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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Years Later

So it's 2 years later, and I'm finally going back to China! I wish I could see Nanjing again, but luckily I'll get to see some new places. I'll be in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changsha and Beijing. I'll finally see Shanghai and the Great Wall and I couldn't be more excited about it!!!

The people I'm going with and the way we're going are way different. This time we fly from Akron Canton to Chicago to San Francisco to Shanghai! I'm also going with Mount Union's Discover China Program.

It'll be fun and I can't wait to keep everyone updated!!

I just wish that everyone else I went with could come too, but I'm looking forward to experiencing this with the great friends I have made at Mount Union!!

Keep checking up on this blog, I'll keep it updated better this time, haha.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

It's Been a While and it's Late, but...

Hello everyone, sorry it has been so long since I wrote an entry but once again it's late and I can't sleep. I've been really busy, so at least there's a lot to write about. It all started with three great friends coming to visit us in Nanjing, Jacob, Elisabetta, and Carlos. They came and hung out with us in Nanjing for a couple days where we didn't really too much because we were just about to travel together to the cities of Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guilin. Chengdu is famous for it's spicy food and all of the Pandas that live there! Guilin is surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains. The floating mountains in Avatar are based on them. So we flew together to Chengdu and we went to our hostel, and it is by far the coolest place to stay ever. It had palm trees and ponds and little hidden areas to sit and talk. There was a pool table, a bar, a restaurant, and on the first night we were there, they had a barbecue. For a few hundred Chinese dollars, they could take you to Tibet for a few days, how cool is that? The next day we took a bus to the Panda preserve, and it was pretty cool. It wasn't the most fun because it was really hot and we had to get up really early and hadn't eaten. While we were there though, one man was delivering a truck bed's worth of bamboo and someone got a hold of a couple stalks of it. Some of the hungrier people (including yours truly) tried the bamboo, and it wasn't that great. Needless to say, when we came back, we all went and got food, and I went to the hostel restaurant with some new people.
     The next day, we took a bus for a couple hours to a neighboring city. We then took a ferry to go see the giant stone Buddha that was carved into the mountain. It was soooooooooooo cool to see it, it's amazing to think that that  stone Buddha is over 1000 years old, it's amazing that it was completed without power tools at all. The next day we all took a train to guilin, but it was a long train, and we had a layover in chongqing. We took a bullet train to chongqing which went around 120 mph. While we were there, we explored the city a little bit before we had to take our 20 hour train ride. That doesn't sound like it'd be too bad because you would assume you'd have a bed. Well we didn't because we waited too long to buy our tickets, so we had to take a hard seat. It's no more than a plastic booth that you had to cram 3 people on per side, which would be no problem if you were Chinese, but we weren't so some of us didn't have a place to sit to sleep, a.k.a. me. That was fine, I have trouble sleeping in moving vehicles anyways. I ended up finding a "nice" place to sleep... on the dirty floor which probably hadn't been mopped in my lifetime. The train was so old it didn't even have A/C, so you had to open the windows for fresh air. That was fine and all, but it was a real pain at 2 in the morning when you passed another train, it was so loud that almost all of the windows were shut, so there was no fresh air. Also it was hard to get good food at a reasonable price on the train. The food trolley would gouge you on the prices and the "fresh" fruit sometimes had bugs in them, but hey that's China. To avoid this, I bought a few of the Chinese version of ramen noodles, because all trains have boiling water to make them. Little did I realize that this train was so old that it had a coal powered fire to boil the water. it was definitely one of the strangest and most fun experiences of my life! When we finally arrived to guilin, we crashed in our hostel room and just slept.
     The next day Molly, Elisabetta, Jacob, Carlos and I met up with a few of Jacob's friends in a neighboring city called Yangshuo. Yangshuo is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It's this little tiny city nestled in the middle of these beautiful mountains. So we met up at this Italian place on the city's western street (It literally translates to west street) and we finally had some Italian food, and it was soooo good (mostly because it's so hard to find in China). We then walked around and we saw this place to rent electric mopeds, so of course we did. We drove em all the way to the "moon hill" which is this mountain that has a giant hole in the center so at a certain time, you can see the moon in it.We climbed it all the way to the top; you are only supposed to go into the hole, but they have a path that says "don't enter, dangerous." So we did what any person would, and we went in anyway to go to the top. It was pretty dangerous, but the risksooo good! We all started acting silly and coming up with creative ways to jump off or push others off. The current was strong though, so we eventually had to stop. We then went and returned our mopeds and went and walked West Street until we found a good restaurant. We had a feast that night because Jacob and Elisabetta had to leave that night to go home. After dinner, we took them to the bus station and said our good byes. Watching them leave was the only thing that tarnished our perfect day together. We then rented a hostel there that night so we could spend more time there and we watched a few movies and talked about our departed friends.
     The next day, Carlos, Sam, Molly and I had breakfast on the roof of the hostel and then rented the mopeds again to explore Yangshuo. Just outside of the little city was a super urban area and we immediately began exploring. We found signs for this place called the giggling tree. We weren't sure what it was, but we had time to kill so we went and followed the signs.  Just before we got to the giggling tree hostel, it started pouring down rain, I mean like a giant thunder storm, so we got to drive in the rain, and it was great! We got lunch at the hostel and let the rain die away. We went back and explored more, but both Sam and my moped's batteries died. Luckily a woman saw us pushing them and called a towing service, which was two guys who rode different mopeds and attached a rope from theirs to ours. We then gathered our belongings and went to our hostel in guilin for the night, where I taught Molly how to play pool.
     The following day we took a taxi to the airport at like 5 am to catch our flight back home. Shortly after our return, our friends from France, Sanaa and Nora had to go home. A week later, our German/Mexican friend Josh went home too.
     Since then I've been studying and trying to get better at Chinese. This past week we had our final exams/projects. I love how they waited until one week to give us all of the work for the 5 month trip. We had three tests, one of which was a surprise final, I kid you not, and two PowerPoint presentations to do. Almost all of that is done and now I have the next two weeks off. I was so tired after that week of trying to study everything and make PowerPoint, that I actually slept all day Saturday, except for when I got up at noon to use the bathroom and at 6:30 to eat dinner, otherwise I was out or watching movies in a half dazed state, but it was fun.

