So we just got back from a 7 day vacation through Xi'an and Beijing. Both cities were a lot more commercial and industrial than Chengdu. Xi'an was not my favorite place so far, the hostel was super fun and we met a ton of people from all different countries that were our age, but the city didn't have too many major attractions. The shopping was excellent though, and I had to stop myself from buying the seven puppies for sale on the side of the road. We took a 17 hour train to Xi'an which was an experience to say the least. Each train car is set up with rows of triple bunk beds, and we had the bottom bunks. We spent the next 17 hours with questionable people sitting on our beds and a very nice couple with newborn baby, that we really liked until the baby peed on the floor and the parents left it there...
The flight to Beijing went really smooth and we all stayed in a pretty nice hotel very close to Tiannenmen Square and the Forbidden City. When we visited the Forbidden City on the first day, as usual people were taking pictures of us. However this time, one girl asked to take a picture with me and about fifty people flocked around in a circle and switched in and out and I couldn't escape until I called two of my friends over to literally pull me out of the crowd of people, it was a little terrifying and I kind of felt like a unicorn.
We saw the Great Wall the next day, and of course my camera broke, so I went into the Ice Age and bought a digital. The Great Wall is ALL uphill stairs, it was nothing compared to the mountain we climbed, but the stairs were super steep and I was extremely suprised it wasn't flat from the pictures I've seen. The view was breathtaking but unfortunately I'm not quite sure where to get the film from my prehistoric camera developed... It did feel a lot like being in the movie Mulan being there.
One thing I would never have expected was the bees on the Great Wall! I got chased by at least two, which everyone around found pretty entertaining. Luckily after they chased me they moved on to another person nearby everytime so we were all a laughing stock eventually. Quite a few of my friends tried duck liver and that was pretty fun to watch. They said it wasn't COMPLETELY awful...
We also went to the Silk and Pearl Markets, which are supposed to be great for bargainning. I found out about five minutes in that I was not made to bargain, considering I bought an iPhone for 200RMB (32ish USD) and was convinced it was real and would work until a few of my friends took pity on me and pointed out my obvious error in judgement...( Shoutout to Anna Gentile's mom because I heard she reads my blog and her daughter helped me get back some poorly spent money...hahaha). I had to basically brawl with the store that sold it to me for at least an hour and a half where they lied to me about who the boss was, about the phone working, basically they tried to create a complete hoax and pull it over all me and my friends heads. One sales associate offered me questionable old currencey that was definitely either not Chinese or ancient Chinese... Finally after I told them I was not going to move a foot out of their store until I got my money back the lady grudgingly handed me my two hundred RMB. By that time I decided bargaining was not for me, and I could get my souvenieurs from the underground markets in Chengdu.
The last day in Beijing was so sad since half of the people who attended session one were either going home or leaving for a different program. This weekend has been super hard, with all of us in Chengdu trying to get used to not seeing the friends we used to see all day, everyday, at all. Half our community disappeared. On the brightside, we got 20% off at a restaurant the other day, and when we asked why the manager said "I don't know I was bored", which is pretty characteristic of Chengdu's laid back lifestyle. We are just starting session two and I hope it can live up to how amazing session one was.
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