Archive for category Traveling
My diet went according to plan Thursday, but I definitely let go of my diet by going to Lake Arrowhead for the weekend. Friday and Saturday weren’t exactly my healthiest of days, but no matter. I did enjoy the trip overall though. A break is what I needed and who can complain after a view like this:
Thursday Workout = 45 mins of Yoga
Friday and Saturday = break days
I definitely cheated on my diet this weekend
I think this video really hit home why I enjoyed my travels and what I was able to learn while I was walking the streets of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Thailand this summer.
Hopefully it resonates with you as well!
Teaching English in China
It’s ironic. 4 months ago, I asked myself at the LAX gate, what would await me on my journey to China? What will I encounter during my lessons while I teach English? Who will I meet? Will they like me? Will I like them? I wonder what they will think of me. And so on…
The above picture evinces the answer to my above questions, fears, anxieties and thoughts. It really is ironic how 3 months ago, I had never heard nor seen any of them. They had no idea who I was either. And yet… they affected and changed the course of my life. And I don’t mean just the students: my co-workers, the atmosphere, the environment and the numerous people I met in China made me feel like a celebrity!
Teaching English (my mother tongue) was not my greatest challenge. I credit my experience with Primerica Financial Services and Moneythink for the public speaking and mentoring that was required that had me well-prepared for this gig. That does not mean that I was not anxious or scared doing that demo class that bestowed me a job offer. I almost pissed my pants. It’s interesting noting back on that experience because those same 12 students in my demo class became some of my closest friends. Time felt like it elapsed quicker than Michael Vick running a 40 (yard-dash). I can recall my first encounter with my first stranger, Ronald whom I so graciously met in the LAX boarding room. I believed he foreshadowed how many more interesting and amazing individuals I would meet on this China trip and that’s precisely what occurred. Leaving my moment of nostalgia aside, I have learned many things these past 3 months teaching English.
My students ranged from 5-40 year olds. I taught everyone in that range of students—from your average kindergartener, middle school, or high school student to your university students to your millionaire business people, to secretaries (called office girls in China—lawsuit in America?!), to your mid-aged house wife, etc.
Now then, I taught starter level classes—students that have just began their quest in learning English and speak very minimally. My goal is to provide them with a significant amount of vocabulary, build their confidence and provide them with the basic grammar rules and English skills.
In order to teach these students, it requires an exuberant amount of patience, especially teaching the younger students. Something I am not accustomed to even after my previous experience with Moneythink. I have to thoroughly build upon their confidence and provide them with answers, but simultaneously challenge them to learn new words and form short sentences in a logical manner. It can be difficult to sit there, but I have studied Chinese for a year and I can sympathize with many of the frustrations in learning a new language. I had to adapt and acquire patience to make sure they were learning. Not only that, but I had to make sure the classes were entertaining. I wonder if it’s possible to make the class a competition and instead of just standing there and speaking, show constant excitement, change the tone of voice, and most importantly, engage with the students!
I also taught beginner, elementary and intermediate students. These students were on a similar quest to learn and practice as much as possible. I was their gateway in requiring these students dreams come true (except for those that were forced to study by their parents).
Maximum of 10 students, these classes are like your typical university classes that teach students similar to any high school language class. I teach the students new vocabulary while simultaneously teaching them grammar rules, proper pronunciation, sentence making, writing, reading, thinking, speaking and listening all in English.
I have the students enact certain dialogues based on their skill level or difficulty. There is a specific theme that I must follow, and lead the class while they are reading, correcting their mistakes in pronunciation or if they need help understanding words or sentences. I guide them through the dialogues as well.
These classes are strictly 1-on-1. They pay high amounts of money and recommend the class and we have to follow what they ask of us, providing them with the lesson plans and everything related with it.
This is my chance to shine. I have a 1 hour class where I teach whatever I like and do whatever I want with the class. I created classes tailored to what I was passionate about to what the students found entertaining. I played word games, sentence games incentivizing the students with small prizes to the winner. Or I would create a small scenario or list some characters and tell the students to enact or create a scene using only English words during the presentation.
