Got up a little later than we had expected but still got a good view of Hong Kong. The city is absolutely huge and very shinny. It all looks so new. Ryan pointed out where the hand over had been in 1997. He was very excited to see his parents and going home. He was cool just to be around. After we finished eating Jimmy and I went back to bed. Next thing we know Dave, Shabby, and Christina are knocking on our door. We asked if the ship had been cleared and they said it had been a half an hour ago. They also informed us that we had two minutes to get our passports or we werenít going to get them. Iím running down the hall to the grill to get my passport still zipping up my pants. We got them just in time. We are so lucky they woke us up. We would have slept all day. I got off the ship ASAP, I didnít want to be there anymore. I had missed meeting Ryan to go out buy I knew he was coming back at 1300 to get some more people. I was shocked when I walked off the gangway. We were docked in one of the nicest malls I was I had ever seen. I couldnít believe it. All I could think about was the ports in Kenya and India. The difference is shocking. What sucks is that this is all they are going to talk about. Now I donít know what it was about this mall but I was lost immediately. I wondered around for about a half an hour before I got out. The shops were nice to look at but I would never shop in them, they were just too expensive. When I finally got on to the street it wasnít that much better. The shops and signs were overwhelming. I wondered the streets in awe of the scope of everything. I found a phone after a while to call home. I was the first time since South Africa that I called. The phones have just been to hard to find or use in the rest of the ports. The family was fine and the had gotten my post card from India so that was good. I would have liked to talk to them before but it just wasnít possible. We talked for a surprisingly long time but I had time to kill. After that I walked around for a long time, well it felt like a long time when there is nothing to see. I expected for there to be lots to see and do but there wasnít. After I got over the mental "Wow" of everything there just wasnít anything there. There were plenty of tall buildings and neon signs but it all seemed like a facade. Looking back I think it has to do with Hong Kongís history. They are not English but they are not Chinese either. They donít know who they are or what they stand for. Everything was nice and everyone dressed like the Spice Girls but there was no substance. At around 1220 I walked back into the mall. I knew I didnít remember where the ship was but I figured in a half and hour I would be there. Wrong! I wandered around in that place for an hour before I found it. The only reason I did find it was that I went outside and walked along the building. It was by far the most confusing mall Iíve even been in It was making me furious. So I got on the ship at around 1330 and no one was around. I ate lunch and went back to my room. Jimmy and Valerie were both in there. Evidently Ryan was running late so they were both there. I was happy that at least I would have someone o walk around with. We waited around until about 1400 and were getting ready to leave when Ryan came in. His mother and brother were with him so that was neat. We went to his room and picked up some of his stuff before we left. Only Valerie and Steve came with us, Jimmy had to go on a photo soot with Clayton. We took the ferry over to Hong Kong island and got a cab to their apartment. It was nice, it was the first time I had been in a "home" in months. It felt a little strange at first but we all fell back into it fairly quick. They put "Lean on Me" on and we looked at Ryanís pictures. Also got to check e-mail and ShaftLand for the first time in a while. ShaftLand isnít doing as well as I expected. I donít think Iíll hit 1000 by June 10. Ryanís mom had to teach a class for a while so we went out on a little hike on some mountains next door. It was a good hike. We got to a crossroads so I made a decision to go right. That was a little harder then I thought it would be. It was all steps but they were so steep that we had to stop a couple of times. Valerie couldnít keep up so we moved on ahead. We had hit the point of no return so we kept on going. It took us about another 15 minutes to get to the top but once we did it was great. You could see the reservoir below, and a couple of the towns in the background. The thing is their towns are our big cities, they were all sky scrapers. We hung out there for a while and cooled off, then got a bunch of pictures. Valerie eventually made it up too. It was really nice, cool with a breeze. Heading down was the hardest part. The steps were steep so you couldnít go fast. It was really tiring. By the time we got back to Ryanís house we were all covered in sweat. It was fairly disgusting. Ryanís dad was back by the time we got there. He and Ryan filled out some school forms while we got showers and checked the Internet. I remembered that classes had been scheduled at Pitt already so I wanted to check my e-mail to see if my councilor signed me up. She did but the thing is that she signed me up for Abnormal Psychology again. I sent her a note about it and asked what to do but there is a good chance I wonít be able to check my e-mail again so who knows whatís up. Add/drop may be my only option. Either was I got the other classes I wanted so most of it is fine. When I was done we headed out to get something to eat. We walked to the bus stop which was interesting. The bus was nice, it was a double decker. We got to the city fairly quick and got to where we were going to eat. Dr. Sabia and Elliot were going to meet us there but they never showed up. Dinner was good but not great. We had lots of stuff but the main thing was a port thing which you rolled up into a tortilla-like thing with celery and onions. The only bad thing was that I started to get a cold. When we were done Ryan, Steve, Valerie, and I split off to go back to the ship. I had quite a few Hong Kong dollars left over since I hadnít had to pay for anything. We figured we would go to a bar, get some drinks and maybe a couple of cheep shirts or something. We didnít know we were in the Red Light district. This was where Ryanís mom pointed us. There were strip clubs everywhere. That wasnít our thing so we went over to where the Star Ferry was. The skyline was unbelievable. The city is just so big and bright. I tried to take some pictures but I donít know if they will come out. Getting over to the island where the ship was we dropped off our stuff and went out. The night life over here was not good at all, for SAS kids. Everyone went to Hong Kong island which is where we had just been. The only people that were left where we were was people who spoke Chinese. We went to this bar and got a couple of drinks but it was lame. Ryan and Valerie left because they had things to do tomorrow. Except for getting up at 0500, Steve and I had nothing. We walked around for a while and looked at a couple of places but nothing was good. We walked around for a little longer, then I got some stamps and we went back. It was already 0130 but Jimmy and Andy were not back. I put a few more things in my bag for tomorrow and went to sleep. It was going to be an early start the next day.
