Here everything is so cheap compared to America. It is awesome. One yuan or 17 cents for one bottle of water that would usually cost about 2 dollars. It seems traveling in China is not as expensive with taxicabs costing at most 20 yuan or 3.3 dollars. Also no taxes here gives you the opportunity to buy more. The only thing about prices is the bargaining sometimes. It is definitely fun but also a little stressful. On Silk Street which is not a street by the way. It is actually a 5 story building full of fake items. The prices are far from the real prices but not the amount you want to pay for something fake. Here is a little how to on bargaining.
HOW TO BARGAIN IN CHINA:
Example Situation: Trying to buy hello kitty bag
Step 1: Walk in and browse a little. Touch some stuff to tease them a bit. They might follow you around or just watch you like a hawk.
Step 2: Ask how much “Duo Shao Qian?” then they will give you a price that is crazy for the thing you are thinking about buying. Let’s say they offer the hello kitty purse for 60 yuan or 10 dollars. That’s too much and you should probably want it for 25 yuan or 4 dollars.
Step 3: To get the price you want. Lowball them and ask for a much lower price. “Too Much, 10 yuan” you say. They will probably respond “Impossible” and pull out their handy dandy calculator and quickly calculate a different price that is much lower than original but still a lot. “40 yuan” they’ll say.
Step 4: Now you repeat “Too much” or “I don’t have that much money” and you’ll say a higher price than your original offer. “25 yuan” you say. Then if they still won’t come down in price. You walk away. Yes you walk away. Left or Right or forward or backward as long as you walk away.
Step 5: Keep your ears open as you walk away and you’ll hear an “Ok”. Success you have just bargained with a Chinese person trying to get the most money out of you but instead you have your hello kitty bag and your money to put it in.
The first day on the cruise was quite relaxing. After having a great breakfast, we went to see the movie about Yangtze River. While some of us used rest of our morning time in doing laundry while others just took a nap. In the afternoon, there was a shore excursion to The Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric project in the world, which supplies one- eighth of the China’s power supply. The sight is really a great engineering work I have ever seen. In the evening, we all were the guests at the captain’s welcome cocktail party.
After a day full of learning and exploring different things in Xi’an, we boarded the early morning train to Yichang. All of us were scattered in the train, some were in hard sleeper class while others were in soft sleeper class. Some students slept, while others were busy socializing by doing stuff like playing cards, watching movies and eating during the 14-hour train ride. It was really funny seeing people struggling to go to bathroom when the train stopped as the bathrooms are locked every time the train stops. It was a fun to buy snacks from vendors in the train. After the exhausting train ride, there was an hour-long bus ride where our cruise (Yangtze Gold 1) was docked.
In the United States, whenever I would get Chinese food I would first try to use the chopsticks and then promptly give up and use a good old reliable fork. Now being in China, I do not have a fork to fall back on when I find myself unable to transport food the short distance between the table and my mouth using only two sticks. At dinner the first night, I began to learn how to properly use chopsticks. Since then I have had several lessons and I have learned that you can hold chopsticks many different ways to get the job done; however I have also realized that the process of mastering chopsticks can be a slow and hungry process. As the food spins by on the lazy Susan, I often find myself spending a few minutes just to pick up one small piece of food. Each time I successfully pick up a piece of food, I feel like I have won a small victory in the bigger battle of learning the art of chopsticks. Some people who have already mastered chopsticks find it amusing to watch me struggle. The girl who showed my around the high school in Dalian found my struggle with chopsticks quite entertaining. Every time I would successfully pick up a piece of food, she would cheer me on with a “very good!” or a “you’re getting better!” At one point I was struggling with picking up my rice so much that she handed me a soupspoon and told me to use that instead. I persevered, however, and somehow managed to eat the rest of my rice without the help of a spoon. I cannot wait for the day that I too have mastered the art of chopsticks and can show off my new skill to my friends at home.
We reached the airport around noon to board a plane from Dalian to Xi’an; it was a tiring day as our flight got delayed by an hour and I had to move my luggage from terminal 2 to terminal 3 and then to the bus, which was quite far away. It was really hot outside too! We reached Xi’an at around 7:00 pm where we had our dinner, which was delicious! The fried noodles were the best. After dinner we proceeded to the fountain square (largest in Asia) and saw the amazing Wild Goose Pagoda. That place was quite relaxing and had beautiful lights all around. Finally we checked into our hotel (Long Hai Hotel) at 9:30 pm.
We checked into our hotel at around 9:00 am after travelling from Beijing in soft sleeper class train. We visited the high school in the morning where we were warmly welcomed by the Chinese students and teachers. I made my first Chinese friend, Anlin, in China there. Those people at school were really very nice. They treated us with the delicious lunch and Anlin taught me to write some Chinese characters. At night it was the formal dinner with all seafood with the CEO in Dalian.
We started our second day in China by having a great breakfast followed by a long drive to the Great Wall of China, which was really incredible. It was really hard to hike the Great Wall, as the steps were uneven. Some were short and others were really high. But is was an amazing view from the top. People in China believe that a person is “HERO” if he climbs Great Wall of China and gets a certificate when he comes down. Later in a day we visited Bird’s nest and Silk Street. It was so much fun at silk street because we kept bargaining. One lady at Silk Street kept increasing the pair of Nike socks from five to fifteen at the same price.
Our second day of exploring China started off with a long bus ride out to the Great Wall and to kill time some interesting stories were told. I’m pretty sure Xinli would like for those stories to stay off this blog. The Great Wall was absolutely incredible. Climbing all those stairs to get to the top of the peak was a challenge. It certainly didn’t help that the stairs were uneven. One stair would be two inches from the other and the next would be a foot. I’m still sore a day and a half later, but looking out at the view and writing my initials on the wall made the hike worth it. When I got back down to the bottom of the wall, I befriended a cat. So clearly that was the highlight of my day. Not the wall, or the Bird’s Nest, or Silk Street, or any of the other amazing things we did that day, but befriending a cat and naming him Dave.
So today was our first real day of exploring China and we managed to cover a ton of ground. Starting at the Tiananmen Square and ending with an acrobat show. We saw a lot of interesting things but I have got to say the Acrobat show blew me away. There is simply no way to accurately describe this marvelous show. Those crafty acrobats defied physics in ways I never thought possible. To anyone reading this post that has not seen this show I would like to pose one question. How many people do you think can physically ride on one bike? The answer may surprise you and if you ever get the chance you really have to see this show in person.
FYI the answer is about 12-13 people.
We almost made it out of the United States!
We made it?
We have finally arrived..in Texas. We didn’t quite make it to China. Me and four other students missed our connection to China due to delayed flights. Weather and mechanical issues caused us to miss the flight by just minutes. As devastating as it was, we got to bond a little more and will now even get to stop in Canada on our way to Beijing!
The airline gave us free hotel rooms so we are going to get some rest and wake up bright and early to hopefully actually make it to Beijing this time around.
Our lovely home for the night.
Wish us luck!