Written by: Sid Tetz, Ryan Haynes and Scott Stelck (MBA Candidates)
This day of the China Study Tour started early with everyone on the bus at 5:45 am. Amazingly, we all made it to the bus on time. Different strategies were employed to make this early departure. A few people elected to stay up all night enjoying the nightlife of Beijing, while the majority chose to call it an evening around 2:00 am. For the first time on our travels through Beijing, the bus ride was very smooth. We beat the morning rush with our early departure and had a fair amount of time to spare prior to our train ride to X’ian.
We would spend 6 hours traveling by high speed rail to X’ian from Beijing. On the rails, we traveled swiftly at roughly 300km/hr. The train gave us an opportunity to rest a little and enjoy seeing a diverse array of landscapes. It seemed to take ages to get outside of the skyscrapers surrounding Beijing. Many brand new residential buildings speckled the start of the ride. These new buildings sit vacant and are bought primarily on speculation. Currently, famers and young people living in rural areas of China are migrating to these developments in pursuit of higher incomes and typically higher standard of living in the major urban centers such as Beijing. After roughly 2.5 hours of travel we were outside of the major skyscrapers in and surrounding Beijing. The topography varied greatly over the remainder of the ride. We could see terraced farming and the rail line would be tunneled through smaller mountains. As we approached X’ian, we left the greenery and hills behind to be welcomed by another wall of empty buildings and new developments.
Jumping off the train, we rushed to the bus. The original plan was to make a quick stop at our hotel, change, have a snack from KFC, and then bike on the city wall. Unfortunately, when we got to our rooms it was discovered that our first hotel, The Aurora International Hotel, had bed bugs. Sufficiently terrified, we gathered our belongings and left the hotel. Edy and Melissa quickly jumped into action to find us new and clean accommodations. Within an hour we were checked into the Mercury across the street. The Mercury was a welcomed change from the stained carpets, funky smell, vibrating condoms, and bed bugs of the Aurora.
Due to the quick actions of the tour leaders, we managed to make it to the City Wall for a bike ride. City Wall in X’ian is one of the only fully intact city walls within China. The 60’ foot high wall offers a 14-mile total round trip ride with wonderful views of the entire inner and outer parts of the city. The ride on the wall was arguably the most fun part of the trip thus far. Bringing back the childhood memories of riding a bike purely for enjoyment and sightseeing in a new city was an awesome combination. Additionally, the bike ride was also a welcomed change from walking.
This day would finish with a dumpling banquet dinner and walk through the Muslim quarters. After a few light appetizers, 13 rounds of dumplings were brought to each table. The dumpling banquet dinner has only become popular since the leader Deng Xiaoping requested a meal that consisted only of dumplings. However, due to his status, socially it is unacceptable that he be served only dumplings. So, the chefs for his meal developed 113 different types of Dumplings. Sufficiently stuffed, we left the restaurant to check out the Muslim quarters. We were welcomed by a barrage of people, smells, sounds, and lights. All of our senses had been fully satisfied and we made our way back to the hotel to rest for tomorrow’s adventures.