This post is in response to the article on the 7 Wonders of Beijing.
Studying in Beijing also comes with travelling in Beijing and most of us have been to the hills near-by. The Fragrant Hills are one of them. Located around an hour away from the city, you can travel there by bus or even a taxi.
To an ‘alien’ familiar with China, it is of no secret that working as a part-time teacher and getting modelling assignments are great ways to earn an extra buck. In the past decade, the need for English teachers in China has increased by a huge number, and even more so for native English teachers. There are several advertisements, numerous agencies providing work visas, a salary from anywhere between RMB 10k to 20k, along with other benefits.
In 2012, it was just another ordinary day as I was walking out my dorm in BLCU, Wudaokou, when a woman came up to me, took me to meet a group of quiet people she was with a few feet away and told me she wanted me to let her take pictures of my face. She added – If they needed someone with ‘my look’ they would get in touch. I let them take pictures, never actually thinking that a few days later I would be getting a call. A few phone calls and emails later, next thing I know I’m getting my make-up done for a pharmaceutical photo-shoot. I had a set of foreigners with me – this being a new experience for some. But for 12 hours we were in it together and it was tiring but I have to say – pretty amazing. To be honest, now that I’m back in the city, I do feel like going for more photo-shoots.
I was so unsure of getting into a van in a foreign city with a bunch people I didn’t even know. I remember telling my bestie to call the police if I didn’t pick up her calls or reply to her texts! I reckon we left around 7 in the morning and came back around dinner time, around 8 PM which is when we also got paid and signed consent forms. My make up lady was great, the shoot team were polite and respectful, and very professional, I must say.
So we finally went on our much delayed trip, Datong is a quiet city, such a contrast to Beijing.
Trip to Datong
We left shortly after classes and reached this city which lies in Shanxi province after a 6 hour train ride with the locals who could not stop talking to us. I have never seen more curious people almost too fascinated with foreign skin. We reached at night and roamed the city streets after checking in a recently opened hotel. We managed to find a restaurant open and ate whatever we could find normal on the menu which was quite a task.
The next day, we started our journey early morning and took a taxi to The Hanging Monastery located outside the city. This amazing temple happens to be lodged on a cliff-face with rooms linked by mid-air walkways. Just the feel of standing in the middle of mountains was enough to take my breath away.
After this we head towards our next destination – The 1500-year-old Yúngāng Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These mountain-side caves and recesses are filled with 51,000 Buddhist statues – the largest being a 56-foot Seated Buddha while the smallest is only a few centimetres tall. The thought of how such accurate and precise buddha statues were made back in the ancient times is bound to cross your mind several times. I cannot question enough how people then could carve through stone and make such gigantic statues. We saw the Nine Dragon screen next located in the middle of the city, followed by fortification ruins which was just huge and beautiful!
Later we also made a visit to a local noodle shop but I ate KFC instead [no judgement please] because i don’t like noodles thankyouverymuch. Got back to Beijing the next day which felt great. Out of all the other cities in China this city is home to me. And it feels great to be back here each time.