Here’s what I learned:
Many of the students complained that they had to think too much and told me that they don’t usually do this much in school. I asked them many questions relating to how/what they are taught in high schools there and they said they usually memorize, keep doing problems sets, read and write. They were excellent writers and readers! I was not surprised at all that they were incredible at math as well. However, when it came to public presentations or fundamental business skills, this is where I saw many of the students lack. I tried my best to improve the student’s ability to question and use their creative talents and build up their character as much as possible. Some of them were young, but I tried harder to reach out and find out what many of the students loved or were passionate about. I tried my best to connect with them on this level.
Opportunities in china if barriers to entry (getting long-term F-visa, speaking Chinese and understanding the culture – can be done with partnering with another business) can be overcome:
- they need a school or program that teaches them the fundamentals of doing business (sales tactics, marketing elements, mastering social networks for business) – did not see many of these
- They need an entrepreneurial program that can structure a way to allow many of these students to use their creative talents into feasible businesses.
- Create a program similar to toastmasters where the students can build confidence and learn public speaking so that they can listen and speak with more fluidity and confidently
Overall, it was the best three months of my life and was a learning experience that I think anyone, if given the opportunity, should undertake because it helps the teacher building patience, confidence to speak in front of a public audience, build lasting friendships and allows the teacher to become better at providing instructor. And you get to learn about the culture, people, places to visit, and sometimes, the students will take you there for free and give you a tour as well! It’s a learning experience for both the students being taught and the teacher!
Here is a list of some 50 great ones!
My personal favorite: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
-This is the most relatable quote for me from the list.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Feel free to share others!
Arguably the most serene and beautiful city I have visited in my life, Hangzhou offers a life cultivated with majestic scenary–NO JOKE (the pictures may say a 1000 words, but standing there in front of the Lake will leave you speechless or with more words than your mind can frame- either or, it’s something to marvel over and a place you don’t want to miss if you travel to China).
The West Lake trumps all other lakes! Hangzhou has limited pollution in relation to other cities here in China. In fact, I think it has less pollution than Los Angeles. Difficult to say though but, I guess after living in China for a month, any air that’s breathable suffices at this point.
What does Hangzhou offer:
Well many historic sites to visit for starters (like most of China). It has been around for a millennial and was the most populated city in the world at one point in time.
Hangzhou intertwines nature and the metropolis far better than any city I have visited. Nature is its selling point and the city is developed around the great West Lake. I have been to Hangzhou on three different occasions and on each occasion, I find something new that diverts my attention, attracting me toward the city even more than before. I can see myself making a living here in the future, if permissible.
First: There’s Green Tea!
I’m not actually talking about GREEN TEA! I am talking about the critically acclaimed restaurant that I personally think is the best food I have eaten in China! It’s at a very affordable and cheap price too. Located near the outskirts of West Lake, it may be difficult to find, but calling the Hangzhou tourist hotline 96123 or asking other locals or tourists (many in Hangzhou) always pays dividends as well. Clashing intercontinental food with the local Chinese food, there is plenty to choose from. The service is also on point. We ordered for 5 people and received the food we ordered within 10-15 minutes. It hit the spot alright.
There is plenty to do and see in Hangzhou. Aside from spending the day around the lake, there is plenty of shopping and outdoor activities to last for days. There are many mountains with pagodas to see (Buddhist temples on top of their tall mountains) and many calming activities as well. They have safaris, amusement parks and just about anything else that every major city in China offers.
