The Heart(s) of China

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Written By

BJ Coggins

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today could be best defined as experiencing one the heartbeats of China. Our day started with a visit to Tiananmen Square – the heart of the Chinese government, in the Nation’s capital. From the Square we were able to see the Great Hall of the People. The Monument to the People’s Heroes was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people in the past century, & Chairman Mao’s Tomb. Our tour guide shared with us a story of his 84 year old grandmother’s only visit to Beijing a few years earlier. Her only desire was to visit the tomb of Chairman Mao, even though she had to wait almost 3 hours to see him for less than 30 seconds. To this day, even after his death in the year 1976, he still has the people’s heart.

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We next visited the Forbidden City – the heart of the Emperor’s rule from 1420 to 1924. The reason it is called the Forbidden City is because it was forbidden for any of the “common” people to ever step foot inside.  Only the Emperor, his family and advisors could enter. His advisors visited every morning to discuss the matters concerning the running of the country. There were countless details and stories that I could relay about this marvel, but one of the ones I found most interesting were two statues of a dragon atop a tall pedestal. The one inside the entrance was to remind the Emperor to go out among the people to be a better ruler and the one outside was to remind him to return to the duties in the palace for his people

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We also visited the Hutong area, which has not been modernized since the 1930’s. In this area we had a group lesson from a 3rd generation Tai Chi Master who studied concurrently with International movie star Jet Li. Through our translator Mr. Lu told us Tai Chi was good for your mind, soul and body (heart).

apic5Also while in the Hutong area we had the honor of being invited to visit the home of a local. This visit really illustrated how a home is the heart of the Chinese family. Although it was small by American standards, it was spacious for a Beijing residence. Its structure has remained unchanged since it was purchased by the father of our host in the 1930’s. Four generations of the family lived in this one home, from great grandfather who originally purchased it, all of his sons and daughters, their children and their children’s children. Because of the value of land in Beijing, his home is worth well over 15 million United States dollars. He told us that he had no interest in selling and wanted it to stay in the family for generations to come. Family truly is the heart of the Chinese culture.

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Lastly I wanted to discuss what is happening in our hearts at this point of the trip. For most of us this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have seen sights and had experiences very few in the world will ever get to see and do. Our hearts will be filled with these memories and all the wonderful people we have met on our trip, both from our school and from China. But our hearts are also longing to return to loved ones and the familiarity of our own homes. Home is where the heart is and our home is in Pirate Country.

Waking Up in Shanghai

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Written By

Samantha Tibbetts

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Waking up in Shanghai this morning, our smiles and spirits were bigger than ever thanks to what seemed like everyone’s first full night rest. We put on our walking shoes and met in the lobby at 10am. Today we were going to see the old and new Shanghai. It started with a trip to the Jade Buddha Temple. Previous to our arrival, I thought I knew what to expect from researching and looking at pictures of the Jade Buddha. I am happy to admit that my expectations were wrong and greatly surpassed. Pictures do not do this temple justice. The detail around the temple was immaculate. There was something to see around every corner, on every floor tile as well as every ceiling. When you enter this temple, you begin at the Grand Hall, which contains Three Golden Buddhas, front and center. It is accompanied by the Gods of the Twenty Heavens on the east and west sides of the room. As we left this room we searched for the two famous Jade Buddhas. The sitting Buddha could only be seen by purchasing a ticket and pictures were forbidden. The other one, a smaller laying Buddha which represents the death of Buddha, was near the exit of the temple.

The next stop was definitely my favorite of the day. We walked through a bargaining market, up a couple flights of stairs and into a little restaurant where we became witnesses to a very cool traditional tea ceremony. We all sat around one big table and watched as a woman started by showing us “Romeo and Juliet” bloom in hot water. This immediately caught and held my attention because I had no idea that: 1. Tea bloomed flowers in water and 2. There were so many different kinds and so many different meanings. For instance, Black tea is good for reducing your blood pressure. Green tea is filled with antioxidants and it’s great for healthy skin. Drinking tea in China is prepared and consumed as a sign of respect: for family gatherings, to express thanks for elders, and even to apologize. They also showed us these really awesome cups with black dragons on them that changed colors when hot tea was poured into them. I also thought it was really cool how they use tea flowers to decorate their homes. At the end of the ceremony, they showed us a tradition known as “finger tapping” which refers to how men and women are supposed to hold their tea cups. Women are supposed to hold it with the thumb and pointer finger while fanning out the other fingers. Men are supposed to keep all their fingers together. This is done as a sign of respect to the tea master.

