Missing China

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我想念中国的三大事情。 Top 3 things I miss about China.

1. 我学生们和朋友们。My students and friends



2. 我跟中国人聊天。 Speaking Chinese


3. 美团外卖。Takeout food 

Blast from the Past VII: 成都

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I forgot a subject in the email-04.18.2014

“It’s time for another update! I apologize for it being late. Last week was Spring Break so I did a lot of traveling. I know some of you were able to see a couple pictures on facebook, since I had the chance to update a few. During our spring break, I went to Chengdu, Guilin, and Yangshuo. Between these three cities, I have a lot to say, but I’ll spare a few details so I can tell you when I get back to the states (sorry, has a nice ring to it).

I’m going to separate these three cities into separate posts with a bonus Chengdu street food picture essay post 😀 ENJOY!

Chengdu:

The highlight of this trip was volunteering with Pandas! I was able to feed 6 different pandas bamboo shoots and panda cake(a mixture of different nutrients pounded in dough). Unfortunately I didn’t get to hold them because we went to the original place, Yan’an, where they first found the pandas so they are a bit wild. Because it was a holiday the place was very packed but feeding the pandas allowed us to be away from the crowds and up close to a panda. Many pictures were taken with me and a couple of my classmates. We took pictures with students, families, wives, etc.

My second favorite part in Chengdu was traveling up Emeishan (Mt. Emei). That mountain is HUGE! Because we were pressed for time, we decided to take the bus to the second half, rest there, then hike to the cable car to take us to the peak, then hike to the Golden Summit. The golden summit is a row of elephants leading up to a giant bodhisattva statue-made temple. It was really beautiful, yet interesting. What surprised me is that every year monks make this long trip to Emeishan’s Golden Summit  to do their religious duties. That weather was very foggy during our time at the mountain. One minute you will see the temple, the next , it is hidden behind fog and it seems we are in our own cloud.

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I survived Sichuan Hotpot. I tried to stay away from so many peppercorns though. One of my classmates was sweating pretty hard and my face was somewhat red. The restaurant we went to was packed that we thought we had to wait in line for about half an hour, but I kid you not, a minute later they called us to a table. I’m guessing it was because we were foreigners because there were more than 10 Chinese families or couples waiting for a table.

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Chengdu street food is amazing…I wish picture sharing was much easier here…”-I still didn’t catch on to the idea of blogging…

NEXT POST: Chengdu Street Food Photo Essay

Blast from the Past VI: 长城

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Had a good last week in the US 😀 I depart to China in 1 hour!!

My calves hurt-04.01.14

“…

The Great Wall

We pulled off a two-day excursion to Beijing because A wanted to celebrate her birthday (March 29) on the Great Wall.

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Celebrating A’s Birthday

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If there was a competition for the best birthday parties, I think this one was the best. We had an amazing tour guide because we were able to see portions of the Great Wall that is not accessible to the public. It was not crowded and I preferred to see the ruins than the renovated part.  Attached are some photos. I took too many so you guys are going to have to wait until I get back to see all of them.

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The “Entrance

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Cherry Blossoms are blooming

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Hook ’em

The lunch after the Great Wall was AMAZING…I don’t know what the name of the dishes were but those spicy fried and dried green beans were to die for.-It was Sichuan green beans ❤

 

 

 

Beijing Day 2

We went to the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. It sucks that is was PACKED, but seeing the elderly people sing in the park was the highlight of my day.

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We went to the Temple of Heaven early in the Morning and were amongst the Elders. I wish we had this in the US where elders would have membership to the park for free and get to play badminton, join a choir, play an instrument, chit chat, play cards etc. if there wasn’t so many people in China I would’ve retired here. Hehe. This day the others and I were featured in random photos taking by Chinese Tourists outside and even on the subway. On our way back to shanghai we rode the Bullet Train. That thing is really fast, it reached about 425 Km an hour! -actually I think I was exaggerating but it was definitely over 300km However there is one thing everyone should know if you take a train at night in China. The taxi cab line is Shanghai is ridiculously long. When you get off the train you  must RUN, lol. We didn’t know that so we waited about half an hour to an hour past 11 pm until we got a Taxi.

