It’s getting towards bed time here in Beijing and the jet leg is starting to kick in.

 To start off the adventure, we boarded the bus in cedar falls at about 7 am. I had the pleasure of Jackson sending me off after pulling almost an all nighter the night before. We woke up at 5:30 and got everything into the car. We ventured to McDonald’s for a final breakfast and then met with the group on the UNI campus. Mcdonalds gave some troubles with my stomach and I was a little uneasy before the departure.

Once on the bus, we had our adventure to the Chicago airport. I’m not 100% on the drive but once we got to Chicago we got everything ready to go. My luggage was underweight, which was a big relief. Once through security, we waited for our flight that would take off at about 4 pm.

My spot on the plane was 62k. It was a decent sized plane that provided two meals along with movies and games to keep you entertained for the 15 hour flight. The flight did get long, but I was able to keep enetertained. I got to sit by two others who will be teaching at camp one as well.

After the long plane

ride, we arrived to Hong Kong to stay for the night. My roommate is Lauren and we arrived to our room and then explored around the hotel. We found a mall along with the scenery outdoors. Not much was open due to it being late. We eventually got bed around 1 am and woke up at 4 am to board our next 2.5 hour flight to Beijing. The flight was a breeze compared to the last.

After checking into our hotel, we had the whole afternoon to do as we pleased. This was a little scary because it was our first night in Beijing. As a small group we walked around. The buildings look a little run down and the air is not as fresh. As you walk you see many dogs, cars and bicyclist manuvering the streets. We had difficulties finding food but we found a local restaurant.  The restaurant was in all Chinese characters and we used the pictures to choose what we wanted. The language difference was a definite shock. I’m not exactly sure what t food was, but it had a nice spicy kick. I was able to try other dishes, as others ordered a variety of food.

Tomorrow will be a more scheduled day, as we tour Beijing.

 

Beijing:

Population: 32 million (comparable to Canada)

Beijing has brought much enjoyment with the culture and getting to know the city. Our first full day of being a tourist included seeing the Temple of Heaven, Tinnanmen Square, The Forbidden City, Perl Factory and an Acrobatic show.

After eating breakfast at the hotel, we headed on our way to the Temple of Heaven.  Before entering the temple of Heaven, we enjoyed watching the senior people doing exercises. The exercises included tai chi and other activities. They were friendly and included us in their activities. We then entered the Temple of Heaven.  The Temple of Heaven is were the emperor would sacrifice himself. There are four temples located in China. These include earth, Heaven, sun and moon. The temple had many detailed designs and lots of symbolism. This included three flights of stairs to symbolize the Heaven, people and earth leading up to the temple.

After The Temple of Heaven we went to the Pearl factory.  Here they showed us how they harvest the pearls. In China they harvest fresh water pearls which produce around 20 pearls were sea water produce only one pearl. The pinkish and purple pearls are only found in China.

We then got to enjoy lunch. It is served at a round table with a lazy Susan in the middle that the food is placed on. This makes it easy to serve the food. You simply spin and take as you like. They serve the typical stir fry along with tea and soup. The chop sticks are a little tricky but I suppose it helps you eat less and keep your figure.

After lunch we went to Tinnanmen Square and the forbidden city. Tinnanmen square is exactly as it sounds. It’s a square with a few statues were people meet and celebrate. We then walked to the Forbidden City. This is were the emperor lived. It is quite large and housed the concubines and others who worked for the emperor.

After the Forbidden city we went to an acrobatic show. This was very nice and included many acts that includes an individual balancing on many any chairs, a double Ferris wheel were two men spun on the outside and many others. One act included the motorcycles in aball  just like in Wild Hogs. I didn’t realize people actually completed such an act. There were five motorcycles in the ball at once which was crazy. Anyways the show was followed by supper which was similar to lunch, and then ended with a relaxing night at the hotel.

Beijing Day 2:

Starting off at 6:30 am, with a day full of activities. Following breakfast, these activities included the jade factory, the Great Wall, Ming tombs, the  Olympic park area, and tea ceremony.

To begin the day we took a tour of the jade factory. Jade is a stone found in china that is carved into many different sculptures and jewelry. The common color is green. 

