Posted in 2014 (China), Articles

Article: The Book Continues, Chapter by Chapter

As I sit in the little cafe I found in the University City, I read my book and drink my tea (Earl Grey), realizing that I like the sounds of Chinese coffee shops better than their Western counterparts. This one is full of students, if rather small, but they’re all so easy to tune out. Granted, it wasn’t difficult when I was in the US, but it’s considerably easier here. And I know why: I can’t understand them.

When I first got here all the Chinese was overwhelming, but I’ve reached the point where I’ve gotten used to it. I can sit with a group of people who don’t speak English and feel only slightly out of place. Partially because the people I now sit with occasionally translate for me, but mainly because I’ve gotten used to the way Chinese sounds. Even though I still can’t understand even half of a conversation that’s happening near me, the language doesn’t really sound foreign anymore.

Before I came here, my experience with culture shock was limited to hearing about it or reading about it online. Now, I’ve lived it. And after six months here, I’m beginning to imagine how the reverse culture shock is going to go. It won’t be as bad as the initial culture shock because I’ll only be in China for a year, but I can already tell I’ll go through it, if only to the extent of jet lag and wonder at how clean even the dirtiest thing seems in comparison.

Along with these realizations is an awareness of how much I’ve changed since I’ve been here. Although China isn’t the place for me and I haven’t enjoyed being here as much as I thought I would, it’s still been a great experience. In getting a fresh start in a country where the people don’t understand me, I’ve learned who I am and who I want to become, even though I graduated from college without a boyfriend and without trying to obsessively hold on to what we are told are the “best years of your life.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single day, a single choice, or a single experience of my college career, but it’s over.

If I’ve learned anything from my obsessive reading, it’s that all chapters end. My college chapter has ended and so too will my Chinese chapter. And that’s okay, because the book’s not finished yet. I was terrified when I graduated because I thought I needed a plan, I needed something next, but I don’t. The book will continue, chapter by chapter, and some days I know what chapter is next and sometimes I have no freaking clue.

That’s okay. Life goes on.

Posted in 2014 (China)

13/11/14: One (Half) Year

Well it’s been six months since I got here
Cocked my head to the side and said “Can I go home?”
Five months since I branched out saying
“Gonna get that together, wait and see me”
Three months since I flew away
Got to Hong Kong, wanted to stay
Yesterday, I found a new place
but it’ll still be six months till I can go home

I hope you sang that to the tune of “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies because, even though it’s not my best fit, that was the attempt.

So, it’s been six months here in China and, can I just say, round of applause for me. This is seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. Although, it has been pointed out to me that I like challenges but easy challenges. Which is true. Except now I know what it feels like to be legitimately challenged, homesick, culture shocked, jetlagged, and all that jazz. But all those negative feelings have led to feeling of triumph, determination, and accomplishment. It may suck sometimes, but it’s going.

A recap of the last six months, in case you missed, but more because I haven’t really updated recently:

  • I’ve almost mastered chopsticks. I still struggle with noodles and fish, but the Chinese seem to struggle with the former and I don’t eat the latter much so A+ for me.
  • I got into grad school, I’ll be going to Ireland next September.
  • I’ve met some really awesome people in Beijing and Langfang, some of whom are foreigners like myself and some aren’t.
  • I started to learn the ukulele.
  • I went to Hong Kong.
  • I’ve been to Beijing enough times to know my way around the subway system really well and I know where to get good pancakes. (PANKAKS)
  • I’ve gained visible weight. Which is cool, I think the last time that happened I was going through puberty and still getting taller.
  • I’ve found a new direction in life. I mean, before I kind of knew what I wanted to do, but I absolutely knew that I don’t want to be a teacher. I had a few options, but I’ve finally settled on one. 🙂
  • I’ve made some really awesome presentations and made my students more relaxed around me. (It starts with being silly in front of them and continues on with messing with them during and outside of class.)
  • I thought of something else but I forgot it… It was funn– no I remember
  • I’ve taken a photo with approximately half the population of China.

