Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It was gorgeous! Our last vacation was set two weeks before our
planned arrival in America. We were heading to Guilin. Tim helped
us find a bus to Nanchang so that we could get on our train. The
bus was full, as usual, and we sat on stools in the isle way most
of the time. Some Chinese people are a little too comfortable with
strangers. This one older man kept leaning on me with like his legs
or his arm and it was really freaking me out. I just wanted to gag
but I tried to be polite and hoped that was just a Chinese thing.
They should be used to being that close to strangers with their
packed buses and crammed trains.
The Train ride was alright. We met a handsome young man that we
named Tanner. He could barely speak a lick of English but he taught
us how to play a Chinese version of scum.He played and played it
too. Then another boy joined in. We named him Alex. He was crazy
and full of life. He knew more English than Tanner but still
struggled. It was a good time playing "musical chairs" with
everyone that night.
We didn't get much sleep but we were off the train early that
morning and off to find our hostel. The itineraries were left at
our school so we had to do some adventuring out. We made it to one
hostel that let us use their Internet to find our real hostel.
There was an older gentleman with greying hair but he seemed fit
and like he had travelled many places. He was also looking for the
hostel we were going to. His confidence in knowing the direction of
our hostel and his 'map' gave us incentive to follow him. He was
rather cheerful and friendly. Well it turns out he apparently has
had plenty of experience but he shared more than needed. I am not
sure if he has heard of TMI but that is what he was spilling. We
were suddenly creeped out and could not wait to find our hostel! We
could not read the map and it was not adding up. The street was not
very busy so we asked an elderly couple. The old man lead us
through some back alley ways until we came to our hostel.
We met Lizzie, a senior high school girl graduating soon, and she
helped guide us around town. We tried the special Guilin rice
noodles and those were delicious! We spent most of the day shopping
and looking around. The next day we took a bus on some very
beautiful back roads to the Li River. We climbed aboard the 'bamboo'
rafts that were really made or PVC pipe shaped a bit like bamboo
and bamboo benches to sit on.
The river ride was gorgeous! The
green mountains were sprawling across the land. We saw a bride and
groom taking pictures on one of the small beaches and was not that
so romantic? It made our journey so precious. To be honest though,
I did sleep most of the way. The scenery did not change too much
over the few hours we had on the river. I was exhausted.
*We made it
to the city and had another small adventure finding our backstreet
hostel, had some more noodles, and went shopping. West street was
just one big shopping street.
We spent plenty of time there and even met another group from ILP
along the way. That night we went and watched the cormorant fishing.
It was really neat. An old Chinese man took cormorant birds, which
are mean looking duck like birds, and trained them to fish. They
have a string tied to their neck so they cannot swallow all the fish
they catch and then the man can use the rest of the fish. He did it
with a spot light in the night. After about 20 or 30 mins, we
stopped and the guy let us hold the birds on our shoulder or arms.
I did not let them but some of the other girls did.
The next morning we rented bikes and went to a mud cave. That was
probably my favorite part, not the mud cave but the bike ride. I
had a pink retro road bike.
The traffic is crazy in China but we
just had to become one with the traffic and then it was fine. I got
to relax. The view was incredible. The mountains were everywhere
with green foliage just streaming down them.
The mud cave was probably the biggest disappointment. It was an
amazing cave but the mud part was not really mud. It was mostly
just dirty water with a little mud build up. It was also awkward
with our guide and another guy taking our pictures just watching us.
That was a time I wished we had a bigger group so that it did not
feel so strange. In that cave, they also has hot springs. Those were
amazing. I have never been in a hot spring in a massive cave. That
was a pleasant treat.
We took our time going back to the hostel on our bikes and did any
last minute shopping for the night. Ashley and I found the two
cutest shops! The first was just like an American boutique. It was
adorable. We fell in love with it. Then right across the way, was
another fantastic store. It was more scrap booking, earthy and
indie-retro. Ashley bought four brown polka dot mugs. They were too
good to pass up.
The next day we went to the rice terraces. It was a long ride and an
interesting one too. There was a tourist trap along the way. They
took us to 'the Long Hair Village' where all the ladies have long
hair. Then they tried to get us to pay 60 yuan to go to a little
show they put on. They said that was to get into the village as well.
The 5 of us and about 6 other people decided we did not want to.
After a while, we managed to go into the village with no problems.
No one asked us for money or anything. We knew it was a tourist
trap then, if we did not already.
We had bamboo rice at a local restaurant which was an interesting
dish served right out of bamboo shoots. We had an hour to hike up
the mountain and look at all the terraces.
Then we had an hour to
make it back to the bus. It worked out almost perfectly for Bryndi,
Nicole, and I. We took our time coming down and got to talk to some
nice people. Ashley and Kim made it just in time. They had gotten
lost and taken the wrong way. They had to run most of the way down.
We got back to the bus and rode it to Guilin. We got on a train and
headed back to Nanchang.
The train ride was awesome! We met more really cool people. We
played cards with Bruce Tu, who named himself after Bruce Lee, and
we named the other guy Lewis. They were excited to practice theirEnglish and hang out with the foreigners. Bruce wrote an adorable
letter in Ashley's journal. It was like a journal entry from him.
Tim finally did us right and got us a school van to meet us at
the train station. Our favorite driver, Arnold, picked us up.
