As I write this, I'm sitting on a bus headed from Wuxi to Suzhou in China. Looking out my window, I can't tell if it is smog or fog completely consuming the air. I pause and inhale deeply. Here is a detailed recollection of the daily events that happened between Sept 7th to Sept 16th, 2013. It will include most of my thoughts as I jot down whatever comes to mind. Most importantly, it will be random.
I hope you enjoy reading this as much I enjoyed living it.
Day 1 & 2: Vancouver - Beijing, Sept 7/8th
11:00am: Met Regina (She's from Singapore!) on flight from Vancouver to Seattle. We talked the whole way there. She just came off an Alaskan cruise and was super knowledgeable about the Asia Pacific region :) After did sales for 10 years, switched into marketing, then switched to PR, where she currently works with Amazon. Really inspirational for someone looking for answers (me) [Vancouver time, Sept 7th]
4:05pm - Landed in Beijing, transferred from terminal 2 to 3 with uneventful success [Beijing time, Sept 8th]
4:10pm – I get lost and overwhelmed. I was unable to find the tour guide who was supposed to pick me up. Immediately started problem solving and approaching strangers for their phone. Exactly zero of them lend me their phone.
4:25pm – I give up looking for a random tour guide holding a sign; there were WAYYYY too many of them. Instead, I find the Information Desk.
5:30pm - Met Lea (Newcastle, UK, 22yrs, Masters in terrorism) by the information desk at Beijing airport. He was taking this year to teach English via TOEFL. We both got lost and were stranded for two hours while we waited for our separate tour guides to pick us up. He was somewhat quirky and eccentric, making him a great person to talk to. We talked about post modernism and relativity.
6:30pm - Nice lady finally picks me up after 2 hours to guide me to the bus that would take me to my hotel. She spoke no English but we conversed in mandarin for a solid 5-10 minutes. REALLY STRUGGLED with the language barrier but loved every minute of it. She could understand my accent and what I was saying in Chinese!
6:35pm - met Paul (Calgary, UofC Business, 30yrs) in the Jacco tour bus to hotel. We talked about everything from the high river flood to work (Manager @ Superstore) to how we got here. First time to China w/ parents, speaks only Cantonese and no mandarin. He is just as lost as I am, love it.
7:11pm – I look up as I'm writing this to see McDonald's. My heart warms to see familiarity and my stomach rumbles. We are stuck in traffic.
8:40pm – I arrive at hotel after two hours of traffic. My arms are getting bigger from carrying my luggage. Just kidding. They're not.
Day 3 – Beijing, Sept 9th
2:30am – I wake up because my body thinks it's 11:30pm Vancouver. I remain in limbo for the next three hours trying to fall asleep.
6:03am - I meet a guy from Scarborough, ON on the way to breakfast. We bond instantly, and he asks me why I'm studying on vacation. (I was carrying the 4-Hr Workweek)
6:05am - CHINESE BUFFET FO BREAKFAST?! Heck yes. I pump my fist in the air to no one in general and proceed to fill my plate with whatever looks good.
6:09am - I eat two whole chili peppers without realizing it. I spend the next 5 minutes downing mango juice to ease my pain.
7:02am - I finish breakfast after 30 minutes of focused, relaxed reading. The rest of the world disappears for that time and I dive into the world of outsourcing and automation.
7:35am - met Nathan, UCLA electrical engineering, UC Davies Law, worked two years at Nvidia and did a Vietnam Cambodia trip w/ his girlfriend.
7:47am - Tina, (Liu Jia Lu) our tour guide, starts introducing herself.
9-12am - Forbidden Palace. Got caught up in listening to Tina:
- Dragons represent the emperor, Phoenix represent the empress. When together, they are depicted as a happy couple.
- Beijing Olympics were the first time when jade was combined with gold, silver and bronze medals to show its importance
2:19pm - We got to visit Pandas! Cute Lil buggers just rolled around. I went to the washroom and wanted to see the stalls. I pulled one open to see a Chinese dude dropping a deuce. He was pretty indignant, I wonder why...
