– China – 中國 –
So, i know it’s been a while since I’ve posted but… I went to CHINA! I went with my university, The University of Alabama, for my major. [ Fashion Retail Study Tour in China ] It was 7 girls…. (i had never met before) and our teacher Dr. Tong. She’s originally from China so I felt super safe going with someone who knew the area. The first week we went to Beijing and the second week we went to Shanghai. If your too tired to read, at least read the last fun facts, because you will laugh. Please click on any picture to enlarge, and also make sure to click through all the pictures throughout the mini slideshows and read the captions for more info! ❤
The other girl (Lindy) flew from a different city, so we met her in China. I think one of the best parts about this trip was the fact that i didn’t know any of these girls prior and we all clicked so well. This picture is of us girls in Chicago awaiting our delayed flight to Beijing. Allison was my roomie for 2 weeks. I’m so sorry she had to put up with my crazy self, but shes adorable and super sweet.
[ The 15 Hour Plane Ride ]
Below is a slideshow of pictures i took on the way there. Two are of a map that was an option on our TV. I got anxious at times to see how much time we had left and always checked it. I was surprised at how many good movies and tv shows they had on the plane.. I cannot tell you how many i watched, but I think I’m caught up for 2014. There’s also a picture of snowflakes on my window because it was freezing so high up in the air. And of course some pictures arriving in Beijing, the beautiful mountains, and I was lucky enough to see The Great Wall from my side! The 13 hour flight was horrible, let me tell you… being squished in a tiny corner with no leg room and not being able to sleep even with sleep medication was AWFUL. But the food was amazing , especially the container of gelato we got. And i definitely made some memories.
[ We Made It! ]
And we arrived.. Exhausted.. and we didn’t even hit dark the whole way.
[ Fast Food Anyone? ]
And we were hungry and it was late so what is there to do in China… Chinese Fast Food of course! Mr. Lees here we come! So we go in to eat our first Chinese cuisine. I ordered chicken and rice and it comes with soup and a drink. So we all get Pepsi, because we are scared of the water and wanted to see if it taste different. It does, its not as bubbly and not as sweet. I personally liked it better. We got peanuts for a snack.. they looked soft and hot, but they were cold and crunchy and too strange for me to eat. So i get the soup and see “soy sauce” at the end of the table and pour some in my soup. My soup now tastes disgusting. Dr. Tong then tells me i just poured vinegar in my soup. My luck. Seriously…. But whatever the chicken and rice was fantastic. After we were done eating. I had noticed this homeless man staring at me from outside. As soon as i get up from my seat he runs over to my food and puts it in a cup of his and begins to eat it. Yes that actually happened, a homeless man ate my leftovers inside the restaurant. I know they wouldn’t allow that in America, but culture shock.
[ Mall Exploration ]
The next day we wake up to go explore a little bit. We find a huge mall across from our hotel and it’s amazing. Jeep apparently sells clothing… and it’s very popular in China. Along with “Arnold Palmer” sunglasses. Is it just me or did i just think he sells tea with lemonade?
[ Selfie Grocery Trip ]
Then we moved on to the grocery store. Dr. Tong said Chinese people will go to the grocery store once a day. I actually think we worried these Chinese people with how many “selfies” we could take. They had peaches with different writings on them.. why doesn’t America have cool peaches? Here we noticed that China is super colorful. I wish America could take some of that quality. They also sell just straight up whole fish, crab, squid, and any other kind of seafood along with the whole duck body- They got it. They also have way cooler stuff than we do in America. Since when are their different flavors of everything?? They had our sodas in like 4 different flavors I’ve never seen. And at least 10 different Oreo flavors. (Watermelon, to lemon, to lime, to green tea… bad decision) But watch out people… before you go to China and load up on American goodies beware they have WAY less sugar and don’t taste as wonderful. It began to add up why Americans are obese.
[ Beijing Olympic Park ]
“Do you want to make quick stop to Olympic Park?” Yes! Of course we do! This wasn’t on our agenda, but it was amazing. The last picture is of a 7 star hotel, yes 7 stars does exist people. It is called the Pangu Hotel and is made to look like a dragon head and tail. These Chinese people are totally one upping America on all this architecture stuff.
[ Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology ]
This was our first official school/fashion visit. We met with the dean and some teachers. We asked them some questions and had a nice little chat. Only the top students get into this school and let me tell you… They are TALENTED – extremely. They have majors for everything relating to fashion. Fashion design, merchandise, management, media, Modeling major, they HAVE IT! They were so sweet to show us around the classrooms and show us their beautiful campus. If i lived in China i would want to go to school here. These kids work all 4 years for a graduation fashion show. The model majors are the models in it, the media students produce the fashion catalogs for it and video it, and the designers design the clothing. Its literally a project runway school. We also visited a museum with traditional historical Chinese costumes or clothing and machines. This teacher then showed us some of her work exhibited in the school. She uses all natural colors for the dyes as you can see in one of the pictures. And the beautiful colorful drapery was made by her!
[ Traditional Duck Dinner ]
Yes we had a full duck. They brought the whole thing to the table chopped the neck off and then slowly piece to piece it was on a plate for us to eat. Along with many interesting things. Yam with blueberries, pumpkin desserts, this piece of beef (i don’t know the name and i don’t want to know for the future). They eat some really crazy stuff. They have dog stew, but they do not eat cat, just big dogs. 😦
[ The “Designer Black Market” ]
Well we began a new day with Silk Street. This is where fake designer brand items are sold. But you HAVE to bargain. We learned to bargain great, thanks to Dr. Tong. They would start with a very high price and we would say, “No, sorry we cannot pay that.” and offer our best price which was normally 1/3 of the price they offered. Then if they wouldn’t take it then we would walk away and these people would literally chase you out the store yelling prices at you and you just had to keep walking till they offered your price. It was absolutely crazy though. Tons of tiny stores jam packed into one building and each store owner is yelling, “Pretty girl, i know you want Prada bag. Beautiful girl, you want Michael Kor? Oh, American girl I have Louis Vuitton. Come in Come in.” It was quite hilarious at times. We fell in love with this place because we got EXACT look a likes to designer stuff at pretty much whatever price you wanted. I bought alot of stuff here, but hey what’s wrong with shopping when your the one who dictates the price tag? But my wonderful roommate learned a great lesson here. When you buy a designer bag, inspect every aspect of it to make sure you don’t get a “Michyel Koks” purse… Yes, look at the picture. I bought tons of sunglasses here, i bought converse here, some bags, and a beats pill. Yupp you read that right. A beats pill, they had electronics. Iphones, Macbooks, ipads, ipods, beats, anything you could want. A 200-300 speaker in america i got for 16$. Best purchase i have ever made. It sounds amazing and super loud.
[ Wangfujing Street ]
If you want a full day of shopping and luxury head out to Wangfujing Street, one of China’s most famous shopping streets. We had so much fun seeing all the different shops and playing around with the statues. We found a fabric store mostly filled with silk and we also found a little market down an alley and it was adorable. There was a store full of baked goods and carts with hardened honey covered fruit sticks. The Forever 21 was amazing it was like 5 floors and way cheaper than America. We couldn’t resist.
[ Green Tea Ice Cream & Popularity ]
Throughout the days we noticed the stares and some pictures here and there, but when you get 7 american girls together eating ice cream on the stairs of Mcdonald’s on one of the most famous streets, you get millions of pictures and videos. People were gathering just to look at us and we couldn’t help but laugh. But if you ever go to China, get the Green Tea Ice Cream. It’s way better than i expected and really refreshing. The last pic is of chinese people just chillin on poles on the street and every single one is eating ice cream. This stuff is forsure the real deal if everyones got it.
[ Tienanmen Square ]
This is a large square in the middle of Beijing. Its actually the 4th largest city square in the world. We became even more popular here. We were just to thrilled. The white building with the tower in front is what the White House is to us. And the other is the front gate to the Forbidden City.
[ The Forbidden City ]
The Forbidden City held the home for the emperors from the Ming to Qing dynasty for over 500 years. And let me tell you, i now know why they call it a “city” it is HUGE. There were so many gates just to get to the palace. It seemed like it took forever. But it is in this exact spot we became the most famous throughout our trip. There were thousands of people at this place it was packed. Its so funny it seems like everything means something to the people in China, like numbers, colors, the way things are set up (feng shui – yes its a real thing and it’s fantastic). Red means good luck and the chinese people love it so it was everywhere. There were 9 knobs on the huge entrance doors cause 9 was only the emperors number. And there was normally 3 entrance ways on every gate or house. The middle was only for the emperor and they have guards blocking the middle. They still keep it that way today even though they are long gone. It’s neat that they put so much meaning into everything. There is a house for everything as well. One just for eating, One just for changing clothes, One for bedroom, One for a bathroom, etc. It’s just ridiculous how large this place is and it was packed with thousands of people. Michelle Obama was there the day before us and it was shut down for her, I think we should have it shut down just for us since we were so famous. Our tour guide actually told us to stop taking pictures with people because it was slowing us down. The last place in the Forbidden City is the gardens and they are so beautiful. Filled with crazy shaped 400 year old trees, beautiful flowers, and ponds. They also had temples for each of the different seasons. The temple we are pictured in was the fall one. Did i mention that this place is surrounded by a mote. Talk about magical fairtytale.
