Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Down

One of my lifetime goals is to visit all seven man made wonders of the world. I am happy to report that I only have 4 more wonders to go. Here is the official list and the sites in red are where I have visited. 









The opportunity to get to see The Great Wall of China was one of the reasons I decided to come to China and it did not disappoint in any way. Out of the three man made wonders of the world I have seen, The Great Wall is by far my favorite! Was it because of its beauty? Was it because of its vast length, size and location? Was it because I got to toboggan down from it? Was it because the weather was amazing? I would have to say that it was because of all of those things.  As with many things I have seen in China, it completely blows my mind. I do not understand how it was possibly built. I cannot believe that the wall is over 5,500 miles long. We traveled about 2 hours outside of Bejing to go to a section of the wall that is up in the mountains a bit more. It was beautiful. I stood at one point and could see sections of the wall three mountains away. The whole time we were there, I could not believe what I was seeing. We walked along the wall for a little ways and it was very hard work. I know you are wondering if we really did do Kung Fu on The Great Wall of China and the answer to that quandary is always yes. On the return trip from The Great Wall, we got on an extremely full bus and stood in the isles for the 2 hour ride home. It was worth it to be sure.

Who wants to go with me to my next man made wonder of the world? I am up for any and all of them. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Love Bejing More Then Ever!

I did not know was crazy was until I experienced the last week of my life but China consistently and frequently redefines many things that I thought I knew and understood. Bejing was wonderful and none of us wanted to leave. I will break down a basic schedule. I will post more on each site later but that is a start.

Tuesday September 21rst- Went to school, and then took a 4 hour bus ride that was suppose to be 2 hours to Guangzhou where we would catch our train to Bejing. Then we barely caught our train to Bejing. 
Wednesday September 22nd- We chilled on the train in the morning and then finally got off of our 21 hour train ride in Bejing sometime in the afternoon. We checked out Tiananmen Square and stuff downtown that night. It was the Mid Autumn Festival so we thought there might be festivities going on but there turned out to be no festivities just thousands of people.
Thursday September 23rd- We went all around Bejing and dominating the extremely crowded metro like ninja's. We went to The Forbidden City, different sweet places around Bejing, various temples, the Olympic Stadium "The Birds Nest", and went shopping at The Pearl Market. We were extremely excited but it was a great day. 
Friday September 24th- THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!!!! We went to a section of the wall that was about 2 hours away so we took various metro's and buses to get there. It is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was and am still in awe. We took a ski lift up to the wall and then tobogganed down. It was great. The two hour bus ride back in which we were standing the whole time amongst a bus chalk full of Asians was not quite as amazing as The Great Wall but that is not to say that it was not a good experience. We then went back to The Pearl Market because I had dreams of all the pearls that I saw there and I had to have more. China is so cheap and I cannot help myself. 
Saturday September 25th- We went to The Silk Market in the morning and then caught a train to head home in the evening. 
Sunday September 26th- Chilled on the train all day then, once we finally got back to Guangzhou after another 21 our train ride, caught a 2 hour bus ride home. It was extremely strange to return home from a big trip to somewhere other than my actual home. I do love my Chinese Home though and was very glad to see it. 
Monday September 27th- We taught at school during the day and then took off, in our extremely beautiful lime green polo's, back to Guangzhou to go see a huge performance in celebration of the International Tourism Day that I did not know existed. It was incredible. I have never seen anything like that performance before. We got back from Guanzhou that night at about 12:30 AM. 

Dont worry, there are no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In 3 days we are going on another vacation and this time we are going for 10 days to Guilin and Yangshuo. I am extremely excited. There is no time for resting in China. There are far too many Asians to meet, things to see and food to try. Maybe I will slow down when I get back to the U.S. We shall see.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello Malaysian Food

Making friends is not always the easiest thing in the world for me to do but I have found the answer to my difficulties in that regard. All I have to do is live in a foreign country that does not speak my native language. I have never found it easier to make friends. If I meet someone who speaks English, we are instantly friends because we can speak to each other. It is amazing how grateful I am for communication when it is not readily accessible to me at all times.