These two weekends have worked my poor legs. I am really sore, but spring break is coming up! I will be going to Chengdu then Guilin!

Classes are relatively the same. However this week I have two 3 hour econ classes, internship and a test.  Properly thanking teachers for cramming everything in before the start of Spring Break.

Well I hope everyone is doing fine in Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, and other places where some of you may be. Send me updates!

Blast from the Past V: My calve’s hurt- 安徽

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My calve’s hurt-04.01.14

“大家好!

This is a two week update because I have been a bit busy and I admit too lazy to write an update.

These past two weekends I have been hiking on mountains in 安徽(Anhui)and 长城(The Great Wall)-I’m only going to separate these into two posts

Anhui

This was a weekend excursion planned by CET Shanghai, so the majority of our classmates, roommates, and teachers accompanied us on this trip.

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CET Spring 2014 Troupe

The director hired a famous Chinese tour guide named 迷路(Milu)which means to be lost. Pretty ironic I guess since he was the one leading us up the trails, haha. The bus ride there was about 6 hours so Milu tried to keep us busy by having us introduce ourselves, play different games, etc. It was pretty interesting to see who was in or out of shape depending on who kept up with Milu. Sorry guys, I am out of shape, I was with the average group in the middle.

 

We hiked up two different mountains in two days. I like the second mountain better because we had to do some rock climbing, jumping over things in the water. Though it was more dangerous, it was really fun and beautiful because we saw many waterfalls.

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We also did a campfire one night! Of course us Americans and the Brit had to introduce S’mores to them. I only ate two…but Big Bamboo(my chinese roommate) ate 4! This shanghainese girl loves her sweets.

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OMG one thing that i left out of this email is the amazing dumplings that I ate. I still tell everyone that the best dumplings I had was the ones that were handmade in Anhui on a plastic tarp on a rock. Everytime I eat a jiaozi, I think about those that I ate. I didn’t even know the people, but they just kept offering me dumplings.I ate about 17. Yeah I’m weak…I know some people who can eat 25.

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Cait from the CET crew learning how to make dumplings

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This series is meant to highlight my first encounter with China. I studied abroad through the CET’s  China Studies and Internship in Shanghai  program from February-June 2014. This was my first trip out of the country and only my third trip out of the state of Texas.

As you can tell I have been culturally and geographically confined. I recovered these stories through a terrible email system I used to update people while I was studying abroad. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share them once again, but with more pictures. Enjoy 🙂


Blast from the Past IV-西安 Xi’an even lying!

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This series is meant to highlight my first encounter with China. I studied abroad through the CET’s  China Studies and Internship in Shanghai  program from February-June 2014. This was my first trip out of the country and only my third trip out of the state of Texas.

As you can tell I have been culturally and geographically confined. I recovered these stories through a terrible email system I used to update people while I was studying abroad. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share them once again, but with more pictures. Enjoy 🙂


 

Xi’an Even Lying!- 03.17.14

NOTE: This post has a lot of media content: pics AND video, so enjoy!

“大家好! (Hello Everyone!)

This past weekend I went to Xi’an – home of the Terracotta Warriors – and decided to do an update.

I advise you don’t drink anything, or maybe I’m hyping it up too much.

Well Saturday morning at 6 am, we went to the airport to depart to Xi’an. The flight there was a breeze and the bus to the bell tower in Xi’an gave me and my friend A no problem.

OOO….I found a video….I’m going to share it with you now!

We did our tourist things of getting lost in the tunnel to the bell tower and drum tower, and even stopped by the 10 元店 ( The 1.50 Store at the time) to pick up some souvenirs.

We decided we wanted to go ahead and check in at the hostel so we try to hail a cab. We tried to hail 3 cabs. What I mean by this is that the cab would.pull up, I will tell them the street name. They understood me because the 1st cab said…You should get one at the other side of the bell tower, the second one said it’s too far and basically kicked A out “下车吧” , third drove away as we were talking. I have to say that it wasn’t a foreigner thing because even Chinese were getting pushed away.

So, we start walking back to the bell tower in hopes of finding a map and maybe boarding the metro.

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BTW I JUST REMEMBERED…THERE WAS A FIRE NEAR THE BELL TOWER! ME AND A WERE WONDERING WHY EVERYONE HAD THEIR PHONES OUT TAKING VIDEO INSTEAD OF CALLING THE FIRE DEPARTMENT???

