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Learning from Traveling

November 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

It would be very difficult for me to itemize all of the different and surprising things I have seen and learned during my travels to Asia, but I am thankful for all to which I have been exposed. Some things were a little more expected and less of a surprise than others, but always interesting to see. Would you like to see some of the sights from a trip to India?

The photo above was taken in a small city in eastern India. I have no idea how this young lady could keep the sack on her head balanced as she wove through the traffic, but I was impressed — and I knew I didn’t want to do that myself! This sight became very common as I spent more time in India, and I have never seen anyone drop the load off their heads prematurely. 

Many times I saw a water buffalo or an ox pulling wooden carts in India, but I was not sure about what these animals were. They had the bodies of a cow, but I am not sure about their horns. I haven’t seen this combination before.

Being from the Atlanta area, you know I am a Coke guy when it comes to my cola preference. In India, Coke is called Thums Up, and I can’t say that it taste exactly like what we have in the States, but it is very close. Now, if I could just find some that were cold when it is 100 degrees and 100% humidity!

I was never truly into academia, but I can say that I do enjoy learning by traveling. There are many things you can learn through traveling that simply are not in books . . . but books are a great way to learn also. 

How about you? Do you have your next trip planned? This week I booked a trip, and I can’t wait to share with you about it! 

For my last trip to Asia, I was looking for the least expensive airfare I could find. The best rate had me going through Doha, Qatar, so I thought it would be nice to see a new country, and the trip was booked. My itinerary had me going from Doha, Qatar to Hyderabad, India. The flights went well, and so did my getting through customs in India, but that is when my travel plans fell apart! 

I arrived in Hyderabad at about 1:00 AM and made it through customs easily and reclaimed my luggage. To check in for my next flight, I had to go outside and up to a ground level floor, where I was stopped by armed military men. I told them that I had just arrived and needed to check in for my next flight. One man with a rifle and pistol took my itinerary and walked off. His partner told me to wait by the door, and the guy with my paperwork was gone for almost 30 minutes — and then my new day turned for the worse!

When the man with the guns and my itinerary returned, he told me that my flight didn’t exist! Then his partner took my itinerary and passport and went to the ticket counter for my alleged flight. I could see him the entire time, unlike the first man; and he came right back and told me to go to the ticket counter at 8:30 to get booked for their next flight to my next city of Visakhapatnam, India. Finally, I was given my passport and itinerary and allowed to enter the airport!

My first stop was to the ticket counter, and they told me that my flight never existed, and they didn’t know how my travel agent booked the flight. I asked for their next flight, which was at about noon, so I had a very long layover in the Hyderabad airport. I did, however, make a new friend — would you like to see?

Yes, that pigeon decided to share breakfast with me! I had seen other flights on other airlines leaving before my flight, so I asked at the counter about a reciprocal relationship with the airlines so I could get on an earlier flight, and I was told that there were no relationships like that with their airline . . . so I waited . . . and waited. Oh, did I mention I had a long wait? 

When it was finally late enough for me to work my way to the gate, I saw a sign that was extremely ironic and even painfully funny at the time. I will show it to you below!

So, the airport where I had been somewhat detained by armed military men that took my itinerary and passport, booked on a nonexistent flight, and had about an 11 hour layover had been chosen as the number one airport in the world. Wow, I would have hated to have seen the worst airport in the world!

Oh well, when you travel, you have to be prepared to have things (some good and some not so good) occur that are out of your control. Trust me, you will have much less stress and frustration if you accept what you can’t control and try to make the best of the new situation!

On my last trip to Asia, the best airfare I could find had me going through Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Air. I thought it would be interesting to see a new country, so I was pleased to find an inexpensive flight, and it was booked. Would you like to see Doha?

New Sights to See | BeauSides.com

My apologies for the quality of this photo, but since it is so hot in Qatar, all of the windows to the exterior of the airport were treated to block some of the sun. I can’t imagine how hot it gets there during their summer months! Hopefully you can make out some of the tall buildings in the background. This photo doesn’t display how large an area Doha’s skyscrapers occupied, but trust me, it was expansive.

During my flight to Qatar, I found it interesting that one of the options on your personal entertainment screen was the Quran. Also, when I arrived in the Doha airport, I learned that women had a separate prayer room from men, as you can see from the sign suspended from the ceiling. Obviously I don’t know much at all about the culture in Qatar!

New Sights to See | BeauSides.com

Doha’s airport was modern and clean, and it had several play areas for children. One of the interesting observances I had while there were all of the upscale shopping options. Also, within the airport, very tall palm trees were growing. One person told me that most of the hourly workers at the Doha airport were people from Syria. I don’t know if that was true or not, but the person that told me this has traveled extensively, so I believed him.


