Monday 23 March 2015

Memories March: Going to China

One thing I have enjoyed so much about writing on here is that it doesn't give me much opportunity to forget any of the things that I want to remember. It has become a scrapbook of my life and makes me feel so happy and so lucky to look back on all the things I have had the opportunity to do. Therefore, I have decided to do a 'Memories March' (I'm not really sure if that's a thing, I kind of just made it up) and blog about some of the good stuff that happened before halfway through 2014 that you don't know about yet and that I want to remember. I think it would help make my Blog a little bit more complete. So here we go!

When I was seven, I went to China. We stayed in the capital: Beijing. I think this has to be one of the most incredible holidays I have ever been on, probably because the culture was so different. It has probably changed a lot eight years on though. This was just before the Olympics were about to start over there so everyone was quite excited, I'm not really sure where to begin because so much happened and I want it all to fit in this post without it going on forever. This is not the order that everything occurred, I'll just describe a few things I recall happening.

First of all there was the food. I thought it was pretty bizarre (but also pretty amazing) how it was all so different. Coming from the land of fish and chips, I was a little unprepared for all the creative looking live scorpions on kebab sticks, squids and octopuses. We did find a few places though, that we considered it safe for a vegetarian to eat. This man had a fish in a washing up tub on the side of the street along with the other markets. I think it was dead because he was able to hold it in his hands. He told me I could stroke its scales. As I reached my arm out towards it he feigned throwing it at me really fast which made seven year old me cry. I guess it was pretty funny, looking back.

The plane there was okay until they turned the lights off for us all to go to sleep. I think that was the only time I have ever done an allnighter; there were babies crying, people in close proximity coughing and sneezing and, all the time I was huddled up with my pillow and blue blanket trying not to go insane. We did get gifts which was an upside. I (the eldest sister) got a temporary tattoo kit that as a seven year old I thought was pretty bad ass, Pia (who was five) got a pencil case with cool pens and things, Iona (the youngest, three years old) got a square shaped Kangaroo teddy which she named 'Baby Jamie' after a little boy we'd met on a summer holiday.

Something I have to mention which was definitely the best talent I have ever seen, was the at an acrobat show. Somewhere I am sure we have a DVD of it. I obviously can't recollect every move they performed, but it was pretty impressive. This guy balanced on many chairs, on a big, wobbly, leaning tower of China and somehow bent his knees backwards into some sort of reverse crab pose. The finale was probably the part that separated it from any ordinary acrobatics show. All of the people at the end hopped one by one onto a single bicycle - now bear in mind that there was at lest twenty of them - and they formed a pyramid. Just how?

Shopping in China was really interesting too. There was no set price for things, you had to find a price that fit you and the seller using a little calculator, or leave it at the shop. A lot of people did want us to buy their things because, me and my sisters all had blonde hair and there were three of us, that is considered unusual in China where you can only have one child. I suspect we did get things for a cheaper price because of this. Crowds of people would take pictures of me and my sisters for the same reason. It sounds a bit creepy now, I didn't consider it to be at the time for some reason. I'm guessing it wouldn't happen again if we were to go back. Maybe because dying your hair blonde might be more common over there now or, maybe because we are all not so cute anymore... One parent would take a photo of their child standing next to us and by the time she had moved there would be more people. I was quite chilled about it compared to how I may react if that were to happen now.

My sister, Pia, would have a story to tell if you asked her what The Great Wall of China was like. She was sick on the steps leading up to it so couldn't continue to go up it. Me and Iona had a great time though, the wind was blowing our hair everywhere, we could put out faces through the little gaps in the wall and it would blow our hair backwards and make our eyes water. Also we went to a Buddhist temple. You couldn't take pictures inside so I don't have any to show however, I can remember there was a big, golden statue that reached the ceiling. I thought it was really cool.

Some random memories I have is going to the Forbidden City which was full of red and gold colours, really, really pretty. Another time we bought a coconut and a man drilled a hole in it then put a straw in, so that I could drink the coconut milk. So there I was walking around with my coconut. We got a ride in a cute rickshaw, which I guess is a more fun version of a taxi (only powered by a guy on a bike), and explored the more remote areas of the city. Writing this I really want to return.

One more memory: going to Tiananmen Square. A happy memory I have there is us all flying our kites we bought and a kite snapping and flying across to the other end of the square. My dad ran all the way to go and catch it. I don't know if you're aware but, it was a pretty huge place and a pretty long run.

China is a place I hope one day to return to and if not, I am so happy to have been. It was an amazing holiday. It definitely raised the bar.

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