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After the ceremony was over we went to another family style lunch. It was one of the best so far. I really like how we don’t have to order anything or even look at a menu. They always just bring out a large variety of food. Next, we had about an hour to shop and bargain through the market. The language barrier makes this very difficult and getting a good deal takes a lot of time, but it was overall a successful shopping day.

Next stop was to a Shanghai Museum with over 7000 years of art and history. There were four floors with everything you could imagine like ancient coins, scripts, pagodas, and jade sculptures. At the exit I stopped at the gift store and found my name written in Chinese characters. My name is made of three characters, the first one meaning “Fortress,” followed by “Chinese,” and finished with “Sexy Lady.” I thought this souvenir was way too cool to pass up.

We finished the day up by going to the “Super Brand Mall” right in the middle of the beautiful Shanghai skyline. I was surprised by how many American stores were in there. It was also a relief and almost half of us bought something at H&M, which I thought was boring but necessary. At this point our feet were killing us and we took the subway back to the hotel. I would say it was a successful yet exhausting day. Most of us ended our day with a trip to the pool and a meal from room service. I was very thankful to be staying in such a comfortable and beautiful hotel room.

More than a Dot on the Map

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Written By

Rachel Wells

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

 

Nanjing was the smallest city we have visited on this trip, with its area approximately the same as New York City and a population of 5 million people. Within this city, there are many parks, temples, universities, businesses, corporations, and hidden nooks and crannies that make cities so exciting to visit. We had the opportunity to visit several of the gems of Nanjing and explore the Southern Capital.

rwpic1Our first stop of the day was at a local park. We left early in the morning and arrived to find tons of people, both tourists and natives milling about. As we continued to wander around, we found large groups of people doing their morning exercise, or as we referred to it, Chinese Zumba. Several of the COB students joined one of these groups, and learned one of the dances. Our tour guide, Cindy, explained this is often a form of tai chi, and many people come to parks or other locations every morning to practice and exercise.

The park was built around a large lake, which will be one of the main locations for the 2014 Youth Olympics in August. There were fields of lotus flowers around the edges, and several overlooks. The entire park is surrounded by the former city wall, which was built when Nanjing served as the capital. Further back, there was a small temple that overlooked the park. Several women were praying and there were multitudes of red ribbons tied in the trees. These ribbons signify good luck and families place them there after praying to Buddha.

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The park reminded me of Central Park in NYC; it was a haven inside the busy city, where no cars were allowed and the pace of life slowed. Many grandmothers would bring their grandchildren there to play with other children and make friends. The elderly population doing their morning exercises or writing poems on the sidewalks with water. Tourists with cameras strapped around their necks, aiming their lenses at every new and captivating site.

rwpic3Our next destination was the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The mausoleum was perched high atop a mountain, and we had to climb 392 steps to see the memorial. Every single one of those steps was well worth the climb, as the view of the surrounding area below was absolutely breath taking. Our group decided to take a seat on the steps at the top to take a group photo…2 minutes later we were surrounded by Chinese people who were also taking photos of us. Fast-forward 10 minutes, and the crowd was even bigger. While it has taken some getting used to, we are slowly getting acclimated to having our photo snapped everywhere we go.

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rwpic5Our climb down the steps took a little longer, with more stopping for pictures. We then traveled by tram to another part of the park to visit the Ming Tomb. The pathway was lined by 24 stone animals; 4 animals of 6 different species. The first set of animals was “on guard” while the second set was “at rest”. There were lions, elephants, camels, unicorns, horses, and wolves. It was a scenic pathway, with trees, bushes, and flowers lining the way to the tomb.