It has amazing night life as well. There are plenty of places to choose from such as Coco’s, G+, and SOS. All are great clubs here that are filled with foreigners during the weekend. Then there are also numerous bars and lounges to attend if you are the looking for a more relaxing and conversational night. I went to Phebe’s Bar and Maya bar. Phebe’s bar is a great place to meet Chinese locals and a great place to hang out with friends if that is what you are looking for. The Maya Bar is much smaller and was filled with foreigners. It’s more of a safe-haven for tourists especially since it is the only place to find Mexican food. That’s right, the only place I have found in all of China so far that actually has Mexican food. The food hit the spot alright, but I am uncertain if I would go back knowing that I am putting money into the owner’s pocket. It was still a great bar though and I had a wonderful experience otherwise.
1st Visit to Hangzhou:
-A short one with unwarranted rain and a minor case of bronchitis. I went with my aunt and walked around West Lake. Those are most of the pictures that I have posted. We then strolled around and found our way walking through the city only to be lost. In China, 5 pm means dinner time, and just about every Chinese takes this hour seriously. It was approaching that hour and we had to leave from Hangzhou before then. We Chinglished our way back to the bus station with the help of a young lady (about my age) and a policeman who told us which buses to take. We confirmed the bus with the number 96123 and I have used that number ever since. It’s a time-savor.
To the Green Tea Restaurant with my relatives. I have discussed this one in detail and need not explain more other than it was the best chinese food that I have EVER eaten. We topped off the dinner with some Baskin Robbins (your typical standardized ice cream found anywhere in the world).
Third Trip to Hangzhou (the one where I traveled alone):
I was ecstatic with my usual weekend (Wednesday and Thursday). My dear co-workers pointed me in the direction of where the bus picks up individuals, just a 10 minute walk down the end of the street. I took my carry-on and away I marched. It was a mucky and heated day around 5 in the afternoon and I had to pick up some Orange Juice on my walk before I collapsed from over-heating. I had just finished looking at my new apartment and exchanged some dollars to Yuan at the Bank– the service sucked and what should have been a simple 20-minute task took 2 hours. Anyways, all of that was forgotten and I was about to head to Hangzhou.
At the end of the street, I asked some individuals where Shamau Road was, and they said I was on it. What was next? Well- that’s exactly what I was wondering… My co-workers did not mention that a lady would yell “Hangzhou! Hangzhou!” out of a bus and I would just load it from the side of the road (not a bus stop). I hopped right on and sat down next to the sleeping beauty (she slept the entire joy ride, not flinching at any bump lump, or dump on the road). I sat consciously awaiting what the next 24 hours of sheer, unknown excitement would hold. I arrived at my destination and found an Indian gentleman calling a friend for me and delightedly informing me the location of my hotel– just 2 km away and I thanked him for the guidance. I figured I would just walk the way with my carry-on. After detouring across a bridge, under the road, across a lake and past some train tracks, I saw Motel 168 right near the West Lake! After showering in sweat, I figured it would be in my best interest to freshen up a bit. This Motel 168 was a central location to get me around the city just like I did in Shanghai. This is where I recommend any traveler to stay if you are there only for a few days because most of the attractions circumvent the lake so any location near the lake will be great for that matter. The bus and taxis are convenient for anyone staying here to get around the city. My aunt gave me a contact and I made the phone call to her friend who gave me the right of way to Phebe’s Bar by taxi. He drove me on his scooter to the Maya Bar and I finally ate some succulent Mexican food. It was nothing too fancy, but for being the only Mexican restaurant in all of the Zhejiang Province there is not much to complain about. He took me back to Phebe’s Bar and I met some friendly Chinese locals who spoke little English, but were interesting in the fact that I was from California. They loved talking about the Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Fulfilling night overall, with nothing too insane. I awoke the following morning ready to meet my co-worker Felicia and took her to Maya Bar so that she could try Mexican food for the first time in her life. Mission Maya Bar was underway and that Hangzhou hotline number 96123, did just the trick to get us there. We taxied there and immediately went to work on some burritos, nachos and many dips and spices. The clouds were looming over us, so after we left the bar feeling 5 pounds heavier we meandered around and decided it would be in our best-interests to bus it back home. And she was right. It poured heavily!
