Day trip to Hangzhou

10 Jul

What a long day! After going out for one of our friends  21st birthday (Zach).. we had to be in the lobby at 8 am to leave for a day trip to Hangzhou. That allowed us a little less than 4 hours of sleep. Needless to say it was a tough 2.5-hour bus ride and a rough start touring Hangzhou’s market. We stayed at the little market for a little over an hour where we explored the many shops and trinket stalls, as well as grabbing lunch. The only non-Chinese restaurant with McDonalds and we opted for that. (KFC is a much bigger and more popular chain In China which took many of us by surprise; however it is obvious to see just by walking up and down the country’s’ streets.) Surprisingly there is more chicken on the menu than meat, the only meat option is just a #1, a plain hamburger. I decided on a spicy chicken sandwich. I will admit, it has nothing on Chick-fil-A’s spicy chicken sandwich, which I plan to eat promptly when returning to the US! I have actually began to make a list of the food I want to eat ASAP when returning to the US. This list includes: spicy chicken sandwich from CHICK-Fil-A, sushi from Taki, A fried chicken salad from anywhere that is good, a burger from Five Guys, Mexican food, and a good meal at bonefish! Not to mention the foods I eat everyday: Ezekiel bread with jams, and blueberries and cherries!

 

Now off of my rant about food and back to the trip! The market had some fun little shops to go to and I was able to find a couple of good trinkets that I liked enough to buy. At this market I discovered the craziest thing, and I can now tell from one quick glance if a child in China is potty trained or not. If a child is not potty trained, his pants have a huge gap in the front and back in order to keep from soiling his paints, because they do not use diapers. Children are potty trained extremely young here.

 

After the market we jumped back on the bus for a short distance to go to the West Lake in Hangzhou, considered one of the two most beautiful places in China. We walked for miles around the lake, and although it was breath taking, it became too much of the same view for too many miles. There is a Chinese saying, that if a couple that is dating can walk the entire lake together than they will stay together forever. I am pretty sure that is because it takes forever to walk it! After a couple of miles of walking, we arrived at the famous lilies that were extremely large and beautiful, especially in front of a backdrop of ancient Chinese architecture. We continued to explore the lake and surrounding temples and museums until we ate dinner and then returned back to the lake for the West Lake Impression Show.

 

While aimlessly walking around, we came across about 5 adults and a teeny tiny little girl. The mother immediately motioned to the two the girls I was with (with blonde hair might I add) as well as myself to come take a picture with her daughter. While they snapped at least 20 shots, the poor girl only stared wide –eyed and petrified at the huge football player, Josh, who was with us. This started almost mass chaos with almost every Chinese person in sight coming to take pictures with us. It was fun to watch people take pictures with the boys, especially Josh. They would slowly walk up to Josh looking petrified and literally run away as soon as the picture was snapped haha. I don’t think a single person here has made eye contact with Josh yet.

 

The West Lake Impression Show is a type of light show on the lake. You seat in stadium style seating on the land while the show is performed in front of you. The director of the show is the same man who directed the opening ceremony for the Olympic games in Beijing, so needless to say I was very excited about the show. However I really cannot tell you about it. It was so amazing and breath taking, no words nor pictures could even begin to describe it. That is one of those things in life that you have to figure out one way or another how to fly all the way to China and make the trip to Hangzhou just to see. But in my opinion, I think it was completely worth the long day walking in the heat and the long bus rides. I slept the entire trip on the bus, until we arrived back at the hotel around 12:15 where I am writing you this blog 🙂

 

Two little side notes from the past couple of days.

 

  1. Having been spending so much time discussing the one-child policy, I have been extremely aware lately of the children around me. Almost every child I see is a boy, and if it is a girl, you can bet money that she has a little brother somewhere near by. On my walk to the gym the other day I decided to do a little “experiment” of my own. I counted there and back the number of male and female children to see if the ratio was as skewed as it is portrayed. I counted 21 boys and 10 girls! Without even realizing, I now find myself counting in my head when I start to see children.

 

  1. If you are a female and need a boost of self-esteem, I suggest a quick trip to China. Multiple times I have felt a bit uncomfortable when I see woman (usually younger between 20-35 I would guess) staring at my and obviously talking about me; however I quickly relax when one, usually in broken English, tells me how beautiful I am. Today I had my first encounter with a female asking me to take a picture with her because I was so beautiful. I contribute this to my pale skin, often referred to as porcelain like; many of the Chinese women strive so strongly to have. The most entertaining encounter of the type was yesterday on the metro. As we were on the escalator leaving the metro a man runs up behind us.. and here was our brief yet entertaining conversation. (Once again in very broken English).

 

Man: Good afternoon.

Myself: Good afternoon.

Man: I am from South Korea. Where are you from.

Myself: We are from America.

Man: Oh, you are very beautiful.

