I feel like I’m on my deathbed as I write this because I’m bunged up with the flu and I’ve thrown up God knows how many times today. It’s been a while since the last blog and I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to write again properly, so I’ll grab it now whilst I can.

The group went to Beijing last week, Tuesday. It was an experience to say the least.

Day 1

Have you ever been 13 hours on a train? Planes are fine, right? They give you food, you have a TV or your laptop. 13 hour sleeper trains are the worst. The people are noisy, you have to pay for food, the sleep you get is limited, you have your laptop but there’s no plug so you have it for only a few hours. I’d say if you go to China and want to go to Beijing, on at least one way experience a sleeper train just so you can feel the annoyance that I felt when I was on it. It wasn’t TOO bad, but granted if I could have afforded it I would have taken the bullet train.

As soon as we arrived in Beijing, what was the first thing we did? Go to McDonalds. As you do. It felt weird walking in there because the majority of people in there were Chinese and they were looking at us weirdly which is ironic seeing as McDonalds is Western. Anyways, after filling our empty stomachs to the brim we set off to find the hotel which included taking the subway and getting squashed; it was like sardines in a tin situation. Then spent about half an hour walking up and down looking for our hotel after the guards kept sending us in the wrong direction but we eventually found it. Checked in, marvelled at the warmth of our room and then we were out again.

Tian’anmen Square is exactly what it is – a square. Bad things happened there, of course, but at the end of the day it is just a square piece of land so after taking many pictures in front of Chairman Mao’s picture and in the Square we got bored and wondered over to the National Museum. I’m going to be frank, I prefer the museums back at home – Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, mainly because it’s more interactive. I was bored. Sure, there was interesting stuff but I’m easily distracted… you get the drift.

Stopped off at a souvenir shop; got your generic knick-knacks and then we padded off back to the hotel. We found a little restaurant down the road from the hotel that did pizza, burgers, chips, etc. We rejoiced. We tried to name the countries of the flags that were hanging around the room. I cheered when I saw the Philippines and Jamaica flag.

Day 2

Early start to the morning. Why? BECAUSE WE WERE GOING TO THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA. In actual fact, we stopped off at a few places before we got there – the Ming Tombs, Jade factory. They gave us lunch which I expected to be very Chinese and traditional, etc. But then they landed chicken goujons in front of my face. The boys actually got up in time for breakfast, so they didn’t eat much but my roommate and I stuffed our faces. Slightly regretted it when I started climbing the Wall, though. I literally thought I wasn’t going to make it to the top but after many a few stops we made it to the highest point of Badaling section and rejoiced. Lack of air at the top made us a little giddy and dry lipped and the locals wanted to take lots of pictures of us. Not that I was complaining, I am a bit of a camera whore. Side note, I REALLY need to get into shape.

Saying I’ve climbed the Great Wall of China in my second year of university is not something I would have expected to say when I signed up to attend uni. It’s something you do in your gup yah gap year or when you’ve finished uni or when you’re old. It is an awesome feeling to know that I’ve actually been there and climbed it though.

Then we visited a silk factory, back to the hotel and then out to eat at that restaurant again.

Day 3

It snowed. Like a boss. Had to buy a hat, because I’m an idiot and didn’t bring one with me.

We went to Chairman Mao’s Memorial Mausoleum. Kind of surreal seeing his dead body. He looked a bit fake and at first I thought his head was a light bulb but it was only the light shining on his head.

Then we headed off to Forbidden City. Forbidden City is massive – if you wanted to tour the whole thing, it’d take you a couple of days at the least but we only had a couple of hours so we viewed a little bit of it (it all got the same, not gonna lie – buildings, gardens) and then got pissed off because our shoes were starting to soak because of the snow so pottered off back to the hotel to warm our cockles back up.

Hard Rock Cafe was next on the agenda which was pretty much amazing! There was a live band and amazing food and asdfghjkl, all the feelings for that place. Definitely going to the one London when I get back – can’t believe I hadn’t gone sooner.

We didn’t do much the next morning because that’s when we were on our way home – we took the bullet train back, which was so much better because a) there was plug for our laptops, so I watched Mad Men, Community & American Horror Story b) the toilets were CLEAN unlike the sleeper train, c) they sold popcorn.

I feel I’ve pretty much ‘done’ China now, and I’m ready to go home. There’s so much that’s happened that I must tell you guys but I’ll leave that to another post, thought I’d get the Beijing post out of the way. Throwing up is long, I’m starving now…

If you’d like to view my Bejing adventures, feel free to add me on FB: https://www.facebook.com/ChynnaAshley

If I stand stock-still for a few seconds and just stare at the ground, then I can imagine that I’m back home. I’m back in England. I’m back on the grimy streets of London. Despite those grimy streets, I do miss it an awful lot. I’m not that homesick that I immediately want to go home right now but there is certain twinges when I read posts of friends back home on Facebook and I Skype my family on the weekends. Needless to say, when it comes to Christmas I will definitely be crossing off the days to go home.

I literally have just got back from spending two days in Shanghai. One word – crazy. I’m still figuring out whether it’s good crazy or a so-so crazy. On one hand Shanghai is a really nice city, aesthetically pleasing and all that with it’s tall buildings and luxury brand stores but then you got the hordes of tourists that flock there constantly. Before going to Shanghai, Ayo and I asked a couple of students what they thought of Shanghai and they immediately said they hated it. I can now see why.

Shanghai is really Western – as in every corner you turn there are stores Nike, Apple, American Apparel, Gap, Lacoste, all very Western brands. It’s not very Chinese at all. It’s pretty much like going to London, I think. We hardly used Mandarin when we were out there either; the only things we said in Mandarin were “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Thank You”. It’s like people in Shanghai are forced to be able to speak English because of the amount of tourists they get.

