After the  Great Wall, we proceeded to the Forbidden City. The palace buildings were so rich with architecture and culture that I was just in awe.  The last stop was Tiananmen Square. The gates at the end of the square are supposed to signify the gates to heavenly peace. 

Later that night, three of my teammates and I found it imperative that we visited the Bird’s Nest in the Olympic Village where the 2008 Beijing Olympics were held. The arena was massive and had such creative architecture. Right outside was a beer garden where we found an assortment of fried bugs you could eat. There were grubs, tarantulas, grasshoppers, scorpions, and some strange type of worm or beetle. Three of us decided to try the grubs and it actually wasn’t too bad! The texture is just strange.

The last day in China was a blast! It began as we climbed the great wall of China. A thousand steps later we finally reached the wall. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The great wall stretches on for miles and truly is one of the wonders of the world. Instead of turning around and walking the 1,000 stairs back down, we decided to toboggan to the bottom. I whipped down that slide, somehow managing to stay on through the sharp turns and twists.

We played our last game against the same team we played previously, which was the team who had won the Chinese league the last nine years. Then we finished up with a closing ceremony and signed several autographs and took many pictures. Later that night we had the chance to explore on a night in the town.

Quick fire comments from Sara on the day’s events…

Chen the translator and I. Chicken heads for dinner. Opening ceremonies banquet. The nicest hotel I’ve ever been in. Massages at 2am

Match Update

This afternoon we played China’s number one team. They have won China’s pro league the last nine years. Their setter and middle were from the national team. Needless to say they were pretty dang good. They smoked us, 25-11 25-12 25-13.  The rest of the night abided for some free time where we happily received massages. All I can say is that I love Beijing, and the group I’m traveling with.

Leaving Huai’an, Exploring Beijing

This morning we said goodbye to Huai’an and boarded a plane to Beijing. Our translator Chen teared up as he said his goodbyes and sent us off. Beijing is the best thing to happen to this trip. We are staying in a 5-star hotel and it’s the nicest place I’ve ever stayed at in my entire life! 

Alas, we were fed an array of American food. I had three helpings and my teammates laughed as one said “McLovin’ the color is returning to your face! We were a little worried about you when you were so lethargic in the restaurant last night.” I’ll have to admit I feel so much better after having a full meal in my system

The banquet tonight was yet another quality meal. All four teams in the tournament were welcomed to Beijing. We were told that one team in the tournament has won the last eight of nine national championships that they have participated in. So as you can tell, the competition is steep. We will play tomorrow afternoon at the tournament opener. As for now I’m looking forward to melting into a dry comfy bed

Random side notes :

1. Our translator learned English from watching Modern Family and the Walking Dead.
2. Beijing has about 16 million people.
3. Huai’an has about 1 million people, but is still considered a small city in China.
4. People do not tip at restaurants in China.
5. Pizza hut is considered a fine dining restaurant in China - and it’s way better than in the U.S.
6. When given the option, most natives choose to use a squatter rather than a toilet.

Practicing, English and Passing

Last night we lost in our scrimmage, but good news we have a chance to redeem ourselves tonight since we play the same team this afternoon in a full match. Passing was a bit of a struggle but after a pass and serve this morning we should be better prepared for the game.

Day made. My teammate Kelsey and I went shopping in the market. On the way back to the hotel the school next door was dismissed and all of the school kids ran up to us so that they could speak English to us.  These were their comments: “you are white!” “I like hamburgers!” “I like icecream” “my name is Henry” “he is fat” and “you are very very tall.” All of the parents seemed happy to see their children able to practice their English with us.

Random side notes:

1. It’s socially acceptable in our hotel to farmer blow your snot onto the floor, but not okay to put your feet up.
2. I washed my shirt in the sink 4 days ago and it has still not dried yet because of the humidity. It also smells like mildew.
3. 90% of the women wear high heels every day. Pretty sure my feet would break if I did that.
4. Fanta pop is way better in China than in the US.

Teddy Bear Bouquets and Barbies: Qingyan Garden


This morning we went out sightseeing. As we left the hotel a swarm of paparazzi was waiting outside for us as we loaded the bus. The bus was escorted through the city of Huia’an by two police vehicles. We first stopped at Qingyan which is a beautiful apartment complex.

In the center of the complex was a beautifully landscaped lake surrounded by luscious greenery. Upon arrival a tour guide led us to a private concert where we were greeted with large bouquets of flowers and teddy bears. The music was amazing and the performers even taught us how to use the instruments. My team coaxed me out of my seat by chanting McLovin’ (the nickname I’ve been given) and volunteered me to give a speech in front of the whole party off the top of my head. I was a bit nervous to speak, but Chen our translator said that he made me sound educated…..thanks Chen.

Fun Side Notes From Sara…

1.The team has given me the nickname McLovin’

2. Mango ring pops are my best purchase yet.

3. Toddlers here don’t wear pullups. They just have slits in their pants so if they go to the bathroom it just falls out of their pants. Seems a bit messy to me!

4. Many of these Chinese players have been playing together since they were 10yrs old.

5. Hardly anyone uses toilet paper in china.

6. If you ever are having self esteem problems come to China, because they love Americans and keep dishing out the compliments.