“Ni hao, no, no, pu yao zen.” It’s June 11, 2009 and I am scrambling down the steps of the China Tour bus to cross the bike filled street towards the Beijing Summer Palace, when I am overwhelmed with wenders. ‘” Gucci! Rolex! Louis Vuitton watche fer 10 dollar” another wender offers all three of them for 15 dollars. My school chaperone rushes over to us so that we don’t purchase broken watches. Our EF Tours city guide, Yao Min, taught us that when we don’t want to purchase something from the wenders, we should say, ‘pu yao zen’ which means ‘no, how about for 0 dollars?’ I did that a couple of times throughout my trip and they would laugh and walk away.
After two days in Beijing, our group of 42 took a flight to the ancient city of Xi-an. One day before we had the privilege to visit the Terra-Cotta soldiers, a new soldier was dug out. We felt pretty special that we were going to be one of the first ones to see him.
Their food was delicious. Not the same Chinese take-out food that we’re used to in America. My favorite dinner would have to be from the hot pot restaurant. They would have a pot of boiling water in the middle of the lazy Susan and plates of raw crab, potatoes, lettuce and shrimp. Just picture eight Americans struggling with chopsticks trying to get a grip of our food and failing each time…funny right? The waiters were trying to help us but they couldn’t help but giggle. At the end, the eight of us at the table began with, “Clean up, clean up, everybody do our share.” we amused everyone at the restaurant. I could honestly say that I was an exciting night! One night that barely anyone liked dinner was the vegetarian night. They only served vegetables and tofu. When we got back to the hotel, our head chaperone walked us through the city in search of food. We ended up in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Even that food was different! Personally, I thought it was better because it was spicy. Although, it was interesting to explore the city, Xi-an’s streets are filled with polluted smoke because of the construction sites everywhere we turned our heads.
Our last stop was Shanghai. The city was beautiful. We toured in the second highest skyscraper that went up 84 floors. I cannot even explain how amazing the view of the city was. Just simply one of the most extreme views! What was even better was the night cruise through the Huangpu river and glazing at the variety of city lights. Feeling the breeze on our cheeks and the smell of a similar New York City harbor.
My trip to China was an experience that I will never forget. The magical memories that were created are because of my parents. Without them and their trust, I would not have been able to go. I am planning to make a trip to Japan next summer, but this time with the family. When I first stepped down from the plane arriving at Beijing, I did not feel like I had really gone anywhere. But when we got to the Great Wall. I was like, “Man, I dreamt of standing in the middle of the Great Wall and here I am, actually upon it!”
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