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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Getting ready to leave China and start my European adventure!

Wednesday December 12, 2007

Only 10 days left here!! I'm kinda excited to leave this craziness but I know that after a week or two away I will start to miss it a lot. Tomorrow I have to give my presentation for my research project and then next Thursday I have 2 finals and thats basically what I have left to do here. Nothing much has happened since I lasted posted, just a lot of studying like usual and a lot of travel plan making. I ventured to Qipu lu again to buy a coat which I did but of course I paid more because I am a foreigner... but it still wasn't that expensive. I figured it would be a good idea to have something warm while I am in eastern and northern Europe. I also have to decide what I can send home and what I can throw away because I have to cut my luggage down to about 30kg, or as close to it as I can...
I leave Shanghai at 1145 am on Saturday the 22nd on Aeroflot and I have a quick 3 and a half hour layover in Moscow, and then I arrive in Madrid, Spain at about 1000pm on the same day. I didn't get a chance to get a Russian transit visa... so hopefully nothing bad will happen to me while I try to transfer planes in Moscow. I tried twice to go to the consulate here to get one but for some reason they are only open 915 am to 1215pm... and even though I was waiting two hours and there was no one else in line, they wouldn't take me at 1215. I also bought my tickets home and to Taiwan. So I will come home on February 11, 2008 and will be home for a few days and then hopefully visit IU, then my flight to Taiwan leaves February 18. So thats all done.

Now all I have to do before I leave is try and get as close to finalizing my Europe plans as possible. Right now this is what my trip looks like
Madrid, Spain December 22-25
Marrakesh, Morocco December 25-30
Barcelona, Spain December 30- January 2
Madrid, Spain January 2-4
Aix-en-Provence, France January 4-10
Oslo, Norway January 10-12
Krakow, Poland January 12-15(?)
Prague, Czech Republic January 16(?)-18(?) (by train)
Bratislava, Slovakia January 20(?)-23(?) (by train)
Madrid, Spain January 23(?)-31
Paris, France January 31-February 3
Athens, Greece February 3-5(?)
Istanbul, Turkey February 6-8(?) (by train)
Sofia, Bulgaria February 8-10(?) (by train)
Madrid, Spain February 10-11
Chicago, U.S.A. February 11

Half of the trip, with the ?, are all not for sure yet cuz I haven't booked anything but that is what I think is going to happen as of now. I'll probably have a few couple more posts before I leave here...Leave a comment!

Also... I might have finished applying for my Egypt program over the summer... but I don't know for sure because they don't ever like to answer e-mails... even when they get 4 or 5 of them... but anyways that is going to be a whole nother issue trying to get there from Taiwan... but I guess I don't have to worry about that yet.

Nanjing pics
Taiwan pics Pt 1
Taiwan pics Pt 2

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Only 3 weeks left...

Starting from the top...
My hostel in Taiwan... called Taiwanmex (owned by a mexican)
Chang Kai Shek memorial
random sign that says I love Taipei
more of the memorial
the hostel cat that liked to sleep in our room
(left to right) Manila, Me and Lisa eating lunch in the Philippines (we were sitting with our legs in the water), and then me trying to do my best at making tea at a tea house
and the last one is LOVE in front of Taipei 101

November 28, 2007

Nothing much has happened since I got back from my trip, just a lot of school, homework, tests, and studying Chinese. The Taiwan program finally got all my stuff in the mail so I should find out within a week or so if I am accepted to that, then I can finally start finalizing my plans for winter break. I found two more cheap airlines that offer a lot of flights, basically ANYWHERE in Europe and then Morocco and Turkey on top of that. The only problem is that I'll have to be doing a lot of this traveling alone and I don't speak any of the languages of a lot of the places I am looking into going. My list so far of confirmed trips is Spain, Morocco, Spain again, France, and Norway... from there I'll head off to London or Dublin. They have flights to anywhere in Europe from those two places so I was looking into traveling to Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, the Czech Republic and some others, depending on the dates of Taiwan. So that is going to be fun to plan.
all cheap tickets to wherever you want

Also I got in touch with some people from Egypt and it should be pretty easy to transfer my application over to the summer, so hopefully that will all work out in the end and I can still graduate on time.

I still haven't gotten my pictures up from Taipei and the Philippines because facebook isn't working, but I'll post them here as soon as it works. And I'm getting sick... yay...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

General things about the trip

I really liked Taiwan... I'll probably get in trouble for saying this since I'm in China now and they might block my site or something... but we shall see

Here is why Taiwan is better than China:
People wait in line and are considerate of one another.
People follow traffic signals.
There is not garbage and pollution everywhere.
Nothing is censored (like news and wikipedia)
People wait in line for the subway and wait for the people to get off before getting on in an ORDERLY manner.
The government doesn't tell the people what to think.

Also since their news isn't censored, I got to read about China's attempts to block Taiwan from joining the United Nations in Taiwan because nothing about this can be read in China because its all blocked. And I also read about China refusing to send any mail from Taiwan to people in China that had a postmark saying "UN for Taiwan" and made the people receiving these letters sign something saying they renounce all attempts by Taiwan to join the UN which just kinda seems childish to me and counterproductive.

I really hope the Taiwan program comes through because I would like to study there and get more of the other side of the China - Taiwan problem.

About the Philippines...
It was kinda scary at first, but I think thats just because everyone was making me scared with their stores but I really liked it though. I kinda wish we spent more time there and less in Taiwan... but that just gives me another excuse to go back to the Philippines in the future haha. And now I can say that I have eaten pigs blood and brain YUM!

Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Taipei, Manila, coconut plantation and back to Shanghai

Sunday, November 11 2007

On Sunday Me and Lisa met our friend Adam from IU and went out to an all you can eat hot pot place for lunch. It was pretty good but more expensive that I would pay for lunch in Shanghai, but everything is more expensive in Taipei. BUT, Taipei is much cleaner, much more organized, and much more polite than Shanghai so I am ok with paying a bit extra. After that he took us to the largest bookstore in Taipei thats open 24 hours and it's rumored that all the starts go there at midnight to check out the books haha. I picked out a couple of small comic books in traditional characters (they still use them in Taiwan if you didn't know) to see if I could get through it and understand anything. After browsing around there for a while we headed off to see his university, Taipei University, to see where he has his classes and everything. After that we headed off to visit another night market but it wasn't as good as the one we saw the first night. After that we headed back to the hostel to play with the cat and then go to sleep for the next day.

