China Round I

Shanghai Waterfront

First trip to Asia

In 2008, my roommate Stephanie came across a really good deal to go to Beijing over winter break. She invited me to come along and of course I obliged her. We decided to spend about 9 days in China so that we could visit Beijing and Shanghai. We spent most of the time in Beijing and about 3 days in Shanghai.

When we arrived in Beijing, we attempted to follow the directions to the hostel. We were somewhat successful. We took a bus to the center of the city and then we took a cab to the hostel. When we got off the bus, we thought we were near our hostel but we weren’t so we were forced to take a cab. When we arrived to the hostel, I was very unimpressed with the hostel. It was my first stay at a hostel so I didn’t really know what to expect but I knew that our room was very bare bones. However, one of the things I liked about the hostel was that it had a restaurant and an internet cafe. It fit our needs because we didn’t spend much time there. So in that respect it was adequate.
I really enjoyed Beijing but we probably shouldn’t have went in January. It was sooooooo cold. I had layers on but I was still freezing. I didn’t think to look into what the weather would be like before deciding to go in January.


Great Wall of China

Beijing is such a big city in that there was no shortage of things to see. The thing that I was most looking forward to was going to see the Great Wall. That was our first stop. We ended up taking an organized tour that was offered by the hostel. It was quite a trek to get to the top. I didn’t count how many steps it took to get to the top. However, I was definitely relieved when I got to the top. It was so cool to actually be somewhere that you read about in history books.

Summer Palace

We also went to the Summer Palace which was really cool because everything was frozen. There’s a huge lake that was completely frozen. It felt very scary to walk out into the lake even though it’s very obvious that it’s completely frozen.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square was next on our list of places to see. Tiananmen Square is basically a large city square. It has a lot of cultural significance and usually cultural events are held there. Lots of tourists flock to the square. There’s also a huge picture of the Chinese Dictator on the outside wall.I also really enjoyed shopping in Beijing. The malls were enormous but not everything was in my price range. I bought some really cool jewelry and a few other items. I didn’t have much success with the clothing because the sizes ran very small. In Beijing we got around by using the public transportation or taxis. Stephanie spoke a little Mandarin, which definitely helped us out. After we explored the sites in Beijing, we took a quick flight to Shanghai.

9 Dragons Hostel Beijing
Stephanie and I outside our hostel in Beijing.
Finally made it to the top of the Great Wall.
Summer Palace-12 arch bridge
Tiananmen Square


Our hostel in Shanghai was very nice. It was definitely an upgrade from our accommodations in Beijing. There was small library where guests could check out books. There were also several computers that were available for use. Overall, the hostel was very clean and spacious.

Jin Mao Tower

While in Shanghai we went to see the Jin Mao Tower. We didn’t go inside because it was a bit pricy and we were content with admiring it from outside.We also had dinner on the water and saw all of the beautiful boats lit up on the water. In addition, we explored the shops in Shanghai too. We were able to get by mainly on foot or we utilized the public transportation.Food was a bit tricky in China. Many of the local restaurants did not  have English menus so we didn’t have a lot of authentic Chinese food when we were there. However, on a few of the tours we went on, traditional meals were included. The meals included rice, vegetables, and usually chicken with a sauce similar to sweet and sour sauce.Aside from that, we ate the Chinese version of American restaurants that we were familiar with. That was still fun because there menus were different than the menus back in the U.S.Overall, I had a really nice time in China. Even though it was bitterly cold, it was a great trip. I also learned a valuable lesson in that you can’t travel with everyone. It’s possible to be great friends with someone but that doesn’t mean you should travel together. However, if it had not been for the invitation from Stephanie, I would have missed out on a great trip. I haven’t been to mainland China since 2008, but I do hope to return one day. This year (2015) I visited Hong Kong, so stay tuned for an upcoming post about that!!!

Jin Mao Tower
Bike Lane
City Central International Hostel

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