Monday, 22 April 2013

China Tour by Jack Egan

Day 1

We were all exhausted by the time we had arrived in Beijing, a two hour flight to Paris, then a ten hour flight to Beijing, (but at least they had TVs on the plane). We arrived at a restaurant for our first taste of real Chinese food, we ate all kinds of chicken, pork, rice and all kinds of other food, and all without the hint of a knife and fork, chopsticks only, lads. After the food we checked into The Tianfang hotel where we were staying, and after being up and travelling for the best part of two days, we finally found our beds.

Day 2
On the second day we were officially welcomed to Beijing in the Great Wall Chinese Centre, speeches were made and we were all given free T-shirts. After the welcome ceremony we went to Nanlougo lane Houtong, a very old street full of ancient building which had been converted into shops. after that we went to Pearl Market, you could buy nearly anything there for absolutly dirt cheap prices, we bought at least five pairs of Beats headphones each for about fifty euro per person, whereas that would have cost at least ten times as much in Ireland, amon the other things bought were lasers, Jackets, T-shirts and silly hats. We had to haggle for absolutly everything there, we didn’t even care what we were buying, we just wanted to haggle, and we got some cool stuff for almost no money on the side.
Day 3
Day 3 was a big one, we checked out of the Tianfang hotel, where there was an incident involving a bottle of Old Spice that we will not go into further, Once we had gotten our baggage sorted by leaving it with the hotel we visited Tiananmen Square, which is truly massive, no single photo can show how huge it really is, after the square we went into the Forbidden City , which is right next to it, inside the Forbidden city there huge buildings which were ideal for taking group photos in front of, the tour took a more than an hour, because the Forbidden City is probably even bigger than Tiananmen Square, we came out the other side eventually and got a bite to eat, then it was on to Wangfujing street, where you could buy Chinese street food, which was very different to say the least from Irish food, The lads ate scorpions, star-fish, beetles, and some kind of unidentified meat on skewers. After we finished with the unusual food we set off to the train station to get to Xi’an.

Day 4
To put it simply, the night train to Xi’an was absolutely terrible, we were six in a room the size of a coffin, and we didn’t have doors, that was the difference between economy and first class, first class had doors. The hostel, on the other hand, was one of the best parts of the trip, it was called the 7 Sages Hostel, and we had a western style breakfast (or theclosest the Chinese chefs could manage), huge rooms (four of us even got V.I.P rooms, my-self included), and brilliant weather to top it off. After an hour or two in the hostel of playing ping pong or doing parkour or martial arts or whatever you did to pass the time, we went to the wall of Xi’an, which surrounds the original, ancient part of the city, once there we cycled the whole 13.7 km of the wall on tandems. There were collisions, there was banter with the locals, there were races, there were even threats, but after an hour and a half of cycling we all eventually made it back to the point we started at on the wall. After a few ice creams we were on the road again to a Muslim snack street. The snack street was like a miniature version of the Pearl market, but with more terracotta statues and food, we didn’t get much time there, unfortunately, and half the time we didn’t know what we were eating there either, but it tasted good and no-one got food poisoning, which was nice.

 Day 5
The first thing after checking out of the 7 sages that we did on day five was go to a factory where they make replicas of the terracotta warriors, they showed us how they were molded from clay in casts, and all the various types of soldiers. Of all the original warriors buried underground, only one was still intact when the archaeologists dug them up, the archer, it only survived because it was crouching, after the factory we set off for the army itself, but you don’t just go to the army, you have to go through alot of buildings first, where there are vendors trying to sell you stuff around every corner, we made it through the shops where parts of the army had been dug up and saw just how huge it was, the pictures speak for themselves, after the warriors we went to a museum which contained weapons and bronze-works found there as well. Once we were done seeing the warriors it was back to the train station and back to Beijing.

Day 6
We took the same night train back, which did not go down well, and checked back into the Tianfang hotel, once we’d rested a bit it was onto the Birds Nest stadium. Time had not been good to her, it was rusted and unused when we saw it, but it was sure big, after a look around we went into the Cube, where the swimming events took place, some of the lads even got to swim in the warm up pool while the rest of mooched around the gift shop and café. Once we left the Cube our journey took us to an incredible acrobatics show, which included motorcyclists, chair climbing, and dancing women.
Day 7
We started day 7 with the Ming tombs, which was the site of many burial grounds for Emperors and Empresses, but the real highlight was the Great Wall, what can I say, it was three miles of stairs, with a great view on top, even though we were absolutely shattered afterwards, it was completely worth it. We went to Kung-Fu class at the Temple of Heaven after the wall, but instead of learning kick-ass martial arts skills, we looked like bunch of fellas who’ve had too many drinks. We returned to the Pearl market after the Temple of Heaven, to give in to our inner consumer.

Day 8
Day 8 started with checking out of the Tianfang for the second and final time, we moved on to the Summer Palace, where the Emperors would spend their summers by the lake in a massive palace that was more of a town than anything, after that we went to a district of streets by another lake, where we bought souveniers and candy floss before moving on to the silk market. Now, the Silk market is like the Pearl market except it’s 10 TIMES BIGGER, 10 TIMES BADDER AND DIRT CHEAP, we spent 7 hours in there but I honestly don’t remember most of it. After we spent all our money in the Silk market, it was off to the airport and a final goodbye to Beijing
Day 9
If you were unlucky then you spent Day Nine on a plane back to Ireland, but if you were lucky then you spent in Paris, where we saw the Champs D’lysees, the Arc D’Triomph and had a breakfast in McDonalds,. Of course we  got up to a lot of shenanigans, like when Jack Crean got himself lost in the Parisian metro, not to mention all the people who shouted at us because they thought we were students who had decided to skip school for the day.

By Jack Egan

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