Monday, November 12 - Taipei 101

Today we went to Taipei 101 which is the tallest building in the world in 3 out of 4 categories (haha) so I guess that means it's the tallest... and we rode the fastest elevator in the world to the top haha. They gave us a free audio tour thing so we walked around the observation deck on the 89th floor and saw the whole city from there. I also got a postcard and mailed it home to mom and dad haha, I wanted to send some more to other people but I couldn't remember their addresses. After we saw the whole city we went to the ice cream shop they had up there to use our $15 off coupon (33 Taiwan Dollars = 1 U.S. dollar, so less than 50 cents) they gave us when we bought our tickets, and it was gooooood. Then after that we went up to the 91st floor where you can actually go outside, but it was waaaaaay too windy and cold so we went back inside for a bit then went and found lunch at a small place. After that we made our way to Peace Park and walked around there for a while and were pooped so we headed back to the hostel. So Lisa took a nap and I got busy with doing all the necessary things for applying to the Taiwan program I found like getting more recommendations, transcripts, essays, application things. I figured I might as well apply for it while I still have time and I can decide later if I want to do it or not. And then for some reason the Australian guy brought home 2 lab puppies, one brown and one black. He said someone got them as a present but didn't want them so left them outside and he couldn't handle it anymore so he took them and brought them back to the hostel so we played with them all night but then by the end of the night he found someone to take them so that was that.

Tuesday, November 13 Taipei Zoo
Today me and Lisa got up and headed to the Taipei zoo. I think it was pre-school day though because there were only pre-schoolers there haha. Animals we saw included lions, gorillas, penguins, red pandas, turtles, zebras, camels, monkeys, birds, ferrets, meerkats,koalas, fish, and a lot of bugs and butterflies. After spending a while there we headed over to the gondola that took us up to the top of the mountain where they have all the small tea growers and tea houses. So we walked around for a while then stopped at a tea house and drank some tea and ate some noodles then headed back to the hostel cuz we were really tired from walking around at the zoo all day.

Wednesday, November 14 Taiwan Hot Springs and Dinner with the Malaysian friends
Today was a pretty relaxed day. Me and Lisa slept in and then headed to the hot springs for a few hours. There was a crazy old man doing yoga things on the rocks... but he did thinks like stand on his head for 20 minutes at a time on ROCK and then hit himself in the head with a metal pole and hit his legs with a sledgehammer... I don't know... Then we headed back to the hostel and napped because the hot springs made us really tired and then we went out to dinner with the australian guy and 3 malaysian girls from our hostel. After that me and Lisa hung out at the hostel and then went out for the night.

Thursday, November 15
Today we went to a history museum of Taiwan that had a lot of things about the native tribes and also a strange collection of Czech puppets for some reason. It wasn't that great of a museum though and we left and there was an old man outside painting and had lots of other one sitting around him. I walked up and he immediately stood up and said "Where you from, America?" And I said yes and he got really excited then asked if I was from California or Chicago and then he said America is a great country and he loves it haha. Then he talked to us about all of his paintings and everything and emphasized that his paints were "Taiwan" watercolor paintings NOT "Chinese" ones haha. He told us he was 72 and that he really wanted us to take some of his pictures back to the US so I bought one for $100 (about 3$ US). We talked for about 15 or 20 minutes with this guy who spoke English surprisingly well because he never went to school or anything. By this point the general consensus was that Taiwanese people are a lot more friendly in general than Chinese people haha. After that we headed to Longshan Temple, a budhist temple, to visit and then hung out with our friend Adam one more time before leaving.

Friday, November 16 - Bye bye Taiwan! Ni hao Republika ng Pilipinas!
We got up early today and went and got breakfast at McDonalds for $75 (about $2.10 US) and then got some coffee to use up the last of our Taiwan money then headed back to the hostel to pack up and say goodbye to everyone and the cat. We paid the owner $800 (about $25 US) to take us to the airport where we hung out for a while before getting on our flight to Manila, Philippines. The flight was pretty short and smooth and we got there with no problems and were picked up by Evelyn and Boy who are friends of Lisa's step mom. They quickly whisked us away to a fresh seafood market to buy dinner. On the way there we just started out the window at the Philippines and I can safely say that it is a lot poorer than Shanghai and a lot more dangerous too. On the way there I saw a lot of police standing on corners or in front of buildings with machine guns and a lot more homeless people. We got to the fresh seafood market and looked around while Evelyn got dinner for us then we went to a restaurant out back and gave them the food and they cooked it. Now I usually try to stay away from seafood because I don't like fishy tasting things, I don't like pulling heads off of shrimp and then peeling the shell off, I don't like sucking meat out of crab shells, and I don't like rubbery things like squid and octopus. But this ended up being our dinner for the night: huge shrimp complete with heads and shells, crabs cut in half to pick out the meat, squid, and something made mostly of pig blood... and fresh mangoes and lycones yummmm. And after that they took us to our hotel which was pretty nice to drop our stuff off. Then they took us to a bar/restaurant area of town to walk around and we found a bar with live music and sat down for a bit but there was no one there yet and no music we left at the suggestion of Evelyn and Boy to find a new place. So we walked around for a bit then they decided that we should go back to that bar because there is was nothing else haha. Then we sat for a bit more then they decided to take us to a place they like to go... but halfway through the drive there they decided it was too far and took us BACK to that place, but they wouldn't let us stay out alone so they waited in the car for us while we stayed there for a bit. Then afterwords they took us back to our hotel and told us we shouldn't leave because its too dangerous but if we did leave to not go far. But me and Lisa were waaay to tired to try and go find somewhere to go and we just made a quick seven eleven run and went to sleep because we had to get up at 545 the next morning to go to the Villa Escudera.

Saturday, November 17 coconuts and waterfall lunch

So we got picked up at 7 am after having our first american breakfast since leaving the USA at the hotel. It was a 3 hour drive so me and Lisa basically slept on the way there with breaks to eat filipino snacks. When we got there we had a tour of the museum of all the worldly collections of things and a lot of floats of various bible scenes and of Christ that they use in a parade on Palm Sunday. After that we headed over to lunch which was fun. They have a waterfall that falls into a shallow pool
thats maybe a foot deep that has a lot of tables and a really good buffet with fried bananas, soups, beef, chicken, crab, noodles, rice and a lot of other things. So you sit with your feet in the water while eating the buffet, and they also bring you out a fresh coconut with a straw in it for your drink. After that we headed over to the pool to swim for a bit then headed into the coconut pavilion to watch all the dances from different native tribes of the Philippines. Then we headed back to the city for dinner at the oldest restaurant chain in the Philippines, but it kinda seemed like a Steak-n-Shake or something, not too fancy. But they ordered us their famous grilled chicken, fresh mangoes again, and something called "sisig" that me and Lisa ate. It tasted really good because they loaded it up with hot sauce and calamanca juice and spicy peppers. And after we ate it we found it it is a mixture of pork face slices and brain... but it still tasted good haha. Then they took us home and told us they were really tired so we could go out alone but to stay near the hotel. So me and Lisa got ready and went out and were walking around for something to do when a dirty little girl ran up to me and started begging for money and I told her I didn't have any which was true because I couldn't find an ATM that would work or I totally would have given her a bit of money. But I guess she didn't believe me because she then wrapped her arms around me and locked her hands and wouldn't get off. Lisa was trying to give her some coins she had to get her off, then she finally let go of me and grabbed the coins from Lisa but then yanked her hair then rain way. I don't know why really, maybe she didn't think it was enough money or something. Then me and Lisa kept walking but we were getting kinda nervous because of all the guards we were seeing everywhere and then we met someone who told us about a place that we went to that was nice and had live music again. So we hung out there for a while then headed back to the hotel.

