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Conclusions - Day 9 (March 11, 2007)

In conclusion…the Study Tour participants had these thoughts as they returned to the U.S. on Sunday.

“The market that we went to this morning [called Panjia Yuan], was amazing. It was something like an American flea market and had all sorts of antique-looking Chinese trinkets: jewelry, pottery, carved sculpture and all sorts of other neat items.  It was fun to just race through trying to find out what we all wanted since we had limited time because we were leaving Beijing for home in the afternoon.  It’s crazy to think that we will be living in Sunday, March 11 for 37 hours!”

“Today we went to another market place and bought even more stuff.  Then we went to a tea shop and bought some tea, checked out of our hotel and headed for the airport.  We leave China with more luggage, more friends, and a better vocabulary in Chinese (Wudaokou!) than when we came.  All in all, a pretty sweet experience.”

“This has quite literally been the longest day of my life!  It began at 8 a.m. when I woke up to pack and eat breakfast.  After a quick stop at Starbucks and an ATM we were ready to get back to bargaining at a market.  One of the more popular items to purchase was a statue of a Buddha that we could rub for good luck before all of our Holy Cross exams.  After the market we enjoyed our last meal in China and got ready to leave for the airport.  We were all very sad to have the trip come to an end.  Visiting China was a wonderful experience and we had a great group of travelers to share the time with.”

“The last day in China was very sad.  At this point in the trip, everyone had become friends and we were having a fantastic time together. The constant teasing and laughter has spread among the students and the teachers.  I can’t help but experience a bittersweet feeling, knowing that I will never experience China like this again.  There is one thing I want to say to all of my new friends:  I LOVE YOU ALL.”

Prof. Claudia Ross - Photos from Day 8

Temple of Heaven gate

Temple of Heaven gate

More at the Temple of Heaven

More at the Temple of Heaven

Group shot at the Temple

Group shot at the Temple

Noodles are hard to eat drip-free

Noodles are hard to eat drip-free

Brendan models his new shades

Brendan models his new shades

Brendan and Prof. He are tough

Brendan and Prof. He are tough

Ali Mersereau '10 and Ryan Wiik '09 (March 10, 2007)

Day 8:  Today was a busy day back in Beijing. We started off the morning with some good news: Ali went on the internet and found out that the boys basketball team made it to the NCAA tournament. Congrats! With the excitement of the news and the American style breakfast in us, we were able to brave the cold and windy day at Tiantan, the Temple of Heaven.

The architecture at the temple was phenomenal and the symbolism embedded in it was fascinating.  The walkway from the South Temple to the North Temple had a slight upward slope symbolizing an ascent towards heaven.  In addition, the acoustics allowed one person to speak at one side of the temple and be heard by a person on the complete opposite side.  Perhaps the most engaging part of the visit to the temple was the park directly adjacent to it, where we watched many retired Chinese people enjoy a Saturday morning with singing and dancing.  Several of us joined in the festivities, dancing with the old women.  Watching the old men play hackysack demonstrated quite an impressive amount of dexterity for such an old age. 

After we left the park and ate a quick lunch of noodle soup, we were eager to get to the Pearl Market.  Once we got over the stench of the fish market on the first floor, we were overwhelmed by people shouting in Chinese to buy their goods.  It was four floors of amazing bargains on almost every brand of clothing, shoes, and jewelry that you could imagine.  Being here gave new meaning to the mantra “Shop ‘till you drop.”  If you’ve ever seen Supermarket Sweep, this experience was ten times more intense.  Everywhere people are grabbing you, yelling “good price, good price!”  Sammy and Ryan bought so much stuff that they had to buy huge rolling suitcases to carry it all back to the US.  It’s crazy how much we got there for so little money.  Wallets, shoes, clothes, watches, and pearl necklaces were no more than 100 kuai (that’s about $12 US). 

Leaving the market on a high, we headed out to a courtyard house in a Hutong (a traditional Beijing alley) where we attended a party full of ex-patriates to learn about and witness what it is like to live in another country.  They were some of the most unique and unusual people we had ever met.  You’d have to be to move halfway around the world. 

From the party, we went out to do some karaoking and experience Beijing nightlife for one last time. The End.

