Am I the only one who gets super stressed out before traveling? Others in my position would probably get super excited, but I get overwhelmed with packing, getting transportation to the airport, and thinking about what’s to come, that I actually get really wrapped up in my head. With that being said, when I get to my seat on the airplane, the anxiety flushes my body; I can’t help myself but smile when I hear, “Flight crew, please prepare for take off…” It’s now time for you to fasten YOUR seatbelt because I’m about to take you through my China adventures!
For my China trip, I was more excited than ever when I heard the pilot ask his flight crew to prepare for take off. If you’ve ever flown out of John F. Kennedy International Airport, you know how busy it can be. My flight taxied on the runway for about 2 hours before taking off. Although this time felt like forever, it built my excitement for the journey awaiting. Nothing was stopping my mind from wandering the realm of possibilities the next 10 days had to offer me… well… except for the BABY CRYING FOR A MAJORITY OF THE FLIGHT!
Anyways, after 16-hours on the plane, I made it to Beijing International Airport on my final straw of patience. I, along with my fellow chaperones (a.k.ak my travel family), gathered the our group of students and headed towards passport control and baggage claim. I stood in line skimming through my passport, reminiscing on my experiences around the world, and getting excited for what was to come. The whole group made it successfully to baggage claim, although not all of our luggage did. After figuring out the missing suitcase problem, it was time to get on with the adventure!
We made our way towards the coach (bus) and met up with our ACIS Educational Tour Tour Guide, Jack. He is native to China and his excitement to show us his beloved country instantly dispelled my crackiness from the 16-hour restless sleep with the baby wailing in front of me. I was finally in China.
So, I can’t really complain too much about the restless flight. On previous trips I’ve been on, our flights got in rather early in the day. This basically means we were getting off a long flight to start a 10-hour day of touring and exploring. On this trip, however, we got there pretty late, so it was straight to the hotel for some well-deserved sleep in a bed.
8-hours of restless sleep later…
GOOD MORNING, CHINA! I’m literally not even going to try to explain the feeling after waking up the first day in a new country. It’s the first time I’m feeling stress-free and ecstatic for this trip. I pack up my backpack of things I need for the whole day and head to breakfast with one of my travel family members, Alicia. After catching up, we made sure all of the students were ready to go and got on the coach to our first stop… Tai Chi!
Okay, so if you haven’t watched the video at the top, you should totally do so to get a better sense of my experience doing Tai Chi. A local taught us some moves, but my favorite part of this was watching him demonstrate the moves on people within our group. I tell you to watch the video mainly to hear my crack up literally everytime he showed a move.
After the giggling simmered down and we did some grounding meditation exercises, we got up-close-and-personal with the Summer Palace. The details were immaculate! After spending some time admiring the Palace, we headed towards Tiananment Square to take a walk through the Forbidden City. How cool does that sound?!
The Forbidden City was the imperial palace in China for 492 years. After finishing construction in 1420, during the Ming Dynasty, 24 emporers resided in the palace. In fact, it is the largest imperial palace in the world containing 980 building and over 8,700 rooms. The whole palace is surrounded by a moat which makes The Forbidden City feel like you’re in a whole different world. If you ever get the chance to go to Beijing, definitely make your way to view this insane palace!
To finish our day off, we had a pecking duck dinner. One of my favorite things about traveling is trying new foods and immersing myself in the culture through cuisine. So pecking duck is a traditional Chinese dish that has been prepared since the imperial era. Part of the dining experience involves the chef slicing the cooked duck in front of the diners. This wasn’t the only entertainment we got for the evening – we also received a private Bian lian performance.
The dancer in me was stoked about this! Bian lian is a dramatic Chinese dance performed with ornate and colorful costumes. Throughout the performance, the dancer switches through 10-20+ masks at the blink of an eye. The secret to changing masks has been passed down from performer-to-performer since it originated, therefore, the secret is still unknown to anyone who hasn’t trained to perform it. It’s like one of the longest running secrets ever. Take a look at the end of the video above to see what I’m talking about!
After dinner, we returned back to the hotel to rest up for another day of adventure in China!
If you made it to this point of my post, thank you so much for taking the time to read about my first day exploring China! Be sure to follow me on social media by clicking on the buttons below to take a deeper look into my life and experiences.
If you enjoyed reading this, please leave a comment! Have you ever thought about visiting China? Have you been to China, and if so, what was your favorite adventure? I look forward to reading your experiences.