Published: June 3rd 2009May 28th 2009
Hello everyone! It's been awhile! Sorry about that, but I haven't done a lot of interesting things in the last couple of weeks. The last couple of weeks have been dedicated to doing end the semester projects and tests. But here's a quick note to sum up my last 2 weeks. Some recent Shanghai highlights include bowling, go-karting, and another trip to QiPu Road for cheap clothes. Also, my friend Sophia from Hong Kong visited!! She studied at my school a year ago and I have not seen her since she left the US last summer. So, naturally, it was a very exciting visit! We went to all sorts of places. Some were more touristy than others, but I still found new things that I had yet to see in Shanghai; even after 3 months! We went to the 88th floor of the Jing Mao Tower and posed with a wax figure of Jackie Chan. We also went the the Yu Garden Bizarre and caught a movie at the Global Theatre (the oldest theatre in Shanghai). The Global Thetre is very cheap, I think because all the movies are in Chinese. That's ok, though. It gave us a chance to dry
off from walking in the rain all day. Oh, we also went to the First Congress of the Communist Party Museum. It's the first place I've visited that had free admission! Sadly, all good things must end, and Sophia continued on to her next destination after 2 days.
Skipping ahead a few days, I finished up my classes and final projects/papers, and on May 27th, my mom arrived in Shanghai!! We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance ZhongShan and it was absolutely amazing. The service and the room was fantastic. I took my mom around Shanghai a bit, visiting some of my usual haunts. It was a lot of fun and my mom got to see a side of Shanghai that most tourists don't see. On Sunday, we caught the first flight to out of Hongqiao airport to Beijing and were settled into the Lusongyuan Hotel around noon. It is nestled in one of Beijing's numerous 'hutong's, or small alleys. While the Lusongyuan hotel is adorable, with it's old world charm, we were ready to leave a couple of hours later. Our AC was not functioning properly (In Beijing's heat, that's a big no-no), none of our cab driver could
find it, and it was not near anything of interest. On the plus side, it was really quiet. You never would have guessed you were in the capitol city of Beijing at nighttime!! And the courtyard in the center of the hotel was a great place to catch a cool night breeze.
Sunday afternoon, after moving in, we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square! Tiananmen Square is huge! By the time we were dont seeing both, we were tuckered out and headed back to the hotel. We then spent a quiet evening sweating in our room while searching for a different hotel online. And oh boy did we find one!! (More on that later).
Monday, we woke up early and went over to the Honghegong Temple. We got there before it even opened at 9, so we watched Beijing travel by as we waited. The trip inside Yonghegong didn't take that long, but allowed for many photo ops. I think it would have been a bit better if we had a guide to tell us the history of the temple. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable little morning excursion. Because we had to check out by noon,
and couldn't check into the new hotel until noon, we left Lusongyuan at right before noon. The Wangfujin Grand Hotel is fantastic!! There's working AC and an amazing view!! We got a free upgrade when we checked-in because we booked through Expedia. Our window looks out over Beijing's Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square!! As I write this, I can see Beijing's nighttime being illuminated by the lights of Tiananmen! My mom and I also had a field day taking pictures of the sun setting over Beijing. And imagine, this more centrally-located hotel with a great view is cheaper than Lusongyuan! Anyway, after checking-in, we went to the Temple of Heaven. There was, once again, a lot of walking involved, but it was a really pretty park.
On Tuesday we went ti the Great Wall!!! The tour bus we took also had a side trip to the Ming Tombs, but that's not what we were interested in. The wall was fantastic!!! And the steepness, well, that's something that pictures can't justify. It was incredible to finally be standing on the Great Wall-something that many people never get a chance to do. Oh, and I randomly ran into one of my
classmate's from Shanghai on the wall. What are the odds?
Today, Wednesday, we went to the Olympic Park and went into the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. I so wanted to go to the Olympics back in 2008, but I never had the chance. At least for me, there was still a lingering excitement in the air of the Bird's Nest. Even almost a year later, it was still special for me to walk through where so many great athletes have walked before me. I must say, both the Nest and the Cube, on the inside, are smaller than they look. We also went to the Ox Street Mosque, which was a bit of a bust. We got out of the cab and got chased away by beggers. So we took a cab back to the hotel, but we got dropped off a few blocks away from where we wanted. It turned out to work in our favor when we stumbled upon several shopping streets with all sorts of strange foods!! Scorpions on a stick-still moving!! And no, I didn't try them!
Tomorrow we head out bright and early for Guilin!!! Sorry this post isn't up to the
usual standard of my writing, but I have such a backlog of stories and photos that I need to do something (and fast!)! So, as always, any questions or comments, let me know!
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