Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trains on trains on trains 


So i am now sitting on my last train back to Guzhen!! It really feels like I am going home, because it's been mine for 3 months now so I love the feeling. But I just had to say that the sleeper train was soooo much better coming back than it was going there!! I was able to get a sleeper bed, so I actually slept pretty well. We boarded around 5pm on Sunday and got to Guangzhou at 7am this morning. I was able to sit by my friends for a while and it was so fun! We loaded up on snacks and good chocolate AND I found Diet Coke!!!! It is a really rare gem to find here in china...so I bought 3 cans and am saving them for when I need it after a long day of teaching. 

I love all of the girls that I am with here! You definitely get close to people when you are going though hard times, so I'm grateful for all of the friendships that I have made here. With my American friends as well as the random travelers we've met from all over, and of course our Chinese teachers and helpers. 


My heart is seriously so full, and I am at peace with where I'm at in this journey. The last few weeks have been really hard because Lily ended up having to go back home to the states. So I've been really sad without her for the last few days, but at the same time happy because she is home with my momma and can be seen by better doctors. I'm so thankful for this trip!! And looking forward to a few more before my time is up here! 
Avatar Mountains!! 

Day two in mountain paradise!! Okay so today we went to the avatar mountains! They literally look exactly like the ones in the animated movie with the blue avatars, i will try to find pics of that so you can see haha. But the views were UN. REAL. Even though they were only an hour away from the mountains yesterday, the vibe was totally different. Also, it was a lot less foggy so we were able to see a lot more! We finally got to experience all of the fall colors and it was absolutely beautiful!

The crazy thing about this park was that it was HUGE and so confusing, it would be like going to Zions national park for one day and trying to see everything, and navigate the bus system in a different language...so it was kind of hard but getting lost is our forte now haha. So we entered into the park and stumbled into MONKEY paradise!! It was the last thing we expected but it was so cool.

There were monkeys everywhere...and I mean everywhere. At first they were sort of shy, but once we accidentally pulled out a granola bar, they came down in packs of 20. They would just run around us and open our backpacks...they are so smart! All was fun and games until they started growling at the end and followed us out of there. I learned to never make a monkey angry because then I was just walking in straight fear!! Once we left there we hopped onto a bus in hope of finding the cable cars to take us up the mountain. 

We made our way to a giant set of stairs, and started walking up not knowing where it would lead, little did we know MORE monkeys would be joining us on the path, and as cute as they were, we were scared at this point so we just booked it up the stairs! We made it to a little village, took another bus and then ended up at the cable cars. We took one all the way up to the top and finally saw some of the mountains. It was breath taking!!! Seriously something that I wish everyone could see with their own eyes. 

We got lost again and jumped on about 10 different buses trying to find a good lookout spot, and we came upon one by accident of course and it was pure magic! I wish I could explain how high up we were, but just trust me it was such a huge mountain! After waking and hiking around and taking pics with 173895 strangers, we played in the rain and headed down. 

To get down we took an outdoor glass elevator!!! Again, the tallest one in the world! My friend and I were right at the front of it, and it was so cool to go from the tip top to the bottom of these mountains in 2 minutes. We made new friends with these cute old people in line, and I showed them how to use Snapchat..also a highlight of my day!! Maybe I'll try to post a video on here because it made my heart so happy. 


Then we walked down and got lost again, in the rain, and it was soooo cold and getting dark at this point. We were about to just call it and find a taxi home, but we looked up and finally saw a sign for the bus!!! It was honestly a miracle. So we got on the bus and headed an hour and a half back into town. It was such a good day!! China never ceases to amaze me. 







THE MOUNTAINS STOLE MY HEART 









Okay we have had some really cool vacations, but this is seriously one for the books!! It was also a really last minute trip for me so I am so so thankful that I was able to go, thank you to my mom and everyone that made it possible. 

First of all, we had to take a bus from Guzhen to the train station, one train to the metro, to another SLEEPER train over night. But since I bought my tickets so last minute I didn't get a bed, so I had to sit in a straight up chair for 15 hours, away from my friends, and people were smoking and slurping on their noodles and talking SO loud but it's okay because I survived and I never have to do that again hahahah. We made it to ZHANGJIAJIE (pronounced zong jah jeeah) the next morning and then checked into our hostel that I scored for only 10 bucks a night! 

