This is Andrew and I am a math teacher at Westridge. I am a native Chinese and I spend the first twenty five years of my life in China. I still keep closed connection with the other side of the Pacific Ocean after I came to the US. Two years ago I was one of the four teachers on the NiHao China trip so this is my second time going there with our students, but still my feeling is as excited as the first time. I am looking forward to meet the global-lab folks in LAX.
My name is Kam, one of the three Westridge teachers leading this China interim trip. I was born and raised in Asia and Canada. I have been teaching Chinese for more than 10 years now. I love to travel. My career in teaching Chinese has taken me all over the world. I started my teaching career at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Before coming to Westridge, I worked as the Chinese Faculty Assistant at the University of Maryland. I had also taught men and women in services at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. Every time I travel to China, I always learn something new. Now I can climb the Great Wall once again!
My name is Hilary and I am a Latin teacher at Westridge School. During my 17 years at Westridge, I have traveled with students throughout California and to several US states for sightseeing, camping and community service. I also have led two student trips to Rome, Pompeii and Florence. This will be my first time to Asia, and I am so excited! I am eager to see the famous sights as well as the out-of-the-way hidden treasures of China. I know the students and I will have the most amazing experience of our lives in China.
First and foremost, get pumped – it’s going to be a great trip! China is an amazing country, and by far one of my favorite places to travel because it is so expansive—not only in terms of its actual area, but also its culture. Your China experience will undoubtedly be unique, safe and exciting.
My name is Lindsay and I am excited to meet and get to know you as we start to prepare for our China visit! The first thing I want to mention is--PACK LIGHT! I know that we are all stoked to get on over to China, and you may have started purchasing items that you will need, but if traveling through China since 2001 has taught me anything--it is don't over pack. China has most of the things you want to buy, and you don't want to drag things around with you, you are going to want to use that free space to buy things to bring home! Think about that as the trip approaches.
Michelle with a Tibetan Buddhist nun
I began studying Chinese in preparation for a move to Taiwan with my family when I was twelve years old. I had no idea then how greatly time in Asia would impact the rest of my life. I have now been speaking Mandarin and spending time in Asia for almost thirty years. After graduating from high school in Taipei, I spent a year at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. My graduate work was done in the field of International Education, with fieldwork on the plight of Tibetan refugees in Indian exile communities.
11-Day Program: Beijing/Luoyang/Xian/Beijing
To download a Word document of the itinerary, click the link below
Day 01: March 21, 2010, Sunday -- Beijing
Arrive in Beijing, China’s capital. Meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. Engage in introductory language lessons/ review and cultural orientation sessions as we begin to experience life (and probably some jetlag) in China.
Hello! This is Lindsay and I wanted to let you know how excited I was to get my passport back from the Chinese Consulate today! This means that our trip really is right around the corner and we will soon be on our way to China. I can't wait to meet you guys at the LAX airport and hope that you will have your passports in hand (if you don't already) very soon. Take care, stay safe and have a beautiful day! See you soon!
Good morning from Chicago, where it is a blustery, overcast 33 degrees with a solid chance of flurries.
Given the warm, sunny weather in California, I can imagine it being difficult to relate. (sense any jealousy?!) :)
On that note, here is the type of weather, temperature-wise, you can expect during our trip, so plan accordingly:
**Each number is the average temperature listed in Fahrenheit (Celsius)**
High: 52 (11.3)
Low: 31 (-0.6)
High: 57 (13.9)
Low: 38 (3.6)
High: 58 (15)
Low: 28 (-1.5)
Think Autumn weather, with hints of both late Spring and late Winter. As the trip continues, it should grow warmer.
T minus 18 days until we are on our way!
Jonathan & Linz
During my time as an English teacher in China, I had the opportunity to volunteer and fundraise at an orphanage in Fuzhou. The experience impacted my life in an exponentially positive way, and I have become involved with some amazing people and organizations who are dedicated to incredible causes.
As such, we have been kindly invited to spend the latter portion of the 9th day of our trip at Starfish Foster Home in Xi’an. Starfish Foster Home is a humanitarian organization (non faith-based) dedicated to caring for and saving the lives of infants and toddlers who have special medical needs in mainland China. Amanda de Lange, who founded the organization in September 2005, has welcomed us to interact with the young children at her foster home and learn about some important issues affecting young babies in China. It is Starfish’s goal to expedite the movement of children out of orphanages and into the arms of adoptive families.
This visit will be an awesome opportunity to bring some outside love and care to an eager group of children who will be elated to meet all of you!
Here are a few websites you can visit to learn more about Starfish:
Main webpage: http://www.thestarfishfosterhome.org/index.aspx
Cleft Palate Blog: http://chinesestarfishcleft.blogspot.com/
More information to come!
I have started putting aside things that I will be taking on the trip with me. I have listened to some of my Mandarin CD's to get my ears used to the tones. Jonathan and I have spent much time brainstorming and talking about how close the trip is and how excited we are getting! Now, it is time for us to begin some of our mental prep before we even get to the airport. As the days draw nearer to our departure, there are some things we can do to help us get ready for the trip.
Start looking up some information about the places we are going to. There is a lot of history and culture and it can be kind of overwhelming--but if you take a look at it, even if it doesn't really mean anything to you right now, you can look back on your notes after we have gone to the landmarks.
