A first international flight and a night in Beijing
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It was a fine sunny Sunday morning. It passed my 22nd birthday, and I was so excited to go abroad for the first time in my life. It was the first day I had a backpack which weighed about 50 pounds. We were supposed to meet at the airport at 9 am. And I started my first journey with my senior friend Seong-duk. I still remember when I first entered the airport. A lot of people, and a travel agent was waiting for us (2 boys and 7 girls). We got our travel documents, and I was trying to manage 50 pounds in my back but not easy for the first half an hour. Got in the plane, the excitment of waiting for the plane to take off still stimulates me to do more travel whenever I have time. Anyway, you are flying!
After one and a half hour flight, we landed in Beijing, and the first thing we did was to meet up our tour guide, and he could speak Korean. I could see lots of Chinese flags, and it was just the day before Hong Kong was finally returned to China from Great Britain. The excitment of Chinese people were so much, so that even the first time visitors can feel how that would be. We looked around National Parliament house and tien-an-mun, and also the famous forbidden city. The size of fobidden city is just enormous, and there are three ways to enter. One is for the emperor, the other is for the relatives of the emperor, and another one is for high goverment officials of dynasty. The vast size could be recognied by walking tour timetable, and you probably realize that how big is the forbidden city after 2-3 hours of walking. Only if you are interested in movie stuff, The Last Emperor of Bernardo Bertolucci is just in front of you with 300 years of history of Qing dynasty. Qing dynasty is a conquering dynasty which are not from originally China, but from Manchuria. Their tranditional hair style gives a sense that they are not from central China. The last years of Chinese emperor was well documented by a British tutor of the last emperor, Reginald Johnston.
We got on the van after walk around forbidden city and the Parliament house, and had peking duck. There is a round table which you can choose any dishes, and perhaps you will find out that they are very different from the "greasy" chinese food. Of course, this is Beijing, not New york or Seoul. The sand wind is still out there, and perhaps you find out that small sands are in your mouth if you don't breathe by your nose. The next course was to see Chinese Acrobat, and the performance was mainly done by 12-16 year old boys and girls. They could do everything one can do with plates, and made unimaginable postures, and so on. Interestingly, not many Chinese people are there to see the show, as it was mainly for foreigners. We came to hotel, and the night was so excited with the fireworks of celebrating the return of Hong Kong still. Although we were so excited to have different words, different sceneries for the first time, we had to sleep to have a long journey to London on the next day. This is a very personal feeling, but if you remember the first night in foreign countries which your mother tongue was never spoken for a day for doing anything with locals, you surely feel different. You just started learning "foreign cultures". To me, that fine sunny Sunday was all day long experience for cultural changes.