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07/23/2014

Chinese Dating

Here is a short video from class last week. I did a lesson about American dating and after they learned about pick-up lines, how to approach someone, what to talk about, how to get a phone number, and how to turn someone down, we all did presentations where one person had to ask the other person out on a date in English. This was the result. These girls have some serious game. 

 

07/22/2014

That Day I Was Treated Like a Celebrity

 

 
I'm a 'foreign consultant' here in China which pretty much translates to a glorified English teacher. But one of my responsibilities is traveling with my company to recruit students to join our flight attendant training program. About a week ago, I had the experience of going on my first recruiting trip for the company that I work for. Here is the story....

Translation: You won't be abel to see your dear New Yorker today, study hard!
 
Everything started off normally. I was traveling with my 
supervisor, Maggie, and an intern that Alexis (the other American in my office) and I named Christy because she just looked like a Christy. A van arrived outside our office around 8:00am to take us, I was told, an hour north of the city to a district (county) called Hechuan. The first bump in road came about half an hour into our journey while we were still in the city proper. Traffic.

Our driver having a smoke during the traffic jam
Now, we're talking about China here people so if you're thinking, oh I've sat in frustrating traffic before, Jared. I know exactly how horrible that is. Stop. Just stop. You think bumper to bumper molasses crawl on a road is traffic? Try literally four hours of not moving. At the beginning of the trip I was having a great time just looking out the window and seeing the city go by. When we came to a stop, that activity quickly died. But I didn't realize anything was wrong until our driver decided he was going to 'go for a walk' and just left the car running in the middle of the road. So I decide to nap, when I wake up almost TWO HOURS LATER we still haven't moved and our driver is enjoying a cigarette outside. At this time I panic just a little and envision myself emerging from this van/jail with a cast-away-like beard and squinting at the first daylight I've seen in days. But I tend to overreact and after about another hour, things finally start to move. Let me tell you, after sitting there for that long, the jogging pace that our car reached felt like we were flying. Then there were other small adventures during the car ride.

For example, the scenery. The countryside around us is so insanely green. There are mountains everywhere and small farms in between what look like normal neighborhoods. Rural China (if I can say I've seen that) really is as beautiful as the pictures. Unfortunately it's hard to capture it in a short video taken on an iPhone.
 

And then there's the radio. Easily the most bizarre mix of Chinese pop and American music I've ever heard. There was everything from Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson with traditional Chinese music in between. It's like the DJ had a split personality between an old Chinese man and a young American girl. 
 
Next, because we were traveling for so long, we arrived in the late afternoon instead of morning and decided we needed lunch. These people dropped ¥800 on lunch. Considering that I spend about ¥15 on dinner and I'm stuffed afterward, this was a little excessive. But I wasn't complaining since I didn't pay for it myself. 
 
 
 
Finally we get to the school and I find out that we're set up in a sort of job fair at a vocational college. We're pretty late and everything is already underway, but we find our booth and begin hanging signage and putting out stacks of information. At this time, a few girls have gathered about fifteen feet in front of our both, all nonchalantly staring, waiting for us to set up so they can find out what's going on. We finish setting up our table, with help from some volunteers from the school. By now there are a few groups of four or five people, mostly girls, standing in front of our booth. I think nothing of it, after all, we do recruit flight attendants and the vast majority of them are female. The crowd is growing but no one seems willing to actually approach us. Instead, they stand in small circles, looking over their shoulders and making me feel pretty uncomfortable. The other tables have consistent participants, but we've just got something of a hesitant crowd now. Maggie starts taking selfies and Christy is not really paying attention, instead she's on her phone. I'm watching the crowd. There's one girl, probably my age, standing in the closest group. She keeps looking over but not really speaking to the rest of the girls she's with. They all look like a herd of timid deer or something so I decide to take out the weak one.  I call out in Chinese "Why don't  you come over here and we can have a talk?"
 