Hey mom and dad - Ryan
Hi mom, dad, and John- Ali

Prof. Claudia Ross - Photos from Day 7

Dinner at the Chuan Bo Hotel

Dinner at the Chuan Bo Hotel

Carving roast duck

Beijing duck chef carving

Prof. He and Mr. Cai with chef

Prof. He and Mr. Cai with the chef

Profs. He and Ross with chef

Profs. He and Ross with the chef

Laura Beglane '10 (March 9, 2007)

Day 7: This morning we woke up, once again, to a delicious Western style breakfast. Some of us were feeling a little weary after another night of karaoke. Don’t worry. Everyone rebounded quickly! At about 7:30 we departed for the airport in a bus complete with cheetah print seats. After passing through security for the third time on the trip everyone (those of us well enough to) walked around gathering snacks and coffee for the plane. To board the flight we loaded a bus that shuttled us to our Air China flight. We were all sad to leave Chengdu because it was filled with excitement. The flight included a plethora of passengers including some fellow Americans (from Washington) and people we had previously run into at the hotel. The flight was only a little over two hours and we were served a meal (airplane food…yuck!). As always some of us were not good fliers, and were constantly asking “is that smell normal?” or “are we supposed to hear that sound?”

We all made it safely to Beijing and piled onto a bus that took us to the 789 Art District. There, some of us enjoyed a snack consisting of delicious pizza and Diet Coke. After our snack we walked around to the galleries. The galleries had been converted from East German factories.  It was strange to think that in several years the galleries might all be gone and high rise buildings would stand in their place. Most of the galleries we visited consisted of modern art and reflected the history of the Long March. One of the more popular galleries consisted of pop culture art of Mao. Because we were all getting tired we boarded the bus and headed for the hotel to enjoy much needed showers and naps.

The highlight of the day was the delectable dinner we enjoyed at the restaurant in our hotel. Professor He’s cousin, the manager of the hotel, put the meal on for us so it was extra special! We enjoyed delicious duck rollups, shrimp, and beef. The service was also quite spectacular. Never did we experience an empty glass of water or a plate that was too crowded with residue from the sauces of the cuisine we enjoyed. For dessert, the servers brought out delicious pastries that Brendan and Ryan even carried back to their room! Overall, it was quite a dining experience!

Finally, I just wanted to give a shout out to my brother who is turning 21 today! Happy Birthday Jeffrey!

Prof. Claudia Ross - Photos from Day 6

Western-style breakfast

Western-style breakfast

Green Ram

Group with the Green Ram

seal carverPosing with the seal carver

incense burner Incense burner at Daoist temple

Colby seeks her fortune

Colby seeks her fortune

Prof. He with the fortune teller

Prof. He with the fortune teller

group with fortune teller

Group with fortune teller

Ashley at Starbucks

Ashley at Starbucks

ready to try hotpot Ready to try some hotpot

Day6i_2

Ali tries cow stomach

Brendan ties to out eat Prof. He

Brendan ties to out eat Prof. He

Everyone enjoying hotpot

Everyone enjoying hotpot

Amy, after eating hot peppers

Amy, after eating hot peppers

Liz Spellman '10 (March 8, 2007)

Day 6: This morning was different from the rest. We were able to eat a Western-style breakfast at our hotel in Chengdu. This change in food was welcomed by most of us. We ate fresh fruit, eggs, coffee, and potatoes. Then we took three cabs to accommodate the 12 of us to a Daoist temple called Qingyang Gong (the Green Ram Temple) which was located in western Chengdu. The temple was filled with not only tourists, but also locals who were lighting incense and praying. The temple was decorated with dragons and tigers. We learned that in Daoism tigers and dragons represent the balance between yin and yang. On our way out of the temple, we encountered an artist who was selling her watercolor works. I bought three of her paintings, which she explained were inspired by her meditation in the mountains. We also met a Daoist fortune teller. A few of us paid 120 kuai (Chinese dollars) to have her tell us about our past and give us a brief view into our futures. Professor He acted as the translator between the fortune teller and us. Before leaving the temple, we drank the traditional celestial tea in a beautiful courtyard and discussed what the fortune teller predicted for us.

We then had a light lunch of noodle soup and fried rice at a nearby restaurant. We took an old wooden city bus to get to the Jinli district. We walked down an ancient looking street with dozens of shops. The street had traditional Chinese architecture and was decorated with lanterns. We of course had to stop at a Starbucks to refuel. A few in the group tried a sugar-coated candy apple on a stick from a street vendor. Then we traveled to a Buddhist temple called Wenshu Yuan. Many of us were excited to buy bracelets that were blessed by Buddhist monks. They made excellent gifts to bring back for friends and family. As we strolled around the temple, a group of monks dressed in saffron yellow emerged and entered a temple to pray. We were able to watch them chant and pray right in front of us. Most of us agreed that it was one of the most interesting things we had seen on the trip so far. After we left the temple, we walked to a restaurant that served hot pot. Hot pot is a typical food of the Sichuan region. The professors ordered three pots for us which consisted of veggies, fish, cow stomach, and noodles in a large pot. Ali, of course, was brave enough to try the cow stomach, which she reported was "very rubbery." The pot was set on top of a stove in the middle of the table and the ingredients sat in a clear broth. We watched the food cook right in front of us. The broth was incredibly spicy and I mean really spicy. Personally I like to put Tabasco Sauce on everything, but you haven’t tasted hot until you have tried hot pot. Mid-way through the meal everyone started sweating and faces began to turn a deep shade of red. The sauce was so spicy that it literally felt like acid had burned my throat. Well maybe that was an exaggeration, but it was still very hot. In fact, half an hour later my face is still red from the hot pot.

