Eyes Wide Open - My Family Travels

For 14 hours straight, I flew over an ocean with my family in tow. In June 2010, we visited my uncle in China. My Uncle Mike has been working and living in China since around 2000, spending most of his time in Shanghai. Before flying off, I was nervous about being bored on the flight there. But, the flight was somewhat bearable. I only remember eating and sleeping on the airplane.

After landing in Shanghai and being greeted by Uncle Mike, we drove through Shanghai to settle in at his home just outside the city. Drivers are slightly more unpredictable than the drivers in the United States. We arrived in China at rush hour. Parents were walking their children home from school and other adults were attempting to arrive home from work at record time. Speeding through an intersection was terrifying as there were cars racing in and out of every street. We even caught a family of four squeezing onto a moped. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the amount of trash left on the streets.

Once we arrived at my Uncle’s house, I calmed down and learned more about the Chinese lifestyle. I had been eager about this for awhile. For two years, I had been taking Chinese at my high school. I was daunted about speaking conversational Chinese with residents of China, but looked forward to learning about the culture. For the next few days, we toured around Shanghai, visiting sights like the Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. I didn’t enjoy the humidity. Additionally, I was nervous when we entered the top level of the Pearl TV Tower because the floor is glass. All of the street life was easily viewable.

For a few days of our trip, we flew to Beijing and toured the attractions there. On Father’s Day of 2010, we climbed our way down the Great Wall of China. The heat was hard to bear, but the hike was completely worth it. What I found somewhat unusual was the built in ski lift and toboggan ride down, even though they were very fun. Tourists take the toboggan, which they operate themselves, down a metal track to take them back to the parking lot and shops. We even visited the Olympic stadium of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The stadium was beautiful; it looks just like it did on TV a few years prior. Tourists can even walk around the dark red track.

Another memory from the trip was the food. Cuisine in China is different, but it’s not a polar opposite from American food. The first meal my family had in China included a dish of chicken. However, Chinese restaurants leave the eyeless chicken head on the serving dish. Initially, I was freaked out. Nobody ate it but we adjusted to an animal head on a plate quickly. Our Uncle usually ordered our food which came in family sized plates. At meals, we ate entrees including soup, chow mein, plenty of cooked vegetables, chicken, and pork. In Beijing, a street just for vendors is called Snack Street. The vendors sell “snacks” such as fried scorpion and cooked starfish. The selections were quite tasty because the creatures were coated in spices.

What I noticed the most in China was the different culture that the Chinese people upheld. Our vacation was a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage in that culture for two weeks. I experienced a culture shock in the best way possible. And my conversational Chinese speaking wasn’t that bad.

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