Last Sunday I returned from one of the most – if not the most – unforgettable trips of my life, to one of the most historic cities in the world. Of course I’m talking about Beijing, birthplace of celebrated basketball star, Yao Ming and home to 11.5 million people. Prior to the trip, my knowledge of the Chinese culture did not extend far beyond cuisine and the fact that there were magical places where designer goods could be acquired at a small fraction of the price. I know more now…Mostly more about Chinese cuisine if I’m being completely honest. Much like my life in the states, each day was planned around where and when we’d be eating our next meal. I ate a lot of traditional Chinese food, which included everything from peking duck, a famous duck dish that has been prepared since the imperial era, to bamboo shoots and dumplings. And of course, every meal was concluded with RICE! Did you know that the rice is usually served at the end for people who are still hungry (aka me)? One of the greatest challenges of the trip was using chopsticks. If American restaurants replaced silverware with chopsticks there would be an uprising. Americans are some of the most ambitious people on earth, but when it comes to food, we don’t want to waste any time.
This was my first time in Asia, so now I can say I’ve been to 4 of the 7 continents. Can you say “cultured betch?” No, wait, don’t. I just said that out loud and now I want to throw up. I went with my immediate family (Mom, Dad, Robbie, Erik) and we stayed with my aunt and uncle who have lived there with their two boys for almost three years now. It was cool to see how they’ve made a life in Beijing – new friends (all fellow expats), new language (my aunt can speak Mandarin!)
I took a lot of pictures (and an unhealthy amount of selfies). I’ll spare you the history lesson behind each sight, mostly because I will completely botch the stories. The history behind the construction of The Great Wall of China in Mutianyu is pretty spectacular….1 million people perished during the construction of this prodigious world wonder. Pictures don’t do it justice. Climbing the wall was definitely the highlight of the trip. We spent one day hiking on our own up to the “Wild Wall” which is the unrestored part of the wall. If you ever get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend it.
The one main downfall of China is the pollution. A good day for China’s air is four times worse than what the air is like in L.A on a bad day. That’s why the people wear the masks. You can literally feel it in your lungs. Breathing in the air in China is equivalent to smoking a cigarette. So while I’m glad I went to China, I think it may have shaved a few days off my life. The smogginess of the pollution really took a toll on my pictures – even my instagrams suffered.