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China

I spent my 24th birthday in the air. Sitting in 46A, with the most comfortable foam pillow and seat, I watched in the span of 12 hours, the day turn into night and then back to day. I soaked in the sight of the Arctic waters during dawn. Majestic, soothing, a clear reminder of a higher power whose beauty manifests itself in all of creation.

Our 24 hour temporary visa was denied and then accepted after a full security tour of the airport. Long story short, they had suspected us having dual passports because we were born in different countries.

The hotel we stayed in was located in a district filled with art museums of high concrete walls. All writing is in Chinese and if you’re looking for WiFi and access to all your dearest apps, they’ll surely be missed.

Wa Iii Jung Wa – I love China

Ni Hao Ma – How are you?

Ni Hao – Excuse me

Taiiylla – wonderful

Shi Shi – Thank you

On a positive note, China is a magnificent country with good people. I didn’t assume this prior to this visit and surely not at the hotel. I found that people are indeed straightforward and show little emotion, but are well mannered and care about their values.

We spent the evening at a Persian restaurant feasting on delicious delicacies and smoking sheesha. Had the most amazing conversations with Sulaf, a beautiful Iraqi American ESL teacher in Chang Ping whose hospitality and care I will never forget.

Finally, we visited the Yemen embassy, a gated building with the flag soaring high on the pole. I felt anguish and happiness at the same time. The security guard denied any photos to be taken due to protocol but the image is locked in my memory.

I admire the systems here in China, whereby Chinese citizens have access to technology that serves them and their economy only. They have facebook, instagram, Snapchat, Uber, and many other applications infused in various apps that serve only China. It’s arguably quite respectable and revolutionary.

Not to mention that they have cool streets with a bike share system and protected lanes. Although air pollution is an everyday problem, they value nature and plants indoors and outdoors.

My short trip to Beijing was with the intention to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and historical mosques, and leave with some great photos. It was exactly just that, minus the Great Wall and mosques. Plenty of memories!

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