Arnold was our first driver in China. We have a special bond
with him. It was a pleasant trip, all the way back to our school
where we taught only about an hour and a half after arriving
back there. We love China. :)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
I thought for sure, going to the other school would just be a pain. Some more work for us to do and something we could possibly negotiate for things we would want from Tim. Mostly because of the way he is deceitful and the way it always starts. It always starts with us being oblivious to when we are actually going to be doing something. We thought this trip would be made on Saturday but instead we would be leaving Wednesday morning. When did we find this out? Tuesday night after performing in Mayflora's Children Day Program. We sang 'The Star Spangled Banner' and then while Lindey sang 'My Heart Will Go On' and Raza, the foreign teacher from Pakistan, sang a Chinese song, Ashley, Nicole, and I painted some flowers. It had been alright. We did not crash and burn. Afterwords, Bill told me all about how Wednesday was Children's Day and what they would be doing. He got excited and told me, "It's MY day!" and we chanted that it was his day, Bill's day, together. I walked with him and his class (which was made up of all our ILP students) to the corner where we would split to go to our rooms. We had a short time of waiting at the corner for his teacher. While we were waiting, he told me, "Tomorrow, want to play game with you." In his raspy Bill voice. He managed to say in his broken English and pointing that I should come over in the morning to Grade 3 and play games with them. I was so sad to have to tell him we would probably be leaving before that time and would be gone for a couple of days. It took him a minute to register the English but he understood and just looked disappointed. I asked him what time, just in case we weren't leaving. I could come over if we were leaving later in the day but alas, we left at 7 am. It was much too early to see my kids. Tuesday night, we got to go over to some of our kids' rooms. We were going to read them books! They loved it! I brought books but I did not read one. I had several little boys just take off with them, switching and looking at all the pictures. I had a very enjoyable time. My baby, sweet Charlie, was adorable. He does not know very much English but he was excited to have us there. He made letters with his glow sticks and I guessed what letters. Then he would say random words in English. He slipped into his covers and motioned for me to sit down on the bed at one point. It was just the cutest thing ever. If you can imagine a little boy with shorts and mayflora uniform shirt, with a funny little attitude, trying to motion and talk to you in hushed tones. Mostly making noises and jumping around, that would be him. He would say, "I drinkded the water." haha and then he would whisper to me random things. He came back to water and motioned the he washed his face and brushed his teeth. He motioned that he washed his body and he used quite good English to say it too. Oh I wish I could explain how thrilled I was. I just wanted to stay there and tuck him in like my own kid. I wanted to fold him up and put him in my pocket. At about 10:30pm, we left so that they could sleep. I returned to my apartment in time to skype the designer for my wedding dress. It went over swimmingly! I fell in love with my dress all over again! I just hope that it turns out close to what we talked about. = ) Then I took a shower and wrote myself a list of things I needed to pack for this small trip. It was about 2 am when I went to bed. I automatically assumed going to this other school was not going to be a good time. Everything added up to a negative in my mind. When we got to the other school, we were herded into classrooms to play games with kids. We took pictures with all these kids we had just met for few seconds and we just had to figure out what it was we had to do in each class with broken English and hand gestures. The first game I played was a marble game. I raced with a little kid to get as many marbles as i could into a bowl. The best part was I had to use metal chopsticks. I must say, I dominated that game. I have skill. I really think I will come back home and use chopsticks for as long as I can. = ) When we were done, we were swarmed with kids. Most of them wanted to have our autograph. Talk about feeling like a star...I tried to write nice little messages with my name so that they would have a little something special but sometimes their were just too many so i would write Desi B. We finally got to go to lunch. We went through the cafeteria and I was just thinking, "Great. More Chinese Cafeteria food.' Instead, we were lead into a room with the lazy suzane in the middle. We knew we would get a nice lunch as soon as we saw the table. We were stuffed. Then we went to see some of the sites. We went to a pagota temple and the stairs were really cool. It was pretty fun with buzzed Raza and Tim. They both drank beer at lunch. Then we went to the lotus fields. Tim showed us how to tell which ones to dig up for the lotus roots. He called the mud, mood. We had fun making jokes about it. Tim had no idea what we thought was so funny. Then he said, "I have to take off my clothes to get in the mood." BAHAHAHA It just went crazy from there. Raza convinced him that he did need to get in the mud and pick the lotus root. We were all scared. He took off his pants. Oh my goodness...It was quite hilarious but he got down in the mud and pulled up lotus root for us to try. By the end, Bryndi, Nicole, Kim, and I had gotten into the mud but we just rolled up our pants. I barely got in with my feet. They sunk into the mud but it felt good. I didnt really pull anything up that was good enough to eat. We washed up and headed out. At our hotel, we took a nice nap. Then we headed back to the school and had another big meal. The headmaster took us to his office and he gave us a present. He gave us fans that were 1 meter long. They are HUGE! We are hoping that we can bring them home...Then we were taken out to the stage and track where people were gathering for their Children's Day Program. They sat us close to the front in chairs with back support. At this point, I felt like they truly treated us better than our own school. At our own school, we sat on foot stools. Other teachers at our school did too of course, we werent being singled out. Then the program started and they had an English translation for the principal's speech and the first part. That was amazing! There was an English skit by some of the young students. We were quite happy. Then we performed the same way we did the night before at Mayflora. Only this time, for painting we had to fake it even more. Ashley was the only one who really painted a flower that night. It was the same painting we used to practice on. The headmaster had us run up on stage while another guy was singing and give him flowers and balloons. When Lindey did, she gave him a kiss on the cheek. It was a great time! We had kids still asking us to write our names on their books and papers. We had random people trying to talk to us and welcome us. One kid reminded me of a mix of some of our ILP students. They were being crazy but adorable. After the program, we went to a small local restraunt. We had two tables with headmasters and others from the school we were visiting. We did not eat much but we toasted with everyone repeatedly (as is a tradition in China). We 'Gombayed' with many. (It means, 'empty the glass' so we downed drinks.) Everyone was drinking beer, except the 6 ILP teachers. We were drinking a milk juice drink and water. Oh the memories of that dinner will be engraven in my mind. They had us singing and they were singing. While we sang 'My Heart Will Go On', the headmaster guy stood up with Tim and did the famous balcony scene from the Titanic. I cannot even explain how hilarious and how great that was. Every time i hear that song, I will imagine those Chinese men. We had people busting out in song for a while. We convinced them that we needed to go to KTV-which was our plan in the first place but it was getting late. We dragged all the drunks to this karaoke party. Tim is so much nicer when he is drunk. We have a good time with him. We sang on and off with Chinese people for 2 hours. The smoke was bound to kill me but I made it through. I danced with Tim once. He was