That’s about it. It might not seem like a lot, but I’m glossing over a lot of the small things that include, but aren’t limited to: going to the supermarket alone, going to the bank alone, getting to Beijing alone, going to the movies (and successfully getting a ticket for the one English movie) alone. A lot of the things I’m most proud of I’ve done alone because I like to have my independence. I don’t want to constantly ask people to go with me if I know it’s something I can do on my own. I’ll still ask for help, of course, but I often want to know I can do it. Even if I don’t do it very often.

Speaking of doing things on my own…. I should really go to Beijing soon. I need tea and cakes and bookstores. Although I’ve been introduced to this really nice café that has cheesecake that’s only a thirty minute walk from my apartment.

As my students would say “so cool”.

 

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

18/10/14: It’s Become a Lifestyle

It’s easy for me to forget how well I’m doing here. My successes are lost in the expansive list of things I can’t do, can’t understand, can’t read. I’ve been here for five months now, almost exactly, and I don’t realize what I’ve done until I’m doing things I thought were difficult or impossible or frustrating when I first got here with relative ease.

That’s not to say I don’t still struggle sometimes. The isolation due to the language barrier and cultural differences can sometimes be extremely overwhelming and there are still Chinese cultural things I’m struggling to accept. Since I work as a teacher in a Chinese school, I sometimes have trouble adapting my Western views of schools to this Eastern school. There are a lot of things that could be more Western, but I’m realizing it’s simply the culture of it.

There are a lot of things I can do, however.

  • I can get a train ticket from Langfang to Beijing without help.
  • I can navigate Beijing pretty well at this point. There are some areas where I don’t even need a map, I just know where things are. (It’s an awesome feeling to know that each time I go to Beijing, I’m learning more about hwere things are and eventually I won’t need a map at all.)
  • I can order food and gesture enough things to get most of my points across.
  • I can use chopsticks very well now, which is awesome. I tried to eat some rice with a spoon yesterday and it felt weird, so I switched back to chopsticks.
  • I’ve gotten used to a lot of the Chinese culture things, but some of them are still kind of weird to me. Like the spitting. Why? Also the honking of the car horns. Why is that necessary at all? It’s not. Calm down.

Someone told me he was impressed at how well I was doing and that was during a trip to Beijing that came after a bout of loneliness, so that felt great. It’s easy to think of how not great things are going. It’s easy to focus on how much I want to go home and want to move on to the next thing, but my students are wonderful and they’re not so shy around me anymore, so it’s nice.

I think I’ve reached the point where I’ll experience mild reverse culture-shock when I get home. I guess that means I’ve adjusted pretty well after all.

My name is April, and China is not the end of my world.

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

9/9/14: The Great Museum Expedition

I’d say sorry it’s been so long, but I’m not. I’d say I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been. I really just didn’t feel like writing. But here’s a post about my last day in Hong Kong that happened over a month ago, so A+ me, really.


I started off by heading toward the Flagstaff House Tea Museum, with the intention of getting breakfast at some restaurant near to it. Instead, I ended up getting a croissant and a yogurt at an international food store before eating in the Hong Kong Park, which is where the museum is. The museum itself was really nice, but only a couple of rooms. There was interesting information about tea, including a custom where the tea is brewed in a bamboo stalk.

Then I walked back to the MTR subway station nearby to go to Central so I could take the ferry over to Kowloon, since most of the museums are in the Kowloon district. The Space Museum is closest to the water, but it was open late the day I went, so I ended up going to the Science Museum and the History Museum first.

The History Museum is really cool because it starts with the natural history of Hong Kong and moves through its social and political history.


Honestly, this was so long ago, this is what you get from me. I’m so sorry, I’ll try to be better about updating more often but my history indicates otherwise.