 
Biggest mistake I could have made. As if those dozen words were a rock I threw at that hornet's nest of a crowd, they literally began to swarm. "Did you hear that?" "He speaks Chinese!?" "What did he say?" "I can't believe it!" "I'm going to ask him something..." I turn to Maggie, "What did I do?" She just rolls her eyes, "You opened your mouth". Then they start coming up one by one. This is what I meant when I talked about being The Great White Whale in my last post. In the United States I was just some random guy, but here I'm apparently fascinating. Our 'recruiting' trip quickly dissolved into the most bizarre experience of my life. I had so many people coming up to me asking to take pictures. First they wanted group shots. We posed at least half a dozen times with different groups of people and took countless numbers of pictures. I can only guess as to what happened with those pictures, but I'm waiting for them to resurface somewhere and haunt me forever. Once they were done with the pictures, I had a guy approach me and ask me if I would write my name on a piece of paper for him. I assumed he couldn't understand my English name (most people think it's Jerry), so I literally spelled it out for him. But when he looked at it, he didn't seem pleased. He spoke to Maggie briefly who explained that he wanted my signature. 
 
 
 
You'd think I learned my lesson and would have politely declined, but no. Soon, I was stuck there signing everything from their resumes to their hands. The entire time I kept thinking, these people really don't understand how UNfamous I am. They don't understand that back home no one would care if I showed up to a job fair, no matter how well dressed I might be. But I guess this is China and it's just something you get used to as a foreigner? Also, being in a small town in the southwest of China rather than a big city explains a lot. There are plenty of foreigners in Beijing and Shanghai, even in central Chongqing, but not in the more rural areas. One girl told me I was the first person she'd ever seen who looked like someone on TV. 
 
So family and friends, lesson learned. If you give something to someone, you have to give it to everyone. And in China, that means you've got to give A LOT. Next time I'll just keep my head down and pretend I don't understand anything that anyone is saying. To my credit, once I was done with the awkward pictures thing, I used my apparent charm to get some decent recruits for our company. I realized that I could use what I didn't know I had and I practically forced girls to sign up for our program by telling them to sit down and show us their resume. I think this made up for the time we wasted posing for pictures, but to be honest, Maggie and Christy really didn't seem to mind the attention either.
 
 







 
 

The Great White Whale

 

Photo courtesy of Kristin Mark, check out her blog too
One of the most bizarre experiences I've had here so far is what I'd call 'foreign privilege'. Think of the old saying, "A big fish in a small pond". Although China is anything but a 'small pond', being a foreigner here makes me quite a 'big fish', a veritable white whale if you will. And they're doubly shocked when I can speak Chinese. This privilege manifests in many different ways, sometimes flatteringly, sometimes annoyingly, sometimes frustratingly, but always interestingly.

In small ways, it's an open stare in public. Sometimes I overhear people shouting "Look! A foreigner. A white guy!" and I want to turn around and use my broken Chinese to tell them, "Yes, I understand what you're saying. No I won't take a picture with you. No I won't teach you English". Often people will shout 'hello!' or 'Hollywood!' or (my favorite) 'I love you!' while they pass me on the street or in the subway. Then there are those people who unabashedly snap pictures of me right in my face, flash and all, no 'hello'. At first, it was pretty unsettling. Sure I like attention sometimes, but the constant paparazzi-like demand to interact with random people would exhaust anyone. Considering the fact that I can hardly stand being social more than two days in a row, for me it's down right overwhelming.

 
Much of it has faded into background noise now. I ignore the vast majority of people, because frankly, aint nobody got time for that. When they whisper, 'Look a foreigner..." I just reply in Chinese "Yeah, I'm American, been here about six months. Do you have a question?" And then they usually blush and run away. When they shout 'hello!' or 'I love you!' I just shout it right back. When they take pictures, I pose. Or I make a horrible face so at least when they show their friends they don't have a good picture of me. I honestly must be in at least a dozen family albums now and I like to imagine them all sitting around the dinner table saying, 'This is a famous statue. This is what we ate for lunch. And then this is when we saw that white guy'.

 
But privacy is a luxury that cannot be afforded in China. There are literally too many people to have personal space so everyone lives their life right on top of one another. Unlike America's 'don't talk to me if I don't know you' mentality, the people in China have an incredible practice of openness and community that I think we could stand to learn from. They're involved because they care, not because they want to placate a personal interest in your private life. They rarely want anything more than to hear your story and offer theirs.

Taking advantage of these approaches has honestly given me some of my best memories so far here. In a sea of people, those who approach you usually turn out to be characters of some sort with an interesting story or skill to share. Whether it's the guy who tried to teach me how to fight, the guy who let me pound some kind of rice mixture, the crowd that gathered in a public square to find out where we were from....the list goes on and on. But one problem I have not had yet in China is making friends. I'm interesting simply because I'm white. I'm even more interesting because I know some Chinese. And what's more, I can grow facial hair which is pretty much impossible for everyone else here. Literally had a lady in the supermarket touch my mustache without asking yesterday....