pretty friendly by that point. I was a little nervous but I just laughed it off. Bryndi and I sang "Baby" by Justin Beiber and that was the funnest thing. We went crazy. = ) We were all very tired by 2 am. We went back to the hotel and passed out. At 7:30 am, we had to be to breakfast. I ate lots of food. It was awesome to have salted peanuts. That is rare in China. Just normal, salted peanuts. I put them in my rice porridge. Our last thing before we went to Mayflora was to go back to that school and take pictures with EVERY class. We were tired and felt like just advertisement. It is a strange feeling. Everytime a group would come up, take pictures, and start leaving I would say, "Go. Fight. Win." They would just look at me funny but still in awe like, 'she is talking to us!' haha then i would say goodbye and they all understood that and said it back. I had a great time! Those are memories worth keeping!! <3
Sunday, May 8, 2011
We were not sure what we would be doing. We had to pack up
everything and be checked out of the hostel in Beijing by noon. I
realized there was so much stuff I had to carry and was not sure how
it could be done. I had to purchase a cheap large bag to put
everything in. I knew it would kill my back but there was no other
reasonable way. While packing, we decided to go see Mao dong's
mummified body. It would be closed to view if we did not hurry. That was a strange sight to behold. His face looked like it was
glowing but it was just the light shining on his face. The feeling
in the room was unsettling and I knew we all felt it. It was
something worth doing though. There was not much left to do in
Beijing. We conquered it pretty well and we were mostly tired. What
do you do when you are tired and sore? Pamper yourself of course! We went to get pedicures. We did not understand what they were
saying so the guy just scrapped the dead skin off our feet and cut
our nails. It was interesting. When he first pulled out the tools,
Bryndi was first up and she was frightened. She said, "what's he
going to do?! He has a scalpel!" That was a bit of a let down
because we were expecting more. Some of us decided to do more. Kim
and I got Chinese medicine massages on our feet plus a full body
massage. Kim got more of a beating than a massage. The lady that did
mine was nicer, still hit me but not near like Kim's. Next we had to get our ice cream fix at KFC. We walked down the
street and then back down the other side to get to our noodles. Kim
and I sat in there for about an hour just having a chat over noodles. To wrap up our night we went through the subway to get to the train
station with all of our junk. My back hurt from my huge bag but we
made it. As we were getting on the train we met a new friend, Kevin.
I sat between Kevin and someone who did not speak any English.
Kevin's English was very limited too though. Across from me, Lindey
sat next to a college student that could speak english quite well.
Kevin had this guy translate most of what he was saying to us. One
of the first things he had to mention was that he is a part time
model. Then his full time job is being a hair stylist for models. He
works for 20 Guy or something, as far as we know. He showed a video
of him cutting hair and it was cool but not very interesting after a
while. Lindey watched the whole thing so I did not want to be rude
and not watch it. He was adamant about saying how much he loves
America. I totally agree. He wants to move there in a couple of
|Lindey and translating college student|
Well it was a pretty full train and we would be riding it all night.
It was getting late and I was suppose to be getting sleepy. Kevin
and I were sharing music back and forth and he told me I could lie
my head on his shoulder if I wanted to sleep. That was really nice
of him. While I was suppose to be asleep, he took a picture. That is
normal to be like, 'oh look, foreigner!' I thought it was funny so I
smiled up while he took a picture and he just laughed. He was a lot
taller than me and there was not much room to move legs anywhere
with four or more sets of feet in the small space. So he put his arm
around me. That was a little awkward so I did not let that last long
and tried to find a position to sleep but I was not tired at all. He
switched seats with me so I could lean against the wall. I still
could not sleep. I could tell he was more tired than I was. I tried
to switch back seats for him but I could not explain I was not tired
to him. After a while, he looked frustrated, like he could not think
of how to say something. He looked at me and just said, "You are
really beautiful." My cheeks filled with color as I blushed. I just
thanked him and turned my head away. It was fairly late into the
night when he had that frustrated look again. Then he whispered,
"Phone number?" I must have looked confused because he repeated it
and did some sign language on his hand to show me. I told him, "No
|Kevin and I|
|you can also see the bandaid i gave him on his finger, I'm so prepared.|
He understood that and went back to silence for a long while. At
about 4am, when basically everyone else was passed out sleeping, he
started typing something on his phone. He nudged my arm and showed
me what was on the screen- 'miss kiss you'. I felt really bad at
this point. I just smiled and kindly shook my head and said no. He
was disappointed but being the kind guy he was, he did not push it
at all. Kevin simply said, "oh ok." Then he shifted his position and
said, "I'm sorry." I told him it was ok. With our lack of
communicating skills and my feeling bad for him, I could not tell
him I had the best guy ever already waiting for me. Instead I just
was friendly and kept it light. For the next few hours we fell
asleep on and off. Switching seats, positions, and randomly waking
up for a while happened all through the night and morning. We did
started our adventures in Shanghai.
<3 <3 <3 The Best Guy Ever, and I, being in Love! <3 <3 <3
|<3 The Perfect Match! <3|
Forever & Always <3
Saturday, May 7, 2011
It was easy to see how the day could turn out to be by waking up.
Waking up to loud talking from roommates, or one roommate, can be
disconcerting. I was not very happy and said something pretty rude
but if you only knew... How hard it was to deal with her sometimes..