3:32pm – Our bus stops in Hutong and we get to hop on a rickshaw. They bring us into a traditional Chinese home decked out w/ a courtyard. The direction of the rooms signified where you'd stay (North if you were elders, E if you were boys, S if you were servants, W if you were girls)
5:15pm - Kungfu show! If I were epileptic, I would've had a seizure immediately. Spectacular show, although I kept dozing off. The same thing happened to me in Cirque De Soleil in Vegas ...
7:00pm - Tired out and hungry, we stop at a Peking duck restaurant. I start to pout a bit because the table went with beer and I don't drink. Coupled with poor service, there was nothing to drink all meal. Jay is grumpy.
8:45pm - When we get back to the hotel, Tina informs us that she can get us a 1.5 hour foot and back massage for only $30USD, in our hotel rooms! I say “Hell yeah, sign me up.” This beauty of currency differences pleases me. Lily shows up 5 minutes later and I sink into bliss.
9:45pm – I fall asleep. Lily leaves early, figuring it’s a waste of energy for her to keep going.
Day 4 – Nanjing, Sept 10th
5:19am - I wake up after sleeping all the way through the night feeling refreshed and not as grumpy. My dreams revolve around the end of my trip, where I have to face the music with my job decision. I still don't know, but also realize I have more than a month left...
5:55am – I decide to remove all game content from my life and to go back to checking inbox once a day. No wi-fi for the past four days has been killing me, waiting in suspense for an interview offer.
6:03 - 7:15am - Another Chinese buffet breakfast, these guys are spoiling me. I run into Scarborough man again and he asks me why I'm studying so much again. 4HWW paves the next step to 'Speak like a Natural' by giving me action items to research.
9:12am - I decide to make today amazing and to stop being a little baby. I greet everybody cheerfully and begin conversation with everyone in my tour group individually (22 ppl). I vow to listen and learn today instead of making snapshot judgments.
The rest of my tour group is made up of 5 Peruvians (Gabriella, her mom, her baby son Daniel, Alex and Arturo), 11 Indians (Keene, Lindsay, Sam, Simon, Bruce, Gwen, and their family), a mixed couple (Michael/Sherry, accountant), Nathan and his dad, and 2 ladies from the West Indies (Jamaica and Grenada!). So freaking cool.
9:15am - Stuck in traffic. I learn that Chinese bus drivers don't give a crap about courtesy and right of way. If everybody's doing it... Is it right?
9:18am - Tina is going through 12 Chinese Zodiacs: Rat, Ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog, pig. I realize 2013 is the year of the snake. My year. Interesting.
9:37am - just finished a Jade Carving Factory where the jade ranges from 200 to 100,000USD. The creation of value from the guide’s story is fascinating.
9:54am - After walking around for 20 minutes, I am absolutely bored out of my mind at this Jade store. They have some pretty elaborately detailed globes though. I decide to watch people instead and quickly find some Singaporeans, recognizable by their accent.
10:03 - I run into Tina, who informs me that we have 20 more minutes. 'Normally, we stay here for 1 hour and a half.' Fo reals? I continue people stalking to keep my mind alert.
10:11am - Looking at the globes, I decide to continue batching my future trips into a minimum of 5 countries at a time to maximize flights across the world. I debate adding Laos, Myanmar, Burma, and Bangladesh to my trip. My next milestone will be 24 countries travelled to over my lifetime, at an average rate of 1 country/year of existence. At the end of this trip, I'll be at 19/20ish. 24 seems doable by next year.
11:05-11:54am - I climb the Great Wall and get back down. With sage wisdom, I took a wrong way down and ended up at another tourist entrance. On a time constraint, I book it across a highway and somehow find my way back, like a boss. In retrospect, my whining about hard it was makes me seem like a pussy. It was about the same difficulty as the Grind. My legs were trembling like crazy on the way down. The view is definitely worth it. Reminds me of climbing in Marseille, France.
