Saturday, October 30, 2010


A while ago, we went to Guangzhou to performance of some sort. We still dont really have any clue why this performance was going on or why we were there but we do know that we managed to get our hands on about 25 leaf fans that they gave to everyone in the audience. After seeing these amazing fans I decided that Wendy and I needed to be leafy fairies for Halloween. We made that happen. The wings were made out of some hot glue and the amazing fans we procured. The skirts are just made out of tulle and elastic. I loved being a fairy and sincerely wish that I did not have to dress like a zombie for the gigantic Halloween party our schools is throwing for 1,000 people but at least I got to dress like a fairy once out of the four times we had to dress up for Halloween this week. 

Halloween Week

This last week has been crazy. It was Halloween week, of course, so everyday at school was a different dress up day for the kids and teachers. We had fun dressing up and the kids were even more adorable than usual. 

Monday- Pajama Day
Tuesday- Crazy Day
Wednesday- Backwards Day
Thursday- Black and Orange Day
Friday- Costume Day

I was in charge of arts and crafts this week for my lessons so I made Halloween crafts with them all week. Some lessons worked better than others but I made these headbands with the kids and I think they are so adorable. On Wednesday one of the ILP directors, Casey, came for a visit. He watched our teaching and saw how things went down at the school and at our apartment. His visit went very well and he reaffirmed to us that we are at the best school, have the best coordinators and live in the best apartments in all of the ILP programs in all of China. We are truly blessed because all of those things really are true. Casey talked about sports and politics with us and it was really nice to have someone else to talk to that can understand you completely and that knows what is going on. He even took us out to dinner and bought us ice cream. That is really all it takes to win us over. 

I am so glad this week is almost at an end. It has been crazy and tiring. Thank goodness tomorrow is November! Happy Halloween! 

Saturday, October 16, 2010


One day at school, a little girl did not have an English name so we were asked to name her. We were brainstorming possible options and Wendy decided that we should name her something that had the first initial of all our names in it. The best option she could come up with was J.A.G.T.H.A.W. You will be happy to hear that we named her Daisy but the name has stuck with us and that is what we call ourselves. It also turned out that J.A.G (Jessica, Alex, Gabby) lives in one apartment and T.H.A.W (Tessa, Heidi, Alyssa, Wendy) lives in the other. 

About a month ago, we were bored on a Sunday afternoon so we decided to take T.H.A.W roommate family photo's. We then made large prints of them and awkwardly hung them all over our house to make our visitors feel awkward and to make our place a bit more homey. The Eighties themed photo's we took, that will not be displayed on my blog, are hung up in our apartment as well and are sure to make all the people that visit us feel awkward. I spend most if not all of my time with these girls. 

In the pictures it goes Alyssa, Wendy, Me, Heidi. I love my roommates and they are some of the best people I know. I am extremely lucky to get to live with them here in China. You can blame them for my love of Hindi movies and other strange hobbies that I am going to come home with. It is not my fault. 

10 weeks

This week marked our 10 week anniversary of our arrival in China! Time is starting to go by fast. We had a Hindi themed party of course! No other theme would do. We are all a bit obsessed with Hindi films at the moment. Heidi, one of my roommates and my Head Teacher, is really into it and has us all hooked. We got noodles from our favorite Muslim noodle place, some friends of ours came and brought some Apple Chutney and we watched a fantastic Hindi film called Ghajini. It was rather comical to have 10 of us in our tiny living room watching a 3 hour movie, in which you have to read what they are saying, on a lap top. We have a TV but we dont know how to turn on the English subtitles because all the menu's are in Chinese so we are forced to watch all Hindi movies on our laptops. The party was a success and China is better than ever. I am constantly overwhelmed by how amazing this experience this is. I think the only thing harder than coming to live in China will be having to leave it. I try not to think about it. Thankfully, that is not for another 8 weeks. 