We then had free time to find dinner and explore the area surrounding the hotel. A group of us found a pizza place about two blocks away from the hotel and we managed to order what we wanted despite the language barrier. After finishing our dinner, we headed to a local shopping market that was near a river. There were lights up and down the river, and the area seemed to thrive at night. It was absolutely beautiful and people were exploring the surrounding shops. There was a strip mall located near the river, but on the opposite side, there were booths and stalls. Several members of our group took a tour of the area via a boat ride on the river, while others shopped or visited the local temple.

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Our visit to the Southern Capital was relaxed and entertaining. Every day we learn more about the Chinese culture and way of life. We are even getting more acclimated to traveling in such a large group and how to use the few phrases of Mandarin that we know. Xie xie, which means thank you and is pronounced shi shi, is the most well mastered phrase. Our travels thus far have shown us that you don’t need to visit the biggest cities to gain the most understanding of the nation and culture.

Life Goes On…

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Written By

Tyler Boruff

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today our travels continued as we began to explore the history of Beijing, the nation’s Capital. Early in the morning we loaded up and began our journey. Our destination was the infamous Summer Palace. Cindy is our guide for China, and Lot is our guide for Beijing. During the bus ride, Lot filled us in on the history behind the building of the Summer Palace. Summer Palace is situated in the North West suburbs of Beijing, covering an area of over 290 hectares.  We have continued our study of Feng Shui, and how this philosophy has been engrained in Chinese culture. When Emperor Quinlong began construction in 1750, his architects used the Feng Shui model to construct the lavish Summer Palace. They believed in the harmonization of human existence with the surrounding environment. They used elements such as Mountains and Water constructing the Summer Palace.

The Summer Palace sits at the base of Kunming Lake. Entering the palace you stand face to face with two majestic bronze lions, a male and a female. At the base of the Males mighty paw sits a globe, under the females paw is a young cub. These two symbolize Feng Shui, in the balance of earth and family, yin-yang. Coming into the gates we gazed up at a gigantic stone. This stone goes along with the Feng Shui motto of keeping evil spirits outside and keeping good ones inside the palace gates. From the entrance we continued our route through many temples to the passage of the long corridor, which runs along the lake at the foot of the mountain. The long corridor, measuring approximately 728 meters, lavishly boasts nearly 14,000 pictures painted on its ceiling. This corridor was a masterpiece in itself. The corridor led us to the base of Tower of Fragrance of the Buddha, which proudly displays three stories of four layered eaves which paints the classic picture of China’s; history, wealth, and power. From here we took a boat back across the river leaving the Summer Palace and headed back to the bus.

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Our journey continued with lunch, which was on the seventh floor of a sky scraper in downtown Beijing. As we dined on classic Chinese cuisine, we overlooked China’s “silicon valley”. The wonderful food hardly took away from the breathtaking view which featured a blue sky. This was the first time the smog let up this week, and revealed an impressive skyline. After lunch we ventured around an uptown market which consisted of, what many would imagine in the heart of Silicon Valley, electronics. Six floors full of any gadget or electronic device any human could imagine. After an hour the group was overwhelmed and we continued our day back to the bus heading towards Lenovo.

Lenovo which has recently been dubbed the king in the sale of desktop platforms globally has their home base here in Beijing. Our group was honored to tour their facility. We were told our group was the first private group ever allowed into testing facilities. Our visit began with a tour of the facility, which who would have guessed was designed using Feng Shui principles. After a walk through the compound we ventured to the third floor of one of the buildings on the compound which is home of the testing of the machines. We observed heat and pressure testing, followed by electromagnetic tests. Lastly our group was led into what seemed like a foam room, as the door was closed all noise vanished. The final tests conducted on their platforms are done is a complete sound proof room, which is comparable to a giant foam room that’s literally absorbs sound. After the completion of our product testing we were graciously presented Lenovo’s history and their plans to become the worldwide leader on all fronts, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and towers. Overall the group very much enjoyed our trip to Lenovo and were very impressed with what they offer and the extent to which they test their platforms.