Sunday, November 18 Last day of the trip and back home to Shanghai
Today they picked us up and took us to an old Spanish fort that had been controlled by the Japanese, and the Americans, and the British at various points and we hung around that area for a while. Then after that we took a carriage ride through a historical part of Manila and saw a lot of old buildings and prisons where the Japanese kept all the Filipinos during WWII. After that they took us to a big mall. It was kinda scary since they had bombings in October at malls in Manila so at each entrance they had a security guard with metal detectors and they looked through your bags to get in. And inside they had bomb sniffing dogs and guards with guns walking around. The mall was crazy though, they had more knock off than China and it was a lot cheaper too. And what was really funny was that I heard people saying that all their stuff comes from Korea and NOT China so the quality is much much better haha. After that they took us to the airport and dropped us off and me and Lisa waited there for our delayed plane and got back to Shanghai at about 130 am, got a taxi and headed home for class at 8 am the next morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Off to Taiwan!

Sunday November 11, 2007

Before I left for Taiwan I had my test which went relatively ok, and then me and Lisa finished packing and headed towards the airport. We waited there for a long time because we got there really early, and then our flight took off at 1230 am and we slept most of other way there. We got to the Philippines airport at about 4 am and had to sit there and wait until our next flight left at 1120am which wasn't terrible. The airport itself as kinda dirty and I heard it was dangerous so we were scared to sleep but there were a lot of security guard everywhere and they wouldn't even let you in the building if you didn't have a flight. So we sat on uncomfortable seats for 5 hours and then checked in and sat in some different uncomfortable seats for an hour. But as we were leaving we had to pay 750 peso for using the airport haha, which is about 17 dollars, luckily I had withdrawn some money earlier so we could pay it. We got on our short flight to Taipei and landed and everything went fine and we got picked up at the airport by a driver. The hostel at first seemed a little grotsky because its basically an apartment with a bunch of rooms, and there are 2 stalls that have bathrooms in the kitchen, not in a separate room, and the showers are outside in things that look like porter-potties, and you could hear everything through the walls. BUT its actually really fun, the people are really fun, and they have a cat. The location is also really good so we never have to go too far from anything. So the first night me and Lisa just walked around because it was already getting dark and we didn't know our way around very well. Then on Saturday we got up and had sushi for lunch before going to the National History Museum and a Chang Kai Shek memorial which was fun, and then we came back to the hostel to hang out with the people here. As of now there is me and Lisa, about 9 girls from Thailand that are really loud, 2 korean guys, a chinese guy and girl, a funny australian guy, and a funny old man who are staying there so it makes everything pretty fun. Also the owner is from Mexico and he speaks to me in Spanish now because his English isn't that great, so I can practice my Chinese and Spanish at the same time haha. So now its SUnday morning and me and lisa are out to meet our friend Adam from IU and we are heading out to explore the city more. Also I didn't get into my program in Egypt for next semester, so I actually have to either go back to IU next semester or find something else to do... the more time i spend in Taipei the more it seems like a viable option...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trip to Nanjing and some other things

Wednesday (Halloween!) October 31, 2007

Over the weekend we had a trip to Nanjing, which used to be known as Nanking and some people might have heard that before. It used to be the capital of China before WWII. We left on Friday and had a long bus ride there that I slept though so I don't know exactly how long it took haha. We had a stop for crappy food and snacks and when we got to Nanjing we had a presentation at the Amity Foundation or 爱德 (love - virtue) is the Chinese name. They have lots of programs for people to teach English in small, undeveloped cites in western China and also they train doctors and set them up in these small places too. After we got to the hotel about 5 or so and I had a nap then we went out to eat at a nice restaurant and a walked down the pedestrian street and had glazed fruit on a stick and bubble teas. The next day we got up early and visited Zhongshan where there is a tomb for Sun Yat Sun who was the founder of the Republic of China before the Communists took over. I am surprised though that the communists didn't rip the place down after they took it over though especially since it talks a lot about democracy and a free China with the old flags everywhere. After that we visited some more temples including a Confucian temple and some gardens. After that we walked down really busy shopping streets and had some street food and stayed out till pretty late shopping and walking around the city then headed back to the hotel. The next day we got up early to visit a temple and a pagoda where they have a bone of the man who went to India and translated a lot of Buddhist classics into Chinese. Then we walked along the old city wall to another temple where there were hundreds of people worshiping and praying and went to another pagoda there. After that we went back to the first temple where they made us monk lunch which is completely vegetarian. This lunch consisted of meat balls, beef slices, chicken wings, shrimp, fish, and sausage all made from tofu haha. Along with logs of veggies. It was actually really good and I would rather eat that sometimes than some of the stuff I am currently eating lol. After that we got back on the bus and headed back to Shanghai, but not before stopping off at a famous teapot museum that was kinda dumb and where they sold teapots for hundreds of dollars. So now I'm back in school and counting down the days till I go to Taiwan.

Me and James and Phil and Aliyah and Emily have also finalized our Christmas and New Years plan. Me and Phil will be flying into Madrid, Spain on December 22 and James, Emily, and Aliyah will already be there. Some people (not me) will be going to the Spice Girls concert on the 23rd haha. On Decmeber 25 we will fly from Madrid to Marrakesh, Morocco and stay there for 5 nights. Hopefully we will have a Sahara trek and ride on camels haha. On Decmeber 30 we will fly from Marrakesh to Barcelona where we will stay until January 1 or 2 and then go back to Madrid. Then Me and Phil will fly to Marseille on January 4th and I will stay with him for a while there and we may go visit somewhere else in that time and Oslo, Norway is on the table for this trip... after that I'm not quite sure whats going on yet because I haven't yet heard from my Arabic program if I've been accepted.

soooo thats all for now LEAVE A COMMENT!!!

here are some pictures also from the last leg of my SICHUAN trip that I haven't put up yet... its mostly panda bears haha.
PICTURES! click here

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Trip to Taiwan and Philippines is official!

October 23, 2007
Lisa picked up our passports today with no problem so thats all set. Then I had a nap and made some more bok choy ( its getting better every time!!) and then we discussed our trip. This is now the official trip

November 9 1230 AM Shanghai - Manila (arrive 430 AM :()
November 9 1110 AM Manila - Taipei (Arrive at 110 pm)
November 9 to 16 in Taipei and surrounding areas
November 16 at 155 PM Taipei - Manila (arrive 355pm)
November 16 to 18 in Manila
November 18 8 PM Manila - Shanghai (Arrive after 11pm)

