China was an absolute blast. Not to mention our view from the ship was breathtaking. I woke up on Day 1 in awe of the architecture. "New Town," or The Bund, is the massively urbanized area that most people associate China with. I had my city orientation day program this day and I explored the city with Eva. We had a while to snoop around the markets and buy some souvenirs. That night, everyone went out to M1NT to celebrate Christian's 22nd birthday. I bought a beautiful, tradition Chinese dress and I HAD to wear it out. We stayed out all night to experience what the city had to offer. I brunched the next morning with the normal crew at a fabulous place called The Commune Social. I had the best potato gratin and chorizo. And mimosas :). I explored the more historic areas of Shanghai and went to the Yu Gardens, such a beautiful, tranquil place. I also ended up spending way too much money on a variety of tea--but it's delicious. I learned that shanghai had one of the world's largest, counterfeit markets. After about an hour of trying to figure out the metro and searching, we found the market. It was a gigantic area hidden underground below the Museum and Science and Technology. It was so chaotic, but I loved it. Purses, shoes, trinkets, everything.
Side note--Something that I found out, unfortunately, is that real Chinese food isn't all that great. I don't know if I'm just used to takeout, but I think I'll stick to my sesame chicken from Golden China.
Over the next few days, I had the opportunity to travel to Beijing on the Express field program. I was woken up at 3:30 am by my roomie, Ray, so we could pack and make our way to the airport. I pulled out my 3-in-1 parka and Timberlands and I was set. We would be flying to Beijing to hike the Great Wall. At this point, Eva realizes she doesn't have her passport and has to take a separate cab to the airport...Typical Eva. This was also one of the most terrifying flights ever. I truly thought it was either going down or the wing fell off. But I survived. I made it and was able to see another 7th wonder! Beijing is also freezing. Absolutely freezing. So cold I started crying at one point. But beautiful, nonetheless. Our group hiked for about 2 hours and once we got to the top of one of the watchtowers, we partook in a SAS tradition. Shotgunning a beer, some were more prepared than others. Thank you college. We even saw Floyd Mayweather at the wall. But he got paid 3 million dollars to be there... There was a bride taking her wedding photos at the top, as well. My absolute favorite part, however, was the ride down. There was a toboggan slide that went down the mountainside. It was SO much fun. Next, I visited The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Tiananmen Square. It was amazing to be standing where so much history took place. We eventually made our way back to the bus to take another, equally as terrifying flight back to Shanghai.
It was so cool to be in a country like China. There were so many people and so many different things to experience. It was interesting to see how the government was controlling the populations in terms of media. I wish I had more time here, though. I would've liked to explore Hong Kong or Macau. I guess that means I just have to come back!!
On the last day, I had the most magical time. I went to Disney for the first time ever. And I'm 21, no shame. Eva joined me on my journey through Mickey Avenue and we ate lunch in Cinderella's Castle. I literally cried taking a photo with Mickey. I felt like a little kid again. The rides were great, especially Tron. It was the best way I could've possibly ended my time in China.
Now, we only have two days before Japan. I cannot wait, but it's also upsetting to think that's our last port together. It's a bittersweet moment for our shipboard community.