Today started out bad. I didn't get a shower because I hit the snooze too many times. Andy wouldn't get up at all, he was still so drunk. I told him to get up three times then went to the bathroom. By the time I got out and packed up my bag, he still wasn't up. We both had to be there at 0510 and it was 0515. I'm yelling, "Andy get the *#@% up, now!" He just has this big smile on his face. Even Jimmy woke up and was telling him to get up. Finally he gets out of bed. I didn't wait any more I headed out. Overall, the people on the trip looked cool. Only Hopeless and the BFB worried me. We all got stickers to wear that had our group visa numbers on them. The boxed breakfast wasn't that great but I ate most of it anyway. We only had 30 people so we were able to get out fairly quickly. We were getting on the bus by 0530, while some groups were still waiting for people. Small groups are so much better. I slept through all of the bus ride and most of the time at the Hong Kong airport. I do remember the inside looking huge. It looked like you could fly a blimp in there. We also had to take a shuttle train to our terminal. That's really all I know, I slept through all the rest. When breakfasts were coming on the plane you could get the western style or the Chinese noodles. Everyone else got the western but I got the noodles. When I said it the stewardess smiled and said, "I like the noodles." Evidently most people don't want to try new things, that makes me mad. We got to the Beijing Airport at around 1100. We flew though customs, no one even checked our passports and visas. We were out and gone before the other groups had found each other. It was about an hour drive until Remnin University so I slept there too. They had really scared us about the rooms we would be staying in. They were fine, I had no problem with it at all. They had concrete floors beds, a TV, phone, toilet, shower (which was just a spicket on the wall), and a sink. Overall, Spartan but nice. Lunch was good. It was served on a rotating table so we all could pick from it. There was so much food that we couldn't finish even half of it. It was all good but there was just too much. I slept through the ride to the Yonghegong Lamastery. I was afraid it was going to suck when we first got there but it was one of the best temples I have been to. In fact, I think it was my favorite temple I have gone to. How to describe it is hard, there are three boxes of buildings so I would do a counterclockwise circle around each section. It was really cool, the cultural revolution had passed this Lamastery by, so it was untouched from it creation. They had an ancient bell and many Buddhas in the rooms of the first square. It seems like people there are much more spiritual than people in the west. I'm not sure it that is due to the depth of their culture and the fact that it has been here for 5000 years. There were three 15 ft Buddhas in the passageway to the second square. The rooms of the second square were also filled with Buddhas and these demons. I never knew how many spirits and demons there are in that religion. I have been very surprised. There was a huge Buddha but it was being worked on so I couldn't really see it. The last square had the largest indoor Buddha carved from on piece of wood. It was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest. It was very impressive. I put it up there with the Vatican, and the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Madras. I left with a feeling of awe but there is so much I missed because I know nothing about Buddhism. I'm really mad at myself for being so stupid about the world. There is just so much I could be learning. I asked Juan (she was a woman - pronounced Yu-an) what the differences where in Buddhism between countries. Specifically I wanted to know about how the laughing Buddha came into existence. We got cut off so she didn't get to answer me. I was feeling very sick, I had a bad cold so I slept again on the bus ride. In the lobby of where we were staying Juan came up to me and tried to answer my question. She seemed to believe that most of the differences were architectural and not spiritual. I asked about the fat, laughing Buddha and she said it represented the Chinese hope that the future will be better than the past. I was satisfied and just happy that she took the time to answer my question. She is a very good guide. Dinner was great. I've become "Mikey" on this trip. I'm the first to try everything and if I like it then people have it. I guess the problem with that is I like everything. From dinner it was back on the bus to the Liyuan Theater for a little Peking Opera. This was the sickest I was on this trip. I'm freezing then burning up, it was bad. The first part of the opera was about this girl who is given a jade bracelet by this guy. Then this matchmaker is trying to get them together but she is unwilling. Finally the matchmaker convinces her to let him try to hook them up. That was it, the story ended there. It wasn't like a western opera at all. There is a small group that plays on stage left and the people sing in these high pitched, almost whinny sounding voices. It was interesting but I was sick and tired so it was hard to keep my attention. The second part was much more action packed. It was about this monkey king and these 18 ahats that are trying to arrest him. The monkey king is a trickster and a prankster. He is armed with a staff against all of these guys. He is too good for all of them, he plays with them and beats them down. All the time laughing it up. It was really cool. There was so much acrobatic stuff it was insane. Flips, jumps, rolls, they were all over the place. One of the Ahats had long arms, one was tall, short, drunk, old, some had staffs other swords, it was great. No one can beat him and he is still loose at the end. It was cool. After that we drove back to the university. I was dying. I laid down and was out. I just was not feeling good at all.