And now that thats all worked out I can start to work more on my European/North Africa plans. After discussing with Phil and Aliyah this seems to be a good plan to start working on:
Phil and I arrive in Madrid on December 22 and most of our friends will be there already.
Then we will stay there and on the 25th or 26th we will take a bus down to the south of Spain and then catch a ferry over to Tangier, Morocco. From there we will either go to Fez, Marrakesh, or Casablanca and spend some time there. Then on the 29th or 30th of December we will head to Barcelona and stay there for 3 or 4 nights. Then we will hop on a bus from Barcelona to Madrid. Then I will leave Madrid on the 4th and fly to Marseilles with Phil and stay with him for a while there. (We are thinking about going to maybe Oslo, Norway, or Stockholm Sweden sometime in the beginning of January... but thats another story) Then sometime towards the 18th or so of January I will fly back to Madrid and stay there for a few nights before heading to Cairo. :o) It is really confusing and it involves lots and lots of planning and I have to hear back from all of my friends if they like this idea or not... but it seems to work out pretty well as of now.
I still haven't heard from Cairo though if I got accepted to not into the program. They told me middle of November though so I am not really worried, I am just getting too antsy haha... Also I have a spoken midterm tomorrow for Chinese and a written one Thursday so I think I need to study now!!!!!
Leave a comment!! I like to see if people are actually reading this or not haha

(more) Eggplant, bok choy, and new chinese friends

Monday October 22, 2007
I went to class in the morning as usual which almost seemed pointless... But after class I stopped on the way home and got a couple more cooking things and me and Lisa made more eggplant and ate dumplings before she had to be off to class. They were a teeeeeeny bit better than before but not too much better haha. Then the cleaning people came and cleaned the apartment which was really in need of a good cleaning... I don't think my Chinese roommate was happy with how much they were charging though (about 70 cents a room!) so I said I would just pay for it even though his girlfriend gave me a little bit of money later haha. And then after my nap I found a good recipe for bok choy and made that and it was reallllly good and really spicy. Lisa came back just as I finished and we started making some beef and peppers and have another go at the eggplant and peppers. This time we tried to follow a recipe for the eggplant but we didn't have everything so we had to improvise. This time it wasn't too bad, the sauce was a bit runny but other than that it was our first whole meal we made in China haha. After that we went to a little get together for Chinese students and foreign students to just kinda hang out and play games or talk and have some coffee. So there I made about 200 new friends who now all have my phone number and will probably wanna hang out. This will hopefully be good for my Chinese haha.
Also there is an update on my Fall break trip...
When I was sitting in class in the morning Lisa txted my and said that because of all the recent bombings and kidnappings in the Philippines and especially Manila her people think we shouldn't go anymore. So after much debate me and Lisa decided to keep our plane tickets to Manila but then from there fly to Taipei, Taiwan and stay there for about 7 nights, and then after that fly back to Manila and stay there for 2 or 3 nights before heading back to Shanghai. So it all works out in the end and this way I can see more Chinese culture but from the other end of the spectrum and I still get to visit the Philippines for a bit :o)

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Propaganda museum and eggplant?

Sunday October 21, 2007

Today I got to sleep in a bit which was nice and then Lisa came up and we tried to make the eggplant and peppers that I bought at the outdoor market on saturday night. It didn't turn out terrible... but it wasn't very good haha. We put in way too much soy sauce and oil and the eggplant just soaked it all up. So we decided to walk to a market to try and get some different cooking things and foods and we got some bok choy, garlic, ginger, oils, and vinegar and some other things. Total cost for all of that was about 2 dollars not including the oil which was expensive ($1.50!). And then we came back and got ready for our outing to the propaganda poster museum of all the propaganda posters from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. A lot of them were pretty scary. A large portion of them showed some combination of the representations of people or things from the US, Japan, South Korea, and/or Taiwan and how the Chinese people can beat them and kill them. Luckily they didn't seem to work much because most Chinese people here are very very friendly towards us. After that we had a nice dinner and headed back home for studying (or lack of it).

here are some random links about propaganda posters's_Republic_of_China

also if you wanna see more just go to google and type something in and you'll get a lot of hits!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trip to Qipu lu!!

October 20, 2007

Last night we just went out to an american restaurant that was waaaaaaaaaay to expensive but it was good to have a good hamburger and french fries, but then after that I just stayed home so I wouldn't spend anymore money haha. So today we got up and decided to go to Qipu lu which is basically the knock off street and its CRAZY. Its a huge long street filled with people and shops and malls full of everything and also there were about 20 people following us trying to get us to buy things. We finally made it to a mall but had 2 people following us still trying to take us to places, one of them gave me his card too haha. We were looking at places but we eventually had 3 or 4 people following us so we went into a store that had an exit to the outside and they waited on the inside exit for us . And the second they weren't looking we ran out and then went back in the front but went up to the second floor haha. And we didn't see them again, but we did have a lot of other people follow us. We had to hurry up though because they were closing soon. I found a place that had some shirts I wanted but they were waaaay to expensive. She was selling them for 85 kuai and or about 11 dollars which is waaay too much because one of my friends was quoted 40 or 5.50ish so I just wanted to leave but she was kept telling me to make her an offer so I told her 30kuai and ill buy 3 of them. But she said no and said something higher and I started to leave and she pulled me back in. She was being really mean and rude though and kept switching between English and Chinese and told me whats the most I'm willing to pay for 3 and I said 150 and she said no so I started to leave and she pulled me back and said ok haha. But by that time I was kinda annoyed because she was being really rude and they looked kinda crappy so I didn't want them anymore and she basically yelled at me in Chinese and said I shouldn't bargain with her if I'm not going to buy anything haha. We walked around for a bit more and then got stalked for a bit more and then left because they closed. So we walked around outside for a while and walked down a street that was basically produce all over the place and lots of random shops with big tubs of fish and crabs and eels. I bought some eggplant and pepper to make lunch tomorrow for haha. I think i got 4 egg plants and 5 large hot peppers for 3 kuai... so about 39 cents? And then we walked down another street that was kinda an ally but it was full of people selling things. When we got to he end I heard a hitting noise and someone screaming... not a good sign. I was trying to find where it was coming from and then I some guy beating someone with something and then I started watching and I realized it was a little girl. We didn't really know what to do but he had a huge chunk of plastic or something and he was holding on the ground and beating her with it and she was screaming and crying. Finally a bunch of other people ran up and got him to stop but he kept trying to beat her more but then finally left and went back to his little stand of stuff he had. I didn't really wanna stay around much longer to see what happened though and we left, kinda sick about seeing that. Then we found a taxi and headed back to the apts and got some fried noodles and hung out for a bit. And now its time to go to sleep so I can get up nice and early for some goooooood studying :o)

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Back to school...

October 10 to October 19, 2007
I have been busy with a lot of homework the past 2 weeks so I didn't have much time to finish updating my posts from my trip and then do this so I'm just going to do the past 2 weeks in one shot because it was a pretty average week.

