Hello again! Reflecting back on being on the Great Wall of China almost seems like a distant memory. Nonetheless, it was another sight that did not disappoint in the least.
The sheer scale of the Wall made it one of the most impressive sights I think I have ever seen. It curves across the jagged landscape like a snake and stretches some 6,000 kilometres! I cannot fathom people building such a massive structure so long ago. Some parts of the Wall were also very steep as we ascended and walked along it for about 45 minutes before turning back at the end. We all enjoyed it very much, and it was another one of those “pinch me” moments.
The Olympics scene
The following day was a free day for us, and I spent the morning around the Olympic buildings. The main stadium commonly known as the Bird’s Nest was much bigger than I expected. Also, I was previously a skeptic of its unusual architecture, but after seeing it in person, I converted to not only appreciating it, but liking it as well.
Walking around the stadium and actually going into the 91,000-seat capacity and $3 billion Olympic stadium was an amazing experience. As I walked on the track in the stadium, I thought back to all that had happened in that building. Just three short months ago the immaculate opening ceremony occurred with countless world leaders in attendance, gold medals were won, world records broken, and dreams were fulfilled. I could not imagine how cool it would’ve been to be able to watch the Olympic events in that stadium.
I also visited the renowned Water Cube where the swimming events were held. After viewing all these facilities, I have decided to put “attending the Olympics” on my list of things to do before I die.
An alum in Beijing
That evening after group meetings about our project, Stewart, John, and I went out to dinner with a friend of John’s dad who lived in Beijing and was actually an SMU grad! He took us to one of the most amazing dinners we have had on this trip. They brought out a pot of boiling water for each of us and plates of uncooked meat. We then proceeded to cook the meat in the boiling water and finished by dipping it into this amazing peanut sauce. We enjoyed the conversation as much as we did the food, and we talked about everything from doing business in China to life at SMU.
Our last day in Beijing we visited the Australian Embassy for a brief meeting about the economic, social and political considerations when dealing with China. It was informative, but the Political Science major in me was almost more excited about the dynamics of an Embassy and what they did.
We had an evening flight to Yantai, which is a smaller city (but still in the millions of people) on the east coast of China touching the Yellow Sea. We are staying in another amazing hotel that sits right on the water in a picturesque location.
The last two days we have spent doing wine tours throughout the region. We have been treated as VIPs at the wineries because they are not used to having western visitors. Everywhere we go we receive detailed tours of the vats, the bottling assembly lines, the wine cellars, and we have meetings with the general managers of the wineries. Overall, the wine we have tasted has been much improved from our initial Chinese wine tasting. Though not overly amazing, the wine in this region and at these upper-end wineries has been quite impressive.
Yesterday, I went on a delightful run all along the sea and even ran on the beach for a bit. Yantai really is a nice city. Also, Bratton and I climbed up a lighthouse earlier this afternoon. We stumbled upon a secret meeting of Chinese naval officers at the top of the lighthouse after enjoying the view of the city.
Tomorrow (Thursday) we leave for our last but probably most exciting city in China, Shanghai.
I hope you enjoy these brief little updates.