.you probably would have too. I was grumpy and annoyed that she was
fine with waking me up because she was ready to get going at that
I was the last to be ready to go but I think I was just being
bitter and slow. After we stepped outside, Kim and I realized we did
not prepare very well. Neither of us remembered sunglasses, sunblock,
or snacks. It would be such a pain to go back by then. We lived on
the second floor and in the corner of our hostel. We just kept going
and bought sun hats on our way to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden
City, or Palace Museum was huge. There were lots of different
buildings and tons of tourists. It took us less than an hour to
be done with it. It was another old Chinese place. We met back up
after an hour and took the long way out, looking at more of what the
Palace Museum had to offer. I started to get low-blood sugar because
my breakfast was not big and I did not pack snacks. Luckily, I have
awesome friends that let me have some of their crackers and peanut
butter. I was at least more conscience. Still felt grumpy because
when my blood sugar goes low, I get easily irritable and
dysfunctional. We decided to go to the 'Snack Street' but we could
not find it for a while. The walking was getting very tiring. When
we finally found it, it was quite interesting. There were scorpions
on sticks that still wiggled around. Then they would fry them for
people to eat. Nicole ate two and let Bryndi try one. Bryndi got it
chewed and swallowed. She took a drink and we were walking again but
suddenly she started gagging and then throwing up. She got down on
her hands and knees and hurled up some of the other food we had just
consumed. Quickly after, she stood up nonchalantly and kept walking
like nothing happened. She had thought about it too much and Bryndi
has a weak gag reflex. I had expected her to throw it up but after
she got it down and walked away, I thought she had it made.
I did not try any scorpions but I did take a bite of a gritty
starfish and chewy cooked snake. The meatless dumplings were good
though and the fried banana. Then when we had our feel of that
street, we went to McDonalds. Why McD's? Well they had REAL ice
cream. We got delicious McFlurrys. Our next feat was to find a
subway to get close to the clothing market. This was my first time
on the subway. It was pretty simple when I just followed the other
girls. It was crowded but not overcrowded. Then we had to walk some
more to get to the market. We walked around the market and found new
purchases. One lady that was selling jeans, dragged Kim back to her
stall. It was so funny looking! We found a little DVD store and when
we were finally done shopping, we went to get ice cream. Why again?
Well it was Cold Stone Creamery right across the road!!!! I was so
excited! The ice cream was perfectly delicious and sitting down, was
more than a treat. Our legs, ankles, and feet were dying. They hurt
from all the walking and walking and walking.
|Just for you Henry! : )|
We did not want to carry everything back to our hostel, especially
with how far away we were by then. We grabbed a taxi and when I saw
how far we were, I was even more glad we had decided to take it. I
showered when I got back and my feet were still a ting of black. I
do not know if it was from the street dirt getting between my shoes
and my feet or the dye from my cheap shoes. It felt good though to
take a shower and scrub down. Then I got a cold water bottle and
along with drinking it, I used it to cool my feet. I settled in for
the night and skyped the best guy in the whole world, the love of my
life, Super Amazing Man, the handsomest guy I know (other than my
dad ;) , and the guy I am going to marry in less than two months. =]
I fell asleep soon after.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I did not get cold in the night. The sleeping bag must have worked
it's magic. The wall was as hard as expected with the little mats.
It was just like camping. We looked up at the stars and I stuck my
head way down in so my face would not freeze. The one real
difference was the normal sized pillow. Something I usually do
without when going backpacking and camping. I woke up to Kim and Ashley talking about going to the bathroom in
the bucket. Yup, a bucket. That was the bathroom on the Great Wall.
They both ended up using it but Ashley was much more reluctant. I
was the last up and out of my bag. If you know me, that should not
surprise you at all. I stayed in that bag while I brushed my hair
and put my clothes on right. Then I slipped out of the bag and put
my shoes on. Oh burr! It was chilly! Kim, Ashley, and I forwent
bringing big jackets or anything because we did not want to carry
them around on our vacation. So I had a thin jacket and all morning
I was cold. There was a bit of a breeze on top of that tower as
well. We watched the sunrise at about 5:40am. The sun felt great on
my skin. It felt wonderful sinking in through my clothes to warm my
body. Mr. Wong brought our breakfast at six o'clock. We had a banana
and muesli. I actually enjoyed it. I do not like raisins but they
were in there and I just went for it. Delicious. In the muesli, we
poured a little bit of milk also and Mr. Wong brought coffee, tea,
and hot water to make them. The three ILP teachers took some hot
water, mostly to warm their hands. When it cooled down just enough
for me to not burn myself, I swished it down. It warmed my insides
and calmed my little shivers. Only, it was still chilly and I had to
keep staying warm. We left Mr. Wong to start our excursion. The shadows stayed cool but
the sun was bright and helped kindled the fire inside of us. Willing
us to go on. We climbed stair after stair. Some were steep and
others could barely be recognized as steps because of the wear and
tear of so many years. A gorgeous sight to behold, the massive walls
that took those historical Chinese civilians hundreds and hundreds
of year to build, still there. We travelled along, trying to enjoy and soak in as much as possible.
Our cameras grew sore from the use we were getting out of them. At
the middle, there were two Chinese ladies that began to trek with us.
They were kind and seemingly endearing. We soon realized their true
intentions when one of them told us she was a local farmer. She also
told us her house was small and gave a piteous spiel about how hard
she had it. Then she pointed to her backpack and said, "Later you
buy souvenirs? Later. Then I go home and you go back." It did not
take long to realize what she was doing. This lady was trying to
wrap us around her finger so that we would buy things from her. We
just said we did not know and that maybe we would. She told us,
"Ssank you. Sank you." (Th is one of the hardest things for Chinese
people to pronounce.) That did not deter us from enjoying our time.
