After a 14 hour flight over the North Pole, I arrived at my home for the week, Beijing, China. I was immediately taken back by the architecture of the airport – everything was grandiose and immaculate. After catching a cab and pointing to a picture of my hotel, we were en route. I wish that the sights remained the same as the airport, however, it was very different out here. Only about 5 minutes out of the airport, we were already stuck in traffic, I was unable to communicate with my cab driver, and clouds of smog and pollution were not so distant on the horizon. We pulled up to the hotel after a short cab ride and I was very impressed – large, clean, and luxurious. Checking in and dropping the bags off, I headed out for a cruise around the area.
Once some of the crew arrived, we headed out for dinner. In search for dumplings, we were walking down the street trying to match Chinese characters on the building to those on a slip of paper from the front desk. As soon as we realized this would not work, we decided to follow the locals. This brought us to an expansive restaurant with menus that we could not read and a waitstaff that spoke zero English. Finally, our waitress decided it would be easiest to grab Nick, bring him into the kitchen, and have him point at food we wanted. It turned out well with a tomato base, mushroom, and lemongrass soup with bok choy, spinach, noodles, and sliced beef sides.
The next morning we woke up and boarded the bus for Huaibei Ski Resort, about 90 minutes North of Beijing. The resort was interesting but there was snow on the ground and a park decked out in Oakley branding. We put the final touches on it and the contest was underway. Having only been open to the sport of snowboarding in this decade, the Chinese aura around the sport is similar to that of snowboarding’s birth. It was amazing to see the progression out there with kids hucking themselves off of anything possible, trying to replicate tricks that they may have seen once in a video.
While the contest was moving along, we all bundled up in warm gear and hopped on a lift towards the hike trail to the Great Wall. This section of the Great Wall sits on private property, owned by the same person as the ski resort and is typically not allowed access to. With the event going on, the China team had planned to bring Shaun White, his posse, and the Oakley crew that was visiting up to the wall for a private BBQ. Once we arrived, we were greeted with food, beer, and Baijiu – a Chinese form of whiskey. We all realized how rad it was to have a private BBQ on the Great Wall but it was even more special once the owner started talking to us. Through the power of a translator, he started telling us about the Great Wall and that section in particular. One turret up from us was rectangular and as he told it, was the only one like it on the entire Great Wall. Even more, he told us that our group were the first foreigners to ever access that section of the wall. After walking around a bit, eating tons of food, and taking hundreds of photos, we headed back down to the resort and laced up our boots for a few laps.
On the bus headed back to Beijing, our whole crew was pretty blown away at the days’ experience. We ended with a traditional roast duck dinner and crashed out pretty early.