A crazy trip and another whirlwind experience.... Twenty hours of flying each way for three days in Beijing to attend ISPO, their big trade show. Sasha and I were there as athlete representatives for Adidas and Five Ten. It was a totally foreign world and could not have been any more different from my simple van life here, where my life revolves around training and climbing...
Coming from Grand Junction, where I never drive more than 5min to get anywhere, the huge city of Beijing itself was a shock, with its constant noise, traffic jams and an insane amount of people... all speaking in rapid, extremely loud Chinese and barely any who spoke English. However, it was a really fun trip and an interesting insight into a very different way of life. It made me appreciate the freedom of my lifestyle, which I generally take for granted too much. The beauty of the relatively untouched nature that surrounds me, where I go climb or run on a daily basis, and the clean air - A couple of the days we were in Beijing we so smoggy that I did not even want to go outside... I understand why they wear face masks now!
The Chinese looked after us like we royalty... We were put up in a beautiful hotel, taken out for incredible lunches and dinners, where although I rarely knew what I was eating, most of it tasted really good... And for once we (the athletes) were only required to be at the show for short periods of time - to do a few presentations, posters signings and media conferences!
This meant that we were fortunate enough to actually experience a little of China outside of the ISPO. The highlights of my time over there were... Getting a "real" Chinese massage - an hour of intense but incredibly good pain, which came complete with a scorching foot bath, hot tea and sliced oranges. An interesting yet winning combo!
Wandering the streets of the Hutong with our lovely young guide, who introduced us to countless typical Chinese/Beijing delicacies, and showed us many of the classic Chinese shops, including an incredible tea shop - We spent about an hour there, testing delicious teas, browsing the beautiful ceramics and watching the store attendant making tea art...
And a visit to the Forbidden City, where we were treated to a meeting with a nephew of the last great emperor, who is now one of the best Chinese calligraphers and sometimes works within the Forbidden City.
Now, after only 6 days away, I am back in Colorado, finishing my training cycle and climbing as much as I can before hitting the road again... A trip like this was definitely a good way to make a week feel like an eternity!