 

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

8/9/14: A Tour of East Meets West

I started out from Shekou pretty early (for me) and caught the ferry to Macau. I really like the ferries a lot. Boats! 🙂

So the first thing I did when I got there was go up to the Mount Fortress starting from Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, which is a shopping street. But that’s where the bus took me and so that’s where I started. The Macau Museum is in the fort, but it was Monday and so the museum was closed. After I looked at the (awesome) view from the fort, I made my way to the Ruins of St Paul. The place was pretty packed because it was the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, so I didn’t go into the catacombs, but I took a picture that is now my phone background. 🙂 I then walked down to Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro again to use it as a starting point and to try to find a place to refill my water. I ended up in a tourist info place for business, but hey, tourism is tourism. I picked up a bunch of information packets, including a few maps of walking tours. I wanted to go on the museum one, but it was still Monday, so the museums were mostly closed. Instead, I went on the one titled A Tour of East Meets West.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for walking tours. And I really wanted to see St. Lawrence’s Church because I had seen photos of the inside on one of the posters in the tourism place.

I knew I was pretty close to the Senado Square starting place, so I followed the handy signs that pointed in the right direction.

Thanks to Fabulously Broke for the photo. 🙂

I have to say, I love Macau Government Tourist Office for these handy signs. I could get myself somewhat slightly lost (as is my habit, every walking trip becomes a Walking Tour because I get lost a lot), but the signs were regularly spaced. Every time I found myself wondering “Wait, which way am I going?” one of the signs was within my line of vision. As long as I knew what other attractions was in that general area, I was never really lost-lost.

So I set off, following my handy map and my trusty signs. The suggested time was 90 minutes, but I’m pretty sure it took me a lot longer than that.

The map I followed(ish, mostly I mostly followed)

It was hot and humid and it was awesome. I was carrying my big backpack with me, but the straps were done up properly so all the weight was on my hips. People kept asking me if it was heavy when they watched me put it on, but it was really just bulky and I’m more of a “heave it with momentum” person than a “pick it up like a normal person” person when I put backpacks on. I’ve mastered the kick-and-swing motion. Somewhere around St. Augustine’s I got a little lost, but I asked directions at a shop where I bought water and managed to find my way back. I always seem to get lost and end up in places foreigners don’t go very often, but it’s more fun that way, I think.

A lot of the churches had signs that said no short skirts and no bare shoulders, but I had tied up my skirt to be considerably shorter (and thereby cooler) and I was definitely wearing a tanktop. Luckily, my momma taught me to pack, so I was carrying around a button-up shirt so I would put that on and untie my skirt. And voila, I was presentable for churches. Some of the churches had security people who clearly didn’t care, but I felt like it would’ve been disrespectful to go in and not follow the rules, reinforced or not. The churches were beautiful, though, so it was totally worth it.

Image

I ended the tour at the Maritime Museum and tried to find a place to eat. Since it was so late in the afternoon, it was almost impossible to find a place to eat. I did manage to find a fancy place that was still open during the China equivalent of a siesta before I tried to catch a bus to Taipa to go see the Venetian. It took a lot longer than I expected to catch the bus, but the bus stops were cleverly laid out. Instead of both sides of the stop having the same name, the stop going one direction was called one thing and the stop going the opposite direction was called another. It made it a lot harder to go the wrong way, but I still managed to do it. When I was on the right bus going the right way, we passed by the huge glittery building I saw from the Fort and I was leaning over an old Chinese guy to peer out his window. He gestured for me to get off at the stop, which appeared to be some sort of bus depot, so I decided why not?

I walked around in that area trying to find the water whose breeze I could feel. I ended up asking a nice British guy for directions to the water. Turns out in that area, where the bridge from Macau to Taipa starts on the Macau side, there was two waters: the lake and the river. He also told me the big glittery gold building is the tallest in Macau and that’s where he works. I followed his directions to the water and revelled in the near-water breeze and the humidity before trying to get on another bus to Taipa. I was standing and not paying attention to the people getting on the bus when someone did the sort-of-a-whistle-but-not-really thing to get my attention and I looked up while he gestured for me to get on. The guy had just enough space for just me to get on the bus. We had to stand at the door and I needed his help getting my backpack over the door chain, but he was really nice. I told him I was going to the Venetian and he laughed. Turned out, he was a local with an American accent because of Sesame Street. He was getting off at the same stop, so we chatted a bit on the bus ride and he recommended a restaurant for me to go to. He still laughed that I was going to the Venetian, but I really just wanted to see the architecture!