I’m not saying Shanghai was a bad place because it was definitely an amazing shopping opportunity (two new jumpers, three pairs of tights and a scarf) to get stuff for yourself and the usual gifts for family and friends, but for me it was a bit too much like home. Not entirely but because there were many nationalities there, it was like being back in London.

The nightlife in Shanghai is amazing, however. It’s a bit annoying though when random people come up to you trying to sell you flashing light things and fake watches, but I suppose they’re just doing their jobs. We were just walking down a really long high street in Shanghai when we heard hip-hop music, so we decided to check out. We were pleasantly surprised – a Chinese man who, upon looking at looked like he couldn’t dance for shit, busted out with Michael Jackson moves; moon-walking, pop-locking, breakdancing, the whole nine yards. It was immense. I took a video on my camera but it’ll probably take a while to edit and upload, so I’ll have to show you guys another time.

I felt like a proper tourist, which irked me a little because I always take the piss out of the ones back in London with there fat cameras hanging around their necks and they have these stupid caps on, but there I was sitting away on the tour bus taking massive amounts of pictures. To be fair, the tour bus was pretty good – we got free ticket for a river cruise, which was really relaxing and then free entrance to the Jade Buddha Temple. It was so beautiful inside of the temple; there’s a little gift shop upstairs where you have to rub the Buddha’s belly for good luck. It made me laugh because the Buddha looked pregnant. There were these three Australian men on the tour who were so funny, I was holding a bag of doughnuts and they were like, “You didn’t get that here did ya? Maybe that’s why Buddha’s laughing all the time, cause of the doughnuts!”

Most the bus tour was going around Shanghai, which I noticed mainly consisted of shopping malls and designer brand shops, etc. There were three routes you could take on the bus but we didn’t get to go on the blue one because we ran out of time – but apparently there’s this tower you get to go up which is pretty high. Hopefully we’ll be giving Shanghai another visit soon, because whilst we did a lot, there was still so much more to do.

It’s a little known fact that if something is foreign and it has no subtitles, I will hardly pay attention. This happened the other day when we were invited by my Mandarin teacher to go to the opera. Look, it’s not completely my fault – the Chinese girl sitting next to me tried to explain what the story was but, whilst her English was good, she spoke a little bit slow.

I tried to get the gist but when most of the play consisted of high-pitched singing and duck sounding voices, I kinda zoned and started playing Fruit Ninja on my iPhone. From what the girl said, in the opening scene a woman dreams of the man she loves and then the next scene they meet and he loves her and when they try to get married, they might get killed and blah, blah, blah…

I won’t lie, I’m not a big fan of opera but I thought I’d give it try because 1) I’m in China and, 2) I seriously need to get out of my hotel room and stop watching Cougar Town because that is just anti-social. Western opera is definitely different from Chinese opera, mainly because the Chinese opera has more colourful costumes and painted faces and all that jazz.

I’m meant to be updating my university blog like everyday or something, but honestly with me not doing nothing fun whatsoever, what am I supposed to write? Apparently, one guy in the group is doing like two posts a day. Good Lord, motor mouth much?

Tuesday and Wednesday (today) we had the day off classes because of the Paralympic games which is all well and dandy but yesterday I wasted a whole day on watching Cougar Town and scrolling through endless posts on Tumblr. I have such a thrilling life. Then, today I woke up feeling REALLY sick. I mean nearly falling out of bed and rushing to the toilet to throw-up kind of sick. Terrible. I’m feeling better now (partially because I watched more Cougar Town and started reading Clockwork Angel) but I’ll be glad to get back to classes because I literally do nothing when we are off. I hate when my schedule gets thrown off D:

We are moving to the student dorms on Friday which I’m actually excited about ONLY because we got to view the dorms before we moved in and, *drum roll please*, we have Western toilets! No hole in ground! The whole hole in the ground thing is too much of a hassle anyway. Grr. Plus, we get a wardrobe each and a desk each which has cute little wooden shelves on top of it. I’ll miss the hotel because the maids come and clean, make our beds and replace the towels but you know, the new place isn’t so bad.

We were meant to be going to Shanghai but we got snaked. I mean, I’ve heard of people snaking and being snaked but it’s never actually happened to me. We were meant to go with one of the guys in our group but he went ahead and went without us. The worst thing is that we saw the day after he apparently went and he was all, “Oh, I’m still up for it!” and then what, 10 minutes later I check my Facebook to find he’s uploaded pictures of when he went Shanghai. Men are the worst. Spineless gits.

Chynna x

It’s nearly 4AM in the morning but I felt the need to blog, so I’m going to go ahead and blog. How’s China, you may ask? It’s FANTASTIC – I’ve made a great addition to the Chinese population with my crazy self. I’ve actually been pretty this past week because of classes and stuff, but we have a week off because of National Holiday, so I thought I’d take the time to blog.

Classes have been good, if you like the whole school thing. Ha, joking. View Post

Imagine spending your birthday over 5000 miles away from your home — your friends and family, etc. and yet you have the best fucking time of your life. It was Ayo’s birthday on Monday and it was actually much more fun than I expected from just going out to eat and KTV. I mean, it seems we usually go to KTV anyway every Monday since we got here but I think last Monday was extra freaking special JUST because it was someone’s birthday.

We ate out at a new restaurant recommended by our friend who helps us in our Mandarin class — regretfully I’ve forgotten the name of the restaurant but I’m pretty sure we’ll be revisiting — and we ordered around 9 dishes, basically a lot of damn food View Post