This is how the Maya Bar looks from the inside and outside!
All in all, Hangzhou is an excellent city to visit!
The individuals I met in Hangzhou were kind and there were many people that spoke enough English to guide me where I wanted to go. There are extraordinary places to eat in Hangzhou as well, but I think the list I have provided is a great starting point. Let me know if you have any recommendations or want to add to the list for others. I am here for another 2 months and this would serve me well! Thanks for reading.
I will post soon about about my experiences teaching here and my 1-week trip to Thailand! More to come!
I must first dedicate this blog post to my Dhaval Uncle and Aunt Ami for coping with me and profusely helping me find the rooms and bus routes to get to Shanghai, I am not sure how I could have done all this without them, so Thank You!
I can’t really compare Shanghai to any other city, but if New York, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas had a baby, it would be Shanghai in a nutshell. It has New York’s high rise buildings reminiscent of Times Square, the circumference, area, and 20 times the pollution of Los Angeles, the population of Mumbai, and the entertainment and night life similar to Las Vegas and New York.
The above explanation though would not do Shanghai justice because it is still its own entity and far too unique to compare to any other city I have seen. In fact, I learned some history about Shanghai through meeting people and did some research afterwards. In 1937, Japan terrorized its way into Shanghai right through Nanjing Road; now there is a lavish mall sitting in its place. There are amazing stories behind Shanghai, but it has deconstructed its history and replaced it with enormous buildings. The point being; behind the shining lights, glamour, lavishly constructed buildings, the amazing tale of Shanghai’s humble beginnings lurks in the building’s shadows slowly to be forgotten by most. Indeed, the Chinese are trying to make Shanghai the central hub for finance, but I personally find this intriguing that monumental and historically relevant buildings are being torn down due to modernization.
History aside, here’s my experience:
I entered Shanghai fully submerged in complete excitement and anticipation—waiting for well—I was not too sure myself. I thought I was supposed to work part-time Tuesday May 31st, but I was told that I did not have to teach English that day. My full-time work begins June 1st, but thanks to the Dragon Boat Festival, I had the 1st and 2nd off as well. A three day holiday-I’ll take it. Once I found out I did not have work my aunt immediately suggested I head to Shanghai. We found out the hotel information and bus routes immediately. However, I only had one hour to make it to the bus.
I swiftly showered, ate brunch, and grabbed my belongings—whatever I could remember to take in 20 minutes. I arrived just on time to catch the bus to Shanghai. The bus ride, a 2-hour one, provided me with ample time to let my mind run amid and plan what I would do during the trip and which places I would see. I wonder if it’s just me, but I don’t think anything during my trip to China has gone according to plan. Everything I thought would happen, well it didn’t and I am glad!
I jumped for joy off the bus and grabbed my suitcase. I Chinglished my way to Motel 168 in the Bund.
My mind still running, I asked the taxi driver what many buildings were called or “what that
meant” when I saw Chinese Characters, I’m sure he was annoyed so I eventually quieted
down and just let my eyes soak in the scenery. I placed my bags in room 8812 and without a
sparing second, I tried finding the nearest China Telecom to get my phone functioning again
—not a fan of repurchasing phone usage. I asked the front receptionists at my hotel, but they were unsure.
I figured I had nothing to lose if I walked around a bit and asked others. And this is what I came across: PIZZA! For the first time in China. I gleefully entered Kelly’s Balkan Pizza & Coffee. The lady inside spoke English too. 20 minutes away was the nearest China Telecom, but she said it was closed. I figured I might as well eat, which is exactly what I did. MMmm, I felt more satisfied than Homer Simpson chomping down a donut. Great pizza and people. She directed me on where to go sightseeing and what would be open and closed. I followed the street down just as she said and this is what I saw:
DAyyyyyyyyeemmmm!First word out of my mouth—well it is one now! I took in the view and traveled across the river by ferry to the Financial District. I went atop Cloud 9 in the Jin Mao Tower (highest bar/lounge in the world) and snapped a few pictures.I went back downstairs and meandered around the hotel retrieving more information about places to visit in Shanghai. I decided to head back across the river on the ferry. I stopped by a small restaurant on the way and grubbed on some Chinese food.