Anyway, I'm learning to embrace my 'whiteness' and understand the odd position that this places me within the new community where I live. I really can't complain. The people here are too nice for me to hold anything against them, and the vast majority of it comes from cultural differences. I'm learning to let insignificant things go.
 


^Impromptu photo shoot, I only know two people in this picture haha

07/20/2014

Chongqing Summer

Summer weather in Chongqing is ridiculous. It’s hot and it’s humid. It hasn’t even been a “true” 7-Infrared-Saunaor “real”Chongqing summer yet. It gets up to 40C or about 120F ewww! The month of June was pretty unusual for Chongqing. There were 24 days of rain and the highest temperature was maybe 89 degree Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius. It was pretty humid throughout the month but the rain made it feel like a warm New York summer but with rain. Then July comes around and bam the sun starts shining. I shouldn’t complain because I’ve only actually seen the sun maybe 7 days total since being here, but damn it’s hot up in here.

This week it has hit 96F and 98F or 35.5C and 36.6C. And besides that it has not only been sunny, it Temperature_2334980bhas been humid. The walk to and from work has been like hell. It feels like you’ve been lying on the beach all day in the hot sun, but you’ve only just stepped outside. And exercising? Pleaseeeee, it’s like being in a tropical jungle with you’re whole body drenched in sweat. Even after finishing you’re workout, you’re still sweating until you can reach your shower and turn that cold water on.

And of course, AC has become my best friend. I never turn that thing off. Well ok, to save money on electricity I turn it off when I go to work but THAT’S IT!!!! I live for AC now because really who can stand being outside unless absolutely necessary? No one, even the Chinese avoid the sun and heat like the plague. They have an unfair advantage of having grown up in this weather and of not sweating like us foreigners.

Chongqing is actually called one of the Furnace Cities in China because it get’s so hot. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached those peak temperatures yet. I hope to God we don’t, but well this is China and you know after our month of rain, it’s going to come back with a vengeance.

Note to self (and everyone) Don’t come to China in the summer!! It’s not only expensive to travel but it’s HOT as hell.

 

 

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4th of July

July-4th


The 4th of July has been a hard holiday to miss. You might not think about it being that important of a holiday, but when you think about it, there are only 2 holidays that are specifically American holidays where we celebrate our country and we we came from. The first being 4th of July and the second being Thanksgiving. I missed Thanksgiving when I studied abroad in Spain and it was really hard to miss that holiday but CIEE Alicante had a Thanksgiving Dinner for us and that totally made it feel like Thanksgiving. I’ve never not been home for the 4th of July before. And there isn’t much you can do to celebrate the 4th if you aren’t in America.

Normally, my mom and I have a cookout. Sometimes my aunt and cousins are there too. We grill hamburgers and hot dogs, make potato salad, have watermelon, lemonade, and of course we always watch fireworks. Fireworks are my moms favorite part, so we’ve been to see most of the ones in the area from Clinton to Sylvan Beach to Old Forge. I love fireworks too actually. You only get to see fireworks once a year, maybe twice if you are lucky. So fireworks are special.

Here in China we had to work on Friday July 4th. It was a normal day. On Saturday all my friends and I got together in Hongyadong. We ate Subway for lunch, sat around at a cafe on the river, talked and played Uno. Then we went to the Chinese market below us and got to explore an old part of town. It was a pretty good day actually. It was nice for all of us to get together and spend time celebrating in our own way.

It was sad hearing about everyone’s Fourth but whatcha gonna do? I’m in China for another 6 weeks and even though it was sad and I miss everyone, I’m not going to waste my time here sulking and being sad or depressed. That’s not me and I’d miss out on life. I hope y’all had a great 4th of July and that you appreciate what it means to be American and how important appreciating that is. Not everyone is as lucky as us and you would not have the things you do if it wasn’t for our ancestors.

Here’s what I showed my class because I now know that Disney has the best fireworks and I want to go watch them one day before I die.

 

07/15/2014

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

 

Life in China is finally beginning to take shape though as I establish a regular routine at work and home. After work everyday, I come home to my little apartment a few blocks away on the 28th floor and unwind with a book in my bed or TV.

Here it is!

