Saturday, May 17, 2014
We started our morning at Peking University, a major Chinese research university located in Beijing. We were assigned two student tour guides who did a wonderful job of showing us their beautiful campus. The most memorable things about the campus were the architecture, landscaping and the amount of bikes, which I snapped pictures of below.
After we received our tour, we were given two lectures on campus: Chinese History & Culture given by a professor and the One Hour China given by author of the book, Jonathan Woetzel. The lecture on Chinese History & Culture was extremely informative for the rest of our visit. We learned about the ancient Chinese empires, the Chinese language, and the overall history of Peking University. My favorite lecture was the One Hour China lecture due to Jonathan’s engaging nature and the knowledge I learned regarding the six important trends of business within China. As a business student, it was interesting to learn about China’s economy, where it is headed, and how it affects the Western world.
Following our university visit, we went to Summer Palace, a stunning Beijing landmark with many palaces, gardens, and lakes. As soon as we stepped off of the bus, we were bombarded with salespeople trying to sell us hats, fans, and fake watches. Our tour guide, May, previously warned us to be aware of counterfeit money. In order to prevent this, we were told to carry smaller bills and to limit buying things on the street. Well, someone in the group ended up buying a hat with 100 yuan (about $16) and was given back change in counterfeit money. We got sidetracked because we had to track down the salesperson and get the money back. After that, everyone was a lot more cautious about how and where we spent our money!
Once we received our tickets, May led us onto the grounds of Summer Palace, which was bustling with people. The first thing I noticed was the traditional Chinese architecture, which was similar to what was seen at the Forbidden City. As we walked, we came upon one of the most beautiful, peaceful lakes I have ever seen. We were able to take a few pictures, but May was walking pretty quickly and we were on to the next sites. We walked through the gardens and eventually ended up at the entrance for the Dragon Boat tour. As we waited to board the boat, we experienced more tourists who wanted to take pictures of/with us, which was starting to get pretty… normal at this point. We also encountered an artist who drew a caricature on a plate for one of my peers and a tattoo on the arm of another. When we boarded the boat, we ended up being one of two school groups, the other being from the University of West Virginia (Yay America!). The short 5 minute boat ride to the entrance was very scenic and overall, I had an enjoyable experience during our Summer Palace visit.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Sunday morning marked the start of team presentations, one of the main purposes of our trip. My team and another team were the only ones presenting in Beijing and both were to occur on Sunday morning. This was my first encounter with doing business in China and what surprised me the most was how casual they were compared to in the US. While we wore business professional (suits), the company representatives had on business casual and even jeans! My team only had to present to one of the company VPs and the presentation was in a conference room, so the setting was very relaxed. It went well and it appeared as though the VP liked our ideas and presentation, which is always the goal. After my presentation was finished, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. That was the one thing that was standing in between 1) my degree 2) me enjoying my trip in Asia and I was extremely happy to be done with it!
After we headed back to the hotel to change out of our suits, we boarded the bus for the hour drive to the Great Wall. We stopped for lunch on the way at a pottery factory/restaurant and although I did not buy any artifacts, I absolutely loved the designs. The most popular design was the vase, which came in numerous sizes. In addition to pottery, there were bracelets, ashtrays, necklaces, ornaments and more that were sold. We weren’t told that we were visiting a place that sold souvenirs and as a result, I had not brought any money with me :(.
The restaurant served traditional Chinese food and I wasn't too tired of it at this point. I even felt like I was becoming a professional with using chopsticks! This meal was also pivotal because we were served our first Chinese liquor (it tasted like rubbing alcohol - yuck!). The restaurant sold bottles for 10 yuan so I decided to grab a bottle for a souvenir.
After we left the restaurant, we headed to the Great Wall! I was extremely excited and can probably say that this was the thing that I was looking forward to the most about being in China. As we drove along the road, I was in awe of my surroundings – the mountains on each side of the bus were breathtaking. It was amazing to think that the Great Wall was man made, considering how expansive it is.
We parked and then took a quick group photo at the bottom of the steps before we started to head up the wall… apparently we were taken to one of the steepest sections of the wall, the Juyongguan pass. We as a group had no idea what we were in for when we started this climb. Personally, I though it would be a leisure walk with several breaks in between. However, this was not the case… I might or might not have almost passed out on the way up haha. What I did not know was that the Juyongguan section of the wall was an uphill climb the whole way. I essentially did a 45 minute Stairmaster workout by climbing this section and the struggle was REAL. After about 5 minutes in, our group realized that we were not stopping for breaks and it was every man for himself smh. I ended up climbing with a group of people I had only met on Thursday, but by the time we got to the top, we felt like best friends. We really had to push each other to get to the top because of the strenuous nature of the climb. When we finally made it to the top, we were so hype! The effort that I put in to make it to the top made the experience so much more worthwhile. It was hard for me to take a lot of pictures because I was too busy trying to survive, but I did manage to catch a few on some water breaks and a lot more on the way back down. Climbing the Great Wall was definitely a top 5 moment of my trip to Asia and I would probably do it again if given the opportunity.
While on the bus back to Beijing, our tour guide told us that she had friends who gave massages and asked if any of us were interested… I’m pretty sure everyone on the bus raised their hand haha. She had about 10 friends come to the hotel who gave us 1 hour massages that included full body and feet for only 120 yuan (about $20). I honestly could not have picked a better ending to my day – a hot shower, a massage immediately following, and Pizza Hut waiting for me after that.