Getting bit by the travel bug

Recently, my mom and I went to Asia for three weeks – a week in Japan and two weeks in China.

My mom and I left the United States on July 10 and got to Japan on July 11. It was exciting to go to Japan because usually we only stop in Tokyo’s airport on our way to China. During our first day in Tokyo, we saw a 300-year-old tree that was trimmed so it looked like a bonsai tree. The park where the old tree was had other trees, big and small, all of which had been carefully clipped. Can you imagine what Presque Isle would look like if all the trees looked like bonsai trees?

We went to my mom’s friend’s house the third day we were in Tokyo. I had never been to a traditional Japanese house before. We slept on Tatami mats at night and had to change slippers when we went to the bathroom. My mom’s friend had a daughter my age and another daughter my sister’s age. Even though I don’t know Japanese and their English is limited, we had fun together. We went to many places, such as an aquarium, a Shinto shrine, an Edo period history museum, and the world famous Harajuku Shopping District. I thought Harajuku was a little bit disappointing because it was like every other shopping street I had ever been to in China. The only thing that really set it apart was that there were people wearing costume-type clothing there.

While my mom and I were in Japan, we also went to Kyoto. We went there by bullet train and I thought that was cool because it was my first time on one. While my mom and I were in Kyoto, we went to three different temples. There was one with a golden pavilion, one with a silver pavilion, and one with a rock garden. My favorite temple was the one with the golden pavilion. I now have a picture of it as my iPod screen.

After we spent a week in Japan, we went to China. We went to six cities in China: Hangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai. I love going to China and it was my sixth time there.

There are some moments when I don’t like being in China, though. They are when people ask me if I can speak or understand Chinese (I usually just say something in Chinese to show them I know) and when I miss Western food. Thankfully, my mom always brings my sister and me to a couple of Western restaurants “to get a break,” as she likes to say.

When we’re in China, we see family, friends, and a lot of different places. And I do a lot of listening when my mom talks to her friends or taxi drivers. My favorite place in China is Macao, where my grandparents’ ashes are buried in a cemetery overlooking the South China Sea. My favorite part of the trip to China this time was traveling with my sister to Zhuhai, Macau, and Hong Kong. We got to spend a week together.

My sister is working in China for the year so I won’t get to see her even at Christmas time this year.

My trip to China and Japan was enjoyable. I had fun spending time with family and friends – and listening to spoken Chinese and Japanese. I am hoping that next summer I will be able to go to China again, but right now, I’m looking forward to my school’s Costa Rica trip during Spring Break.

I love traveling!

Editor’s note: GlenEllen Lehmberg, 15, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in dance and youth theatre in her spare time. Her parents are Paul and Z.Z. Lehmberg of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at