Merry Christmas...

...two days late! No one really reads these so its no big deal but I was very busy with family on Christmas then on the 26th we were in Beijing (北京) all day seeing the sights. It was fun, in my opinion, and I'd like to walk around Beijing again instead of the all day tour that we had with our helpful tour guides Zhang (or Chang) and Liu. But first let's describe my Christmas.
What my room has looked like for a month.
 So I woke up at 9am which is different because I usually wake up around 4am or something on Christmas but we played some games and watched movies late into the night on Christmas Eve. My dad began to cook Christmas dinner while my mom and I just got dressed for the day.

Our little apartment tree with gifts underneath.
 We each were supposed to get everyone a few gifts but it turns out my dad got everyone many gifts so I had the most, my mom the 2nd most and my dad had the least amount of gifts. It was nice though to guess what everyone had gotten each other since we were in China we really thought about what the others liked. The gifts were interesting this year.

Our Chinese living room.
Everyone liked the gifts that they were given. I was given a nice razor for shaving, some Chicago Bears merch, Chocolate, a travel Christmas Tree music box, little robot man, Swiss army tool card, and 1000 Yuan for guessing one of my gifts. Before opening gifts, I read part of the Christmas story from the Bible aloud to my family. All this was simple but it was very fun.

Our Dining room/ kitchen
 It was a nice feeling. After gifts and our huge meal we cleaned up, watched movies, played games again and just spent time together. I don't think we left the house once but my dad and I did end the night while we talked to each other on the porch. Him drinking some mulled wine and me drinking Nesquick Milk. No snow, nice weather but it was sprinkling so it was close enough.

Flowers I bought for my mom.
 My mom just got back from America helping my Grandma go to some funerals so we let her relax throughout the day. (That also explains the Chicago Bears merchandise) On Christmas Eve I bought her some flowers after my MMA class and I think they look really nice since I had to choose everything to put into it... everything besides the vase.

Nice little kitchen decorations.
So, after celebrating Christmas late into the night, most of us only got 3 hours of sleep before we started to get ready to go to Beijing. Our adventure started early at 4:45am where we met our first guide that drove us to the airport. I never got his name.

Statue of a general that we saw on the way to the Great Wall of China (长城)
The first place we went to was Pudong Airport (浦东机场) which took us to Beijing. Once we were in Beijing we met Liu, our tour guide, who wore this Chinese Camo Baseball Cap. The first place we went to was the Great Wall which I learned a lot about. We specifically went to Badaling (八达岭) section of the Great Wall. There are many sections of the wall and the "Great Wall" is actually many walls connected by different emperors throughout time. The original Great Wall, which was made of clay and no longer stands, can still be seen in parts of Beijing but it looks like mounds of dirt piled together as the clay has eroded. Most of the sections of the Great Wall that are available to be seen are remakes though you can see a lot of ruins of other portions of the wall from later emperors because they used better materials to build their "Great Walls". Too much history to explain but I recommend reading about it as Liu told us so much.

Cable Car to the top of the mountain.
 I do recommend going in the winter as even though the mountains get quite cold there are fewer people than in the summer where people flood the wall and it is crowded. Saying this, I already thought the wall was very crowded but it was cool to be up in the Chinese mountains with the cool wind coming in and seeing the great weather there. Normally it isn't like this in Beijing's Winter so we were lucky!
This is facing Beijing, China while the other direction would have been Mongolia.
 After hiking a very short portion of the wall our tour guide told us about how people will go hike the original wall for days and camp on it. People even do that on the rebuilt parts of the wall. I think my dad wants to come back and do that as that is what he has always said in the past. The Great Wall is cool, definitely recommend going to any part of it if you can.

Painting found in the restaurant we ate at.
 We then were taken to a Jade carving place in a section of Beijing famous for making Jade carvings. They are especially famous for making the "Family Jade Ball" which, maybe you guessed, my dad bought one of them. After looking at the HUGE Jade exhibit we then were taken upstairs where we ate at a restaurant. The food was okay, it was actually closer to American Chinese food if that makes sense. We ate rice, beef soup, vegetables, bean paste spring rolls, and sweet n' sour chicken. Not a bad meal to be honest but it would turn out to be our only meal the whole trip.

Tower of the Inner City.... I think.
After the Jade museum and restaurant we then went to the Forbidden City (紫禁城 or 故宫 I don't remember). The Forbidden City really earns its name as a City in my book. We were dropped off at the east gate where we walked outside the wall to the southern gate so that we could walk through the whole city south to north.
This is read from Right to left. 正大光明 "Just and Honorable"
 There are so many parts to the Forbidden City. A part that nobles and the king could enter and judge people, a part just for nobles and the king, then a part just for the king and his 100s of women. It was huge and I know I'd give a terrible explanation of it. They built a hill outside the city and a river flowing through the center shaped like a bow for the Fengshui to be right. It was cool. Then there was the Imperial Garden with trees that were 100s of years old and just many more things I'm probably forgetting to explain.
One of the many gates in the Forbidden City, this gate is for nobles and normal folk.
 One of the sad things to hear (which is common about many older attractions in China) is that it's actually not that old as it had to be repaired and renovated in the past because of many events. For the Forbidden City it was because of WWII that the city had to be renovated. The Japanese tore a lot of the place apart for its gold and art that adorned everything. Though there are parts of the city that are still the same.
Forbidden City... I think the grand courtyard.
This is a tower of the city wall, not of the Forbidden City.
 After the Forbidden City it was getting cooler and later but we went to Tiananmen Square (天安门) which means Heavenly Peace Gate or Gate of Heavenly Peace. There was a lot of security here and not just police or the security guards but actual military everywhere. We saw the spot where the "tank incident" happened too. Walking around this main square was different as there were so many people and we saw them start to take down a flag for the night but the crowd that watched it was crazy. People flooding through the pedestrian tunnels to get there before the guards blocked the way. It was kinda crazy. We kept walking and walked past a famous museum that had just opened a new exhibit showing the greatness of communism. Interesting... Then we headed for this place to see how the Chinese made their famous silk cloth.

Seeing how they made their silk was interesting. +1000m from a single cocoon but it takes many cocoons to make a strand, then many strands to make a fluff sheet and more and more until you get the cloth or the stuffing. Of course my very tired parents bought a bed set of silk. It was interesting but it was too late for us to go get tea as we had to go to the airport.

The small airport (former military base) that we went to Shanghai in.
 The airport was a different airport than we arrived in. Our tour guide told us that it was a former military base but was turned into an airport. It was busy for such a late night and very few spoke English so our tour guide was overwhelmed just a little bit. We got on the small plane after some small security issues with my boots and finally relaxed. A two hour flight would send us back to Shanghai. We were given a gift from someone who we don't know (maybe the tour company?) which was a Coca Cola and a Chinese 汉堡 which is a sesame seed roll filled with beef/pork. Their version of a burger which was nice to have though my mom didn't like it.

By the time we got to Shanghai (with one extra suitcase of stuff my parents bought) it was already late but the driver still had to take us to where we lived which, because of traffic today, was 2 hours away. Needless to say I quickly crashed at 1-2am when I got home. Though exhausting and a full day it was fun! I learned a lot along with adding another Chinese city to my travel belt.

Expect my workout routine to come soon... maybe.

How was your guys' Christmas?

"It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that!"
-Random sentence sent to me by a Chinese Friend


Music BBno$, Lil Dicky, Hopsin, Mac Miller, Joyner Lucas, Juice WRLD, XXXTENTACION


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