The most memorable experience for me on the SEAM trip was the walk down the bridge in Hangzhou near the West Lake and climbing up the Great Wall of China. The walk down the bridge had no particular story or event that took place, however the scenery I do not believe I will ever forget. The stars tore through the sky, shining brighter than anywhere I’ve seen in Georgia, it was as if I was atop the mountains in North Carolina again. Then the cool night breeze that drifted over the calm waves as the moon lit up the dark waters.
As described in an earlier blog post, the West Lake is known to be the Lake of Love and as we walked the bridge way I could see so many couples holding hands, arms around each other, taking pictures, and leaning on one another. Being in such a romantic environment brought me great joy. Even though I was not with someone I loved in a romantic sense, I could still feel the love in the environment, as if I could reach out and grasp it like a tangible object.
Climbing the Great Wall was one of the fondest memories for a completely different reason. I am terrified of heights so climbing down, what felt like 90 degree walls with no steps in places, was not one of my fondest memories. However, the way up the wall was very enjoyable. I personally had decided to run up the steep hills due to my calves burning from the 90 degree no steps climb and so I figured it would be nice to get a decent workout in by running as well as saving my calves some of the pain. Here it seemed as though we were placed on the highest of pedestals.
My classmate Lindsey and I had run all the way to the top as many individuals moved out of our way assuming we were celebrities. Once we reached the top you could see for miles all the different mountain tops soaring above one another as the Great Wall trotted over and under them all. The view standing next to the highest post was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen. The day was warm but not too unbearable like many of the days we had been in China. I had not personally gone near any side wall and glanced down, however looking at the far parts of the wall I could see that it was truly a magnificent creation. How individuals in ancient times had come together to create such a beautiful wall is beyond me.
My advice to others visiting the country would be, enjoy your time there. Don’t be so consumed with pictures and your mobile devices. Every image I hold the fondest I carry inside my mind, no photograph I took has captured a memory better than what is stored inside my own mind. For those going to conduct business be wary of the cultures customs such as accept food offered and be sure to understand which new media works, I suggest everyone get WeChat since there it is used more so than SMS and iMessages.