12:15pm - Tina asks me why I'm back so early. I tell her I climbed and descended that mother of a wall in 49 minutes total. She looks at me in shock and tells me most people take 45 min up and 45 min down. I feel proud of myself. My legs are still trembling as I stand there.
1:44pm - just finished gobbling down food after that hike. I ate everything in sight.
2:08pm - Noooooooo, They got me! They gave us an hour to browse the huge shop downstairs, where I finally picked up souvenirs.
3:15pm - We get to the summer palace and are given 45 minutes to walk around and relax. I travel along the long corridor and romp in the sun for a bit. I pick up a really unique looking ice cream cone and ask Alex to take a picture of me with ice cream. He looks at me as if I am stupid. Haha, yes.
5:30pm - The bus stops at the Olympic birds best and water cube. Tina informs us politely that we have 5 minutes to go take a picture and come back. It's like a 15 minute walk. Challenge accepted. Cartwheeled the heck out of that birds nest!
6:45pm - Dinner w/ dumplings! Everybody looks absolutely exhausted. Likely wiped out from the wall - ain't nobody mess with that!
Definitely best day so far...Out of the two. Tina suggests a massage. This is a good idea. Then I remember I still have 36 days to go on this trip. S**t. Budgets.
Day 5 – Nanjing, Sept 11th
4:00am - The phone rings to give me a wake up call. We're leaving for Nanjing in an hour.
4:03am - Routine exercises, followed by tea.
4:54am - Introduced to Rita (Grenada, RN) and Pauline (Jamaica). They are the coolest nurses ever.
7:56am - Flight takes off to Nanjing. Met Anna and Steve (from Thailand, lives in Dallas), super nice - we bonded when I dropped some Thai on them! Met Katie and Martin (Toronto, TD/Airmiles), on vacation with Katie's parents and her brother. They gave me recommendations on where to go in New York! They were part of the Chinese-speaking tour group, and informed me that they learnt pretty much nothing from their guide. Good stuff. We have numerous couples switch to our tour group. I feel grateful for Tina.
10:18am - landed in Nanjing and it's pouring rain. Quite the difference from sunny Beijing! Haha, I'm actually excited for this next part. I believe we are checking out the Confucius temple today.
10:50am - Our new tour guide is James for the rest of the trip. He starts with saying 'Most people come to Beijing as tourists, but in the past two days, you have become soldiers.' I like this guy already. Nanjing was the old capital of China, literally translated 'southern capital', it's about 2500 years old. Legit. The Jiangsu province has 2nd largest economy in the country, right behind the Canton province. It's small in size but has 90 million people. James is dropping knowledge like a boss.
Other great quotes from James include
- 'Nanjing city wall (600 yrs old) is like the Great Walls (400yrs old) grandfather'
- 'Dr Sun Yat Sun is like George Washington. And Ghandi'
12:27pm - Lunch conversations continued: Alex is my age! He graduated with industrial engineering, he plays electric guitar, and he's studying English and French at night school. He inspires me to take up Chinese school 3-4 days a week to accelerate my learning. He wants to take up art classes for drawing and painting.
12:54pm - I find out that Rita and work together at the St Michael's hospital downtown Toronto. It’s a trauma center that is constantly packed. As colleagues over the past 11 years, they've gone to Madrid, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Austria, and China together. Could these people get anymore interesting?!! :D
Day 6 – Wuxi, Sept 12th
7:51am - James asks me 'Why you look like you going to play basketball, single man?' I'm the only solo traveller and so I've been nicknamed Single Man by James.
8:49am - Visit to the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. It's foggy so there's not much to see. Great history lesson from Alice on Chairman Mao and negotiations with Russia on blueprints for the bridge. They used to ferry trains across the river before the bridge was done. There's a really cool model room that shows how hard it was to build the steel pillars in the water.