 We decided to just go to the Wild Goose Pagoda(Dayanta) because it was closing in about 2.5 hours. We start walking on a street and tried to hail another cab but of course we failed again :(. So we went into this international hotel to ask them directions.  We took a bus and finally got to the Pagoda. After touring there, we decided to try to get to the hostel again.

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Daaang, my Samsung Note 3 takes such good pictures. Look at the cigarette butt on the floor. So defined, yet not so obvious.

We called the hostel again and followed her directions. We board a bus and then after two stops get kicked off again. A and I are both confused because it’s in the middle of nowhere…well actually in this area called the Tang dynasty? but we didn’t know where that was in relation to a map.
We start following this lady that also looked confused thinking she may know the way…but we almost followed her into a restaurant where she was meeting people. Lol, we concluded that the route probably ended and we had to go to the other side.

We exit on the street that the hostel told us and asked her for walking directions. Her response was to ask a Chinese person…I won’t say what I was thinking, but we looked on a map. – I was thinking…YOU ARE A CHINESE PERSON!! We start following directions and stumbled upon the Muslim Square/Corner where there are a lot of food places ran by the ethnically Muslim Chinese.  However, the map was leading us to some creepy dark alleys..we went through one halfway and decided to ditch the hostel and just look for a hotel out of desperation.- FYI it was nighttime.

Check out the video below.

We find a hotel and of course it appears to be expensive. ..but the hotel clerk offers us the executive suite for 538 元  差不多是 80 US dollars..so 40 dollars each for me and A. We were thankful because that’s a good deal. If I tell you how we looked when asking a room…we looked horrible lol with our little backpacks on, sweating, tired, and frustrated. I mean in the video you can basically hear my exhaustion.

We enter the suite and engage in all the wonders, yadadayada and find these cute pajama sets to wear to sleep. See picture attached. However our night of fun and frustration wasn’t over yet.

We go to get something to eat at this hot pot place. I am tired and completely forgot the basic concepts of enjoying a hot pot meal…There were no pictures so I just started choosing some things that I understood 50 percent of. We ended mostly with oil, water, rice, 白菜, a small piece of corn on the cob, and some sliced deli ham meat. Pretty depressing so to say and I think I shed a couple of tears.

We went back to the hotel and asked if there was a way to arrange a taxi so we wouldn’t waste any time the next day. We wanted to see the Warriors and then head back to the airport. Thankfully we were able to get our own taxi driver for the day and also practice our Chinese with him.

We hired a tour guide for the museum because I wanted to know the history- Chinese majors dig that kind of stuff- and I was afraid I would only leave with just pictures. There wasn’t that many boards of info and the place was relatively crowded. We also got to practice our Chinese with our tour guide.  He was a funny guy telling us jokes and stuff.

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In Xi’an we were major foreigners….I didn’t emphasize that as much…MAJOR FOREIGNERS … Me and A got a bunch of “Hello’s”, pictures taken with random people, people “sneakily” taking pictures of us and pointing…and some creepy construction guy giving us his business card >_<

Though all these crazy things happened, I’m proud of both me and A for pulling off our  (FIRST) own weekend trip(without the Chinese roommates or staff)  to another part in China.

Okay, well I’m out! I’ll send an update next week. This weekend we are going on a excursion with all our classmates, teachers, and roommates, so this should be fun!

再见!

-end of email

Blast from the Past III-朱家角

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This series is meant to highlight my first encounter with China. I studied abroad through the CET’s  China Studies and Internship in Shanghai  program from February-June 2014. This was my first trip out of the country and only my third trip out of the state of Texas.

As you can tell I have been culturally and geographically confined. I recovered these stories through a terrible email system I used to update people while I was studying abroad. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share them once again, but with more pictures. Enjoy 🙂


 

The place is ‘kickin, but I’m not left behind- 03.04.14

I hope everyone in Texas is safe! I have been getting the texts and emails about the weather conditions. I heard UT is closing until tomorrow. Stay warm!

Here is a couple of updates. I’m still on the search for a better way to upload my photos, but I’ll send a few on this email :).