The days have begun to race by, our group has close to collectively decided that on the extremely long plane ride back we will start going through the thousands of pictures we are taking and the life changing memories will rush over us again like they happened yesterday.

Thanks so much for following along as the College of Business at East Carolina University explores China, we are very fortunate to be a part of a school that promotes these programs. I can speak for the group in saying that we have all experienced life changing events at some point or another on the trip and are looking forward to the last few days we have ahead of us here is Beijing.

China in Reflection

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Written By

Ryan LaMantia

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

I could easily summarize today’s events in a few easy sentences. So I believe I will also include a reflection on my experiences so far while in China. We woke fairly early today, around 6:15am, and we had to have everything checked out of the hotel by 7:15am in order to catch our bus ride to the subway.

train shotThe train station was a bit nicer than the one in Nanjing, however the seats here were a bit smaller and less comfortable. The train ride was approximately four hours, and the trains top speed was 301 kph. As soon as we got to the Beijing train station we met our new tour guide Lot. We then walked a good 10 minutes with our luggage to get to the bus.

We ate at a really interesting looking restaurant, however the service was pretty bad. Our table ordered a chili sauce and the other table was given our sauce so we had to ask for it again. The servers also gave one of our dishes to the other table.

After our meal we headed back to the hotel. The hotel was nice, but not quite as good as the one in Shanghai. We walked around some of the streets behind our hotel were I found some orange juice for a cheap price. The rest of the stores were mainly street vendors.  And now I am here in the hotel room writing this blog. So enough of what I have done today, I will now go on to what I have learned about the culture and my experiences while in China.

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Hong Kong is a good place for Americans to acclimate to China The people are friendly and most speak conversational English. One of the downsides to Hong Kong is that it is semi crowded and it is very expensive.

Shanghai was the largest city I will most likely ever visit. I believe the population was somewhere around 35 million. The people here were very nice, and were more curious about us as Americans than the people were in Hong Kong. The hotel and transportation here was very nice and efficient. One of the downsides here is the traffic and the limited amount of “personal space” due to the high population.

Nanjing, this city was the perfect size for me. The infrastructure was not built up as high as it was as Shanghai or Hong Kong, but from what I could see there was less land to work with. Nanjing is a college town of sorts and the scenery was very nice. There were 10+ universities from different government branches. The people here were very friendly and seemed to like us, or were at least curious about us. The people I met here were great and I hope to remain in contact with them.

Well I have only been in Beijing for a day, but I am thinking it could be my least favorite of the visited cities. The people seemed less friendly here and the service at the first restaurant was poor. Also the things to do around the hotel here seem very limited. We will most likely have to utilize taxi’s for transportation.

Above and Beyond

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Written By

Adam Aldridge

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

To start out the day we went and visited the Shanghai UPS international hub. During the visit it was interesting to learn that as large as UPS is in America, Government regulations have limited UPS to exporting and importing internationally, allowing for domestic carriers to operate inside China. I found the safety standards in the distribution center to be lacking behind U.S. OSHA standards. They did have several pro safety banners and a good lost time accident record.

Lunch was a very good meal for our last in Shanghai. There was a bun that you filled with beef and green beans to make a sort of Chinese taco. Towards the end of the meal, the restaurant went to McDonalds and presented us with French fries served on a plate. This gesture was very nice and completely unexpected. The meal was capped off with a plate of watermelon which has come to signify the end of the meal every time this trip.

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Boarding the high speed rail train to Nanjing was extremely exciting. The average speed of these trains are 280kph or 173mph. The first class compartment was very nice, large comfy seats and foot rests made the journey go by very quickly. The trip took us nearly two hours, yet looking out the window we never felt like we left the city. It was an endless sea of 20 story apartment buildings and manufacturing facilities. That really showed how huge China’s population is, as well as its booming economy.

An old saying is that you can always tell how good the economy is doing by how busy construction is. After being here a little over a week and traveling in 3 major cities, I have seen so many construction cranes erecting buildings into the sky. New buildings just completed ready for tenants to move in. The booming economy, with new factories and apartment buildings, will provide ample opportunities for the dilapidated areas.

