Nate's Travels

An attempt to document the world-travels of Nate B. from China to Western Europe and beyond!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pictures :(

Keep your fingers crossed everyone. My iPod (which has about 400 photos from this trip) has failed me. I'm having deja vu of my powerbook and now it's going kerplunk. Hopefully I can recover the data the same way I was able from the computer... we'll see... but keep prayers flowin and fingers crossed! (If not, all you get to see is shanghai and tibet :P)

xnatex

Tibet! Almost home...

Hey Everyone!

Hope this blog finds you as well as it does me! Tibet is/was out of this world! Thank you Uncle Jake and Aunt Karen! I can't believe how beautiful this place is... It's so unaffected by the outside world while at the same time slowly becoming modernized. It's been a nice break to not constantly be breathing in hardcore pollution though... the mountain air has been great. I've noticed a few things because of the altitude, but nothing too significant.
Yesterday we went to the Potala palace... the place where the Dali Lama would live, walked around that, the Tibetan museum, and one of the big bazarrs around the big temple in the center of Lhasa. We also visited the Summer Palace for the Dali Lama and got to see the part constructed by the 14th (most current). Very serene indeed.
Today we visited a monestary--it was very interesting (though Bhuddism is extremely difficult to understand...) and the temple I mentioned earlier. Both are full of extravagant statues, relics, and paintings that are just incredible. I don't think my pictures will do them justice.
A big sidenote--the food here is incredible! It's a mix between Chinese and Indian. Dad, you'd love it. Yak is now a favorite meat, and I've had lamb in some very interesting ways. The highlight of my cuisine today, however, was the Chicken curry and naan...mmmmmmmm.
Alright, enough about the food... just some closing thoughts.
TIBET IS INCREDIBLE. From the views to the people and the history, it's just an amazing place. I feel so blessed to have been able to visit! I can't wait to show ya'll pictures when I get back. Only a few more days then back to the home of the free and the brave. I'm happy to be headed home too... 16 days in a culture where communication is almost impossible is rough! (Thank God I can speak a little french for Lux!) Hope you're all well, talk to you soon enough!

xnatex

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shanghai Nights, 7 Years in Tibet

Hey Ya'll,
Sitting here in the hotel business center in Shanghai! This is one kickin' city. Of the three we've been to so far, this is by far the most developed in the western sense. We've been able to see the work of different governments to build "concessions" or quarters here. There is a British quarter, French Quarter, Russian Quarter, etc. The Americans were offered a part of Shanghai to build in, but they never did it in time. Eventually it became part of the British Quarter... as ze French say, "Stupid Americans" (or as the chinese say, Stupid Maiguo) :). The city has an incredible number of skyscrapers though: some of the coolest I've seen to date in the world. I took tons of pictures, so you'll get to see them all.
Today we went to a think tank here in the city, and later we'll be meeting with people from the American Consulate. The meeting this morning was informative, and we were again offered a lot of differing perspectives on China's development. I'm sure the meeting this afternoon will be interesting to again see the American side of things.
Overall, the trip has been going very well. Today is the first time it's rained, but it's considerably cooler (thank God). I've been trying to get my stomach right again... it's been off now for about 4 days (I can't wait to get reaclimated to American food). It seems like I'm faring better than some of the people on the trip though--people really aren't using good common sense. Drinking too much, walking with open toed shoes (the streets are ungodly dirty here)... we've had about 5 or 6 people go to the hospital since we've been in China (but none have been sent home). The worst that happened to me was the banged up shin when I slipped on part of the city wall in Xi'an... no biggie, but I've got a nice little egg on my shin still. Oh well... battle wounds from China :).
Hope you're all doing well, can't wait to be surrounded by Americans in just under a week (At least we say excuse me!). Before that, however, Tibet here I come...
xnatex

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hello Xi'an, Bye Bye Beijing