Following the Jade factory we went to climb the Great Wall. The Great Wall was about an hour drive from our hotel. It’s located in the mountains. The climb up the stairs was a bit more difficult than I expected. The stairs range from the height of my knee to my ankles so you really had to watch your step. Since it is very hot in China, around 90 degrees, I was sweating instantly, but the view was very nice. It was neat to see various people including individuals wearing wedges and older people using a cane to walk up the wall. I felt the climb down was almost more difficult being to the steepness and it being a little bit scary.

The Ming tomb was a park with many exotic animal sculptures and the burial place of the emperors from the Ming dynasty. We experienced some china rain, which caused us to be a little rushed but the sculptures were fun to look at.

Following the Ming tomb we went to see the Olympic area from 2008. We saw the birds nest and the water cube. The Olympics opening ceremony was held on 08-08-2008. There is symbolism behind this date for the Chinese. The number 8 is considered to be lucky in china.

Before supper we got to enjoy a tea ceremony. Here they taught us how to properly drink and prepare the tea. It was quite interesting how the different teas helped you and were it came from.

Fun fact for China,

When going to the bathroom you don’t have your typical western toilet. Often you will find yourself using a squatty potty and the toilet paper is throw in the garbage not the toilet. This includes using the western toilets.

Beijing Day 3:

Starting the day we went to the summer palace. The summer palace was the emperors summer home to keep cool. There’s a man made lake to keep a breeze and a man made hill that the palace sits on top of. The hill blends in with the mountains and looks like the palace is in the mountains. There’s also a man made island connected with a bridge. All together the land is about 60 acres. It was quite grand.

Following the summer palae we enjoyed the silk factory were they showed the many stages of the silk worm and thechniques  used to get the thread and the construction process of silk quilts.

For lunch we were broight to a families home in Beijing. We took a rikashaw ride to the home. They served us inside their home which is considerably smaller than an American home. There are no personal bathrooms. Instead you use the community bathroom located in the ally.

At the Llama Temple we were able to see many different Buddhas and people making wishes. This was done with insense and bowing three times. The Llama Temple is were monks come.

Our final adventure for the day was the knock off market. The market is were there are many knock off brands and you try to bargain the price. It can be very intimidating as they are rude and want to try and keep the price high. They had many many brands and I found it hardto find  something that I was interested in tbut I decided to try for a purse. She originally set the price at 400 yuen. The conversion rate is 6 yuen for every American dollar. I was interested in paying 50 yuen. Which would be less than $10. After 20 minutes of “arguing” I walked away with that price. My friend on the trip who got the same purse paid 125 yuen. I was quite pleased.

Then next day we departed at 5 AM to get on our flight to Hong Kong then a connecting flight to Guilin. It’s a long day of traveling as we will not get to Guilin until after 5. On the first flight, there were two little girls from China siting in front. They were very talkative of course in the Chinese  language, but they continued to attempt conversation. They shared their music, snacks and knowledge of counting to 10 in English. I gave them fruit snacks and played rock paper scissors with them.

Guilin

Population: 5 million

Day 1

We spent two full days in Guilin. Guilin is a beautiful city that consists of four distinct features. This includes clear water, spectacular rocks, magnificent caves and  beautiful hills. The city is considered to be a small town. It is definitely smaller than Beijing but considerably bigger than small town Iowa.

To begin our adventure we took a four hour river boat cruise on the Li River. It was very nice and allowed us to see many landscapes. During the cruise we were served buffet and I got to try snake wine. In the bottle is an actual snake. The cruise was very nice and I even got a little sun.

After the cruise, we had the opportunity to go up into the hills and see farm life in china. It is much simpler than Iowa farm life. They have simple homes and only the necessities. We got to see rice paddys and peanut fields. We visited a home were the grandma lived. She is 75 and enjoyed telling us about herself. We learned that the Chinese buy their casket at the age of 55. Their philospohy is that if they are ready for death, then they have nothing to worry about and can live happily.

After our tour we had the chance to enjoy the markets and we then went to dinner. After dinner we enjoyed a show that was performed on the Li River. It consisted of 600 people and told many little stories about the Chinese culture. It is directed by the man who directed the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony in 2008. Even though I could not understand, the costumes and lighting made the show.

Day 2

Today stared off wih a climb up Fubo hill. It was 300 steps. Much easier than the Great Wall. At the top we were able to see a nice view of the city.

We then went off to the tea plantation were we saw how to make tea and learned more on the various types.

 

After the tea, we went to Elephat Hill. This is similar to the Statie of Liberty. The hill is a symbol of the city Gulin.