It's one loft-style open floor plan with a kitchen and bathroom off the main room. It came pretty much furnished with a coffee table, bed frame, dresser, night stand, desk, refrigerator, and washing machine. Many of the things here are not quite the same though...


Night one was pretty rough; when we moved in there was no padding at all on the bed and I didn't realize that my 'air conditioner', as they called it, also doubled as a heater. So the first night I huddled under my covers on a pretty uncomfortable wooden frame, but I was just happy to finally be in China and it didn't damper my spirits at all.



There was not as much provided as I originally thought so I've had to spend a lot of money the first month on random things to clean my apartment, things for cooking, hangers, clothes lines (no one has a drier here), etc. But I think I've got just about everything I need so now I'm looking forward to spending some money on things to make my apartment a little more comfortable. Maybe a plant or something, I haven't quite decided yet.

Debating getting a pet...I'll keep you all posted.
 

My kitchen is my favorite place in the house. It's the perfect size and it's pretty easy to keep clean considering I've only got one bowl, a spoon, a pot, a pan, and a handful of chopsticks.

I also don't cook very much because 1) the food here is SO amazing and my culinary skills are definitely not refined, but also 2) it's so cheap to eat on the street or in a small restaurant here! Our favorite street foods, 'malatong' and 'shaokao', cost us roughly ¥15 which is maybe $2.50 for two people. And it's really filling. Hard to say no to that...

I'll do a post specifically about food later because that's a very long story; there's a lot to say and a lot of pictures need to be taken to do it justice. Last thing about the kitchen, having to boil all your water before you drink it or wash vegetables with it is pretty damn frustrating and makes me really appreciate the water back in Oregon. Especially when you wake up or come home and are dying of thirst and hot. Then you realize you haven't boiled any so you have to wait for it to finish and then it's not even cold. Kind of disappointing but obviously not a significant challenge.  Plus you can easily buy water in bulk, but I'm really just too cheap and figure I should never have to pay for water.

My bathroom is arguably my least favorite place in the house, but who ever really has a strong attachment to that place? My shower is more or less right on top of my toilet which is the traditional 'squat' toilet that you find in China. I'm going to be honest, the squat toilet has not been a hard adjustment at all.

Until today I didn't have hot water in my place because I didn't realize you had to pay in advance for gas where as water and electricity you pay for after the fact. Again, the utilities subject deserves it's own post because I've got some funny stories there.... The shower's pretty straight forward though except that I recently broke off the shower head and now have to figure out how to fix it.

Finally, my washer is in my bathroom and took me a good three weeks to figure out how to use it. You have to fill it manually from the shower head and make sure the detergent dissolves before putting the clothes in otherwise there's white powder left all over your clothes. And the whole thing is in Chinese which forced me to learn vocab like 'spin cycle' and 'pre-wash', but hey, now I can work at a laundromat someday here.


But even the challenges--which seem to be concentrated in the bathroom--are worth it for this view alone. I mean seriously, 28 floors up, look at this. And this isn't even a clear day. When the smog lightens up a bit you can see the mountains that rim the whole city to the West and I get a pretty great red sunset out my window in the evenings.


I've completely fallen in love with the city here. The people are great, I love the sound of the cars and buses and street vendors trying to sell you cheap purses and questionable food. Every day something unexpected happens which makes each day memorable and challenging. I've had an incredibly easy time adjusting to life here so far!

 
 

07/10/2014

Driving in China:

Driving in China is insane task, especially in Chongqing. You have to be willing to get into a car accident every 5 seconds or you won’t stand a chance. They do not follow the rules of the road. In fact they do whatever they want. That includes creating as many lanes as possible, driving down the wrong side of the road, going over the speed limit, cutting people off, blocking traffic, not caring what color the light is or if there are people in the road and so on. They really don’t care, they will try to to squeeze by and will just keep going. They don’t care whether they will get hit or not. There are more almost accidents than I’ve ever seen in my life. Every time I cross the road I see my life flash before my eyes. The cars get as close to you as possible without hitting you. They also, don’t care if you are in the road or not, they will keep going and expect you to move. Taxi drivers most definitely don’t go to driving school. They drive way too fast, merge in front of buses and don’t care what’s going on around them. Every time I get into a car I think, this is it, this is the time we get into an accident. It’s awful to say but until you’ve driven with someone in Chongqing, you will never know what a bad driver is. Other cars and buses get so close that if they moved an inch closer they’d hit you. At any given time there could be 10 accidents about to happen in front of your eyes but somehow there aren’t that many. I’m sitting here thinking about how I don’t understand how there aren’t more accidents. Use common sense and you'll be fine but don't stand around for ever waiting to cross a road, if you start crossing commit to it and they will not hit you. 