We got off at the stop and parted ways and I wandered towards the glittering lights and dazzling casinos. The Venetian really did remind me of Venice, but then I was hungry so I started trying to walk towards where I thought he said the Old Village was. I was going in the right direction, thankfully, and I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant except that it had “Santa” in it. Turned out to be O Santos, and I found it, and had some tomato rice before trying to find my way to the ferry terminal.

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I got to the ferry terminal, I think I took the bus. That makes the most sense. But it was late and I was super tired, so everything is a little foggy. I made it to the terminal, said goodbye to Macau, and said hello to another ferry to Hong Kong!

I made it to my hostel without incident, although my bed in the dorm was the highest one. 🙁 Shortest person, tallest bed.

According to my Fitbit, I walked 16.93km (10.52mi) that day, so sitting in the hostel lobby and chatting before heading to bed was nice. I met a guy from Ireland and one from the UK and they were a bit abrasive, but it was fun anyways.

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

06-07/09/14: Aw, Frick (But also Salad and Pizzas)

My next day of my Hong Kong vacation was not that great. I lost my camera where all my Disney pics were stored, but I got a new unlocked phone and made it to Shekou, where dad’s coworkers brother, Mike, lives. Shekou has a much higher population of foreigners living there, so we met up with one of his (also American) friends at a place with salad. I had a salad with cheese and it was delicious. That, and talking to fellow Americans was AWESOME.

The next day was spent just hanging around in Shekou. Being able to hang out with other Americans was awesome. Unfortunately, the schools were closed because of the Mid-Autumn Festival, so I couldn’t bring my resumes around, though I originally planned to go back to Shekou a couple days later, I eventually decided to spend time in Hong Kong instead.

That night, we had pizza and hung out at the restaurant. Matt, the friend from the day prior, met up with us again and after dinner we went to this place where you basically rent a living room and watch a movie. We watched the 300 sequel and then it was time for sleep because I was going to Macau in the morning. I originally was going that day, but the tickets for the ferry were all sold out. 🙁

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

05/09/14: DISNEYLAND

I woke up surprisingly early today considering what time I got to bed last night and the fact that the room had no windows. Somehow, I was awake around 6:40 (an hour and twenty minutes before my warning alarm was set to go off!), but didn’t get out of bed until 7:30. I wanted to get breakfast and some HK$ before I left for Disneyland, but everything in the area was still closed. It made sense when I thought about it, because business was still bustling the night before at midnight, but I had hoped for at least one exchange to be open. I wandered around, getting myself somewhat lost (of course) before finally deciding to get some McDonald’s hash browns. I ate my 3 crumbled, fried potato patties doused in ketchup while finishing up yesterday’s entry before making my way back to the hostel. It was nearly 9 by then, so the exchanges were starting to open and I could get HKD. I managed to find the subway station through lot of “well I passed that this morning walking towards it, so if I walk away I should be going the right way probably” and “oh, I recognize that sign!” When I found Mong Kok station, it was nine on the dot and I decided to go to… Disneyland. (It’s taking a lot of effort for me to refrain from typing something like “F*CKING DISNEYLAND, B*TCHES” every time I type the word Disneyland. I hope you appreciate it, dear reads who are mostly comprised of my family members. [Hi mom!])

Subway, subway, COOL DISNEY TRAIN, AND THEN OMG HELLO DISNEYWORLD.

