A 23 minute journey

Note: This post was written as a response to the final exam essay question for the writing and editing course I am currently completing. Each of us had to reflect on the work we had completed this semester.ย 

In 1903, the Wright brothers did the world a solid by inventing the first successful airplane. Orville and Wilbur took the thrill of travelling across countries, continents and seas and transcended it into a different zone altogether. 11 years later, the first commercial flight took place. It was a short 23 minute long flight between Tampa and St Petersburg in the United States with the plane flying only 15 meters above about 30 kilometres of bay waters. It was short, but this 23 minute journey completely changed the face of travel.

Continue reading

Day 9: Last day in China

Standing in the middle of the Beijing Capital International Airport arrivals with people moving all around me, greeting each other in a language I couldn’t comprehend, looking at signs I couldn’t understand and with absolutely no clue where the Envision Global team I was supposed to meet up with was; the prospect of nine days in completely foreign territory was absolutely terrifying.

The idea of those nine days seemed to stretch out for kilometers (or miles if you’re from ‘Murica) in front of me. Nine days away from home. Nine days in an unfamiliar city. Nine days with people I didn’t know. Nine days during which I would be completely out of my depth.

But those nine days have passed. Nine days experiencing China in all is difference and beauty. Nine days of attempting to communicate with crude Chinese. Nine days of surviving the smog. Nine days of adventure. Nine days of getting to know a group of amazing people.

Nine days now gone.

The last day in China was bittersweet. Continue reading

Day 8: Old city Shanghai

Shanghai in the slightly smoggy daylight is incredible. Hundreds of high rise skyscrapers shoot up around highways that criss-cross through the whole city. Its called China’s financial capital fpr a good reason. When walking along the streets it really feels like being in the Asian version of New York.

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The city and the people who live, work and play here are all westernized to some extent with most of them being able to speak some degree of English (making taxi rides, scavenging for food and hunting for clothes much easier for me).

The diplomacy delegation (most of it slightly crusty from the festivities the night before) attended a talk at the Shanghai International Studies Institute think tank. The speaker gave an in depth talk about China’s relationships, successes, problems and future goals which was interesting enough to keep my sleep deprived eyelids open for the hour and half long presentation.

The bus ride to Shanghai’s old city market area was another story. Pretty sure my mini bus nap involved a significant amount of drool and possibly some snoring. Continue reading

Day 7: Xi’an to Shanghai

Last few hours in Xi’an this morning.

We set off for Xi’ans city wall.

Basically, its a big wall that encircles the inner, older city from the outer, newer city which is home to all the high rise buildings and more modern areas.

 

A number of us gathered for an early morning Tai Chi lesson right on top of the wall. We looked out over the city while attempting to follow the movements of the Tai Chi mentors who were made up of three older ladies and one old man who liked to shout out instructions in Chinese despite the fact that none of us understood a word of it. They jumped straight into it and performed a whole routine while we tried to follow along. It was pretty much a calamity with us looking like a bunch of new born foals trying to learn how to walk for the first time.

The masters slowed it down for us, going through it step by step until we had some what of an idea of what was potting. At one point, there is a part where you have to stretch your one leg up into the air and hold it for a while. The old ladies were absolutely boss at it. I could hardly keep my leg up for 10 seconds. I was most definitely was close to pulling a muscle. Awks.

Afterwards we were free to roam around the top of the wall.

 

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There wasn’t much to do other than take in the scenery so most of us were chin chilling on the stairs, attempting to get some R & R before the flight to Xi’an. Continue reading

Day 6: Xi’an. Diplomacy at the grassroots level

Travelling around the big cities, visiting the famous cultural cites and attempting to survive the smog; all things that typical tourists do when they visit China.

Today, the diplomacy delegations were able to do something slightly different. Something that removed us from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

After this mornings group meeting where we chose the topics for our collaborative projects (Ding Ding Hao are getting all smart and discussing how china juggles friendships with other major powers like the USA and Russia), we boarded the diplomacy 2 bus and traveled for over an hour into rural Xi’an. Before I looked at the schedule for the trip, I was pretty sure we would just be sticking to the cities and usual touristy activities like hauling our butts up the Great Wall. The landscape started to change only a few minutes into the drive. Tall buildings continuously became smaller and more sparse, the roads were less clogged full of cars and the rivers running under the bridges that the bus crossed over became dirtier. There was almost an immediate division between the built up, modernised cities and the rural outskirts.

I fell asleep for most of the ride (in a very ladylike way. lol jk it was mouth gaping, drool city kind of nap) and woke up when were arriving at our first destination; an art gallery belonging to Mr Jung. According to our local Xi’an guide, Jung is a former teacher who, after being re-educated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, was given a new vocation as a farmer. To keep his creative juices flowing while undertaking his new job, Jung turned to art. Continue reading

Day 5: Xi’an. Terra Cotta time

Had a super cultural day on day five.

Kicked it off with a 45 minute drive to the Terra Cotta Army Museum of Antiquity and Artifacts of the Qin Dynasty. 45 minutes during which our local tour guide spoke the entiiire time. She managed to relay the whole history if the Qin dynasty and the story of the army and the farmer who discovered them, without even breaking a sweat. I don’t think I even know enough words to speak for 45 minutes straight. Too much Xi’an tourguide swag to handle.

We arrived relatively early (8.45am) in order to beat the crowds. On a normal day the museum has up to 20 000 visitors. On holidays (which today was; the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival) it can have up to 90 000.

It’s easy to tell why.

The museum is split up into 3 different buildings. The first building houses the 7000+ army.

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It’s a bit overwhelming walking into the huge space and being faced by thousands of clay soldiers. Each and every one is unique and has different facial features/ clothing/ weapons (some were even rocking a side bun like I was).

The cavalry was lined up at the entrance and towards the back of the room was the “soldier hospital” where some of the statues were being restored

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^selfie with soldier dudes in the process of restoration

The other two buildings were excavation sites and had more versions of the soldiers. In the third, you could get up close looks at the figures as well as see what they looked like when they still had their coloured paint.

All in a it was quite the jazzy cultural experience. Even got to see the farmer who discovered the first soldier. He comes and chills in the museum shop to sign books and take photos with visitors to the museum (only allowed if you buy a book…but I snuck one)

After the soldiers we visited an art gallery where we were given a guided tour and a lesson in Chinese calligraphy. My matric art skills chose not to cooperate and needless to say it was a dog show

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#itried

It’s the halfway point of the trip now and it’s all flying by so fast:( every day is so exciting and full of new experiences and activities. All very exhausting. So I celebrated the halfway point by face planting my bed. Best. ever.

Stare dolce