Myself: Thank you.

Man: You look like Cinderella.

Myself: Thank you.

Man: And I am your Mikey Mouse.

Myself: (just laughing)

Man: Can I have a hug?

And that ended the conversation haha.

 

Pretty/ beautiful: piao liang  漂亮

 

You are very beautiful:   Ni hen piaoliang.    你很漂亮

 

West Lake:  huxi      户西

 

That is West Lake:  Na shi huxi. 那是户西

 

metro: di tie  地铁

 

Where is the metro?    Zai nar ditie?  在那儿地铁

 

 Taxi: chu zu che  出租车

 

 

           I need a taxi.  Wo  yao chu zu che. 我要出租车

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RichBaby

7 Jul

Chinese Acrobatics Show

What an eventful night! At 5 o’clock last night (Wednesday) almost everyone in our group met downstairs in the hotel lobby; however we all ended up getting split up because of the large number of people in our group. Although 26 people seems like a small number, when you try to walk through the streets and maneuver through the metro stations, it seems like a football team of people. Anyways, we took the 20-minute walk to the metro station where we jumped on the green metro (lu sè dè:green    dì tiě: metro) and then quickly transferred to the purple metro, which took us to our destination. One of my friends Josh is a football player for UGA (at least he was up until this year when he injured his shoulder too badly to continue playing) so he is a very big guy. He towered over the people in the metro and you could literally see the fear on many people’s faces being in such a tight space with such a large guy. At many of the metro stations, which are about 99% underground, there is usually some type of food court or mall attached. It is really quite impressive how nice they tend to be. We were supposed to meet our ISA director at 7 at the metro stop to go to the Chinese acrobats show, so we went about 45 minutes early to eat at the food court.

I have been trying my best to eat the authentic Chinese food as much as I possibly can while I am here, regardless of the KFC, McDonalds, Subway, or Pizza Hut on every corner. (They actually have delivery Pizza Hut and McDonalds! I will try to get a picture to put on one of my blogs. They ride on bikes to deliver with jet pack looking book bags to carry the goods in. It is actually very cool looking.) So at the food court while Josh, Emily, Ryan, and Sarah went to subway, Em and I got food from a Chinese vendor. We ordered a delicious looking plate (pan: plate) of chicken, onions, and green peppers, which came with a side of soup and rice. When it was ready it looked identical to the fajita filling you would get a Chili’s. Needless to say I was very exciting for something that looked so familiar. With the first bite I realized that this was not chicken but in fact beef, with many tiny bones in every piece. I tried as hard as I could to eat it but with every bite being a struggle to avoiding biting on and swallowing the tiny bones, I stuck with the peppers, onions and rice. Those components of the meal were very good mind you.

We then took the escalators up to the street level where we met with the rest of the group, (along with the high school group that is also here with ISA). We were all VERY surprised and excited to see Arin there, our tour guide the first two days here when we went all over Shanghai to many gardens, temples, and vendors. Our ISA director is actually his English teacher and he doing very well. We love listening to him talk lol. We then walked to the acrobatics show, which was just fantastic. You couldn’t have a flash on your camera so pictures really didn’t turn out very well, but it was amazing to see their strength and everything they could do with their bodies! The show lasted about an hour and a half.

Arin, our wonderful tour guide of Shanghai and I

A group of 8 of us then left and went to an area that was in walking distance of the show, that we call the Venice area. It is a maze of small alley ways with small bars, restaurants, and shops around every turn. We decided to go into one that was pretty dimly lit but had cool neon lights around the ceiling. It was a fun place to chill and hang out for a little while before we headed out to an expat pub and then an all-Chinese club. When Justin Beiber came on it spiked quite the conversation haha.

Group at a little bar/ restaurant in the "Venice" area after the Chinese Acrobat show: Emily, Josh, Myself, Ryan, Sarah, Em, Joe, Mike

From there we left and went to an expat pub where we made some interesting “friends” from Manchester. About an hour later we left for a club called “Rich Baby”. It was al Chinese people but there was no problem getting into the club, which had Lamborghinis and other cars of that caliber parked outside. Once inside we were enjoying the strobe light and vibrating base atmosphere until we ran in to a bit of an incident. An older man began to get a bit too touchy with Em and Emily. He wouldn’t stop so they said something to Josh who many times had to tell him to move along. He didn’t like that very much but left and went to a table beside where our group was dancing. About 4 of his friends were already at the table. Soon after that the group at the table threw drinks at us. Sarah asked them what the issue was and they told us that we were Americans, they didn’t like us, and that we needed to make sure we knew that we were not welcome in that club. Needless to say we immediately left. Although there were many people in the club who liked us and were having a blast dancing with us, we did not want to risk making the wrong person mad (such as one of the Lamborghini owners) and wind up in a Chinese jail.

That incident brought down the mood quite a bit as you can imagine and we decided that it was probably a good time to go ahead and head home.

