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China, forever new adventures

During this eventful trip to the heart of China, my soul attained a paramount contentment. Many adventurous people’s burning desire is to experience insights of civilizations totally different from their own. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to grant myself one of my most daring wishes at such a young age (19), back in 2014.

I owe everything to the Confucius Institute, the main educational organization whose purpose is to promote the Mandarin language and Chinese customs worldwide. Each summer, at least in Romania, it organizes 2-week long trips to China for its students. You only pay for the plane tickets while everything else (meals, accommodation, bus transport, entrance fees etc.) is covered by the Institute.

The day of departure was the 7th of July, when we embarked on a tiring journey which consisted of a long bus drive from the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca to the Ferenc Liszt Airport in Budapest, from there a 2-hour flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and finally the 11-hour “interminable” flight to the Pu Dong Airport in Shanghai.

 

In Shanghai, we were accommodated at the Vista hotel, enjoying a 4-star luxury, and spent two days visiting the main attractions, following a tight schedule. The city would impress with its hundreds of skyscrappers, casting a shadow over any major western metropolis. At night, the light bulbs unfolded all over presented a beauty out of this world, thus confirming the status of a modern 21st-century city. The attractions we explored were the Bund, the Pudong district, the Oriental Pearl tower, the Yu Garden and a museum in the central area.

What took everyone by surprise was that the Chinese people looked at us with a lot of curiosity and many even wanted to take pictures with us. The funniest memory was with a middle-aged man who asked me to appear in a photo along with his wife.

Whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant, we were expected to eat using chopsticks. Everyone got used to them pretty fast and even for a while after coming back to Romania, I personally felt the need to ditch the cutlery.

After having stayed in Shanghai for two days, we went to Hangzhou by bus on a 2-hour voyage. On the way, we could clearly observe the true extent of Shanghai. It seemed like it was infinite in space.

And like in all China, most buildings around us were modern, raised in the last 20-30 years. Throughout the whole trip, I had seen hundreds of colossal structures being constructed everywhere, day and night. There is no other country in the world where cities develop at such a spectacular speed.

 

Having arrived in Hangzhou, we were taken to the Zhejiang Institute of Science and Technology, where we were greeted by several student volunteer guides. We unpacked in the bedrooms of the college built in the 1980s, whose large campus had numerous neat multi-story buildings, a pretty large stadium with a football field and a running track, a canteen, a marvelous stream which passes through its center and flows into an alluring lake, a wooden tea house with a superb view and many others.

A curious thing would be regarding the exotic animals that would sneak inside the campus, which is placed on the outskirts, near a jungle! I saw several centipedes passing through and once I even accidentally stepped on a snake while walking near the river at night, when I mistook it for a broken tree branch. Only by jumping after hearing the snake hissing prevented me from getting bitten.

In Hangzhou, we had spent most of our trip time, around 8 days, during which we took several Mandarin language classes, practiced painting, seal-cutting, tai chi, visited the main city sights and attended an extraordinary theatrical performance. We had been to the West Lake, the Lingyin Temple and the Tea Museum but what left a deep impression on me was what I witnessed at the Song Dynasty park, which gave you the impression you had time leaped backwards, everything being very traditional.

And the theater play was the greatest I had ever seen. It was divided into multiple acts: one displayed a synchronized dance of attractive women , another one showed a realistic historical battle with loud explosions and exquisite choreography and another presented the majestic interior of an ancient imperial palace. The actors appeared from everywhere in the huge hall (the ceiling, the walls, the floor … especially during the fighting sequences) and there were even real horses brought on the stage. At one point, water drops poured from the ceiling on the thousands of people in the immense audience, including myself.

When we finished our business in Hangzhou, we embarked on the train to Beijing. The ride had lasted for 13 hours. Starring outside, you could rarely spot any vast portions of emptiness so you never knew if you had actually left a certain city or you were still within its area. There were skyscrappers rising even in places which did not appear urbanized so the contrast with the surroundings was pretty strong.

 

After we arrived in Beijing, we rushed to visit the iconic objectives there as we only had a two-day short stay: the Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. We were very lucky. We all had expected the infamous smog, a clear drawback of China’s recent rapid development. But the atmosphere was actually clear, so the visibility was adequate to take appealing photos. Beijing doesn’t have as many cool tall buildings as Shanghai but its streets are wider and seemed cleaner.

We slept at the opulent Radisson Blu hotel, practically mirroring the initial chapter of Shanghai.

The next morning, we would go set foot on the renowned Great Wall then come back and prepare, with sorrow, for the journey back home, but pleased of everything we had been through.

 

I hope to return to China again soon as I know what amazing experiences still await me there.

