June 24, 2014
Rising junior Nicole Walch has been competing in China with the 2014 U.S. Collegiate National Team - China Tour. Now entering the tail end of her trip The Stuart, Fla. native talks about her travels, matches and her adventure to one of "The Seven New Wonders of the World." "The trip has only gotten better since my last blog!! We did decent bit of sight-seeing on this leg of the trip which first took us to "the Mountain" which was actually a very historic cave that we went into. The last time I went into a cave I was attacked by mosquitos so I was very nervous. Luckily there weren't any, but there were tons of stairs. The cave was reconstructed so that it could be a tourist attraction. There were six different sections, so it was quite large and there were lots of LED lights that lit up the different sections and it was awesome! After exploring we drove back to the hotel and got some rest after all those stairs!
Walch smiles with two of her teammates while exploring the cave.
We played the Fujan professional team that night who we unfortunately lost to in our first match in China after grueling travel day, but got some great revenge with a 3-0 sweep!! It was a great game!! That night we were promised some good food if we won, and since we got the sweep, we headed to Mickey d's!!! I know healthy right?! Sorry Coach Poole! We had to get some food that wasn't rice in our systems. It was THE BEST MEAL EVER!!! And surprisingly, it tasted just like America! The next day we had an early wake up call for breakfast and another exploring day to the temple in the mountains right by our hotel and let me tell ya, it was a hike! Over 800 stairs to the top of the mountain, I swore I wouldn't climb any more stairs after the cave, but yet again I found myself trekking up to the top of this mountain!! It was very beautiful and there were tons of little waterfalls and rocks to see on the way up; the cleanest water I've seen in china yet!!!
Team USA takes a moment to snap a few photos on a bridge while hiking.
Once we made it to the top, everyone was pretty tired and hot since it was about 90 degrees and 80% humidity out!! We saw the temple and took some pictures and headed back for a shower and nap!
The temple at the top of the mountain.
That night we played the Junior National team again and took home the W! We we're pumped!! We got Pizza Hut that night and went to Walmart!! I never thought that China would have all these places that I'm used to in the U.S., but I was very grateful. We got some snacks and other necessities and we headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready for another brutal travel day. Our journey was supposed to start at 3 a.m. to Beijing, but since the bus drive took longer than expected on the way there, we had to leave earlier. We got back to the hotel after our match at 11:30 p.m. and left at 1 a.m. We had gotten used to schedule changes and not sleeping in a bed - It wasn't very fun but we got through it and made it to Beijing at 10 the next morning. At this time we got a little sleep on the plane/ bus ride but not much, the only thing keeping us going was the excitement of going to the Great Wall!!!!! It took about an hour and a half to get there but it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It was absolutely incredible seeing this in person. We were there for about a couple hours and we were bummed that we couldn't take the "toboggan" down from the top because it had rained but it was still beautiful! I got an "I climbed the Great Wall of china" shirt and we were back to the hotel.
Walch gazes at The Great Wall of China.
We checked in at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Beijing which happens to be right next to the Olympic venues. The Water Cube and also where the opening ceremonies were held is what I look at outside my window! It's awesome. This hotel is a 5-star and is quite the upgrade from Sanming!! We thought we would be able to crash after not sleeping for quite some time, but we had to shower and get dressed nice for the opening banquet. This tournament in Beijing is a very big deal. There were TV cameras and lots of speeches (They were in Chinese so we couldn't really understand) but we got through it and passed out after it was over!
The next morning we had practice for two hours and then we finally got to go shopping. This is what everyone had been waiting for!! The silk market!! This place is incredible. It is six stories and thousands of little stores to buy stuff from!! Everything is so cheap, so naturally I bought a lot of souvenirs for my family and friends! That night we had roasted duck for dinner (which I did try) and it wasn't my favorite, but I did eat some rice!! We went to a more touristy place that evening and walked around to see the culture and it was mostly Chinese tourists so it was cool!
The next day we were gearing up for our big match against the Beijing Professional Team which was at 7:30 p.m. and being aired on TV! We had a little practice in the morning and rested up for the big match which went great - USA for the sweep again!!!! 3-0!! We were really excited! We headed back to the hotel for our "dinner in a bag" meal and it surprisingly was not rice! It was a sandwich and apple which was a great change. We were all very satisfied with our performance against the professional team and now we're getting some rest for the next two days. We play the China Junior National Team tomorrow and then the pro team again the next day. The competition is amazing. These teams are no joke - they're tough and they are very dedicated to volleyball, so to beat them makes us very proud to wear the USA jersey!
Until next time... Go USA and most importantly go NOLES!