The biggest adventure of being in a foreign country has been to try new things to see what works. And the club last night was just like my quest for good food: You have to try all different things and many of them will be a complete bust, but it’s totally worth it when you find the diamond! I’m off to get ready for class. I’ll post again soon!

Rough Start

6 Jul

Sorry the last post was posted so late. The Internet in hotel went down RIGHT after I finished my blog but RIGHT before I clicked upload. How frustrating. Thankfully they are having it fixed today and in the meantime there is wireless in the lobby.

 

Early early this morning probably around 2 or 3 in the morning I got a sinus infection. With the horrible air and smog I knew it was coming, (I was given a prescription by my doctor before leaving for the trip,), but I just didn’t know when it would strike. Honestly I am surprised I have lasted a whole week! But let me tell you, when it did strike, it was like a freight train coming right at me! My throat is unbearably painful and my head is filled beyond capacity! I do have my prescription, Advil, and plenty of natural medicines to get me through.

 

Late last night a group of people that I have mainly been hanging out with; Em, Emily, Josh, Sarah, and Ryan, all went to Ryans’ “suite” of a room to watch a movie. If anyone has not seen “The Contract” I highly suggest it. What a great movie! It was nice to feel like we weren’t in China for just a couple of hours. When the movie was over and we walked back out into the hotel hallway, the smell of China and the Chinese language coming from behind every door quickly ended the mirage.

 

I do not have Chinese culture today (Wednesday), nor do I have it tomorrow. So it is nice to be able to sleep in until my 1 o’clock Chinese language class. Tonight we are going into one of the more city areas of Shanghai. We are going to eat an early dinner around 6 and then a Chinese acrobatic performance at 7:30. I am extremely excited about the performance because it is supposed to be amazing. I have been told that Cirque du Soleil actually got many of their routines from this show. Hopefully I will have some great pictures for the blog after tonight!

 

I am off to shower and get ready for my day of Chinese adventures!

 

The group went to Hooters for the 4th of July in our red. white and blue. How American!

Whole Group: Ryan, Zach, Em, JOsh, Me, Emily, Sarah

Just the Girls: Sarah, Me, Emily, Em

 

“Raise Fewer Babies, But More Piggies”

6 Jul

8:00 am

Today is our second day of classes (Tuesday July 5). My roommate and me are getting ready to leave while simultaneously firing out emails to everyone back home. Yesterday after classes both Emily’s, as well as myself, stopped by an outside fruit market where I bought some bananas and apples, (or at least what I thought were apples). This morning I was eating a blueberry muffin as well as an apple. When I took my first bite in to the apple I was surprised to find that I had in fact bought a cross between an apple and a pear. I still have yet to decide if I am a fan of this new (to me), breed of fruit. I think I will just stick with the apples that I am used to.

There is a 70% chance of rain today, which I would normally grumble about; however the rain is a nice way to wash away many of the suspicious smells on the sidewalks that we walk constantly during the day. Considering the fact that the summer, mostly June, is monsoon season in this area of China, I shouldn’t really be surprised by the forecast. Good thing for my new umbrella and raincoat :).

5:00 pm

Although I left for class this morning completely prepared for the heavens to open, there was luckily no rain to be had. There is a lot to love about China, walking out of my hotel room in the morning to a rat lying on the ground is not one of them. I would have stepped right on it had my friend and roommate Em not seen it and pulled me away. If I had walked outside to a rat on the ground a week ago I would have cried and avoided the area of the sighting for days, but today I just kept on walking, and when I saw it 8 hours later I just laughed.

Every Monday and Tuesday I have a Chinese culture course from 9 am to 12 and an intermediate Chinese language course from 1-3:30.  The one-hour break for lunch has been an interesting way to go exploring around the Chengfeng area. Changfeng is the area that our university, East China Normal University is in. Yesterday we went to a Korean Barbeque restaurant on the second floor of one of the university’s cafeterias. Needless to say I am not a Korean BBQ kind of girl. I ordered the sweet and hot chicken. Definitely not the kind of sweet and hot chicken I am used to at the Chinese restaurants back home! Today for lunch a small group of my friends decided to venture out a little to a different part of the Changfeng area for lunch.