Update your address book if you are planning on sending post cards! I know, in the age of technology we are used to sending off electronic messages of all sorts, however, parents and little siblings LOVE getting old fashioned postal mail! I still send postcards almost every time I am abroad and it is a beautiful thing to look back on the sites I have gone to and see where I was in that time of my life.
Sit down and think about your thoughts about China--what do you think China will be like? How have you heard China described? What was the food like that you have tried? What stereotypes do you have about Chinese people? How have people reacted when you said you were going to China? What do you hear about China in the news?
I hope that you will each find yourself getting a little more excited as the days go by and it is surely ok to be getting nervous or anxious. Make sure to go over your packing list, and remember that you will be in charge of carrying your bag--practice carrying it around up and down stairs and for 15-20 minutes to see if you can do it. Remember that you can go shopping in China and you will want to bring things back!
One of my suggestions would be to get a small notebook for the trip. Some of the things you may put in it are the answers to some of the questions that your teachers, parents, siblings and friends have asked. Maybe you will want to jot down some of the answers to the questions that Jonathan and I will pose to you. Through the trip, you probably will have questions or observations that you want to follow up on--or you just see something interesting and want to remember it--using a notebook to keep the ideas fresh in your mind is a great way for us to talk about them when the time is right. You will also find some amusing "Chinglish" phrases that you will want to remember and maybe we don't really have time to stop so you can just take note.
Start thinking about the destination of China and start getting used to the idea that it really is right around the corner. Have a beautiful day!
Dear Westridge Travelers,
In each city we visit, a local guide will be assisting our travels. They will be an excellent resource and are all very excited to meet all of you! Below are short introductions each guides who will be helping us along the way in Beijing, Luoyang, and Xi’an:
Beijing Guide: Ms. Zhu Yan Ling (Lisa)
Education: B.A., English, Beijing Foreign Studies University
Work Experience: 1998 – Present, Tour Escort
Intro: It’s guiding that has enlightened my life and all my friends’. Traveling leads to the most colorful world, while guiding is the window that makes traveling even more impressive and memorable. I really enjoy working as a guide, meeting friends all over the world and making traveling a pleasant experience for all of us.
Xi’an Guide: Ms. Wu Xiao Jing (Corona)
Education: B.A., Tourism Management, Northwest University
Work Experience: 2001 – Present, Tour Escort
Intro: Guiding has become an essential part of my life which keeps bringing me great fun. Imagine how exciting it is to travel with friends all over the world and make them feel the heart beat of each destination!
Luoyang Guide: Ms. Liu Luo Feng (Linda)
Education: B.A., English, Zhengzhou University
Work Experience: 2002 – Present, Tour Escort
T-minus 5 days until the trip of a lifetime!
Greetings from China!
With spirits high, he have arrived safe and sound. After landing in Beijing in the wee hours of the morning, we checked into our hotel, settled in to our rooms, and ventured out to take on the city of Beijing. Filled with a luxurious breakfast (an tasty mix of porridge, tofu, croissants and rice), we stopped by a smoky internet cafe and enjoyed yet another meal at a local chain restaurant. We are, without a doubt, well fed :)
From there we headed to the Forbidden City and Tian'amen square--a sprawling, historical site--where we enjoyed our first taste of Chinese history/culture, Chinese crowds, and a bevy of wonderul pictures. From there, we had an excellent Chinese dinner. A majority of the group of resting soundly at the hotel, while a few of us (total gamers) are catching up on emails and preparing for educational presentations to come. Each day, we will be featuring two student bloggers, and within our group, two educators who will be taking on the role of outlining the context of sites we visit.
Tomorrow, we will be having a Tai Chi lesson, visiting the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Zoo AND, in the evening, the Beijing Opera....wow! :)
Be on the lookout for more every day!
Today, after our second breakfast at the hotel and a quick trip to starbucks, we boarded the bus at 8:30. We began our day at the Temple of Heaven, were we had a tai chi lesson and played some badminton with the retired people at the park. From there, we broke into smaller groups and explored the multiple buildings. At the Temple of Heaven the air quality was rough. The visibility was very low and the high winds kicked up the dust. From there we visited the Beijing Zoo to visit the nine pandas that reside in various indoor and outdoor cages. Unfornately, we did not get to see any other animals in the Zoo, but it was fun nonetheless. After a lunch at the Wahaha hotel, we headed to olympic park to see the water cube and the birds nest. While the group did not get to go into the birds nest, a few people payed out of pocket to see the track. Due to am excess amount of time, we decided to go to a tea house in the spur of the moment. The tea ceremony was very structured and every tea had its own special way of steeping, flavor and biologicl benefits. After the ceremony, we visted the shop, where nearly everyone purchased something tea related. Then we were off to dinner. The dinner had some questionables, but overall the food was good, as all the food so far has been. A breif drive brought us to the Peking Opera, were we saw some highlights of a full play. The play was a mix of high pitched singing, intricate makeup and martial arts/acrobatics. After about an hour of poorly translated lyrics, we headed back home for some well needed rest.
Attempt 4... because the internet cafes are stupid...
Refer to Catherine's post for all the details. I'm not in the mood to put everything down (again...)
Mostly, I think everyone likes China and all the new experiences. Jetlag is still setting in, but we're getting used to it. With all the things we're packing into a day, it feels like we've been here for two weeks instead of just two days. After the day's events, everyone comes back to the hotel to crash, but it's worth it in the end. \
Tomorrow, we're looking forward to visit the Great Wall of China.