 

Zhangjiajie- Avatar Mountains

So we arrived in Zhangjiajie and weren’t exactly sure how to get to the park. We ended up taking a taxi and this guy tried to get us a tour guide. The tour guide guy was hardcore trying to sell us a tour, but it was expensive and I can navigate myself. He tried telling us that they don’t speak Mandarin because the people in the park are all minorities. Then he said that they hate Americans and that without a guide you would get lost and never find your way around. Well, let me tell you that was all BS. We navigated, found our way and talked to people in Mandarin just fine.

When we got to the park, we bought maps that had all the trails on it and we just followed that. It was pretty easy actually. The first thing we saw when we stepped into the park was MONKEYSSSS. Lots of them! I actually took more pictures of monkeys than the mountains right in front of me. I mean come on, monkeys or mountains? Def monkeys every time. Anyway once we got past the monkeys, we saw how beautiful the park is. There were trees, a river, the mountains above us, grass and it was nice to be in nature. It was like being in a forest with a tropical rainforest jungle feel. It was hot and humid but thankfully that first day wasn’t that hot at all and it was cloudy. I haven’t seen that many plants and animals since I arrived in China.

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The first hour or so was a pretty nice hike because it was mostly flat with some incline going up, but the second and third hours were tough. I’m not the most active person but I do go to yoga and I run on the treadmill at the gym and I walk A LOT. The hike during those 2 hours was just stairs going up and around the mountain. It was a very tiring and sweaty hike. I think I sweated off 5 pounds doing that hike, but when we finally got to a platform to look out over the mountains I forgot all about that torturous hike and was in complete awe. The mountain makes you work for it but it was so worth it the moment my eyes saw the view.

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It is the most incredible place I’ve ever been. I’ve travelled a lot but I mostly saw cities. The only place that was even close to Zhangjiajie was Slovenia’s Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj but they were picturesque and gorgeous whereas Zhangjiajie is magnificent and awe-inspiring. Zhangjiajie is so amazing that I don’t know how anyone can even question whether there is a God or not. I know there is a scientific explanation for  how Zhangjiajie was created and there were several signs explaining that there, but I personally don’t think that anything that marvelous and astounding came to be all by itself.

Once we finished the rest of the hike up to our hostel, showered and ate some dinner because we were starving, we went down the path next to the hostel and looked out over the mountains while enjoying a nice cold Tsingtao beer. The next day we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the other side of the park. On the way to the bus stop we saw rice fields and people going to work in the fields. While we were on the bus we saw some great views of the mountains. The roads were really windy and the bus driver was driving way faster than he should. It was kind of scary. Chinese drivers already aren’t the safest drivers but those bus drivers take the cake for worst driving, although we didn’t die or get into an accident so I guess I can’t complain.

The other side of the park was even better than the side we hiked up. There were dozens of platforms to look at the mountains and even though they were all similar they weren’t all exactly the same. While going down to one of the lookouts I got cornered taking pictures with random Chinese people. I was just minding my own business taking a picture of the mountains and then the next thing I know I have a line of people wanting to take a picture with me. Seriously. No joke. Being foreigners we always get asked to take photos with random people but Zhangjiajie has the record so far. I personally had like 15 people take a picture with me or of me within 10 mins and together Jared and I took at least 5 more pictures with people.

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We tried to take the cable car down the mountain but it was broken L and we had to hike down. It wasn’t that bad because we were going down and we did get to see more nature and more views of the mountains for the first half of the way down. The second half was pretty boring actually because there wasn’t anything cool or interesting to look at and it was just stairs down. Towards the end there were some rivers and mini waterfalls which were pretty. And we saw a creature we never saw or heard of before… it was like a bug but it was white and walked around like a peacock with his feathers on full display the only thing was this thing was about the size of the nail on my pinky.

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We made it to the bottom, hopped on the bus to the exit, and then walked to the bus station to catch a bus to the train station. Once back we went to McDonald’s for some much needed lunch and to chill out for a while before our train. Once we got on the train it was smooth sailing till we arrived back in Chongqing Sunday at 6:45am. 