My plan was to stay there from open (10am) to close (8pm), or at least until the fireworks, but I had no idea how long the lines would be since it was Mid-Autumn Festival. So I started in Tomorrowland with Space Mountain (AWESOME), then that Buzz Lightyear ride where you shoot Zurg a lot of times (I BEAT MY CO PILOT BY ALL THE POINTS BECAUSE I RODE ALONE), met Buzz Lightyear HIMSELF (he was a gentleman who kissed my hand and pretended to walk off with me as I was leaving), SOUVIES, walking walking walking. I wound up back in Main Street USA, which is where I started, but I didn’t do much. More souvies. (You know how it is.) Then came Adventure Land, where I had lunch and actually had to ask for chopsticks because I was given a fork. I realized it would be weird to eat rice and chicken with a fork now. After lunch, I went on a ride on a little rafty thing that took me to Tarzan’s treehouse where saw a little boat tour, but the line was HUGE so I figured I would finish the treehouse and so some walking before I went to the boat ride. One of the benefits of this time for traveling is that it’s not on-season (although it was Mid-Autumn Festival), so there aren’t too many people. Plus, I travel alone so I often get on the rides as someone’s #4.

Adventureland fed into the American Western themed area, Grizzly Gulch (I think). I immediately thought of Katie (because of bears, of course), but there weren’t any real bears. I rode the roller coaster and ended up sitting next to a girl from Calgary who was also traveling alone. We chatted a bit and then went our separate ways, as solo travelers tend to do. Up next was Toy Story Land which was designed to make you feel like a toy, which was cool. I saw Jessie (Buzz Lightyear’s girlfriend) and I told her I met Buzz earlier and he tried to run off with me. I don’t think she was too happy that her boyfriend tried to go off with another woman, but we still took some great photos. Toy Story Land led into Fantasyland, so I went and rode It’s a Small World. When my family went to Disney World whenever ago, It’s a Small World was closed, so I was excited to see it. The little animatronic kids were kind of weird, but it was cool to try to guess where they were from. After that, I went to a show called the Golden Mickeys, which was a live performance set up like a Disney awards show. When I was waiting in line, a little boy kept talking to me, but I had no idea what he was saying. I think it was 95% Chinese and 5% English, but he was happy enough to keep chattering and his parents thought it was funny. The show itself was a lot better than I expected, especially since the most attractive performer was Tarzan and therefore shirtless. After the show, I went to get a good seat for the fireworks. It was an awesome show, but the rush to leave was bonkers, so I just waited.

The subways back were pretty empty, so I could sit the whole trip home. I sat in the lobby area for a while, talking to a guy from Switzerland and one from Morocco about language, politics, the perception of distance, etc. Meeting new people is one of the awesome things about staying in a hostel. Eventually, I showered off the sweat and sunburn before setting my alarm and going to bed in the dorm.

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

04/09/14: Beijing (again?!)

When I go to Beijing, I always take the same train. Not on purpose, but because taking the train at 9am means I’m not up obscenely early and I’m not in Beijing obscenely late. There are a few trains that leave Langfang for Beijing around nine, but I always seem to end up on the same one.

A trip to Beijing goes like this:
6:15 : Warning alarm goes off
6:45 : Get up alarm goes off
7:00 : Warning alarm goes off
7:15 : Leave alarm goes off
7:25 : Catch bus 21 (at the beginning of the route)
8:15 : Arrive at the Langfang bus station (at the end of the route)
8:30 : Arrive at the Langfang Railway Station
8:40 : Train starts boarding
8:59 : Train disembarks
9:20 : Arrive at Beijing South Railway Station

From the railway station, I usually take the subway to Nanluoguxiang Hutong because it’s a nice place and there’s food. (It’s all about the food.) I tend to get a little lost wandering around the winding streets of the Hutong, but it’s a fun kind of lost. I invariably find a park or a river or something pretty cool that doesn’t have many foreigners while I get unlost. Today, I got a tuna croissant sandwich with some jasmine tea at a cafe that looked like it was decorated by a retired cat lady but was staffed by guys not much older than me. They didn’t really speak English, but they were really nice.