We had a late start this morning. We didn't have to be up until 0730. I was not ready for the food they would give us. We had dumplings with meat in the center. Some pickled stuff and toast. I ate it but it was not what I was waiting for. The bus was to be there at 0800 but it wasn't there. It had gotten into an accident and wasn't going to be able to make it. They had to send another one over so we had until 0900 to walk around. I walked around the campus for the time. It was interesting, all the people studying on benches don't sit out to the sidewalk like we would, they sit in. They are actually there to study and not talk with people. The campus is fairly nice though it is a little run down. The bus pulled up at about 0910 so we had lost a little time. That didn't turn out to be a problem though, Tiananmen square was under renovation. You couldn't go out into it at all. Everything was covered. It wasn't all bad though. The big picture of Mao that you think of when someone says Tiananmen Square was still up. We passed the Great Hall of the People but couldn't go in. You walk through the Gate of Heavenly Peace under the portrait of Mao to the Forbidden City. I got a couple of pictures and went through. There were tons of people there so you couldn't really stand there too long. You were kind of pushed through. I didn't really know where anyone was so I just followed it. Our group met at the entrance while Juan got tickets and audio tapes. The audio tapes were the funniest thing. Roger Moore was the narrator so you had James Bond taking you around the city. It was built in 1407 to 1421. Twenty-four emperors lived in the city before the empire ended in 1911. It served the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was a huge place, there were four main areas. They were all spectacular, I can't even imagine living there. You enter through the Meridian Gate and cross over a bridge to the first building, the Gate of Supreme Harmony. There are two huge bronze lions on either side of the steps. The male is on the right (if looking at the palace from the outside) and is standing on top of a pearl. The female is on the left and stands on a cub. From here you go through four ceremonial palaces: the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Perfect Harmony, Hall of Preservation of Harmony, and the Gate of Heavenly Purity. The last palaces are the Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union, and Palace of Earthly Tranquillity. These were more daily living of the emperor and emperor's wife. All are covered in gold and have dragons and phoenixes on them. Everything is on a grand scale, nothing is small. But I guess when you are the son of god that's what you get. I got a pineapple popsickle and walked around in the imperial guardians for a while. Soon enough it was time to go. I had been surprised not to find any hockers but they were finally here. They had Mao lighters that played "the East is Red." I wasn't really great so I just wanted to go. We ate at this Cantonese Restaurant. I thought it was funny, they had Christmas decorations up. Lots of places do, they just thing they look good. Last stop of the day was the Temple of Heaven. We came though the south gate to the Round Alter. It had three levels, on the top all the stones were in multiples of nine because of the nine layers of heaven. The emperor would come here to make sacrifices to heaven. Next was the Temple of the Gods. This was a cool building but the best part was the circular walls around it. If two people stand on opposite ends and face north you can talk to each other because of the way the sound bounces on the walls. It was really neat. Next you walked down a long walk way to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is on top of three levels. It is totally made of wood and has no nails in it. There are 24 columns representing the 12 months and 12 hours and four central columns that represent the seasons. The last building was small and all I remember about it specifically was the 70 year old door. One emperor who was old needed to shorten the route to the building. He made a law that only emperors who reached 70 years old could use the door. He turned out to be the only one who did. I walked up to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests to wait for everyone else. I didn't really understand how large Beijing was. The city is on all sides and all the buildings are huge. You can't even tell where downtown is. I'm not even sure there is a downtown. Some people wanted to go to sleep at the Great Wall but Mike said no. Everyone who they asked said that it would be dangerous. They said OK but I know the look of someone who is going to do it anyway. From there we went back to the University. We ate then got ready to meet the students. I was first in line to walk into the room where we would meet them. As soon as I walk in everyone applauds. I didn't really expect that. They told us it would be casual, and maybe it was in their eyes but to us it was fairly formal. Everyone was seated at two semi-circular tables. We had to sit SAS, Chinese student, SAS,... I had hoped to be able to talk to a lot of students but on-on-one turned out fine. The girl I talked to was really nice. We talked for a while. I said I was a little intimidated by this format. I like the more open room so everyone can mix. I guess that would have been very strange to her, things like this must be much more formal. After a while they made an announcement that we were free to walk around. I wanted to see the campus and the city so I walked outside with her. Dawn and I met and walked out with our students into the city. This showed me a major difference between US students and Chinese ones. They spend so much time with classes that they have no time to go out. They take classes for 40 hours a week and that doesn't include time they study and they always study. They don't even know what is in their own city. I would ask, "What's down that street" and she wouldn't know. We walked through a shopping place for a while. I told her I didn't know how developed China would be so she said we should walk though there just to see. It was nice. She was surprised that I didn't have to take an exam to get into SAS. I was surprised she had to take an exam to get into school. In China everyone takes the same exam and the score you get qualifies you to get into certain schools. I don't think I like their system very much. I'm happy to be living where I am. From there we walked down the street. I didn't think it was too far but I don't think the students were ready for it. When they got back they said, "Oh, we walked so far." As we were walking back we met this other guy who spoke English. I talked to him for a while. I was impressed, he had taught himself how to speak English over the years. He asked me the usual how is China, how long are you here, are you having a good time. He also asked me about some pronunciations. He was cool but he had to leave. One thing that the girl asked was about Hillary Clinton and if I thought she could become president. I had to say no. It was hard trying to explain the concept of the glass ceiling to someone not from the US. I'm not quite sure she understood but I think she did. We looked at some pictures on this information board on the revolution. It was interesting. Then we walked back to our dorm rooms. The students had given us shirts with the Remnin University name in Chinese characters. We had been given shirts to give to them but we hadn't brought them. So we gave them the stuff back where we were staying. I showed them some pictures of my family and she showed some from her university. They liked them, it was really cool. We exchanged addresses and took some pictures. We set a time to meet the next day. It sucked though, the girl had class and unlike the US they don't skip. I liked her more than the other guy. It would have been cool to walk around with her. But, oh well, that's life. I had a good time and I'll write her again.
