Wednesday, June 24, 2009

May 31, 2009

We got to sleep in today! Nothing planned until 10!
We went to church at a government sanctioned Christian Church this morning. It was huge! We wore headphones and the service was translated into English for us. At church we met a lady who graduated from Lipscomb in 1951 and has been living in Beijing for years...she is 92! What a small world!

After church we went to the Beijing Zoo. It was SO HOT! The zoo grounds were nice but the animals didn't seem to be well kept. Visitors were feeding the bears!

After the zoo we headed to the airport for our trip to Xi'an. We had to say goodbye to Carl =( We learned so much from him and wish we could take him with us for the rest of our trip.
When we arrived in Xi'an we met our new tour guide, Harry. Let's just say, Harry is no Carl. We headed to the hotel and some of us got massages before going to bed.

May 30, 2009

This morning we went to New Hope Foundation and it was AMAZING! It is an orphanage that takes disabled children, gets them the surgeries they need to lead a normal life, and then helps get them adopted. The owners were such an inspiration. They adopted their daughter who needed surgery to remove a tumor. They took her all the way from China to Vanderbilt! After a tour, we had the opportunity to play with some of the children. We had such as great time and it was such a blessing.

After New Hope we went to an art district. I was not impressed. Following the Art District we went to Summer Palace. Summer Palace was pretty but just seemed like more of the same buildings.

After the Summer Palace, the bus dropped James and I off at the silk factory that we visited a few days before. I really wanted to go back and get a silk comforter and pillows and James wanted to purchase some more items as well. When we left the silk factory we decided to walk over to the Bird's Nest and go inside. I am so glad we did!

Luckily we made it just in time to buy a ticket and go inside. It was so neat. There were two huge TV screens showing highlights from the Olympics. You could go anywhere in the lower lever, including walking on the field! We had fun taking pictures and buying tshirts for friends and family.

We took a cab back to the hotel and had Pizza Hut for dinner =)

May 29, 2009

This morning we went to the Olympic Village. This was one of the things I was looking forward to most in China. I was admittedly obsessed with the 2008 Olympics. I stayed up all night watching them and that is what originally got me interested in coming to China. It was so neat to see the Bird's Nest and The Water Cube in person. The Bird's Nest was amazing! The architecture was so impressive. The Water Cube was right next to the Bird's Nest...I didn't realize they were so close together. It was really neat to see the places that the whole world was watching less than a year ago. We didn't have time to go in them, but a few of us are hoping to use some free time to come back later in the week.

After the Olympic Village we went to the Temple of Heaven. I was not familiar with Temple of Heaven but the buildings and grounds were beautiful. Walking in we saw a man writing on the sidewalk with a large brush and water. He wrote "Welcome" in Chinese and English for us. He was so nice and you could tell he really enjoyed entertaining the people there.

After Temple of Heaven we went to the PEARL MARKET. Oh my it was so much fun! It was basically a four floor mall with everything...pearls, jackets, chop sticks, etc. It was so much fun to bargain with the vendors there.

The whole top floor was nice pearls. I bought enough to start a pearl store myself! They were beautiful and I got lots of good things for my ladies back home. I picked out the strands and then they made the necklaces, bracelets, etc. while I waited. It was so fun to watch.
This afternoon we went to the American Embassy. It was fascinating. The security was incredibly tight. We met in the room where Secretary of State Clinton recently arranged a round table for Chinese women. While we were there, it felt just like America! Blue sky, English, and an American flag!

After our visit to the Embassy we returned to the Pearl Market for more shopping before dinner at Bei Hei Park. It was really nice and a great traditional Chinese meal. After dinner, Steve presented each member of our group with a book about Beijing and a stamp made out of jade that has our name in Chinese and English.

This was our farewell dinner to the "main trip" students and faculty who are leaving in the morning. I will be sad to see them go but I am excited about the rest of our trip.

May 28, 2009

We had a full day of cultural activities today-Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City and The GREAT WALL!!! Of course, it was raining, but I'm going to try and not focus on that too much.
First up was Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tienanmen Square was like a huge open concrete space. There was absolutely no reference to the events that happened during the protest of 1989. I feel like here in America there are statues or memorials everywhere for everything and it is just not like that in China, especially when the event is so negatively looked at by the rest of the world. We took some group pictures in Tienanmen Square and then moved on to the Forbidden City.

The building on this 100 Chinese dollar is the building in the background.

Wide view of the square.

