(This is the second in a series of posts from our Green Alternatives Department that is currently conducting its first China-U.S. Exchange Program. These posts are written by Green Alternatives Department Intern, Antonia Malhi.)

Our US-China Exchange Group. photo: Antonia Malhi

July 6th was the official first day of the US-China Exchange Tour!  June, (my supervisor), Sunny and I have been waiting for this day for months. Finally it was time to meet our guests, whom we have been working so hard to bring here and to create an amazing and informative program for. We couldn’t wait to get started.

We all met in the lobby of the Orchard Garden Hotel, one of California’s premier green hotels.  After the simple greetings we piled into the shuttle and were off.  First stop, Ghirardelli Square.  A fantastic and yummy tourist spot right?  Yes, but it is also a great green shopping center.  We got a green tour of the square which explained to our guests, through Sunny’s translation, how the garbage is sorted in traditional SF fashion: Compost, Recyclables and Trash.  Also, how they are saving money by using LED lights in the buildings and in the famous Ghirardelli sign.  We also toured the hotel/fractional home part of the square to learn about how they are making the historic building greener while still playing by the historical sight restoration rules.  Our guests were very impressed by the amount of money saved by these simple green changes.  And saved money is a good thing in every culture!

Sunny Xiao and Ziming Yao pose at Ghirardelli Square. photo: Antonia Malhi

Next stop, Crissy Field.  We got a great presentation by one of the resident ecologists about the history of the area from pre-European times through the present day.  He gave some great visuals about how much of San Francisco was “created” by dumping debris from the 1906 earthquake into the bay. Crissy field is brownfield that had to be re-mediated to become the living marsh that it is today.  Destroying the army base and re-planting the area with native plants was a long process, but now the field has “been given back to the Bay.”  A great visual place to emphasize the fact that being more environmentally aware is beautiful as well as beneficial.

On the way to dinner we did drove to Ocean Beach, through Golden Gate Park, and to the top of Twin Peaks.  Breathtaking.  The guests loved seeing the city from a birds eye view and, with some help, were able to point out the places we had been that day.

Our group at Crissy Field. photo: Antonia Malhi

We ended dinner at Samovar, a tea room and restaurant one of my fellow GX interns works at and referred me to.  They loved the tea, but I am not so sure about the food… maybe a little too far from what they are used to.  But, they were pretty jet-lagged so we decided to call it a night.

A great first day.