Father Takes Son on Volunteer Vacation to China

This spring, David Cohen took his 11 year old son Andrew to on a Vacation to China for 10 days. Inspired by Mark Solon, and organized through Globe Aware, David and Andrew worked in a school for the children of migrant workers who have no government services. David’s goal was for his son to experience more of the world and to learn how many others are not as fortunate as they are. “Mission accomplished,” relates David.

Globe Aware is pleased to share their daily observations, impressions and experiences while on their volunteer vacation in China:

Day 8

Looking out at 20 million people.

Looking out at 20 million people.

it’s thursday, and its a tour day. marcus is coming to get us at 9, so we can sleep in. good thing, because andrew sleeps until 8. yep, 12 hours! i guess he was exhausted. i was up at 530 with the hallway screamers, but fell back asleep until 7. it’s so strange, there’s like a 530 hotel rush hour followed by another quiet hour. every day.

anyway, marcus came at 915, and we were off to the forbidden city. we stopped at the ‘cookie shop’ for bread/lunch stuff, which i kept in my backpack. bus, subway, jam packed, etc – the usual drill. this city is constantly moving. 20 million people and i swear half of them are on busses at any given time. face pressed to the side of the bus sometimes. it’s just how it is here. sometimes you have to wait 2 or 3 busses to even fit on. so everything takes forever to go do. it was 2 hours to get to the forbidden city, including the walk from the subway. marcus lives cheaply, it’s the way of life here. you don’t take a bus if you can walk 2 or bus stops, you walk. so we passed on the bus alot. the forbidden city is a huge walk too, and not much in it for andrew. he had seen enough chinese buildings pretty quickly. he was a sport, just said he was tired of walking.

A long way from home.

A long way from home.

not my favorite stop either, but interesting to be in such a historic place. we entered view tienanmen square so saw that too.

exiting the forbidden city, holy crap, a billion people waiting on busses. taxis rip you off here, marcus says. so we wait and wait. then jam onto the most crowded bus yet. inhale, and climb onto your neighbors back. that’s the plan. so tight you can’t even wear the backpack, it has to go down on the ground by your legs where ther

e is more room. 4 stops to the subway station and you can exhale. except it’s a 10 block walk to the subway, actually. luckily this is fine because it’s downtown, the shopping district. very touristy, but cool to see. feels like Chinese 5th avenue. we stop at kfc for chicken nuggets (yay!) which are good. this time i have them too. marcus grins and bears it by ordering kfc chinese food. fried chicken and rice.

subway to cctv tower, the tallest building in beijing. except a 2 mile walk after you get off the subway – yep, right past all the bus stops. andrew is really tired, i’m guessing we’ve walked 10 miles now today. he hangs in there. my legs are literally started to hurt. backpack hurting my back. we arrive at the tower, go up to the top.

Doing the weather.

Doing the weather.

amazing view of the city, and ring of mountains. but lots of smog. i get andrew an ice cream bar, he’s earned that. down to the basement of the tower, there is an aquarium which is actually pretty great. shark tunnel, etc.

now 4pm, we head home to the hotel. i tell marcus no dinner for us tonight, we’ll eat what’s in my backpack and be fine. we get to the hotel around 530pm, we’re both beat. we watch field of dreams on the ipad, our first tv or movie since we got here. 730 now, andrew is reading as i write this. he’s read a ton on his kindle on this trip.

in the morning, we will pack up and leave the dumpy hotel. i decided that we deserve a night at the hilton at the airport. before our flight saturday. so we are packing up in the morning and will take our bags to school for the day. we are done at 3pm and marcus will put us into a taxi to the airport hotel. it has a pool, i may see if andrew can go swimming. i’m looking forward to a strong shower.

last day at the school tomorrow. i wonder if that will be my favorite part too.

i’m thinking about big things on this trip. i finished the book ‘how will you measure your life?’ last night.


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