At the end, they both tried hard to sell us their souvenirs from the
bags they carried but we refused to give in. It was strange because
they only worked on the three of us. The others they may have only
asked once and then let them be. Ashley was getting hit the hardest
but I think it was because she is always so friendly and she sounded
like she was bargaining. She was but only slightly. She told one
lady that she got a shirt for 15 yuan and so if she went down to 15,
she would buy it but did not budge at all from there. The lady did
not go down to 15. It was obnoxious to have those sellers even
follow us to the Great Wall but we enjoyed our adventure just the
same. After climbing through 15 towers, we were ushered to go down a small
pathway with yet another million stairs. By then, my legs were
shaking uncontrollably. At the bottom it was even worse. Our driver
was waiting at the bottom with the large white van we had taken the
day before. I could have gone for a good snack about then. My energy
was pivoting on that small breakfast and it was not holding up. I
was glad I had a few cashews and dried bananas to hold me over.
About an hour later, while driving back to Beijing, I dug into a
scrumptious Snickers bar. There was one other important story. Before we got far, a few of us
needed to go to the restroom. We stopped at a public bathroom in the
small local town. For the girls, only Jasmine and I needed to go.
When we turned the corner and peeked in to see the conditions, we
realized that there were no stalls at all. Just three holes in the
cement stared at us. I took the appropriate course of action and
backed out saying, "After you. I'll wait out here." It worked out
just fine. No one else came while we took our turns. One thing to
know also is that most bathrooms in China you must provide your own
toilet paper and if it is an actual toilet (which the squatters are
considered real ones, any that flush that is), then you must put the
something I still am not used to and probably will not get used to. We stopped at the Olympic building place and that was very
interesting. I never really thought about it before but they are
massive buildings and have interesting characteristics about them.
The Ice Cube is made out of a material that actually cleans itself
with only a little rain and wind. The Bird's Nest is just HuGE and
shaped like a bird nest. Finally, we got to eat lunch. It was at a busier restaurant but the
bathroom was really nice. The food was not bad either. We got
ourselves some fried rice! For dessert we had something deep fried
that turned out to be basically fried milk. Do not ask me how that
works but I thought it was good. I have a sweet love for fried foods
and sweet foods. It does not have to be too special for me to like
it. Again, I was filled to the brim with rather good Chinese
cuisine. After lunch, our tour was over and they took us back to our
separate hostels. Our problem now was that the other three ILP teachers had gone out
and had the only key to our room. So we adventured out to find our
'I Climbed the Great Wall' t-shirts. We went to several shops and
found that 20 yuan is the limit because by then they only make about
6 yuan, or a dollar. Since we were out in the shopping area, we also
got distracted with other things. Then we went to one of the shops
that we had been to on previous occasions and we talked to this
funny guy. He is fairly witty and knows English really well. We
teased him about selling us stuff and tricking us but that is how we
found out about the 20 yuan limit on the t's. He liked talking with
us even though he pretended to be annoyed. The lady that helped run
between their stores would tell him to stop talking and just give us
the price. It was fun. Ashley saw ice cream on our way through so she wanted to go back and
get some. It was not as good as we had hoped. It was 'Chinese Good'
which is what we call anything that is relatively good for being in
China. Returning to our hostel, we found our door unlocked but no girls. We
took showers and the girls returned but only to do the same thing,
shower. They had met some new friends and decided to have dinner
with them. Kim, Ashley, and I went out to get ice cream again and
this time was just as bad. We did not know what to do so we kept
walking. We turned down a random and shady looking road. It went on
for so long, we thought it was never ending. I was surprised not to
see one other foreigner on that road. Then again, there may have
been a reason. Kim was hungry so we tried a bakery but it was closed.
We just kept walking. It was on a main road but mostly apartments
lined the street. I was surprised when I saw Lyndi's hat pop up on
the other side of some shrubs. We whistled and called out to her.
She was freaked out but soon realized it was just us. The other
girls were not far ahead but the were busy talking to their new
friends. So we came up behind and grabbed them. They were pretty
scared but Nicole said she saw Ashley earlier. Lyndi joined our
group and we split up again. Hit KFC at 21:50. They had the smallest
portions of mashed potatoes and veggies I have ever seen. The mashed
potatoes needed more flavor. It was like eating baby food. The hot
milk was delicious though. I loved it. We finished our night late
and planned a decent hour to rise. Bryndi and Nicole were suppose to
be to our hostel by midnight. Twelve minutes late, she comes in like
a train apologizing to the completely quiet sleeping room, except
me. I was writing this blog. Everyone at least turned over in their
beds and went back to sleep. That concludes this interesting day.
Well it started out absolutely amazing so that counts. :)
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The day began rather quickly. Simply waking up and doing the menial
tasks of the morning was normal. Then I transferred all of the
things from the bag I packed the night before to my backpack. It
would be for the Great Wall and I figured it would be more
comfortable than a shoulder bag. We met Judy Du near the front desk. Judy was our tour guide. She was
cute and her English was great. We always love when we can joke with
them because then we know we can communicate well enough. Our driver
was also nice and he taught us some Chinese while Judy went into the
next hostel to get four other people who would be joining us. They
took longer than we did since we were excited and practically ready
the night before. Then we picked up one more guy from a hotel.
Surprisingly, all five of our new friends are from Australia. I
appreciate their accents and friendly personalities. The four from
the hostel are actually two couples: Brett and Zoey, Adrian and
Jasmine. Aaron is here because his girlfriend's grandparents live in
China. I assume she is staying with them and he is just doing all
kinds of sightseeing.
|Judy Du our tour guide|
Ash, zoey, jasmine, adrian, Aaron
Our first stop was the emperors' burial place for the Ming dynasty.
There were lots of statues and the animals represent something
different that a country needs. The lion is power. Transportation
was the camels' meaning and peace was the elephants'. There were two
Chinese mythical creatures that stood for protection at night not
only the day. We only saw one tomb out of 13 or 16. At first we were going to see
Ding Ling's but it was too busy so we saw the third emperor's. His
name sounds like Judy. That is all I can remember. It was
interesting to learn more about the history of China and the culture.