ALRIGHT! Finally a chance to update! We have been a busy little delegation on diplomacy here in China. The flight over was miserable to say the least. 13.5 hours on the plane to Shanghai and then another 2 to get to Beijing... I was pooped! We got into the hotel, which was extremely nice, at around 12am on Sunday (our time). We had a light Western dinner (they made us crustless sandwiches) and went to bed. I'll put more in the DVD about the hotel, but it was definitely a 3-4 star. Extremely nice.
The next day we had our first group meeting, got to know some other people and had an introductory cultural briefing by one of the people in the tour company that scheduled everything for us over here. After that, we ate lunch at the Yueshanfang restaurant (pretty good, but not the best... the fish and chicken with their heads still on freaked us all out a bit), and went to the Imperial Summer Palace. The palace was extremely crowded, but served as a great starting point for learning about Chinese history. We saw some amazing art and learned tons about the palace itself. I'll include plenty of pictures and commentary on the DVD too.
Monday we started nice and early. First on the day's schedule was a talk by a Wall Street Journal editor who told us a little about the press rights here in China. She let us in on some great information that showed how limiting the Government can be, but how they're opening up (just like the markets and the government). After we talked to her, some guys from the American embassy came and told us all about Foreign Service life. Sounds like it might be fun down the road...?
Following their visit, we took off for the China University of Foreign Affairs. We had a lecture from one of the professors about the foreign policy of China that was extremely interesting. It helped to give us a solid basic understanding of the way things work here. After that we got to meet some students, talk to them about college life (Mom and Dad you'll die... it's only 16000 Yuan a year here... I'll let you convert it). They were great! Very excited to hear about the US and very excited about speaking some english with us. I got their emails, so we're going to try to keep in touch!
Yesterday, we headed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs right off the bat. We were honored to be received by the Prime Minister himself, who gave us an informative briefing on some of the issues China is facing today, and where they see themselves in the world. It was great, and I got to shake his hand!!!! We left the ministry after that, and went to the one and only GREAT WALL! I hiked up a rediculously steep side of the wall with my friends. It was incredibly breathtaking.. I hope my pictures do it some justice. After spending a few hours there, we went back and chilled at the hotel.
Today we visited Tian'amen square and the forbidden city. I took beaucoup de photos. It was amazing! After that, we got on a plane and flew here to Xi'an. We just had dinner at an amazing dumpling restaurant. They had EVERY type of dumpling you could possibly want (Dad, you'd be in heaven). Right now, we're about to go out, so I'll be sure to post more later! We're checking out the Terra Cotta warriors tomorrow! Hope you're all well, thanks so much for sending me here!!!!

xnatex
(P.s. I can't read comments here on the site, so if you're posting them, I can't get 'em... Chinese security)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Alost On De Plane

Shoooooot. I hurt all over. LA was a great time hangin' with Karen and Uncle Ed. We basically did a food tour of southern Cali, or so it seemed. Needless to say it ended crappily. I got food poisoning last night, yacked in Karen's car, yacked all night long (and didnt sleep) at the hotel. I still feel miserable today, but at least I can keep some food/water down.

China is almost here! I'm actually sitting at the gate right now. Most of the kids I've met so far from the program are pretty cool, a few idiots, but I suppose you'll find those everywhere. Now I have to get in gear and try to make it on an airplane for 18 hours without dying. Fun! Anyway, I'll post again in Beijing! Say me a prayer for my crappy stomach/body.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pre-China

Well, I've got about 4 days left beore I head to LA, 6 before I'm on a plane headed for China, halfway around the world from Columbus, Ohio. It'd be less than honest for me to say I'm not a little worried (you know, communism will do that to a person), but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the government through the eyes of their people. I'm going to do my best, like I tried to in my Latin American Studies class this year to see how their particular system works for them, not how it works for me.
Hopefully this trip will be eye-opening, if nothing else, I'm getting an insider's look at the (Second) biggest superpower in the world.
Ve shall see. Check back for more later (though I'm not positive I'll be able to update while I'm in China, I'll post pictures here for sure).
xnatex