Friday, June 11, 2010

Ni Hao, China!

It has officially been a ridiculously lazy week since I got back from China, and I have thoroughly been enjoying doing almost nothing since my friend C's wedding last weekend. J and I took advantage of being in Pennsylvania for the wedding and visited friends, and I got to the chance to go back and visit the kiddos where I student taught, and show them a bunch of pictures from China (and speak Chinese to them, which they went crazy for!). It was a great way to ease back into being in America.

China was incredible. I seriously could talk about my time there until I was blue in the face, because I have so many stories and memories. It's hard being back, because I was so touched and so immersed in a completely different culture and lifestyle for two weeks - but everyone back home was doing the same thing, nothing was so drastic for them. I feel like those two weeks were filled with so much growth and depth for me, but all the things I experienced were things that I couldn't understand unless I had been there. Even J doesn't really get it - he came with my parents to pick me up from the airport (with a massive balloon - seriously, massive), and after a half hour of me talking (which I do know is a bit excessive), he was already looking out of the window, completely bored and just not getting it. It's been a hard adjustment to have people just not really care as much as I thought they would!

My two weeks were split up - I spent 8 1/2 days in the city of Baoding, and the remaining time in Beijing. Both cities were amazing and so completely different.

Baoding was where I taught conversational English to college students. I actually taught two classes, three days a week, and on the off days we had lectures and speakers and games and skits (which is totally NOT my thing!).

For each day that we weren't teaching, the group I went with and students from the university traveled to different places together, including a botanical garden and the Great Wall of China. It was really cool to be able to experience those things with the students, because it helped relationships with them to really grow. It was kind of weird to be in this revered and authoritative position to people who were my age though!

It was also weird standing out EVERYWHERE we went because of our appearance. I was the only blonde haired girl on the trip, so I think I really, really stuck out. When we went into the city, people stopped and asked if they could take pictures with me and other member of our group - I don't know what they're going to do with these pictures, but that's okay!

I fell in love with China - with the culture, the people, the food... it was really hard for me to come home, especially as I began to gain a tiny bit of understanding with the language (I can order food, which is one of the most useful things you can learn to do, in my opinion), and I mastered the art of pointing at things that I wanted. Once we got to Beijing, I successfully traveled on the subway with just one other American and got to where we needed to be, and I mastered finding the mall near our hotel, going there, and ordering dinner for myself and a friend. Not bad for two weeks in China! :)

So now, since I have no one else to share it with, I'm going to bore you all senseless with picture and anecdotes of my trip to China. The good part about this is that I won't know when you stopped paying attention to it all ;)

This was in Baoding - I passed by this man daily, and every day he looked just as happy as in this picture. I thought he was absolutely precious.

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We went to a botanical garden one day, which was absolutely enormous. We got there at 9:30 a.m., and we didn't even see half the park, and left for lunch at 1:30 p.m. The park included a huge outdoor waterslide, a massive lake with paddleboats, fake panda statues, a bamboo hut that was made in the 14th century, and this amazing cave that was completely unlit - I held onto one of the students for dear life and just prayed that he wasn't going to fall!

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Upon almost leaving the park, we stopped for popsicles, which I found myself eating at almost every meal. I tried to convince myself that they were healthy because I couldn't read the nutritional information.

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On Thursday, after teaching classes for two days and being desperately in need of a break (especially due to one class that was really difficult), we went to the Great Wall of China. Even though the weather was awful (aka it was pouring all day), it was still amazing to actually be standing on the Wall that I had read about for so many years in history books. We went to the part of the Wall in Badaling, which apparently is the most tourist-y section of it, so it was really packed, especially with all the umbrellas! We hiked the wall for about 1 1/2 hours, and then hiked back down it for another hour. It was really amazing (but also ridiculously tiring!). I thought I was in pretty good shape, but the Wall totally kicked my ass, especially since there were portions with absolutely no stairs, just complete and total inclines!

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I can't even lie - I had the biggest crush on this boy and he had a crush on me too (don't tell J, it's our little secret!). He was one of my students in the "bad class," which really was just an unmotivated class. The first day my friend Courtney and I were teaching, at the break for this class, most the guys got up and left. This guy stayed behind, and we would shoot each other little smiles, and he would always stay after class to say goodbye to me. Soo cute! Courtney even picked up on it, and tried to use him to convince me to come back and teach in China next year full-time! (Please excuse me wearing no makeup!).