Another late morning, we didn't have to get up until 0730. Breakfast was at 0800 then off to the Great Wall by 0830. It took about an hour to get to the Great Wall but I slept through most of the ride. When we finally got there it was one of those moments that words or pictures could never capture. You go around this curve and there it is. It doesn't really look real, it looks like something out of a painting. It stretches over these mountains that you would never expect to see anything on, let alone the Great Wall of China. The day was hazy so everything seemed to fade into the distance. We pulled off the express way and got to the parking lot by about 0920. It was about a 5-10 minute walk to the wall. I got really ripped off here. I really needed to go to the bathroom but to get in was 0.30 Yuan. I gave a 10 Yuan bill and they have me a 5 and 2. What I didn't know was that they made bills that are worth less than one Yuan. She had given me back a 0.5 and 0.2 bill. So I spent almost two dollars to take a leak. What a scam. We finally got into the Wall a little over 0930. You could either go left or right but I heard if you go left you can be at ruins of the Wall in about an hour. This part of the Wall was nice but it didn't seem real. It was totally rebuilt for tourists. It would have been like going to the Roman Forum and having it totally rebuilt. I would have been very disappointed if I had only gone this far. I was by myself so I could keep a fairly good pace. We had to be back by 1230 so I wanted to get as far as possible. It was very steep at parts but I was flying. There were tons of hockers on the Wall but they didn't bother me that much. The views here were spectacular. You could see the wall stretching over the mountains as far as the eye could see. It was still fairly early so I was more or less alone. After about a half an hour of walking I came to the end of the line. There was a huge sign saying "no visitors." This wasn't a problem though, I just walked back a couple hundred yards to the last turret and took the stairs to the ground. I waked along the Wall until I came to the fence and simply waked around it. From here on none of the Wall had been improved. This was what I wanted to see. I headed out down the crumbling wall for a long time. I was totally alone out there, there was almost no sound. There were sections where you had to almost climb up and others where huge chunks of the wall had just fallen down. I got to this old turret where you could look out over everything. It was unbelievable. There was another turret a little higher than the one I was on. When I reached that one you had to use hand and foot holds to get to the second story. When I got up I knew I just had to stay here. All that you could hear was the gravel under your feet and the wind. It was the most peaceful moment I have had at SAS to date. I just say and took it all in. What would that same part I was on have looked like 2000 years ago? I have to say that it was not only one of the most peaceful moments of SAS but of my life to this point. Five years ago if you would have told me I would be sitting on the Great Wall of China. I would have laughed. This trip has truly been the chance of a lifetime. It was a moment of great reflection. It reminded me of where I was walking back to the campsite from the bathroom on my safari. It was one of those, "My god, I'm on the other side of the world. I can't believe this is actually happening." I was there for about 20-25 minutes before some other kids from our group showed up. They were in just the same awe I was. The beauty, the history, it was all overwhelming. How do I even describe it? I can't even begin to. We all stayed here for a long time, I stayed until about 1130. I wasn't sure how long it would take to walk back so I gave myself about an hour. This turned out to be too much time. The Wall had really started to get crowded, some other SAS groups had just gotten there. I'm glad we got there earlier. I got back to the entrance at about 1200 so I had quite a while until I had to be back at the busses. I walked around and checked out the road side stands., I got tow shirts for 12 Yuan and a soda for 5. Everyone but the BFB got back to the bus on time. We only left about five minutes late. Going to the Wall was one of the best experiences I have had to date. We went to eat at this Friends Store (Friends Stores are run by the government for tourists). The food was very good but I couldn't really afford anything in the store, it was all really nice stuff. The bathrooms had an interesting feature. They had western and Asian style toilets. We ended up having to wait about 10 minutes for the driver of all people. I had had a bottle of 110 proof rice wine at lunch so I took a little nap before we got to the Summer Palace. I was felling great when we got there, I had a cold since we got to Beijing but now it seemed gone. The two students guides we had both wanted their pictures taken with me. They said I looked like Bill Gates. I thought that was funny. The Summer Palace was a very cool place, it was used by the emperors as a get away place. I knew I was going to have problems right away, the map on the ticket was in Chinese characters only. I was lost almost as soon as I started. They had some very cool water guardians that I walked around for a while in. I don't know what was up but all the buildings were either closed or you had to pay to go into them. I followed the paths down to this recreation of a marketplace. YOU had to pay to go into that too. I walked up a hill to the main three buildings. I'm not sure what all of them were, they did not have descriptions in English. One however was a Buddhist temple. It had little Buddhas all over the sides of the building. The heads had been broken off of the ones that people could get their hands on. Inside there was a large golden Buddha. There was another large building but you had to pay to get in plus in was getting very close to 1700 and we had to be back by 1730. This is where things started to get really bad. First, I had no idea where I was and I wasn't really sure where we were meeting. The map on the ticket was hopelessly out of scale. I found myself back at the water gardens again which were on there other side of the complex. I started to speed walk in the direction that I thought I was to go. I recognized one building on the map and it looked like it would be very close. Wrong! It was twice as far as I had already gone. I was worried that I was going the wrong way because I hadn't gotten there yet. Finally I got there at around 1737. I'm never late but I was