The following day, I started walking around getting lost and talking to people on my unknown journey. It was random, sporadic, and adventurous (probably the same three words I would use to describe myself). Striking up conversations with locals and foreigners, the people I encountered told me about their story or journey here and their previous quests traveling the world. It was a nostalgic moment for them, and a relatable one for me. We bonded and understood each other, something that I was able to empathize with, but not fully comprehend until I started my travels. I loved listening to their stories—one in particular stood out where a Chicagoan and 5 friends from Germany biked for 20 days across the West of China. Terry provided me with an in-depth explanation stating that they stayed in “small huts, eating rats or other shit.” They marveled their trip though and the royalty treatment they attained when the locals would see a white man for the first time. I felt this in Keqiao (I am the first American that many people here have seen for the first time) and knew exactly what he meant. It’s a humbling experience that I hope anyone can have.
That night, I again met many foreigners and new friends like myself, traveling around the world. It’s truly remarkable to note just how big the world really is.
I left from Shanghai the following morning with countless and memorable stories to share. This trip is beginning to be exactly what I was hoping for, sheer unexpected excitement while getting a better understanding about myself.
The combination of the common cold and final exams abruptly diminished my health. It was awful. I found out in China that I had developed a rough case of bronchitis. It’s terrible to have, but a nightmare to have in a foreign country. I was not sure what would happen and how the hospital system in China functioned. What’s worse is that I was not even certain if they spoke English. Fortunately, I had gone to my school enough times to make some new friends. Three of them acquainted me to the hospital down the street from my school.
-A great one, surprisingly! I was undeniably scared of entering the hospital especially judging from the way that it looked. I took three students with me to be my translators. I was thankful that they knew enough English to get me through the process in an almost painless (I was blood-tested) and timely manner. This was my first time having bronchitis and had I known in America that I had it for almost 1-2 weeks I would have taken care of it. Regardless though, it was worth the trip.
Had I not had my worthy translators, this would have been a completely different experience for me. Probably worse than anything I could foster.
The first step was the paper work which my new-found helpers and technology (English-to-Chinese Translation app on the cellphones) were able to help me . I can’t read Chinese if my life counted on it. They just required my address, number, name, age and that was pretty much it. The doctor saw me within 5 minutes and did the quickest diagnosis I have experienced (I told him I have bronchitis, might have done the trick). He sent me to get blood-tested (not sure why), but I agreed. This again was quick and happened on the spot almost. Now this is especially where I needed my translators because the blood-test was on another side of the hospital. Then I was told to get an X-ray which was another 3 minute walk to another room. Again this was accomplished in no time though. My results were printed immediately and I went back to the Doctor. He looked at the X-ray for a few moments and saw that the top of my lungs were infected. He prescribed me some medicine and I went to the pharmacy with my much-needed translators. I bought antibiotics and strong cough syrup. This entire process took 30 minutes and cost me 75 RMB to see the Dr. and 75 RMB for the medicine. 150 RMB total. Fairly similar to what I would have paid in America, probably more if anything.
Here’s what I learned:
Chinese hospitals are very well developed and the staff know what they are doing. However, I highly recommend finding an international hospital or one where someone speaks English if you cannot speak or read Chinese. Also, I was very certain I had bronchitis, and the doctor checked my health immediately without wasting time. Although, definitely a good thing, if I had something else, I am not certain how long this would have taken to uncover-if at all. I think the hospital system here is cheap compared to America, but I am not certain if the price would have been different had I broken a bone or needed surgery. I am curious to find this out. I also want to find out how the insurance system works in China, because I did not show any proof of identification to the receptionist or doctor when I was giving them my contact information. I could have easily lied about myself. Regardless, it was a well-worth experience.
