Below is a summary of the trip I took to China in 2010. I was invited to lecture at Beijing Sport University on the rehab of soccer-related injuries. I had a wonderful time and look forward to returning soon!
Wow, interesting day. My “regular” guides actually had class today, so one of Feng’s friends (Jack) volunteered to be my guide today. Wow, he’s a talker. I’ve actually found with all students here that they ask A LOT of questions . . . well, Jack is the master of that. His questions never stopped, actually tired me out!
So, we left the hotel around 8:00 for Tiananmen Square (from what I have been told, the largest public square there is in the world. It was big. It was surrounded by what Jack described as a conference center (where they count ballots and do other political things, I gathered), a museum, the Forbidden Palace (more on that in a bit) and a “memorial” to Mao Tse Tung (Chairman Mao). The “memorial” is essentially a HUGE building in which he is supposedly lying. I say supposedly because I have a hard time believing he has been that well preserved for nearly 40 years. But, I was able to see him; interesting, I walked in the building (in a very large line), the first area allowed visitors to lay flowers in Mao’s honor (I did not), then we walked into the next room. It was there that Mao was lying behind thick glass and then in what can best be described as a glass coffin. Strange. Could you imagine George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc. lying preserved pretty much forever? Anyway, next room was a gift station, then out; without exaggeration, the time in the building was three to five minutes.
Then we made our way to the Forbidden City. It was here that past rulers/emperors lived and carried out their official business. Like the Summer Palace the other day, this place was HUGE as well. It kept going and going . . . it would seriously take a week to explore all that is there. Once out of there, we stopped at a restaurant where I had spicy beef noodles. They were actually quite good. I also had the most American thing I’ve had since being here, an iceberg salad. It was not good at all, terrible dressing. But, the lunch was nice, we talked (well, mostly Jack talked then asked me questions every now and then). We then headed to a Hutong. The definition I provided yesterday wasn’t accurate, it actually means something like narrow street. It looked much more “traditional” and also quite poor. From what I understand, these Hutongs are gradually being torn down in favor of newer, more modern buildings. So, I’m glad I could experience one.
At this point, Jack wanted to take me to the Temple of Heaven, but I was exhausted (from yesterday and today), so I said no. We went back to the hotel (on the way, he asked about a million more questions on the way), I relaxed, then met Feng and Liu for dinner. They’re supposed to be here any minute now, I guess they have a gift of some type for me. I think I will be buying an extra bag for everything I have.
Anyway, I am (still) pretty tired, so hopefully this will be a quick visit so I can get to bed a little early. Tomorrow I am meeting with the Dean of the School, then I will get that extra bag (they just left, absolutely no way to fit everything I now have!).
That’s it for now. I might try to email again real quick tomorrow before I leave (leaving the hotel around 1:00pm).
Oh, the pictures are of Jack and me just before leaving Forbidden City and Me somewhere deep inside the Forbidden City.
Wow, what a day!
I am just exhausted. We left the hotel at 7:00 by taxi, transferred to a bus and got to Badaling, our entrance to the Great Wall. There were two ways to go, the less crowded, but steeper section with better views or the more crowded (and more popular) section. We chose the former. It was a very steep climb of steep grade and stairs combination. Probably 1-1.5 miles (straight up) to the point we stopped.
Well, we walked down and decided to go up the more crowded section as well. That was probably 2-3 miles to the point we stopped. (Total walking, all hills, probably 5-6 miles.) We eventually took a car ride thing back down to our origination. All of that lasted until 12:00 or so. I was pretty exhausted, but unlike Feng and Liu, I did not sleep on the bus ride back. That took
another hour or so.
We then went to try some “traditional” Beijing food at a place called Nine-Gates Snacks in a Hutong (as an aside, I really wanted to visit one of these areas, they are the “traditional” neighborhood/area that China is often known for). I have very little idea what I ate, but some of it was good, some of it . . . not so much (but nothing as bad as the pig’s ear the other night!). Very few people would ever believe I’ve eaten what I have the past few days, by the way!
