June 20, 2014
Rising junior Nicole Walch has arrived in China with the 2014 U.S. Collegiate National Team – China Tour. The Stuart, Fla. native talks about the journey and adventures of her first days across the world.
“The trip to China was extremely long. We took a 14 hour flight from LA on Sunday at 11p.m. to Hong Kong and arrived there at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. Luckily I was able to sleep around six hours on the plane!! We then took another flight to Shanghai (around 3 hours) and arrived at the airport, got our bags, and went sightseeing! We had our first Chinese meal (after 3 meals of airplane food it was time a good meal) and we received variety food. We tried some of the different options and were on our way!
A look at the food.
Some of the things we saw – what was going to be the tallest building in the world before we went to a market square and took our first shot at bargain shopping. It turned into us in a back ally looking and bargaining for some purses and headphones. We headed back to the airport to take a flight to Fuzhou which was scheduled for 8pm. This is where we ran into some back luck…
Our flight was delayed until 11 p.m. and then the flight was supposed to be an hour and a half but turned into 3 hours because of bad weather. Finally arriving in Fuzhou we took a four hour bus ride to Sanming through the mountains. Finally, we arrived at the hotel at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning just in time for breakfast, which surprisingly consisted of rice and more rice!! After leaving LA on Sunday at 11 p.m. and arriving in Sanming on Wednday at 8 a.m, it was quite the adventure.
The view from the hotel pool.
We took a shower and took a nap (in a bed!!) for the first time in about 48 hours and it felt amazing. With little sleep we had lunch and then went to practice. We played our first match later that night at 8 p.m. with very little energy in us, but we didn’t go down without a fight! We ended up losing to the Fujan Professional team in four games which was tough because we were all exhausted but we knew we would come back the next day swinging hard.
Walch smiles with her roomate Hannah Tapp from Minnesota.
We went back and crashed at the hotel and woke up the next day wanting to win! After practicing for about an hour we met up with some sponsors at a very nice “neighborhood” in Sanming. The cities are very different in China because of how many people live here, it’s all 30+ stories of high apartment living. This city is in the mountains and is considered a “small city” but it looks as if we are in Miami with all the huge buildings and amount of people.
Team USA comes across some of the culture in China.
We played the Chinese Junior National Team that night and came back with a win in four sets! The atmosphere in the arena is great! There’s a good amount of people that come to watch (a couple thousand) and they cheer a lot! The only downside is there is no air conditioning so it is a sweaty mess. They have people come out and wipe the floor after every play. We were really excited to beat this team and went back to the hotel ready to get some rest and compete the next day!
The food is mostly rice and bread and there is a lot of different types of meat, but I mostly stick with eating rice most of the time. I’m lucky I brought peanut butter to eat. And at the end of the meal they bring out watermelon. I have never been so excited to see and eat watermelon in my entire life! We eat a plate full every day. Every day is a new adventure. We’re not sure what’s going to happen but we just take it one day at a time! Right now we are on the bus to go to “the mountain” to do some sort of hiking expedition. We’re not really quite sure for what’s to come but we have our bug spray (anti malaria spray we call it) and were excited and ready for the adventure! The trip is incredible so far and can’t wait to see what the next week brings me!
We play the Fujan pro team again tonight and the junior national team again the tomorrow night before we go to Beijing the next morning and play more matches.
Until next time…Go USA! Go Noles!