39 thoughts on “China, forever new adventures

  1. Excellent work young boy! Coming from an English teacher,it counts! Good luck!

  2. Translation by Google Translate: I read your article on Facebook. unfair competition, there is a way to win. that have been in China, does not give you the right to make fun of someone who perhaps tried to reach but had impediments. and other essays they consider nonsense, can have artistic value. If you were right, you give them all the chance for translating the essays in Romanian who does not speak English, if you give all round. leave it up to people if you vote or not. You have a like from me, but your attitude is lacking. Success!

    • I fail to understand what I did wrong. Instead, I see here a person from my own country who comes to criticize my personality and the way I promoted my work while totally ignoring the essay itself. All you do is give Romanians a bad name since I haven’t seen anywhere in this competition such nasty comments posted anywhere and the fact that you are a coward who didn’t even write his true name in order to avoid responsibility makes it even more sad.

  3. Prietenia noastra cu China este foarte veche si a fost benefica pt ambele parti. Ar trebui reluata .
    Sunt din Constanta si stiu cat comert se facea cu China in vremea comunismului si cat de bine era vazuta tara noastra . Se mai face si acum , dar mai putin si in special importuri .

    • Translation by Google: Our friendship with China is very old and has been beneficial for both sides. It should be resumed.
      I’m from Constanta and know how trade with China was made in communist times and how well our country was seen. It is doing now, but less and particularly imports.

  4. Mult succes Bogdan ! In acest concurs , dar si in viata . Admir tinerii care muncesc sa-si vada visele implinite!

    • Translation by Google: Wish you a lot of success, Bogdan! In this competition, but also in life. I admire young people who work to see their dreams come true!

  5. This is not a good work,even if u are proud of it. I saw that you have been in china once.Let this opportunity to others.Anyway,good luck in life!

    • Tell that also to the hundreds of people who posted pictures and clips from China, in the photography and video contests here, that they don’t deserve to go to China again. I feel really sorry for you for being so mean.

  6. Am fost în Shanghai,am vizitat Huangzhou…ce ar fi de comentat?În tinerețe am navigat cam pe peste tot în lume și am văzut multe locuri impresionante printre care și orașe dar amintirea oricărui mare oraș pălește când vezi Shanghai!Atât de modern dar modernul nu deranjează,este de un gust desăvârșit,atât de curat și elegant,nici Tokyo sau Singapore nu m-au impresionat așa de mult.Am petrecut aproape două săptămâni acolo și am avut sentimentul că dacă aș vrea să trăiesc într-un anume oraș ,de acolo aș fi vrut să nu mai plec niciodată.Păcat că l-am văzut atât de târziu,sunt atât de multe oportunități acolo pentru un tânăr!

    • Translation by Google Translate: I was in Shanghai, I visited Huangzhou … what would you comment? In my youth I sailed around the world on cam and saw many impressive sites including the cities but the memory fades of any large city you see Shanghai! So modern but trendy not bother taste is perfect, so clean and elegant, Tokyo or Singapore or not impressed me so mult.Am spent nearly two weeks there, and I felt that if I wanted to live in a certain city, from there I wanted to go niciodată.Păcat not that I saw so late, there are so many opportunities for young!

  7. I simply love to see young people trying to change something in our society. Each person with thoughts like yours is a new begin to the world we want so much.
    I support you and keep it going, boy!!

  8. An enthusiastic young man with very healthy life principles. I wish you success, Bogdan! I’m sure you’ll be the big winner !!!!

  9. An enthusiastic young man with very healthy life principles. I wish you success, Bogdan! I’m sure you’ll be the big winner !!!!

  10. I’m sure you’ll be the big winner, Bogdan !!!! I like the essay and I like how you translate the vision into words! I wish you luck!

  11. In this competition your essay is weak, with poor language and with no meaning. It sounds like your homework but poorly written. Like you are advertising hotels …

    • I was restricted to using just 1000 words. I used to have a 3000 word essay written two years ago which I was forced to cut down in order to fit the rules of this competition so that is why it may sound a bit lame in some parts. Then again, from your name you seem to be a Romanian like me and I think you are the only person in this competition to have ever negatively criticised a person from the same country as his 😉 Be proud.

  12. Excelent eseul, Bogdan-Ioan, sper sa revii in topul concursului. Totusi e o problema cu pagina, cand dau click pe inimioara nu se ia in calcul, nu se intampla nimic. Succes.

    • Translation by Google Translate:
      Excellent essay, Bogdan-Ioan hope to come back in top competition. However a problem with the page when I click on the little heart is not counted as nothing happens. Good luck.

  13. I wish to thank everyone so far for their support. It means a lot to me!