 We met Joy on our first day here in Zhongshan. She is from the Philippines living here with her mom. She also teaches English and claims that her Mandarin is not very good but I think I disagree with that. I do not think she has a ton of friends so she likes to hang out with us from time to time. She lives right next to us and Wendy and I run into her all the time on buses and around the apartment. She asked us if we wanted to go shopping with her and grab some lunch sometime and we were delighted to agree. So last Saturday we went out on the town with Joy and had some of the best food I have ever had. She took us to a Malaysian food place that was fabulous. Joy ordered Squid Curry as an appetizer and it wasnt completely terrible but I liked the Chicken and Potato Curry that I ordered much better. Wendy had Pineapple Fried Rice that was served inside an actual pineapple. I think Wendy could have died of happiness right there in that restaurant. The kitchen was right in the middle of the restaurant and there was about 10 different cooks in a line all wearing brightly colored do-rags just waiting to cook their portion of your meal. It was awesome. At lunch, we also met a teacher from Scotland and a younger American girl that is here teaching. Again, it is great to get to know people you can talk to so hopefully we will be seeing them again too. They are going on vacation the same places we are so I expect to see them around. The more I see of our city, the more I like it. It is such a beautiful place. 

At this time tomorrow I will, hopefully, be on a train headed to Bejing! 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kung Fu Lessons Revisited

We started Kung Fu lessons a month ago but, because of Karaoke last week, we just had our third lesson this last week. It is time for an update. I am going to go ahead and answer questions that I know you have before you even have to ask them. 

You have been in Kung Fu lessons for three weeks now, are you a Kung Fu Master yet? No. I am not a master yet but I am definitely less sore than I was in week 1 and week 2. I am not sure if that is because this last week I only participated in half the lesson because I was laughing most of the time or if it because I am getting better. We will go with the latter. 

Are you going to have to do a Kung Fu show at the end of the year in front of all the people you work with? Unfortunately, yes. Apparently the principle has a big party planned and us, and our Kung Fu, will be part of the entertainment. Spring does not think that one time a week is enough time to get us ready so we are going to start going to lessons of Saturday as well to get us ready. 

Are you planning on doing Kung Fu on The Great Wall of China? Yes! It is going to be awesome. That is all. 

What do you do in Kung Fu? We usually start by stretching. Due to a genetic anomaly I am extremely flexible in some ways and not at all flexible in others. When Spring saw this, he became determined that I was faking and that I can actually do the splits. If I could do the splits, I would not pretend I couldnt I assure you. Anyway, he pushed me, literally, until I thought I would split in half. Maybe it is different here in China, but I was under the impression that when a person screams it means to stop what you are doing to them not to push harder. Maybe I should try laughing next time. Dont worry though, I will conquer my inflexibility! We then learn some Kung Fu moves for show. Spring then teaches us some fighting Kung Fu moves. This usually just means that one or more of us end up on the ground. Kung Fu is always a good time. We have a little too much fun for Spring. He always says, "Kung Fu bu kaixing (Kung Fu no happy)" 

Is Spring infatuated with Wendy? To Wendy's dismay, I am afraid that the answer to this question is yes. To my dismay, the fact that Spring loves Wendy means that I have to work harder than the others because I am always partners with Wendy and Spring never leaves her side. For example, we all had to do 50 sit ups but because Spring never left Wendy's or my side he decided our sit ups were not good enough and we had to do another 50 while the others just sat there. I suppose I should be grateful. I wasn't at the time though. Spring made Wendy dance in front of us all which she hated. She also would constantly whisper things to his buddy Brandon and then they would both stare at Wendy. I think it is rather funny, particularly because they have matchy matchy headbands, but Wendy has determined that she would rather have an old man teach us. She is a good sport though, as seen in the photo's. 