On Monday we went back to class as usual expect there was a typhoon again so there was a LOT of rain and wind and my umbrella broke so I work a big yellow poncho to class haha then the rest of the week was pretty uneventful, just studying and homework. Then somewhere along the way... I think maybe Sunday Lisa told me that her chinese roommate heard on the news or something that there was an airline offering round trip tickets to the Philippines for 2 kuai... or about 25 cents... So we looked into this and found that they did indeed have them for that much, but then they throw on 100$ in taxes. But 100.25 isn't bad for round trip tickets from Shanghai to Manila, Philippines so basically me and Lisa bought them on Monday but we had to buy them for November 9th and miss class instead of November 10th because they ran out of the cheap ones, but thats fine with me. So Tuesday I had to get up early and meet Yunqi who helped me go to the university to get a letter that says I can get a second visa. Then I had to go downtown to the Shanghai exit and entry something or other and apply for a second visa for me and Lisa. So this basically meant I had to fill out a lot of paper work and then sit there for 3 hours because they only had 2 windows out of 20 open. It was kinda like the BMV, you get a number and wait till its up and then go up to the window and do your stuff. I was kinda annoyed because the lady at the info desk said I needed to be there but then when we went up to the thing he just grabbed all the paper work and put it in an envelope and gave me a receipt... no questions asked so I had to miss more class for nothing, but whatever. So we can go pick them on Tuesday and then our whole trip is set! We also don't have to plan anything out because Lisa's step mom is originally from Manila and is arranging the whole thing for us so its going to be pretty nice.

Nothing else much happened these past 2 weeks except I found out we have a huge test next week over our whole book which is going to be fun because they haven't taught us very much from it at ALLLLL!!!!! Which kinda annoys me because I'm really worried about the grade I'm gonna get on it. Also I found out I have a test in my other class that they never told us about which is also going to be realllllly fun to deal with. I really don't like how they run the classes here. I have 2 chinese classes and a sociology class. One Chinese class is 4 days a week and sucks. One teacher teaches the first two and one teaches the next and its really confusing because they each do their own thing on different chapters which means we talk about one grammar thing or vocab words and we don't see them again for a week. Also one teacher goes off on hour long tangents ever class and the other spends 3 hours going over every vocab word and all that our tests are is grammar, but neither of them talk about the grammar AT ALL. So I feel like I'm not learning much from here. In our other chinese class it is 2 days a week and also has 2 teachers but they each teach half of it each day. The first teacher is great. She is really funny and keep us awake. The second teacher is the teacher from our other class that spends 3 hours on vocab and 0 on grammar, and surprise surprise she does the same thing in here! We just read each vocab word and give example sentences. Our sociology class is also a joke. All we do is listen to a chinese professor who makes sense less than a fourth of the time and then talk about the stupid papers that make no sense, and its 4 hours long... So no one is happy with that to say the least. So I'll take my tests next week and hopefully I can figure out most of the grammar before that :/

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Day 9 Chengdu BACK to Shanghai!

October 6, 2007
Today we got up in the morning had free time before we had to meet back at the hotel to head to the airport. So we basically got some lunch then walked around and looked at the shops. I went to the place right across from our hotel and before I could even walk across the street I had a couple monks ask me follow me and beg for money. Then when I went in the store they waited for me outside, or found someone else to follow. The lady in the store was really nice and really excited that I could talk to her in Chinese so she was giving me a good deal. They had a mini mahjohng set that was "yak bone" (yeah right) and it came in a nice wooden box and yesterday her husband told me it was 500 kuai which is like 65 dollars so I said NOOOOO WAY, but she told me 160 which is about 20 dollars so I got it and was happy. Then we walked down the street a bit more and got followed by a few more monks who wanted money and I gave money to cuz I felt bad. Then we get to another shop that has the same mahjong set for only 68kuai :o( :o( :o( :o( :o( :o( so I was kinda upset about that for a while and in a bad mood for the rest of the day. We just browsed a few more shops after that and found some of our friends. And then one monk who looked like he could have been only 15 or 16 kept following me and petty my arm saying please give me money in chinese and petting my arm, and he finally left after one of the store owners yelled at him, and then he hissed and ran away. After that I went to a shop that had silk tibetan banners that they hang everywhere that are different colors and have the sutra written on them in tibetan. I bought a couple of these and brought my friend back because he wanted some of them and was waiting outside when a monk came up right behind me and started chanting in my ear. I turned around to look at him and he kept chanting and holding his hand out so I gave him a little money because he was scaring me and then he pulled out a prayer necklace and started chanting louder and pointing to all the banners. Then I showed him that I had bought some and he grabbed my bag and started chanting louder and wouldn't let go, so I kinda pulled away roughly and walked away faaaaasst. We ran back to the bus and headed towards the airport. We got in at 730ish pm and had to wait foreeeever to get our bus back to the apts but it finally came and we headed back and crashed. all in all it was a great trip I think and would looove to go back and visit

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day 8 in Chengdu, Sichuan

October 5, 2007
Today we woke up at about 8ish and then got ready to head to Leshan Big Buddha. After a somewhat better breakfast we hit the road but it was actually a real road this time so it wasn't bad. We stopped at a rest stop that was actually CLEAN and not a hole in the ground and not covered in nasty and not gross. But what was amazing about this place was that there was a huge everything tea shop outside! They had green tea ice cream ( i had two because they were small haha) and fried tea leaves and green tea pancakes and so much other stuff I couldn't explain. And the next best part was that they had free samples of everything haha, but we had to leave so we didn't get to spend much time there even though I would have liked to. We then stopped at a place to have lunch... it was ok but still disappointing. It was at some park place and we had like 45 minutes of free time and they had a giant ball you get inside of and then you can go out on the lake in it and some people did that but I didn't because I didn't want to wait in line. After that we went to the big buddha and then waited in line in 99% humidity and sun and heat for a while, then we got on a boat and went down the river and drove past the buddha and then looked at it for a bit and took a picture then headed back... kinda lame to drive 3 hours each way for... We then headed back and by that time it was basically dinner and we headed to a hot pot place!!! and they gave us a reallllly spicy and super MA hot pot that was really good. And the best part was we could order whatever we wanted and they just kept brining it out. After a long while here we heading to the famous changing faces opera. It was really fun, they had a couple acts like singers and little skits and things and then at the end they had their changing faces show which is everyone doing their dances and everything and they change the masks they are wearing really quickly and you can't really tell how but I think its under their hats or something. After that we had the night free and I headed out for a night on the town with a few friends. On our way back home later that night they had kids everywhere selling roses. I told one earlier that I would buy one from him if he was still there when I was going home and he was so I bought one. But then all 20 of the other ones wanted me to buy one too, including this littler girl who kept sticking them in my pockets and wouldn't leave me alone. And then another boy was trying to get me to get some too and I said I had already bought one from his friend and then he told me that he had no friends which is kinda sad. But then he opened the taxi door for me and gave me a rose for free and said he would help me out haha. After that we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep for our last night in Sichuan.

SICHUAN trip day 7! pandas and chengdu!