9:11am - picked up the perfect gift for TLee <3
9:38am - Ming, Nathan's dad commented on how tough it was back in Mao's reign. Realizing that he grew up in China, I began interviewing him to get a sense of life in china in the 60/70/80s. Sent to work in a farm after high school, Ming was paid pennies daily for his labour. He was allowed to see his family in the city twice a year, but it was expensive to travel. After Mao's death in 1976(?), the government changed policies and opened up spots at universities and colleges... but not many. About 1 out of 100 students were accepted. He studied to become a math teacher and was given the chance to move to San Francisco for graduate school. With budget cuts to the board, Ming found himself out of a job and switched studies, working in a restaurant to pay for school. He is now a software engineer at Cisco Systems, 4 decades later.
10:02am - Alice is teaching us about jadeite and pressure points. For men, take two fingers, and put it under the line where your left hand and arm join. (3 fingers for women) There are two pressure points in that area: one that connects to your stomach and one that connects to your heart. Rubbing it will activate that pressure point and calm an upset stomach while traveling. Anybody able to validate this?
10:11am - Alice is 36 years old, majored in Geology in university and studied tourism and English on her own. It explains her knowledge of rocks. She's a good tour guide, repeating key points 2-4 times to reinforce memory.
11:28pm - Lunch had French fries!
12:29pm - The bus leaves for Wu Xi. This three-hour bus ride allows me to write, reflect and sleep.
2:06pm - We get a much needed bathroom stop after an hour and a half. I have no idea where we are.
2:35pm - 40% of the world's concrete is sent to China for buildings.
2:59pm - An Apple worker factory retains $4.7USD for each iPhone produced. Cheap labour. After recent investigations and lawsuits, they increased it up to $7/iPhone.
3:09pm -'This one guy's wife, she like to buy Coochie' - James talking about Gucci bags - HAHA
3:13pm - I am informed that ZhongShang St is the equivalent of Main St, there's one in each city in China.
3:20pm - Xue's Garden - absolutely gorgeous. Turns out this guy knew 5 European languages, was promoted to one of the highest ranks in Chinese government, and given this big lot of land to grow his family. On his way home from a Europe trip, he got sick and died in Shanghai, just 100 km away from seeing his home. Because of this, the first event in this place was his funeral... Kinda sad.
3:59pm - Wuxi has one of the largest consumer spending stats in China; due to cheaper housing prices, residents have more spending money. They also make tons, but I forget where it comes from.
4:10pm - Jiang (Ginger) is our local Wuxi tour guide. In the picture to the right, he's saying, "For sore throats, mix/skim pearl powder with brown sugar."
4:20pm - We arrive at Tai Lake, the most famous lake in China. It's 4x the size of Singapore and full of pearls, silver fish, and heavy crab.
6:34pm - Eastern China cuisine consists of more rice, whereas northern Chinese food had more noodles. These 10 course meals are great, but I definitely miss my noodles =P we eat Silver Fish from the Tai Lake
7:00pm - This is the earliest we've gotten to the hotel!
Day 7 - Wuxi/Suzhou, Sept 13th
6:30am - The smell of smoke wafts through the hotel lobby as I walk to breakfast. The breakfast options look less appealing each day as all the food comes with a layer of oil on top of it. After wolfing down a carb-heavy plate of noodles and dough, I resort to a lighter finish based on fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe and pineapple. My breakfast conversation revolves around investments that other people have made.
8:10am - We head to a local fishing village to check out a pearl farm. The sales reps opened up a clam that had 30 pearls in it, but only 5% of the pearls can be used as jewelry. The bigger the better (8mm being the minimum diameter). The clams are cultured and harvested after 10-14 years. These ones were thrown into the Tai Lake (freshwater) after being cultured for 10 years. All these stops are hard sells.
