All posts by Nick Punt

The last days in China

Hey everybody!

We are in the airport now waiting for the 13.5 hour flight back to Chicago!

Yesterday was a day to explore around Hong Kong. Hong Kong is strikingly different from the rest of China. Different smells, sights and a completely different culture. Its hard to describe in words but the difference is tangible. It is a lot more westernized that even evident when crossing the border from Shenzhen into Hong Kong. Its seems a lot more familiar to home.

My day started out by going Victoria’s peak which had amazing views of the Harbor and the city skyline. It was a little cloudy and foggy but it was still a great experience. We got a small lunch at the top of the peak. IMG_2628 IMG_2670

After walking around and taking lots of pictures we went back down and walked a long the harbor where there were lots of piers and a big carnival! It actually did feel like being in a huge city back in the states.

This trip has been simply amazing. Challenging, fun, and enlightening. I learned so much about China, their culture, the businesses we visited and about myself. Truly thankful for this trip of a lifetime.

I’m also excited to be back home to be with my family and friends. Mom, Dad, Chris, and Abby, can’t wait to see you guys at the airport in GR!


Bouncing Bus, Business, and Bike Rides

After almost 2 weeks of being in China I can say that it’s gotten more exciting each day. Every day brings new experiences, more knowledge, and closer friendships.

Today we had the opportunity to visit the Alibaba campus in Hangzhou which was about a 3 hour (and very bouncy) bus ride. This was a very modern and interesting campus. The architecture was just like nothing I had ever seen before.

Our meeting room here had a 20 foot glass screen in the front of the room with real time data and world maps showing several aspects of their online ecosystem. This just shows how high-tech and innovative this company is. It was a lot to take in all at once and I’m sure this group could have asked our host many more questions about Alibaba, but we simply didn’t have time for all of them.

After Alibaba, we took a relatively short ride to West Lake, which is a famous sightseeing and historical landmark. Some people ran, biked, or used small rental boats to explore this beautiful area. I chose to rent a bike to get around. This was so much fun to see the beautiful views and to have a chance to get some exercise after lots of sitting in business meetings and the coach bus!

This trip has been so rewarding in more ways than I can describe. New friendships, cultures, and perspectives. Very thankful for this experience!

I want to say hi to my family and friends back home in Michigan! Mom, Dad, Chris and Abby, Miss you guys! But not the cold.

Nick Punt


Round 2 of Beijing

Our first stop on today’s tour of Beijing was the iconic Great Wall of China. Some of us decided to run the 2 mile section of the wall, while others (myself included) took a more casual approach to the hike. While relaxing and enjoying the scenery around me I couldn’t help but be amazed by how they had managed to create such a massive wall on a very unforgiving terrain. The section of wall that we were atop was set on a mountain range with rather unfavorable terrain around it. It was a splendid hike but I could however have done without the crazy almost vertical steps that went up to some of the guard towers.

The second stop was one of the 13 uncovered Ming tombs which was an experience you only need to do once in your life. The inside of the tomb itself was boring to me personally. The one amazing part about the tombs was how they were built several stories underground out of pure stone.

After we left the tomb we made our way back to the Olympic Garden where we stopped to marvel at some modern Chinese engineering. While everyone looked at the Birds Nest where the opening ceremonies had taken place I turned my eyes toward the Cube where the swimming events were held. I have always liked the Cube just because it just looked really cool to me.  Seeing the Olympic Garden was a nice way to end a day of constant movement.


Colin O’Brien

A Heavy Dose of Culture

To begin my day I ventured out into the unknown to find breakfast. As I stepped outside I looked around and I noticed a KFC and two McDonalds within a half a block from me, but that was two easy. Professor Tubergen, my roommate Charles, and I decided to head over to Mr. Lee’s for breakfast. It was interesting ordering breakfast while having no idea what the food was. We had to go off the pictures on the wall. What I eventually got I could only describe as spaghetti soup.  Thankfully it was not the highlight of our day. The real fun began an hour later.  We headed out to tour the Forbidden City a national landmark where former Chinese emperors used to live. Touring the City was amazing there was no expense spared to make this monstrous palace into the largest piece of artwork I have ever seen. Every column ever piece of wood was decorated with ornate copper dragons painted gold, blue and, green. The most interesting part of the city I felt was the Treasury exhibit that cost approximately $1.5 dollars more. The Treasury rooms displayed large rocks with ancient poems written on them, which were the first known writings of Chinese history. Another room displayed another set of rocks but this time they were carved and shined to look like mountain side villages.

After we toured the Forbidden City we made our way to Temple of Heaven. The temple was stunning, but the more interesting part of the afternoon happened when we went to the Pearl Market. It was crazy seeing everyone getting their feet wet trying to barter with the very skilled Chinese women who worked each stall. They know exactly how to get as much money as possible from their customers. Some were having my success getting fake Rolexes for $6 others were not as fortunate paying around $15. I myself had a lot of success buying a silk tie and a flashy new “Rolex” minus my minor yet heated altercation with a very aggressive suit tailor. We argued for an hour when I eventually didn’t want to buy a suit after all because I felt the workmanship was not worth the price she wanted to settle on. All in all it was definitely a great day to be in China.


Colin O’Brien