Day 13: I Buy a Suitcase from a Cell Phone Company

I couldn’t believe it was finally here, our last day in China. The last day of the trip would be spent sightseeing, relaxing, and pitching the business ideas we had been developing in small groups. Breakfast, of course, came first. I only had 1 more day of dumplings ahead of me, so I had to eat enough to make up for not having dumplings in America. We met up with our tour guide Alex and drove to the Yu Garden, a large garden complex. This enormous garden was built by one man, a merchant, for his wife and family. All I was thinking as I walked through the garden is that he must have been a very good merchant to afford all of this. The garden was like the garden in the Forbidden City. There were koi fish ponds, pagodas, lots of buildings, expensive naturally shaped limestone statues, and a lot of beautiful views. It’s hard to believe all of this was paid for by one man just for his family. It seems more like a public garden but it was built to just be private. Alex told us the limestone statues were very expensive because giant limestone blocks with naturally carved shapes were uncommon and the ones in the garden were very large. They are a display of wealth, to show visitors to the garden how successful the merchant was.

We left the garden and haggled a little in the market. In this market and the Xi’an market there were chopsticks identical to the ones I bought and the Giant Wild Goose pagoda, but for a fraction of the price. I was a little upset I got ripped off but I had no way of knowing those chopsticks were everywhere and fairly cheap, so there’s nothing I could have done. I didn’t buy any souvenirs but did buy some Dairy Queen. It was the first soft serve ice cream I’d had in China and the first American food I’d eaten. I noticed again in this market that every store pretty much sells the same thing. But in America, all the stores on the boardwalk at the beach also sell the same thing. It appears to the strategies used to rip off tourists are the same in every country. When we went back to the hotel, Erin and I walked to the Xiaomi store in the mall. I have to reiterate, Xiaomi is the best store in the world because they sell everything. I spent 500 yuan buying a much-needed suitcase. This suitcase was very nice, but most importantly the handle worked. I was very satisfied. After 2 weeks, I finally caved and ate McDonalds for lunch. Even though I’m leaving tomorrow, I needed that burger.

Our group reassembled and walked to a nearby hotel to pitch our business idea in an event called “The Plus3 China Big Idea Competition”. Our idea was called Sound Mobile™, and is essentially a hybrid of Air B&B and Uber Eats applied to the music industry. Our app is a platform to connect musicians who need instruments and equipment with providers who can rent their equipment out. All the other ideas were very cool, and we won Most Innovative. Our prize was a Cathedral of Learning bookmark. Our last dinner was very different. According to Dr. Li, it is western Chinese food that is heavily influenced by Pakistan and Arab culture. The flavors were different but delicious, and my favorite meal was a steak kabob. We also got fruity drinks. To celebrate the end of this amazing trip, we all went out for Karaoke. They didn’t have a huge selection of English songs, but it was still a great way to wrap up an amazing trip with amazing people.

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