Then we toured the Olympic Stadium (popularly referred to as the “Bird’s Nest”). It was pretty cool. But I was also super worn out. We took a cab back to the hotel, and here I am. I am not planning a big night, nobody has made plans for me, so I will probably wander out to find some water and something easy to eat (I always have my peanut butter crackers if I can’t find something).
Great Wall today.
Yesterday was my last lecture, it went long, so I talked for around 3 ½ hours! It was kind of funny to see all the people that drank so much the night before (including the head professor/Dean of the school) falling asleep from certainly being hung over. They presented me with gifts and some spending money for the trip; so far, I have had to pay for nothing except things at the market yesterday. They presented me with some gifts (and my guides made it sound like they have some more for me). I brought some gifts for them, but they hardly seem adequate now.
We went to a market where you’re required to bargain with people (Mom, right up your alley!). Fortunately, one of the students with me is a master negotiator, she talked them way down on all prices. Like any good negotiator, she was willing to walk away without the right price, so we’d be yelled at after walking away saying they had agreed to our price. It was interesting to watch the person selling things, they’d always want to talk to me instead of her . . . apparently foreigners are easy . . . Liu (the student) told me not to listen to a word they said 🙂 This trip would not have been the same without having my own personal guides; they’re quite nice, very curious about the US (and a person having four kids) and very helpful.
Let’s see, other interesting things . . .
- All government buildings have the country seal, but no signs as to what they do there. There are guards at the front of each government building and there are guards monitoring the gates of the school I’m at (Beijing Sport University).
- Last night, we walked by a building that housed ping pong, so 50-100 people were inside practicing.
- I think I mentioned that each building houses a different sport (basketball, tennis, ping pong, track and field, etc.).
- I have evaluated two athletes so far; it’s like they view me as a star or something and keep asking for my help.
- Oh, if we were to write my name here, it would be Potach David; that’s what they do. So, one of my guides is Feng Qiang; his “family” or last name is Feng, his given or first name is Qiang. You are able to call them whatever you like.
I think I told you that the hotel I’m staying is on campus. That’s interesting. Mattresses are the absolute hardest I’ve ever slept on. No English channels on TV. The attached pictures were taken about 10 minutes from my window; you can see people preparing food in the background a person riding a bike (super common here) in one of them.
Well, I need to go shower; apparently there will be a lot of walking involved at the Great Wall today.
6.6.2010[table “5” not found /]
[table “4” not found /]
Omaha (OMA) Depart 10:12 am to Chicago (ORD) Arrive 11:45 am Terminal 1 419 mi (674 km) Duration: 1hr 33mn UNITED Flight: 590 Economy/Coach Class ( 14F ), Airbus A319
Chicago (ORD) Depart 12:20 pm Terminal 1 to Beijing (PEK) Arrive 2:40 pm +1 day Terminal 3 6,571 mi (10,575 km) Duration: 13hr 20mn UNITED Flight: 851 Economy/Coach Class ( 23F ), Lunch, Boeing 777__
Total distance: 6,990 mi (11,249 km) Total duration: 14hr 53mn (15hr 28mn with connections)
Beijing (PEK) Depart 4:10 pm Terminal 3 to Chicago (ORD) Arrive 4:13 pm Terminal 5 INTERNATIONAL 6,571 mi (10,575 km) Duration: 13hr 3mn UNITED Flight: 850 Economy/Coach Class ( Seat assignments upon check-in ), Dinner, Boeing 777
Chicago (ORD) Depart 8:47 pm Terminal 1 to Omaha (OMA) Arrive 10:16 pm 419 mi (674 km) Duration: 1hr 29mn UNITED Flight: 639
Economy/Coach Class ( Seat assignments upon check-in ), Airbus A320
Total distance: 6,990 mi (11,249 km) Total duration: 14hr 32mn (19hr 6mn with connections)