Picture 3: Shanghai Skyline. We were supposed to arrive in Shanghai at 8am, but the local pilot that was supposed to guide our ship up the Yangtze River went to the wrong ship, so we didn't arrive in Shanghai until 8pm. That night we walked around the old European area called The Bund, and the next morning we went to the Bazaar before catching a train to Beijing. Shanghai is so polluted that breathing their air for a day is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarets, so that's why I'm wearing a mask in the 4th picture. Beijing was even more polluted, but we never really new if the haze was from smog or from low clouds. When we arrived in Beijing that night it was snowing.
Picture 1 and 2: The next morning we joined a tour bus to the Great Wall with a few other SASers. It was sunny but there was still snow on the wall; it was absolutely beautiful and the view from the wall took my breath away. It was the highlight of my time in China. I'm so happy I made the trip up to Beijing, even though I wasn't originally planning to do so. After walking along the wall, we were provided a traditional Chinese meal as part of our tour. They served us 12 different dishes family style, it was fun to try so many different kinds of foods.
Picture 5: Scott, Mj, and I toured Tianaman square, and the Forbidden City the next morning. This is where the Imperial family lived, and only people who worked for them were ever allowed inside. We also found a "Night Market" where we saw many strange foods including roasted bugs and seahorses (picture 6). I wasn't brave enough to try those, but I had mystery-meat dumplings and pot stickers. The food I tried in China tasted surprisingly like the Chinese food I've had in the US. That evening we flew to Hong Kong, and our flight was filled with SASers. I thought that a country as big as China would mean that we wouldn't see other SASers, but I guess we all wanted to see the same sights.
In our three days in China, I saw four car accidents, heard of multiple SASers getting scammed, and I was approached by scam artists myself; Two girls came up to Scott and I, and asked us to take a picture of them, and then invited us to a tea ceremony. If we had joined them, they would have charged us a hundred dollars for the tea and threaten to call the police if we didn't pay. Luckily we where aware of these "tea scams" so we were able to avoid it. Needless to say, China gave me a little culture shock, but it may be nothing compared to some of the countries we are going to.
Pictures 7, 8, and 9: I fell in love with Hong Kong. It's built up a steep mountain, and the hillyness reminded me of San Francisco. But it also has an element of a the tropics; the skyscrapers rise out of an untamed landscape, and none of the city parks are manicured like we might be used to. We took the famous escalators half way up the mountain, and then we took a cable car the rest of the way. I don't know what about this city I love so much, but I want to go back again someday. We also went to a "Lady's Market" where they sell knock-offs. The first thing I tried bargaining for were some fake Toms shoes. I ended up giving the her more money than she originally asked for, because I was confused by the conversions. Opps. After that I got better at bargaining, and I found a cute Jimmy Choo bag, and a little Mark Jacobs pouch for really cheep. From here on out, almost every market we go to we will have to bargain.