Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shanghai New Years.

It wasn't until the day before New Years Eve that we decided to jump on a train and spend New Years Eve in Shanghai. We haven't been anywhere since November so I was itching for a little trip. We went to Shanghai a few months ago but didn't see nearly enough of it. The day started out pretty entertaining. Tori and I took the slow train while Britton and Chris took the high-speed train so they could do some stuff for their internship. I was actually pretty excited about being on my own just to prove to myself that I could get around China if I needed too. I guess its the independent woman in me:) We were the only foreigners on the train so we got a lot of attention. The majority of our time was spent having conversations with locals via iPhone translators. As you can imagine, it took quite awhile to get a conversation going and I still don't know exactly what we were talking favorite translator mishaps were.....
"The girl are pretty"
"Is China consumer good?"
"I think something is wrong. Translation not quite right"
It was fun though and we were able to get to downtown Shanghai without any trouble. Once we got there, it was a trip full of amazing food and shopping. I've been craving Paradise Bakery for a least a month now so my goal was to find a similar place and I found it! It was great. We ate there twice. The weather was awesome too. In Nanjing, I hate going outside when its low 20's during the day but I think it was high 30's, which has sadly turned into good weather for me. That night, we headed to the Bund riverside for the New Year's Eve festivities. There were many Chinese people lighting lanterns and sending them into the sky with their resolutions and goals written on them. We found a great spot right on the edge of the river to have front row access to the laser show and fireworks. Although warmer than Nanjing, the wind was constantly hitting us making it colder than usual. We, of course, improvised and used scarves to warm our faces. Just before midnight, the laser light show started and it was somewhat disappointing from where we were. Afterwards, the firework show began but to our dismay, billows of firework smoke shortly followed in our path. We didn't let that get us down and still enjoyed the fireworks. The next day was spent shopping (Britton was excited to find his other love: The Apple store) and eating some more. In the end, I would say our Shanghai trip was a success and a much needed escape from China. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fresh Air.

The weather in Nanjing has started to get a little too chilly for my liking so our 4-day trip to Yangshuo, China was much needed. Not only is it warmer but there was actually blue skies and stars at night. It was a breath of fresh air...literally. Our adventure started on Thursday when we took an evening flight to Guilin. After an hour and a half bus ride, we arrived in the quaint little town of Yangshuo. The town may be pretty small but the natural beauty around it isn't. On Friday morning, we booked a cooking class to try out our Chinese food-making skills. This was one of our favorites by far of the trip. The only thing I would have changed was the meat market we went too at the beginning. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't handle anything of that sort.  Last time I watched a Peta video, I turned vegetarian for five years. So I decided to skip out on seeing them kill and butcher everything from rats to dogs. Yes, dogs. But I pretty much got a visual from hearing about it afterwards. I will spare you the details. Anyways, the cooking school was out in the country and it was a blast. We made 5 different dishes that we are hoping to perfect by the time we get back to the US in order to show how cultured we've become;) Later that afternoon, we took a tour of a water cave that had hot springs at the end. It was a little rainy that day so I could have stayed in the hot springs all night. That night, we went around to the local markets and tried to bargain to get the best deals on scarves. I don't think I am very good at it because I didn't go home with one. On Saturday, it was absolutely beautiful weather. We rented bikes and took a tour of the countryside. We stopped by an ancient village called Jiuxian, which had the cutest old man sitting outside. He showed us the house where he was born, and after 87 years, he only made it a few feet away. Life is a lot different on this side of the world. Later on, we hiked Moon Hill, which is more of a mountain than hill. The view was worth every step, even in flip flops. On Sunday, we relaxed by taking a bamboo raft (more like PVC raft) down the Li River to a town called Xingping. This was one of my favorites because I couldn't get enough of being in the sun. In China, you hardly ever feel like you are getting enough vitamin D so I was soaking it up. That night we went out on a boat and watched cormorant fishing in all its glory. Or at least the tourist version of it. When Monday came, it was depressing to know that it was our last day and that tomorrow we would be back at school and work. We decided to rent scooters and get lost in the countryside. We found a few villages that were fun to drive through. I loved the kids who would try to race us on the scooter or wave to us on the street. I was so touched by the kindness of some of the people who literally had nothing but would send us home with a bag full of peanuts or an invitation to dinner. It really makes you grateful for all of your blessings. It truly is a blessing to be able to be here in China, with my husband, and see beautiful places like this. Hopefully these pictures will make you feel like you were there too. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

No wonder I am an Arizona girl.

This last weekend we traveled to Beijing, which started out as a good idea and ended with snow. Although I was born in Flagstaff, I have never actually been in really cold weather. After this last weekend, I would consider myself not only a wimp, but an Arizona girl at heart. 