October 4, 2007
Today we got up early to leave the hotel and head back towards the city where there would be western toilets and nice rooms haha. Before heading back we drove to Mt. Ba Lang to rest a bit which it is 13,000 feet high and that was the highest we went on our trip. We got out to take pictures and use the bathroom and to buy random food on a stick as usual. It was kinda cold so we didn't say for too long. After that we got back on the most dangerous road and for another 20 hours. After many hours and another disappointing meal we got to the highlight of the trip, the "China Giant Panda Garden" in Wolong, China which has 71% of the worlds panda population. I got lots of pictures of them, but you could actually hold a baby one for a few seconds and take pictures if you payed something like 50 or 100 dollars so I passed. They didn't give us to much time there because we had to head back to Chengdu to check into the hotel. We all loaded back into the bus and checked into our realllllllly nice hotel and went to sleep because were are tired from all the traveling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 6 Hiking on Sigunian Mountain (Mountain of the 4 sisters)

The first one is me feeding an apple to a horse on the wooden trail at Siguniangshan, and the second is the old man that was selling goat meat on a stick that was reallllly good, and the last one is the goat roasting behind the tibetan dancers that are at the bottom

October 3, 2007
Today we get up early and take a bus up to the start of the hiking trail to Siguniangshan. We had to rent rain boots because it rained a lot the past few days and it was all muddy and all I had was tennis shoes. So we all wore our rented nasty boots and walked down the 2000 meter wooden trail. It was really nice and it wasn't very cold out which was also nice and the weather was great. We basically just walked on this wooden trail for a while and then at the end of it is where the mud started and there was a LOOOOOT of it, and it was also mixed with equal parts of horse poop. So we walked through the mud for a while then got to a summit of some sort, but some people had harder times breathing and walking in the altitude so they had cans of oxygen for them. When we got there we had a picnic lunch which was kinda gross but it worked. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw smoke and walked towards it and surprise surprise there was meat on a stick!!! It was only 13 cents and sooooooo good I think I had 5 of them. After that me and a few people walked back and rested by a stream and got accosted by a woman trying to take pictures of us with Tibetan clothes who was hitting on me. Then we head back towards the hotel but stopped for some more meat on a stick where we rented the boots.

We got back to the hotel and had our dinner then we had a "surprise" for us afterwords. This was a kinda performance in a tent out front by the girls that worked at the hotel. There was lots of tibetan (and modern and lipsynced) singing and dancing which was fun and they were also roasting a goat (that we saw get killed a bit earlier) and some rabbits and chicken for us in the background while the sang. They also had everyone get up and join and had a few games and it was really fun.

After that we headed back to our hotel and played mahjong all night which was really fun... im starting to get the hang of it haha. and here is a video of a circle dance they did that they tried to get me to do but I didn't really want to haha.

here is a video of some of the dancers

here are pictures! mostly of the mountians

Day 5 Tibetan Jiaju village and lots and lots of high altitude driving on even worse roads (if thats possible)

The first picture is a random bathroom on the side of the road, the second is of normal road conditions for most of the trip, the third is a picture of the road and scenery from the bus, and the last is the yak butter milk tea

October 2, 2007
Today we get up and drive up the mountain to Jiaju Tibetan village which is basically just a small tibetan town that has been turned into a tourist attraction, but its still fun. We went to a house and looked around it and saw how the traditional houses are. Then after a bit of looking around they made us their traditional yak butter milk tea which tasted a bit like warm skim milk with barley and a lot of salt... yum... and they also gave us some little barley cakes to go with it. We didn't stay for very long though because we had to get a move on to Siguniang Moutains (Mt. Four Sisters) which was high up and far away. We left the village and headed to a Tibetan hotel for lunch which was ok but still not very spicy. It was fun at the end though because all the servers came in and sang and danced for us. After that we headed off our our trip of more and more and more terrible roads of getting stuck in the mud and having to stop and help other cars out of the mud so we can get by ect. ect. We also passed through so many small villages that looked like they may have never even seen a foreigner before.

I think the whole trip was about 9 hours and not one minute of it was on a paved road or anything so it was a nice 9 ours of crazy rocking back and forth on the bus. It was so bad you couldn't even do anything but talk or listen to music and deal with it. I heard form someone on the trip too that this was the most dangerous road in the world and I'm not surprised from how it looked from all the falling rocks and everything. The bridges too looked scary, like they would fall and collapse if we drove over them but they seemed to hold just fine.

After a long long long long time we got to our village which I think was about 11,000 feet above sea level and checked into our Tibetan hotel for 2 nights. It was a really tiny town and nothing really to do except hang out at the hotel cuz it was so late. Also it was realllllllly cold at night that high up and it was actually a little hard to breath cuz everything was a walk uphill. Also the hotel didn't have heat which was fun. And they had "western style toilets" which was basically a western toilet over a hole... so it didn't really work, but I wont get into that. Also the shower and the toilet leaked on the floor because the shower was kinda a stall with a floor but the drain in the shower just opened to the floor and kinda flooded the bathroom cuz the drain was on the other side... nice. Also you couldn't walk barefoot in the room because you would probably step on something and get a disease because they don't vacuum or clean. So the first night we just went to sleep because we were all tired from the rough trip and to get up early to go hiking on the mountains.
PICTURES!!!! click here, same as day 4 pictures, tibetan village, and danba
Pictures of Tibetan village and trip on the way to siguniang mountains and the mountains

Day 4 Heading to Danba Tibetan Town

the first picture is of the bridge that Mao crossed in Luding (but we had no time to go on it :o() and the second is infront of my hotel at Danba, and the third is a large portion of our dinner that was too 麻 for us to handle.

the October 1, 2007
On this day we got to sleep in a little and then drive to Danba, it was a little bit uneventful since it was mostly driving all day. Lots of bad roads and driving through small towns and "唱山歌". We stopped in a small town called Luding to get some snacks and water since where we were going next they wouldn't have much of that kinda stuff. I guess Mao and his army crossed a chain bridge in this city sometime during their civil war. We only got to spend a half hour there though because we had to get to a tunnel ( i think they said it was the longest in asia?) before it switched direction ( they make it one way during holidays and switch direction for long times) or else we would have to wait like 4 or 5 hours and would miss something else we were doing. Before we went in the tunnel we stopped yet again to take more pictures, but they also had a lot of vendors who were selling fruit and nuts and things and they had some dried kiwis which were really good. Then we went through the tunnel and came out the other side into the mostly Tibetan area of Sichuan. Mostly this whole time I got lots of scenery shots. We stopped a few more times to get pictures and look at road vendors and then drove down lots more bumpy roads and through more small towns and maybe got stuck in the mud a few times.

We then got to Danba and checked in our hotel that wasn't thaaaaat bad but once again the toilet acted as the drain for our shower, which was also not warm water, but actually boiling and it would switch between boiling and freezing almost every few seconds. We only stayed here for one night though. We had free time in Danba so we went down to the shopping area naturally and went shopping. I ending up buying a nice chinese chess set. Its made of out real (haha yeah right) leather as the guy says, and each of the pieces is also made from leather and the board and the case and its blue. I think I paid about 8 or 9 dollars for it so not too bad. I also bought one of the Tibetan spinners that has the sutra inside that I really wanted. We then went back to the hotel and hung out a bit before going to dinner. We went to some random place on the side of the road and we wanted to eat outside so they brought a huge table from inside and put it outside for us. I think there were about 10 of us total. We got a bunch of dishes like normal but they were 麻麻麻麻麻麻麻 to the extreme. I couldn't even eat the mapodoufu or the fish, even though I didn't really want to. The eggplant was good though (as usual). All in all it was a great dinner and fun being out with everyone. Then after that we headed to the internet cafe for 20 minutes only cuz they were gonna lock us out of the hotel and I manged to check my e-mail even though it took all 20 minutes to load. We made it back just in time and then played charades for a while until we got yelled at for being too loud because you can hear EVERYTHING even if its a whisper through the walls in that place. Then after that I had a boiling/freezing shower and went to sleep to get up in the morning early to check out and head to the Jiaju Tibetan Village with the Tibetan families. There are pictures below to see!

here are pictures!!!!!!!