9:39am - Simon is a 62 year old man from Goa, India. He used to be a distribution manager for Johnson and Johnson's. In 1998, he finished his last project, which was Acuvue, and immigrated to Canada with the promise of getting transferred. It was, like most immigrant families including mine, for his children to have an opportunity to study. His international credentials fell through, and he ended up in the finance industry working for CDS, which was recently acquired by the TMX group. His son Bruce went to university in Seattle, majored in aerospace engineering and ended up in Boeing. Word.
10:00am - Keene is a 4th year Mechanical Engineering and Management student at MacMaster University. His name has Irish background, despite the fact he's Indian. Looking to design cars one day, he hopes to work for BMW or Mercedes Benz. Interestingly enough, the obstacle he faces is a language barrier, as most design plants for those companies are in Germany. Toronto's car industry entails mostly manufacturing plants, so he'd be looking at the US or abroad. We chatted about dream cars, highlighting features in brands from Audi to Mazda to Lexus. Everybody on my tour seems amazing!
10:12am - Arrive at what appears to be a Teapot Museum.
10:24am - I drink what I think is the purest green tea ever and fall into a state of bliss.
10:41am - After an unusual intake of fluids, a washroom is much needed. I can't find one.
11:15am - The Indian's family name is Mendes, normally a Portuguese last name. This happened due to the fact that Goa was run by the Portuguese for a while in the 21th century. You can distinguish Spanish (Mendez) from Portuguese (Mendes) based on the ending in the spelling. Their explanation of this is fascinating, and I ponder how Chiu/Qiu ended up as Kiew. O.o
12:27pm - After indulging in pig’s ear and duck's neck during lunch, we are off to Suzhou!
1:37pm - The clouds swirl around as we pull into the Lingering Garden. The building structures in the city are all painted white with black roofs, symbolizing feng-shui and opposites in life. I'm curious as to how Suzhou got its nickname, Paradise on Earth. It stems from the slow and relaxed lifestyle in Suzhou of painting, weaving, and drawing.
1:55pm - Tim, our new tour guide, informs us that Suzhou is also the city of silk. Due to the perfect climate for maoberries, silk worms are in abundance. Tim is 5 feet tall and makes me look like a giant. Quite the difference from North America.
2:47pm - Tim throws another nickname for Suzhou, Venice of the East as we drive to the canals for a boat cruise. I begin to question how much he is making up.
3:49pm - I left my phone on the bus, but it was a peaceful ride! Apparently the cost of riding a subway is 2 yuen, a bus ticket is 1 yuen, and a bicycle is free! There are green city bicycles all over that you can just pick up and use. (10 yuen deposit for a registration card)
4:25pm - The thought of living in a 32-storey apartment where there are 14 blocks of identical buildings surrounding it makes me depressed. I make a mental note to NOT do that. Being a Vancouverite living on an acreage has made me claustrophobic in Asian Suburbia neighborhoods.
4:27pm - This newfound habit of jotting down my thoughts makes me smile. I really enjoy writing as an outlet for creativity and musing. I decide to go look for a fiction book the first chance I get. (I read a LOT, but it's most non-fiction now. I'm going to go back to my teenage roots and dive into imaginary worlds to stimulate my vocabulary and imagination.)
4:31pm - Metropolitan China cities blurs into one, as everything begins to look the same.
4:33pm - Suzhou's New district was created in 1994, when it started doing business with Singapore. This whole area was farmland 20 years ago.
4:51pm - There's a sharp crack of thunder as we walk down the LED Atrium at Suzhou's Time Square. It acts as a warning before the showers open up. There's not much to see around here and the LED screen isn't even on. Instead, lightning dances across the gloomy sky.
4:57pm - CRACK! A torrential downpour begins to soak all 22 of us. With a long way back to the bus and limited umbrellas, we take off our shoes and trudge barefoot through the shopping area. So far, this truly is one of my favorite, pure moments on the trip.
5:21pm - There seems to be a verbal competition of describing things in China as 'bigger, better, taller, richer, best'.