We then got to enjoy Reed Flute Cave. It was lit up and had lots of formations.

That night, we had an overnight train to Don Guan. It was a 15 hour train ride. It went fast due to it being during the night. We had four people to a room and itwas  quite snug. The next day will start our adventures at the camp in Don Guan.

Teaching in Dongguan:

This past weekend was spent preparing for the teaching ahead to start on Monday. When we came in Friday, we met our TAs who were extremely excited to see and meet us. They showed us the campus and ate supper with us.

On Saturday, we got up early to start practice for our opening ceremony. We had various acts that included signing, and dancing. We did songs such as the fight song and the YMCA. Our dances were the hustle, electric slide and Cha Cha slide. Saturday night we got to enjoy American food at an American sports bar located in Dongguan. It was very good but costed a little more than an average meal.

Sunday was the first day. There wasn’t any teaching. We had our opening ceremony for the students and their parents. Us Americans had our show and introductions along with the TAs. They had speeches to tell the students about the camp and the opportunity of having an American teacher in the classroom to teach. The ceremony went well.

Monday was my first day of teaching. I have two teaching partners. This means I have three classrooms all together. I have the youngest students. One second grade classroom and two third grade classrooms. In my second grade there are students who don’t know the ABCs. This is a little difficult to teach. The other two classroom are great. I enjoyed them. Our first lesson was introductory and naming our students. I had American names picked out that they drew out of a hat. We have been told that these names will stay with them the rest of their life. The introductory included getting to know me and the students learning their own names. In the morning we teach for three hours then a two hour lunch break. Then we teach 2 hors followed by afternoon activity and evening activity.

The second day of teaching I taught animals. My second graders I went over the alphabet and read some books and reviewed their names. I then went over farm animals and their sounds. We sang old McDonald and did the Chicken Dance. My afternoon class was more advance. We did farm and ocean animals. It was a good day. For our afternoon activity we played volleyball against the TAs. The TAs won, we all got pizza after. Yummmm. The evening activity was a dance party. We taught the dances such as interlude, Cha Cha skids and chicken dance.

The third day of teaching I taught home living. With my second graders I did the alphabet and letter sounds. I then focused on getting them to say their names. I taught them five objects. This included chair, television, table, computer, and clothes. They taped the words all around the room to drill it in their head. For lunch, one of my students asked me to eat lunch with him. He doesn’t speak a lot of English, but his sister came so it went well! His sister, Selena told me that her brother Eric is very fond of me, and says I am the nicest teacher. She asked for my email so that he could message me when I went back home. 🙂 For my second class we did different rooms and the objects found inside the room. I had them draw their own room and match objects with the room. The afternoon activity was tug of war and the evening activity was toungue twisters.

Teaching has gone well the past week. With my classes I have enjoyed teaching sports, holidays and home living. Holidays was very exciting as I taught about Christmas. We made a Christmas tree and decorations. The students greatly enjoyed making decorations. I also enjoyed trenching the different sports. I brought the actual equipment and was able to make many multiple activities.

My students also like to give fruit and candies as gifts. I have received fruit grown in china that is very good. One night we got to visit thr dorms were the students stay. They sleep six to a room and they sleep on plywood. These rooms are the real rooms of te Unversity which is crazy to think.

This past weekend was our first weekend in donguan. On Saturday we went on a field trip to shenjen with all the students. It wasn’t the most exciting. We went to a china culture park. It had remakes of all the sites to see in china. Plus it rained all day. That night teachers and TAs went out to get a break. The following day, Sunday, was my home visit with one of my students. His name is Ethan. His mother picked me up wih my TAs and took us to her apartment. It was a very nice apartment. It had lots of marble. She gave us watermelon and we then went to eat lunch. Lunch was very good. We had food that I had never seen.  This included seaweed and different mushrooms and who knows what else. They also had shrimp on a stick with its legs and skin cooked right with it. You can eat the skin as it has good nutrients, but I stuck to taking the skin off. Following lunch, we went to a palace of a man from the Ching dynasty. It was very nice, but looked like all the other palaces we had seen in Beijing. Ethan and I fed the fish. Once back from the home visit, I did a little shopping with my TA but didn’t find anything. Then it was bedtime as I was very tired.

-Hot and Humid

Teaching has gone well the past week. With my classes I have enjoyed teaching sports, holidays and home living. Holidays was very exciting as I taught about Christmas. We made a Christmas tree and decorations. The students greatly enjoyed making decorations. I also enjoyed trenching the different sports. I brought the actual equipment and was able to make many multiple activities.

