Student Blogs/Jessica T. in China

While students back at Carleton got a two week break during the holidays to celebrate Christmas and New Years’, us students here in China didn’t. At first it may seem unfortunate we didn’t get Christmas or New Year’s off school, however we did get a whole month and a half off from the end of January until mid March for Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival! So with all this time off, we just had to take advantage and go travelling.

And travel we did! Two of my friends and I flew from Shanghai to Bangkok, Thailand at the end of January.  There, we met up with an Australian friend of ours who we met here in Shanghai. It was the first time (other than China) that I had travelled with friends internationally. We were so excited to start off this big trip and what better place to start off than a nice, warm country full of sandy white beaches and coconuts?

Well, our first day there was not what we expected. Although I am still grateful that we made it safely to Thailand, the first day there was smothering hot.  Not only did we just get used to the very cold and windy winter of Shanghai, but we were then suddenly transported into the super hot and humid climate of Thailand!

Also, the rooms we had booked online were less than desirable.  Let’s just say my room had this distinct, unpleasant smell to it the entire time we were there. Of course, this is to be expected when trying to travel on a small budget, but despite our accommodations, we were all determined to enjoy our one week stay there.

Since we decided to explore Thailand on our own (without the help of a long term tour group), we had to figure out how to get everywhere ourselves. Luckily our hostel was very close to a popular tourist night market and there were many touring agencies along the street that offered short day trips to various places.

We did so many activities during our stay in Bangkok! We went to a zoo called Safari World. It was full of different species of animals that I’ve never seen before, but my favourite part of the zoo was the giraffes.  There were so many just grazing around freely and we were allowed to feed them! It was a very, very cool experience.

A close up of a bright orange parrot perched on a log with the greenery in the background

Open bird cage where the birds were allowed to fly freely

People petting an elephant's trunk

We got to pet some elephants after a show!

Giraffes coming up to the railing at the zoo reaching for food

Feeding giraffes at the giraffe terrance

On top of that, we experienced an authentic Thai massage at a nice spa, a fish massage (yes, you read that right) and probably my most favourite part of the entire trip – the beach! We had to take a van and it took five hours to get there, but it was so worth it! The beach was exactly as I had hoped it to be and it really felt like we were on vacation then. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

people playing on the beach and swimming in a very clear ocean

The beach on Sah Kameed island

A boat pulling up to the covered dock arriving on the island

View from our boat when we first arrived onto the island

After our stay in Bangkok, we had to say goodbye to our Australian friend because he was headed home. He wasn’t coming back to Shanghai for second semester. It was a bittersweet moment, but I’m sure that we’ll see him again someday.

The three of us then left Bangkok and made our way to Hong Kong. We were able to stay with my family, so accommodations for this part of the trip were free. This was my friends’ first time in Hong Kong so I really wanted them to have a good time!

To my disappointment, the four days that they were there was full of rain and fog. It was really unfortunate because one of the best things to do in Hong Kong is to go up the mountain to the peak to see the famous Hong Kong skyline from above. The fog was too thick to see more than 10 feet in front of us.

We still managed to have fun despite the weather though! We took the cable car up the mountain and visited the big Buddha, checked out the nightlife in downtown Hong Kong and visited the giant malls that the city has to offer!

After that, my friends left Hong Kong to go back to Mainland China and I stayed in Hong Kong with my family to celebrate Chinese New Year. I stayed in Hong Kong for about a month before heading back to Shanghai.

Four cable cars going up the mountain into a foggy sky

Our cable car ride through the foggy mountains on our way to the Big Buddha

a very large staircase with hundreds of tourists on the stairs leading up to the Big Buddah

The famous flight of stairs to get to the Big Buddha

Big Buddha on top of the mountain with a cloudy sky

Our view of the Big Buddha before we got off the cable car

people with umbrellas watching the buildings light up in Hong Kong

Watching Hong Kong’s permanent light show through the fog and rain

Although we didn’t go to a lot of places during this break, we plan on keeping up with our travels throughout the semester so the adventure isn’t over yet!  This time, we’re going to take the time to travel more within China itself.

I look forward to posting again!

Monday, April 4, 2016 in ,
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