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When we left Baoding and headed to Beijing, the first thing we did as a group was head to Tienanmen Square. The most interesting thing about Tienanmen to me was the fact that the majority of Chinese people do not know that anything happened there. The government completely censored all aspects of the student protests and deaths - there was no media coverage of it, and to this day, if you Google it over in China, there will be no record of it. We were under strict instruction while we were at Baoding that we were not to mention the 3 T's - Tibet, Taiwan, and Tienanmen. It was just so crazy to me that this was such a huge event, and the people truly do not know that this huge thing happened there.

14th Century Temple at Tienanmen

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Shrine to Mao, where his body is on display (we didn't pay the money to go see it though).

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The heads of the trip made a rule that while we were staying at the college and around students who really looked up to us, they would rather us not drink or smoke hookah or anything, but as soon as we got to Beijing, all bets were off, and we were able to enjoy our first real American meal in over a week - pizza and yummy Chinese beer. True story, this was the greatest pizza I've ever had!

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The next day we traveled to the Summer Palace, which was absolutely beautiful. The colors were so vivid, and on the beams on this one walkway, there was a different scene painted. It was incredible! We also got to take a dragon boat ride across the lake, which was so peaceful and relaxing. I could have floated on that lake all day long!

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Just navigating the subway alone in Beijing - no big deal. ;)

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And finally, I was relieved that even in Beijing, they still knew how to make a delicious Skinny caramel macchiato, which went brilliantly with a double cheeseburger ;) I became VERY well acquainted with the barristas at Starbucks in Beijing!

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I missed you all - honestly! Now that the weddings, China, and my grad./welcome home party (which is tomorrow) has all come to a head, I'm hoping to do a LOT more blogging, and being a better blogging friend! You all do mean a lot to me - even though my lack of comments probably says otherwise!

Currently: Watching Law & Order SVU, texting my bff T who I just saw Sex & the City II with, stressing over what to wear to my party tomorrow and praying for no rain so I can have it at my house! :)

18 comments:

HiFashion said...

Wow. Sounds like an incredible trip. It must have been such a great experience. I've always wanted to visit the Great Wall!
And that guy is very very cute!

mckinney said...

好文推一個..................................................

la petite fashionista said...

sounds like an absolutely incredible trip! i love all the pictures and stories about your experiences. I guy I dated studied abroad in China twice and told me so many cool stories about living there.

I'd love to visit- it seems like I would be a totally different cultural experience. amazing!

Gracey said...

Seems like you had a lot of fun! Those are awesome pictures. And who knew you'd find amazing pizza in China haha :)

▲my• said...

What an amazing adventure! The photos are beautiful!
Haha I think I have a crush on that boy and I haven't even met him. Very cute.
I've wanted to visit China ever since the second grade, and no I want to even more!!!

Missed your blogging!

(oh, and I love law & order svu :D!)

Leia said...

Wow, it sounds like you had an absolutely amazing time!!!

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

Looks amazing! Wasn't the Badaling Great Wall incredible? I felt sort of overcome with emotion on it, haha. It was really really breathtaking in a way I wasn't expecting.

Also, your 'crush' is totally hot. ;)

Couture Carrie said...

What an amazing experience, darling A!
Thanks for sharing these wonderful pics!

xoxox,
CC

Keith said...

It sounds like such a fantastic trip. I've been to Europe, but never to any Asian countries. I love the photos. They were amazing. Thanks for sharing some about your trip with us.

Pop Champagne said...

oh woowww great pics! I love chinese beer btw haha! And yeah I'd imagine you stick out like a sore thumb! That's how my friend felt when I went to taiwan with her a while back and she's a burnette!

Kristin said...

Those amazing photos were certainly not boring!

Haven and Home said...

aw I wish I could go but I living through you!

Tracy-Girl @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

Oh my gosh, girl... these pictures are amazing. The architecture is priceless. My husband and I really want to do an adventure through Asia, and this just made me more excited. I love these pics, thank you so much for sharing!

kimvee said...

Hey Allison! Thanks for the sweet comments. It's good to hear from you again :) It looks like you had a wonderful trip to China, looks like fun! By the way, I saw pictures of you & your boyfriend in your other blog entry below. You two are sooo cute together! hehehe* I know I'm late saying this to you, but Happy One Year to you & your boyfriend :] Take care!

Iva said...

wow sounds and looks like such an amazing time! Thank you so much for sharing these incredible photos!!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Oh my goodness your pictures are amazing!!! What a wonderful trip! And the Great Wall - amazing!!!!

Leon Koh said...

Its nice surfing into your blog..

I was looking for a blog that tells of a adventure in china.. and I found yours.. can feel there is lots of exciting moments in your life

am going for more read on your blog


Leon Koh 许涵量
Your reader from SingaBore
my blog : http://hanleong.blogspot.com
A SingaBorean gay chap trying to make sense of life in the island city

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