My students also like to give fruit and candies as gifts. I have received fruit grown in china that is very good. One night we got to visit thr dorms were the students stay. They sleep six to a room and they sleep on plywood. These rooms are the real rooms of te Unversity which is crazy to think.

This past weekend was our first weekend in donguan. On Saturday we went on a field trip to shenjen with all the students. It wasn’t the most exciting. We went to a china culture park. It had remakes of all the sites to see in china. Plus it rained all day. That night teachers and TAs went out to get a break. The following day, Sunday, was my home visit with one of my students. His name is Ethan. His mother picked me up wih my TAs and took us to her apartment. It was a very nice apartment. It had lots of marble. She gave us watermelon and we then went to eat lunch. Lunch was very good. We had food that I had never seen.  This included seaweed and different mushrooms and who knows what else. They also had shrimp on a stick with its legs and skin cooked right with it. You can eat the skin as it has good nutrients, but I stuck to taking the skin off. Following lunch, we went to a palace of a man from the Ching dynasty. It was very nice, but looked like all the other palaces we had seen in Beijing. Ethan and I fed the fish. Once back from the home visit, I did a little shopping with my TA but didn’t find anything. Then it was bedtime as I was very tired.

Monday  July 28

Today I taught money. I taught them the coin song for all the American coins that I learned in my level twos. They loved it, and I think they will hold on to it for a while. That afternoon we had basketball practice as teachers. I managed to get drug in to play and I wasn’t too excited. Basketball is definitely not my kind of sport.

Tuesday July 29

Today I had one class for the whole day. I taught emotions and place setting. For my emotions lesson, I taught my students how to make a origami book and we made an emotions book. For my place setting we played various games to help teach about forks, spoons, plates etc. In the afternoon we had the basketball game. Teachers against TAs. I wore flip flops so I wouldn’t have to play. I was a spectator. The teachers lost 31 to 42.  That night we went to an Irish pub,  Murray’s and got wings as they were the special for the night. They were sooooo good!

Wednesday July 30

This week is for sure flying! I taught weather and seasons to my students. It wasn’t one of my better days, but I had different activities to keep them entertained. After class a group of us did a little shopping to the local wal mart, which was kinda exciting.

Thursday July 31

Today I was in charge of teaching transportation. I made a memory game which took a lot of work. I had to make 12 sets of the same memory game. I was afraid my students wouldn’t understand, but they loved it! That afternoon we had a watermelon eating contest. The students go crazy over the watermelon. That evening a group of us went out and got our nails done for $9. We were quite impressed with our purchase.

Friday August 1

Happy August! Today is the final day of week two. One more week to go. It is assessment day in the classroom. I have prepared an assessment over what we have learned for the week. It tests their vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening, speaking and writing. I stayed in the classroom while they took their assessment.  Many of the students had their books out with their notes and I had to go around and explain that it’s only your knowledge. After they took the written test, I started a movie and took them out one by one to talk to them and assess their listening and speaking. After finishing the test, I had multiple review games to finish off the day. That night their was a singing competition and I was one of the judges.

Saturday August 2

Happy Chinese valentines day!

Today is field trip day. We took the kids to Macau for a boat tour. Macau is known for it’s casinos because the rest of china doesn’t have any casinos. Its kinda like the Las Vegas of china. After the boat tour we went to another culture park. The culture park wasn’t too exciting. We got back on the three hour bus ride back to campus and we had supper with the TAs. We then had kareoke on campus.

Sunday August 3

Today was a home visit with another one of my students. I got picked and we went to his house for some tea. The father spoke a little English which was nice.  The student, Jackie, is my top student in the class. I found out that he started learning English as a four year old. Jackie is also learning to write Chinese calligraphy. He showed me his skills, and gave me his drawing.  I got to enjoy watching him and his father play Chinese chess. I enjoyed this very much. We then went to a restaurant they frequently visit. As we walked in, there were alligators and snapping turtles below us. That was definite welcoming. Our meals consisted of mostly crocodile. This included the tail fingers and crocodile soup. I even tried chewy chewy chewy squid. The crocodile tail wasn’t terrible and neither was the crocodile soup, but the rest wasn’t my cup of tea. After the home visit they dropped me off and I went ice skating with a group of TAs. It was excting, and I greatly enjoyed it!