5:40pm - Dinner by the lake makes the rain absolutely comforting. The waterfront view is beautiful and couldn't be a more perfect way to complete the day.
5:56pm - You eat a meal 3 times: once with your eyes, once with your nose, and finally with your mouth.
Day 8 - Suzhou/Hanzhou, Sept
5:15am - I awaken with adrenaline pumping through my heart. My most recent dreams have played out in octane-fueled epochs with people who have come and gone in my life. I reach over to the bedside table and grab a pen, jotting down the details and trying to piece together the meaning of it all. Weaving through different snapshots of memories, each night's dream begins to link together. I come to an unwanted conclusion of my biggest weakness: I tend to pick favorites, run with my horses, and leave everyone else behind.
I remain in bed, sheltered under the silk covers of a 5-Star facade, and try to process how I run my life like a business. Knowing that this thought will carry me for the foreseeable future, I decide to get up and forget about it for now.
6:15am - This hotel has a razor! After a week of sparse and uneven growth, my mustache meets its timely death
7:25am - As the sun breaks through the haze of morning, the hotel breakfast turns into my first dose of travelers diarrhea. Thank God for Pepto Bismol.
8:55am - The group takes a journey through the world of silk, as we explore how silk worms and their cocoons are boiled, opened up, and threaded and made to form comforters and pillows. Two weeks ago, my mom excitedly shared her purchase and picked one up for me. Score! To ensure there's appeal to the American crowd, there's a Burberry-patterned comforter cover. If you wanna be a boss, sleep like a boss. (Lol, btw, no – I did not get the Burberry imitation set)
9:00am - Gwen is a recent graduate from UofT in Human Resources. She spent the summer traveling through Goa and ended up here on their family trip. Entry-level positions in human resources are hard to come by; most grads start as a recruiter and work their way up. Hoping to end up in Europe, she's an avid traveller like myself. We’re about the same age, so it’s cool we’re on the same page too.
10:15-1:15pm - Arturo asks to sit next to me on the bus. The kid, only 15 years old, has an outstanding memory.
He's memorized all the Capitals of each country in the world, taught me the algorithms for the Rubix Cube, and has square roots up to 30 memorized to the 7th decimal. For fun. His questions are sharp and unique for his age range. For instance, he's looking long term to become a medic and help the failing Peruvian medical system, where doctors are paid very little and unions strike frequently.
2:20pm - I'm standing on the upper deck of our cruise boat on the eaters of West Lake, the sun beating the sweat out of my forehead. A light breeze passes by and the fog covers everything above the mountains. A floating restaurant passes by with people soaking in their green tea. All is right with the world.
4:04pm - After a long walk through West Park, I blank out as James explains the culture of tea. I'm absolutely exhausted and meditate on the air con.
5:44pm - I finish the Rubix Cube on my own in about 10 minutes! *noobish pride* I haven't done one in years. Arturo teaches me three more patterns that I can look cool with, then makes me do it so that I learn by practice (shown below).
6:37pm - Dead at dinner - need energy...and better tasting food...
7:37pm - WOW! Mind blown! The Song Dynasty show had over 600 performers, tons of different stage backgrounds, horses, laser show, falling rain AND snow, and moving bridges. It was Cirque meets Visual Effects on Steroids meets Asia. Extremely impressed and hooked the whole time. It puts the China tour back on the map, especially going into the last day tomorrow! (Monday is pretty much travel)
8;51pm - James points to the building headquarters of Alibaba, the worlds largest e-commerce company. They are situated in the heart of Hangzhou's New District.
9:27pm - I wake up from my nap to see Wang Lee Hom staring at me from his billboard. I feel like we are close to the hotel.
Day 9 - Shanghai, Sept 15th
6:23am - The dream world leads me to a welcome party for new hires at company X, where all the noobies are introducing themselves, hoping to make a good first impression. When it comes to me, I blank out and tell everyone I can rap. My mind frantically searches for a verse to showcase, and I end up with Eminem's Infinite saving my butt.