So far my trip was going well. But you will need to read my blog scheduled for the 15th of June to see if my good fortune continued!

Have you noticed how hot it has been in China this summer? Even cities in the three most extreme northeastern provinces of China have recorded temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more in the recent weeks! In one of these cities, I have personally been there in December when it was 18 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), so you can see that a climate like that doesn’t get to 100 degrees or higher very often!

There are lots of precautions that should be made when dealing with extreme temperatures like these, and there are some for travelers as well. Would you like to review a couple of them?

First and foremost, stay hydrated! Bottles of water are inexpensive in China and easy to find in cities, so please stay hydrated and wear loose-fitting light-colored clothes. Another one is to know some of the aspects of when and where to go. I can show you an example of a mistake I made once. Would you like to see it?

Some Friendly Travel Advice - BeauSides.com

This is the Great Wall of China at the Badaling location, which is the closest to Beijing so it is full of tourists. Also, it is the most commercialized of the locations near Beijing, so the crowds just getting there are quite large. This photo was taken in the summer, so not only was that the height of the tourist season, but it was also hot! As you can see from the photo, the air movement is somewhat restricted by the upper section of the wall. On this day I was convinced the stones in the Great Wall were absorbing the heat from the sun, and reflecting it back on the tourists!

If your travel takes place in the summer months, I would encourage you to think about getting to an outdoor tourist site early in the morning. This way it will be cooler, and you should be ahead of the crowds. On this trip to the Great Wall, combining the heat with the crowds did not make for the best experience, and that is what I want everyone to have, the best possible experience. Hopefully you can learn from my mistake!

Do you have any travel tips for sightseeing in hot weather?

If you have read many of my posts, you have noticed I often will say something like “you never know what you will see when traveling” or “always have your camera ready.” Well, with this post, I am going to give a couple of examples of what you can learn from traveling in China. Believe me, this list could be massive — but for today, we will only examine a couple things. Are you ready for our journey together?

Look and Learn As You're Traveling - More Interesting Sights in China from BeauSides.com

From this picture you will learn that you want your career path to lead you in a direction other than pulling a rickshaw up a hill in the summer at the Great Wall of China! This photo was taken on a very hot day, so I have no earthly idea as to why the lady is wearing a wrap, other than it was something bright and colorful she was given to wear for a photo with the rickshaw. I feel sorry for the gentleman in the photo doing the work! I am sure he must get exhausted during the day, and I would also imagine most of the people to whom he gives rides weigh more than he does! Did I mention how hot it is during tourist season?

For those of you that like tea, you will find this next photo very educational. Tea is huge part of the culture in China, and they have formal ceremonies where tea is served. Friends have taught me that there are several types of tea (to me it should be black, iced, and sweet) which can be beneficial to your health. From the next photo, you can even learn that the different teas have different temperatures for enhancing their enjoyment.  If you are a tea lover, you will find this interesting!

Look and Learn As You're Traveling - More Interesting Sights in China from BeauSides.com

 

Honestly, I have never heard of some of those different types of tea, and that is by no means the entire list. Also, please note that the temperatures are given in Celsius.

So remember: when traveling, keep your eyes open and have your camera ready, because you never know what you might see or learn!

Today I wanted to share with you some scenes from my last trip to China. With China having the oldest culture on the planet, it is interesting how the Chinese hang on to some of their older items. I have been in a nicely renovated train station complete with a modern looking brick exterior, and some of the original touches remaining on the interior. Would you like to see an example?

they-just-dont-build-them-like-they-used-to-1

The ceiling in this lobby area was extremely high, maybe fifty feet or more. The stained glass windows were absolutely gorgeous, so I can understand why this area was kept intact! The layers of crown molding were quite impressive as well!

As we were boarding our train, I noticed other trains on their designated tracks. One of the trains I noticed had a yellow and red engine pulling the train. As old as they are, these older-style engines are still a fairly common sight on the tracks in China. Just beyond the older engine, you can see the green boxcar. This represents a fairly old train, but from my experience, I can say it is the most commonly used type of train. The newer trains are white and much more aerodynamically designed. Would you like to see a couple of generations of trains in China?

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If you are traveling in China and you have an opportunity to take a train, I would encourage you to travel on the train system. They are very reliable, cost less than flying, and my experiences have been that you will always meet some very welcoming people!

Have you ever taken the train in China?

When I am traveling, one of the things I find interesting is the architecture. I have been fortunate enough to have gone to Beijing, China, many times, and one of my favorite buildings to see is the TV station building. Please have a look to see if you find it interesting also!