By the end of that, we were starving. We did not get lunch until
14:30. It was a superb meal though. It was at a pretty nice
restaurant. Green beans, broccoli, eggplant, peanuts, and rice is
what I ate. I felt completely stuffed. As a little bit of dessert
there was also a little pastry and a sweet sauce to dip it in. It
was a little bit like a donut. Then we were off for a 2 hour ride to
the Great Wall. The moment we could see the wall, we were astonished. It is long and
massive. Just like the pictures. Millions of steps are all along the
wall. We stopped to use the restroom and to get a drink. Then we
climbed up to a lovely area to watch the sunset. What a gorgeous
view!! I think I took 30 or more pictures of just that sunset and
area. The steps are old and have odd differences is sizes. I sat
back and watched the beauty of the Earth. Our group took pictures of
each other and had a nice time. I could not help but wish there were
some other people here that I love so they could experience it with
me. I felt a little alone as I walked back down for dinner.
At dinner, which was at someone's little home/shop, we gorged
ourselves on dumplings, cauliflower, cucumbers, egg, and some other
dishes. The people putting this together gave us each a flashlight.
They were ones you can pump to recharge. They made loud noises
though as one recharged them. Mr. Wong is a pretty cool guy. He only
learned some English from the people who come here. I think his
favorite word is beer. Which the Australians had a few of those. I
am surprised at how Aaron could get them down. He had at least four.
Anyway, he seemed to handle it well. Mr.Wong hiked with us up some
more steps to the tower we would stay in. We all got a sleeping bag
and two small pads. Ashley,Kim, and I found a good corner. We could
see all of the stars. It was gorgeous. I felt like I had not seen
them in years. Pollution, clouds, and the fact that I am usually
inside and not paying attention to the sky at the school plays a
role in that. It really was beautiful. We were camping on the Great
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I awoke several times in the night. Once I needed to go to the
bathroom but I decided I would just go in the morning. It was a
hassle to put on shoes and walk down the steep steps and down the
hallways to get there. At 5:30am, I heard someone get up, move stuff
around, and then go out the door. I was wondering why they would
because it sounded like they were going to the shower not just the
bathroom. It turns out, Ashley thought it was a lot later when she
looked at the time. She did get up and shower. We agreed the night before that we would be out the door by 9:30am at
least. We were. We were out by nine. The walk to the 'Temple of
Heaven' was about one or two miles. It was mostly like a huge park
with random steps and Chinese buildings. That took about an hour and
a half...but we had agreed to meet at the entrance in two hours. So
waiting in the wind was a bit obnoxious but I sat on the corner of a
sign that blocked a good portion of the wind. While here at the
temple, there were again, many white people but we rarely ran into
or found Americans. (as far as we knew) Sometimes we could tell by
their accents or when they spoke another language other than English.
It was fun to try and guess. For lunch, we found a random little street and random little
restaurant that had pictures to point at. The noodles were good. They
were salty tasting. Then right across the way was the pearl market.
Kim was so excited that I almost had to hold her back. It was insane! Chinese people trying to sell anything and everything
they had, at outrageous prices (because they know we do not really
understand or know good prices). Not to mention that most of the
things were knock offs or fakes. Sifting through everything and
bargaining with these people was so crazy! I hated when they would
grab our arms and make us stay there or really think we were stupid.
Some of the sellers would pretty much chase after you. There was
plenty of walking away, many coming backs, and some coming back after
a while when we feel like they were not ripping us off and it was a
good deal. I got some nice things but probably spent too much.
Especially for being in China. It is a learning process with these
things. At one point, Ashley was helping someone buy and bargain for a coat
and the people were asking way too much. She told them she paid 50
yuan for a jacket like that and by that point, the seller was really
getting frustrated and angry because she wanted her price. So she
told Ashley, "You look like 50 yuan!" we get a good kick out of that
line. She was also called, "too tough". One of the sellers said, "a
little tough is good but you are too tough." We had to be tough
though and that was the lesson we all kept learning...over and over
again. At the end of the day, I think we were all quite proud and
happy with our purchases overall. I still think my 10 yuan bag is my
favorite purchase so far. To go back to our hostel, we took the long way. No, not on purpose.
Our sense of direction is a little off. As well as our map reading
skills. (They sometimes just have bad maps though-not in this case.)
we went backwards and down a questionable street. We found a 7 Eleven
on our way back for dinner. The peaches and pistachios I bought were
delicious! The pistachios were spicy and good. The walk back, was
painful. I had all of my purchases and other equipment in my new bag.
I could only have it on one shoulder at a time and it would dig in.
My feet got swollen and hurt. It seemed like an eternity. When we got
back, we showed off our buys and enjoyed just crashing in our room. I
got my bag all ready for my next Big adventure-sleeping on the Great
Wall of China. Yeah. Excitement was in the air.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Oh was that ride ever long. We did not get much rest. Not enough
people got off as got on. We could not stretch out or claim two
seats or more. There was not much to do. Then there was the cold air
conditioning that was kept on all night. My shorts were not the best
for these conditions. First we were roasted and then put in the
refrigerator. Every hour I woke up or did not fall asleep and looked
at my watch. It lasted for what seemed like forever. The morning was
no different. We arrived in Beijing at 11 am. Finally. Our hostel is nice enough. It is in the heart of a tourist area. I
have not seen so many white people (or black for that matter ) since
we got here. One Asian looking man asked us to help him at the ATM
because actually, he was from France and did not know what withdraw
meant. Speaking of the bank, that was first on our agenda. We had
maps and even the guy at the front desk showed us on a little card
how to get to it. Yet, we prevailed only in finding it after at
least 35 mins of searching. It just made no sense. Next on the
agenda was noodles. We found a restaurant we had seen on our way to
the hostel. The sign read something like this: 'Califorlan beef
noodles USA'. Who would believe that? Not us, but we did want
noodles. I got 'flavorless' noodles and added a little of the normal
spice. It was very good. I ate the whole bowl. Which is really a
feat if you realize how big the bowls always seem to be. I liked it
though. I eat a lot of what I like to eat.
