Thursday, November 8, 2007

Welcome to Beijing

After four full days in Shanghai, we hopped on Southern China Air and took the short flight to Beijing. The flight attendants provided endless entertainment for the rest of the trip because even though their announcements were in English and Chinese, it all sounded like Chinese. As a result, our friend Brent spent the rest of the trip giving us his best attempt at recreating the experience.

Our friend Perry had planned to come to Shanghai, but his wife had come down with what they originally thought was chicken pox. When we arrived in Beijing, they still hadn't been able to diagnose what was wrong, so they were keeping her in the hospital. They did a spinal tap so that they could test the fluid for a few possibilities. Over the next several days, the spinal tap continued to leak, so there was nothing supporting her brain! They ended up staying in the hospital for the entire time we were there, so we were worries and it was too bad that we didn't get to hang out. Fortunately, she's recovered.

Beijing was a more tourism oriented time for us. On our first day, we went to one of the less touristy areas of the Great Wall. It was really great because you had to hike up the mountain to get up to the Wall. It was nice to be in cool fresh air. The views were amazing, as was finally getting to see the Wall in person.

You see some really funny signs when you're overseas, but I think those in China top the list so far. Click on the photo and read the instructions for climbing the great wall. The funny thing about our trip to the Great Wall was that after we left, we weren't talking about how we'd just seen one of the wonders of the world or how beautiful the view was. All we could talk about was the tube chute you could ride to get to the bottom of the mountain! (click on the play button if you are so inclined)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Into the Orient

A couple weeks ago, Hillary and I made our first trip to China for some sightseeing and visiting friends who are stationed there. The trip all came about when one of our friends in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia wanted to take advantage of the week long holiday at the end of Ramadhan by visiting the East.

We started our trip in Shanghai where our friend Justin is living. On our first full day there, we went to Shanghai's famous fabric market with stall after stall of fabrics and tailors. Hillary and I both had several dress shirts made for about $11 each (amazing price since these are now the nicest shirts I own). I also had a tux made since we're going to be going to the Marine's Birthday Ball soon and I figured paying $100 to have one made to my specifications was a better deal than renting one for the same price! I also had a suit made for about $70. Not to mention that they had all this ready for us two days later!

We did our fair share of sightseeing, but the trip was also great because we were able to hang out with our friends who we got to know well in DC. Our friend coming from Riyadh provided entertainment as he was trying to make up for lost time in the land of women in burkas, where they are completely covered except for their eyes.

I don't want the post to get too long, so I'll just say that Shanghai is an amazing city. It feels very European in that there are huge sidewalks and people walking everywhere; cafes and stores lining the streets. Very different from Jakarta. I'll also recommend that if you go, the fall is a great time to go. Our friends say that the pollution there is horrendous, but we only had one night in Beijing that was as bad as they say it is most of the year. More to come on the time in Beijing.