Likes and Dislikes:

Don’t get me wrong China is a great place to live. It isn’t anything like you’d imagine. In fact, it’s like living in any other big city besides everything being in Chinese. I really like living in China. Of course, I have those days where “I hate China” but truthfully I like life in China. China is a communist country and they monitor the internet, so I have to use a VPN to use Facebook and gmail. I work for the government, teaching Flight Attendants or Cabin Crew. I love my students and I love Jared, my fellow CIEE. We were lucky enough to be placed together.  I like my salary. I get paid well for what I actually do. I like how cheap everything is. So I don’t have to spend a lot of my monthly paycheck because it is so cheap here. Food is super cheap, taxi’s are cheap, and my work pays for my apartment and my lunch every day so I have it pretty good. I don’t need much money to survive here so I’m saving as much as I can. I've saved a good amount of money too. Hope this help describe life in China and things to be prepared for. I wish I'd had something to help me when I came because I had no idea what to expect. I half expected to be living in the slums. CIEE takes care of us and honestly our jobs take care of us too. There may be issues but at the end of the day they want you to be happy here in China and you are valuable to them. 

Likes:

1. Everything is so cheap. Seriously, especially food. If I don't travel anywhere I can save most of my paycheck each month. 

2. Life is like anything other city, besides the Chinese. True fact. You can get by with no Chinese but you should learn AS MUCH AS YOU CAN before coming. It helps trust me. 

3. There are so many places to travel to... Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guilin, Chengdu, Xi'an, Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Tibet, the list goes on. 

4. Chinese people are so friendly and welcoming to foreigners... be prepared to get a lot of gifts and to have people pay for a lot of things. But make sure to bring gifts when you come and you can always treat them to a movie or dinner for being so nice. 

5. Learning Chinese... It is so helpful in today's world and it actually isn't that hard to learn. Once you know the sounds and pronunciation, all you need is the tones and grammar. The grammar is pretty simple, nothing like English. 

6. Cutest little kids on the planet... Where did these kids come from? So cute.

7. My students.. They are awesome! They are my friends really. Many of them are older than me and they can all speak Englsih fluently. 

8. All the friends I’ve made… Jared especially, idk what I’d do without you man. But also my orientation roomie Jenny, my gym buddy Kristin, crazy Derrick, Eric in the countryside, Marilyn and Trisha too! 

9. There are Wal-marts, Metro’s, Ole's and Carrefours to buy all kinds of foreign foods like cereal, coffee, cheese, peanut butter, bacon, hamburger, etc

10. I’m lovin the veggies and the spicy food... The food here is spicy but now it just means flavor and nothing is super spicy anymore. I don't know what I'm gonna do without the spice in my life!

 

Dislikes:

1. Summer is H-O-T with a double T and HUMID to the double D... Try not to be here for it. 120F and humid. It's quite awful but they have AC every where and it does cool off some at night. Sooo it is bearable even though you maynot want to.

2. Chinese tones are hard to learn and it's hard to learn Chinese when you teach English for a living, because everyone expects you not to be able to speak Chinese and they want to practice their English. 

3. People spitting everywhere… all day every day. It is a daily oocurance by all types of people. It's gross but whatcha gonna do, some people go with the motto "do as the Chinese do"

4. Seeing little kids butts all the time/ seeing them go to the bathroom on the street. This is kind of funny now but it is really strange. Never sit on the street, see my owling post. There is a reason people owl here folks. 

5. Everything is last minute AKA work Chinese people just don't give you a heads up, they tell you when its happening or about to happen. 

6. Ehhh work... Didn't I come here to travel? Well, yes but I need money so Hooray for a job that gives me money and isn't all that hard. 

7. The smog… where is the sun? It's bad on some days but a lot of the time its not that bad. It isn't normally clear skies and sunny but being summer, you DO NOT WANT THAT!

8. Was that a cockroach? Crapppppp! Yess this is a hot and humid climate so of course there are many types of bugs. Try to keep everything clean and maybe go to Wal-Mart and grab some containers to put your dry goods in. 

9. China is hugeee….Not enough time to go everywhere. That is a fact. And do not travel in summer. It is more expensive and its hot. Save travel for the rest of the year. Trains are not that bad and are pretty cheap!

10. Why is everything an organ or body part when you go out to eat with Chinese people? If you are adventurous this is not a problem but for me, I cant eat a pig face or intenstines. 