The Cafe that was is in the hostel.
The front door! :)
Stairs leading up to to our room.
open court area with rooms up on the top level.
The only thing left to do was shop. We considered just some window
shopping or getting a feel for pricing but we were out the rest of
the day until 20:15. We all spent a bit of money but felt
accomplished in our good finds and bargains. My favorite is a bag
that is half my size. It has two silly people on the front and it
was only 10 yuan. I love it. There is also many things to share when
I get home. It is quite exciting though. :) we really have to bargain
with some of the sales people but it can be entertaining when they
are so persistent with a price and with you buying their item. Oh
silly Americans. We may have still been cheated on several occasions
but it is a skill and a work in progress. It is still cheaper than
|My 10 Yuan bag|
It was a fun filled day with new opportunities and learning
experiences. China is good. =o I know, you can start breathing again.
I said it. Hopefully it continues to be well worth while. I am
grateful for this amazing amazing experience and for the wonderful
wonderful people that made/make it possible! I cannot believe I am
actually here. What a treat and blessing! I thank the Lord for
everything I have.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
And so, this new extravaganza begins. We taught ILP classes early on
Thursday, April 28th. Teaching began at 9 am and went until 11:30am.
It was a pretty normal day of teaching other than that lasting push
to get through and have a good time because vacation was just hours
away. Snow White was the story of the day. When I tried to have
parts acted out, it was difficult with only one girl per class and a
need for a queen and snow white character. Most of the time I
improvised. On occasion, that meant I had to be a character and at
one point I had to use Kim for my Snow White.
Finding our way to lunch was easy but the food was not all that
appetizing. We went back to the apartments to finish packing and
last minute projects. Checking things off my list, I said my last
few goodbyes and 'i love you's to my fiance before vacation. I never
know what will happen or how much time I will have to message or
talk with everyone while on vacation. Simple things sometimes become
daunting tasks that I only think about doing. At 13:00, we signed ourselves out and sat in the office waiting for
our driver. I had my towel separate from my other things so it could
have a chance to completely dry. Eventually we were in the bus, on
our way to Nanchang. We hit up Walmart when we arrived. Everyone
told us, including Tim, that we had one hour. Well, Tim called while
we were in the supermarket an tried telling Kim that the headmaster
called him and said the driver was very busy today. So naturally Tim
says, "Maybe you find your own way to the station?" (the punctuation
may be incorrect because it usually was more than a question but a
way of trying to avoid asking or telling us). Kim just said no. It
was obvious that we would never make it to the train station without
our driver in time. In spite of this, we tried to be quick and at
least trimmed off 10 minutes of our hour. Which is really 20 minutes
if you count the 10 minutes already taken up in our hour by traffic.
No matter. We got what we needed and we got to the station in good
time. We stood awkwardly in line for our train. Noticing once again the
stares and our alien status. Ashley voiced what sounded like a
forming thought, which is sometimes how she starts conversations.
"I think I know how Harry Potter felt. When he had to go somewhere
foreign and didn't know what he was doing at all." I let it sink in
for a second before considering responding but she continued, "of
course, he knew their language so that definitely helped." I
explained that there were words he had to learn like muggle,
non-magic humans. We thought of a few others but agreed that they
still knew the same language and it would be easy to explain the
unknown words with words he already knew. Yes, the whole time I
realized we were talking about a fictional character of whom never
really lived. We talked as if he did and if something made up and
pretend can comfort you and bring a sense of not being alone, why
not? We both know it was not real but the idea is the same. As soon as we stepped on the train, the air changed. It became hot
and stuffy. I hoped it was just the in-between area but it was not
so. The heat laid thickly through the whole cabin. The sweat came
and so did the crowd of people. There were people leaning over each
other, pushing through, and standing in the isles. No windows
cracked. Our newspapers, notebooks, tickets, and papers became fans
for our dripping sweaty bodies. My thoughts turned to the Holocaust
and for at least the fourth time in my life, I felt a sympathy for
the Jews and others that were squished in boxcars of trains,
sometimes naked or in other horrible conditions being transferred to
camps. The heat was overwhelming. The bodies were not even that close
to me personally because I had the middle seat and not an edge, but
it did not matter. We joked about dying this way or losing lots of
carbs as we sat in our sweat. Only vaguely begging for relief. It
only took 25 mins or so for the train to start moving. A ridiculous
amount of time when you have to breathe in 100 people and swim in
|Lindey and I on the train ride.|
The train had air conditioning that finally gave us the relief we
sought after a while. I spent the first hour finishing a book I
purchased for my kindle app early in my adventures to china. It was
much shorter than I was hoping and 'Gossamar' was finished and done
with before I felt the story had began to make interesting
connections. It could have been so much more. I read a few chapters
of The Book of Mormon and finished the book of Alma.
|Ashley and I|
We wrestled with our bags overhead to get some food that definitely
did not satisfy us in most means. We lucked out as usual to find
that the girl facing us was majoring in English. She was freshman in
college but her English was rather good. At one point, I noticed a
guy standing by and watching us. He would sometimes make slight
indications that he might know what we were saying. I guessed it
right away and whispered to Ashley that I was certain he did. An
opportunity arose for him to sit across from us, next to the nice
English majoring girl. He began talking to us. It was a treat. He
told us of his job as a seaman and told English-Chinese jokes that
we found amusing. His English was difficult to understand at times
but the pair made good efforts to fill in gaps and correct mistakes.
It made for an entertaining ride. He got off sooner than we would
have liked but it happens. It seems we can only meet these strangers
and enjoy their company for a while, then there is just their small
memory. A picture and a few written notes. Then they are gone.