That is all I have to say about Kung Fu for now. In two days we are going to Bejing! I could not be any more excited. We are going for 4 days and then we come back, teach for 4 days and have another 10 day vacation. We are going to go to Guilin for the long one. It is going to be a crazy several weeks but bring it on! I will update the blog a great deal when I get back!!! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Decisions Decisions...

I have been in China for 6 weeks now! To celebrate, we are going to eat American food at an awesome Pizza place down the street. We love eating there but we try to save it for special occasions. We definitely count our 6 week anniversary of our arrival in China a special occasion. We have very big plans for our 8 week anniversary that may or may not have a Harry Potter theme and involve no bake cookies. It has been a fantastic 6 weeks! The hardest and the best in my recollection. 

The pictures were taken at a park in the City I live in. We just discovered it and it is one of the coolest parks I have ever seen. I live in such a beautiful place. I have decided, with the help of some extremely wise people within my acquaintance, to go to a University in the Spring and major in English. The only problem at this point is that I do not know whether to go to ASU or NAU. It is a difficult decision but it will be made soon and from China. That much I do know. I am very excited to go to school again. This is an awesome break but it will be nice to get back into the swing of things.

I hope the next 6 weeks in China will be as awesome as the first 6 weeks were. I have a feeling that they will be pretty great because we travel to Bejing in a week and 4 days after we get back from Bejing we are going to Guilin for 9 days. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Friday was Teachers day in China which was awesome! A little boy gave us some Moon Cakes, which happen to be disgusting, and we also were given hearts, chocolate, and a weird felt rose. Our Native Coordinators, Tiny and Candice, wanted to take us out to do something special to celebrate as well so they took us to Karaoke. We had to skip Kung Fu lessons because Tina, Candice, and Fanny all wanted to go during the buy 2 hours get 2 free special. So, just to make sure we are on the same page, we did indeed go to 4 hours of Karaoke with 3 Asian women.

Things I discovered about myself, China, and the entire Universe during Karaoke...

1. I know every single word of "Burn" by Usher. This is something I did not know about myself. I am not a fan of Usher. I am not a fan of the song. I just happen to know it all. I have no idea how. This excites me because I knew a pop song better than the 6 other pop loving girls I was with and depresses me greatly because I knew a pop song better than the 6 other pop loving girls I was with. However, I was encouraged by the fact that I didnt know any of the other backstreet boys, N Sync, and Brittney Spears songs they sang. 

2. Every song that was in Chinese has random English words just thrown in every few sentences. I have no idea why every single song needs to throw in English words but they definitely do. Tina, Candice and Fanny would sometimes sing Chinese songs that were in English. My favorite song they sang had a chorus that went something like this, "I'm a big big girl in a big big world and its no big big thing if you leave. But I do do feel that I do do will miss you much, miss you much." Dont worry everyone, I will find out the artist so you can download this gem of a song soon. 

3. Most of the English songs they did not have permission to be using so they could not use the original version or the original music video. An example of this would be the fact that the "Do Re Me" music video were a bunch of Asians dressed up dancing on a hill. They would always use extremely random river scenes or historic sights of China for the background of all the English songs. Lets just say that we got extremely sick of those video's by the end. The Asian music video's were also weird but extremely modest and cutesy. 

4. Four hours and the word Karaoke should never even be mentioned in the same sentence. Let us just say that the experience was tolerable and even enjoyable for the first 2 hours but after that it was rather excruciatingly painful. I am not sure if I have ever been happier to leave a place. 

5. Chinese women love High School Musical and Taylor Swift. Candice, Tina and Fanny were so excited to sing High School Musical and Taylor Swift. It was hilarious. Believe me, High school Musical music is much better when it is sung by Asians. Fanny also rocked singing "My Heart Will Go On." I am not sure if I will be able to listen to any song I heard that night the same.
There you have it, that is my experience with Chinese Karaoke. It was a great experience and it was also great to see it end. Sorry the pictures aren't great. The room was really dark. 

