I’m sorry that I’ve been doing such a terrible job updating this blog! With the slow internet and my dying Macbook Pro, I’ve just been losing motivation.
Anyway, let me try to catch you up on where I’ve traveled so far…
I made it to Beijing! For the first time, I actually felt like I was in China. Since the city is so close to the government, you can really feel the Communist presence there. I’m grateful that I study in Shanghai where the air is a bit cleaner and the people are more open to things. Beijing is very conservative and the art there almost seemed…imposed. However, I loved being able to visit the historic sites like the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square. We even got to eat at a real Peking Duck restaurant. MMM. At night, my friends and I tried to find the secret Beijing nightlife. We stumbled on quite a few dive bars with good drink deals and then ended up going to the “best” club in Beijing. It was a lot smaller than the clubs in Shanghai and was predominantly Chinese. I know what you’re thinking…who would have thought that Chinese people would be at a Chinese club?! but actually…Chinese people in Shanghai don’t really go out clubbing; they prefer to eat good food and to sing at a KTV instead. It’s usually the ex-pats and students that drink heavily, so it was interesting to see a different dynamic in Beijing. Of course, I only went out one night, so I’m not sure if this is how Beijing is normally. I wish we were able to stay longer than just a weekend, but I am glad we still got the opportunity to go.
The next weekend, I kind of made a spur of the moment decision to travel to Yiwu with my roommate and her business class. Yiwu is a crazy crazy place…it’s so tiny, but it’s actually where 80% (or more?) of the world’s Christmas presents come from. Yeah…I know. There’s different “Areas” of warehouses where thousands of shops are located. We visited Area 1, 3, 4? I think… anyway, you can find pretty much anything you want in these warehouses from jewelry to jetskis to massage chairs to curling irons at wholesale prices. The only thing is you have to buy in BULK. If you ever want to open a store, I recommend going here. I was able to find almost everything in the Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 jewelry catalog in one of the shops, but they wanted me to buy 100 boxes of the same ring or earring. IT WAS SO CHEAP (about $0.50/ring), but there was no way I was going to buy 100 boxes of mustache rings. Eventually, shopping in Yiwu was very exhausting and frustrating because we couldn’t buy one of anything. :( I recommend going to Yiwu if you want to see the craziness for yourself, but don’t come expecting to buy anything unless you are opening up a huge store. The things that I bought in small quantities (nail polish, eyeshadow) were all shit… AND YOU CAN’T FIND LEGOS. I looked everywhere. haha
A few weeks ago, we took a day trip to Nanjing. This city is also rich in history because before Beijing, Nanjing was the capital of China. We were only able to visit three sites (Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Memorial, Confucius Temple area, and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall) because of the lack of time. Nanjing is a beautiful city. Although it is old, like Beijing, Nanjing has a different feeling. It’s westernized like Shanghai, but the people we met there were very courteous and clean. This is something you do not take for granted after living in place where it is not out of the ordinary to see a baby running around in assless chaps or a guy hacking a loogey at your feet. (still not used to those assless chaps) Overall, I really liked Nanjing and I hope that I will be able to return in the future.
Which brings us to my most recent trip to Hong Kong and Macau last week! This trip is still fresh in my mind, so hopefully, I will be able to write a little more. Unlike the other places I traveled, this one was completely organized by my friends and me, so we got to spend a lot more time in Hong Kong, but we also had to spend more money. The primary reason why we chose to go Hong Kong last week was to attend Art Basel, arguably the most important contemporary art festival in the world. We spent an entire day, from open to close, going through all of the galleries and learning about different artists. Once I get my camera charged and my pictures synced, I will upload them on here. I can’t even describe all of the insane works we saw. I’m not going to lie…a lot of the things we saw, I do not understand whatsoever…this one piece we saw was literally off white paint on a canvas, but the couple next to us was going crazy over how “special” it is. When they asked for the price, the gallery owner proudly told them that the piece was already sold…for 1 million USD. This was my face ……………………………………. Aside from those “is this even art?” pieces, I enjoyed the majority of the things we came across.
Don’t worry…I also got to do the touristy things in Hong Kong…like go to the Peak and Harbor City to see the Giant Duck, Bruce Lee statue, and the clock tower. At night, I got to experience Wan Chai Wednesday, Ozone (the highest bar in the world!), and the infamous LKF area. I severely disliked Wan Chai…it was too inhabited by douchey foreigners…I could go to Clarendon if I wanted to hang out with those guys. (LOL jk) I also got carded for the first time since being in Asia when I went there. In mainland China, there really isn’t a drinking age…although I think there is an official one, as long as parents give their “consent,” even little kids can run to the store to buy alcohol. It was weird being in Hong Kong where the drinking age is 18…and they actually checked? hahah Slightly annoying carrying my passport around, but LKF was a whole different story. People were drinking everywhere in the streets outside of the bars and clubs in the area. I just had to stop at the 7/11 and buy myself some Absolut, Redbull and a few beers and I was good to go. No one gave a fuck about open containers or about anything really. It was just a happy party area.
As a whole, I found Hong Kong to be a very cool place. It’s not too different from being in Europe or the U.S. because a lot of the same comforts are there. The food is also a lot healthier than in Shanghai and I actually found SRIRACHA! The people in Hong Kong are EXTREMELY friendly and polite. They will always help you out when you are lost (even when you don’t ask for directions, they can sense a helpless tourist haha) and you don’t have to be afraid of people trying to cheat you. It was also interesting to see how different Hong Kong is from mainland China. I think that is something the people really take pride in. Even their appearances are different…the fashion style is much more Western and alternative and they looked almost Southeast Asian to me…not quite like the Chinese people I am used to in Shanghai. The only downside for me was that it is a bit too touristy and definitely too crowded for my taste. There is a serious lack of space, so things are kind of crammed together. I don’t know if I could live in Hong Kong, but it was a fantastic trip!
After Hong Kong, we took the ferry over to Macau. I tried Portuguese food for the first time and it is DELICIOUS! Kind of similar to Spanish and Italian food, but more seafood based. Aside from that, I didn’t see anything too interesting to be honest…..we went to the center, but Macau is mainly casinos. I couldn’t even experience the casinos because the age limit is 21 now. :( :( Because our phones didn’t work, I wasn’t able to meet up with my friends, so I ended up just getting a massage at the hotel. Sad life, but at least the tension in my shoulders is gone.
Now, I am back in home sweet Shanghai…so glad to be back…but I am broke as hell. haha I have no idea what I spent money on in Hong Kong, but I will be living off of 300 RMB (about 50 USD) a week from now on, so that I can travel to Xi’an in two weeks.
and yeah….I will be traveling to Hangzhou this weekend and then HOPEFULLY, Xi’an.
I’ll try to update again soon!