Hello blog world. It's been a while. That goal of writing a post every day didn't work out so I changed it to at least one a week. As of now it appears as though it may only be one a month! Hopefully I will be able to keep on top of it better for my remaining time in Guzhen.
Since you tuned in last, I have traveled across most of the country, seen one of the seven wonders, become a regular, and discovered that I am allergic to bananas. There's a lot in just that one sentence that if it did not capture your interest you should just leave now because some of those things are pretty amazing!
Let's start small with The Great Wall of China. After traveling across nearly all of China on a train, we arrived in Beijing. Arriving was a glorious thing as it meant we were no longer confined to a small space where lice was too great a possibility and second hand lung cancer was a guarantee. What mode of transportation could this have been? A sleeper train. I am disappointed to say that I do not sleep like a baby on trains (ten points to whoever gets that reference). The ride itself was smooth and could be enjoyable were it not for the cramped sleeping bunks (that may or may not have contained clean bedding) and zero ventilation. Ventilation was only an issue seeing as most men consistently smoked throughout the twenty one hour trek. Every time the air vents came on, similar to being in an airplane, the air was recirculated only pushing more contaminated air through each compartment. I was awoken several times by a burning sensation in my nose and throat. Hopefully the damage sustained is not permanent.
Arriving in Beijing was a wonderful thing. It was both slightly cleaner air, and it was cold! Cold has become such a foreign concept to me living in southern China where it has been a consistent 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a lovely mix of at least 70% humidity. This was most certainly not the case in north China. It was cool enough the first few days to warrant the need of a beloved maroon hoodie.
Hiking the Great Wall was such an amazing experience! It was cold and extremely windy but it made for near perfect climbing weather considering the difficulty of our hike. To avoid the mass amounts of people sure to be on other sections of the Great Wall due to the week long national holiday, we opted to hike a strenuous yet secluded portion. After a bus ride that last approximately two hours we arrived at the Wall and were given a very nice introduction and brief history by a very hung over tour guide. We were then given free reign to hike as we pleased through the six guard towers. This was a challenging feat considering the near vertical incline of the wall and the uneven steps. Though it was a challenge it was most definitely worth it! I walked mainly with Bryn and a nice young man from Manhattan that we named Manhattan Mike. We all reached the top and swapped taking pictures while trying not to get blown off. As we neared the ending there was one watch tower that we did not go in at the beginning of our hike and I (feeling very energetic and pumped for life) suggested we climb into it. In doing so I somehow managed to miss the last step into the tower and proceeded to fall forward, causing my back pack to fling over my body and cushion the fall for my head. To think I was so close to not having a klutz moment on the Great Wall. Ah well, had to have a good story! I also fulfilled my inner child by quoting in one of the guard towers, "Now all of China knows you're here!", "Perfect." from Mulan. It was a very satisfying moment indeed.
There are many more adventurous stories from our week in Beijing but I will save those for another post since this is sure to be a long one and I want to keep my readers full attention.
There are four places that I have become a regular at surrounding our apartment. The Fry Place, the Convenience Store, the Dumpling Place, and the Noodle Place.
The Fry Place is a little shop on the corner that sells a variety of items that include but are not limited to, spring rolls, rolled rice noodles, sesame bean rolls and bean filled pumpkin rounds. I generally opt for the sesame bean rolls which though they may sound interesting in a bad way they are quite good and I found that I tend to crave them because they contain bean which is a protein, which is something that I am severally lacking in my otherwise good China diet.
The Convenience Store is no more than 50 steps outside of our apartment building and contains all manner of delicious necessities. Ok, really it just has this ice cream bar that I really like, some good juices, and giant cup of noodles. We go there almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day and are very well known. I have even been given an ice cream from the secret stash under the containers in the freezer since there wasn't one of its kind on the top.
The Dumpling Place is down the street, basically under our apartment and has a very delightful pancake, fry bread thing. Not quite sure what it is but it is delightful and we get that probably once a week.
The Noodle Place is a slightly longer journey but has delicious noodles and dumplings for a very reasonable place. Occasionally we eat there more than once a week.
The other night, after getting a pancake at the Dumpling Place, Keirsha and I went to the fruit stand and we both decided to get bananas. I hadn't had one since coming to China and it sounded good (which if you know me well enough you know that craving a banana is a rare thing since I don't like the taste of them unless its in banana bread). So we started to eat them on our way to our apartment and my mouth started to itch a little bit. Not unlike other times eating fruits(thanks Dad) so I was not alarmed. That is until my lips started to go numb and my throat felt very tight and my tongue started to go numb as well. It was sort of alarming. Thank goodness I have a good roommate who has experience having allergic reactions (something I can say I am very unexperienced in) and she had some Benadryl on hand which she made me take quickly. I also went to the convenience store and bought a Pepsi since that usually clears up the itchy mouth. So I guess I won't be eating bananas anytime soon. Ever since that night though I have craved them.
That is a very brief summary of the things which have happened the last month or so. I will be better at writing more for the remaining seven weeks left. Yes you read that right, only seven more weeks until I am home!
Well, goodbye blog world.