The second place we went to was Xian! Our train was originally supposed to take like 9 hours from Luoyang to Xian but we upgraded our train and so it was only a 3-4 hour train ride! When we got to Xian it was way cold and raining which was kind of a surprise because in Luoyang (and later on in Beijing) the weather was really nice. In Xian we saw the terra-cotta warriors which was pretty cool. They don’t look too tall, but they are actually like 6ft+. There are still a lot of warriors buried in the ground but the government doesn’t want to excavate them because supposedly there is a lot of mercury down there and also because the warriors actually originally had color on them but when they take them out of the ground the paint stays in the dirt. We also went to Starfish Orphanage. It was started by Amanda, who is a BYU grad. She rents apartments in this building and uses them as an orphanage/foster home for kids with spina bifida, cleft lips, etc. We got to go over there and just play with the kids–it was soo much fun! haha One of them kept saying “dou dou” which is his word for cheerios. He would open the lid, grab some cheerios, and then throw them on the floor. That or try and shove them into Amanda’s mouth. haha. I would like to maybe do some sort of fundraiser when I get back to help her out…so any good ideas of how to raise some money to help with her costs in caring for these children would be appreciated!
The start of our 10-day adventure began in Luoyang. We took an overnight train (about 12 hours) to get there. The overnight trains aren’t all that bad because you get on the train, have an hour or two before bed, sleep the whole night (if you can sleep on a moving, noisy, train-thankfully I can!), then wake up and have an hour or so before you are at your destination. haha, I’m sure all of the Chinese people in our car on the train are like who are these crazy white people?! We are usually pretty loud, laugh a lot, and just play around and try to 大发时间 (kill time.)
So the pics…(I took quite a few pictures on this trip, so you only get to see a select few) The first place we went was the Longmen caves. There are tons (thousands) of various Buddhist statues that were carved into walls and caves about 1,500 years ago! It was pretty amazing to see-they were everywhere!! Some of us in the group have started a sort of trend where we always take jumping pictures as well as make a pyramid wherever we go…haha, when we did the pyramid here at the caves we had a HUGE group of Chinese people start taking pictures of us. They thought it was soo awesome that these 老外 (foreigners) made a human pyramid. Haha-the picture of like a group of Chinese people taking pictures facing forward was when we went to take a group picture-Chinese people always just stop and start taking pictures of our group picture too (must have to do with the white skin and blonde hair some of us have.) We also went to a Shaolin temple in Luoyang. We watched a little performance and then outside of the temple bldg. they have a cemetery for all of the Shaolin monks, the higher the pagoda the more important you were.
The next stop was Xian….
So I haven’t been able to upload pictures for a couple weeks because the blog site was all messed up. It’s funny/annoying, sometimes you can get on sites here and other times you can’t…like recently when Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I guess it was blocked out of all the t.v. news reports here and I could get on some Web sites but not others. Anyways…this past weekend we took a trip out to 黄山, or Yellow Mountain. It was absolutely amazing! If you enjoy hiking and seeing amazing views then you need to come to China and visit Yellow Mountain. Eight of us, including me, hiked up the mountain and the rest of our group took the tram and met us up at the top. Then we hiked to the highest point. The whole way up was just stairs and at times I felt like I was on a ladder because we were climbing like straight up. It was sooo cool though! The stairs we climbed up had been like carved out of the mountain, or at least that’s what it looked like. We were like up there with the clouds…I would go on explaining the views, but you really just can’t put it into words. Hopefully the pics somewhat convey the amazing views there.
The next day we went out to this little city where they have like a school for artists/painters. It was pretty cool because the painters were everywhere with their canvases just sitting there painting what was in front of them-buildings, lakes, etc. We started talking to these two little girls, one is 8 and the other is 5, and luckily I was recording a video on my camera!…haha, after a few minutes of talking to them one kid asked if he could take a picture with them haha, and the 8 year old was like, “No! You have to pay to have your picture taken with me! Or you have to give me a copy of the picture.” haha, it was sooo funny and I’m so glad I have it on video! For lunch we went to this restaurant at the little village there. Our tour guide said it was like a pretty famous place there and it was really good….well, let’s just say that like half of our group ended up either having diarrhea or throwing up over the next couple of days. Yes, me included. 😦 So much for a quaint local restaurant with “good” food.
