Interesting start to Vietnam. We arrived at 1am and it was going to be a nightmare trying to get a taxi for a good price. Luckily Dessie’s family is from Vietnam an were waiting at the airport with a mini bus ready to pick us up.
As it was really early in the morning we were advised to stay in Hanoi for one night. We first stopped off at Dessie’s gran’s shop where she actually lived aswell. She was the nicest woman ever and welcomed us in with open arms. She cooked us a delicious meal of chicken and rice. He even cooked oven chips to make us feel at home.
Dessie’s uncle luckily new of a guest house round the corner that had a room for us for the night. Although I’m very glad we found a place to stay it was certainly one of the most interesting places. There were geckos on the walls and bugs on the bed. Lucky for me I doused myself in bug spray wrapped up in my bed sheet and said a little wish. I woke up all gd with legs intacked and not a bite to show.
The real taste of Beijing
Today was the day we were going to get the real taste of Beijing. We made an agreement that we will visit the night market and we did. It was a long street full of around 60 stalls with everytype o food. If you could put it moved an you could put it on a stick it was there. We really went to dinner when we were there and had:
Silk worm cocoon
Sugar glass coated fruit
We decided to move on from Shanghai and over on to Beijing. The journey started a day before when trying to book our tickets. It was very hard to book our tickets from a little ticket office on the side if the street so we went with one of the Chinese students to book then.
The next day it was time to ride on the High speed rail also known as the bullet train. What an experience! We had economy tickets but it definitely felt like a first class service. The train staff were dressed rather like air hostesses and were very polite. The journey was incredibly smooth and fast.
In Beijing it was quite clear everything moved at a lot slower rate then shanghai. People were quite chilled and it didn’t seem like everyone was in a rush to get somewhere.
President Mao is very highly regarded in China and is literally everywhere. In tiananmen square you can view the body of president Mao but only between 8 and 12pm. The crowds to see him were huge and there was a crazy amount of flowers around his body. The only thing I that you can’t take any pictures and must leave your bags at the start.
We visited Summer palace where we underestimated the size of it. Summer palace was just really peaceful to go around and was great to be appreciate everything about it.
In the imperial gardens lies Suchozu street. It has stunning views of the back lake and is lined with shops ready for all the tourists. It was originally a shopping street and this was clearly maintained for the tourists.
Peking duck was on the menu just a day into Beijing, and it lived up to my expectations and more. The duck was incredibly tasty but there just wasn’t enough of it. In Beijing the delicacy of the duck is just the flavourful skin an not the actual duck meat. I was slightly disappointed as I could of easily eaten the whole thing.
But I think the award to one of the best things I’ve done goes to the great wall. It was tough to climb but such an achievement when you got to experience an incredible view. You can really tell why it’s one of the wonders of the world.
It’s getting hot in here
It was one of our free afternoons today and we took at uni trip to Bao steel which definitely felt like the hottest place on earth. Bao steel is the second largest steel producer in the world. We had the opportunity to see how the steel was made and coiled. It was amazing to watch but very hot. We couldn’t believe the hot conditions that the workers worked in.
At night we made a trip to the three bund tower where the views are overlooking the bund in shanghai. Undoubtably one of the nicest views I’ve ever seen. You see shanghai by night and it is increidble watching the cars drive by and people rush around. Definitely one of the highlight views of Chiba.
Watching the shanghai acrobatics took our breath away. Everything was so perfectly thought through, just did not want it to end. The thing we did notice was how young all the performers were. It looked like the average age was no more than 10-15 yet they were so talented.
Hangzou = paradise
I think today we actually found paradise. On the southern end of China we went to Hangzho and took the bullet train from shangahi. In te middle of Hangzhou was the famous westland which can only be described as simply amazing. The views from the temples were breath taking and felt so good just to be standing there.
At the end of our trip around west lake we found the nicest seafood restaurant. We felt rather under dressed for the occasion and were a tad sweaty from our exhausting walk around Hangzhou. Luckily the restaurant was empty as it was in-between lunch and dinner time.
When we ordered the food it was a little awkward as we were actually ordering in mandari, but the restaurant waitress only spoke English. When the first dish arrived the restaurant staff were just watching us, waiting for us to tuck in. What we didn’t realise what that the dishes were there to be shared and not individual. After a few minutes of us watching one person eat they realised and started bringing the rest of the food we ordered.
Our day has started like normal with a few hours of mandarin but the afternoon was a complete different change. I’d like to say that I mastered the art of tai chi, but the truth is I have a long way to go. It was very therapeutic and really good for the body. We had the Chinese media students filming our session so it will be rather interesting to see how bad I really was.
In the evening we got a real taste of china and discovered their favourite past time; katv (Karaoke TV) it was a great experience and we had a really fun time. The idea is you rent a booth which is a room with a karaoke machine and disco lights. You have a waitress button and can order bar snacks, meals, Popcorn and loads of beers. There was a good selection of English tunes although some of the tracks were not the same as our version. Nevertheless it was such a good night.
Meet the family
Today we met our Chinese family where we were to spend the whole day with them. I must say an amazing experience. The father was a professor director of the institute of molecular and chemical biology which sounds rather empressive. The three of us played games with his son and his two students came over and made us very welcome. In china we learnt that it’s very normal for the teacher to invite their students over for tea and dinnner.
The professor gave us the opportunity to drink the most expensive tea in China. I must admit it was very nice an had several cups.
We then had a chance to roll dumplings and ate an enormous amount of food. We discovered that in Chinese culture it is traditional for the guests to eat first and then the hosts once you have finished.
At the end of the meal we ended with a very traditional bowl of rice wine which is to be downed in one. It was exteremly strong at around 20%, we were offered more but gracefully declined as it was burning the throat and any taste buds we had left after the hot soup.
The studying starts
Today was the first day of lessons. It started off with 3 hours of learning mandarin. I was the lucky one selected to teach the class the pronunciation of the verbs which was a little weird considering I’d been learning for only a few minutes.
The afternoon consisted of learning the art of caligraphy. Learning the brush strokes was hard although I seemed to of picked up the basics. I discovered my Chinese name is Bing and it looked interesting when I had it written out for me.
The end of the night consisted of discovering the whole of shanghai. What better way to do so via a bar crawl.
All ended well and I’m looking forward to the week ahead of me.
The start of Shanghai
So we have arrvied in china and spent the day looking round the campus which is massive and got to know the Chinese volunteers. Yesterdays dinner came from the uni canteen and lets just say it was a bit of a struggle to order food. Nobody understood English but luckily they knew what chow mein was and it was the best i’d ever had and at just 65p it was ridiculously cheap. Today was our opening ceremony and we realised how lucky we actually are to be in china and they gave us a real warm welcome. First time looking for a place to eat. The general consensus was we were all going to kfc. First day in and me and my house mate didn’t fancy it so went to a local restaurant. You pick the food you want in your soup and they cook and bring it to you in minutes. The amount of food we had was incredible and only cost £1.50 something I’m going to think of bringing to England. We spent the majority of our afternoon with the chinese volunteers where we played traditional Chinese games. Using chopsticks to pick up marbles is a great way of learning to use them. Had a good laugh learning Chinese dance moves which I’m sure I’m gonna use when we go out with them tonight. The volunteers are taking us clubbing so it’s going to be an interesting night.
And we’re there.
Right so presentation handed in and I have even done a mock presentation to my seminar group (well I say group it was just the lecturer and another guy. Quite disappointing really, people have the opportunity to iron out any mistakes with their presentation and don’t bother turning up.
It’s now down to finding out the presentation schedule and getting myself ready to present. Watch this space.