I already get the hang of living on my own miles away from home… but when it comes to visiting a place for a vacation, traveling alone is not my thing. I always prefer to travel with my friends. Why not right? I think it’s more fun discovering new places with them. But last April, I asked myself, “When was the last time that you did something for the first time?” And so I did something new this time. I traveled alone.
With the help of a very friendly and efficient travel agency (Rita of China Discovery), my trip to Beijing was arranged. I have been meaning to visit the Great Wall of China since I moved to Shanghai but mainly because of the distance and busyness from work, it was only after 6 months that I have finally made it come true. Actually, that little dream of mine can be traced back during my high school days when I was studying Asian history. It already gave me that desire then that one day I will set my feet to this historical place – The Great Wall of China.
As planned, I started my journey via fast train from Shanghai to Beijing. It was actually my first time to look for the fast train station in Shanghai so I felt like I was in amazing race or something like that. I only set 1 hour allowance but I didn’t expect that I will have a challenge finding it but I must say, that experience was really rewarding. I really enjoyed that 5-hour trip. I loved looking out the window and seeing the different towns between Shanghai to Beijing while observing how fast the train can travel.
When I arrived at my destination, I was welcomed by a friendly staff from the travel agency. I was really impressed how they arranged my trip from the start to finish! My trip was only 2 days including my travel time (Saturday-Sunday) but it was very fruitful. I spent my Saturday at the train plus a quick tour around the hotel plus peaceful dinner.
Who says you can’t enjoy your dinner alone? haha. Besides, I was not really alone… Thanks to wifi!
Then our tour van picked me up at 6:30am the following morning. It was fun seeing different nationalities. There’s this Indian family but are now living in London, one German guy, 2 Lebanese, three American, 2 French ladies plus of course, one humble Filipino. Different nations but one destination. Meeting new faces was fun! Our tourist guide was really cool too. I learnt a lot of Chinese cultures along the way.
The weather was perfect as it is the start of spring. It was still very windy and the temperature was very cool but far better than winter or walking under the heat of the sun. Here are some things that I have discovered during my trip:
1. Bird’s Nest. When they held the Olympics in 2008 they said, they just didn’t want to be one of the best but they wanted to be the best. They spent so much and for them it was all worth it. They also made history in preparing for the medals. They have encrypted their national stone (jade) on each medal. It cost them a fortune but it was fulfilling for them.
2. Olympic Village: They built a condo-like village for the delegates. The tourist guide said, they wanted to provide the best accommodation. And when the delegates left, all the units were sold out! A great return for their investment!
3. Jade. It is not just a stone to them. It is their national stone. For them, it is spiritual too. They believe that jade drives out bad spirits. Our tourist guide further explained that Jade stones also helps in circulation of blood and oil so for ladies, they put their jade bangles in their left hand where is closer to the heart. And oh by the way, jade is not only color green as most people thought so.
4. Feng shui is not “just” superstitions to them. It is already part in their lifestyle. They follow nature. It is in their everyday life. They always follow pattern based from Feng Shui. Where to place this and that…
5. Ming Tomb. This is where they buried 17 emperors. It is also believed that there are about 17 human sacrifices were done. If the empress dies first, the emperor will be buried on top of the empress. But if the emperor dies first, they are not allowed to open the tomb of the emperor, hence, they will prepare a separate for the empress. Also, if the emperor dies first, they will have one sacrifice one concubine… who will be sacrificed? The empress will choose – more likely the one she dislikes the most!
6. Silk. It is one of China’s first trading products. One cocoon can actually make one whole blanket! It was fascinating how to see how silk was done from silk worm. When you wash silk products, you should use shampoo. We should treat like hair as it is rich in protein.
7. The Great wall of China. They built this for their defense. Many have tried to invade China but no one succeeded to conquer.
I am not fond of height… actually… but I enjoyed climbing! This is truly unforgettable journey. You know, that feeling that I have finally reached one of my target places to visit…
That’s all folks! So after a long day of tour, I took a plane going back to Shanghai. 🙂
I am really grateful to GOD how HE brings me to different places. Discovering different cultures makes me all the more in awe of His goodness and faithfulness. God is great – is even an understatement. His awesomeness goes beyond words!