This China trip swept me away this March to its unknown wonders and excited me from the very start. I had no idea what to expect. I was thinking it would be something like Mulan meets Epcot’s China Country attraction, but as most travelers find out it’s almost never as what you imagine it first to be.
The reason to go to China is not one that was based upon what I do for a living, but rather what my mother does. If anyone knows my mom you know that basically she is amazingly strong, an amazing teacher, current principal, and a newly amazing International Program Director for my old high-school/middle school in Colorado Springs, and you may know she’s not the biggest fan of traveling cross-country… enter my role. I served as an ambassador for our school, helped my mom survive, and my blonde hair may have been the greatest thing to have…more on that later.
The people she works with over in China wanted to take many of the private Christian schools principals,( these are one of the few that allow international students to join their high school with the correct Visa’s in order to graduate and enter an American University,) to china to promote and talk about American Education, international programs, collaborate with Chinese schools, and talk about education, how it can improve in both countries, where it’s headed, etc. 1. This is amazing cause being from Religious Christian schools coming to China to talk about their programs openly as a witness is a huge leap from where it was in past times. 2. Incredible to see the differences and similarities between Chinese and English education 3. I believe we visited over 14 schools all across China.
I knew I would experience some culture shock. Sticking out more than usual, traveling, jet lag, new food, etc…..My husband always tells me when traveling, “You will be uncomfortable, but You will be okay!” So I kept repeating that to myself as I journeyed through Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Jieyang, Guangzhou, and finally Beijing.
My journey started on a wonderful 19 hour travel day… Praise God for in flight movies! I was happy to catch up on all the latest new releases and may have watched Frozen twice… don’t judge me! We landed in Hong Kong and the first adventure was finding our hotel at 11:30pm… soooooo…. jet lagged and stepping into the humidity, to a million people everywhere to find”so called hotel” was…..fun….. But we found it!
Peeking out the window the next day I realized my vision of seeing Mulan walking around everywhere(okay I didn’t think it would be exactly like that…don’t worry) was replaced by high rises EVERYWHERE, an overwhelming mass of people, and extravagant beauty right next to places of completely broken. Below starts the journey in our first hotel! Tons of vibrant colors, yummy snacks, such as hummus/(not really Chinese food) and some of the surrounding areas, again high rise after high rise! The schools we visited were quite unique. Most of the schools tend to be boarding schools and public schools, completely controlled by their government. They can bring their children to live their as early as 6-7 years old. The kids visit their parents on the weekends, if the parents are not busy otherwise. That to me was one of the biggest differences. I don’t know if I could let my 6-7 year old child be raised by their teacher and only see me for the weekends…. The uniforms are basically just the same. Sweat suits… which this location in China was very humid and.warm. warm. warm. And you’ll see the long/big staircases to reach the schools different levels, most of the schools have elevators, but some didn’t, and we had to climb up and down those many times to see the tour of the school. (sweat, sweat sweat.) but in reality there is no access for handicapped children. They have their own separate schools… that made me sad. and again high-rise buildings all around!
Our Welcome sign before entering into each of the meetings we would meet at! We would spend 1-3 hours talking with Chinese Principals, teachers, students, etc. First in English, translate in Chinese… I for sure thought that with all the listening I did, I would just learn the language! Sadly I still only know a few sayings….. Zǎoshàng hǎo… means… good morning!
My mother and each of the other Principals had to teach a whole room of Chinese students some 40 kids in size… some 400 students in size. The Chinese Principals basically wanted one lesson that would sum up American education as we know it… (to me this seems really unrealistic… so many styles, lessons, ways…and so forth…) but my mother did so amazing! She talk on “How to be Better in English…” half way through the trip she decided to add interviewing me in front of these 400 kids…. thanks mom… so I had to go stand up there and be interviewed and I’m pretty sure even if I had said nothing productive, just because my hair was blonde and I’m super tall there, they loved it. We had to sign autographs some days. It was quite funny.
The picture below basically sums up the whole trip…. pictures…. I know in real life I am quite average, I have self-confidence, and live my happy life….. but in China, especially in some of the more Rural parts, an american face is something they don’t witness very often… and they tell me I’m BEAUUUUTIFUL….. My mother and I were a rare treat! We would be pulled and pushed into people’s pictures, asked for pictures, just had our picture taken, followed… and then asked for a photo…. you get the picture… no pun intended…. everywhere you go people stare and to be honest one of the things I missed most about America was just being completely ignored! It was my mini brief moment of feeling like a celebrity and I can honestly say… I don’t want it back.