What Architecture Do You Find Interesting?

I call this the transformer building, based on the action figures from the movie Transformers. I have no idea why the lines that look like cracks are there, and that makes it even more interesting to me. Some people have called it the “Sponge Bob Square Pants building”, but I like my name better. The multi-dimensional appearance is like no other building I have seen.

Not too far from the Transformer building there is another structure which I find interesting. This building is called the “beehive building” by the people in Beijing, and I think you can understand why.

What Architecture Do You Find Interesting?

Both of these photographs were taken during my last visit. I was very fortunate to be in Beijing on a clear day. Steps are being taken to improve the air quality, but some days are as bad as the information being reported on the news.

Hopefully you will have an opportunity to travel and enjoy some interesting architecture soon! Don’t forget to have your camera ready!

There is a train station I have used many times in the center of Beijing, China, and that is where my sleeper train arrives from another city. I like the sleeper trains because they save money, and you can meet some very interesting people on the trains. On my last trip to China, I used this train station at night to catch my sleeper train to another city. I was amazed by how different the train station, which I have used many times before, seemed; and I got to see a different area than when I arrive in the mornings. Come along on this journey with me!

As Different as Night and Day

This is what the exterior looked like when I arrived at the train station at night. Check out the difference compared to the morning view.

As Different as Night and Day

Once I got inside, I was impressed with some of the craftsmanship within the terminal!

As Different as Night and Day

There was ornate molding everywhere, and some of the columns were gorgeous!

As Different as Night and Day

I have one more photograph to share with you from this adventure, but first I must put this into perspective for you. It was about 10:00 PM when I was there, and the terminal was packed! The waiting areas had no place to sit, because all of the seats were taken, so there were people standing around waiting everywhere you could see. Did I mention it was 10:00 PM?!

As Different as Night and Day

As you can see from the picture above, the ceilings were very high. I would say at least 30 feet! I think it was designed like that for one reason–if everyone inside inhaled at the same time, there would be enough air in the room!

It was very educational for me to see the departure area of this very old and historic train station. My mind can’t fathom how many people use this train station daily and, to carry that thought out, how many people have used this facility since it was built!

All aboard! 

In Beijing, there are many options for transportation even if you don’t own your own car. Obviously, you can walk or take a bike, but many other options exist too. For those who want to avoid some of the street level traffic, you can utilize the subway system. The streets also offer many different types of taxis. You have your traditional cars, smaller bicycle-powered chariots, and motorcycles that are converted into small carts with a cabin mounted on the motorcycle. As with most major cities around the world, Beijing offers an extensive bus system as well.

Today I wanted us to focus on the trolley type of buses used in Beijing. They have long arms extending from the body of the bus to the cables running along the roads above the streets, and they can hold more people than you would think!

Transportation Options in Beijing

Honestly, with all of the cables and wires above the streets, I have no idea of how these keep from getting tangled with other cables, but they don’t. As you can see in the photograph below, the bodies of the trolleys are shaped very similar to a bus.

Transportation Options in Beijing

From someone who once lived in Beijing in the summer, take it from me: when the buses are crowded on a hot day, they can be stifling inside! You can see what I mean in the picture below! I did feel sorry for the lady by the window, as she looked quite cramped and in need of a fresh gulp of air.

Transportation Options in Beijing

One very interesting thing I have seen on buses in Beijing is what I call “slinky” buses. By that, I mean they are extremely long buses, like two buses connected by a flexible middle section. Not only is that impressive, but some of these buses actually have old hardwood floors! I have never seen that on a bus before!

If you use common sense, you should feel safe on the public transportation in Beijing.  I have never had a problem traveling there, and hopefully you won’t either!

Enjoy the trip!

 

The city where I taught at a university in China is full of old charm and culture. Although the population is nearing two million people, it still has some unique and treasured relics and culture. I know this very well about one of my favorite cities in the world — but would you like to see one of the recent surprises it showed me?

The Workhorse of the Skies

I can’t imagine how old this plane is! Can you see the two sets of wings? Maybe that helps date it. The diameter of the engine of this plane is huge, so I believe it must have a lot of power. I apologize for the quality of this photograph, but it was raining and I had to take the picture through tinted glass.

This area is an agricultural area, so the farmers need rain. I know that China practices cloud-seeding to produce rain, so perhaps this old workhorse of a plane is used for that. It looks like the cloud-seeding had worked very well this day!

For those of us that enjoy aviation, this was a very cool plane to see. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to travel who can, because you never know what interesting things you may see or do!

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to recently?