A Decade of Reflection 14

I landed in Beijing full of sadness as it meant the end of my Australian adventure. I had had the best year of my life and I didn’t want it to end. I was sad to be leaving May, whom I had become so close too and shared so many adventures with.

I arrived before Mum and made my way to the hotel for a sleep. It had been quite a long flight and I hadn’t slept well.

I met mum at the hotel a few hours later and was so very pleased to see her. I am a total mummy’s boy at heart and had been really missing her.

While I was away her an my dad had decided to get a divorce and although she was able to be her wonderful chirpy self when we skyped I could tell she was hurting. Even if she didn’t really want me to see it.

It was quite hard to be away from home while everything was going on, but I think on reflection I had put it to one side to deal with at a later date (kind of like my ever increasing credit card debt)

Seeing mum was just awesome though. We had the worlds biggest hug, it was at this point I was able to get myself excited, I mean I was in China.

We had a catch up and began to look at the next couple of weeks. Mums never really travelled before so I was surprised when she chose China after I said I would meet her anywhere in the world, but it says a lot about her adventurous soul that she chose such a far away place.

We were booked onto a country wide tour. I was a bit frustrated at that to begin with as I had spent so long travelling independently but for visa purposes and just for the pure culture shock China gives you, I was pleased for it. It allowed us to see what we wanted to see.

Day 1 found us at the forbidden palace and a visit to Tianamon square. I found the whole place quite imposing and the Communist hammer and sickle everywhere alongside bust and posters of Mao were very strange. In the west we see Mao as a Dictator and a bit of a villain. 40 years after his death he is still very much revered in China.

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I briefly touched on the culture shock, this came in a few forms from the language and alphabet, to the food, to the business of Beijing, on top of that was the pollution, there were so many cars in the city you could taste the pollution. There was a constant fog overhanging the city and it was quite unpleasant. Dont even get me started on crossing a road, we once waited 25 minutes before being brave enough to cross!

 

We had a stroke of fortune however, the day before we went to visit and climb the Great Wall of China there was a huge storm. We were worried out trip would be washed out. Quite the opposite, the storm had blown away the pollution. The air was nice and fresh and the sun was shining the next day as we made our way to the wall.

A steep climb got us onto the wall and words can not do it justice. It stretched away over the mountains in both directions as far as the eye could see. The storm cleared blue skys gave us some magnificent views of the mountains and some amazing photos.

The sheer scale of the wall is just incredible. I mean the bit we were at was on top of mountains, how the supplies were taken there to build it is just mind boggling. It is apparently the only man made structure that can be seen from space, and having been there I can see why.

Mum surpassed herself by no only getting herself onto the wall but by climbing and walking along it as well. She was righty very pleased with herself!

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We left Beijing and headed on to Xi’an to visit the terracotta warriors. These statues were uncovered 70 years ago by accident having been lost hundreds of years ago. There are more than 8000 hand rafted life sized warriors built to protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. Scans have revealed even more of these imposing statues that have yet to be excavated.

Like the wall I couldn’t believe the scale of these warriors, and I don’t think photos do it justice. There is a fascinating history behind the discovery, farmers working In their field on day coming across some artefacts and the dig that followed.

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Xi’an itself is a beautiful city. It is a walled city with an intact city wall surrounding the old city. We hired a Tandem bike and cycled around the whole wall. What a site we must have been. We posed for more than one photo that day. My blonde hair and mums stature seemed to invite lots of stares and attention. I felt like a celebrity at times.

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We jumped on a plane and flew to Chengdu where we went to visit the Pandas at their sanctuary. They are a strange and useless animals Pandas, They don’t hide very well so are easy pray to many animals, they are fussy eaters and they don’t want to have sex and reproduce. Its no surprise they are endangered. However having seen them up close I’m so glad they are being protected. We had the chance to get up close and personal with a Panda.

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We donned our blue protective clothing and sat down net to our panda for a cuddle. The panda was so occupied with his honey on a stick of Bamboo that he barely noticed us, but its a memory that will stay with me forever. The smell of the panda, the feel of its fur and more importantly the look of pure childlike happiness on my mums face. It was a very special memory for me, as are many from this trip.

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We took a boat ride to Leshan where we saw the largest Buddha statue in the world. This thing was huge, carved into the cliff face it sat watching over the river and was just so impressive. Like the wall I wondered how it was created and the skill and time it must have taken.

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A cruise down the Yangtze river followed and it was a nice chance to relax and have some RandR after a very intense few days. We passed some amazing views and lots of citys that had been made to house the people displaced by our destination, the 3 gorges dam.

I studied the dam while at school so was excited to visit it. I was a bit disappointed by it as its not an impressive structure to look at, however the engineering that went into making it is amazing. Although those who lost their homes when the areas flooded may disagree.

We went to various temples along the river and it was great to see the monks worship and to learn a bit more about the Buddhist religion.

 

Following our cruise we took a bullet train over to Shanghai to experience the city. Unfortunately I was quite unwell while here so missed out in seeing much of it, however the parts I saw seemed very different to Beijing and a lot more open and western, I was even able to briefly access Facebook!

Our trip finished in Hong Kong and we spent a few days exploring and enjoying the city. Like Shanghai Hong Kong seemed much more western in peoples attitudes and the way of life. The day we were due to fly home we found ourselves with some spare time so being cultures travellers we decided to check out Hong Kongs Disney land.

Now as kids we never did the whole Disney thing so it was great to experience it and we had a great day pretending to be children, we took a drawing class and managed to reproduce some images that resembled what we were after.

All to quickly our trip was over and we were on our way home. We had had a wonderful few weeks and made some memories that will stay with me forever.

 

Travelling with my mum was the best choice I ever made. We went to countless Chinese operas and shows. We ate some amazing food and some awful food. We saw ancient monuments and cuddled endangered animals. We cycled city walls and relaxed on river cruises. We hi fived Micky and visited crowded markets. So many memories that I can exclusively share with the woman that raised me. I know my siblings are jealous.

 

 

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