Cheap Watches, Swooning Girls, and Tiny Dumplings - My Family Travels

I awoke to the dull roar of the engines and the gentle rocking of the airplane. As I sat up, I half expected to have a tight knot in my neck. However, as I gently moved my head around, I realized that I had been quite comfortable as I slept. I looked around and instead of seeing rows and rows of cramped uncomfortable seats I saw only twenty-eight seats arranged in pairs. This was no ordinary plane ride. This was the beginning of an extraordinary adventure that gave me a look at my ancestral country which I had always hoped to visit.

Because my grandfather is Chinese my grandmother has always wanted my brother and me to see the country of his birth. So, for 16 days during the summer of 2007, we departed on a trip to the mother land.

The stop in Tokyo marked the first time that I had ever stepped on international soil. So naturally I took pictures: pictures of the airport, pictures of the people, pictures of the signs. Words to live by: you never truly know a country until you see their airports.

Once we got to the hotel in Beijing, my parents and my grandma went to sleep because they were exhausted from the trip. My brother and I decided to explore the hotel. We found the most elaborate hotel exercise facility we had ever seen. They had enough treadmills to any YMCA to shame and a spa that would embarrass any of these cheesy one hour deals in America.

The next stop on the trip was Xian. While there, we experienced a musical complete with a man who could play the socks off a tone deaf man with some pan flute looking instrument. The next morning we saw the terra cotta warriors. The sheer size of the army was vastly intimidating. If they had suddenly come to life on the spot, I probably would have wet my pants and run for the door.

After visiting Xian, we flew to Chongqing to get on the riverboat to Shanghai. The boat was pretty fun except for the fact that there was little to nothing for a group of teenagers to do.

When we landed in Shanghai, we were all wobbling a bit since we hadn’t walked on solid ground in about three days. Shanghai is the economic center of China. That means that there are a lot of street venders who try to sell Americans Mao Zedong watches. They just don’t get it, do they?

We rounded off our vacation with a trip to a small fishing village before we went to Hong Kong. Remember: you never feel truly loved until a pair of Chinese girls swoon over you just to get a picture with you. It was pretty funny. But eventually it was time to come back to the land of the free and the home of the brave (to be honest, I was starting to miss tap water). It was time to get back to the real world, the world where things cost more, the world where you have to do your own laundry, the world where no one is going to agree to give you a foot massage for five bucks.

Prior to stepping on the first plane on our trip, I was expecting to visit a part of the world where I had never been. What I got was an opportunity, an opportunity to become closer to my family, to meet new people, and to have little dumplings with soup inside them.

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