2 weeks later, my health is about 100%. In fact, I hit the gym for the first time in a month. Physically, my body has deteriorated, but I could not mentally be more ready to hit my physical goals for the summer. I need to eat 2-3 times as many calories as I have been eating. I have lost almost 10 pounds in weight and need to regain it all back and some. My goals for the summer is to be 165 pounds with 7-8% body fat, hopefully less, but that is the goal. I have my workout regimen prepared, but my only concern is the food. I am limited at times on what kind of food to eat and where I can attain all my dietary necessities. This is a challenge I will have to quickly overcome.
Since my 2-weeks in China, I feel comfortably acclimated here. In fact, I don’t feel like a foreigner anymore. Well, aside from the constant stares from the Chinese local and the fact that my Mandarin is limited, I feel right at home. I enjoy the Chinglish conversations and random encounters with the locals who are astonished by the Chinese I speak when I tell them I am from America. Unfortunately, I can’t last more than two minutes without being confused and asking others to translate for me. I guess this has been keeping me on my feet and my travels more entertaining. I have visited the city of Hangzhou twice, Shaoxing a few times and know the small city of Keqiao fairly well. I can’t wait until I stay in Hangzhou and Shanghai for a few days. I will post pictures from the trip so far shortly and will add a few more blog posts in the next coming days, so stay tuned!
Derrick, My second translator and his sister Carol was also with us, but not pictured
I grabbed my bags, peeing on myself excited like a puppy (figure of speech–but I had to use the restroom and almost did urinate) . It was a defining moment for me and I was about to enter a new world. I had the opportunity to enter China on a brand new slate. No one acknowledged me (aside from my aunt and uncle). No one knew about my past and I could shape my future however I desired. With this in mind, I exited the airport embracing my aunt and uncle with a welcoming hug and was ready to take on the opportunities and challenges that China would have me undergo.
WOW! HOLY SHIT! DAYYUUMMMMM!!! WOahhh! This is just Amazing! –simply put it, these were all the words I screamed (in my head) as we were driving past the city of Hangzhou to my aunt and uncle’s apartment in Koqiao. I was bewildered at how developed the smaller towns were. I was expecting Shanghai and Beijing to be extremely modernized, but not this small town. I saw more high rise buildings and skyscrapers in this city alone than I have in the entire city of Los Angeles.
That night, I tried authentic Chinese food for the first time. I was taken to a lavish restaurant, cheap compared to American restaurants, but fairly expensive compared other Chinese restaurant standards. The food tasted different, but was delicious. Kung Pao chicken, fried potatoes, fried vegetables, and fried rice were pleasantly resting in my belly as I arrived home, exhausted from jet lag. Sleep was the only thing on my mind to rejuvenate my body, especially from the damned cough I had carried with me from Los Angeles (I would later realize that it was bronchitis).
Over the one week I have been here, my goal was to find the job that was the best offer (obviously), and I ultimately signed my contract with TEFL in Keqiao. I start teaching June 1st, but will start teaching part-time on May 26th! My goals now are to become acquainted with the town, travel as much as possible, and meet some amazing people. I wanted to overcome the culture shock as well. I have been told I will experience this many times over when I come to China and that it is completely different than America.
I am uncertain if it was the forewarnings, the vices I received from a myriad of individuals, or the fact that I entered China with no expectations, but I think I am beginning to acclimate myself to the Chinese culture fairly well. In fact, I don’t think I experienced much of a culture shock.
Of course, there are significant differences when comparing the culture in China to the American culture.
For starters; the driving here is reckless. However, I have witnessed this style of driving in India and it is nothing new to me. The only difference between China and India is that the Chinese have modeled their roads and highway system to the Americans’, but they drive like complete lunatics. People cross the road whenever they like. The drivers are usually lazy and honk at every passerby or car that they see; sometimes even for no reason. It is complete uttered chaos. It is Darwinism at its best–Survival of the fittest!