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The city of Nanjing greeted us with a downpour of rain and a long, uncovered, walk to the bus from the train terminal. The traffic in Nanjing was relentless and by far the most crowded streets on the trip. This made the soaking wet trek to dinner and the hotel an even longer journey through the city.

Arrival at the Nanjing Grand Hotel was very pleasant. The entrance was luxurious with a grand piano playing in the back of the room and a fountain front and center. The rooms were interesting, especially the bathroom. The toilet had a bidet, heated seat, and a control panel to work all the features. The room was spacious and the beds were very comfortable. Further investigation of the hotels facilities we discovered a great looking workout room, and several restaurants. Unfortunately, the pool was closed until July which will be a sorely missed commodity as our group has used the pool and hot tub extensively at the previous hotels.

CPU vs ECU

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Written By

Elizabeth Wells

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Without a doubt today was one of the more enjoyable and uplifting experiences so far this trip. Outside of site seeing and attending company visits, it was a day filled with interaction and laughter among fellow students at the China Pharmaceutical University (CPU). Conversing with other students at the university allowed us to learn about student life as well as gain knowledge of the university itself. We started out our day by being greeted with our hosts who welcomed us with open arms and generosity. They were more than excited to have us as their guests as we were looking forward to meeting them. We had a quick overview of the university and culture of Nanjing as well as their economic standpoint. Following lunch, we toured the dorms of the students and toured the History of Chinese Pharmaceutical University Museum.  We ended our day with a friendly game of basketball with the CPU students. Photo 5

CPU is a large campus with 15,000 students and a seven to one female to male ratio (quite an interesting statistic). The campus is remarkably attractive with ponds and courtyards throughout. It is peaceful and quiet with areas for students to get away from the busy student life. The buildings throughout the campus are a dark gray color, meaning that the university is more prestigious and respected. Schools that are not as esteemed or highly regarded as such are more colorful. Compared with the U.S campuses that have well manicured lawns, I noticed their campus was more natural growing.

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In regards to student life, it was interesting to learn that life was not much different than student life back home. They were provided with cards similar to our one card used at ECU. The food was abundant, but they did not have as wide as a selection that we do at ECU. The selection consisted of the food we had been experiencing throughout the trip (typical Chinese cuisine). However, there was a place to grab hamburgers outside of the cafeteria. What caught my attention about the food and beverages was the option of some alcoholic drinks you were able to purchase on campus. That was the first time I had heard of a campus allowing students to purchase alcoholic beverages while on school grounds.

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The dorm situation was an intriguing topic that was discussed for a while after we walk through the rooms of some of the students. The size of the dorms were a little smaller than what I have experienced in the colleges in the U.S., but how they were arranged and set up were similar. There were four students to a room and they all shared a bathroom. There were mosquito nets around the beds. They were not allowed to cook in the rooms and there was no place for a television. What I thought was interesting was the air conditioning was only installed a year ago and there was no laundry service so they had to wash their clothes in the sink and hand dry them on the balcony outside the room. The dorms were separated by sex and boys were not allowed to be inside the girl dorms, but the girls were allowed to be in the boy dorms. The girls told us that it was common for them to cook food for the boy students. The dorms were also separated by undergraduate and graduate and with students occupying dorms based on year one through four of their schooling. They were not allowed to live off campus and most of them did not drive unlike most students at ECU.

An enlightening game of basketball was the ending to a great day. I was surprised at the amount of people that showed up to watch the game. We obviously needed some practice, but that is what made it more enjoyable and entertaining. The style of play was a little different as we were more competitive and they were more concerned with having fun and approached it in a less competitive spirit. Winning wasn’t their priority, but I think they fed off of our drive for performance. They were much better and taller than what we expected. And in case anyone was wondering, the game ended in a tie.

In the Midst of Chaos…

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Written By

Mark Powell

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

The importance of water transcends cultures and civilizations – from the Mississippi to the Nile Rivers, water has allowed for the transportation of goods. For as long as history can tell us, the Ganges and the Jordan Rivers have carried a spiritual significance to the people who visited them. China is no different from the rest of the world.

