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Until Next Time, China!

Posted: August 22 2019

Joe, Industrial Design and Technology

Let me start off by saying that these 2 weeks were 2 of the best weeks of my life.

China was such an experience, and I got to experience it with a fantastic group of people. Instead of going through and saying every little detail that happened, I’m going to tell you my 5 favourite moments, memories or days that I remember…

Xinghai Square

On Tuesday 30 July, after our morning Mandarin lesson, we had lunch and then got on a coach which took us to the Xinghai square, which is the largest city square in the world. This was the hottest it had been up until this point, and when we got off the coach we all felt it. We took a whole group photo, and then were left for 30 minutes to do whatever we wanted…this is where things got interesting.

A small shop was renting out these 3-6 person family pedal bikes. We had to break up into groups because so many of us wanted to try it! Myself, Insiya and Elisabetta got into the same one and started pedalling. Now, what we didn’t realise was that only one of the two steering wheels worked, and it turned very sharply…so we quickly discovered that I had the working steering wheel, and when I turned quickly, I almost flew out of the side of the car…so that was interesting.

We rode around for a solid 20 minutes, changing our passengers and trying to scare as many of our group as we could by driving as close to them as possible. In the end, the others decided to take pictures, so we decided to naturally drive into them.

We then got back on the coach and were taken to a bridge that had a really sweet meaning to it. Supposedly, if you walked across the bridge with your loved one, then you will be together forever. The bridge provided some amazing views and much-needed pictures.

After that, we headed back to Dalian Uni and finally went to a restaurant outside (literally just outside) of the campus. It took us about 30 minutes to organise what everyone wanted and translate the Mandarin menus, but we had an amazing (and cheap) meal which was great.

We then played a few games of Mafia, which was a great way to see who was trustworthy and who wasn’t. It was an amazing way to end a great day. I think that this was the first day of many where our group of strangers really began to act like a group of friends.

Dandong – Day 1 – Yalu River & Broken Bridge

Dandong was AMAZING. It is the largest border city and is ridiculously close to North Korea, to the point where you could just swim between them.

We woke up at about 6am on Saturday 3rd August to get on a coach for 5 hours. We got McDonald's breakfast, which was a grilled chicken burger, hashbrown and coffee…it was an interesting meal, the burger was a bit too much at 7am but the hashbrown was great! I enjoy long journeys and had no complaints. We arrived in Dandong and went to grab food straight away. The food was really good, and there were a lot more vegetarian options (a lot of our group couldn’t eat meat). We then walked along the Yalu River and across the Broken Bridge. Again, the bridge was a great place for some much-needed pictures, and we finally found some souvenirs.

We then took a boat ride on the edge of the border of North Korea, and we were so close that we could literally see North Korean people! The boat ride was great, and we spent a lot of time with the students from the Netherlands. One of the Dutch students, Max, was better at Mandarin than the rest of us. He ended up having a word with one of the ladies that were being very aggressive towards a few of our group, and to this day we still don’t know whether he was speaking Mandarin or Dutch…we just know he was saying something.

We then started walking back to the coach and taking in the scenery, and all of the girls got to try on some traditional Korean outfits…and I was stuck with carrying everyone’s bags, cameras and hats…

It was time to go to our hotel rooms. I was staying with Shadi, and we quickly found out that the beds were soft…unlike the wooden beds at the Uni rooms. We didn’t stay there for long as everyone went off to eat and then to a shopping mall/market place. We got to experience a little more of the culture and found some really cool things, like live performances and interesting new foods…

We didn’t want the night to end…so we didn’t let it. We went back to Dandong town and the Yalu River and the whole bridge was lit up in colour. The whole road was bursting with lights and energy, and a whole market place had appeared. We stayed there for what felt like 20 minutes (probably was actually a few hours) and just walked around, watched the bridge and took photos. Then we found a lady that was writing peoples Chinese names in a really creative way…my name was Zhōusì. It was so amazing that I think we looked after the painting more than we did ourselves.