[ Summer Palace ]
And you might ask where does the emperor and his empresses vacation, Summer Palace. This place sits on a beautiful lake in the mountains where it’s breezy and cool for the summer. They have huge boats to take a trip around cause it’s just to big to walk around.
[ Peking Opera ]
Let’s just say i didn’t expected this sound to come out of this lady’s mouth. Nor the music, or any of this really. The opera told a story and i tried to follow along it was just so difficult. We had a cute little table with snacks and tea for us close to the front. And this man would come around with this huge spout on a tea pot and pour it, i was amazed. But I just couldn’t get over this lady’s voice. Just listen.
[ The Ming Tombs ]
We went to one tomb where an emperor was buried. We went to this one because it was less busy. Less busy you ask? Yes this emperor didn’t do many great things at all and you can tell by the big towers or rocks in the pictures have no writings on the flat surface. It was beautiful out there in the mountains. This was actually the first day we saw blue sky and we were lucky. We threw money at the tombs because it’s suppose to bring good fortune. And EMBARRASSING MOMENT – the picture of me and Allison in the cut outs is hysterical, go ahead have yourself a laugh. We couldn’t walk in the entrance, we had to walk around because it’s bad luck. But when you do leave, you have to jump over it and yell, “I’m Coming!”. We did and i made a gif to show you all a quick replay, haha. If we didn’t we would be haunted by ghosts, and we surely didn’t want that.
We had the most amazing tour guide named Amber she was so sweet and we loved learning from her. She sang for us and just told us so many cool facts about China. We introduced her to Miley Cyrus and rap music. I think she enjoyed it. I miss her the most out of anyone i met in China. She even wrote us postcards.
[ THE GREAT WALL ]
Definitely one of the best days because of the weather. Like i said before we were lucky to go to this place on such a beautiful clear day. The smog is gloomy sometimes. But the Great Wall is AHMAZEEEINGGG. It has a little market up a hill and its so cute with old little ladies trying to sell you all kinds of Chinese goods. We took the option to ride up the mountain instead of hike, and then hike the rest of the Great Wall. Best Decision I Have Ever Made. Anne and Me rode the chairlift up the mountain which was scary because it was steep and super long, but we made it through. Did you know that most of the Great Wall is stairs. Yes, stairs. I didn’t know that and i definitely wasn’t prepared for the workout ahead in 100 degree weather. In the before selfies of me and the great wall behind me, yes we hiked all the way to the top of that mountain. And it was all stairs. And it was SUPER STEEP. Sometimes we had to hold onto a handle or wall climb. We discussed and agreed that we are all out of breath by the time we reach the 3rd floor of Doster (Fashion Builiding) and that is nothing compared to this. Yes it took a long time, alot of sweat, alot of deep breathing, and alot of encouragement but we did it together. In one picture you can see i took a picture straight down the stairs and you can’t even see the bottom it’s so steep. And then there are the after selfies, sweaty and disgusting, but the view… so worth it. And guess how we got down… a SLIDE! A little sled that went down… a little fast i might add… and a squirrel jumped on me mid way down, I mean that would happen to me. But the best part of the day was seeing Dr. Tong come around the corner of the mountain at the end on her slide holding every one up. She was adorable.
[ Chinese Walmart ]
Walmart in China is pretty much similar. It’s more of like a Costco or Sam’s and you have to have a membership. We indulged in some goodies while we were there. We tried some american candy- tasted different still. We tried Mountain Dew that came in these cool bottles, and it was pretty good. And some of us decided to get bags of different flavored lays chips we don’t have in America… The Lime that i got was actually really good, tasted like those lime tortilla chips. The meat flavored ones were just weird. It’s like eating meat but with the texture of a chip. Just couldn’t handle it.
