After a day of flying, we finally landed in Grand Rapids late at night. Things were quite difference here: a vacant airport with one bus station. In China, airports and train stations are always crowded. Transportation from the airport to the city is quite convenient; metros rush under the ground, and buses as well as taxis lining up out front. My Schenkel dad came to the airport to pick us up. We had a nice ride on the familiar red pick-up truck. By the way, people barely see pick-up trucks in China, especially in the cities. A special license is needed for pick-up driving. I went back to my apartment, unpacked most of my suitcase, and washed up for bed. We have much more space here than in our Chinese home, especially in the bathroom–the double sinks and the separated rooms for shower and toilet seemed to be a luxury. Also, the tap water is drinkable again. I went to bed at 2am, and I woke up around 5. The neighborhood was quite, deadly but peacefully. Five o’clock is when cities in China wakes up. An old Chinese Christian hymn goes like this, “China’s morning at 5 o’clock, sounds of praying comes along.” In deed, 5 o’clock is when my dad always wakes up and pray. At 5 o’clock, I could see through my windows and find students walking to school; I could see an elder lady riding a bike with a front basket, probably to the farmer’s market; rosters would be making the morning calls; kids would yell to the breakfast vender across the fenced street to make an order. The sense of community is quite different in China. In China, I always see what my neighbors are doing, but I don’t usually get to talk to them. But in the U.S., I don’t see my neighbors often, but when we run into each other, we talk about what we’ve been busy with.
After a busy week of company visits, we finally got to have some free time to explore the lovely city of Shanghai yesterday.
We went to the fabric market in the morning and got tailored clothing, Luke & I each purchased a vest that matches our suits and a dress shirt.
Then, we took the subway to the East Nanjing Rd. and found a hot pot place for lunch. After lunch, we headed to the Urban Planning center which educated us about the city and Shanghai as long as other cities in the world.
We spent the afternoon at the museum, and the evening was spent by 豫园 garden and the Bund.
We saw the gorgeous lanterns and got local snacks for dinner.
After dinner, we went for the night view of the Bund. The Bund is not only beautiful because of the lights and the river, but also for its unique lay out in both time and space. On the east side of the Huang Pu river, skyscrapers shines through the LED decorations, presenting a modern, futuristic look; on the west side of the river, the details of the older architecture is emphasized by the lighting, the traditional style gives a peaceful sense in contrast to the fast flashes on the east.
On the next day, I went with a couple friends to the 91st floor of the building on the east side of the river that looks like a bottle opener. And here is the view on top:
All of a sudden, I realize that we are half way through the course already. Therefore, I would like to present a brief summary/photo gallery on my first couple days in Beijing as I re-explore my mother land.
On Jan. 5th, Luke (my brother) and I took a high speed train from Hangzhou to Beijing. The air quality gets worse and worse as we travel north. At one point, I was not able to see anything that was farther than 20 meters from the train window. I felt as if the train was riding through a disgusting chunk of dusty glue.
When we arrived in Beijing, we saw people wearing face masks like this.
Luke and I then took the subway to our hotel, Beijing Traditional View Hotel, which does have a traditional view.
(I just found out that the photo upload thing is not very efficient. Therefore, I will have to share less pictures than I planned. Sorry!)
The next day, the whole group (mostly jet legged) visited the forbidden city.
And the Temple of Heaven.
Later, we went to the Pearl Market where lots of negotiating happened. As a successful case of which, my friend, Maddie, got a quite nice large suitcase for ¥210 CNY($35 USD) that was listed over ¥1000.
The second day, we went to the Great Wall, and I climbed to its peak.
(The photo uploads is frustrating me. No more photos beyond this point, sorry.)
The next day, we joined 北京崇文门教堂 for Sunday morning service. Then, I spent my whole afternoon helping a student/ friend to return something he bought from the Pearl market. It was a bad experience. I don’t have much time to get into the details but people should learn two lessons from it: 1. Know what one is buying before one pays the money. 2. Don’t buy anything high-end at places like the Pearl market. 3. Learn what the problem is before one volunteer oneself to help.
During these three days, I relearned the wisdom and diligence of my ancestors through the historical building and architectures. I also regained a must-have Chinese skill–price negotiating. I’m thankful for this wonderful opportunity to rediscover my country and my culture, and I’m thankful for friends on the trip. I hope the trip will stay great.