Just Another Day at the Kindergarten

As previously mentioned, Wendy and I worked with the little 2 year olds this week. It was frustrating but also awesome. We were told that they did not have English names so we named them all. I was just getting used to the names that we made up for them when, come to find out, they really have had English names all along. So we now have to call them by the names their parents gave them (rather frustrating, I know). I am so confused. They also have probably never heard their English names before so trying to get their attention is often a completely fruitless venture. On Friday, we were teaching Martin to say his name and he kept yelling, "My name is MARTIN MARTIN MARTIN!" over and over again. It was awfully cute. We do not get to work with the 2 year olds until we get back from Bejing for another several weeks. I am excited to see their improvement. 

Pictures: 1. Davis who is, in actually, named Martin. I can never remember what his actual name is. 2. Max who's name is awaiting official approval from his parents. 3. Benny had a bit of an accident and was being whisked away to get cleaned up. Good thing that little puddle was there for the other kids to play around for the rest of the time we were at school that day. I even offered to clean it up but apparently they just wanted it to sit there. Chinese hygiene is completely beyond me. Benny happens to be the most beautiful adorable little Asian I have ever seen. The Chinese teachers say this is because he looks foreign. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


This week, Wendy and I have been working with the brand new students at Bond English Preschool and Elementary that are two years old. It is definitely babysitting and we have no idea why we are there because the kids never stop crying and we never teach any English possibly because they barely know Mandarin. They are extremely cute though and the smallest improvements seem like gigantic achievements. For example, today, Max (that is not actually his name but he doesn't have an English name so we had to name him something) sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" with us today. It was really incredible. He may or may not have cried for the rest of the two hours we were there but he sang for a minute dang it! Also today, Sparky, our favorite and only bus driver, was taking apart the computer to fix it. One little boy pulled up a chair to join him and see what he was doing. Then another little boy pulled up a chair to sit right next to him. Soon, there were four little Asians and Sparky checking out the computer and fixing it. We have a bunch of future engineers on our hands I am afraid. We got pictures of the whole thing. When we showed Sparky the pictures he said, "So many children!" 

My other favorite part of the day was the family pictures that I discovered on the wall. I have love/ hate relationship with these pictures. I love them because they are so funny. I hate them because all the little kids do in go and stare at their parents and say, "Mama! Baba!" I did want to share some of the pictures with you though. They are awesome! I can probably find some of those sweat ear muffs here if anyone is interested in recreating that first photo.

I have been in China 5 weeks today! 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Welcome Party

All Chinese schools started on September 1rst so, although we came a month early to teach at a summer camp, school officially started last Wednesday. We are teaching brand new kids and we are also teaching with new Chinese teachers. On Wednesday, they had a welcome party for us. It was one of the funnest evenings I have ever had. We ate dinner and none of the American teachers could sit by each other. There were seven of us and then about twenty-five Chinese women in their twenties. At dinner we had a true Chinese/ American meal. We had corn, cantaloupe, broccoli, hot dogs, chicken wings, chicken feet, fried noodles and spaghetti. We sat at a really long table and had to learn all the names of the food in either English or Mandarin (depending on our native language of course). I actually dared to try a chicken foot. I only took one bite and that was enough for me. I was lucky enough to get to sit right next to the chicken feet the whole time and did end up finding a chicken head as well. I did however eat a great deal of Michael's delicious spaghetti. 

We had to introduce ourselves in Mandarin and the Chinese teachers introduced themselves in English. The goal was to make our introduction memorable. I only said, "Hello, my name is Tessa." Somehow, I do not feel like I accomplished that goal. Some of the Chinese teachers sang and danced to help us remember their names and it worked. One girl said, "You like Cherry, you like me. You like me, you like Cherry. My name is Cherry." One of my favorites went like this, "I like chicken leg, foot, skin, breast, wing but not chicken bone. My name is Apple!" We all talked and laughed all through dinner and then we went upstairs and played games. 