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The Chinese people have formed cities and villages along the coast that have grown to be some of the largest ports in the world (Shanghai and Hong Kong). Today we visited the village of Zhouzhuang also known as the Venice of the East. The village began in 1086 c.e. when a devout Buddhist named Zhou Digong donated his home and land to serve as a Temple. Since, the village evolved into a water town with canals as the main form of transportation (much like Venice, Italy). These canals were navigated by what many westerners would call a gondola – those from the east just call them small boats. And this whole village was started just because one kind benefactor decided to donate their home to become a Temple.

If you are not aware, Buddhism and Taoism are the main forms of religion found in China. Many believe Buddhism to be more of a way of life rather than religion, and I tend to agree with this viewpoint. As an Episcopal Priest working on my MBA, I have been particularly interested in learning about the faith communities in China. Understanding a community’s faith allows you to get a better understanding of their culture and what is important to them. We have visited a few temples in our time here so far and a couple of folks on our trip have asked me about my thoughts of these places. Sure, I could point out all of the differences that separate my faith background from theirs but I wanted to look through a lens of connectivity; I wanted to see the similarities. Not surprisingly, there are many similar things between the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Buddhism, and Taoism. The focus on prayer and connectedness to a higher power is a main commonality.

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After walking around the village of Zhouzhuang, pondering the role Buddhism played in building this village, a small group of us boarded a gondola. As soon as we stepped onto the boat and began moving along the canal system, a sense of peace swept through our group. The chaos of tourists, Chinese and foreign alike, moved into the background. It was as if the water was speaking to our souls and we were able to take a deep breath and absorb the beauty of this village and its people. The gondola offered us the ability to navigate the waters of the village, away from the hustle of bustle of vendors, and into the backyards of locals. We saw laundry drying and boats being repaired. Even though interaction was limited, I felt like I was better able to connect with the Chinese people than in the busy cities and tourist areas that we have visited so far. We were able to get a small glimpse into their everyday life.

In the Zulu language there is a term called Ubuntu, which means: “I am who I am, because you are.”  In other words if you suffer – I suffer.  If you have pain – I have pain.  If you have joy – I have joy. Basically, Ubuntu speaks to the importance of relationships and how vital it is for everyone to see that we are all connected. Traveling to Zhouzhuang gave me a glimpse into the lives of the Chinese people that I had not seen until this point in our journey. It allowed me to see how my life was connected to theirs.

Tea, Tofu, Tourists, and the Art of Taking Selfies

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Written By

Rachel Parrish

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today was an extremely long, tiring, and absolutely amazing day! I can definitely say I have never had so much hot tea to drink, my picture taken by so many complete strangers, and the amount of selfies I saw taking place was unreal. I was able to experience so much of Hong Kong today and I am really sad to be leaving tomorrow!

The sun rises around 5:30a here so bright and early I wondered downstairs for an American style breakfast buffet. The food was amazing, with features such as classic scrambled eggs, pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and more. They also had some traditional Asian dishes such as rice, steamed buns, and a pork-type rice thing (for lack of a better word or description). Enough about the American food though and on to the rest of the day!

Our first stop was to the Wang Tai Sin Temple, which is a traditional Taoist temple. The temple featured many statues all of which are believed to give good luck if rubbed. Many of the worshippers carried three units of incense in which one signifies their heaven, earth, and the “underworld”. This temple was also the first experience I had with a random stranger taking my picture. I was walking with Rachel, another member of our group, when a woman grabbed us by the arm and took a picture with us. I’m not going to lie it kind of made us feel like total celebs!

After a few minutes here, we hopped back on the bus and headed off to Victoria Peak to get a spectacular view of the entire bay area.

We traveled up the steep mountain by a crowded tram to reach the top of the peak. Although it was a little hazy and cloudy, the view was absolutely breathtaking. This is when I began to realize how intense a selfie is valued here. Not only do they retake it at least five times for the perfect photo, but they even have extender rods specifically for the art of this photography style. I saw multiple people using these rods throughout the day.

