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After much trial and tribulation, a few of us decided to head to Beijing (and get the heck out of Shanghai) for our 3 days off. A little tricky, seeing as how we only have a week’s worth of pay left, and the holidays are coming, and some folks in the cast are straight up broke. But the bottom line is that a trip to China without seeing the Great Wall is total bunk, right? Right.

So we hopped in a cab, then in a plane, then in a bus, then in another bus, and we were in Beijing. We stayed at Beijing Downtown Backpackers’ Hostel, which I totes recommend for all you future Beijing-ers. It was fantastic, and in such a cool part of town. It’s on a hutong, which is an alley that’s packed with cool little shops, bars, and restaurants. Do it.

So the Forbidden City was awesome, the pandas at the zoo were awesome, Tiananmen Square and Mao’s embalmed body were (totally creepy and weird…) awesome. But the Great Wall was something more than awesome. Awe-inspiring? Amazing? I don’t know. I guess I overuse awesome and amazing, because the Great Wall was both, in their literal meanings.

Anyhoo, we hiked the Jinshanling to Simatai section, which is the hardest section open to the public near Beijing. It’s unrepaired, so it’s pretty treacherous, and it’s about 7.5 miles of either extremely steep stairs and ramps going up, or extremely steep stairs and ramps going down. Which is almost worse than going up. Ouch, my knees…

But in spite of the tough hike and the (ridiculous!) cold, we made it. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and I was so proud of us all by the end. It’s such a feeling of accomplishment, and it’s so inspiring to be all up in the middle of all that history. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Yikes! So my darling friend Patty O brought to my attention that according to my blogs, it seems as though I haven’t enjoyed China whatsoever. I’m so bummed with myself for only posting negative things on here! I guess this is just where I go to vent, and I don’t realize that it all adds up to seem like I’m not having a good time. So here’s a list of all of the amazing things that I’ve loved about the last couple of months.

-being in a place with such a rich, ancient history
-meeting new people and making cross-cultural relationships work, despite a lack of complete knowledge of each others’ language
-our darling, sweet dressers and costumers
-Leon, my front desk buddy who has a secret Chinese crush on me
-the cool, crazy architecture with lots of shingles and peaked eaves
-how everything has a meaning and a purpose, beyond just being nice to look at
-how cheap everything is 🙂
-realizing, in the rehearsal process, that I’m better at my job than I give myself credit for
-having the opportunity to experience history, namely in Beijing: Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and so on
-the fact that price is often up to interpretation — I love haggling
-a good plate of legit Shanghai fried rice
-living in a huge downtown high rise, one block from a nice big theatre, where I work!
-the adventure of planning days and excursions to see something completely new
-experiencing a culture that is completely the opposite of everything I know, and how that has opened my eyes

Thanks, China.

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