it just spilled and did not break. People were screaming party foul and cheering; girls were sliding through the spilt alcohol and hugging the guy. We grabbed our key and ran to our room so we could hide from the embarrassment. Our room was okay, not the nicest and the beds were really hard. I brought my lap top and there was a connection in our room so I was able to Skype with my Nanny and Auntie and talked on the phone with my mom and dad real quick.
I awoke feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Heading downstairs I was excited for what the day had in store. That came to a quick end when one of the students yelled over to a tour guide “when are we going to f***?” I could not believe this, where were these kids raised? I looked to the left and he was dry humping the guide, with his pants around his knees. My face turned red from embarrassment. My mouth dropped to the floor and I noticed a table of Semester at Sea students were not paying attention to the guy, but they were watching my reaction. I was just so shocked with this behavior and could not fathom the fact that he was 22 years old.All of the groups had around thirty students and my group got eighteen, I was so excited. Smaller groups are so much easier in busy places. Our first stop The Forbidden City, this was the Chinese’s Imperial Palace for many years and is located in the center of Beijing. It was huge and very interesting. We walked underground and back up and ended up in Tiananmen Square. This was the gate to the Forbidden City and was the world’s largest city square. Many important events have taken place here, one in 1989 when soldiers killed 400-800 protestors right where I was standing. Today it is still the world’s largest city square and has huge TV’s, it was quite amazing. After that we headed for lunch. Lunch was at a very nice restaurant and all of the tables had lazy susan’s on them. The servers kept bringing out different assortments of Chinese food. I liked the Kung Pao Chicken, but not the red hot peppers! We did not get steamed rice we only got fried rice. I did not like anything else that was served and I do not know what any of the dishes were called. After lunch we went to the Silk Market. The Silk Market is really well known and is visited by a lot of tourist. I was in heaven in there and wished I was rich. There was so many knock off designer brand clothes, shoes, wallets, purses, belts, hats, and anything else you could have imagined. I ran across UGGs and I bought two pairs of them. I also bought a pair of black boots! I was so happy about the UGGs. It will be nice to wear them around the ship and I also needed them to keep my feet warm while I slept on the Great Wall. I bought a North Face Jacket and an Abercrombie jacket. I got the Abercrombie jacket for 17 dollars and it had the price tag on from the store that said 120.00 dollars. I am so confused on where they get this stuff and how they do not get in trouble. I was so excited and had to buy a bag so I could get all of this back to Shanghai on the overnight train. I picked up a coach overnight bag and all of my stuff fit very nicely in it. It was time to leave the silk market and head to the Great Wall. It was about a 2 hour and 45 minute bus ride to the side of the wall we were going to. We had dinner at the restaurant at the base of the wall. The food was not good so I filled up on rice. (I am telling you guys all I eat here is carbs, mainly rice!) All of us went back to our 8 buses and layered up. It was very interesting try to change in a bus with 30 people in it. When we were done it looked liked we gained a few pounds from all of the extra layers we had put on. We headed to a shed/house and there were just piles and piles of sleeping bags in this shed/house thing. The boss of China Guide gave each of us two sleeping bags, one mat, and one flashlight. These were supposed to be the negative degree weather sleeping bags so I was confused why we needed two. We were having fun hiking up the Great Wall and once we got up the steep stairs and inclines the view was amazing. We laid out our sleeping bags and got in them. We laid watching the shooting stars and enjoying the crystal clear sky. I could see the little dipper and it reminded me of home, because when I am in my spa at home I can see the little dipper perfectly. This really helped comfort me. All of a sudden I got freezing cold! And it only got worse from there. I left my UGGs on to keep my feet warm. The two sleeping bags were not warm at all! I tossed and turned all night trying to get warm, but it was not possible at all. Every time I would wake up, I was so happy to know that I was still alive and breathing. I seriously thought I was going to die that night. I did not think it was possible for a human to survive through weather that cold. When I got up in the morning my gloves had ice on them and all of our water bottles were frozen. I could not walk. When I tried to stand up my feet were like bricks, I could not move them! I thought after I started to walk around they would get better, but they did not. I also had a headache and my back was killing me from the cold, hard ground. I struggled trying to roll up my sleeping bags and mat because my hands were so cold. I finally got them shoved into the bags and started to make my way down the Great Wall. I finally got to the bottom and threw my sleeping stuff in the pile and continued walking slowly to the bathrooms back at the restaurant. My feet were still numb after all of that walking, I do not understand how that can even be possible. About 50 of us decided to stay in the restaurant and not do the three mile hike. I was sad I was so miserable; I really wanted to go so I could get more pictures. I did not get as many pictures of me on the wall as I would had liked to.
We went to the site of the 2008 Olympics that were held in Beijing. I was really shocked how small the Swimming Cube was. It looked so cool on TV, but in person it did not look as cool as I had thought it would have been. The Birds Nest was very interesting, but I am sad I did not get to go in either of these buildings. We headed to the train station several hours early. They let us board an hour early since we were such a large group. I had been feeling sick all day and went straight to bed. I had not slept much the night before. The overnight sleeper train was nice. It had four beds in each cabin. In my room there were three girls and one guy. I was glad we were all from Semester at Sea and I did not have a random person in there. One of the attendants woke us up at 6:45 trying to collect trash we were like we do not have trash we are just trying to sleep. Then she came back through saying we needed to get up and get ready because we had to be off in three minutes. We quickly jumped out of bed and grabbed all of our luggage and made it off the train in time. It was almost an hour and a half bus ride to Shanghai. We got to the port where the ship was docked and had to wait for the ship to be cleared. It took about 10 minutes then we waited another hour and a half to finally get on the ship. It took that long because there was over 200 of us trying to get on the ship with so many pieces of luggage per person it was crazy! All of the bags were getting checked pretty thoroughly because of everything that had happened and since we had new crew. I was so beyond exhausted I decided to take a quick nap.
Later that day Emma and I tried to get off the ship but her passport still had not returned from being stamped so we had to wait until that was back. People had been waiting since 9am to get theirs back. People were missing trips because of it. We walked around for a bit and then grabbed dinner. I order a chicken dish and fried rice, the chicken came out fried and I bit into it and there were bones. I was not expecting tiny bones in it. I am not sure I was eating chicken, but I do not want to think about it. I mainly ate the rice and had a few more pieces of it. Then walked around the city some more. People were peeing on the side of the street and other people were brushing their teeth in the street. It was very interesting to watch all of this because in America you would not see this. We found Bund Street. It was so pretty at night and there was a lot going on. We found a Starbucks and had a coffee and used there wifi to call our families. Everything started to close because it was late. We decided it was best to start heading back to the ship. We took our time heading back and looking at the beautiful view. The skyline was gorgeous.