Sichuan part 3!!! (Hailuogo Glacier park fun and Hot Springs with flesh eating fish)

the first picture is me and my friend jamie in the flesh eating fish and the second is on the ski lift ride to the glacier, and the third is my roommate Yuki and his girlfriend in the flesh eating fish

September 30, 2007
We get our wakeup call and go down to breakfast which is another dismal array of watery rice with some pickled things and a hard boiled egg, luckily our teachers bought us some instant coffee though to get us through it. We then hopped on the bus to get to the other bus station (which took less than a minute to drive to so i dont know why we we didnt walk...). We waited there for a bit then hopped on a bus to go up to the top part of the mountain where the glacier was. the bus ride was kinda scary because they were driving are really high speeds around narrow corners going up. There were also a lot of buses on their way down so every time there was a turn or a curve (or someone in the road or on the side of the road or he for any reason the bus driver wanted to which seemed like every 3 seconds) he would lay on the most annoying horn I have ever heard, and it got old really quick. Everyone in China honks their horns A LOT even when they don't need to.

Anyways we got to the top of the mountain and had to hold off all the Chinese people from cutting us in line to get on the ski lift to the top. The ski lift was really nice because you could see everything there on the way up, but it was also a bit scary. Once we got to the top of course they had meat on a stick like everywhere in China, and I got some and it was gooooooooood, They told me it was goat meat, I hope they weren't lying haha. We then hiked for a bit, only like an hour or so and that was fun and got to go up and touch the ice and sit up there for a while. After that we got back on the honking bus and headed down towards the hot springs (we weren't really supposed to know we were going there cuz it was a surprise but we all already knew it). Before we went there though we ate a a restaurant which of course was again highly disappointing for what was I was hoping for :o(. After that we had a tour of the springs which was basically a huge pool and mini hot tub looking things that have hot springs water pumped into it. They also had one pool that was filled with thousands of little fish that eat all your dead skin cells when you get in and I thought it was disgusting but I ended up doing it anyways. It was really strange at first and tickled a lot, so for the first 20 minutes or so I couldn't stop laughing but then it felt nice and I think between two trips in I might have spent almost 2 hours in it. While we were there they also gave us soft boiled eggs which were basically slightly cooked eggs that you drink, I didn't have any... Then as we left I of course accidentally locked my glasses in my locker and forgot which locker number it was so that was a big ordeal trying to find which one it was and having to ask the girl at the desk for a bunch of keys to try.

After that we got back on the honking bus and headed back to the hotel. When we got there we had dinner at our hotel which was probably the worst dinner of the whole trip, so I didn't eat much and got a lot of grilled eggplant and goat on a stick which was a lot better. So we got that and walked around for a bit and looked at all the same stores of tibetan stuff then found the same little kids as before and talked to them for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to play cards for a while. Then we got bored and got some not so good tasting ice cream ( but it was only 13 cents so whatever) and then went to sleep for our next long trek to Danba Tibetan town.

below is some pictures

pictures of the glacier and hot springs!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sichuan trip part 2! (Chengdu to Moxigen and Hai luoguo )

(<--our hotel in Moxizhen... little did I know it would only get worse from here... they were supposed to have western toilets but only had squatters haha and the shower was a pipe from the wall with a hole in the middle of the floor)
(^^They attacked us as soon as we got
out of the bus, trying to get us to buy
near rotten fruit for way too much, haha,
i gave the little girl some candy
and she left me alone... until later that night when
she tried to sell me them again)

September 29, 2007

We woke up pretty about 730ish and then went down and had breakfast which consisted of some rice in warm water and spicy pickled cabbage and other things put in it. They also had some bread and hot milk... yum
We then left for our hotel in 磨西镇 (Moxizhen, i tried to find a map of it but i couldn't, i guess its just that small haha) about 9ish. The on the way there the roads started getting questionable, but nothing too bad. We stopped at a random restaurant in a little city called 天全 (Tianquan) but once again the food was unspicy and disappointing :o(. We then continued driving up and up and up into the mountains and stopped a few times at random bathroom places which are usually a small building that you go in that has a trough if you're lucky, if not its a tent with a hole in the ground, and you have to pay to use them, usually 5 mao or one kuai, so thats about 7 - 14 cents. Before we went in a huge tunnel ( i think the longest in asia ) we stopped to take pictures and we got some dried kiwi slices which were really good because that area is known for its kiwis. After more driving up and up we got to the hotel after 7 and were free to find out own food, but once again it just turned up to be unspicy :(. The city itself was kinda boring, mostly lots and lots of little shops that all have the same things, usually consisting of jewelry, yak horns or other things made from yak (meat, carvings from bones, hats from fur ect). It was interesting though because most of the people in the town were Tibetans and a lot of the shops had Tibetan things. So we just walked around after dinner and bought a few souvenirs and then went back to the hotel becuae we had to get up early tomorrow to go hiking for a bit at 海螺沟 (Hai luogou) Glacier Park.

here's a link again to a lot more pictures if you wanna see them

here are pictures to see if you want to see them of this part of my trip! just click here

My Trip to Sichuan Province Pt. 1 (Shanghai to Chengdu)

September 28, 2007

We all met in the lobby around 7:30 (i was a little late though because i forgot to set my alarm... oops) to take a bus to Pudong International Airport to fly 2 and a half hours or so to Chengdu which is the capitol of Sichuan Province. I bought a a bag here to use for the trip which probably wasn't a good idea and it broke before we even go to the airport haha, lucky I didn't have to check anything and I could hold it shut until we got to our first hotel. The airline was a lot nicer that I thought it would be too which was a plus, I didn't see much of it though because I passed out almost right when I got on haha. We arrived in Chengdu at about 1:30 and met the Beijing students from our program and went to our first hotel. On the way there the Beijing leader teacher, Han Bing, told us what was ahead of of for the next week and a half which included lots of mountain driving, Tibetan villages, among other things. We got to our first hotel and checked in. It was pretty nice except for some reason bathroom basically had windows for walls and you had to pull a curtain over it to block anyone from seeing haha. We had a few hours of free time but that was basically spent in Carrefour (kinda like a French Walmart) standing in line because me and Lisa each and to buy a new bag to put our stuff in. Then we had to wait for another 20 minutes while they figured out how to use our credit cards haha. We went for a group dinner at a restaurant but I was kind of disappointed because Han Bing told us he was gonna tell all the restaurants not to make the food spicy because he didn't want anyone to 拉肚子 (diarrhea) on the trip haha. Me and Lisa were both kinda upset because we were both looking forward to spicy food so much. After that Yuki, Masako, Lisa and I just walked around Chengdu looking in expensive shops, then back to a bathing suit shop so they could get one for part of our trip. We also saw a huge statue of Mao with fireworks and crazy lights... almost a bit scary. After all that went back to the hotel and Yuki taught us a Japanese card game that we played for until 2 am haha, and then we went on a snack run to a 24 hour convenience store before finally going to sleep.


