Since I’m blogging every day this month anyway, I figured it was time I got around to writing about part 2 of my trip to China. Let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, right after the Peking duck dinner.
Well, day 2 in Beijing started with a trip to the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs. Supposedly, the tombs of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors are located here. There’s a long walkway with statues along either side of it, statues of animals and various warriors. It’s actually really neat-looking and very peaceful. I really liked the statues and took plenty of photos of them.
After the Sacred Way, we visited a jade store. I think Ricky was pretty bored with the jade store, but I found some things there interesting, and I had wanted to find a jade necklace that had my Chinese zodiac sign (a goat) on it. I was successful, and I really like the necklace and wear it a lot now. It’s a great reminder of our trip, not to mention a conversation starter.
Next, the big thing! We went to the Great Wall of China. It was fun to visit there, but there were a LOT of people. Ricky actually walked quite a way along the wall, but me being a big wuss and having a slight fear of falling, I was kind of uncomfortable going too far up and downhill. (I kind of hate walking downhill!) But it was enough for me just to walk along the wall a short distance. It’s crazy to look out and see just how big the wall is. You can see different sections of it all around.
At the end of the day, we made a quick trip to see the “Bird Nest” where the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics were held. It’s a pretty interesting structure. We only saw the outside of it, but it’s fun to see things that you’ve previously only seen pictures of. (This is one of the reasons I like to travel, to see all these places in person!)
Our last day in Beijing, we visited the Temple of Heaven, a pearl shop, and the Summer Palace, all of which were very pretty, but by this time, we were getting slightly tired of temples, palaces, and gardens and were ready to move on to Shanghai. Which we did that night. After getting a good night’s sleep in our lovely hotel (with no wifi!) in Shanghai, we headed out to see the Oriental Pearl Tower. This might have been one of the coolest parts of Shanghai to me. It’s not that the tower is the tallest building in the world or anything, but it does have a lot of cool stuff there. There is a level where we went up and were just able to get a 360 degree view of the city. And it was ALL skyscrapers, as far as the eye can see. I mean, I’ve been to NYC before and that’s obviously a very big city. But it’s nothing compared to Shanghai. It was pretty unbelievable. They also had a level where you could walk out on some thick glass and see straight down to the ground. This was a bit intimidating to some people, but once you walk out on it, it’s pretty easy to get used to. I got some really cool photos from this, including one where I kind of look like I’m flying. That night, we took in an acrobatics show in Shanghai across the street from our hotel. This was a lot of fun too, and we saw some neat things that I didn’t know it was possible for humans to do. There were a lot of balancing acts along with some other talented performances.
The next day, we visited a couple of small towns outside of Shanghai called Suzhou and Tongli. These canal towns have the nickname “Venice of the East”, and they definitely deserve it. We road a gondola along the canal, which was very cool. The towns are beautiful, with small cafes outside and plenty of small shops to wander into. It almost reminded me a bit of Europe, and certainly didn’t look much like anything I’ve seen in the US. This was probably one of the highlights of our trip as well. Ricky and I both loved the towns. We also managed to visit a tea house while there.
Our last full day in Shanghai was primarily shopping day! We had a lot of fun visiting a city bazaar where we bought all our fun souvenirs to bring back. Another fun shopping trip that day took us to an old shopping mall with about 5 levels to it. This place had a ton of small booths where vendors sold knockoffs of name brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton. The best part was, the really high end stuff (like Louis V) was actually in the back and you had to ask about it. When you did, they would take you either to a hidden room in the back of the booth or to another booth back in the dark section of the mall that wasn’t open. They’d open that booth (it was always closed and locked when you first got to it), then take you in and flip a light switch and you’d see a bunch of higher end name brand stuff (all knockoffs, of course). Then they would shut the door again and lock you in. We were a little afraid of it at first, but we quickly realized that it was just because it was illegal for them to be selling this stuff (but not illegal for us to buy it), so they had to hide it. Bartering with them was a lot of fun too. The whole thing was quite an experience.
Our last night there was pretty spectacular and a great end to the trip. After dinner, we headed out for a cruise along the Bund. It was absolutely beautiful. It was the perfect weather, and we enjoyed seeing the Shanghai skyline at night. We’d walked along the Bund earlier in the trip (and even found the Bund Brewery!), but it was even more amazing at nighttime. One thing I found funny was that a lot of places we went there, we’d see keychains or whatnot that said “I <3 SH”… you know, like the popular “I <3 NY” shirts in NYC? Only these were for Shanghai, obviously. But the funniest thing was when I realized… oh yeah, my initials are SH! After that, I tried to find Ricky a keychain or something that said “I <3 SH”, but I think I thought about it too late. They did have one building in the skyline that had I <3 SH lit up on it, though. It kept changing to different designs of that phrase, and I took a bunch of photos of it. The cruise itself was just a lot of fun, and romantic as well.
The next day, we hopped on our plane and then flew back to Beijing, then San Francisco for an 8-hour layover, then back to Phoenix. All in all, the trip was an absolute blast, and it was amazing to see such a different part of the world. We loved it!