I wandered through the Hutong on the way back to the subway station, picking up gift ideas and a few gifts themselves. (Plus one for me. Oops.) At the subway, I went to Tian’anmen Square, which took a while since I had to transfer lines. At one of the transfers, I had to go up about 4 lights of stairs to go down 2. Some of the station layouts are questionable at best. Last time I went to Tian’anmen, I went with my student and we didn’t actually go in. This time I magically picked the right exit (when there are four to choose from, it’s easy to go wrong) and ended up right across the street. Two women talked to me as I was leaving the subway, but I always say I’m meeting a friend just in case. One of them asked me where I was going as we were exiting and, even though she walked ahead of me and went considerably faster, she was still nice enough to shout “No, this way!” Across the street from the square on one side is the National Museum of China, on another is the Forbidden City, and on another is some sort of police building. In the middle is the Monument to the People’s Heroes, which was under some green construction fencing (of course), and behind that is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (which was closed). I got pictures of them before asking a young Chinese couple to take my picture after I heard them speaking a English.

After the Square itself, I wanted to go into the Forbidden City’s outer gate, so I followed the Chinese through an underground walkway that led straight to the gate. I decided against more exploration (I had a flight to catch) and sat under some trees in the City. I was doing the same as the Chinese and attracted a lot of attention that way! Some people talked to me as I people watched and I even saw some (presumably) monks eating popsicles under their umbrellas. When I tried to leave through the gate I entered, a guard told me it was one-way and gave me some (not so great) directions. After wandering around a bit, trying to explain that I didn’t want to go inside, I finally made me way out by walking allllll the way around the Forbidden City. I made it to the subway after what seemed like ages (I was carrying my giant backpack) and made it to the next item on my “itinerary”.

Apparently, Guomao station opens up into the China World Trade Center, which looked like a giant mall to me. I was looking for a shop in the nearby SOHO, though, so I had to stop for directions a few times. Of course, I passed a closer subway station on the way, which was annoying. I finally found the tattoo shop and had to wait a bit to get my lip pierced, but then I was on my way to the airport! (I took the closer station that time.)

Taking the subway wasn’t too bad except I wasn’t sure which terminal to exit at, so I got off at terminal 3, which was the right one! I later found out that the other two terminals were kind of far away! Unfortunately, finding my check-in desk wasn’t nearly as easy. I asked desk D where to go, she said H, who said B, who told me H. I finally saw a check-in counter list (after getting pretty annoyed at the lack of signage in Beijing) and went to H02, where I checked in no problem. After checking in, I got my favorite mango sorbet at Hagen Daaz and then paid 8元 for a can of Coke (I can get a bottle in Beijing for 5元!) so I could sit with WiFi. Once through security, I talked to a guy on the train from NY. It was nice to talk to someone in American English, let me tell you. As I was walking to the gate, I realized I left my camera strapped to the outside of my (checked) backpack! When someone was finally at the counter, I was told that the luggage had been planed and there was nothing to do about it, so we took a bus to the plane and I saw that the (only other) foreigner was just across the aisle from me.

Even though we were delayed on the ramp for 1/2 hour, we still landed right on time. This time, I talked to the other foreigner from the airport. She and I went to baggage claim together and ended up getting to the (right) section just as my bag went by. I checked my camera immediately and… STILL GOOD! AW YEH. The woman and I parted ways and I went to get an Octopus Card (like the Oyster of London or he YiKaTong of Beijing, it’s a travel card you store money on and can beep through buses and subways without buying a ticket every time).

When I got off the subway near the hostel, I was surprised at how many people and lights there were, even though it was nearly midnight! I got a little lost because I couldn’t find the stinking signs, but I asked some girls about my age for help and one of them walked me there! I went up and checked in, but they didn’t accept RMB or credit cards, so I had to give the guy RMB until I could exchange some to HKD. Since I got in so late, he led me to a private room, even though I only paid for a dorm! I set up the wifi, went to socialize, took a shower to wash off some of the sunburn, and finally, finally, finally went to bed!

Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

Foodie Style: Eating in China

Now, there are many different ways to eat food here in China. From street food to barbecue to restaurants. I haven’t tried all of them, it takes some courage to eat in a place like Langfang because hardly anyone speaks English and everyone stares at me. So this is a quick “How to Eat in China and Survive”.

