Food, Language and Travel
Through the Global Applied Program (GAP), I had the wonderful opportunity to visit China for the first time in my life. I planned to use this opportunity to learn both the cultural and the business environment of China. It has been exactly two weeks since we reached China. And, everyday has been a unique experience. On this blog, I am going to share and reflect on my cultural experience.
I am a vegetarian, and, as some of you may know, China is not the most vegetarian friendly place. Combine that with the language barrier... It can be very hard to find good, vegetarian food without the help of a local friend. I remember our very first evening in Shanghai. We went out for dinner and it took us 30 mins to order plain rice and vegetables. Later that night, we took the metro to roam around the city and got lost. However, we had the hotel card with us and were able to find our way back without much trouble. Fortunately for us, we had Hong and Aaron for the rest of our time in China.
Although I have food restrictions, I enjoyed trying new dishes and snacks like the Bimbimbap, the hotpot, the Pocky sticks, the cheese tart and the bubble tea. More than for myself, I enjoyed watching the rest of my team experimenting with all kinds of food. In the US, I've been exposed to beef, pork and chicken (maybe some lamb every now and then). But, in the last two week I have been exposed to many dishes: Bullfrog Legs and Peking Ducks and street food such as scorpions and seahorses.
One of our first touristy visits was to Peoples Square, a large public square in the Huangpu district of Shanghai. From there, we hopped a double decker tourist bus that took us to all the famous and historical places in Shanghai. The tour also included a ferry ride in the Huangpu river and a visit to the Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower is not just a tourist attraction; it has historical importance as it was the tallest building in China until 2007. The Pearl Tower has15 observatory levels, with the highest level at 350 meter. We also went to the sightseeing glass floor which gives a 360-degree view of the entire Shanghai. There is also a revolving restaurant, a rollercoaster and a game arcades area in the
During the second week of our project, we went to Beijing where we visited the Forbidden City. Located in the centre of Beijing, the Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the city consists of 980 buildings and covers 180 acres. After doing some research on the Forbidden City, I found out that it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
We also woke up at 4:00 one morning to watch the flag raising ceremony at Tian'anmen Square, Beijing. The ceremony is conducted every morning, exactly at sunrise. The entire ceremony lasts for three minutes. It is said that it takes about two minutes and seven seconds for the entire sun to rise above the horizon, and the flag is raised slowly to coordinate with sunrise.
Lastly, before leaving Beijing, we visited the Great Wall of China (a two hour car ride from Beijing). I had always heard and seen pictures of the Great Wall, but being there and seeing it in person was a completely different experience.
So far it has been a great two weeks/ I look forward for the last five days and plan to visit the famous World Expo site and the Yu Garden in Shanghai.