By Amanda Stickels, executive online editor

This summer, my mom and I took a trip to China for two weeks. We found this particular tour called the Heritage Tour through my adoption agency and decided to it was an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about my culture and talk to other people who were adopted like me. In China, we went to six different cities including the city I was born in. Over the course of the tour, I took around 890 pictures, so here are some of the highlights from the trip  

dsc_0040 The first day, we went to the Forbidden City in Beijing, which is where the emperors of China would live in ancient times. The architecture in the city was gorgeous, but It seemed as if the city went on for miles, which made it hard for everyone who was really tired and jetlagged. However, the history and the preservation of the ancient city was very neat.

dsc_0093The next day, we went to a jade factory. A lady who worked there gave us a short lecture about the gemstone and we shopped around. The year I was born was the year of the dragon, so I bought a necklace with a jade dragon on it and also a cross.

 

Thatdsc_0124 same day, we climbed the Great Wall of China. There were two trails we could go up; the one I went on went straight up (in the picture), and the other went up and down. After an hour, I finally got up to the fifth or sixth tower. The uneven and steep stairs made it a rigorous hike, but the breathtaking view made it worth the soreness I felt the next day.

dsc_0386

In the next city, Xi’an, we went to see the Terracotta Warriors. There’s something surreal about actually seeing something we learn about in history class. It was crazy to believe that these exact statues were created in the BC era and that I was standing right in front of them.

dsc_0424

 

The next day, we went on top of the Xi’an wall, which is a wall that surrounds the city. A lot of people rode bikes on the 9 mile stretch around Xi’an, but the seat was too high for me, so I took a golf cart with my mom.

dsc_0542

 

 In Chengdu, we went to a panda reserve, and I got to sit next to a panda bear!!! The panda was three years old, and she was so sweet. We had to put on gowns so that we don’t give the pandas any weird diseases and vice versa. Surprisingly, her fur wasn’t that soft; it was actually kind of coarse.

dsc_0653This is a picture of one of our hotel rooms. Each of the hotels we were at were either four or five stars, which was super nice, especially since I’ve never actually been in one before.

 

dsc_0719

 

 We then went on a river cruise tour in a province named Guilin. Our tour guide said that the mountains were so steep because the acid rain wears away at the rock. Although the tour was four hours and it was really hot, I stayed on top of the boat the whole time because it was so gorgeous.

dsc_0867The next day, the whole group broke off to go wherever they were going. The next stop for my mom and I was the city where I was born, so we took a flight to Guangzhou and five hour car ride to my city, Gaozhou City. After a trip to my orphanage, the director of the orphanage took us on a mini tour of Gaozhou City. He took us to this temple and pagoda; it was really emotional thinking that this is where I was born and where my roots are.

dsc_0889A little later that day, I came up with the idea to go to the beach since we were so close to the South China Sea. At first, our guide said no because it wasn’t on the list, but he eventually he said that we could go. It was 40 degrees Celsius, which is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so the water felt really nice.

dsc_0895

The next day we flew to Beijing to fly back to Chicago. The trip overall was a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did I got to tour all around one of the most historic countries in the world, I got to do it with an amazing group of people that have made this trip even better.