Tonight we will go karaoke and sing the night away!

Prof. Claudia Ross - Photos from Day 5

Baby panda climbing the wall

Baby panda

Baby pandas playing

Baby pandas playing

Giant panda eating bamboo

Eating bamboo

Panda playhouse

Panda playhouse

Yuan Yuan

Yuan Yuan

group photo

Group photo at the Panda Center

Vegetarian lunch

Vegetarian lunch

menu

Menu - lamb parts and dog hotpot

Chunxi Road

Chunxi Road at night

Brendan Webb '07 (March 7, 2007)

Day 5: Today got off to a rocky start as we had to have our bags packed and ready to leave the hotel at 5:45 a.m. to fly to Chengdu.  Tai zao (too early).  The two hour flight did however, give some of us a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep.  After arriving in Chengdu, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to a Buddhist temple named Wenshu Yuan for lunch.  Buddhist priests are vegetarians so we had a meatless lunch.  The vegetables were made to look like meat so the tofu was shaped like chicken and shrimp.  Some of us were skeptical of the meal (including myself because it was my first vegetarian meal), but it turned out to be quite delicious.  After lunch we immediately left for the Panda Breeding Center Base Camp.  We got our tickets and went to an informational movie (all in Chinese… with all Chinese subtitles) about the Pandas before we went and saw them.  Despite the language barrier, we learned that female pandas do not know when they are pregnant, and when they give birth some lack maternal instincts (aka TLC).  For instance, when the baby pandas are born the mothers sometimes get so scared that they slap them, like little hockey pucks. However, the babies are quickly rescued by the staff.  After the video, we went and saw eight baby pandas, our favorite; Yuan Yuan.  I nicknamed him Cash Money (Yuan= Chinese currency) despite the literal meaning “little round one.”  He desperately wanted to play with the trainer and wrestle him to the ground, chasing him all over the enclosure.  Cash Money was unsuccessful in his endeavor.  He could not outsmart the scientist and had to resort to sleeping in the panda’s play space with the rest of the sleepy cubs.  We reluctantly left the baby panda area to go see the adults.  They personified sloth and gluttony; sprawled out in a pile of bamboo doing absolutely nothing except eating.  We left the Base Camp and returned to our pink cheetah upholstered bus to return to the hotel and recharge our batteries. 

After a short rest, we went out in search for ice cream.  We walked through downtown Chengdu to Chunxi Road where all the buildings are blanketed in neon lights.  This area serves as Chengdu’s hip shopping center and teenage hang out.  We then headed to a restaurant no bigger than our hotel rooms for some traditional home styled Sichuan food.  Items on the menu included miscellaneous lamb parts, duck blood and dog.  We ate noodles and rice.  After dinner we returned to the hotel to gear up for a night of karaoke. 

As we were leaving our rooms and heading towards the elevator we saw Professor He waiting for us with a look on his face that only a concerned parent could give.  The same look my dad gives me when he says “Brendan, you know what they say about wet leaves…” as I immediately respond, “they are just like ice.”  (Hi Mom! I love you too.)  Professor He got all of us into the taxis and headed off into the right destination.  We arrived at Hauledei (Holiday), where the entrance resembled a grocery store filled with snacks and drinks.  After some purchases, Shelly; our karaoke assistant, led us to our private room where we sang and danced the night away.  It was a blast and I cannot wait to do it tomorrow night with the whole gang.

Prof. Claudia Ross - Photos from Day 4

Tian'an Men Sqaure

Tian'an Men Sqaure

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

More at dinner

Group shot

Group shot

Rooflines at the Palace Museum

Rooflines at the Palace Museum

Hungry for Western snacks

Hungry for Western snacks

Is it really Starbucks?

Is it really Starbucks?

Waiting for the subway

Waiting for the subway

On the subway

On the subway

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