I’ve been able to put my Chinese to use though it’s very limited. Some funny instances happened when I went out with a friend, A, to explore new places to eat. We checked out a few restaurants then chose one, but the menu did not have pictures. A is new to Chinese so she does not know food, yet so I was scouring the menu for characters I knew.  I was like anything with 肉(meat) is good, if it says 鸡肉, 猪肉, 牛肉(chicken, pork, beef) even better. However, Abby is vegetarian so I had to tell the waiter “她吃素, 有没有素的菜?” (She is a vegetarian, do you have any vegetable dishes?)  This is what I attempted to say. That place didn’t have any so we awkwardly had to get up and leave hehe. We ended up at a Korean restaurant but the waiters speak Chinese, of course. I wanted to say something I knew like Bibimbap,  Bulgogi,  but I ordered in basic Chinese  “我要这个和这个” I want this and this(pointing at pictures)-unfortunately this is only what I was able to do after two semesters of Chinese in the States -_-

This past weekend I was able to go 朱家角 Zhujiajiao,a canal town about about 1-2 hours from Shanghai. I was able to see a Buddhist temple and a beautiful garden called Kezhi Garden. Could you believe that the entrance to this garden was equivalent to only 3 dollars?! I know some people are hesitant to pay to see natural landscape, but its necessary because of how well maintained this garden is. [See attached photo]

ASIDE-03.16.16

So there is another email I apparently sent on the same day…

“Sorry the photos failed to attach. Looking for alternatives. ” 03.04.14

One of my friends replied: 

“Haha I think you forgot to attach your schedule and photos, but maybe I just don’t see them here…anyways, the garden sounds really awesome and like such a magical privilege lol like you got to step into hidden history. I can’t wait to see the photos man” 03.04.14

Yup, if you can guess, I never sent them…well gmail wouldn’t let me…well idk here they are now!

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Temple in Kezhi Garden

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Kezhi Garden

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Me in Bamboo Trees

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我和炎炎

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Me and A

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我和炎炎

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Restaurant in 朱家角

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You may think that I took it from online, but it’s real, I took it. I wasn’t able to get on a boat,because it was raining, however there are three other canal towns close to Shanghai, so I will definitely get my chance. The bus ride to and from the place was also cheap, 18 yuan total, a little under 3 dollars. We were dropped off next to our university. I’m really grateful for this convenience. as I read these emails..I was really fascinated by how cheap everything was…Like that has been the main topic of this email so far. Every paragraph seemed to have mentioned how cheap something was…

Sunday, I went on a walking tour with our program’s assistant director Nova Shao. She took us to local parts of Shanghai that tourists or even local Shanghainese renmen don’t know about. We were able to see this “Secret Garden” that this auntie and her late family owns. Some things present in the garden dates as far back as the Song Dynasty around 960-1279 AD.[See photo attached] I was able to get snippets of video of us touring this house and garden. -I’ll put this up as a separate post with more pictures. The government offered her 500,000 Yuan = a little over 75,000 dollars, but she is not having that because this garden is her family’s history which can’t be bought. We also were able to see historical architecture such as the Bell Tower and an old tree that people doesn’t want torn down. They will burn incense as a way of “washing” the tree, but the government has put up a sign that says that they are not allowed to do that because the tree must come down. The people believe that this tree has a particular element about it. I don’t want to say magical, but I think they believe there is a spiritual element behind it.

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Random alley near the “Secret Garden”

-won’t be revealing anymore pictures until the next post…sorry hehe

Lastly, we visited this temple that regularly on Sunday’s  sell second-hand books for cheap or for bargaining.

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Book sale in a Temple?- yeah it happens

Today, I finished one semester of Chinese. It’s just been 12 days. Excited to learn more but the place is ‘kickin! Econ class started, and it’s interesting because this class isn’t your typical calculus/math oriented economics class. It’s more of a psychological and historical approach to Chinese economics. We also don’t have sessions every week. We have two 3-hour sessions every other week because our professor works in Macau and flies in and out to Shanghai to teach our class. Attached is my schedule. Last week I finally had a normal week in which I had all my classes and now see how my weeks are flowing. I would like to Skype with some of you guys, well actually it will be more of just talking since the internet connection is not stable enough for video.