The first day we went to tianemen mountain, and if you are ever planning on coming to china, this is a MUST. seriously like changing. So we took a cable car-the longest one in the world actually-through the city and up into the mountains. It was a really foggy day so it felt like we were literally in the clouds. After 30 minutes we made it to the top and there was seriously so much to see. We walked around and got lost a few times but through that, we ended up seeing some of the coolest things! 

So we walked on the edge of a cliff essentially, and you couldn't even see the surrounding mountains because it was so foggy and eerie, it felt like we were in a movie, or like heaven it was so surreal. We walked across a glass bridge so we could see all the way down and it was soooo far down to the bottom. 

Then my favorite part....I have always wanted to dress up in traditional clothes and there was a beautiful red dress and crown and I knew that I had to try it on. So I did and it was SO fun!! I was dancing around on the top of this mountain and literally felt like a queen. The cutest group of old ladies came up and they were taking pictures and videos and it was priceless. Seriously one of the highlights of my entire time here!! 

Then we walked a little further down and stumbled upon the forest of wishes. There were tons and tons of ribbons decorating the trees, so we decided to put our wishes on there too. We walked up to the very top and I found a branch that didn't have one because I felt bad for it...so I wanted it to feel some love. And there lies my wish! It was so peaceful and there was a sacred feeling about that place. People from all over the world put their wishes, desires and prayers up there and you could really feel that. It was so peaceful, and I just closed my eyes and tried to soak in the moment. 

After that we kept hiking/dancing along the trails, and found a huge bridge! It was so foggy, you couldn't see where it led to. Then we ran into a little maze, so that was fun to go through. We also saw a giant temple where people would put heart locks on, with their loved ones. There were locks everywhere and it was so beautiful!! 

A little ways down we found 5 temples, and a lot of different statues, there were people praying and lighting incense, and it started to rain so it was a sight to see! After that we headed to a giant natural hole in the mountain, it's called the stairway to heaven! Since we were at the top we had to take 10 escalators down to get to the giant hole, it was breathtaking! 

Once we got to the top we had to walk down 1,000 stairs...which is better than walking up it but here's a secret about me. I have a fear of walking down stairs because one time I was walking down holding a toddler and I slipped and broke my foot (don't worry the little girl was okay) and that was yearssss ago but I still freak out going down stairs!!! So 1,000 was quite a struggle and my feet didn't fit on them because they were tiny and SO steep. So I held on to the rails and took my sweet sweet time getting down hahah so many people tried to help me but I just did my own thing. And I MADE IT DOWN. 


Then we had to take a bus down the mountain down the curly roads, there are literally 99 turns, and they are so sharp!! So I closed my eyes since we would get so close to the other buses and we made it down. I felt so peaceful up on that mountain though, it was so refreshing!! What a day!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Real talk and Lily update 


Okay so it's been a minute since I've written because our wifi situation has been scary lately. But I figured it was time to update!! It's been about 2 weeks since our last update and things have been a little more intense here. 

My sweet sister Lily has been having really sharp stomach pains, and we have gone to the ER twice and 4 hospitals total. Each doctor has diagnosed her with something different, but none of the meds have worked yet. One crazy thing that happened at the first ER visit was around 3 am and we realized that they put the Iv in her hand the wrong way...so the fluid went into her skin and inflated like a BALLOON! It took a couple days for the swelling to go down but it finally did! The doctors remedy for the swelling was to rub it with a potato...not really sure how that was supposed to help hahaha. So she hasn't been able to teach and I've just been trying to help and so has everyone here. We will give updates as they happen, but she will be okay!

Besides that, things have been cruising along here! I feel like I have painted a picture of what I want china to be but some days it's actually really hard! The kids are so cute, but definitely a little psycho, and the rice and squatters are getting soooo old. But the important thing for me to remember is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just need to find reasons to smile and laugh every day! 


Today is Sunday and we had a devotional with all the girls here and we talked a lot about gratitude! So that is something that I'm doing to do a lot more for our last month and a half here. I really am grateful to be here and for all of the people who have supported us in this crazy adventure! 
Shiqi- (ser-Cheee)







We discovered a new city that's about 45 minutes on a bus away, and it is EXACTLY like California. We were so excited because it had a really cute walking street, and everyone was so friendly. The buildings were all white and pastel colors, and behind them was a hugeeee park with a pagoda (Chinese temple) on the tippy top! It was literally picture perfect everywhere. 

