Asia Audition Tour 2011

Audition and recruitment tour in Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing

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The Great Wall

I am finally home! I awoke this morning at 3:30 a.m. because of jet lag and my difficulty in adjusting to the time change. This entry will be the final blog of the trip.

On our last day in Beijing, we made it to the Great Wall! It was very rewarding to get out of Beijing for a couple hours and see a little of the countryside. Matthew, Amy, and I were taken by our driver, Wong, to the most touristy section of the Great Wall. It had a gondola that whisked us up the Wall along with hundreds of other tourists (almost all Chinese). This section of the Wall looked well-preserved (and possibly re-constructed?), but it was still very impressive to see how far it stretched over the mountains. If I have the opportunity to return to Beijing, I would opt to visit a more natural setting setting (less touristy), but I hear that there is serious climbing involved with visiting these sections. The sun was out, so the temperature was in the mid 50's.

Amy, Matthew, and I trekked upward to the top-most part of the Wall and took many photos. What a view! While is was a little hazy because of the Beijing smog, we had decent visibility. After staying up on the Wall for awhile, we descended and did some shopping. I bought a pink umbrella for my daughter (which she LOVES!), and Amy rode on a camel. It was a lot of fun.

We still had a couple of free hours after the Great Wall, so we decided to check out the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was very beautiful and situated on a large lake. We opted to take a boat out on the lake, but there was something wrong with the motor so we cut the voyage short. Matthew and Amy drove the boat (see photo). It started to get cold at the Summer Palace, so we returned to the hotel early for a nap before dinner.

We wanted to do something special for our last night, so all seven of us (Kai Fu included) went out for "hot pots." I had heard never experienced hot pots before, and it was a lot of fun. Basically, there is a pot with coals in the center of the table, and surrounding the pot is very hot soup broth. You order different kinds of meats and vegetables, drop them in the broth, and then eat them when they are cooked. It was a fantastic meal, and a wonderful way to end the trip.

After dinner, I had to pack and then prepare to wake up at 4 a.m. for our flight home. The returning flight turned out to a nightmare. Due to extraordinarily poor visibility because of the smog in Beijing, they grounded all flights for FOUR HOURS. Since we had already boarded, we were stuck sitting in our seats for the entire time. If we would have waited ten more minutes, we would have had to legally disembark the plane and wait for another crew to arrive. Thankfully, they opened the airport just in time and we were able to take off. The remaining 13-hour flight was uneventful and a piece of cake after doing so much flying throughout the past month.

All told, we heard about 430 auditions on this trip. Of these, about 200 students have indicated an interest in applying to Ithaca. So, the trip was a big success. Thanks for your interest in my travels. I plan to continue to blog whenever my life gets interesting!

Posted by Thomas Kline at 5:48AM   |  Add a comment
Info session for auditioning students

After Guangzhou, we departed for Shanghai. Over the following two days, we heard 93 auditions and put in two more 13-hour days. We did have a free day in Shanghai, though, which allowed us a nice break. However, it was raining (the only rain that we have seen on this trip!), but we continued with our plans to visit Zhou Zheng.

Zhou Zheng is an ancient village from the 11th century which is surrounded by water and rice patties. It was nice to get out of the city and see the natural countryside. We walked around for an hour, had lunch, did some shopping, and then headed back to Shanghai. What should have been an 1.5 hour trip took three hours because of traffic, so we ended up going right to dinner at 91st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, which is the tallest building in China and third tallest building in the world. What a view! It was a great way to end an exhausting couple days of auditions.

The following day we departed for Beijing. In Beijing, we will be listening to 160 auditions over three days. Auditions are held at the China Conservatory of Music (not to be confused with the Central Conservatory of Music). When we arrived, we were met by the president of the conservatory, who greeted us with warm words.

In Beijing, we will have three, 14-hour days of auditions. We are in the middle of day two right now. We started at 9:00 a.m. this morning, and we will conclude around 11:30 p.m. We essentially return to our hotel rooms to sleep for a couple hours, and then repeat the following day. We do have a free day coming up, though, on which we are planning a trip to see the Great Wall. Over the past two years, I have spent about 10 days in Beijing and I have never seen any of the sights because I was working from morning to night. So, I am VERY excited to see the Great Wall. I was told that it is very cold there at this time of year, so I hope I have enough warm clothes.

I will probably have the chance to send one more blog update at the end of the trip. Until then, back to auditions!

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