155 Flights to Glory

So there I was, sitting in class on a Tuesday morning when my phone buzzed. Having previously blocked out my professors voice, I wasn’t too concerned with using my phone.

To my surprise, the text was from one of my friends who is the owner and founder of AirTrax. The text read, “Wanna go to China?”

Being the traveling guru I am, I instantly wanted to go. The challenge was, could I realistically take a week off school and could I afford it? After talking with my friend, I realized it was possible and very doable. Matter of fact, I was going to go to China for less than $1000, including airfare, accommodations and my visa.

Fast forward a couple weeks and suddenly we were sitting at the airport getting ready to board a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles, California to Beijing, China.

I was doing it. I was going to China.

The week that followed was nothing like I had ever expected. We showed up on what happened to be the Chinese National Day, where everyone took a week off work and traveled; many of which to Beijing. So, it was busy.

We started off our adventures by visiting three of Beijing’s biggest attractions: the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square.

Early the next morning, we began our journey to what would soon become one of my favorite places. The Great Wall of China is a two and a half hour drive from Beijing, deep in the mountains.

Figuring it would be a pretty easy hike on the wall, I wasn’t to concerned. After riding a gondola up to the base of the wall, we started the trek that would really help me appreciate the true beautify of the wall.

The wall follows the ridge of the mountain, and leads to the tallest point. Things were simple and easy to begin with, but after the first 30 minutes, the wall started climbing straight up hill.

After 10.7 miles and 155 flights of stairs, we made it to the top. The glorious view of red and orange leaves stretched for miles.

Once we took in the view for quite some time, we started our descent back down the mountain.

Looking back at the day, it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Needless to say, it’s no surprise the Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world.

After loving our time in Beijing, we departed to unknown and new territory, Xi’an.

Xi’an is a smaller city in central China, and is home to one of the newest masterpieces known as the Terracotta Army.

The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the army of the first Emperor of China. The 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 520 horses are said to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

The tomb was not discovered until 1974 and is currently being excavated and are now on display for tourist the view.

After visiting the warriors, we headed back to center of Xi’an. As we began navigating ourselves around the city, we stumbled upon the hidden treasure that soon became everyone’s favorite place.

In the center of Xi’an was an ancient wall that surrounds the 5.4 square miles that use to be the old city limits. In the center of the encasement was one of the prettiest temples in all of China.

It rose in the middle of a round about, and its lights lit the surrounding area. The streets around the temple were filled with shops, food and music.

The remainder of our final night was filled with big smiles, laughs and lots of great food.

Now, speaking of food, I ate some interesting things, as well as some very delicious meals. From seahorse and scorpions to fondued beef, we ate it all. Overall, the thing I always went back to was the undeniably delicious noodles.

My week in China was short, but it was amazing. I crossed things off my bucket list I never thought I would. I went to China, sluffed a week of College, climbed the Great Wall of China and ate a seahorse.

If you asked me to do it all over again, my answer would be, “absolutely.”

Story by: Easton Bowring
Photos by: Easton Bowring and Daniel Cox