this time. This was the first time that the hockers were bad. They weren't any problem for me. I don't know why but there were these guys selling these red noses where when you blow air out these tow things would shoot out (they were like those new years things). The walk to the bus took us so long because people just can't say no. Oh well... The next stop was the restaurant where we were going to eat Peking duck. At first I thought the place was corny, it had this big yellow plastic duck outside. Inside though was really nice. They cooked the duck in a wood stove. The rooms were nice to, they had circular tables. One of the appetizers stands out in my mind. It was this dark red meat. No one knew what it was. Turns out it was duck heart. I had quite a bit of that. The other stuff was pretty good but it was the presentation that did it. They carved the duck and presented it to us. It was good though we didn't really get that much. You rap it in this tortilla like thing, with onions and celery. It was good but I could have gone for a little more. We had a plate of fruit for dessert. Outside we took some group pictures. Man did that take a long time. By the time we left it was almost 1930, that was the time we were to meet the students again. I got into my Remnin University shirt on and headed out. My roommate Mike was going to sleep at the Great Wall even though trip leader Mike said no. They were action so devious. If you're going to do it, just do it. Dawn and I hooked up with the one student from yesterday but the girl couldn't skip out on her class. They are so different from American students. We went to the gym to play a little ping pong. We passed this thing called English Corner. All the students who speak English get together on Friday nights to practice their English. We passed it however. The ping pong table had a waiting list so we headed out to English corner for a while. The guy said, "When you get in there they will surround you." Did they ever! It took about two minutes to have a crowd 5-6 beep all around me. I was a little worried for a while but it wasn't a problem at all. I would talk to about 2 to 4 people at a time, the other people would just listen. We talked for so long that everything came up. We talked a lot about education and the differences between students. They mentioned a couple of schools and if I knew them. Some of them were going to study in America. When they go to study abroad they really go. They will spend 4-5 years there until they get their degrees. I wouldn't really want to do that, that's just too long for me. Everyone thought that Semester at Sea was one of the greatest things they had ever heard of. When they asked how much it cost then they were shocked but I totally agree with them that it was worth it. We talked about the language barrier several times. They were all very surprised that Chinese is a very hard language to learn in the US. I tried to tell them that tonal languages are very hard for non-tonal speakers to learn. I wish I knew a little more about Chinese history, there's so much I don't know. They know so much about American history and we don't know anything about theirs, it's really sad. They said Confucianism is what you should study to understand the Chinese. Kosovo came up a bunch of times. I said the truth, I don't really know that much about it. We only get a three page fax of news a day. They were also shocked by that. I tried to explain it in terms of balancing action and noninterference. I thought that if I tried to put it like Yin and Yang it might go over better. I had to explain myself several times as people came and went. At the end some more psychological topics came up. We talked about the school shootings that happened last month and why that they occurred. I thought that it had to do with the availability of guns, the broken families in the US, and the prevalence of violence on TV. They seemed to agree with that. One of the guys there brought up Chinese medicine. Herbal medicines, acupuncture, and other stuff. I had to say again that Chinese medicine is not that available in the US. One of the last girls to say anything to me was very nationalistic. She seemed to think that begging was a major problem in China. I had to laugh. After India I don't think that anything is bad anymore. She was a little surprised at that. She also said air pollution is a major problem. Again I had to bring up India and how horrible it was there. I don't know how much she really believed me. The last thing she said was that China would be a major power in the world. What she really meant was that China would be the number one power in the world. I didn't really want to tell her that I didn't believe a communist country could ever compete with a capitalist one, no matter how liberal their policies were. I figured that might be just a bit insulting. It was about this time when I remembered that I hadn't checked the time in a long time. When I asked what time it was they said half past eleven. I nearly dropped dead, I had to be back at eleven. That's when they locked the doors. I asked if one of them would come with me to help me if I needed to talk to one of the guards. They were like, "Oh, we'll all come with you!" I had to explain that I didn't want to take them out of their way. I only needed one of them to come with me. So a couple of them came with me. It turns out they didn't lock the doors until a couple of them came with me. It turns out they didn't lock the doors until a couple of minutes after I got back. I thanked the kids that came with me then they left. I talked to a couple of other SASers that were out there. None of them had stayed out as long as I did but I don't blame them, I really blew out my voice. Oh man! I forgot the funniest parts of the night. There was this one girl who asked me if I was a native American. I had to think about that one for a minute. I asked if she meant was I born in the United States. She said yes. I said yes, that I was from Pennsylvania. She then asked if my parents were born in the US. Again I said yes but I thought that was a strange question to ask so I asked why she wanted to know. She says, "You're pronunciation of English is very bad." I had to laugh, I can't believe she said that! In fact, a bunch of the students laughed with me. I had to say, "I don't know but I'm pretty sure this is the way we talk." I went on to try to explain the different accents around the US, but the funniest part was already past. Man, was that funny. The whole night was awesome, it was one of the best nights I had ever had on SAS. I went to sleep with a smile on my face.
