Written and posted March 3rd, 2018
Departing from Westtown (on Thursday) we took a bus to the Newark International airport. When we got to the airport, we found out that someone on the flight had a medical emergency and there was not enough oxygen for us to fly to Hong Kong. All of the options we were given were bad, especially with the impending winter storm the next day meaning we’d lose at least two if not more days. However, after much deliberation between the teachers and the airport staff, it was decided that they would give a stipend to thirty people who left, and our group had priority to stay. We all made it on the flight and landed in Hong Kong at 5:30 AM on Saturday. Hong Kong was the first time we had seen daylight in a little over twenty-four hours.
After one more plane ride, this time only two hours, we made it to Beijing. We met our tour guide Sunny at the airport. While we were driving, Sunny told us a bit about the history of China and Beijing. Sunny mentioned something called a political blue sky which I found interesting. A political blue sky is when a political leader is coming to Beijing and all the factories close so there is no smog and the sky stays blue. I was surprised that Beijing knows their air is extremely polluted but does not do anything to prevent it except for powerful figures.
Sunny also took us to lunch near the Olympic village and the Birds Nest, the Olympic stadium. The restaurant was similar to Westtown, in that it was family style. There was a lazy-susan in the middle of the table with all of our food which we spun when we wanted another dish. However, a major cultural difference was the utensils. I have never been good with chopsticks and while I struggled to use them, I know it will get easier as the trip goes on. Another cultural shock was the bathroom in the restaurant. I had to squat over a hole and bring in my own toilet paper, very different to bathrooms in the States.
When we went to the Olympic village we saw the Birds Nest, the swimming pool, a winter only man-made ski hill, and people doing tricks with rollerblades. The park also had buildings that, when looked at together, were in the shape of a dragon. After leaving the park we walked around the Houhai Lake District and went to dinner, which was in a similar style as lunch and was very yummy! While this was only a brief preview of my day, I’m experiencing extreme jet lag, so I am going to get some sleep. Thanks for reading! I’ll try to post again tomorrow.
Entrance to the Olympic village
Dragon made of buildings
Lake Houhai District