Funny/cool stuff that has happened recently: So, I FINALLY saw Inception!!! I’d been wanting to see it but was never able to. Me and a couple guys in my group went with one of my teachers-haha, she’s like our age, maybe a few years older, and pretty cool. We always joke around with her in class and stuff so it was fun. These two other girls also came with us. They work at this slushy/milkshake place we go to a lot. For those who have seen the movie….my vote is that he is still in a dream.
Haha, ok, so….funny story…the other day I went to use the urinal in our school building. While I was peeing I heard this noise that sounded like someone was dumping water on the floor, like just emptying a water bottle onto the floor or something. I didn’t really think much of it…until I realized that I was standing in a puddle of “water.” hahaha….yup! I basically peed right on the bathroom floor! The tube that comes up out of the ground and connects to the bottom of the urinal was missing a piece so it wasn’t connected so my pee was going into the urinal and straight to the floor. Haha, I just laughed and went back to class. After washing my hands, of course…
So last Wednesday was 中秋节, so we didn’t have school Wed, Thurs, or Fri…but we did yesterday (Sat.) It’s funny because they have these holidays and get school off, but then they just make up the days the missed, so we had school yesterday and today (we got out of going today-Sunday-because our director from BYU told the teachers we don’t go to school on Sunday). They don’t do this for every holiday though, at least I don’t think so. So Wed. night a bunch of us went out to dinner then went down to Fuzi miao (Confucius temple) to look around-those are the pics at night with the river and the lights. So the past few days we’ve just been hanging out and chilling. We went to the Nanjing Massacre memorial site Friday as a city tour (we do a city tour every other Friday). It was pretty intense, they had a big museum inside this one building with pictures and information about it all. One picture (it was in b/w) was a Chinese guy’s head that had been chopped off and was sitting on a wood fence.
Thursday night a group of us went KTVing (karaoke). It was a lot of fun. Karaoke is a huge thing here in China-they have a bunch of places you can go and you get your own room to rock out in haha. We mostly did American songs but did a couple of Chinese ones–it’s hard to read characters that fast, especially when you don’t know the song and don’t know all of the characters! Then last night we went back down to that area-Xin jie kou 新街口-and went to this underground market…basically a mall that is underground. There were a couple of people selling these really cute puppies…and I was sooo close to buying one. They were only 100 RMB (so like 15-16 USD)! One of my roommates kinda wanted to buy it too, so I almost did. I still kind of want to go back and but it haha. I was thinking I could just ship it back home when I was done…I’m sure Regen would love a friend! (oh, and mom and dad would love another puppy too! 🙂 )
The other pics are of my saweet ride! It’s an electric bicycle-so it has a battery and a throttle, sort of like a dirtbike. The brakes on it suck really bad though!! It’s really nice to have though to get around town. We bought them for 600 RMB (about 100 USD) and the lady said she would buy them back from us when we leave for 500 RMB! So, not a bad deal! The other pic is of my class and our teacher-we went out to lunch with her after class yesterday.
This Thursday some of us bought tickets to go to Jay Chou’s concert-he’s like a pretty big Chinese artist, probably the biggest. He has some good songs, but it’s going to be way fun! We found out he was coming to Nanjing as part of his tour so we decided to take the opportunity and go! Then next week, Oct. 1st-7th, we don’t have school because of National Day! We don’t have any group trips planned because all of China has it off so anywhere you go is going to be PACKED with people. *Remember, there are like a billion+ ppl in China* So, I’m not sure what we are going to do, but we’ll find something! Then Oct 14-16 we are going to Yellow Mountain, and then Oct. 22-31 we are going to Beijing and Xian! So it’s going to be a month filled of fun and awesomeness!!!!