We were only about 5 minutes down the street and we saw this man making cotton candy, so we had to get some!! It was the BIGGEST treat I've ever seen. Watching him make it was so mesmerizing. Sometimes, when my students are extra crazy I show them this video to get them back to focus hahah. It was so yummy! 

One of my favorite parts about china is the shopping because it's SO cheap! I'm talking chunky sweaters and denim jackets for like 7 bucks. And they are good quality. So we have figured out how to bargain and that has been really helpful! We shopped around for a few hours and then stopped at a restaurant called YOLO for some drinks and the smoothies were SO GOOD. After that we hiked up to the pagoda and the walk was sooooo green and beautiful. There were families all around and it was a gorgeous sunny day. It was under construction, but it's been there for 3,000 years!! I thought that was pretty cool

We have gone there twice now and it is just as beautiful every time! It literally feels like we are in a different world when we go there, so I'm glad that it's only a bus ride away. We are going to a new city next weekend and we are so excited! 


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Duck tongue, and chicken feet oh my! 







This is a recap of the week after our vacation! The first day when we got home we celebrated the moon festival at the school with all of the teachers on top of the roof at night. We had no idea what to expect so as they were setting up we ran around with the little kids and sing songs and danced with them. After about an hour, we were served a ton of food. we had a lot of Ramen noodles and yummy drinks, but then there was an added surprise. It is a delicacy here to eat duck tongue… And I knew that I wanted to try that before going home, so I figured since it was free, why not?! I have to say it was seriously the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten and, keep in mind that I ate a lot of weird things on my mission and Honduras too. Including iguana, dove, pig ears and possum! So I honestly didn't think it would be a big deal, but it was so gross I had to spit it out! But for some odd reason right after I tried the dock tongue I was presented with chicken feet, so I decided I might as well try that too. It also had the same effect… It didn't go over very well.

The rest of the week was fun though, we finally figured out how to watch some TV because everything is blocked here. But we found the Chinese version of YouTube and watched an entire season of Project runway. It is definitely going to become a reward for us to be able to watch it, but who knew I had a designer side?! Haha Teaching was good this week, I was in charge of games so that was really fun for the kids! 


At the end of the week we we are finally able to go to church! We haven't been able to go for a little over a month because it is hard to get there. So he took a two hour bus ride and ended up being really late because of the rain. We made it to the last 10 minutes of Sunday school and all of relief society. It was nice to be able to feel the spirit and connect with other people of our faith because it is so rare here. After that we went to the best Mexican restaurant that China has to offer! It was decorated so cute in there and the food was really yummy, we were in heaven. After a couple hours we headed back home. It ended up being a 10 hour day, so we were pretty tired. But I am so grateful that we got the opportunity to go!
Accidentally flying First Class  



The day we traveled back home to Guzhen  was a day that I will definitely never forget! We had an early flight, so we had to leave our hostel around 530 in the morning. We jump on the metro, and ended up having to take an extra one to get to the airport. We arrived there around 7 o'clock am, and our flight left at 8:15. The Shanghai airport was one of the craziest that I have ever been to. So, we were running around from check-in desk to check in desk trying to print out our tickets, but we kept running into problems. We would run to a kiosk and try to print it out but it didn't work. So by this point it is literally 7:40 and we still hadn't gone through security yet… So we finally found a man who spoke English, sort of, and he helped us print out all seven of our tickets.

 We ran up to the guy at the front of security and showed him our tickets and how stressed we were. He let us go through a VIP line and we got through security around 7:50. They were going to close the gate at 7:55,  so we had to sprint so so so fast across the airport with all of our bags to get to our gate. We got there at 7:53, with two minutes to spare! Then we jumped on a bus that took us to our actual plane. We walked up the stairs to get to the plane and they directed us to the left, towards the front. We were so confused because we bought normal seats in coach. The lady showed me the number on my ticket and it turns out that we ended up in FIRST CLASS!!! 


It turns out that because we got to the airport so late all of the other seats were chosen. We were so beyond thrilled, excited, and exhausted from running around all morning. It literally felt like a dream. They came out with drinks every 10 minutes, we got served an entire meal, we got slippers, a down comforter blanket, a pillow, and were able to watch endless movies! Clearly, I had never been able to fly like that so it was such a dream!! I seriously felt like royalty, all of us did it was amazing. Then after we got off reluctantly, we found a bus that took us two hours back to our city. I was actually really happy to be home once we are finally there. It's crazy that this little town has become my home in such a short amount of time. Our flight today was the perfect end to a crazy vacation!