Archive for August, 2010

Today we arrived in Jiayuguan, we will be spending tomorrow here and then take an overnight train into Tibet.

The last week has been a blur of amazing experiences: from spending the night with a Uygur family, to seeing the third largest Buddha in the world at the Mogao Grottos, to camping in the Gobi Desert. This has been an amazing trip, and I’ll upload photos as soon as I arrive back in Beijing.

At times I feel more as if I’m in Turkey or Eastern Europe than China, this part of the country is unlike the East in many ways – but shares certain familiarities. It’s been a great trip and I’ll post more when I’m back at school.

Thanks for all the warm comments.


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Today I made a trip to the local pharmacy with a friend, he needed to get some ibuprofen for the silk road trip. It was an interesting experience, as this pharmacy has a mix of both traditional Chinese medicine and western drugs. The photo below details the pharmacist in front of a store of herbs. After taking your pulse she would diagnose the problem and give you an herbal regimen to follow. Our guide (from the Philippines, but currently residing in Beijing) swears by these methods.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

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These are a few pictures from my trip to the great wall – I was finally able to upload them. Sledding down the great wall made the walk up all the more worth it. On a side note, the photo at the top of this blog is also one of mine from the Great Wall. It really is a sight to behold, I was tired after a few hours of walking around the wall – I could not imagine how much work went into carrying those huge stones up the side of those mountains.


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Monday morning I will fly from Beijing to Urumqi to start a 1,000 mile trek tracing the ancient trading trail known as the Silk Road. This trip will include multiple overnight train rides, camping in the Gobi dessert, and a home stay with the Kazak people (in a yurt), dining with Tibetan nomadic farmers, to name a few.

I am especially excited to be traveling in the Western provinces during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. While many do not associate China with the Muslim religion, it actually has more Muslims than both Syria and Jordan.

While Muslims are a tiny fraction of the Chinese population, they dominate the Western provinces. This region of the country is in a state of change. Kashgar has recently been designated as a Special Economic Zone, the government is subsiding the development of oil and natural gas fields there. It will surely change the culture of this region.

In China over 1 billion people live in the Eestern provinces, with an official population of 1.3 billion that leaves about 300 million people living in the West. The influx of development money will raise the population and change the ethnic mix.

It will be an exciting trip, especially as my thesis this semester is on contemporary energy policy.

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We went to the Great Wall of China. After 20 minute hike up some very steep stairs we reached the top wall, it was breath taking. I loved the wall and spent well over 2 hours walking across it; I came upon a couple engaged to be married, and they were taking photos for their wedding album on top the wall.

There were many vendors atop the wall selling everything from water (don’t pay more than 5rmb) to beer to snacks.

After that hike up I wasn’t about to walk down, especially when they offered a toboggan sled down the wall… The internet is slow here, and I’m not able to upload photos at the moment – but will link you to my flickr page


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This is the first time I’m posting on this blog, my name is Sean O’Connor and I’m spending the next nine months studying in Beijing. I’ll be based out of The Beijing Center at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing.

At this point in my life I know 2 phrases in Mandarin, but will be taking an intensive language course to try and get me to a point where I can get by.

Beijing is an amazing city, I plan on updating this site as often as possible with photos and commentary of my time spent here

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