I wake up and start rapping it because I haven't sung or rapped during this trip at all. RANDOMMMMM!
7:09am - Paul and I catch up at breakfast and compare tours, realizing that the Canto-Mandarin tour was all mandarin. Since Paul speaks Cantonese, it's been kinda just a look-see tour. Martin comments that they got the classic bait-and-switch, most families on the tour speak Cantonese but the company didn't follow through.
7:12am - As we speak, I shovel more watermelon, grape tomatoes, cantelope down my throat. I don't want a repeat of yesterday, and have been conscious of what I eat.
7:15am - I wonder to myself: If every day is perfect, what would that look like?
7:18am - I'm hit with my second bout of travelers diarrhea. So much for that fruit. Pepto Bismol could start being a supplement to my meals.
7:40am - We're off to Shanghai!
7:50-7:57am - It's about a 3 hour ride, so I decide to do the Rubix Cube again. Finished in shorter time but with the algorithms, I figure the next step would be to memorize the middle layer first.
8:09am - I decide to reframe my thoughts from 'What should I do with my life?' to 'What could I do with my life?' in an effort to open up possibility instead of restriction.
9:39am - I make a minor life decision to exclude having my cellphone at dinner with my girlfriend, family, or close friends. Paying attention to them in the time we have together is exponentially beneficial compared to the benefits I would get from checking my texts or email.
10:39am - Upon arrival to Shanghai, we are shuttled to another jade factory. My eyes glaze over and I decide that thinking about my life is more important. I wonder if living in 2-3 countries per year is sustainable, like... Canada, somewhere in South America, and somewhere in Asia. Based on remote working conditions, I'd be able to buy/rent a dream loft for a fraction of the cost in North America. I'd be constantly learning about different cultures if it is a close plane ride away. Ah, the beauty of the drunkard’s walk. (Google that term for explanation)
12:33pm - WHOA! Our tour group just crashed a wedding for lunch, our tables were part of the same room. I just witnessed a wedding fully in Chinese :) über adorable
2:06pm - Stepping it up in sales cycles, we are brought to a Chinese Pharmacy where we receive a free foot massage while they sell products. Alex, the main presenter, speaks to us in broken English but w/ a Malaysian accent. I approached him to find out if he was from Malaysia, and it turns out that he is learning English there! It's cool how you adapt different accents if you learn it in different environments.
I also had the longest mandarin conversation EVER - 30 minutes with the masseuse. :) Most of it was broken, but she didn't speak English at all, and we managed to understand each other =) dopeness.
*She spoke most of the time, it turns out I understand 10x more than I can speak.
2:55pm - Shanghai's downtown includes Xintiandi, a pedestrian section of bars and restaurants. There's a mix of nationalities represented by the tourists here that exceeds what we've seen so far. I feel more at home haha.
3:25pm - Cheng Huan Mao is an old temple and bazaar for tourists. There's an overwhelming number of people, making me feel slightly claustrophobic.
6:22pm - On the top deck of our boat, with the wind fluffing my hair to one side, Shanghai's Huangpu River helps me find a moment of clarity. Writing over the past week has been a healthy way to let my thoughts go. Inhaling the fresh air, I slowly smile. It would be silly to hold bad emotions over time. I glance over the waterfront and soak in the moment.
9:07pm - The tour checks into the hotel together as a group one last time before each family heads their separate ways. The Peruvian family meets up with Daniel's dad in Shanghai, the Indian group of 11 goes home (Edmonton, Mississauga, and Scarborough), Nathan and his father Ming head back to San Jose, Michael and Sherry tour Guangzhou, Rita and Pauline spend an extra day in Shanghai for see the Pearl Tower, and I'm off to Singapore to reunite with my relatives. The night finishes strong with group pictures and tons of laughs. I can't wait to see what happens next!
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.