Saturday, October 26, 2013

Traveling the Silk Road

Midterms are done, bags are packed, and we're on our way to begin our adventure on the Silk Road. After our crazy week, long nights, and hours of Chinese exams, we were all ready to get going. We set out this morning at five a.m. and took the book to the airport. It was interesting traveling with 26 students and three teachers, getting through the airport was very different. We made it though and flew Air Canada and I was surprised it was a really nice airline. They played a funny Chinese show called wedding diaries which was just ridiculous. I bet in Chinese it made sense, but the English translations were just hilarious.
When we landed they made the whole plane get on a bus in order to drive about two seconds to the door. We all had to laugh because it to longer to both get on and of the bus than drive on it. 
We met our tour guide or 导游 (daoyou) took us to lunch. We ate at a good restaurant and had family style lunch. They just kept bringing out dish after dish. Our first dish was horses ear which I did not know till after I took a bite, it was  not pleasant. The following doses were everything from cauliflower, beef, pork, chicken, potatoes, rice noodles and sprouts, hot lettuce, green veggies, tomatoes and egg, sandwich buns and other food. It was delicious, and I ate wayy to much.
We got on the bus again and afore I knew it I was asleep, only one hour of sleep finally got to me. We stopped at a has station and I had to use a squatter. If you've ever used a squatter you know what I mean. 
After a few more hours we finally made it to the Tibetan orphanage. We were split up into four groups and each group had a class they ha to teach English. We taught ours the body parts and even taught them a song. After that they took us outside to dance. They taught us one of their traditional Tibetan dances and then we all did gangnum style and had so much fun. The whole courtyard was filled with people dancing it was great. After that, they made us dumplings, made of yak meat, definitely different. We tried to take a picture with them but weren't allowed to. Apparently if the government finds a picture they censor it and then close down the school. They don't want to let people see the sad conditions of the school, which is so sad because if more people knew about them, they might get more support.
It was a wonderful experience though and I had a great time there. 
We got back on the bus and headed to our next city, Xiahe 夏河, we're we got dinner. We ate family style and of course it was delicious. We were all really tired at that point and all we wanted to do was take a shower. Our guide told us we couldn't shower though, since we were at such high altitude, we would probably get altitude sickness and showering would only make it worse.
A few of us decided to get together and hang out but soon we were all dead tired and turned in. It was nice, since there was thirteen of us, I was the lucky girl and got a single. There was a moment of being scared since I was by myself and we were in some town in the middle of nowhere, but I was surrounded by everyone else in the other rooms.
As soon as I hit the pillow I was out, but I had had a great day.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

ZhuJiaJiao Town

Today our program took us to this little village called ZhuJiaJiao. It was a wonderful study break. It was raining when we left and the ride was long, traffic was crazy. When we got there we all got on these river boats,about six of us per boat, and we had a guy row us down the river. It was quite a ride, we rocked back and forth but it was fun.
When we got there there women were selling bags of fish, and at first we didn't know why they were selling the fish.Apparently these are wish fish and after a while of asking and asking I gave in and bought a fish for 40 cents. I let him go into the river and made my wish. 
We walked along the roads of ZhuJiaJiao, restaurants and shops lined the streets. Its a little fishing village, quaint and old but still beautiful in its way. 
I was starving but on the way back we say this women wash a pot in the river (brown water) and I was so glad I decided not to eat anything. 
It was a nice after noon and relaxing and on the way back everyone fell asleep.
We decided to eat family style again and tried this new Muslim place. It was delicious. I ordered potatoes in special spice and flat dough noodles. Its like flour noodles but instead of looking like spaghetti they aren't rolled out all the way, boy where they good. 
Our boat paddler

I love the store names here

Especially this one, very original

Crabs, pig legs, chickens, and what not

This man drew characters for us. He draws all of these paintings by himself, been practicing and doing this for 39 years. 