Bikes… bikes… and more Bikes! These photos are more for my husband! He loves anything bikes! Here are some of the motor ones, further down you’ll spot some of the more rustic ones!
Our Second hotel…. some of the art is just unreal.
some of the more American things…. Starbucks… Sam’s Club… funny.
Traveling within China via train! Here’s right outside of the station!
My favorite meal of all time…. So I was feeling pretty jet lagged still day 3 in and just my stomach had been kind of upset all day. so the context of the story is I was feeling pretty blah. That night in our new city we were guests with some Chinese Diplomats that treated us to a luxurious dinner! Huge table spread… you’ll see below some of the food images… there were 26+ plates like that on a 10ft long “lazy susan” spinning slowly the whole time so you could taste all the food! The main course just happened to be Sea cucumber, which our host said was VERY expensive. Great. So yay for blonde hair everyone watches your every move…. so I know I have to eat this thing. I have a thing with texture… I’m not a sushi girl… never have been, never will, I don’t really like fish THAT much… so this sea cucumber was looking pretty grim. I slowly sliced off a chunk of it and slid it into my mouth… My eyes got wide… my head got a little hotter… I couldn’t chew and wasn’t sure if I could keep anything down.. I turned to my mother and said “I can’t do this…” like a good loving mother she says, “You better swallow that!” so I took 10 seconds… closed my eyes and swallowed my wriggling sea cucumber and smiled at the diplomats. .. crisis averted, food stayed in, needless to say I don’t miss the sea cucumber.
A restaurant and some of their Chinese coffee makers, very fun!
We were taken to one of the larger temples of Confucius. Very ornate, but to me very empty of feeling. I’m glad my Jesus is Alive!
No we did not eat at Chinese McDonald’s! But I had to take a photo of it.. who knows why.
Ahhh the traffic…. China has soooo many people. Traffic is insane. Bikes, mix with cars, mix with cyclists, mix with pedestrians, mix with children on the bikes with no helmets!!! I didn’t post any of the crazy crazy traffic photos… but I’ll let you imagine!
During the Jade Expo shopping! They let us have two free beads! The owner of this shop was a brother-in-law of one of the Principal’s so they took care of us, and made sure it wasn’t fake stuff…. so we think!
One of the most beautiful moments…. no smog to see, fewer people… the city Night life on our river cruise!! You’ll see the Canton tower which actually does light up in rainbow colors! It was one of my “wanderlust” moments where I truly loved being where I was!
This hotel…. unreal. This is just the entrance! Their breakfast was even more impressive! Vegas buffet meets brunch!
Our final hotel was in the Heart of Beijing near the Forbidden City. It was an ancient, ancient, hotel and to me it was like Chinese summer camp. Your bed was in a loft, the walls were paper-thin, so if you sneeze, you might have the whole hotel say… God bless you… (well in Chinese) but it was one of my favorites cause we arrived late at night and to get there you have to walk down the creepiest alley way you’ve ever seen… then you knock on a door that supposedly is the entrance, and then you’re in the most quaint Chinese area that you can think of, complete with a baby 6 month old kitten. Quite the experience.
Normal breakfast. But always always had tea… that was one of my favorite things!
Our Guide Helen! The nicest and happiest Chinese lady I have ever met! She’s taking a photo!
On our way to Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City!
To be honest there were soooo many people… I tried to make it my mission to take photos that made it seem like I was the only one there. The great wall was actually much much more quiet and still. The great wall was my favorite by far! So much to see, so much history, and a gorgeous sunny day to climb up those steps!
So I thought I would take a picture with the native dressed people for fun… but then they turned it into let’s take pictures with Lisa and her mom! So I think I was violated along the way to being pushed and pulled into these ladies own pictures…. oh well! Whatever makes them happy!
The Great Wall!! This was probably the Bluest sky I had seen in China.. the smog was pretty bad!
Up we go!!
I hope you enjoy the glimpse into my little China adventure through my photos! I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be able to do this with my mom! What a memory! I’m still processing what exactly even happened but I wanted to post some of the photo journey before I forget all the details! Thank you for reading and looking! Comment away on your own adventures!!!