Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Li River

My friend Laura and I decided to take our last day together and travel to a small town and take a boat ride down the famous Li River. Our plan was to take a boat to another town and from there Laura would take a bus back to Guilin and I would take a bus to Yangshuo.

On the way to the first small town we met a family that was planning to take a boat to the same town so they asked if we wanted to share a boat. We agreed and then they helped us find a boat. The boat we ended up taking was this little bamboo raft that had bamboo lawn chairs on it to sit, a small covering, and then a small prop engine on the back.

It was a beautiful boat ride because we saw all the tall mountains that have been in so many Chinese paintings. I was in heaven because it was the first mountains I had seen in China aside from the Great Wall. Even the fog was beautiful. (It wasn't great for photos though.)

Laura and I knew that sometimes the boat men would drop people off early than normal in order to avoid having to pay the toll at the destination town so we weren't surprised when we were dropped off in what seemed like the middle of no where. What did surprise us is that twenty minutes of walking went by and we still saw no sign of a town. It was wet and the road was muddy the whole way. I enjoyed the walk in the countryside, we just hoped we were actually headed in the right direction even. In the process we saw two guys on a motorcycle slip in the mud, falling over into the muddy road. After a significant amount of time we finally ran into the REAL drop off spot and got a little rickshaw the rest of the way with a group of people.

We then got to town and ate some lunch and went our separate ways. Laura was off to Hong Kong and I was off to continue my travels the day after by heading to a friend of our's home. I went to Yangshuo by myself and stayed the night in hostel. Yangshuo was by far my favorite town that I visited because it was as if the western world had never touched it even though it is one of the most well known tourist spots. The buildings were built in a more ancient fashion in the middle a mountain area.

A Step into the Past

While we were in Xi'an we stepped outside the city gates only to find that we had stepped back into Ancient China. We found him just sitting on the side of the road looking just like that.... well, kinda. What actually happened was that we ran into him and several other normally dressed Chinese people walking across the street. They had a video camera with them. They walked past us, paused, then came back and asked if we would help them. The "director" told us to ask him questions. So we did, and he gave us a look of "uh, I don't understand anything you've said, and I'm in shock that you're standing in front of me." It was hilarious. They of course recorded it, and we of course drew a crowd of curious onlookers wanting to know what was up with the Americans and the man dressed up as an ancient soldier.

McDonalds! Wait, what?

McDonald's delivers! This picture was taken in Shanghai, China while traveling with Dani and Alana. I expected to see pizza delivery or even random Chinese restaurants do takeout, but to see McDonald's do take out was very unexpected! So as a result this poor unsuspecting hard worker became the victim of tourist curiosity, and will forever be immortalized as the McDonald's bicycle delivery man. Can you imagine wearing that uniform to work?!

Our time spent in Shanghai was brief, but fun. My aunt and uncle had put me in touch with a lady that they had hosted while living in California. She wanted to meet us and take us out to dinner so we did. She was very kind and took us to a nice restaurant near downtown Shanghai. It was great to get to know her especially since she had history with my family.

This trip to Shanghai was especially significant, i think, to Dani and I because both of us had been there once before. In high school we each went our senior years for two weeks to visit a sister school of our high school. We both had a great experience. My experience in particular was what made me fall in love with China. So this time in Shanghai was a mix of new exciting experiences and old memories.

It is crazy how different Shanghai is from other cities. Even the language is different. While at a restaurant here a lady corrected my Chinese saying, "We don't call it that here." Also the street hawkers sell different things. People must like watches and purses around here because everyone came up to us trying to sell watches and purses. Once we tried to say we only spoke Spanish because we wanted the guy to leave us alone. We picked the wrong guy though because he was super persistent anyways.

A Picture and a Story

I've decided that I am going to forget all my China stories if I don't write them down so I am going to start writing a story that goes with the pictures that I have.

Where are we? Well, we are on the Silk Road of course! Dani, Alana, and I found the spot on our Xi'an map and got so excited about seeing a dirt road that headed out to the west that we hopped on a couple buses and walked for a couple miles just to see this dirt road. Unfortunately, we were all stuck in the past and this statue of camels is about as glamorous as it got. I think we were at least expecting it to be a tourist spot, but this statue and little mini park were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, as far as we were concerned. We did have some fun climbing on it though.

My favorite part of the story though was the walk there. It took us FOREVER to get to this place. We definitely had misjudged how far away it was, and we of course felt adventurous so we walked most of the way. On the way though we passed a Home Depot, which made me so excited because it was a piece of home, and I had no idea that those stores existed in China. We decided to take the bus back to center of the city where our hostel was instead of walking, a wise choice on our part. Fortunately Xi'an has a huge city wall that has bus stops at the gates in the wall, otherwise I would have had no clue where I was taking us because I only knew where the bus stops that said gate in them would be!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What a little bird taught me....