Also I have a lot of pictures but they are on on Facebook, I haven't gotten around to finding another photo site but here are a lot of pictures from one of my friends that anyone can see

sometime I will get around to it and then you can see all mine

my pictures are up to see!
click here for my pictures!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

a boring week and a half (with a terrible ending) before my Sichuan trip

September 16 ~ 27, 2007
Probably most people heard about typhoon Wipha that was headed straight for Shanghai... well it missed us so school went on as normal. It hit a bit south of us and we just got some wind and light rain. I didn't really hear about any damage caused by the storm or anything though. The rest of the week and weekend were pretty uneventful, I have been pretty busy with my classes and studying that I haven't had much time to go out and explore. I found out yesterday though that The American University in Cairo never got (or lost) a large chunk of my application material... and the deadline is October first. So instead of studying for my test and preparing my presentation over my readings like I should have been, I spent all day trying to call the university in Cairo and their offices in New York trying to get a hold of someone. My dad has to overnight 2 small pictures of me (which I think is pretty lame that they are so important they have to be overnighted) and I had to e-mail one of my professors yet again and ask her to mail another copy of my recommendation letter out. And luckily I found a copy of my passport on my computer so I can just e-mail it instead of having to try and send a copy express from Shanghai to New York. Hopefully that will all get worked out though in the next few days because I am leaving for Sichuan 四川 on Friday morning and I don't know when I will be able to check my e-mail or make phone calls while I'm there. And towards then end of all this stuff with Egypt... right before I started up my studying finally for my test tomorrow at 10pm was the terrible ending to my last week and a half which got my test canceled...

terrible ending

I was sitting at the table about to start studying and my friend Lisa got a text message from her roommate that said something along the lines of there is a dead person in front of the building... First we look out my window from the 13th floor but all we can see are the red and blue lights on the wall from the police cars so then we run down to Lisa's room and look out her window and see police cars, 8 or so policemen, and a few random people around the area of a body shaped white sheet with red stains on it. All we could do is just stand there and stare... We just talked about what we heard... What I gathered was they think he might have jumped from his window on the 5th floor because his window was open, but it was so far away from the building we didn't thing it was possible that he could have jumped that far. The other thing we heard was he might have gotten hit by a car but the we live in a gated area and the only cars in are taxis usually and the road isn't even wide or long enough I think to pick up much speed. They said the guy was from Denmark and just moved in that day so none of us really every saw him but my two friends live in the apartment underneath him and they were actually the ones who found him and they used her sheet to cover him up. I also unfortunately saw the scene without the sheet a little bit later. So because of this they canceled the test which is good because I wouldn't have been able to study anyways and I doubt anyone else here could either. So maybe I will find out soon what happened but as of now they are still trying to clean up the mess and figure out what happened.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Finally my first post

For some reason I haven't been able to log onto my blog since arriving in China... I think I might know why... But anyways I guess I'll start from the flight over.

August 28 and 29, 2007
Aside from some rude airport employees everything went smooth. The plane ride was about 14 or 15 hours and was pretty boring. We arrived in Shanghai on the 29th and we got on a bus and headed towards our apartments. We live in the Tonghe International Students Apartments which are reallllllllllly nice, especially compared with the living situation for the rest of China. We have 3 bedrooms with A/C and two bathrooms, a living room with couches and chairs and a TV with cable, and a kitchen with a table and a stove (but no oven :( ), refrigerator, and a washing machine (but we have to hang dry in our sunroom). Also I don't have to clean, we just pay about 4 dollars and people come and clean the whole place. I have two roommates. One is Japanese and his name is Yuki from Kyoto, the other roommate is Chinese and he likes to be called Derrek haha. We went to a restaurant down the street and has our first real Chinese meal, and it was really good. You just have to watch out for the 花椒 (hua1jiao4) or you will have a lot of 麻 (ma2). 花椒 are little things that look like peppercorns but they explode in your mouth if you bite into it and make your tongue go almost numb and tingle a lot with bitter taste, and they put it in almost EVERYTHING.

August 30 to September 13, 2007

For the next few days we basically just had orientations and placement tests and everything and then started class the first Monday. I have 3 classes here one is a Chinese language (汉语) classes which is the same as C301 and C302 at IU, another one is a speaking class (听说), and another is a society class taught by a crazy guy that manages to keep me awake for 3 hours straight haha.
Here is my weekly class schedule
Monday: 汉语 840-1135
Tuesday: 汉语 115-405
Wednesday: 听说 800-1135
Thursday: 汉语840-1135 , lunch, Society 130-500
Friday: 汉语 840-1135, lunch, 听说 130-500

The start of the week isn't too by, but by the end of the week I'm going crazy. I usually have between 150 and 250 vocab words a week that usually consist of 2 symbols or more plus all the homework and readings ontop of that. I also have to do a capstone project here, I haven't thought much about it but I think I am going to do something on the local dialect of Chinese. After the first two weeks we had a test and I'll find out tomorrow what I got on it hopefully. I spent a lot of time in the first few weeks just going around Shanghai and seeing different things and trying a lot of different restaurants because the food here is so cheap.

September 14 to 16, 2006 ~ My trip to Hangzhou
After our test on Friday we hopped on a bus to Hangzhou for the weekend. When we got the bus station in Hangzhou there were swarms of Chinese people just hanging around outside waiting to offer people rides but when we came out everyone started following us yelling "Hello, Hello!" and whispering to each other in Chinese saying "English, English!" They followed us until we got rides to our youth hostel a little bit later, it was kinda amusing though. The youth hostel was really nice and only cost us 10$ each for two nights. The people who worked there were really nice too and helped us out a lot and talked with us in Chinese. On the first day we went to a pagoda across the street. I forgot the name of it but it was rebuilt a few years ago from the one that fell down in 1927, so it didn't seem very authentic or anything. Then we went to Lingyin Temple and that was fun too except I managed to hurt my ankles and couldn't walk very well. But I did get some reallllllly good tea there because it is the tea capitol of the world. We had lunch at some little restaurant but it wasn't very good. We got the soup that was named after the lake which turned out to be a bad idea because it tasted and smelled like they just scooped some water out of the lake and heated it up for us. And our chicken dish mostly consisted of bones and random chicken parts like lungs and claws. The next day my ankles felt a little better and we rented bikes to take a ride across the causeway but it was PACKED with people so we decided to just walk instead. We had lunch at a little place then headed back for Shanghai for class on Monday. When we got back though my ankles started hurting really bad again so I wrapped them and went to sleep. The next day I didn't go to school though because they still hurt so bad I couldn't walk, but some of my new friends here brought my a bubble tea which made me really happy after being cooped up all day.