Me in the Square

The Forbidden City was pretty cool. There were lots of government building that were really colorful and fun to take pictures of :) There were many different parts of the Forbidden City-lots of buildings and concrete but also some very beautiful garden areas.

However, something unexpected and a little "unnerving" happened at The Forbidden City. Apparently there was some German diplomat coming to visit and the security guards were clearing everyone else. There were many different areas to The Forbidden City and usually the visitors (thousands of them!) are spread out over those many different areas, but the security guards were squeezing everyone into a few areas. I don't do well with large crowds and the fact that security guards were yelling at us in a language we didn't understand didn't help! I mostly felt sorry for Carl though. He had the task of keeping all 29 of us together in the masses of people and confusion and making sure no one got left behind.

After The Forbidden City we stopped for a traditional Chinese lunch and again, most of us left hungry. Next...The Great Wall!!

We rode the bus for an hour and a half to the Great Wall. The rain made for great nap time. It was raining pretty hard when we arrived at the wall and it was hard to hide our disappointment in the weather, but we put on our rain jackets and headed to the top. We climbed to the tram and passed lots of "vendors" on the way. We loaded the tram cars, 4 to a car, and headed towards the top. I cannot imagine how beautiful the ride on the tram would have been if the weather had been nice.

Even with the rain, The Great Wall was amazing. I have always read about it and seen pictures of it, but nothing compares to actually standing on it. I took so many pictures! Heather from our group brought chalk and we had so much fun writing our friend's and family's names on the wall. It was fun to see everyone get so excited about simply writing their loved ones names on the wall and taking pictures to send home. The chalk definitely lightened the blow of the bad weather.

When we left the wall, we made the trip back to Beijing and toured a silk factory. To be honest, I was not real excited about it but it turned out to be really interesting. We saw how silk was made and then had the opportunity to shop in their gifts shops. I got some really great gifts for friends and family back home.
From the silk factory we headed to Pete's Tex Mex....Mexican food!!! Ok, so it wasn't exactly US Border Cantina, but it was Mexican food. I had fajitas, a margarita and a Dr. Pepper! It was the first Dr. Pepper I had since Detroit. I was in heaven. The only disappointing thing was no cheese dip =(

We found out at dinner that is was Carl's of course we sand Happy Birthday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

May 27, 2009

Today was company visit overload!

We started with a visit to CITIC. I was very disappointed in this visit. My group had researched CITIC so I was originally looking forward to it. The presenter did not have a Powerpoint presentation prepared in he used the Chinese version. He spoke English, but with a very heavy accent. The accent added to the Chinese presentation was very distracting and hard to follow.

My group at CITIC

Lehman Brown did their presention over lunch at The Capital Club. Lunch was western food and was AMAZING. My favorite part of Lehman Brown's presentation was a section on culture. She discussed Chinese zodiacks, etc.

Aimee and I at The Capital Club for lunch.

Lenovo was next and I was impressed! Their presentation was amazing. they have a "mini museum" on site. Lenove was the number one sponsor of the 2008 Olympic games and designed the Olympic torch....see picture below of me holding it!
We had to wear masks! Apparently, swine flu is a really big deal in China!

After our long day of company visits was over, we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. They had a wonderful live band singing American music. I had an amazing bacon cheeseburger and Coke! It felt just like America while we were in Hard Rock. When we left I was almost surprised not to walk out onto 2nd Avenue.

Hong Kong Summary

So much different than I expected. Everywhere we went was like a mall with very high end stores...Burberry, Prada, etc.

People: Extrememly helpful and polite. The hotel staff was AMAZING. I found a large majority of the people we came in contact with spoke at least some English. We didn't have much trouble communicating at all. One thing we did learn was to "be aggressive"...for example, getting on an elevator or the better go or someone will go in front of you.

Hotel: Courtyard Marriott was great. No complaints at all. The staff was amazing and way above expectations.

Weather: Rain, Rain, Rain.

Christianity: Most of the companies we visited seemed to embrace Christianity. It definiately wasn't something we felt the need to hide. Our group church service, led by James, was very uplifting.

Food: We ate Western food a lot. The first day we ventured to a local place in Stanley Market. Trish and I had a good experience, but Preston and James were not impressed. The dinner we had a The China Club (sponsored by Prudential Asia) was traditional Chinese. I did not enjoy all of the food, but I did enjoy some of it.

Least Favorite Experience: He Shan....mainly due to the all day commute

Favorite Experience: Macau. It was just totally unexpected and a great "break" from the group activity.