The good news is, most of the menus have pictures.

Langfang, Hebei, China
This was taken at a restaurant where you would go with friends in a large group.

For the most part, someone at the table orders food for the entire table at a restaurant like this. I read somewhere that the rule is one dish per person at the table plus one more or something like that. If you go out to eat with a lot of people, that’s a lot of food.

Langfang, Hebei, China
Different restaurant, same style. There was more food on the way, too.

The food is usually put in the center of the table and everyone just eats out of it. There’s no “This is my dish” or anything like that, which is nice for me because then I can just eat veggies and no one really notices. 🙂

I bet you’re wondering “Will I get sick from eating the food?” Truthfully? Yep, probably. I was constantly in and out of the bathroom my first month and a half here, but truthfully, it gets better, too. I’m not sure if it’s the food itself, the way its cooked, the different levels of sanitation, or what, but I was definitely feeling the change. Chances are, you will, too.

But truthfully? It’s worth it. Don’t skip out on eating the food just because you think it might make you sick. For example, yesterday I got some kind of pancake thing from a food cart while walking home from the market. It had a pancake-type breading that was sort of like a thick crepe, an egg, some kind of little red hot dog, lettuce, and sauces. I obviously have no idea what any of that was, but I thought to myself “That little hot dog is going to make me sick” (I can’t eat hot dogs), but I ate it anyways and it was delicious. I thought “This is so worth the potential repercussions!” And, surprisingly, I am used to the food enough that I was not exponentially worse after eating that whatever it was.

So, yeah, the food will probably make you sick and people will always bring you a fork if you’re white (even if you’re good with chopsticks), but man, is the food so worth all of it.

Beijing, China
My second or third day in China, lunch at some place near the health center
Beijing, China
包子 (bāozi, steamed bread with filling, usually pork and/or veggies) and 豆浆 (dòujiāng, soybean milk, absolutely delicious home-made and sweet)
Beijing, China
My second or third day in China, lunch at some place near the health center
Langfang, Hebei, China
Korean rice, one of my favorites from Yummy Street
Langfang, Hebei, China
My students and I making 饺子 (jiǎozi) dumplings in their dorm room
Langfang, Hebei, China
My students and I making 饺子 (jiǎozi) dumplings in their dorm room
Langfang, Hebei, China
Restaurant #2? Maybe #3?
Posted in 2014 (China), Blog

31/07/14: Those Damned Mountains, Part III

31/7/14: What time is it?! (Time to sleep)

There was a knock on the door. Not one that had to be answered by opening, but a knock nonetheless. What time is it? I thought. Why am I already awake? I checked my phone. Fuck. It’s 5am. My roommate started to move around, get dressed, pack up. I lay in bed wondering what was going on as I sent a disgruntled message to my family about the time. I thought we were packing to leave, but it turned out we had one more hike to go.

We took the bus to a bus to some cable cars to some chairlifts to the hike.

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I had broken the strap off of my camera when I fell the first day, so I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, fearing that I would drop my camera down the mountain. When we got to the hiking area, there was a little creek area, so the kids stocked up on water toys and shoes and we went on our merry way.

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Ms Su’s husband walked across some rocks to stand in the creek and beckoned me over, but I deliberated too long before taking my shoes and socks off and crossing the water. I ended up getting left behind, so I walked (still barefoot) to catch up to the rest of the group.

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I found them at the base of a waterfall, where the kids were playing. I set my bag in a high, dry place and joined in.

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After one of the students fell, we decided it was time to head back. We took the chairlifts to the cable cars to the bus. I saw a Chinglish sign that said “Cab eway going sightseeing” but I think it meant “Cable car going sightseeing”. When we were on the cable cars, I saw a man climbing the mountain on on foot.

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We got lunch back at the hotel before heading on our way. Around 11:30pm, I was back in my apartment. After some Internet, I went to sleep. I missed my bed.