The Chinese people love to stare. Sometimes I feel intruded upon, but the fact of the matter is that it is ok to stare at others and is a part of their culture. It is foreign to me and I was not accustomed to this and I kept wondering why they were doing this. I was not certain if the reason is because I am a foreigner or if I had something hanging from my nostrils until I stayed here for a few days and learned that staring at people is okay in China. I think it’s rude, but I have to admit I find it humorous when I am in a staring contest with another person. Not only that, but they tend to hold each other by the hand as they walk. Men hold hands with each other, women hold hands with each other and this is also completely fine in their society. It is much easier to be gay and live in China because people tend to touch each other more here than they do in America (I am not gay, but I am reporting my observations). Their sense of humor is much different and took me a few days to understand, but I think mines is somewhat similar. Their sense of humor is dry and cutthroat. They’re also flirtatious, well the people in the school I teach at are, but it’s entertaining to see nonetheless. Some of the people I have met so far remind me of cartoon characters. This one individual named Rex emulates Johnny Bravo pretty well. I can’t help, but laugh often when I hear one of them attempt to crack a joke in Chinglish (Chinese and English intertwined).
The one thing I worried about most and had little information on was what I was going to eat in China. I am a carnivore–but based on the inquiries of what I would eat there and on all the different movies and news articles I have seen or read, I could only wonder if I was going to be forced to eat some exotic looking animal or be stuck eating bread and rice. My initial perceptions and premise could not have been more false! The food is indeed Exotic, but it is scrumptious and nothing that my taste buds have tried before. My consumption of food involves barbecues, vegetables I have never seen nor heard of, and spices and herbs that have altered the taste of anything I have tried in my life. I HATE eggplants, but for the first time I actually liked the taste of barbecued eggplants with their special seasonings. They grill the food properly and add spices and delicacies that increase my cravings for the food and keep me wanting more. I have stayed away from raw foods and have been eating at places that look clean and are a little more pricey (again very cheap according to American standards–a full meal costs $2-3, beer and one liter water costs $.50 ). They usually serve hot water in the restaurants, which is annoying considering the fact that it is hot and humid everyday between 90-100 degrees, but my only options are drinking the hot water or drinking the cold water and increasing my chances of diarrhea or constipation. Indeed I choose the first option.
People here also walk around staring at foreigners in the small town because it is fairly uncommon for non-Chinese people to be walking around the street. Random people ask me if I am from Meiguo (America) or from Indu (India). I will not deny that I do not like the attention that I have received, but I wonder how much more attention I would have received if I were white. Regardless, it is still awesome and something that I probably could live with during my adventure in China. People treat me like a celebrity and I am often asked by strangers if they can take pictures with me. I can’t help, but smile–I mean how can I let my fans down?! Jokes aside,I have made many friends at my school so far and will teach my first class on May 27th, Friday, as a part-time teacher.
I have a few more observations, but I think this post is long enough. I’ll update the blog more often with shorter posts. I can’t wait to visit the great city of Hangzhou and begin teaching.
Entering into the unknown –It is thrilling, scary but exciting. I am traveling to China and many parts of Asia during the summer. I have a slight idea of what I will be experiencing, but based on previous experiences, I know that I will be making new discoveries about my likes and dislikes. The scariest part about this trip is that I will be traveling alone for the first time. No parents, cousins, family members or friends will be there for the support. I will have to make new friends and find my way around China.
I wonder what I will uncover during my journey. Who will I meet? Will I be able to make friends? Will they like me or accept me? Will I be able to adapt to the Chinese culture? What will await me when I arrive? These are all thoughts and questions that I am certain most people consider when traveling into a new culture.
I have taken two Chinese classes and wo hui shou shongwen yidiar, but will this be enough for me to find my way around in China? I am certain that I will be practicing my Mandarin while I am in China.
I wonder what are some cool places that I should see while I am there. I’ll make another post about what I am doing there very shortly.