The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School

The Rampage

Seneca China

Yasmine Sokol

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This past summer I had the privilege of joining 24 friends on a four-week-long trip to China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. We began the trip on July 29, when we flew to Shanghai. In Shanghai we visited the TV tower, which is a 1,535-foot building with a platform on the top floor that includes an outside area with a glass floor. We also watched a circus, took a boat ride in the water city and along the Bund, and visited two factories. At these factories we saw how products are made and learned about the long working hours and the strenuous labor of the factory workers.

After our time in Shanghai, we took a bullet train to Beijing, the capital of China. In Beijing we visited the Great Wall of China, the Silk Market, Tiananmen square, and an orphanage. Before the trip had begun, each of us had purchased a small gift at the JFK airport to give to one of the orphans. People purchased objects such as bears, hats with the letters “NY” on them, t-shirts, and even fidget spinners. The goal of giving them these objects was to bring them happiness, while also giving them a taste of what life was like in New York. One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when we finally gave them their gifts. Before we gave them the gifts, however, they gave us a taste of Chinese culture and performed a dance for us that they had been rehearsing prior to our visit. It was fascinating to learn from their culture and, in return, to share some of our own with them.

After our enjoyable (albeit boiling hot) visit to Beijing, we hopped on a flight to Hong Kong. Although we spent only a short amount of time there, it was very memorable. Most of my friends agreed that Hong Kong was the most beautiful of the three areas that we visited. In Hong Kong we hiked up to Victoria’s Peak, where we had a perfect view of the buildings, water, and mountain range. The sight was truly magnificent. In Hong Kong we also went to Ocean Park, a big amusement park. There, some of my friends had the opportunity to take pictures with penguins and dolphins.

We took a plane from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Thailand, where we visited temples. The girls were instructed to wear skirts that passed their knees and shirts that covered their arms out of respect for the holy sites. However, the minute we walked in we were stopped by security guards and instructed to walk across the street and purchase longer skirts with intricate Tai designs. While in Bangkok, we also had the opportunity to receive relaxing foot massages for no more than four dollars. We then left Bangkok and took a short plane ride to everyone’s favorite place, Koh Samui. There, we spent a relaxing Shabbat on the beach and were treated with our first slice of pizza in three weeks. We also went snorkeling, went on a water hike, and embarked on a fun boat ride to a beautiful island called Ko Mae Ko. After Koh Samui we reached our last destination, Chiang Mai, where we had the privilege of seeing elephants, tigers, and many stray dogs. We also had the opportunity to live like the people in Chiang Mai and take a ride in  a “tuk tuk,” which is the equivalent of a taxi. The tuk tuk was a small cart that could go very fast and had no windows. Chiang Mai was the last destination of our journey, and we sadly boarded the plane back to New York.

What was expected to only be a fun trip turned out to be an educational one as well. I had the privilege of learning how the Chinese and Thais live their everyday lives and how it is different from how I live mine. I also developed stronger bonds with each person on the trip. It was such an incredible experience to travel halfway across the world with so many amazing friends and learn about what goes on there. I was also inspired by how Jewish life exists and thrives so far away from us. The Chabads are all over the world and treated us with only kindness. I would recommend this trip teen to any teen who is looking for a fun, educational, and spiritual experience far away from home.

 

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The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School