[ Chu Yen Designer Studio ]
Chu Yen was actually Dr. Tong’s roommate when she went to BIFT. She is famous now and designs for celebrities. She is so beautiful and so talented. Her designs were amazing. She uses all natural fabric and natural dyes. We had tea while watching her Fashion Shows and then we chatted a bit. I felt a little starstruck. She was so gracious to allow us into her home/studio like that. She said she is thinking about making her studio like an exclusive club where celebrities can come and enjoy tea, talk about designs, and do some meditating. She even let us try on some of her collection. We had so much fun and i can’t wait for her to become big in America!
[ Fast Train to Shanghai! ]
We took the morning fast train to Shanghai which was 5 hours. We got to go through different cities mostly rural, but it was really beautiful. It didn’t even really feel like 5 hours. The trains looked really modern and i did not even expect it. I thought i was going to be riding like a train like the ones that pass through Tuscaloosa, haha.
[ SHANGHAI WE HAVE ARRIVED ]
We visited the famous “Bund”. Its just a waterfront area that over looks some very beautiful buildings in Shanghai. Shanghai to me is more like a New York and Beijing is more of a Washington D.C. We saw newlyweds taking some pics on their special day and i couldn’t help but snap one either. They were too cute. We went back a couple nights later just because we wanted to city all light up. It was rainy and super humid and smoggy but still amazing.
[ Yu Garden ]
The Yu Garden was in a really cool area. It was urban but had these old looking buildings. And yes Starbucks exist in China and its still amazing. It was built for an Emperor and his family to live in the Garden but some of it was destroyed and they rebuilt it today. It was beautiful. So tranquil and peaceful. Coy fish in the ponds, waterfalls, birds chirping. And i managed to get a selfie with an old man in the background.
[ Tianhua College of Shanghai Normal University ]
This college and my university have an exchange program. We got to meet up with students and each got a partner. They spoke pretty good english besides the fact me and my partners first conversation consisted of: Me: “How old are you?” Him: ” I”m Fine Thank You.” I literally couldn’t stop laughing. He was very quiet and shy and didn’t say really anything except for he told me i was beautiful and it made my day. The students were talking with us about things in America they liked and we just laughed alot. One guy even beat boxed for us. They were so fun. We got to try on traditional chinese outfits, and learn to write in Chinese with traditional brushes and ink. We saw their beautiful campus and then ate lunch with our new friends. Which consisted of the most delicious egg rolls i have ever had and some fried chicken. Then we visited a temple after. It’s neat seeing that college kids in China are just like us.
[ Shanghai Institute of Visual Art ]
We visited this super modern art school. The buildings all look cool and the campus is just unbelievable. We went to the classrooms and saw them make these really cool prints. And look who i found, yes J Biebs. My man main in China. We saw the pottery class and sculpting classes. These kids are so talented. We also got to meet with a teacher who showed us some of his art. We also learned or tried to learn how to play the ‘guzheng’ which is like an ancient chinese guitar. When walking to lunch we saw a TV show being filmed. The teacher told us that a very popular Chinese Television show is filmed on this campus. It was so cool. One girl has her backpack and dreds and getting her makeup done with shade on her and microphones and cameras everywhere and the other is in some cheerleader outfit. I wanted to jump in. The teacher let us try this fruit that only grows in China. I forgot the name of it. BEST FRUIT I HAVE EVER HAD. I love sour stuff and it was super sour. Its a tiny little yellow ball we picked off the tree. We peeled the peach-like outside and it was delicious. I want it nowww.
[ Chilling on Campus ]
Yes we stumbled upon this beautiful field of flowers tucked away on campus. I could literally sit out there all day and do homework. Photoshoot time:
[ Cardigan Limited Company]
This was a factory we visited. They made sweaters and heavier winter clothing. We weren’t allowed to take pictures so therefore there aren’t any for here sadly. But the factory was incredible. They have machines that make certain pieces of the sweater. They have one that makes the arms, one that makes the front, one for the back, and collars, and so on. It amazed me. These machines just spit it out and then they go to ladies who put them on this machine where it stitches some of the pieces together and they have to be very good and fast at what they do. Then they go to more ladies who sew the whole thing together. Then they move on to washing. I didn’t know they did that but they do. They add chemicals to help the color, stop shrinking, and clean the garment. Then they move on to inspection they do inspection like crazy on these things. If there is anything wrong even micro on it they will redo the whole garment. Then moves on to ironing and then tagging and then folding or hanging and shipped to us and around the world. This company made clothes for Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Versace, Prada, and more. They had a showroom and also a store with clothes we could actually buy. They were currently making clothes for winter 2015. I bought 2 H&M sweaters for 16 dollars.. and I’m ahead of the game. I know the trends now, the fall colors for 2015. I’m on top of the ball.