After sight seeing it was time for lunch, and to experience my first true Cantonese meal. The style of serving is a tad different as everything is served in the middle on a large rotating plate. This allows for everyone to grab and share the dishes, as they want. Our lunch included: assorted dim sum, Chicken and sliced squid, sweet and sour pork, fried rice, and Chinese petit fours for dessert. The favored dish among everyone seemed to be the sweet and sour pork; it was served with pineapple and the sweet fruit with the sauce was super yummy. Dessert was interesting to say the least. There was a gelatin square, pecan cookie, a bean-based dessert, and some other type of dry pastry. Overall lunch was good, and we soon finished up with lots of laughter, and table messes from trying to pick up food with chop sticks.

The next stop on the trip was Ocean Park, an amusement park that sits on the top of the bay. When we entered the park, we huddled to take a group picture that drew the attention of at least ten by standers that all took pictures of us as well.  One even hopped in with us for the picture! I was able to “meet” An-An a male panda! Then we waited for 30 minutes to hop on a cable car to be taken to the other part of the park. We waited another 45 minutes to ride on its largest roller coaster that happens to be the closest roller coaster to ocean water. While in line we caught random people taking our pictures, trying and failing to be discrete.

For dinner, we had another Cantonese meal very similar to the meal from lunch. Once we finished dessert, we walked outside and waited for the Symphony of Lights at Victoria bay. This was a neat show to see.

Victoria Bay 2The last experience of the night was heading over to the Night Market to do some shopping. Basically vendors set up booths that stay open late that offer all types of goods such as souvenirs, knock off clothing, paintings, etc. This is a great place to do some bargaining and negotiating.

Today was a fantastic day and although I’m sad to be leaving this beautiful island, I am excited to see what Shanghai has in store!

One Country – Two Governments

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Written by

Amy Phillips
 
COB Study Abroad Program
China

 

I started the day not knowing what to expect. We knew we were leaving Hong Kong to come to Shanghai, and that it would be different. One of the things I found most interesting were the differences in culture, not only between the US and China, but also between Shanghai and Hong Kong. In only about a day, Hong Kong felt comfortable — we could communicate in English fairly well, people were friendly, and we were having fun. In terms of English, the people we encountered spoke about the same amount as those in Hong Kong. The city, however, is completely different.

Hong Kong was the first city I have ever gone to that actually incorporates mountains into the cityscape. It was fascinating, and clearly still growing. Shanghai is comparable to New York City; the skyscrapers seem to have a little more space between them, and many of the viewing areas nearby are rather touristy. This provided ample opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful skyline, day or night. One of the biggest differences was the area called “The Bund,” a street lined with old buildings and hotels that have a strong English and Indian influence. Our tour guide, Qi, told us about some of the old hotels that hosted similar parties to those seen in “The Great Gatsby.”  A clock tower, built in the same place and modeled after Big Ben in London, is prominent from the street.

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Our tour guide in Hong Kong, Natalie, told us about the relationship between the governments, since Hong Kong became part of China in 1997.  The agreement to leave British control for China was that Hong Kong will have its own government, and the government of mainland China will make no changes for 50 years.  Although they are now considered one country, there are two governments set up: Communist in mainland China, and Capitalism in Hong Kong.

Many cultural aspects were also somewhat similar.  In Hong Kong there is a section devoted to banking, and many of the buildings are owned by banks.  Shanghai is considered the biggest banking area in mainland China.  We’ve also been extremely entertained by people who see us (particularly the blonde girls of the group…) and either attempt to discreetly take our pictures, or ask to take pictures with us.  We’ve experienced some of both in Hong Kong and Shanghai so far, but the people in Shanghai seem to be much more interested in taking pictures with us.

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I’ve been fascinated and surprised by the Asian culture we have experienced so far.  I’m not really sure how to describe what my expectations were for each place we have visited, but both places have been completely different than what I envisioned.  Although I wasn’t ready to leave Hong Kong, Shanghai has been awesome as well!  I can’t wait to see what else the culture has in store for us.