Monday August 4

Today begins the final week of English summer camp.

Today I taught slang words. This was a difficult topic for me as some of my students are just being introduced to English. I taught them greetings and tried to incorporate a fun activity that involved popping a balloon and reading off the greeting to the class. The rest of the time was spent reviewing for the upcoming test and working on closing ceremony.

Tuesday August 5

Final Tuesday of camp….

Today I prepared my students for the closing ceremony. Closing ceremony has been a little bit too much of an added stress for my liking, but I suppose well make it through. We are reading a poem, and singing two songs. The Tuesday afternoon activity was a food tasting and us teachers served the food. The students had to answer a question before getting the food. That evening a group of us went to wal mart.

Wednesday August 6

Today was review day for the big test on Thursday. I also had the students make masks for the fancy ball that night. We also worked a lot on the closing ceremony. The mask making was pretty eventful with glitter all over! That afternoon we worked on decorating the ballroom for the fancy ball. We didn’t have supper due to the decorating. We went back to our rooms, changed and went back over to the ball. All the students were dressed up and we had a big dance party. Due to being hungry, we rushed to Pizza Hut for food. Since Pizza Hut was closing we had to order the food to go. We got our food and ate outside of course in the rain.

Thursday August 7

Today was the final day of teaching and tomorrow is party day! For today I had the assessment For the students.  It was cumulative. It was a little long but they did well! That afternoon we practiced the closing ceremony. I’m a little nervous for the closing ceremony but I hope it goes well! After class, we practiced the song, Let it Go. This is the song that every class is singing together. Following the practice me and two others went to climb the famous “mountain” in Dongguan. It is called Qifeng Moutain. It was quite the trek but it took a little over an hour to get up and down. I was pleased with us! We then made the trek down and got a cab to good ole Pizza Hut. 🙂

Friday August 8

Today is the final day of teaching. In the morning we had class parties. I brought my gifts for the students and we played their favorite games. For lunch we had a lunch with the TAs for our farewell. They gave everyone certificates with pictures and a fan. Following lunch, we had practice for closing ceremony. It was quite a lengthy practice but I was glad for it to be done. Once practice was done it was time to have the final party with the students. We played games and ate lots of food. The TAs then came over to my room that night and got us all cake as a farewell and good job.

Saturday August 9

The final day in Dongguan.

Today was closing ceremony for the parents. It went very well. It was quite emotional for the students to leave. Even the little ones were sad. I didn’t think they realized. Once they were crying thats when most were in tears as well. We went for a final lunch then loaded the bus for Hong Kong and said our good byes.

Too many goodbyes in the past couple days.

Hong Kong

Population: 7.6 million

Sunday August 10

Well, I am at the final stretch of my china journey. Our hotel can hold the size of Webster City with the 2000 rooms it has to offer.

Hong Kong is completely different from mainland China. There’s English all around. To start thr visit in Hong Kong we had a bus tour.  We saw the observation area of Hong Kong at Victoria mountain. This allowed us to see a fantastic view. We saw some different Buddhas and ate at a restaurant that is floating on the water and requires a ferry to get there.

Monday August 11

From here on out, Hong Kong is on our own. Today was a slow start for most but once we got going it was all good. Me and three other girls went back to the ladies markets. Two of the girls got a hair cut and I enjoyed wifi and air conditioning. After shopping we caught the subway to the avenue of stars. We didn’t recognize any of the stars we saw. The ferry ride was a little pricy so we walked around and we enjoyed a light show over the water. I even enjoyed octopus and noodles for a snack.

Tuesday August 12

Today we got started at 8 am. We got on the subway and went to Lantau Island to see the giant Buddha. Once to the island, we got tickets to ride the cable car up the mountain. We had a very nice view. We then enjoyed seeing the Buddha and the shops along with eating lunch as well. We then got back to the hotel to enjoy some down time and went for supper at a local place.

Wednesday August 13

Today is our final day in good ole china. The whole day was rainy and I wasn’t feeling 100%. Most if the day was spent inside hanging out and watching movies. Some people went shopping, but I decided to lay low and try to get some rest before tomorrow. Once supper came, I tried to eat a little and then everyone went to central and I tagged along. Central is were all the skyscrapers are. It was pretty neat. We went to a bar on top of a tall building that allowed you to look at the skyline. There was even a light show that was pretty neat. It was good end to a good five weeks.

 

 

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