The Layover


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Asia » China » Beijing
February 7th 2013
Published: February 7th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Me and Laura at the top. You can see all of downtown LA all the way to the ocean.
So my adventure begins!

After leaving Ohio, I set off for a short trip in Los Angeles to see my girlfriend Laura and spend some time with her. We went hiking, went on "Let's Make a Deal", went out to the bars, and just got to spend time with her and her friends. A wonderful way to start my trip with a great friend sending me off.

The flight wasn't as bad as I was expecting (13hrs). I stayed up long enough to watch a movie or two and eat before falling asleep. When I woke up, It was 530am and I was in Beijing, China.

It was cold when I arrive and my tour guide, Vivie, brought a coat for me and we set off. The first stop was the Great Wall. We drove through alot of farmland where people rode rickshaws and still had aquaducts. By the time we arrived, it was a bit foggy, and believe it or not, I was the only one on the wall. Vivie and I walked a while while she gave me a brief history and stories behind each part. The little towers along the wall were used for storage
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The only person on the wall.
and sleeping quarters but since they are so far apart, and the wall goes for over 13,100 miles, I wondered how they communicated with other guards along the wall. She told me that they would burn wood to signal to other guards, but since the smoke disperses quickly, they would burn wolf droppings as well. Apparently, its burns a black cloud of smoke that rises high into the air. When we came down, the market at the bottom was open, and people were selling souviners and foods. My personal favorite was a tshirt with Barak Obama dressed as a communist. Before we set off, I went to use the restroom, which was basically a toliet seat in the ground, with no toliet paper. A new experience I won't be missing.

We arrive at the Summer Palace (or "the gardens of nutured harmony") around noon. The palace was a place where the emporers would essentially spend their summers here conducting work from many halls, palaces, temples, residneces, bridges and gardens that make up the palace grounds. Every nook and cranny of the palace was hand painted, and the Long Corridor is considered the longest art gallery in the world. Truley
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Longevity Hill, with the Tower of Fragrance and the Sea of Wisdom Temple.
a breathtaking experience. Aside from all the buildings that make up the palace (which sits on a mile wide lake that was dug entirely by hand), there is about 2 square miles of forests and gardens that contain winding paths through the mountians. Words cannot explain the beauty of the palace, it was my favorite part of the day.

Vivie couldn't send me away without trying some peking duck. Beijing is known for having the best peking duck in the world and . And it really was fantastic. I've tried duck before and found it to be very greasy, but this was cooked to perfection and prepared tableside. Paired with a glass of warm almond milk, I really couldn't have asked for anything more delicious. Needless to say, I headed back to the airport with a full stomach and a smile on my face.

On the drive back, I admired all of the red lanterns hanging outside the doors. Vivie told me that the Chinese New Year (Feb 6) is their biggest holiday and that the red and yellow lanterns were a symbol of good luck and nobility, and when hung by the front door, you welcome these
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My meal. Peking duck, duck soup, all the mix-ins, wrap it in a very thin-tortilla like wrap, and a glass of warm almond milk ("lulu"). So delicious!
gifts into your home for the new year.

The flight to Syndey (11hrs) was very similar to my previous flight, watched a few movies, at the same meals, fell asleep and woke up in sunny Australia.

Today was my first day diving (3dives), and the water was a bit colder then I expected, forcing me to wear a 7mm wetsuit. Fantastic for keeping warm in the 72 degree water, not so fantastic doing a shore dive where I had to walk to the beach in a thick wetsuit and full dive gear in 80 degree weather. I spent it playing with 50lb blue groupers who followed me everywhere and loved a good scratch on their bellies. I saw the largest eagle ray I've ever seen along with starfish, squid, seaslugs, crabs, and even got to play with a octopus who wrapped it's tenticles around my wrist like a bracelet and camoflagued itself to my wetsuit. Couldn't have asked for a better set of dives with great visibility on my first day here. I'm so excited to see where the next 6 months are going to take me!


Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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Hollywood SignHollywood Sign
Hollywood Sign

Need I say more?
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The Great Wall of China

One of the only remaining cannons on the wall.
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The Great Wall of China

Inside one of the small towers along the wall. Each one is different inside depending on what its used for.
The Great Wall of ChinaThe Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

The little market at the bottom of the wall. When I arrived, it wasn't open, but when I came down, everyone was trying to sell me magnets and postcards.
Chinese BathroomsChinese Bathrooms
Chinese Bathrooms

Like I said, a hole in the ground with no toliet paper. Notice the signs on the door.
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The Summer Palace

Everything was so detailed, from the hand painted buildings to the pathways leading into the gardens.
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The Summer Palace

My tour guide Vivie!
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The Summer Palace

Me at the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity.
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The Summer Palace

The Long Corridor is almost 2,400 feet with over 14,000 hand paintings, making this the longes art gallery in the world.
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The Summer Palace

Details of some of the paintings.
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The Summer Palace

In the Garden of Harmonious Pleasure, my favorite part of the palace.
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The REAL Chinese Food

Instead of salad, I got fresh fruit. Dry ice was part of the presentation.
The REAL Chinese FoodThe REAL Chinese Food
The REAL Chinese Food

My peking duck carver. He tried to get me to eat the duck head. I had to draw the line somewhere.


20th September 2013

Buckeyes exploring the world
We stumbled onto your blog recently but today I decided to start at the beginning and read more of your adventure. I'm from Dayton and my husband from Toledo. He is a proud Ohio grad. We too, have been traveling the world. You will not regret your decision. The world has so much to offer. You may want to follow our blog. You'll see photos of Brutus traveling the world with us.
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