Note to self: Sleep more than 7.5 hours. And get Starbucks. Venti. Because we need it badly.
~Daphne Kan (pissed... and half-asleep at the computer)
Hey it's Melia. Today was the best! We went to the GREAT WALL!!!, Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, this lunch place where they made copper and porcelain pots, and ate Peking Duck. I'll post a picture in a bit, but for now I'll describe what went down. I made it to the second highest point that was visible on the Great Wall with Erin, Veronika, Metzli, Lizzie, Nayely, and Jonathan. GO HARD OR GO HOME. <- that was what we (or maybe just me) kept repeating throughout the treacherous hike up the uneven steps. Haha, that reminds me that Jonathan suggested we sing Miley Cyrus (Party in the USA) during our hike up the Wal. My knees were destroyed on the way down, but it was SO worth it (especially for the thigh/calf work-out on the way up). I cannot even begin to explain the feelings of amazement, awe, accomplisment, appreciation, etc. that I felt at the top (kinda) of the wall. China is beautiful (and SO COLD/WINDY) and I am so grateful to be on this interim! I also actually really enjoyed the peking duck (and the tortasias [asian tortillas....used to wrap the peking duck]). I used to NEVER try duck when my parents ordered it in restaurants, but I guess my horizons have been expanded and I will now try it. BTW, I am also counting how many people are wearing shiny jackets (the big puffy ones that look really smooth and reflect light, kind of like trash bags), and I am currently at 35. JK about the picture... we (me and the daphne's) can't find where the SIM cards connect to the computer...fail. Oh well, you can just imagine the amazingness of the Great Wall.. or just go on google and search the Great Wall. If you're in China reading this, you might not cause it doesn't work in some places cause of some firewall controlled by the government that censors whatever is posted on google..whatevs. Even though it's only 7:44pm, I'm really tired. Perhaps it's due to the jetlag? I don't know. This is just about the only time before midnight that I am ever tired. The daphne's are teaching us words/phrases every day and today they taught us how to say "Where is the bathroom?" (even though Veronika and I learned how to say that on the first day, along with counting, because we're amazing.. haha. jk. but kind of not really). It sounds like "tse-swou zai nar." YAY, I'm learning Chinese! Lindsey is sitting here waiting for us to finish blogging, and we also need to get back to the hotel to teach our people how to jerk and do the single ladies dance so that we can perform for the students at the school we will visit tomorrow, sooo I will finish this off. China's amazing. End of story.
Haylo, this is Daphne Wang (Not Daphne Kan, who failed at blogposting last time *HUGE SMILE*).
Today, we went to the Great Wall of China and walked up the SUPER SUPER SUPER steep slope. I am NOT spastic, just so you know (this is in respond to Daphne Kan who is beside me commenting on EVERYTHING I say). Now, she failed majorly at climbing because of her knee. So did Jessica Shen. And our tour guide Lindsay. They all FAILED. Then again, Lindsay kind of had to stay back with Daphne Kan, but that's really just her excuse. Daphne Kan is really failing right now; her commentary really doesn't help. I don't know what the others did, but I know I bought a pair, yes a pair, of seals. Yes, seals. I carved the names of my mom and dad in those seals. Now, this is not animal cruelty. Those were the chinese seals for when you dip them in ink and then press them on the paper, your names show up! (or whatever you carved in them).
Next, we went to see some awesome pot making factory (the pots were called Cloisonne) and witnessed the seven steps of making Cloisonne. These are traditional enamelware that originated in BeiJing (Are you getting bored? Well, DONT). I made two friends from the gift shop and got their QQs (it's like facebook and AIM and MSN). It was funny because one of them was the first to speak English to me since I've been to China. That in itself was AWESOME. Daphne Kan is criticising me. She was also there and also made friends with those people. We ate lunch right upstairs from the place of the pottery stuff. There, I pretended to be drinking alcohol and Mr. Zhou was amazed at the fact that I was drinking alcohol and proceeded to ask, "Why doesn't our table have alcohol?", while Jonathon (Joonathon- this was me making a typing mistake (which Kan calls a typing FAIL)) was amazed that I was drinking alcohol at all. I think Lindsay put me up to it. Then again, I don't remember. It was fun though. *heart*
Next, we went to the Changling Tomb of the Ming Tombs. Now, besides the awesome factor of the fact that the emperor literally had his body buried in a hill, I got a complete Americanized makeover. Yes, in the Changling Tomb place. I had to wear purple. Purple. Purple. I hate purple, usually. But I actually liked this outfit I was wearing, which was Giselle's. Besides that factor of getting chased then stripped.... of my jacket, the tomb was amazing. It's the biggest of the multiple tombs.
We got to hear Lizzie's singing from 5th grade. Just thought I'd throw that out there. It was hilarious. ^-^
Now, last but not least, Daphne Kan is annoying me by seriously taking the phrase "looking over your shoulder" too far and literally resting her head near my shoulder and looking at the computer. No, that's not what I wanted to say. The last thing we did so far (we're going to do some activity after this blogging thingamabobber for tomorrow when we visit a high school ) was eat Peking duck (famous in BEIJING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(this represents the great wall of China!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). It was good.
Doesn't this blog NOT fail? I mean compare it to Daphne Kan's blogging skills. Mine. PWNS. Daphne. Kan's.