We didn't really have an itinerary today except to be ready to go by 1015. I still woke up at around 0730 so I was able to get a little something to eat. I took a cold shower (there was no hot water) then went to check my e-mail. No real e-mail and I couldn't check my website so I was a little disappointed but what can you do. I walked around for a couple minutes after that but soon enough it was time to leave. We got out on time, again it was good to have a small group. Moving through the airport was no problem, we shot right through. We had a little bit of a wait in the airport but that is to be expected, you have to get there early. I tried to sleep but there were just too many SASers there. I talked to Jenny and Andy for a while. I was a little mad at the BFB for making me hold his book for a while. I thought he would be right back after going to the bathroom but no, I had that thing for almost 20 minutes. I was fuming mad. Either way we got on the plane. The food wasn't as good this time but there was this hilarious video on the monitor. People had bought so much stuff even after they told us not to. I was furious that I had to put their stuff under my seat. I wanted to kill some people. Oh well, it wasn't a long plane ride so it was over quick. Shanghai was much more developed than I ever expected it to be. People told me it reminded them of San Francisco but I would know. The guy that was on the bus pointed out some sights but I was too tired to really care. It all looked like city to me. The only thing I remember is the stadium. We were back to the ship in no time. It was strange coming back to it in a different place. It reminded me of coming onto it for the first time. I met Ryan right away, he had been on the ship since Hong Kong. They had so few people that were on the ship so they opened the bar and had a BBQ on the deck. I was eager to get out into the city and get something to eat. Ryan didn't really know where to go so we just headed out. They drive on the same side of the street that we do so that was a refreshing change. Unfortunately we tried crossing the street at a wrong place so that was bad, people were yelling at us. The most unfortunate thing was this just happened to be the day after NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. What a time to be American's in China! We didn't get any problems this day. I guess it takes a while for anger to simmer. We just walked around aimlessly for a long time. Ryan got one of Mao's little red books. We made our way into this market place. We walked around for a while looking at prices of different things. We eventually wanted to find a place to eat but there wasn't anything that was catching my eye so we ate at this place called the Mos Burger. It was fairly good though I'm not a fan of eating Western food in port. We walked through the city for a while but it got a little too dark and shady so we started to make our way back. We hung out for a while on this bridge while we tried to figure out what to do next. There is just so much phlegm in China. Everyone spits constantly. We decide to make our way up the Bund which was the English section of town back in the days of colonization. It was an impressive sight. I don't really know what I would think about such rapid development in such a short period of time. It's so bright and neon that it would be too much of a shock to my system, especially if I was older. Everything has shot up within the last 2-5 years. The TV tower, which is the biggest tower in Asia, was only built a few years ago. I think that this place may be losing it's identity, though I can't really day that not having ever lived there for the change. We just stood there a while and talked about development, and that bombing too. It just seems ridiculous that we could make a mistake like that. It seems to me that it's like trying so say, "Oops, we just assassinated your president." How could they have let that happen? We kept on walking for a while but we never bought anything. We would have went to the TV tower but I figured I could do that on another day. Wrong! But how were we to know that then. Got back to the ship around 2300. We were going to meet at 0800 to go out.
The whole plan today revolved around getting to the US embassy. The State Department had issued warnings against going there so that was the first on my list. They passed out memos last night and the first thing I said was, "Ryan, we're going." "Absolutely!" was his response. At breakfast they made a special announcement that they did not want us to go to the Peoples Square, the embassy, or the TGI Fridays near it. When they said that it was like putting a bulls eye on it. Any doubt we had about gong was erased right then. Valerie was going and I wasn't sure I was happy about that. If you're going to a hostile protest you want as few people there as possible. Plus, I didn't really know how "adventurous" she would be. It didn't really hold us back though. We didn't really want to tell anyone where we were going. Everyone who I told that I was going thought that I was crazy for wanting to go. I figure you only get one chance to see a protest in China. It didn't take us that long to find stuff going on. As soon as we walked into the Bund we saw a whole bunch of SASers walking back. They all told us to turn around. So what did we do? We kept going! It wasn't bad, there were about 30 people standing in 4 or 5 rows. There was a person with a megaphone shouting something in Chinese. We just kept going, we figured sticking around to watch wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. We walked down the Bund for a while before turning up on one of the side streets. I had on my South Africa shirt on and I think that helped. People would look at you, give you a dirty look, but then see you shirt and look a little less angry. If anyone had asked me I would have said I was from Cape Town (at least I'd know a little about it). No one said anything to us as we walked down the street. There were little groups of people who seemed to be angry but since I didn't know what they were saying I don't know if they were talking about us or not. We got to the People's Square quicker than we thought. There wasn't anything going down at all. We sat down near the fountain in the center of the square. No one seemed to care at all. This Chinese woman tried to get her child to say hello to us. She wouldn't say it though, she wanted to play. We walked into the museum gift shop and got a book and some post cards. It was getting around 1300 so we figured we would try to make our way to the TGI Fridays. We made it there no problem, however the prices were