It’s a Small World After All

img_2171The first stop on my journey back to the states was Shanghai, China. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I traveled back to Shanghai for a visit in January, so why was I feeling the need to go again? The answer is simple: to go to FREAKIN SHANGHAI DISNEY. I had been waiting nearly four years to check out Disney’s newest theme park. Back in 2012, when I studied abroad in Shanghai, I got the opportunity to meet with Shanghai Disney Resort representatives who were working on the park and was able to learn more about what the future park would entail. Being able to see those ideas and plans come to life was something I had only dreamed about. With the park opening around the same time I was set to leave China, I knew I had to make a pit stop in Shanghai.

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City of Temples

IMG_9414The next leg of our trip was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were only here for two days (wish it could have been longer) but got to see a TON of temples. Out of all the temples I’ve seen throughout Asia, the ones in Cambodia stand out to me the most. I just think the architecture of these temples is so impressive and unique. There are actually over 300 temples in Siem Reap and we saw every one of them! Just kidding…we probably saw about five or six of them, which was the perfect amount. I started to get “templed out” by the fifth temple.

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Highlights of Hanoi

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Cyclo Tour Through the Old Quarter

The beginning of my trip with my mom (Mich) began in Hanoi, Vietnam. Aside from the unusual, cold weather and the bed bugs in the first hostel I stayed at, Hanoi was a great city to visit. Hanoi is a bustling city in Northern Vietnam. Everywhere you look there are different shops, cafes, restaurants, and motorbikes.

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That Time I Ate A Seahorse

IMG_8474In my previous post, I said that I thought Shanghai wasn’t as good as I remember it being. Beijing, on the other hand, was much better than I remember it being three years ago. Maybe I had a better experience this time around since I never had to take a cab in Beijing (cabs are the absolute WORST in Beijing) since our hostel was conveniently located within walking distance of the subway. The pollution also wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be…we could see blue skies! We still wore our face masks most of the time though to be safe.

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Back in Shanghai

IMG_8359Returning to Shanghai after three years was definitely a weird experience. Up until the time I moved to Chongqing, I thought that Shanghai (where I had studied abroad my Sophomore year of college for a semester) was the best city in China. After returning to Shanghai for a few days on vacation, however, I realized Shanghai isn’t really a true “Chinese” city. Shanghai seemed even more western than before, which is to be expected—major cities in China are only becoming more and more western over time.

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Cruising Through the Three Gorges

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Me, Kaitlyn, Nancy, Barb

Right as the New Year began, I was off on a new traveling expedition with some family friends from the US. My friends Kaitlyn, Barb, and Nancy—who had been traveling around Northern China for about a week beforehand—met up with me in Chongqing on January 1st for a Yangtze River Cruise through the Three Gorges. (I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but there is a lot to cover.)

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Now That’s What I Call a Buddha

IMG_0016Standing at 71 meters high (about 233 feet), the Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest Buddha statue in the world. Carved into a hillside in the Leshan scenic area overlooking the convergence of three rivers, this humungous, stone Buddha is a popular destination among tourists in Asia. Last weekend I got to experience this magnificent statue up close and personal with my friend Kristin.

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我的中国家庭 (My Chinese Family)

On Saturday, August 22nd, I was picked up from my hotel in Shijiazhuang by my host sister, Wang Zi Yi, with her friends and father. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a Chinese household since I did not get the opportunity to enter one during my study abroad experience in 2012, but was excited to see what awaited me.

爸爸 (dad), 妈妈 (mom), 奶奶 (grandma), 妹妹 (sister), 爷爷 (grandma), 和 (and) 我 (me)。

爸爸 (dad), 妈妈 (mom), 奶奶 (grandma), 妹妹 (sister), 爷爷 (grandma), 和 (and) 我 (me)。

When I first got to Wang Zi Yi’s home the family had me take off my shoes and put on a pair of their house slippers (essentially plastic sandals). This is a common practice in Chinese households, done to keep the house clean. Shortly after I arrived, we all sat down for dinner. Continue reading