Daphne Kan needs to learn the idea of a personal bubble.
I have challenged Joonaaaathooooon (sounded like Junaaaaathoooon) to a competition of some sort. Not sure what though.
I bought 4 panda hats with Kan for 60 dollars! in China money! IN TOTAL! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 15 bucks each. The lady originally was like 25 bucks! Then Joonaaathooon tried to be helpful and said 40 for 2. That. was. FAIL! Because we got it for 15 DOLLARS EACH!!!!!!! YEAH! Because I wanted to WALK AWAY! (like Kelley Clarkson's song, ya know? I know the song's old. Don't judge.) And the lady at last said 30 for 2! YEAH! LOOK AT OUR HAGGLING SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLS)
Subtitle: An Edit Because Daphne Kan is in a muchhhhh better mood than yesterday. :D And she needs to type a giant wall of text in retaliation to Daphne Wang's post.
Hey, at least I don't fail at grammar and typing... as much as Daphne Wang anyway. xP And I use internet smilies and HTML SHORTCUTS YO. Which makes me super special awesome. :D
So this will be a repost/edit of yesterday's fail blog because I actually don't know what I typed. Incoherency when suffering from secondhand smoke, jetlag, and moodswings = fail blog. But honestly, the experience was great and China is proving to be very awesome. I don't use exclamation marks, btw, so much of what I say isn't going to be as... spastic as Daphne Wang's post. .... yeah, I just call it Abuse of the Exclamation Mark. Poor thing. D: And it's impossible to abuse Monotone. Daphne Wang does not deserve to have her name spelled correctly. D8< I wonder if the HTML code on this blog can control size.... hmmmm.... because if it could, then I would post a giant, 40 pt font, SPARKLE TEXT announcing to the world that CHINA IS AWESOME. I may not abuse exclamation points, but I do abuse capslock and font size. :DDDD
EDIT: HAHAHAHAHA. I DISCOVERED MORE HTML SHORTCUTS. BE AFRAID. And this very definitely makes me more awesome than Daphne Wang. Just saying. :D SPARKLE TEXT HERE WE GO.
CHINA IS AWESOME~~~
So. Yesterday started with an early breakfast at 7:45. We were the first ones there, heck yes~ But we also slept the latest at 10:30 the night before. So with 7.5 hours, we ate breakfast and headed out on the bus at 8:30 to go to the Temple of Heaven. But first, we would receive a tai chi lesson from a master (to wake up, I bet :D ). I think we handled it rather well, (... Daphne Wang is having a fit in the chair next to me... I don't know why... Okay I do, but she doesn't need to do a cheap imitation of seaweed while she's at it... ) especially considering the fact that it was very cold and windy.
After the lesson, we entered the Temple of Heaven. It was very different, but very awe-inspiring. (Ya see my awesome prose? Yep, definitely beats Daphne Wang's post :D ) We found some guards there who were probably guarding the Temple area and they let us take a picture with them. In China, they say "qie zi" in replacement of "cheese." Weirdly enough, "qie zi" basically means "eggplant" in Chinese. Yep, so when we're posing for photos, we're saying "eggplant"... weird. But hilarious. :D One of the guards started shouting random fruits and vegetables in the back. It was great, especially when he said "banana" in English.
Later on, we all checked out the Echo Wall, which is this circular wall surrounding a section of the Temple of Heaven. If one person stands facing the wall at one end and calls out, another person standing facing the opposite wall will be able to hear the other person's voice all the way from across the court. (Us Daphne squared were the first to discover that it worked~~ ) Another interesting spectacle were the Triple Stones, I think they were called. In the Echo Wall courtplace, there were three slabs of marble on the path leading to the central building. If someone stood on the first stone and made a sound, they would hear one echo. If they stood on the second stone and made a sound, they would hear two echoes. And if they stood on the third stone and made a sound, yep, you guessed it, they would hear three echoes. Unfortunately, there were too many people inside at the same time, so it didn't work, but it was very cool.
After the Temple of Heaven, we went to.... uh.... hold on. :/ I think I forgot... wait up a sec...
OH YEAH. We went to the zoo to visit the giant pandas. And we weren't disappointed. I think JOONAAAAATHOOOOON learned a new meaning to the word "cooing" that day. We spent a while stuck to the windows, cooing at the pandas. :3 The panda hats were a hit. Personally, I think we should all get panda hats and form a PANDA ARMY when we march out of LAX on the 31st. Parents: Look for the pandas. :D
After the zoo, we went to a tea house. I think this was the best part of the day, but I might be biased because
tea is my weakness I liked the tea ceremony and sampling. At the tea house, we learned many different types of tea and learned how best to brew certain types of the tea for optimal flavor. Afterwards, we got to look around the shop there and purchase tea. I spent a lot of money there.... for a good cause! Tea is good!
After the tea ceremony, we went to the Peking Opera. We saw a portion of the full show and it was very different and entertaining. After we got used to the sheer strangeness of the show, I think it was very enjoyable. It was especially nice that there were translations on the wall beside the the stage to translate what the characters were singing or saying. The bright costumes and martial arts choreography were amazing.
And then we all went back to the hotel and crashed. :D It was a fun day.
AWESOME POST ENDS HERE. Because I need to go before Daphne Wang abandons me in the computer room and refuses to let me back into the hotel room we share. D:
Heyo mom and dad! Its Lindsey and Veronika, blogging day 4 of our trip! So today was incredibly eventful as each day has been.