astronomical so we took some pictures then left. We went to the McDonalds right next to it. It was very crowded and we couldn't sit together. Valerie and I sat at one table but Ryan had to sit with a Chinese guy. They didn't give us any problems. Everyone was polite and mice and didn't seem to care who we were. We finished quick so we could get together and leave. We went to the top level of the mall we were in to see if we could get a good view. The view was nice but you couldn't see down the streets so you couldn't tell if there were any demonstrations or not. We went back to the street and started back down the road. We started out the wrong way so we had to double back. It turns out to be a good thing we went the wrong way because two busses of angry protesters drove by. They had big Chinese flags and were hanging out the windows shouting. This woman comes up to us and asks where we were from. Ryan said Canada but I think she saw though that. She then says, "Americans good, Chinese bad." We asked her why she would say that but she said she didn't know and ran away. What she was really trying to tell us was, "Don't go down that street, you will get beat up." At this point Ryan and Valerie started to get nervous. I got then to keep going. Soon after that two more busses with protesters went by. They also had flags and signs that said "NATO = then a swastika" and "NATO stop bom." Now I got a bit nervous. The embassy had to be right there and that's where all these busses were going. There was a public park there so we quickly paid to get in and got off the street. We started to hear these loud bangs. At first I thought they were shooting at us but then I realized they were just fireworks. It sure got my heart pounding. Every time one would go off we nearly jumped out of our skin. We sat there on a bench for a while but even there I didn't feel safe. There was a group of about eight people there having an angry discussion. I didn't know if it was about us or not. We headed out of there and back onto the street. It wasn't much longer before we gave up. Another group of people drove by shouting at us. We flagged down a cab and drove away. Luckily for us we did, not 150 yards from us was the demonstration. The police had blocked off the street and there were hundreds of people there. The driver was cool, he pointed then shook his fist like a protester. I was happy to be getting out of there. I had seen enough of political demonstrations for this day. We told the driver to take us to the Jade Buddha temple. It was an interesting place but I have just seen so many temples in the last few months that I just can't take much more. It had the usual huge gold Buddhas and demons. The Jade Buddha was cool. It was about a 15-16 foot reclining Buddha with jewels in the necklace. One of the coolest things that I did there was help this guide translate to some people. It was a Chinese guide and a Japanese couple. They wanted to know about Christianity in China. The guide was a Christian and said there was only one form of Christianity in China. The couple wanted to know about differences sects but the guide didn't understand. I corrected their English and helped them get their point across. I just thought it was funny that I was helping them. We met the religion professor Mr. Johnson. He said that the captain said if this had happened before we had gotten to China he would have skipped it totally. The only reason we were still there is that we had people traveling overland in China. After that I got a couple jade necklaces at the gift shop, they were the cheapest I had seen so I got them. After we left I talked to Jenny then we went to a grocery store for a popsickle. No one gave us any trouble, they were polite to all of us. They had corn flavored popsickles so Ryan and I each got one. Man were they nasty! They weren't quite as disgusting as the Milk flavored one I had last night, but it was bad. Ryan handed me his and asked if I wanted a bite. I said OK and took it. He says, "Why don't you just keep it." So I ate both of ours. We got a cab back to the ship. We were going to take an hour nap and then head out at about 1700 to eat and walk around some shops. We followed this plan fairly well. The only problem was that we couldn't find the market we were looking for. We walked around forever looking for it but never found it. That made me a little annoyed. That all the walking we did, and the dirty looks we were getting really ticked me off. We stopped at a Pizza Hut to eat dinner. I didn't really want to have western food but I wanted to stop and sit down even more. It was a fairly good meal but it was better just to rest. The problem came that we rested too much. It was almost 1830 by the time we left the Pizza Hut and our curfew was at 1900. We walked quickly but by the time we got to the bridge to where the ship was is was 1855. We ran but were not going to make it on time. We met one of the SASers there just eating a popsickle. He's like, "Nice day for a run!" I didn't understand why he wasn't running too but he explained that the curfew was now optional. We still went back to the ship to make sure. All you had to do was sign a sheet saying you understood the reasons. Most everyone was on by 1900. I only half heatedly wanted to go out and that's what I felt from everyone else. Shanghai doesn't have much of a night life so I just stayed in. Shabby, Steve, Leonard, and I sat out for a while and talked. We all planned to go to the Shanghai Museum tomorrow at around 0830. I went back to the room and cleaned up for a while. At around 2045 Jimmy walks in. First thing I wanted to know was if he had any problems with the while bombing thing. He had only had one problem. He walked onto this bridge and some people cut him off. They were getting up in his face so he pulled out the Lonely Planet book he had for China. They wanted to know where he was from and he at first said the word for America but then he realized what was going on and pointed out the one for England. They seemed to be fine after that. There was a big protest after that which he had to go through but then got out as soon as possible. The only reason he even heard about the bombing was a chance encounter with Pat. If he hadn't met him he would have been screwed. Another bad thing was that the whole time he had on his Army ROTC shirt on. No one would have understood him if he had tried to tell them that it was second hand. He as all around lucky but if there is anyone I feel can travel on their own it has to be Jimmy. He said he wanted to got to the museum too so he would come with us. Finally getting to sleep was great. It was a hectic day.