Luckily for us, the menu had a about a dozen meals that had been translated into English. There are multiple people in our group that are near fluent; however unfortunately for us, none of those people were in our lunch crew.  I ordered a noodle bowl with beef in a tomato sauce. When they first brought me my meal, the meat was on a plate and the noodles were in a bowl. I immediately dumped the meat and sauce in the soup/noodles. Hopefully that was the right thing to do, and if not, maybe some of the people in the restaurant got a good laugh for the day 🙂 . My friend Sara got rice with chicken and peanuts. One of the men working at the restaurant, in very broken English might I add, that is was like Kung Pao Chicken. We had finally found the kind of chicken that we know and love!! My friend Josh got rice with beef and veggies in oyster sauce. It was fantastic! I know what I am getting for lunch tomorrow!  Our meals were about 8 Kuai apiece. That is equivalent to about 1 dollar and 20 cents! Once again.. there are so many things to love about China 😉

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Chinese culture class! It is a lecture class so I am able to just sit and absorb the unbelievable things about China that so few people know about. Today we spent 3 full hours discussing the 1-Child Policy. My brain cannot wrap about all of the many details that go into the policy. I will write a few things that really stuck out to me, but unless you immerse yourself in China and its culture you will never be able to fully grasp and understand everything because of how different our worlds are.

(Before you read some of these facts, I would like to point out that my teacher descibe all of these things to us in detail as if these things are the most normal things in the world. It is absolutely shocking.)

Chinese law professor selling himself as a slave to pay off punishment debt for having 2 children

-Professor Yang Zhizhu, a law professor in Beijing, broke the 1-Child policy when is wife became pregnant with their second child and refused to have an abortion. The government charged them 240,000 kuai ( or $1,536,000) as a punishment for breaking the law. He was fired from his job and sold himself, as a slave to whomever would buy him to try and earn the money.

-The family planning committee is an organization run by the government to make sure all people are following the 1-Child Policy. In May 2010 the corruption of the family planning committee in Hunan Province came to light. If they believe a family the have more than one child, they will kidnap the other child and sell him/her to a welfare agency for 1,000 kuai ($6,400) who will then put them up for adoption over seas. The US will pay $3,000. When American families adopt children, they will have no idea that the child is not an orphan but has actually been kidnapped. Often times the agencies will make a mistake and kidnap a child that really is an only child. The parents will search but never be able to find their children. The government pockets all of the money that is made during those transactions.

-If the government/ Family Planning agencies discover that you are pregnant with a second child, they will force you to have an abortion.

-If you have a second child and are able to hide it from the government, you are considered one of the “Black People”. You can never be registered in China and therefore practically do not exist. You cannot go to school, get a job, or hardly ever leave the house. If you do leave the house you must have your siblings registration card to use as Identification and hope that no one recognizes that the card is not you.

-The “Powder Scandal” is extremely controversial in China. A food company that makes milk powder put into milk and formulas for babies, also puts poison into the powder. They are trying to kill of many of the babies to keep the population from rising. The government knows about this yet does nothing to stop it. Many of the people know about the issue but are too poor to buy any other kind of powder. They just have to pray that the batch that they bought isn’t a poisoned one.

Obviously this is an extremely interesting class! I don’t have quite as many interesting things to say about my language course (unless you would like to learn a few words or phrases.. in which case leave me a comment and next post I will do exactly that.) It is a fun class and I am greatly improving with my Chinese. As I finish writing this blog I am also finishing eating a delicious bowl of noodles and vegetables. I will try to find some time to write again soon!

Oh Shang -Hey!

3 Jul

This is my official “hello!” to the blogging world. Personally I have never been big into blogging (along with twitter and BBM etc.) but I have decided that this is the time to change! I am currently in my fifth day of my 39 day journeys in China. Multiple girls in my program have quickly convinced me to blog. Quite frankly I cant imagine who would be interested enough to take the time to read about my day-to-day adventures; however it seems to be a good way of keeping sane in a foreign country, put all of my thoughts and experiences on paper, and most importantly helping me to stay off facebook for as long as possible!

I have always found it extremely interesting and endearing the way people can start blogs about the craziest things and make the blog into a success, for example the blog that inspired the movie Julie and Julia. Unfortunately, I can almost guarantee any readers that I may have that I will not prove to be quite as interesting as such fellow bloggers. I can promise you that I will make my blog as exciting for you as the actual experiences I will be writing about will be for me and hopefully you can enjoy this amazing experience with me.

Before my first post about my trip, I will give some background information about my trip. I left the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, GA on June 28, 2011 at 9:55 am. I took a direct flight to the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China where I landed at 1:30 pm. (China is 12 hours ahead of Georgia so to save you the math, that was about a 16.5 hour flight. Thanks to my lovely mother I was able to fly in Business, which made the trip much easier! I arrived in China on the 29th of June and will leave Shanghai for my home state of Georgia on August 6th.  I am staying in a hotel with the rest of my group for the duration of the trip, and am sharing a room with a girl Em, short for Emily. The hotel is in the Putuo district of Shanghai. Translated Putuo means West Pu. On the opposite of the main river in Shanghai is the Pudong district, literally meaning East Pu. The Bund and Financial District is on the Pudong side of Shanghai, which is the most westernized and metropolitan area of Shanghai.

I hope you enjoy my blog and don’t be afraid to leave comments 🙂

A friend in the program, Ryan, beside a play on words written in graffiti.