Sorry it took so long to write this one! Feel free to drop me a line anytime at or on facebook!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Past Few Weeks

I know it's been a while, but I finally had time to write this, a.k.a. I couldn't sleep. So two weekends ago we went out into the country side, I was thinking to myself that'd it'd be cool to see it, so I was excited. When we got there, however, it wasn't your normal country side; it was a giant park with a huge lake created by a dam. We took a boat to one side of the park and then walked around. We, by we I mean my family and family friends and I, came across a mine of some sort. We were adventurous so we went in, and it was pitch black. I mean, you couldn't even see your hand in front of you pitch black. Then somebody had the bright idea to use a camera flash to blind everyone, cough cough me cough, to try and see the way. We eventually made it out and kept exploring. We walked 5 or so minutes and we came upon a beach, where we decided to hang out for a while. My host sister, the family friend's son and I rented a paddle boat and I had them paddle for a while. To get back though, I had to take over. We got back and went out to lunch where I tried some more interesting food. I tried a chicken's foot and lower leg and also goose meat. I also got to try the goose's lower bill and tongue. Delicious! lol We then went to a mountain, great like I hadn't seen a hundred of them before; but this one was different. It was a resort mountain. While I was there I rode a horse, played outdoor laser tag, and drove a go cart! I could have even flown this parachute-go cart contraption, but I decided to wait until a different day for that where I couldn't get in trouble for it. The go cart was awesome! It was an off road one and it went pretty fast. My host sister actually managed to flip hers, but don't worry, she was fine. Afterwards, we went back to Nanjing and had dinner. I had my first steak in months! I couldn't remember my last steak before that. It came with mashed potatoes, hash browns, and spaghetti! It was sooooooo goood. I never liked mashed potatoes before, but I loved them that night.

The following Saturday, my friends and I got on a plane to go to Xi'An for 5 days. In case you don't know why Xi'An is important, it's where the terracotta warriors are!!! Not only did I get to see them, I was also got to see some old friends from Beijing, Carlos from Costa Rica and Samantha from New Zealand, and also made some new friends, Jacob from Germany who spoke like 8 languages fluently, Elizabetta from Italy, Swantjie from Germany, Baerbel from Germany, Mary from Denmark, Arne from Germany, Emile from Germany, Moritz from Germany, and Marcus from Brazil. The first day, we checked in and went out to dinner. I shared a room with Sam, one of the Americans from Nanjing. The 2nd day was the big day, we went to see the Terracotta Warriors!!! They were sooooo cool. It was so weird to see them in person after seeing them for years on t.v. I got some cool presents there, I think you'll like them. After that we went to an orphanage to see what life is like there. The kids were nice enough, but the conditions were far too poor. I used a sink and brown water came out, and everything was covered in dust in that area. It was kind of sad really. We went back and had a dinner show. We had a lot of different dumplings while we watched one of the coolest ancient shows ever. The show was just breath takingly good. I wish you all could have seen it. The third day we went to a peasant farmer village, but they were all artists. We only saw one woman's art and it was sooo cool. I actually bought some of it, it was that good and that cool. You'll have to look at the pictures as soon as I put them up. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but her art is worth more than that, and much more than I can describe. Then we went to a different city but stopped in the most beautiful mountain range I have ever seen, and it looked so green in the rain. Once again, you'll just have to see the pictures. We finally made it to the other city where we went to an all you can eat western buffet. It wasn't that great, but hey, it was all you could eat western food. On the fourth day, we went to a museum and an old palace of the king who ruled it hundreds of years ago. It was kind of cool, not all that great really. we then took the 4 hour bus trip back to Xi'an, but after an all you can eat buffet for lunch. We got back to Xi'an and went to another buffet, so much food in so little time. We soon discovered that our new room opened up to a roof on the 2nd floor for the air condintioning and such. We, being the enterprising and fun loving teens we are, decided to throw a frisbee on top of it. When we came back later that night from exploring the city, we decided to go out and try again. It was really dark so it didn't work well, but we had fun and listened to some music and such. Soon there after, guards opened windows from a different room and told it was a bad idea to be out there, so we promptly ran to avoid them. We got away, and avoided trouble. On our last day we went to the Xi'an city wall where we rode bikes on top of it! It was soo much fun, and our group of 20 only crashed and broke one bike! after that, we went to this market bazaar sort of thing that was outside of a mosque. We stayed up all night watching horror movies because our flight home was really early. It was me, Molly, Sam, Sam from New Zealand, Elisabetta from Italy, and Jacob from Germany. We watched the Ring and the Eye, not all that scary, but what can you do? We came home on Thursday and now it's Monday morning at 1:23 am, and I'm writing a long overdue blog post. Keep on reading, and leave me a message down at the bottom! I'll be sure to put up the new pictures ASAP!