11. I have to boil all my water, or I just buy the giant jugs so I can drink cold water. 

Hong Kong: May 1st-4th

Hong Kong was amazing! It is such an international and Western city. It’s like New York meets Miami weather meets San Francisco trolleys meets Chongqing mountains. I planned to go on this trip with Derrick, Marilyn and Trisha. (all CIEE) So the morning we were supposed to leave Derrick missed his flight, sorry Derrick L,  Marilyn and I  were on the same flight at 3:10pm direct to HK. Derrick was on a flight at 8:20am and Trisha was on a flight the next morning at 8:20am. Soo Derrick wasn’t on his flight and wasn’t going to be able to make it L

Marilyn and I got into HK around 5:30. We took a bus and found our hostel. Then we tried to find food since we were both starvinggg! We were gonna go to this German restaurant but it was pretty expensive and we ended up looking around for another place to eat. We found this Indonesian Restaurant that turned out to be the best thing since white bread! I had what was basically lo mein with fried/grilled chicken and veggies. It was so good... new favorite food, sorry malatang! There were so many foreigners in HK and at the bars it was crazy… I don’t think I’ve seen that many foreigners in my entire life.

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The next day we got up and got breakfast at MickeyD’s. It was delicious. I can’t believe how good it was. Then we met Trisha at a certain place called…. DISNEYLAND HONG KONG! We had so much fun. We bought Mickey and Minnie ears and wore them the whole day. We took pictures with Woody from Toy Story and we rode the most awesome roller coaster I’ve ever been on. I don’t even like roller coasters but I LOVED this one. There weren’t huge drops or anything upside down, it was really windy and it was fast and at one point it stopped and then started flying backwards on the tracks. It really was awesome.

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On Friday we got up early and again got McDonald’s for breakfast and went to see the Tian Tan Buddha or the giant Buddha on top of a mountain. We waited forever in the cable car line and finally got up there and it was so worth the wait. It was incredible. It is quite big and from the base of Buddha you can see the ocean and the view was one that people would pay millions to have every morning.

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After we made our way back to the city we got some delicious pizza and walked around Kowloon. We saw the avenue of stars, cartoon stars that is but it was still cute. We went down to the harbor and saw the classic view of the Hong Kong skyline. We saw what was supposed to be a spectacular light show but it wasn’t good at all. Disappointing but the night view of HK was just as amazing as during the day if not better. 

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Saturday was our last day and it was a great day and our last day of McDonald’s breakfast. Trisha and I got up early and went to the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha’s. We ended up  going to a cemetery first because it looked like a temple and was pretty cool. Then we found our way to the temple and it was all stairs up a mountain. I swear everything in HK in on top of a mountain. Anyway, it took a while but once we made it to what looked like the end but wasn’t, Trisha stayed and rested while I went up to the top. It was worth it. The last Buddha to me was the best and the most peaceful and calming place I’ve been. After that we went back to get Marilyn and Tricia ended up staying behind because she didn’t feel well.

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Marilyn and I went to the longest covered escalator in the world. It was super long and we didn’t even start at the beginning. We didn’t even now that until we walked back down. We accidently found some alleys with street vendors on them and so we did a little shopping. We bought presents for family and friends. Then, we went to Victoria Peak, yet another thing on top of a mountain. We were going to take the tram but the line was soo long that we decided to hike it up. It was a very long hike.  It was also very steep. Our legs were dying, but we made it and again, it was worth it. The views from the top of the mountain overlooking the city were breathtaking. There was a storm coming in so it wasn’t the best time but it was still awesome. If there hadn’t been a storm it would have been a view of the city at sunset. Oh well. We hiked halfway back down and got a cab to take up to our hostel to get Trisha for dinner.

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BTW everyone speaks English in HK and it was great! So we went to Outback and we all got steak for dinner. It was so good. Yumm. And the last thing we did in HK was take a taxi to Aberdeen to see the world’s largest floating restaurant called Jumbo Restaurant. It was impressive and it was so pretty with all the lights at night. We got a free boat ride to the restaurant and on our way back it started raining. We got a taxi and went back to the hostel. That was the end of my Hong Kong trip. We woke up and went to the airport and came back home. It was sad leaving Hong Kong because Hong Kong is so different from China. It’s actually not even close. Facebook wasn’t blocked in HK what?!? Awesome! But it feels good to be home! Travelling is amazing but there's nothing quite like coming home and sleeping in your own bed!

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