We took the overnight train on Thursday and got to Beijing after a 9 hour train ride. We decided to hit up the Wall that day because rain was predicted for the next day. With limited time, we jumped in a 400 rmb taxi (instead of the usual 40 rmb bus ride) and headed to the section called Mutainyu. IT WAS AMAZING! We hiked up and stopped along the way for Britton to try his luck at climbing it and to snatch a piece of the Wall as a souvenir (legal, not sure but we are rebels like that). November isn't a super popular month for people to visit the Great Wall so I was nervous about the landscape looking dead but it was far from. I finally saw what fall looks like. We took our time exploring the Wall and then taboggled down, which was so fun! Who knew you could sled down the Great Wall. This was definitely the highlight of the trip. The next day, we spent the day going around Beijing, visiting Tainanmen Square, and catching a glimpse of Mao's 30-year-old dead body. We also decided to try Peking duck since it is famous in Beijing. I had one bite and I was done....ducks should be for throwing bread at, not eating. Anyways, It rained a little but nothing I couldn't handle. And then it snowed that night. We had our gloves, scarves, waterproof shoes (or so we thought) but it was still miserable. We decided to venture out and see the Forbidden City. We lasted maybe 30 minutes before I called it quits and my shoes were soaked. The day did get better though...we spent our final hours drinking hot chocolate and seeing an acrobat show, which was pretty impressive. Although cold, I am glad we made the trek to Beijing. Would I recommend it in winter time to any AZ born-and-raised like myself? Uhhhnoooo. 

 (They got up to 8 motorcycles in there, it was hard to watch)
Much love from the Great Wall!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ain't nothing better than a little autumn in the city.

It's true, China knows how to do Fall. The weather has been perfect, the leaves have been turning colors, and its quickly going by so I am trying to embrace it while I can. I am still in shock that it is the end of October already. I don't know if anyone else feels this way but my life is flashing before my eyes and it seems to be going by just as fast in China. This month has been a busy one. We've been busy with the usual, school and teaching but we've had the opportunity to go on a few field trips with the Flagship program and do some other things. Although boring at times and feeling like I am stuck in a Chinese tour group where no English is spoken, its been fun to see what Nanjing has to offer. Some of these include some Emperor's tombs, a really old wall, and Buddhist Temples. The history here is so old and what little I have picked up is pretty crazy stuff. Our favorite new thing this month has been volunteering at an immigrant school. It has been seriously so fun. We teach them English and they are super cute, take a look for yourself! I think I've given them English names of everyone I know. I named a girl Shannon that looked like the Chinese girl version of my sister. It is pretty hilarious.

My birthday was this week, which means I am the big 2-4! Britton took me out for breakfast and lunch (I needed some pizza on my birthday), got me an Ipod shuffle and a cute purse, and attempted to throw me a surprise get-together, which of course I discovered. I saw an email about it and when Britton asked me about it, I tried to lie but he could see right through me. I think I have officially come to terms that I am a noisy person! What he did surprise me with was making me this awesome video of our family wishing me happy birthday so I will need to post that asap. But it was a great day and I am so lucky to have such a sweet husband. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The short and sweet life of Pistachio.

It saddens me that I didn't introduce the newest member of the family sooner and didn't get more pictures before it was too late. This sweet little bunny of mine passed away this morning. Britton surprised me with him a little more than a week ago and we grew to love him fast. He was our first pet and will probably be our last for a while...I realized today that I get too attached too quickly. He was doing awesome at first. He was so lively and loved eating every type of fruit and it wasn't until this weekend that he started acting not like himself. This morning I woke up and could tell there was something wrong. He died shortly after. I named him Pistachio and Tori's bunny is named Mistachio....we thought their stashes were pretty awesome. A couple things I will miss about my little bunny is: His "purring" when I held him, How he went insane whenever he smelled a banana, and how he kept me company when Britton was at school. Rest in peace Pistachio.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


This past weekend was the start of a national holiday in China, which means a week off of school and mass inner-country migrations as families go on vacation. Tori and I had to work this week but we got a 3-day weekend and that's when we decided to go to the train stop and figure out where we wanted to go. It was a very last minute trip AGAIN but it was super fun. I think I am slowly starting to enjoy the spontaneity. We went to a water town called Tongli and it was amazing. It was just like Venice, Italy with its narrow alleys, canals, and restaurants along it. We got there on Friday so the crowds weren't there yet and it was so peaceful. We spent the day exploring the alleys and meeting a lot of locals. The town is over a thousand years old so there is a lot of history there. We found a European hostel for only $7.50/person/night and it was one of the cleanest so far. Can you believe it? only 15 bones for the both of us. It is crazy! That night, we found a wall that everyone carved their names into so we did the same. We found this awesome coffee shop where you can write a postcard to someone and they will hold onto it for a few years and then mail it for you. So B & I wrote a message to each other and we will get it in three years. Later, we ate along the canal at an italian restaurant that I would never recommend (chinese should stick to Chinese food), looked at all the shops, and cheered on Britton and Chris as they played pool against some French men. I think they won:) The next day we went to a few museums and gardens. And yes that is Britton goofing around in one of the sacred gardens. It was a great start and has helped Tori and I get through our looonng week of teaching. It's only half over so wish me the best! Happy October!