Feel free to send me any updates as well. Don’t worry I do read them, and I try really hard to respond. 🙂 I don’t like the 25 mb limit on attachments..finding website soon” At this point you think that I would have thought about blogging…

-end of email

Blast from the Past II-上海

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This series is meant to highlight my first encounter with China. I studied abroad through the CET’s  China Studies and Internship in Shanghai  program from February-June 2014. This was my first trip out of the country and only my third trip out of the state of Texas.

As you can tell I have been culturally and geographically confined. I recovered these stories through a terrible email system I used to update people while I was studying abroad. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share them once again, but with more pictures. Enjoy 🙂


 

First Official School Week is Over! – 02.23.14

“I have successfully finished the first week of school and internship. 

Every day, I have class at 10:10 am and internship is from 2-6 pm. I am interning at this public relations firm called Edelman. I’m working under the department that basically does PR for Edelman. Weird huh? I have to generate reports for the Internal Daily News Report, which is finding articles that write about Edelman. I also have to edit pieces for a newsletter. On my first day I could not find the right elevator to the third floor. Tall buildings in Shanghai have interesting elevator systems. One side is only for odd floors, the other for only even, and some skip floors. However, I ended up going through a service elevator?, asking one of the workers to help me find the third floor. At that time I didn’t know where the stairs because if I did I would’ve went that route.

I had my first Chinese Test and second Chinese Table. Because I have class everyday at 10 am, on the day of the test I assumed it started at 10. However it started at 9 am. I was already awake around 8:45, but I was taking my time. I get a call in my room.(We have telephones in our dorm-weird) from the academic director telling me in Chinese you have a test, hurry and get down here, etc. Luckily I only missed about 10 minutes of the test, since the building is not too far from our dorm.

Shanghai subway system is the best I have seen so far.I am able to tour the city, and if I get lost,all I have to do is find a station and I can find my way back to the university. Everyday after my internship, I experience the “packed” subway with people forcing themselves in the train. It’s pretty interesting because on the subway me and my classmates get stares when we are studying Chinese. Hehe, they look at our papers and say “Is this Pinyin.. “这是什么东西呀?”  

 

This past weekend I’ve went to a lot of places. On Saturday, we went to the People’s square to go to the Shanghai museum.However we didn’t know what exit to take from underground, so we ended up walking through the People’s Square which has this place for matchmaking in Shanghai. We went through the park and still couldn’t find the museum, so we asked for directions. The guy told us it was around the corner, so the first big building we saw we went there. It wasn’t the Shanghai Museum, it was actually the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. That was pretty interesting because we were able to see how quickly Shanghai changed in only 30 years. They also had the model of Shanghai. It was BIG!

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Mapping the Metro

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Marriage Market Ads @ People’s Square

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Shanghai can’t even fit in this photo…

We also went to see the Bund. I recently went there during orientation week at night,but I wanted to see how it looked during the day.

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The Bund (外滩)-the pic with me in it is questionable

On Sunday, I went with a classmate and my roommate to Liuli Chinese Museum. It’s a very beautiful glass art museum. After that I went to Tianzifang, a place of quaint boutiques that sell unique and intricate gifts. The old architecture is really pretty. We stumbled upon this restaurant that is called More than Toilet. It’s a restaurant that is very toilet-centered. For the sake of some people on this email, I won’t go into that much detail, however if you want to see pictures, I have them.  

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Glass sculpture of faces-bodhisattva? Idk, i forgot 😦

 

Lastly we ended the day at Fuxing Park. One of the many parks here in Shanghai. One scene I love seeing is that the park is very activity-oriented. You see some elders dancing, playing checkers and card games, playing with their grandchildren, singing, and etc. This sight warmed my heart so much and it was a good ending for the day. 

 

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Fuxing Park

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The Ayi’s practicing singing at the park

BTW, my roommate is very funny. I’m teaching her funny things in English, while she is teaching me Chinese. We get along pretty well though she makes fun of me of how slow I eat. Lol, good times and memories.”

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我和大竹子!

-end of email 2.23.14

Stay tuned for more Blast from the Past email stories! Also, there was one day that I didn’t talk about in the emails  back in 2014 that I will reveal on this blog–> Trip to Yuyuan Gardens and Red Lantern Festival!