First off, we made some new friends today! We visited a local high school in Beijing and traded performances with the other students, as well as email addresses. They first sang this sweet song in english (that neither of us actually recognized, but we loved it all the same), and then we sang Surgere Tentamus, as well as taught them some dance moves, including the Single Ladies Dance. We got to take a look at their classroom which was definitely different from Westridge. They taught us some Chinese characters as well, and while some of us played a game of hangman, Melia, Nicole and Caitlin owned the Chinese boys in a mini-basketball game.
After saying goodbye to our new friends, we left for yet another huge lunch. FYI mom and dad, we might need some new pants. We eat fantastic amounts of food. We then set off for the Lama Temple which was so so cool ! There was the 26 meter tall statue of Buddha, acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records, as well as one of the sutras and many Buddhist statues.
THen we took a fourty-minute busride journey to an acrobatics show. At one point we all thought one of the acrobats would not make it because he was BLINDFOLDED walking on a SPINNING WHEEL IN THE AIR and it was terrifying, but we all survived that scare (as did he, fortunately), and then set off for yet another huge dinner, where Melia successfully asked where the bathroom is in Chinese (sounds something like "tisoah tsai naar?"). A bunch of us played a music trivia game at dinner, where Mrs. Eichelberger showed her extensive musical knowledge. Then as we exited the four-story restaurant, it began to rain, and so the bus was well received by all. We then made our way back to the hotel and we are packing our bags to prepare to embark on a train journey tomorrow to Luo Yang! (spelled something like that).
Some of the pictures posted today are from past days, but we hope you enjoy them all the same.
From Veronika: Lara I can smell you all the way from China. Go take a shower. See ya layta, skayta.
Until next time! Leronika, OUT.
Jonathan and myself went out to grab a few things this evening and we commented on how chilly it was. After we came back from the shop it was drizzling. Though it wasn't far to our hotel I looked to the light and thought the rain was coming down rather slowly and I asked if it was snowing. Was that possible? Oh yes, yes it was. Jonathan and I ran back to the hotel and my fleece was covered in a light snowy and icy coating. Joy. Well, I don't think any of the gals saw it because if they are continuing the trend, they are already all upstairs and if not in bed by now (nearly 10pm) they may well be asleep. At any rate....I hope it isn't snowing tomorrow because we are traveling to our next city. We won't be blogging tomorrow, so look forward to the other posts in the near future! We are having a blast in China!
Jonathan and Linz
Everyone's foot on the center of the Earth; Mound of Heaven
Trains suck. Officially. Last night / this morning we took a 9 hour soft sleeper train ride. It actually was not as bad as I thought it would be, but still was a really interesting experience. ESPECIALLY trying to use a squat toilet while moving....Anyways we arrived in Luoyang at 8 am ish and spent a full day at the Luoyang grottos and Buddhist temple. It was a really fun cultural experience. The grottos had lost of carvings into rocky hills which were amazing. The best part of my day though by far was being asked by about 500 locals for pictures. A few mothers and their babies even wanted pictures with us! Loveeee asian babies and their open but squat pants. Time for dinner, Bye!
I'm really tired right now because of my interesting experience last night in the "soft" sleeper train. Caitlyn, Catherine,Lizzie, and I barely fit in our room. We also had a lot of trouble sleeping because the train would randomly shake violently during the night and we thought we were going to die. Although we were pretty miserable because our backs hurt due to the really hard beds, we thought our situation was hilarious and definitely something we will never forget. Today we visited the first buddhist temple and families came up to us with their babies to take picture with us, so we got a taste of what it's like to be famous (it's weird). Lizzie and I are having fun waving to people from the bus, but people in Beijing waved back as oppsed to the people in Luoyang; we will keep trying though! I'm having a great time and I love China more than I could have ever imagined.
We had a really tiring day today! All of us got tolearn some kind of kung fu AND we visited the Shaolin Temple. The Kung Fu made everyone really tired, but it was really awesome. Sometimes it was kind of awkward because there were random people standing around watching and taking pictures... I'm pretty sure some people were half asleep on the ten minute ride to the temple after. We got to eat lunch after so YAY we were alive again. :D. After lunch I tried to climb one of those ninja kung fu stick thingys but i got scared (im not sure if you know what I'm talking about). We got to watch a really cool kung fu show. One of the people in the show got a needle through a sheet of glass (I have no idea how that happened!) and all the kung fuers were AMAZING! Some of them were so young ^.^ I wish I could do all those flippy kicky thingys ): We got to tour the temple after and a lot of us were asked to take pictures....except me because Im asian and everyone thinks ima tour guide or a translator or something...