At one point, all the Chinese teachers were given one of our names and they had to find their partner. Basically what happened is that on the whistle 25 Asian women were running at us as fast as they could. It was rather terrifying I must admit. We also played a game where they blind folded us, put a tray with everything that was at dinner in front of us and made us say what it was in Mandarin or English. It was hilarious. It was a great night. We got to know the women we work with everyday which is nice because it is difficult to get to know them because of the language barrier. I hope they are more comfortable around us as well.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

1 Month

It is officially official. I have been in China for 1 month! In some ways it has flown by and in other ways I feel like I have been here for much longer. I think that the time will really start to fly now. In 2 weeks we get to go to Bejing. We will be back for 2 days at school and we have another 10 day vacation. It is awesome. 

Some things I love about China so far...

1. Teaching- I love being able to be around little Asian 3 year olds all the time. I am not the greatest teacher but I don't mind at all. I do my best. The little kids love you no matter what you do and I am very grateful for that. 

2. Scooters as a family Vehicle- You may think a scooter is a very small vehicle for perhaps one or two people. That, turns out, to be untrue. I have seen 5 people and a tree one scooter. They hall refrigerators, building materials and anything else you can think of on scooters. It is quite impressive. Also, all the women wear a mens long sleeved button up shirt backwards when they drive a scooter. I suppose it is for protection but it is awesome no matter what the reason is

3. Michael- Michael is our cook and he makes delicious things for us to eat everyday. Honestly, they are sometimes very strange but we eat it anyway because Michael is so awesome. He makes the best spaghetti I have ever had and his fried Won Tons are to die for. He takes good care of us in the food department. He also teaches us cooking lessons which end up being more like demonstrations because there is no way for him to actually tell us how to many something. We love hanging out with Michael in the kitchen even if we cant communicate. 

4. Drinkable Yogurt- Do I love drinkable yogurt with all my heart and is there drinkable yogurt in China? Yes to both of those things. That is all. 

5. Kung Fu Lessons- Spring may stretch me in ways my body has never stretch before, kick me so hard I have bruises and make me so sore that I can barely move the next day, but we sure have fun! Spring is an excellent teacher and I have rarely had as much fun as I have during Kung Fu. We all wear matching sweat bands to Kung Fu and Spring requested one as well. Wendy asked him what color he wanted and he said that he wanted one just like hers. You better believe I will get many photo's of Spring and Wendy in their matching yellow headbands.

6. Starers- I am not a person who loves attention. However, we get alot of attention here whether I like it or not. I have made the executive decision, since I am the CEO of my own life, to have fun with all the attention. I think it is the funniest thing. It is amazing how excited people get when I say hello to them in Mandarin. We do decline offers to have coffee at the police station, but we have fun waving at people and smiling. I suppose that the people here are not used to seeing Americans and particularly not 7- 20 year old girls. 

7. Clothes- I am amazed at how good the clothes look on people here. It does not matter what they wear or how they wear it but it always looks good. For example, I would not look good in a dress that was cinched with elastic at the bottom so matter what size I was. Does a Chinese woman look good in a dress like this? Could I pull of wearing floral pants with a zebra stripped shirt? Absolutely not. Do older Chinese women wear two prints together all the time and pull it off? Amazingly, yes. I love the way people dress and I love all the clothes you can buy. It is good that I do not fit into most of them. 

8. Street signs, Store Signs, and Advertisements- I have no idea what the Chinese Characters mean so all the street signs just look like art to me. I also love that everything is lit up with multi colored lights at night. It is so beautiful. 