So most of the guys I live with and I went to Shanghai for the weekend! We had district conference out there, and we don’t have school on Fridays, so we left Thursday night and got back tonight (Sunday). I was really down for seeing whatever because I had already spent a few days in Shanghai when I first flew in. Before I get into Shanghai and the pictures below, a few things I’ve noticed/learned…first of all, last week in class I learned a phrase that has become my new favorite phrase, haha. In Chinese 六巧克力肚子 is how they say a six-pack (abs), the translation is 6 chocolate stomach haha. I guess it’s because the abs look like six chocolate bars….and then to say “spare tire” they say 游泳圈, or swimming circle (like a swimming inner tube/floaty device thing). I thought it was kind of funny.
At the train and metro stations they have you go through “security”-which basically consists of putting your bag through the security conveyor belt thing and walking through a metal detector. When we were getting on the train the metal detector went off for like all of us and they acted like nothing went off, haha. We walked through and it beeped and then just picked up our bags and walked off. I guess it sort of makes you feel secure just having the guards stand there with their little wands…???
Last week my study buddy/awesome friend took me downtown to eat duck blood noodle soup! It had like duck blood chunks, duck liver pieces, and who knows what else in it. He said it’s like a local food here, like it started here or something. It was actually kind of good! And we also got these little pumpkin pie tart things-way good!!
A bit about the pics…a guy painting characters on the sidewalk in a park with like water or something, it was pretty cool though; mmmm yummy lunch! Not exactly what you would call gourmet; Chinese parents love having their kids take pictures with us foreigners haha, and we love taking pictures with the kids-they are sooo awesome!; notice on the sign that there are two “you are here” haha, one of them is supposed to be a museum, but they messed up with the English and it confused us for a second; the Bund is where you can see the famous Shanghai skyline-you have the old French/English buildings on one side and then the new, tall skyscrapers on the other side-pretty cool!; the last picture of me and the 3 kids-they are from Guangzhou, so they spoke Cantonese! haha it was wayy hard to speak Cantonese after focusing on Mandarin for so long now, but it was a lot of fun speaking with them, and they were way cool guys. We actually met another group of Cantonese speakers earlier that day and they were amazed at our Cantonese, haha. One of the ladies (who has lived in LA for like 30 years now) was like geesh, my son can only sort of understand Cantonese but can’t speak it, your Cantonese is way better than his! It was a fun weekend in Shanghai though!!
So a little about the pics first…we went to this museum park place (back in Guilin) and there was this old grandpa and this young girl playing the erhu. It was soo cool-the girl was really good (she wasn’t even looking at the music notes). She was trying to stay serious, but I saw a little smile come out…I mean, she’s probably never had a group of 30 Americans standing around her watching in awe. I also recorded a little of it on video! A couple of the pics are from the reed flute cave we went to (also in Guilin). Our tour guide would point to a rock formation in the cave and be like it’s a turtle, or it’s a tiger or something…let’s just say you need a really good imagination in order to see them. After the cave we headed to the elephant trunk park place…supposedly the rock/mtn with the hole in it is an elephant’s trunk…I guess I see it, but I just don’t get why it’s so amazing…other than being really old. The picture of the sign saying be careful to not fall or something…if I come back with English that is really bad, well, you know why. The rest of the pics are of my apartment. My bed is basically a little mattress bad thingy (loony tunes might I add! Thank you Wal-mart!) on the ground-not the most comfortable thing ever. And yes…that is the toilet in my apartment. Let’s just say my legs are going to be amazingly strong by the time I go back home! That is, of course, if I don’t use the toilet chair device haha.
Well, enough about the pictures…because of the extreme softness and comfort of my bed (as well as the piece of wood I slept on on the train) my back has been hurting…so I think I’m going to try some acupuncture! Should be an adventure I will be sure to blog about. Also, a few of us bought tickets to Jay Chou’s concert!!! haha, I’m sooo excited. He’s coming here to Nanjing, so we figured we should take the opportunity and go see him. It’s in a couple of weeks!!! Last night, we went out looking for a place to eat, and we were like hmmm, we want something that’s good, but cheap…and then we saw a restaurant that had “好吃， 不贵” in big characters on the door (tastes good, cheap) haha-it was perfect! And it was actually pretty good, and not too expensive!