The picture is the only picture we took at the party. Everyone is doing their best to look like Sanjay, the main character in the movie. I am not sure if they were quite spot on. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yangshuo 11 Hostel

Since being in China, we have stayed in some rather shady hostels around the country. They have been perfectly satisfactory for our needs but not a place I would like to chill after a bad day if your picking up what I'm putting down. However, we LOVED our hostel in Yangshuo a great deal. It had a sweet big TV with all the movies on it that you could ever want. The rooms were relatively clean. You got to our hostel by winding around these little tiny alleyways off of the main road and I loved getting to do that. The people in charge of it were extremely helpful and friendly. Our favorite part was the roof. Our hostel had the highest viewpoint of the whole village and it was in a perfect location. We loved to just sit and look at the gorgeous scenery from the roof. The only problem with the hostel was the smell of our bathroom but I can even overlook that because it was so awesome. I miss that hostel and Yangshuo and probably always will.

The pictures were taken from the roof of our hostel. 

Moon Hill

For one of our glorious days in Yangshuo, we decided to go on a hike at Moon Hill. I was completely naive as to what Moon Hill was and what the hike was going to be like. I am glad that I did not know how hard that hike was going to be because I if I would have known how hard the hike was going to be I probably would not have gone.

We took a bus to the park and before we could even step off the bus we were surrounded by four elderly Asian women with big coolers full of stuff they wanted to sell us. We sat down on a bench for a while and they sat with us. They stayed with us the entire time we were in the park. At the beginning of the trail you can see a big mountain ahead of you that has a moon shaped hole in it. I thought to myself, "we surely cant be hiking up to that hole. That is too high up and far way." I was apparently mistaken because the trail consisted of 1000 stairs that went to that moon shaped hole. I was extremely brilliant and forgot my inhaler that would have been mighty handy in that situation. I may or may not have had to stop about 5 times on the way to the top but I made it! The Chinese women did not even break a sweat or breath heavily. They make that hike once or twice a day. Once at the hole, the Chinese women showed us a trail that had a sign in front of it that said, "NO ADMITTANCE." They pointed above us and then pointed to the trail. This shady little overgrown trail led us to the very top of the mountain. There were incredible views from there. I was not looking up at all the mountains around me. I was among the mountains that were surrounding me.

Dragon Bridge

I am not exactly what you would call an outdoors and exercise lover but it is amazing the physical activity you can get out of me when I am in exotic places around the world. In Yangshuo we went hiking around caves, bike riding and climbed a limestone formation that was 1,000 steps high. One of my very favorite days in Yangshuo was when we biked to Dragon Bridge that was 20 Kilometers away. It was an incredible bike ride. We were biking through some of the prettiest places I have ever seen. Since, for some reason, I mysteriously get really brave around water, I jumped off the 30 foot tall bride. That was an extremely terrifying experience but I am glad I did it. There was many Asians at the bottom cheering me on with their camera's at the ready. Everyone in our group jumped in except Jess who was completely at peace with herself and did not want to destroy that peace by self inducing terror. If I could go on a 24 mile bike ride like that everyday, then exercise would become a lot more appealing to me. Yangshuo is just so dang beautiful. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Li River

One of the highlights of the trip was our boat ride on the Li River. The river runs through Guilin and Yangshuo and many other little villages that are between them. We knew all along that we wanted to go by boat from Guilin to Yangshuo where we would spend the remainder of our vacation but we did not exactly know how that was going to happen. It was a holiday so everything was very expensive. Thankfully, we ran into a man who offered to take us for a pretty good deal. He kept introducing himself by different names so we are unsure if his name is Smiley or Jerry. Anyway, he convinced us to start our journey at 5 AM so that we could be on the river when the sun rose. The only problem with that plan is that we did not realize how cold it can get at 5 AM when you are on a river in a boat. It can get a medium to extra large amount of cold and none of us brought jackets or even decent pants. Smiley/ Jerry picked us up in a van and took us about 45 minutes along the river to where we got into the boat. It was the bumpiest and craziest ride I have ever been in. We then got into a bamboo boat that was actually made of enormous PVC pipe. Normally it would have bothered me that the hour and half boat ride that we paid for was only fifty minutes but I was so cold that if I would have been on that boat one minute longer I may have expired right there. The boat ride was gorgeous though. I loved weaving around the big limestone formations. After the boat ride we drove through some little towns and got to see where the picture on the 20 Yuan Bill Note is taken from. I am definitely glad that we went to Yangshuo by boat. In my opinion, there is no other way to go. 