9. Trees- Is it any surprise that I like the trees here? No. I love tree's everywhere but there are some particularly awesome tree's here. A lot of times, you can see the tree roots above the ground which is awesome. There are some tree's outside out apartment that they grow the trunk to be woven together. It is sweet. I will take some photo's

10. Everything Else- I am often asked what my favorite part of China is and I never have an answer. I love all of it. I love all the bus rides, the smells, the crazy customs and everything else that is involved in living here. A wise sister one told me to love China because of it's faults not in spite of them and that is what I have tried to do. 

It has been a great month. One month down, three and a half more to go. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hello Shenzhen

It turns out that in the two days I was in Shenzhen I only got this picture. This picture was taken because I wanted a picture of me dressed up for church because I never look this nice. You may be thinking, "She does not look very nice." That is true, but I look very nice compared to what I usually look like. Humidity does wonders to my hair and when I say wonders, that is not a positive thing. This picture is at a place called "Sea World". We do not know why it is called that but we do know that it has food from all over the world and American places like Pizza Hut, Subway, TCBY, Duncan Doughnuts, Starbucks, and many other places. We went and ate there and it was delicious. Oh how I miss American food. Shenzhen is the third largest city in China and it borders Hong Kong. Awesome 

Also in Shenzhen, we went to a gigantic knockoff mall that is conveniently located at the bus, train, and metro station. We bought our bus ticket home, which was a struggle, and then went shopping for several hours. None of the girls I was with had ever bartered before so I got to show them how it was done. I forget that some of them have never left the U.S. before. I am not very good at it but I did rather well. There were 4 levels full of bags, clothes, shoes, electronics, fabric, jewelry, belts, and basically anything you could think of. I promised myself when I came over here that I would not buy any souvenirs or presents in the first month. I almost made it. I figured that I was close enough to my month mark so I did buy some awesome things. We then caught the bus home and we were so grateful to get to our Chinese Home. It was an excellent first vacation and we all plan on going to Shenzhen again before we leave.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buddhist Monastery

I know I keep going on and on about the Zhongshan tour we went on but we saw some incredible things and I can only post three pictures at a time so bare with me. Our last stop was at a Buddhist Monastery. This monastery was an incredibly beautiful place. We were all extremely tired and, if given the choice, probably would have decided not to go but I am glad we didnt have a choice. There were Buddhist Monks all over chanting and doing their rituals. They wore traditional orange robes and some of them were bald. The monks reminded me of The Last Air Bender. I am actually reminded of that movie all the time here. There were many extremely ornately decorated things everywhere. This is about the tenth Buddhist monastery/ temple I have been to and this one is by far my favorite. The differences in culture are so fascinating to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to be surrounded by a culture that is so different than mine. 

We started eating dinner at the other school today that is right by my house. It tasted a little like Dutch Oven Chicken and I loved it. I am hoping that dinner is always as good as it was tonight because if that is the case, my Chinese junk food consumption may go down exponentially. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This is the list of the top 3 things I miss from America...

1. Family
2. American Food
3. Craft Supplies

With this list in mind, you can imagine the happiness I felt when I found fabric and other items needed for crafting, in Shenzhen Then I experienced even more happiness when I recieved a package from home by way of my friend with pasta sauce packets, pudding packets, and pictures of my family! There was a great deal of happiness going on. The pasta sauce and fabric have already been put to good use. Thank you so much to everyone who made that package possible. I am forever in your debt. I made the headbands in the pictures with the fabric I bought. Zhongshan is feeling more and more like home. I think the craft supplies may be helping with that homey feel. It was so nice to get back to this place after being in a gigantic city for a few days. 

Another ILP group arrived in Zhongshan a few days ago and they live just down the street from us. There are two other groups in Zhongshan as well but they are located much farther away. I am so grateful to be in the group I am in but it will be nice to have some Americans around. We will eat dinner with the other group in Kaiyin everyday. That starts today and we are very excited about the fact that we have choices for dinner in Kaiyin.