Without a way to connect again. In America we could exchange numbers,
Facebook profiles, or other such connections but it usually is not
the same here in China. We do not carry personal phones, QQ is their
type of Facebook, and there are many barriers between that usually
leave us all with just goodbyes. This may be the romance of
traveling. A meeting of random strangers that can have impacts on
ones life and the way they think. To have a brief moment and not
|English girl and Tong|
It is a long train ride.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Tim has become more and more...demanding and we have become more and
more suspicious and cynical to all requests, words, and actions
taken by the small Chinese man. He does make us laugh but most of
the time, sarcastic or sympathy laughs/giggles. He expected us to
paint in front of the whole school and we declined. He was a 'jerk'
according to Kim. His quiet pretentious attitude does not mask his
real intentions anymore. It is almost sad that he has pretended to
take such good care of us when really he does it so that he has
leverage for all of the things he wants in return. Sorry Tim, we
know your generosity is not so generous. It continues to be our
prison in Mayflora.
When Steve came from ILP, the weekend was wonderful. Tim and
everyone else made special efforts. It did not last long. As in,
Steve drove away, Tim went back to his quiet 'maybes' of seemingly
never ending fake efforts. *sigh* Yet, we feel a real conquer in our
new adventures outside of the school. The first time, Kim, Ashley,
and I went on a little walk. We wanted to wander the hills and
discover what was near us. When we signed out at the gate, Ashley
put 'adventure' for where we were going and we would be back 'before
dinner'. We found a road being constructed and walked. And walked.
And walked. We passed by a few places of water. There was a paved
path through some houses that lead to a beautiful lake. On the other
side of the lake was a quaint town. The kind of town you could easily
imagine when you think of china. There were several people working
hard in their rice fields which were closest to the lake. We spent a
good while there. We watched as the worked and cooled our burning
feet in the clear 'Green' water. We were not completely prepared for
the warm sun because when we returned, we realized we were sunburned.
It was not bad though. Within a few days, my burn turned into tan.
The second time we took the same route but this time Nicole and
Bryndi joined us. It took less time to get there but probably
because we knew our destination and were not out for new discovery.
I supplied myself with an umbrella this time and wore shorts to
accommodate the heat and eventually the water I would indulge in.
Bryndi wore her swimsuit but she did not get in. It was still
questionable waters and there was no one to ask. I think we all just
agreed silently that if we only stuck our legs in, we were safe
enough. There were many small fish biting at our toes but we may
have attracted them with some crumbs of food floating atop the
water. Relaxation anywhere but our apartments is a treasured
commodity. Most of the time it is too awkward with the people
staring and interest in the foreigners. There are too many people or
always someone where ever we go. This was a retreat. We spent hours
just bathing our feet, soaking in the quiet, and some of us, the sun.
This time the three returning venturers were smarter about the sun.
Less time in the sun using umbrellas and sunscreen. Or maybe just
Kim and I. Many of our books found companions on this excursion.
This free Tuesday was lovely. We were exempt from teaching that day
because the kids were taking exams. That did not hurt our feelings
in the least. We found relief. My new area of teaching is drama. It has been quite interesting. My
best friends have become books. The kids eat them up. Every picture
brings about new things to talk about and experience. Sometimes I
have to draw my own 'books' and I am always surprised at how well it
comes together.Lesson plan for Drama-using a book with Winnie the pooh,
then Kim looks over them and makes comments and what not.
Need to find joy in the work!!! ; )
My home class loves to talk about so many things and
I have really enjoyed teaching them. Bill is one of my favorites.
When he warms up to you, he is entertaining and fun. He and Lily
have a special relationship. It always feels like a married couple.
She gives him 'the look' sometimes and he knows it. They are in
cahoots more than often. They are both fairly good with English. It
makes for much better lessons and conversations. Bill has a unique
rasp in his voice that makes him even more likable. A good example
of their conspiring relations is when they convinced another of my
home class students, Victor, to buy a small valentines bear that
held a plastic rose for 100 tokens. He bought it and when I came
over to them later, I saw Lily had the rose. Victor was excited to
tell me in his broken English, "me" pointing to rose, "Lily". Lily
tried her best to help explain after I gave all the words needed to
complete a sentence, "He gave me rose." She was happy as can be as
she scrapped the fake water drops off the petals. "What's this,
teacher? Teacher Desi, what's this?" I had to choose my words wisely.
I simply told her it was suppose to be water. Then before I could
ask what happened to the bear, Bill walked around me and grabbed into
one of the open desks. He pulled out the bear and said, "He give me."
Bill had a triumphant air about him, as he usually did when he got
his point across or when he made a smart comment. Plus, he knew he
and Lily had accomplished what they were after. Victor smiled and
tokens. I figured out from all of their hand motions and English
enthusiasm that he had traded it for that and Bill also pitched in
5 quay. These children and their cunning understandings amaze me.
Charlie is my baby. I named him the day he joined our classes. I
have to use patience and slowly show him that I mean nothing against
him but adore when he tries. Charlie could easily convince me to let
him splurge on more than what he had in tokens but at some point you
have to teach them the right way. He would get angry when I did not
let him take what he wanted. His little fists would usually find
themselves in my back but I could only try to ignore it and show him
we were just in misunderstanding. I wanted him to get what he wanted
by participating and actually learning. I can tell it has helped. He
Lory is the prodigy child. I sometimes in the past have daydreamed
about adopting him. I have learned since, that he is more demanding
in attention than I thought and sometimes his temper spurts when we
have misunderstandings. Why is he the prodigy child then and why
would I think such silly thoughts in the first place? Lory is
talented. He plays the piano well and we still watch in amazement
when he plays. He is not a genius but definitely better than most 8
year olds. The things he does is adorable. He not only knows Chinese
and knows more English than most, if not all, of our students but he
also speaks Japanese. His parents live in Japan. They are both
Chinese but technically Lory is of Japanese nationality because he
was born there. I enjoy his spunky spirit and the way he randomly
breaks out in song and dance.