True Friends

A few days ago, two of my really good friends from college, Scott “the Turd” Ferguson and John “Dirt-bag” Remson, came to visit me in China. Once they found out that I was going to be spending the year in China they decided that it would be a good idea to spend all of their hard earned money that they had been saving and come to China.

The plan was to meet up in Beijing and then spend a day back in my town of Qinhuangdao. But, because of intensives and Scott and John’s misunderstanding of how time zones work, we were unable to meet up in Beijing. So they agreed to come out and visit me for two days in Qinhuangdao. I met them at the train station and we spent the first night drinking and eating at Wu Gong’s BBQ restaurant. Scott was able to practice some of his Chinese that he has been learning and we had a good time just talking with Wu Gong and with each other.

We woke up early the next day and decided that we wanted to see the Great Wall (Chong Chong in Chinese). Not far from where I live is where the Great Wall meets the sea. It is called the Dragon’s Head. So we hopped into a taxi and asked him to take us to Chong Chong (actually I had one of the TAs write it down in Chinese so I wouldn’t mess it up; I just pointed to the piece of paper). The cab driver dropped us off at a part of the wall called “The First Pass Under Heaven”. Just looking at the Great Wall you are impressed at how big it is and the work that must have gone into making it.


We got out and the first thing that happened is that Chinese tourists wanted to take pictures with us. Because foreigners rarely come to this part of China, many of them had never seen a foreigner before, so they wanted to get a picture with us. After posing for a few pictures we headed to the ticket office. We got to the ticket office and saw that the entrance fees were pretty expensive (but if you were from that city it was half price). We see one option that says “6000 m,” and we assumed that this meant we could walk along the wall for 6000 meters. There is this woman there, who we believed to be a tour guide, who keeps pointing at the most expensive package. We were like, “you don’t even speak English why do we want you to give us a tour?” As she was pointing to the most expensive, we are pointing to the cheapest (the 6000 meter one). She keeps shaking her head and refuses to sell us a ticket. We were getting really annoyed that she wouldn’t let us buy the one we wanted. We try walking away but she followed us. She was trying to buy the tickets for us be we didn’t want her to because we thought she was just going to make us buy the most expensive. We came up with the idea that since we can’t speak Chinese we would take a picture of the one we wanted and show the person in the ticket booth. So we do this, and then the ticket lady shakes her head no too and makes us buy the expensive one. At this point we have been arguing for 20 minutes and we just wanted to go in. So we paid for the tickets and go in.

Once we make it to the top we see that they blocked off the wall at some points and you can’t walk to the end of the wall where it meets the sea. So the ticket lady was actually trying to be nice and help us. Who would have thought?

Walking up to the top of the Great Wall is really impressive. It is pretty high up. The engineering ingenuity is really something that takes your breath away. As we walked along the wall we read that most of the wall was rebuilt in the 1980s. It is still very impressive.


At one point along the wall there were these dancers who did this kind of dance while carrying a basket for someone to sit in. John decided to try it out. It was pretty funny to watch.


After hanging out at the Great Wall in the morning we headed back to Qinhuangdao and went to the beach. I showed them a few cool spots and then I took them back into the city center to show them around. I took them to a DVD shop where they each bought at least 8 bootlegged DVDs (thank you China for not having copyright laws).

They then came to watch me teach a class. We were going over animals in class. I was acting out the different animals and the kids had to follow along. I got John and Scott involved in the lesson. John made a pretty shitty horse impression; but Scott was not too bad. Next they were off to Shanghai and then to Hong Kong. But it was really fun having them around. It is always nice to see familiar faces.



About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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