By the way...THIS SCREEN IS CRAZY.. I DONT KNOW WHAT I JUST TYPED...so sorry about any typing problems
Today is the seventh day of our adventure to China and I think that it is safe to say that this has been one of the most memorable trips of my life. Everything here is very foreign to anything I have ever experienced. By now everyone has adjusted to the culutre shock and getting used to not being at home. Everyone is okay with eating Chinese food for every meal, eating with chopsticks, not drinking the tap water, and using Eastern bathrooms. Even though we have had to adjust to aspects of China that might have origiinally seemd scary or something we would never do, our trip would not be the same without them. Chin has been amazing so far; from the temples to the people,from the good to the strange, it has all been completely worth it. Today we took a nice long bus ride to learn Kung Fu with students who had just graduated. It was so much fun to learn, despite the language barrier, and the fact that none of us were very good. We got to experience what so many children n China learn to do everyday and how much dedication it takes. After our Kung Fu lesson we went to the Shaolin Temple for lunch, a Kung Fu show, and a tour. The temple was interesting to learn about as always and the Kung Fu show was thrilling. Seeing what we learnd earlier in the day displayed on stage in front of us tied the day together. After the show we walked around the temple and looked at the pagodas which were beautiful. There was a nice long bus ride home before dinner at our hotel which we all desperately needed. This trip has taken a lot out of us but has been worth every second of "OMG I want to fall asleep right now." Can't wait to see what other adventures we go on during our time left in China.
"Typing at the computer...sitting in silence..." [quote from Jonathan's 'rap' as we speak] This blog post has taken way too long to write because Jonathan has been singing random songs the entire time and apparently he is trying to write his own now. It's going to be a long 4 days...just kidding = ] I know we are all secretly going to miss everyone who has been a part of this trip. Hope all is well at home. ~Erin
Hey everyone! We are nearing the end of our China trip and like Erin said this has been one of the most memorable trips of my life. Although everything was new in the beginning (it being my first time to a new continent) I think that I have grown accustomed to all of the different things in China, mostly the daunting squatty potty and all the locals coming up to you for a picture. I am having a great time in China and I will always remember this last week and a half.
Yesterday we had a really tiring day starting out with a 6:30 breakfast! We then headed to the train station for a bullet train ride to Xi'an where we met April and were reunited with John. After an hour to wash up and get situated in our new rooms we had lunch at a local restaurant where had got a chance to experience the local dishes in Xi'an, personally one of the best restuarants of the trip. We then headed to the Xi'an City Wall where some people walked the wall and others rode bikes, Erin and Daphne W. surprised us all with their bike riding skills it being their first time on a bike. We then headed to the Bell Tower where we got an amaxing view of the city! We then proceeded to the dumpling restaurant where we learned to make dumplings like pros! We then had a dinner which consisted of about 12 courses of dumplings. When we all thought the day was over, some of us headed to get massages, who knew that in China thety massage your butt and stomach! Veronika. Lindsey, and I all had our first massages and I doubt that it will be our last. It was one of the most tiring and personally one of my favorite days on our China adventure! See everyone soon when we return to CALIFORNIA!!
Today I'm posting for yesterday because at the end of the day we were all exhausted by the days travels and exerts.
The day started off bright and early, with a 6:30am breakfast. Despite several delays we eventually got off to the trainstation where we said goodbye to our new friends James and Linda. All 20 of us boarded the rapid-transit train in 2 minutes while battling for spaces with another (Russian) tourgroup. However, once on board the trip went smoothly, giving us a nice opportunity to view the country side which has been somewhat degraded by agriculture and mining.
Then, we met our new guide, April, who is perhaps one of the most adorable people on Earth. We checked into our hotel whose entrance was in an alley, ate lunch, and got ready to tour.
Our first stop was the city wall. It is huge, and much more massive than what we saw of the great wall. We rented bikes to ride around the wall. We had some first time bike riders who faced the challenge admirably! It was a really cool experience and I learned to ride my bike without holding the handlebars! Although, I need to say this to please the parents, every single one of us wore helmets.
After that we went to the city wall, which wa pretty cool. We walked through some sub-surface walkways with a bunch of interesting ads. The Bell Tower is the center of the city of Xi'an, so on each of the four sides (North, East, South, West) we could see the central streets extend for what seemed like forever. On our way back to our bus we had our first encounter with pick pocketing (RIP Caitlyn's Camera).
Then, we went to a restaurant where we learned how to make dumplings. We sported some very sylish aprons and hats reminiscent of the french style. Those dumplings are hard to make and I've earned hightened respect for everyone who can make a non-deformed dumpling. After cooking, we had a meal which consisted of . . . dumplings! There were at least 10 courses of dumplings which included Shark fin, fesh-water turtle, pickles and many many more.
After dinner we went to get massages at a local palce. The environment was very strange, people were continuously talking, the lights were on and we were in a room with three other people (our friends). Although, I did leave the massage feeling quite refreshed.
Finally, we went back to the hotel and hit the hay. It was a long day (when are they not?), and I slept very, very well.
1. Asian babies are SO CUTE!
2. It rained.
3. Terra-cotta warriors in person is unbelievable.
Mother Earth decided to give us some rain today which was pretty awsome...to be able to see China through a rainy day. Umbrellas and hoods ready we took on another day full of unbelievable experiences.
First stop, Terra-cotta warrior making. At first it seem pretty simple to make a mini warrior but it turns out its harder than it looks! We paired up and added local clay to the models and then waited for the clay to harden a bit so we could take them out of the model. After a few minutes we each took out our warriors which turned out to look a lot different from the perfesionals...suprise suprise. Although our warriors had a few holes and extra clay everyone seemed to enjoy the outcome. After we finished the mini tour of the world of making Terra-cotta warrior replicas we made our way to the exit, which ofcourse was after about 7 different gift shops. Sellers desperate to sell and a few Westridge girls ready to bargain.