We got out a bit later than I would have liked but when you have a large group you have to expect that. I thought that Leonard might slow us down but that didn't happen at all. Jimmy and I kept the quickest pace but it wasn't that much faster. The whole group kept it together the best I've seen so far. We were at the museum in no time. We took a couple of pictures outside. There were these Asian tourists dancing outside to classical music. It was so strange. The museum was really nice, it was all ancient Chinese art and such. There was pottery, Buddhas, sculpture, China, coins, and furniture. It was all really nice, it was one of the nicest museums I can remember. From there Leonard wanted to take us out to lunch. Jimmy and I had wanted to break off and get some local food but we went with them. We took a subway to French-town. That was a major disappointment, there wasn't much to see at all. We walked around forever before we found anywhere to eat. When we finally did it was good but we didn't get all that much. Still it was good to sit and enjoy a meal. Leonard said that it was one of the best days he had in port. He is just a very cool guy, he is really fun to be around. From there we wanted to get a cab to the market that Ryan, Valerie, and I had tried to find yesterday. These cab drivers would not allow all five of us to go in the same cab. I don't know what the problem is, the only thing I can figure is that if they get caught it would be a big fine. We eventually got to where we wanted to go though I think they took a very roundabout route. Either way once we got there we figured that we better split up, shopping can't be done in a group. Another thing I quickly realized is that bargaining is a must. I wanted to get a jade necklace for my sister and the guy started me out at 100. I said 30, which I thought he would laugh at. Nope, he wanted to go higher but said OK very quick. Too quick, I looked at it again, acted dissatisfied and started to walk away. He then lowered it to 20. I was shocked, I didn't expect it to be like this. I had taken care of almost all my shopping and still had most of my money left. Either way Jimmy and I wanted to eat again. There were quite a few road-side stalls outside the market so we figured on eating there. We first got a plate of noodles. They were good, and cheep which is always nice. Two stalls down there was this guy cooking up squid so we had to get some of that. He cooked it right in front of the store, that was probably the best part. It was all really good. From there we got some popsickles and went into a couple of stores. This one had a laughing Buddha which I like do I asked the price. He said 280 which I thought was astronomical. I thought I'd just through out a number that was too low just to see how much he would compromise, so I said 60. He laughed but as soon as we turned to leave he said yes. I was shocked, I wouldn't believe that he didn't try to get the price higher. He totally could have taken me for more. They need some lessons from the hockers in Kenya, they knew how to do it. So now I've got this 35 pound Buddha with me. I still had a ton of money left over. This hadn't happened to me in any port to this point. I never have extra money. I had not expected to encounter so much bargaining, it was ridiculous. Now we walked around for a while, checking out random places. We hit a bakery and post office. I had post cards but I didn't want to send them because of the references to the NATO bombings. We wanted to get some more things but were running out of time. I got a Titanic lighter for my sister, then went on to a store that sold stone things. This lady was a good bargainer, she worked us a bit. The thing was that I was getting so much stuff that it was a little harder to bargain. I ended up getting an Indian style Buddha, a dragon, and two lions. It weighed so much and that doesn't include Jimmy 's stuff either. We only had about 50 minutes before on ship time. It had been changed to 1900 from 2100. We ran to this store to buy some kites then got a cab back to the ship. We got there with about 15 minutes to go. I still had about 50 Yuan left. We ran to a little restaurant and ordered some food and drinks. I couldn't finish all the beer that I had ordered in such a short period of time. Our rice never came. We had to go, we had no choice. We were running onto the gangway and only made it back by seconds. I still had about 25 Yuan left back on the ship. That really made me angry, I hate having anything left over. Back on the ship I put up all my new things. When Andy saw them he was like, "Whoa! What the hell did you get!" I agreed with him, it was the most I had gotten in any port. In fact, everyone said the same thing as Andy. Just the weight alone was the worst part. I wasn't thinking about bringing it home. Jimmy and I sat in the Union for a while with Ray as we waited for snacks. Everyone wanted to know if Jimmy had any problems going overland. It was then that I heard about the kid that was going to be left behind. He had lost his passport and the Chinese government was not going to let him leave. People were collecting money for him but I can't say I really felt sorry for him. What a moron! You can not lose you passport, especially not in Red China. He had a place to stay so he wasn't going to be on his own, he was lucky. You have to be more responsible than that. Les was running all over the place and there were soldiers on the ship, it was crazy. What a time to be in China. We got out of there as soon as we could, we were not sticking around any longer than we had to. I don't say I blame them, Shanghai was tense, I did not feel welcome. It wasn't the majority of people, most were polite and helpful. However, when people get angry you never know what can happen. It was a bad time to be there. If I had only had three days in Shanghai I would have felt cheated. I'm lucky that I had went to Beijing. It was well worth the money. I had a great time in China. I just wish things had been better in the world. It was just bad luck. I didn't really stay up that late, everyone was dead tired. I had been at port for seven days. It was time to get some sleep.
Today was a very busy at sea day. It was an A day so I had two classes. This sucked because I had to do a Mekong Delta paper. I went to Abnormal Psychology, slept though CORE, then got up to work until Cross Cultural Psychology. I was lucky that Andy wasnít using his laptop, the computer lab was full. I got three pages done before CCP, then finished the rest off after that. It wasnít the best paper but what can you expect, I hadnít really been shown anything related to Geology. Either way it got done so I only have one more FDP and the independent project to do. It sucks because after Japan Iím going to have six papers to writ, five of which have to be 5-8 pages. After dinner the open mic was changed to two hours long. Bill Duiker was going to field questions about US/China relations for the first hour. It was interesting, he said things I hadnít even considered. First was that the 10 year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is coming up soon. That is why the square was under construction. I hadnít even considered a political motive. Second was that the Chinese feel like the war in Kosovo is a testing ground for what the US might try in Tibet. I didnít think about that either. The second half was cool too. People had some good stories about China. I got up and told the story about the English Corner at Remnin University and how the girl told me my pronunciation of English was bad. Everyone thought it was funny plus it lightened the mood a bit. Everyone was stuck on the whole Kosovo thing. I donít recall much of the rest of the night, it must not have been overly exciting.
The day wasnít all that exciting. Preport was a waste of time. What sucked was the briefing for the Japanese homestay. I had gotten them a shirt I didnít (but should have) realized that you should have gotten each member of the family something. They value the house so much you should have something for everyone there. I ran up to the campus store and got six of two types of key chains and six SAS pins. I didnít know how much to get because I didnít know how many people were in the family. It would be nice to know a little about them. I then took an SAS promo book, ripped off the first and last page, taped them together like a pouch, put the pins and key chains in it, and rapped the pouch with the shirt. It was a good idea for rapping, the Japanese take rapping very seriously. I got screwed by the store, I thought the key chains were all a dollar so I assumed that I had spend about 25 dollars. Wrong, one type of them was 3 something so I ended up spending 42 dollars. I was mad. I wonít give all the stuff to them but I still wish I had known about that. Bed early, I wanted to be ready to wake up early to see us come into port.