I wrote the following last fall while I was in Harbin. I didn't post it because it talks about God and I wanted to be careful with what I posted online while I was in China. I had completely forgotten about it, and while looking for an assignment in my documents, I stumbled across it again. It is amazing what God will teach you in a time when you don't necessarily need the lesson, but He will remind you of what He taught you in a time when we really need the encouragement. Enjoy :)

Sitting in a café watching a small bird trapped inside try desperately to reach the outside by going through a glass window started me thinking. This small bird is so directly focused on getting outside that the sight of the outside makes it believe that the window is the only way out. It does not know that if it were to turn around and fly the other way it would find an open door. Observing this bird I caught myself thinking how unintelligent this bird is to continually try to fly through a window when every attempt is met with failure. Me being much larger, I am able to see more of the surrounding circumstances than the bird. I can easily see that the other side of the café has an open door that the bird should really be trying to go through. I want to help this bird reach the outside, but it keeps flying around and it does not trust that I just want to help it.

I realized that we are sometimes just like this bird. In life we have our sights set on a goal or a certain path and no matter how hard we try we can’t get there and we can’t make it happen. What we don’t realize is that if we just slow down and go the other way we will be met with success. I kind of compared this to the difference between us and God. God is so much larger than us that He knows the past, present, and future, and all the paths that you will and could take. I imagine God looking down on us, his small finite children, trying so desperately to go the wrong way. This could be anything from walking in sin, to trying to do things on our own strength. When we try to do things on our own and we come against an impossible obstacle we often cannot see that the way to go is right behind us and that our Father is longing for us to stop and turn around and let Him lead us to the right path. We are so small and finite and we cannot possibly see everything that will happen and every option we have. God is so much bigger than us. Like my ability to see the way this small bird should go, God can see better than I what way I should go. The only thing is that I have to stop resisting and stop trying so desperately to go the wrong way on my own. I must calm down, stop and follow my Father trusting that he will not lead me astray.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sunshine, lilacs and more sunshhine

In the midst of -15degree F temperatures, snow, and lack of heaters, I never thought that summer would come. However, I was thankfully proven wrong. It has been absolutely beautiful here lately. Unfortunately it did take until May before it got nice. The end of April it started to be nice, but it hasn't been until recently that it has been in the upper 70's /low 80's. I do kind of think it a little odd though when I see people still wearing long sleeves and sweatshirts. I myself am still a little afraid that when I walk outside it's all of a sudden going to start snowing, but I have at least started to wear some summer clothes. An interesting observation I have made is that the girls will carry around an umbrella when it's hot and sunny. In China having white skin is the equivalent to having a tan in America and I guess they take it as far as carrying around a parasol of sorts to stay white. The campus is currently absolutely beautiful. I never realized how many flowers they have on campus. There is an extraordinary amount of lilacs and they are all in bloom right now. It smells sooo good!!

Friday, April 24, 2009


It has been far too long since I have given you all an update on my life here. I apologize for not keeping you all in the loop. A lot has happened since I posted last, yet at the same time nothing is terribly new. Live for me still mostly consists of studying, eating and sleeping. It's getting more difficult to come up with fun stories because I've gotten so used to everything here now. I had my spring break a couple weeks ago, and my family was able to come to China to visit me. My dad, mom, sister, grandpa and grandma all came to China to visit me. It was great to have them here, and to have them see where I have been living. It's very hard to actually explain to someone what living in China is like when they have no frame of reference for it, so I feel very blessed that my family was able to come see me.

For the first three days of my spring break my family spent time with me in Harbin, seeing where I spend my time and touring the city of Harbin. After that we all took a train to Beijing and spent another three days there. While in Beijing we went to the Great Wall, saw the Olympic center, visited Tiananmen, and did lots of shopping. On the last night that my family was in China, we all celebrated my grandpa's and my birthday, his being on the 11th and mine on the 12th of April. It was quite the blessing to have them here to celebrate my birthday.

I enjoyed having the chance to act as the tour guide of sorts for my family, having them try the good, authentic Chinese cuisine, and showing them how to travel on China's public transportation, etc. If you want to know what my family thought of their trip, you'll have to ask them about there impressions, but as for me I really enjoyed it.

It's down to almost five weeks until I head home, and I'm finding myself continually conflicted. I'm on one hand very very excited to go home after almost eight months here, but on the other hand I've spent eight months here, and I've finally gotten adjusted to living here, and I've made friends that I will be sad to say goodbye to. I am actually very happy that it will be difficult to leave because that means I enjoyed myself, and that it was a good experience. At the same time though I'm still counting down the days. :)

Oh, and spring is finally here!!!