[ Hempel International ]
This was another factory we visited. It was for just any type of clothing for all seasons. It was HUGE. The lady showed us pretty much all we saw in the last factory just way bigger yet it had a pant machine. You just clip different pieces of the pant on to these clips and off it goes and it comes out as a full pant. Mind blowing. She showed us the showroom as well. And i was just blown away at all the new stuff coming out. Ya’ll need to hit up H&M, forreal. This company also made clothes for H&M, Prada, Old Navy, and so many i cannot name. They even have 2 of their own brands of clothing cause they have the resources so why not! These clothes were so incredibly cute. It just shocks me at how much time goes into these clothes.
[ Acrobatic Show ]
If you ever happen to visit Shanghai, which i recommend.. please go to an Acrobatic Show. These kids were so talented. Just when you think they have done something cool, it just keeps getting better and better. They were jumping through rings stacked 4 or 5 high, this lady put glasses full of water on her nose and walked up this moving ladder thing, the muscles on the stunt people were insane. We just had way to much fun laughing at the funny people and awed at the skill of these people.
[ Hangzou ]
This was a city outside of Shanghai that has a famous lake. West lake. This is like the only picture i got because i was trying to enjoy the boat ride on a sick stomach. But the things on the water are actually on the 1 yuen in China. So it’s kind of like a national monument.
[ Chinese Cuisine ]
Chinese food is good in China, I think i’m just addicted to American Chinese food. The best foods i ate were fried rice (of course, and lots of it), this spicy hot cabbage dish, mostly anything with chicken, hot and sour soup, and eggrolls. They eat alot of interesting things and they eat ALOT. Dr. Tong kept telling us to eat and we were so full. At every restaurant i think we ordered one of everything and some more. I ate duck brain, i wouldn’t reccomend it. Its alright. And some duck liver. They don’t waste anything in China. If its in the body, they eat it. That’s just their culture and they grow up eating that just like we grow up eating sugary garbage. They always have tea, and they loveeee fresh squeezed juice especially watermelon. Which isn’t too common in America. By the way, I am now a master of the chopsticks. Thank you China i can act like a boss at any Asian style restaurant now. The restaurants are also really nice and beautifully decorated there. I love the fact that you all sit and a circle and share the food. We did eat Mcdonalds, it was pretty good. We also ate Pizza Hut which was AWESOME. It’s totally different than the typical run down pizza hut around the corner. It was a super nice sit down restaurant with a whole different menu. The server had to ask the cook if he could do a half and half pizza. We were like seriously… isn’t this pizza hut? Haha. We also ate at KFC which was weird.. i don’t ever eat any of these in America and they were pretty good in China.
[ Fun Facts About China: ]
MOST OF THIS IS PICTURED BELOW IN SELFIES & CANDIDS.
-If you are blonde people will come grab your hair yelling at you in Chinese and you will run away scared asking your tour guide what they are saying.
-Bring toilet paper everywhere you, they don’t use toilets and like to drip dry.
-Everyone drives a BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Range Rover, Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, or some other extremely expensive car.
-You can only drive on certain days according to the last number on your license plate. If you want to drive you have to pay 40$ a day. (24 million people in one city, just consider the traffic)
-They eat baked beans, noodles, fried rice and alot of watermelon for breakfast.
-Babies don’t wear diapers they have a slit in their pants and go on the ground. (At least you get to look at those cute baby booties)
-If your american you will get stared at anywhere you go.
-When you get tired of people taking pictures of you, start taking pictures of them back. It makes it super awkward until you both eventually start laughing. (it works)
-Forever 21 sizes are alot different in China than America. A size medium is now a size x small because your not 5 feet tall and super skinny. Your obese to them.
-Asians love peace signs and green tea everything.
[ Candids & Selfies 4 EVA ]
Then we flew back to Beijing stayed a night and took another 15 hour flight back to Birmingham. I had an amazing trip but i was ready to be home. I missed my family, my doggies, my friends, and of course my boyfriend.