Traveling is a wonderful experience. One taste is never enough to satisfy. It seems that when one goes out into the world, one hardly encounters what is expected. Visiting a different country is a multifaceted, ever changing experience. The beauty and the cultural differences can be shocking, soul touching, and eye opening. Even the smallest parts can be an adventure. My trip to beautiful Beijing China, with its colorful buildings and people, was nothing short of an adventure.
Upon my arrival to Beijing, I thought I was being suffocated. The air was so thick I thought I could swallow it. When you can actually feel wraith like fingers curling along your body, and then realize it’s just the smog, something has to be wrong. As I turned to my mother to ask how she was handling it, after the grueling flight, she grinned ear to ear and said, “My ‘nic’ fit is gone!” Apparently the smog was akin to taking a long drag on a cigarette. The smog was no large obstacle, though, and as soon as I grew accustomed to it, I could take in the grand city that is Beijing. The tour guide kept talking at too-fast pace, so all I could do was look at what the city had to offer. There were towering sky scrapers with neon lights, hundreds of black cars that all look the same, and what looked like thousands of people teeming along the streets, all in perfect harmony astounding my small town eyes.
On our first excursion out into the thriving metropolis, we were taken to the Forbidden City. You could feel the history coming off in great waves, transporting you back to another time where the Forbidden City was a fortress, and a majestic emperor would command his country. Towering dragons roared silently, and everything was a piece of art. The ground upon which one walked told stories by itself. It was simply resplendent, and breathtaking in its grandeur. My grandmother (we call her the felon in my family,) tried to tempt me to take a stone from the city, as a souvenir. Taking anything from the Forbidden City that isn’t in a gift shop is a grave offense. My grandma is about 62, short, goes to church three times a week, and seems as angelic as can be. But don’t let that fool you; she’s as cunning as a fox, and twice as sneaky about it.
Perhaps one of the most shocking things about China is the food. The Chinese have a saying: They will eat anything with four legs besides a table, they will eat anything in the air besides an airplane, and they will eat anything in the sea besides a submarine. They presented us with fish that looked like worms were wriggling from the bodies, and some other things that are better left unmentioned. We decided to take on a “Don’t ask, just eat it,” policy. An interesting thing that I learned about the Chinese is that they do not use ice in their drinks. This seems to be a completely western practice, but one I enjoy.
I hope to one day return to Beijing, I had simply fallen in love with the people and the city of lights. I could never get enough of its beauty. There are many things I would like to revisit, such as the Temple of Heaven, the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. There is much left to learn, and much still to see.
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