Next we took our anxious hearts to the Terrra-cotta Warrior Museum. Walking in and seeing the exact same image we have all seen a billion times in school, movies, books was absolutely surreal. After a wonderful presentation about the Terra-cotta warriors by Clare (without her notes might I add) we roamed the different pits filled with soldiers and horses. Overwhelmed by the amazing life sized, detailed warriors we were all ready for lunch. Lunch was delicious...as usual.
After lunch we drove to the Starfish Children's Foster Home. Everyone was really excited and anxious to give their love to the babies and toddlers. I knew 52 babies was a lot and it was going to be difficult but I had no idea how much work it really was until I walked in an saw about 6 nannies and 26 babies all in a little apartment. I expected to be really rough when the founder of the foste home, Amanda de Lange, said the "yuckiest" case was a baby boy who was born with its bladder exposed, so from his belly button to his waist there was a hole that exposed this bladder. Although I was a little frightened by this I tried to go in completely open minded and willing. "My" baby, as everyone called the baby they were paired with, was Antonia and she was SUPER ADORABLE (as all asian babies are, but mine was extra cute!). When I got there she was drinking a bottle and she was really shy. We played a little game of hide and seek in the kitchen while she started to warm up to me. After a couple of minutes she went to the little car and finally she let me pick her up and help her get on the car. I was so excited the first time I made her laugh because I was afraid she would be too shy. Unfortunately Antonia and many other babies had to take baths but there were plenty of babies to play with. While Antonia was bathing I sat down to play with this cute little baby boy that was playing by himself. I played with him for about an hour while Antonia was bathing and eating some solid food. After about an hour of playing with this boy I realized that I didn't know his name so I asked one of the nannies and she said Thomas. I was so suprised and excited that I was able to make Thomas giggle and smile and have fun even though he had "the yuckiest" (as Amanda said) case. Having his bladder exposed didn't stop him from having fun like all the other kids which was really reassuring. After Antonia finished eating I played with her (and Thomas off and on) for the rest of the time. While we were all getting ready to go and saying bye to "our" babies I noted that there was a piece of paper taped to the front door that said Antonia, mom (and a picture of a woman), dad (and a picture of a man), brothers (and a picture of two young boys), and Canada. I quickly asked Jonathan if he knew if that was "my" Antonia and he asked Amanda and she said that "my" Antonia was getting adopted. It was SO EXCITING to hear that Antonia was being adopted...my face got hot and I got the chill I was so excited! Sadly we had to leave and I said bye to Antonia and Thomas. It was a really cool experience to give our love to the babies at the foster home! As many Westridge girls says (and I totally agree)...asian babies are the cutest ever!
After a tiring yet super fun 3 hours of playing with babies we went back to the hotel to eat dinner. Dinner was different than usual because a bunch of raw food was layed out and we each had our own mini pots with fire and we all added whatever we wanted into our soap. It was fun! The table I sat at had almost 3 plates of bread rolls with condense milk..so yummy! And we also had watermelon with condense milk which Ari discovered and is also really good! Meal times are always really fun because we all make jokes and laugh and bond...plus food is always good.
Now some of us end the day by visiting the internet cafe which is filled with people. Gamers and smokers are the majority of the people who come here. The guy next to me smokes. Who knew internet cafes could also be part of the many experiences in China!
Good night, don't let the bed bugs bite!
p.s. HI DAVID! i miss you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK!!
"Why is the sky broken?" -April, our tour guide, retelling the story of one of Xian's rainiest seasons
IN Xian, today. Drizzled really, but who cares. IT WAS AWESOME! Atleast for rain-lovers like myself.
Anyways, so today we did three things, not necessarily in this order: See the magnificent terra-cotta warriors, MAKE our own miniature statues, and go to a foster care home with app. 50-something babies all waiting to be cooed and awed over by teenage girls.
Our own miniature warrior creation were made in a greenhouse-type building, where we picked out a split rock carved out inside to shape a warrior, handed two pieces of clay, and molded each into a side of the carved rock. While some kind of...did not stick to the other side to make a warrior with a hollow body, we were able to wrestle them into something resembling a human figure. After that it was off to the terra-cottas.
The rain made the day foggy and very very cold, especially on the go-cart ride to the terracota warrior museum, but it was worth it. We saw an 18 minute film on the history of the warriors in a surround-screen room, if that makes any sense, and then headed off to see 4 of the pits housing the warriors. IT WAS AMAZING. Some of them weren't escavated yet, as we must leave some for future generations of archaelogists, AND because the color had completely worn off the ones already dug out (You would never have imagined those brown terracottas had actually been painted colors of the rainbow).
After that, we headed off to a near restaurant (very hungry after all the walking) and ate a yummy lunch. Lastly we headed off to a foster care home on the outskirts of Xian, in a new residential neighborhood. We were divided into two groups (there were two apartments housing them). There we met the little kiddos.
THE BABIES/TODDLERS. WERE. ADORABLE.
You wouldn't believe how hard it was to let go of them after three hours of spending time with them. Some girls like Veronica and Giselle held their babies (we were assigned a baby, but you didn't have to stick strictly with them all the time) practically the whole time, and they had a hard time letting go at the end. That was the hardest part. When everyone was leaving, we didn't know where to place the babies or what to do. I saw one baby lying on a baby rocker, holding his arms out, just staring at me. It was so heartbreaking.
BUT luckily the foster care has a great adoption rate, and I know several of the babies/toddlers were already set for adoption.