Our vacation started out in Guilin. It was a nice place but not much to do. It is a rather big city and it was crawling with people while we were there but we managed to have a good time. I found muffins that where baked in pie crust and owl purses so I was perfectly content with our days there. One of my very favorite things about Guilin was the gigantic Sweet Potato I got from a street vendor that was baked by a fire. It was so delicious and I loved it a great deal. We also really enjoyed seeing the pagoda's of the sun and moon. They were really pretty. 

The Knight Bus

The last several weeks have been some of the craziest and greatest days of my two decade long life. Four days after returning home from Bejing, we traveled to Guilin and Yangshuo. I loved Yangshuo a great deal and will post many photo's. First, however, I must explain how we got to Guilin. I have been on many 12 hour long road trips but none of them were quite like this. We decided to take a sleeper bus because it was relatively close and the bus was inexpensive. The bus was quite remarkable. There were three rows with beds stacked two high. There were about 42 beds on that bus that were asian sized which means that I was about 6 inches too tall for them. On the way there, there were extremely sketchy blankets on all the beds that I had to use because of a tragic incident with my fruit juice that I will not go into detail about. Here are significant things about the bus and our bus ride. 

1. When entering the bus, you can see a very large "No Smoking" Sign that is ignored and apparently not enforced. It was a very smoky ride.
2. When entering the bus you must take off your shoes and put them into little baggies. I suppose the goal of this is to help keep things clean but I wonder where the cleanliness the are trying to retain is. I am not sure how much good removing your shoes does for the already filthy bus. Nevertheless, I complied and removed my shoes every time I got on the bus. 
3. There were TV's on the bus that played extremely strange Asian movies at loud volumes. Randomly, on the way there they played the new Twilight movie which was a bit sad to me. Even on a sleeper bus in the middle of China I cannot escape the mayhem that is Twilight. 
4. The bus ride was the bumpiest, craziest and most beautiful ride I have ever been on. We weaved in and out of mountains and winding rivers. It looked like I had pictured China to look like. I loved looking out the window. 
5. I officially vow to never complain about bathrooms in America again. I went in the shadiest bathrooms I have ever been in on the bus ride. The bus would stop and the man in the front would smile and wave to us which meant that we could get off to go to the bathroom. We would be led to strange places that resembled bathrooms. There was not one bathroom that had doors on the stalls and most of them resembled troughs. I survived. That is all. 
6. The bus ride there took 11 hours to go to Guilin and when we came back from Yangshuo, which is 2 hours closer, it took 13 hours. We are not sure how that works but, when we are talking about this bus, it makes sense somehow. 
7. I am rather sure that there are very few foreigners that ride on that bus because they seemed very confused and befuddled by our presence. 

The bus was a good experience and made me feel like a Chinese person. That is always a nice thing. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eight Weeks

This last Wednesday marked our eighth week in China. The fact that I have been living here for eight weeks is astonishing to me. To mark this occasion, Wendy and I decide to host a Harry Potter Party. We decorated our apartment like The Great Hall (of China), dressed up, ate dinner, had a sorting and attempted to watch one of the movies. About ten minutes before our guests arrived, I realized that I did not in fact have any of the Harry Potter movies with me so we did our best with You Tube but it was an epic fail. The night was quite the success though. I managed to get my hands on some butter and I made pasta. It was delicious. We also had tons of fruit and our British friend Elaine brought ice cream. Wendy and I dressed up like Fred and George Weasley. Heidi dressed up like a wizard who is trying to dress like a muggle. Alyssa had my favorite costume that consisted of a sheet because she was Dobby of course. The other girls were Belatrix Lestrange and Luna Lovegood. Wendy and I were very excited that our little party was such a success. I am sure that the next eight weeks will be as great as these last weeks were. Wendy and I are planning our 10 week party and all I will say about it is that it is going to be epic.