Most Disappointing: Victoria's Peak was nothing like I expected. It was a mall with some look out points. I was expecting more "natual" surroundings. Granted, this might have been because the weather was terrible and it was nearly impossible to leave the building.

Things to Remember: Stanley Market, Macau, Victoria's Peak, Light Show, The China Club, company visit to Prudential Asia

May 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Monroe!!!

This morning we left the hotel and went to IFC mall where we checked our luggage for our flight later this afternoon.
Then we went to our company visit at Prudential Asia. They fed us breakfast and then made several presentations. The presentations were great and definitely the best so far. Prudential Asia's CEO is a Lipscomb graduate, so we got the all-star treatment.

After Prudential we headed for the airport for our afternoon flight to Beijing.

We arrived in Beijing about 10 pm. The airport terminal was impressive. It opened less than a year ago, 1 day before the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

At the airport we met our tour guide, Carl. We boarded the bus and headed for the hotel (Novotel Peace).

May 25, 2009

We left the hotel at 6:45 am this morning! We boarded the ferry for the 3 hour ride to He Shan, China to visit Franke and Victory. We had no idea what we were in for.
The ferry was similar to a plane on water...the seats were the same and it even had TVs; however, it was not as clean. It did not feel clean and no one, with the exception of our group, spoke English. We slept, read, and played cards to pass the time.

When we arrived in He Shan, we completed yet another health form and went through another health screening...they really take Swine Flu seriously in China! Health Officials boarded the ferry and took everyone's temperature with a "laser gun." After everyone on the ferry passed the health inspection, we proceeded off the ferry and to customs.

After customs we boarded a bus to Franke. I will never be able to explain the smell of that bus. It was NOT good, to say the least!
On the ride to Franke we passed through what appeared to be an extremely poor part of china-very different from our experience so far on the trip. There were lots of "shops" along the road and few cars. Most people were riding bikes.

Due to the health screening on the ferry, we were very behind schedule. As soon as we arrived at Franke we went on a tour of the office space. The office area was top notch. One strange thing we noticed was that several of the employees were sleeping at their desk. Monitors off, glasses off, heads down, sleeping. It seemed to be perfectly normal.
After the office tour we had lunch in the cafeteria. It was traditional Chinese and needless to say, most of us were starving when we arrived and starving when we left. After lunch we had a tour of the factory. It was a state of the art facility.

Aimee and I in our safety glasses for the factory tour.

Before heading back to the ferry, we made a quick stop by Victory. The conditions were far, far below that of Franke. There weren't many employees and those we did see did not have great working conditions. I was glad we did not spend much time there.

The trip to He Shan made me thankful to live in America and thankful for the working conditions that I am lucky to have.
When we arrived back in Hong Kong, Trish, Preston, Katie, James, Aimee and I walked to Outback for dinner. From watching us I am sure it appeared we had not eaten in days! Cheese fries, Coke, steak and potatoes for all!!
After dinner we made out way back to the hotel to pack for Beijing.

May 24, 2009

Let's see....where did I leave off??? I think I said we were planning to go to Macau.
Macau is China's Vegas. It was a GREAT surprise. It was amazing. We stopped at the MGM Grand first. We walked around, took some pictures and then had dinner. Cheeseburgers for dinner! YUM!

After dinner we took the shuttle to the Venetian...WOW! It was huge! We were told it has over 5,000 rooms and is one of the largest hotels in the world.

5,000+ Rooms!

Macau was definitely something I did not expect to see in China. It doesn't show any signs of slowing down either...there was construction going on in every direction.

We thought about taking a ride in one of these but decided
against it...since we would have had to "steal" it :)

Everyone feel asleep on the ferry ride home in preparation for our 6:45 am departure in the morning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jet Lag

I am back in the US and it is so nice to be home. I was not able to blog while in mainland China due to Internet restrictions, but I promise to update my blog in the next week or so with pictures and info on my trip.

Just wanted to let everyone know that we made it home safely. Once I catch up on my sleep and get my body back to "Nashville Time", I will post some updates about my trip!

Stay tuned...



About Me

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I am a southern girl who loves the VOLS. I recently graduated with my MBA and recently started studying for the CPA Exam. I am currently a Senior Accountant at Vanderbilt; although, my dream job is to be a photographer. I am building my photography business while playing in the "real world". This blog will document my life and my growing photography business. Welcome!