Tabitha Pirtle Visits China

Photo of Tabitha Pirtle in China

Tabitha next to Hangzhou Bay in the Port of Shanghai.

Tabitha Pirtle (Call Center) has traveled the world. Having grown up in a military family where she was raised in West Germany and Japan, she has managed to see her fair share of foreign lands. So when her cousin Micah told her that she simply MUST attend his wedding in Shanghai, China, it became a question of not “if,” but “when?”

For the first leg of her trip, Tabitha left Atlanta on January 8 and travelled from Atlanta to Portland to San Francisco to Tokyo (she got on a plane in the morning and when she landed it was the next day at night). She spent a day in Tokyo seeing friends from high school, then left on a midnight flight to Shanghai (about 2 hours).

When Tabitha got to her cousin’s, she couldn’t sleep so she stayed up all night. She ordered shrimp fried rice, dim sum shrimp with noodles and it was delivered at 2 AM and cost only $3! This was exciting because her plane ticket was over $1300 and she was hoping for some bargains for a change.

The next day they travelled around Shanghai on foot, on bikes, and by train. Tabitha took care of some seamstress business for the wedding then spent the rest of the day with her cousin, Micah. Micah fell in love with China during a Dartmouth University study abroad program. An 8-year resident of Shanghai, Micah was an excellent tour guide. He speaks fluent Mandarin and helped Tabitha see the city through the eyes of a resident rather than the typical tourist experience. Every day they ate the local food and stayed away from the Americanized eateries. It allowed Tabitha to submerge into the culture of the city.

The wedding was beautiful. It was a non-traditional wedding where they used a simple tea ceremony to join the two families by drinking from the same teacup. The couple gave gifts to their families and went to a ballroom of over 600 people where everyone danced and blessed the new couple.

That night, Tabitha took the 5-hour overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing. She had ridden one of the first bullet trains in Japan when she was a child but the speed still amazed her as an adult.

Photo of Tabita Pirtle in China

Tabitha standing on the Great Wall of China.

In Beijing, the temperature was minus-7 degrees! The air was much clearer than the smog from Shanghai, but it was frigid. The world-famous pond (Houhai Park) in Beijing was frozen over and people were playing hockey there. Tabitha visited the Great Wall of China, where all the walking warmed her up and it didn’t feel so cold. Then she visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Olympic Square.

Tabitha stayed in Beijing for 2 days then went to Hong Kong. Hong Kong reminded Tabitha of visiting Chinatown in the US. Everyone spoke English and you could easily get American fast food. She enjoyed visiting Victoria Park in Hong Kong where she saw people doing Tai Chi, jogging, walking, etc.

The most unexpected thing for Tabitha on the trip were the skyscrapers. She was amazed that the skylines and nighttime lights were so modern. It was breathtaking and hard to believe it was the China she’d grown up studying.

“No photo does the country justice,” said Tabitha. “You just have to see this place in person to really appreciate it.”

Added Tabitha, “China is not for everyone because of the smog and crowds, but it was still one of the most exotic places I have ever visited and I have travelled the world. I cannot wait to back.”

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