We found this cutie on the way out. 2 yuan to take a picture, worth the cause, just look at him
It's been a good week. One more week and then were heading on our week long school excursion. Im heading to travel the silk road, and even going all the way to Mongolia apparently. So hopefully I can find some time this week, I need to buy wool sweaters, dust masks, flashlights, and gear for the trip. I'm excited. 
Tomorrow I'm going to the fake market, one of my homework assignments is to go have a conversation with a shop owner and bargain with them in Chinese, and record it. So well see how that goes. I've gotten pretty good at it in English, Chinese is gonna be a bit of a challenge. Who knows what I'll come out with.

朱家角- Zhujiajiao

Back to School, This and That

Its back to school. Work awaits and mid terms start next week. We've been cramming, project after presentation, and studying every night. 
Every once in a while we go explore a new part of the city, eat something new, or see something that just opens our eyes to the culture difference. 
Chinese is getting easier, even though I still don't know a lot of it, when I go out now, I can understand most of the simple conversations that are going on. Getting there!

Here are some pictures of the past few days. It's just about this and that, things I notice and I find interesting. Most I find interesting because its so different to what we are used to. 

Pancakes sold outside the front gate of our school. They are delicious and can be filled with egg, sausage, bacon, cheese, and sauces or bananas. Yumm

Gardens around our university. There are gardens and parks everywhere, people can hang out all over and study or just relax. 

People's laundry hanging outside stores. This is normal here, laundry is just hung everywhere and anywhere

Nop, its not a side walk here, bicycles and mopeds take up sidewalks everywhere. We get to walk on the streets.

Someone's getting married

I love this sign

Street vendors are everywhere, late night snacks or dinner? Around eleven o'clock everyone gathers here

Almost feels like home :)

At the mall, its the Avengers this time to attract consumers to look at cars

Crabs anyone? Piles and piles of them are stacked in every store, the usual way to eat them here is boiling them and then just eating them like that, usually biting off the shell to get at the meat. 

One of our school cafeterias on a slow day, usually this is filled to where one cannot even find a chair to sit at. The food isn't too great but cheap for college kids

Well its back to studying and cramming for the midterms. Wish me luck!
Ill try to get back on as soon as I can and write. 
Miss everyone back home, especially that one person in England :)

China's Golden Week and our trip to Guilin, China

Sorry it's been a while. I had been writing and blogging but for some reason my computer kicked me out of the system and I could never transfer my blogs and therefore I lost them all. 
I'll try to give you a summary of everything that has happened. 
We went to Guilin, China for the Golden Week. October first is national holiday here and then the week following everyone is on vacation. 
Everyone travels, cities loose half their population as families and people travel near and far. 
Me and a few of my friends decided to tackle traveling during the Golden Week. We went to south China, Guilin, known for its beautiful scenery. 
It was an experience. Everything from traveling to the landscapes, to the never ending amount of people. But we had a blast and won't forget this time for a while. 
Breakfast at our first hostel, American Breakfast, our first since we came here

Honey farm on the side of the road


Shops are set up outside the Cave entrance

Reed Flute Caves

Reed Flute Caves

There were so many people at the Reed Flute Caves

After our trek up to the Caves, the scenery was beautiful here

This Old Place International Youth Hostel were we stayed our first day

Twin Tower Pagodas

Of course we had to stop at all the coffee places.
Coffee isn't consumed here a lot and most of the time cost a fortune. Most people in China drink tea, so when we can find a coffee place we always check it out. This cup of tea was delicious!

On the way to the Rice Terraces, the ride to the terraces took forever, and the hike to the top was long, but the views were amazing and they were so worth it. 

Halfway to the top of the Rice Terraces, these little villages are set in the middle of the Rice Terraces, their architecture and style complements the beautiful landscape.

Trippers Carpe Diem Hostel, our hostel in Yangshuo, China
Had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains

Cycling the Yulong River, it was so much fun and we had a blast. We felt like the Chinese darting in and out of traffic, passing cars, bikes, and people.

Men launching the Bamboo Rafts

One can rent someone to paddle you down the river on these Bamboo Rafts.

View from the top of the Moon Hill

There were so many people in Yangshuo, we had to push and squirm through all these people just to get an inch forward. An interesting experience

Before heading back to Shanghai, loved our group and we had a great week

More photos will follow. Sorry for the delay and only getting this out now. I hope you enjoy the pictures.