The thing is, if anyone wants to adopt a baby from China:
1. You cannot be single
2. Must not be overweight.
3. Must have over 80,000 in assets saved.
YAH, kinda way out there, but okay. AND, here's a dispeller to a very common rumor among abandoned babies.
More boys are in foster care/orphanages than girls. Why? Because girls are usually (cruel as it is) aborted before they are ever born, with the whole male as heir/stronger thing. When boys are born with illnesses or other "weak" causes, they are left to fend for themselves.
Mkay, so last thing, we had a hotpot-style dinner at La Pinata, the restaurant in the second floor of our hotel. It was, needless to say, a very new experience for most of us. The food to be cooked in the boiling water ranged from egg and noodles to lettuce and tofu. The best part though, was the sweet bread dipped into condensed milk. Ohmigod, that was delicious.
So, we must pack today because tomorrow we fly back on a (small) plane back to Beijing, for one last day there for shopping and whatnot before heading back to dear ol' California.
We started the day off in Xi'an with a relatively late start (breakfast at 8:15!). After 30 minutes of gorging ourselves with food (maybe that was just my table), we were off the Muslim quarter of the city. I was shocked to learn that Xi'an had a Muslim population of around 60,000 and even more startled to learn the Muslim community ran such a grand mosque. Male worshippers (local or foriegn) are able to pray facing Mecca five times a day and visitors are allowed to purchase a ticket to look around. The grandeur of the Mosque was amplified by the fact that it had been so well maintained during the 2000 years (if my memory serves me correctly) since its cunstruction began. After a brief, but informative tour of the Mosque, the group went to explore the historic shopping opportunities that the Muslim Quarter has to offer. However, April, Lindsey, Catherine and I headed of to the local police station to file a police report for my pickpocketed camera (not to worry, we got our fair share of shopping in later). My experinece at the Xi'an police station was one that will never be forgotten. We attempted to file a report last night, but the officer who took our original call was not working. Naturally, that officer decided not to take any official notes of our phone conversation and we were therefore told we could not be helped last night. Thus, after a valiant effort, we returned this morning to find "our" police officer. After arriving we were sent to the mystical second floor, a place where foriegners are rarely sent (this was evident by the many quizical looks we received waiting in the hall). After April ran up and down the stairs several times, a Chinese police man finally arrived and sent us into his office. There, I explained what happened and my statement (which I later signed) was translated into Chinese. The most fascinating part of the experience was how unofficial the report looked. As Arielle said, it looked like a homework assignment for Chinese class. Also, the officer begrudgingly refused to offer his name on the report and it was a struggle for us to even get the phone number and address of the station. So, after the police station Catherine and I went shopping! Then, the entire group met at the closest McDonald's (ahhh a touch of America). We enjoyed lunch and even joked with the waitress about ordering some dog. We headed to the airport and flew back to Beijing and are now back at the first hotel we stayed in. I am writing this post after jumping right off the bus and as we are off to dinner at a yet to be determined restaurant. Being at the tail, tail end of our trip, I am happy to say that it has been a wonderful, exciting and valuable experience. New friendships were forged and everyone learned something new about themselves. Tomorrow we're headed home to the States and I know our ride to the airport will be bittersweet for all.
See you soon,
Today was our last full day in China. We arrived back in Beijing from Xian about an hour ago and made it to our hotel about 5 minutes ago (Chong Wen Men Hotel again!). In Xian this morning we visited the Muslim Quarter before making our way to the airport for our flight to Beijing. There, we visited 'The Great Xian Mosque' and it was absolutely gorgeous! Outside was a bazaar that covered a complex of alleyways but inside was a peacefull garden and beautifully adorned and carved buildings. In a way, I felt that the complex of and the structures inside the Mosque were more beautiful and breathtaking than all of the other temples and architecturally amazing places we've visted earlier in the trip. I, who takes alot of pictures anyway and loved the Forbidden City and the Yonge Lama Temple and etc., took over 100 photos today of the Mosque, a place that probably encompasses less space than one of the courtyards in the gigantic Forbidden City. I loved it there; I'm waxing lyrical about it!
Anyways, as I said, we just got back to Beijing, our flight from Xian leaving at about 4:15. We LEAVE FOR L.A. AND HOME TOMORROW (SORRY ABOUT THE CAPSLOCK I'M OUT OF TIME AND THE COMPUTER'S ACTING UP). I SUPPORSE I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT GOING HOME. I KNOW SOME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MAKING LISTS ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING LANDING :) BUT I THINK EVERYBODY'S REALLY ENJOYED THE EXPERIENCE HER E IN CHINA. FOR MYSELF, I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING HOME IN MY OWN (SOFT!) BED AND LIVING AGAIN IN A FAMILIAR WORLD. HOWEVER, I'VE HAD A REALLY REALLY REALLY AMAZING TIME IN CHINA. HERE, I REALIZED THAT I TAKE A LOT OF THINGS FOR GRANTED AT HOME. FOR EXAMPLE, AN ENTIRE STYLE OF TOILET AS WELL AS THE "SAFETY" OF TAP WATER :) FOR ALL THAT, THIS HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE AND I'VE REALLY ENJOYED 'BREATHING' THIS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CULTURE. :)
Even though the trip is over, this blog and the many memories will live on forever!
To view a mass quantity of photos from our recent China trip (including from the orphanage), please refer to the following page: