Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Beijing!! Part 1

Okay so we are officially on our long vacation and we are soooo thrilled about it!! Getting to Beijing was quite the long day, but we made it and we're so happy to be there. We took a tuk-tuk to the bus station, bus, flight, and taxi to make it to our hostel. We left at 1pm from Guzhen and got to Beijing around we were exhausted but happy to be in the cooler weather. 

The first day we got there we went to Sun Park which we were hoping would be a huge amusement park with rides and a water park....but sadly it turned out to be an abandoned kiddy park hahah. It was a huge park but nothing like we expected, we had to take 5 different metros to get there so we were tired and walked and walked and walked around to find something cool but there wasn't much. However, we found Coke so I was super happy! My hat in the picture says LGLO and it is a hat that my good friend Taylor Downey created, meaning Love God Love Others, and I was so excited to wear it. I am so proud of him for being brave to create this brand, and I recommend it to everyone!! Such a cute hat with an even greater meaning. 

The second day we headed to Tieneman Square, and tried to see some historical sites. This day also ended up being one where we walked and walked and walked, but it was beautiful!! It was fun to be in a big city and it was the Chinese national Holliday so there were flags and people EVERYWHERE. my favorite part of this day (besides eating real burgers at a real Sizzler restaurant haha) was meeting our new friends from Australia. Nicholas, Ben, and Max ended joining us for the day of sight seeing, and it was so fun hearing about their culture and comparing accents. After a day of seeing the city we headed back to the hostel. There we met 3 French boys and another Australian where we traded stories, ate dinner and played guitar/sang/played cards and it was so fun!! Then we headed to bed for a short while before waking up early for the next day!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tea time and homemade dumplings! 

This week we were just busy busy busy teaching, and it actually flew by! Up until now teaching was a lot harder than I ever expected because the kids just see it as play time most of the time so it is hard to discipline, and they are always trying to tell me stuff in Chinese. Which is really sad when one of them is crying or sick and you can't really tell what they are saying, but the best part of this is just loving the heck out of them anyway and just hugging them and hoping they are learning English one arts and crafts lesson at a time haha. One of our girls had a birthday party and so we all got cake and watched Minions, I got attacked by loves from a couple of the little boys and it was so sweet!! I really think that I'm gonna miss these little stinkers when we're gone. 

In other news, we have almost been here for an entire month!! I can hardly believe it. Most of the hard part is over and now we are enjoying it and just laughing our way through everything. Sleeping on the floor still sucks, but we are so tired it doesn't really matter. 

This week was really low key but last night our principle/owner of the school invited us to her house to make dumplings! Her name is Joanne and she is a professional tea maker. We got to dinner and started making the dumplings. I didn't really like them before China, but now they are my favorite food!! It was so fun to learn how to make them from scratch. Then we went over to a table for tea time and it was so fun to watch her make it so gracefully. It was made from chrysanthemum flowers, dragon eye fruit and goji berries, it had a slight wood taste to it but we learned the proper etiquette and it was so intriguing to watch her do it. We came home full and happy and played endless rounds of Mafia which is our favorite! 

Today (Sunday) was such a great and relaxing day! We watched the women's session of general conference together and it was so refreshing to hear from our leaders again. It was amazing to all share what we learned and felt and cool to have such a strong spirit with us even though we are so far away from home and familiar things. Church here is hard to come by, but we are doing what we can to Skype in and go when we aren't on vacations. Then we hung out and played games together as a group, there are 11 of us and we just got a married couple and we love them! Today was the first time that we all felt connected to each other and just so so happy, it was great. We had a family dinner and made pasta and garlic bread, it was so delicious! Overall, it was a great week and we are excited and ready for this upcoming one.

Friday we head out for our 10 day vacation and we are going to Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou which is the little Italy of China so we are so so looking forward to that! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Last day here! 

So we all woke up this morning wayyy sore and (sun)burned out so we decided to sleep in, get some American breakfast at our awesome hostel and chill for a little longer. Then we went on these little motor boats that we thought would be bamboo rafts...but it was sort of like that! We spent about an hour on the river and it was so peaceful. I was just admiring the beauty of this earth and realizing that the same God that created these amazingly unique mountains is the same one who created us, all different but all here to come together and help each other figure out this crazy life. It was awesome! Lily and I were singing Hamilton music for all the fans to hear, while soaking in the rays of sun on this hot hot hot day. We came home and rested for a little bit again and then headed back to our fave pizza place with all the girls from our group, it was so yummy! And we are so sad to go back to eating rice on rice on rice again this week haha. We walked around west street again and met some fun people. There were a lot of college students here to practice English so we talked to about 10 different small groups and they took pics with us. One gave us a little pen because it looked like her and she wanted us to remember her, she was so sweet! We went back and said bye to my bff at the drum store and then headed home for a girls night in. We watched a chick flick and all ended tearing up and cuddling each other haha. I love my girls that I'm here with. We are all so different but I've already found that we need each other in different ways. 

This was just our first vacation and we have lots of teaching, lesson plans and adventures to be had so I'm excited to see what the rest of the semester has in store! 

Day 3: Devils Landing! 

Okay okay so I've been getting a lot of questions about what went down on this INSANE day so here goes nothing! 

We started off this morning thinking that we were going to have a relaxing day, riding mopeds around this beautiful city. Little did we realize that we actually didn't know how to drive the dang things and would be put to the test right away on to the busiest road in this town. We were off to a decent start, and I spent most of the time yelling at our tour guide Peter telling him to slow the freak down haha. We headed for the country side and about an hour in, lily decided she wanted to try and drive so we switched and waiting the first 2 minutes, we crashed and the bike fell on top of us, luckily we were going really slow but it was still painful. I took the wheel again and lily kept on being the photographer and entertainer. 2 hours into the ride we get to this dirt road in the mountains and start OFF ROADING on mopeds...not normal. The hill was so steep and we were slipping and sliding alllll over the place. We were in the back and as we got down said scary hill, saw two other bikes in a ditch with 2 injured girls, lots of cuts and blood (one knee got stitches later that day) and everyone came together to help. My friend missy even ripped her dress into a shirt so make 3 bandages for the girls with open wounds. So sweet! After we cleaned up, we ditched the bikes and headed down to the base of the mountain which is the tallest one in this city! 

We thought it would be a 40 minute walk/hike BUT it ended up being straight uphill, with 90,000 steps (190 floors there and 190 back according to Ashely's step counter) 4 miles, and 10 ladders to get to the top. But the scary part was that it was on the side of a cliff with no railings so we were scared of falling off. Also it was 98 degrees with humidity of 87%, middle of the day with no shade so we were SO hot and the ladders were so sketchy everyone cried a little.....except our cute tourguide who surprised us with water and oranges at the top. So YES we made it and the view was amazingggggg. We were there for 30 minutes and then headed down. The way down was sketch but a lot faster to we were okay, I busted my knee on the way up so it hurt, and my legs were shaking so bad it was hard to balance but we had help and our fave China man tourguide legit held my hand as I almost fell again on the way down. We conquered this mountain and I am so proud of everyone that did it! 

After that, we were sooo hungry and thirsty cause we had rationed our water. So we drove on the bikes for another 2 hours to the next town and had noodles, they were pretty nasty but we were grateful to have food. We went another 2 hours around these mountains and ended up by this beautiful bridge, drove another two through corn fields and cute little towns through MAIN STREET TRAFFIC with cars buzzing around everywhere, and on the "FREEWAY" and then we finally made it home!! We were so sunburned and exhausted that we bought sprite and chocolate bars for dinner and passed out. I am so thankful for challenges that make me stronger, but dang that was so hard to see in the moment. The view from the top was incredible and I wish that everyone would have been able to see it with their own eyes! 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Vacation day Two!

OK, so today was definitely an adventure! This morning we woke up and took an hour bus ride to go white water rafting. But it isn't just the normal white water rafting and that you would think… This is China style! So we got in a two person raft, and have no idea what was ahead. At least we had helmets and a life jacket… But we floated down the river and then they released the water and we shot down a huge drop off. The water was so fast and the bottom was rocky, but Lily and I laughed our heads off the entire time! We were literally floating down a Chinese jungle, the views were so amazing. I wish that everyone was able to see them. We were surrounded by green everywhere, it literally felt like a dream. But then every time we hit a huge bump we would wake up from it haha. We were rafting for about an hour, then headed back into the city.

After this, we took another short bus ride and then walked about 3 miles to get to mud caves! The first part of the tour was in a normal cave, there were LED lights everywhere and it was pretty amazing! Our Chinese tour guide was walking so very fast so it felt like we were jogging through the cave. At one point there was a giant sculpture that looked like a frog and he told us to kiss it and it would turn into a prince....kissed it and it didn't work hahah. After that section, we got to a giant mud pool! It was the weirdest sensation because we were able to float in the mud… They were also a couple slides and it was really fun. A bunch of tourists were walking by and they took our picture at every opportunity that they could. After this part, we walked down a little bit and there were hot springs! The water was coming right out of the cave wall, burning hot and it was so relaxing! After that we thought it was ending but there were fish tanks to get fish pedicures! Let's just say we only lasted about 30 seconds because we didn't like all the fish sucking on our feet haha. At least we can say we did it! 

That was the end of our tour that day and we ended the night with some pizza and paparazzi, we ate outside and everyone was taking our picture, they love us here! And WE LOVE THEM 

Yangshou day 1

What a day!! This morning after teaching we headed out for our first vacation!! We haven't been able to get out and explore a ton because we have been really busy with our students and teaching. We packed our backpacks and headed to Yangshou! We took a motor taxi, bus, fast train, other fast train, tour bus and city bus to get here but the journey was fun! They told us that the mountains here look like Dr. Suess mountains but I didn't really believe it until I saw it today with my own eyes, the mountains are so squiggly and beautiful!! During the train ride a lot of it looked like my first area of my mission in Santa Lucia Honduras, so it was bringing back the feels. 

So we finally got here and checked into our hostel, the people are so so nice here and they speak English. I wish I could show you or reactions when we found out we get to sleep in real beds and have actual toilets, it's a miracle! We headed to dinner at this random restaurant and it turned out to be so yummy, it actually tasted like how we imagined Chinese food to taste like haha so good! Then we came back to the hostel and played card games while we planned the next day. After that we headed to west street to walk around. It's pretty much like Disneyland in China but with mostly adults and a lot more restaurants. It was so fun to walk around and window shop and people watch! There were people playing music on the street and it was just an open environment. 

The best part of the night was stopping by a guy playing a bongo drum in a store, he turned on a song and we danced and sang and got a crowd of people to film us, it was the most fun we have had this entire trip! The owners name is Sodom and I can tell we are going to be besties this weekend. Another highlight was getting a real mcflurry here, but it was in a much cuter cup. This trip is already off to an amazing start!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Week Two


Things were sooooo much better this weekend we are finally getting the hang of things around here! Now when we walk around, we know exactly when we need to plug our nose and hold our breath because it smells so awful it could kill. One funny thing about this place is that there are always (dead) ducks around here, we saw one get its head chopped off the other day...they love eating it over here. But we do not love it, surprise surprise! There is also a fruit here that smells like literal garbage...

So this week I was in charge of teaching gym. But they want us at the table for the first 15 minutes so it's pretty much crafts with a little bit of running around at the end haha. The kids always say " I love you teacher jassy" and I love it! They don't listen 80% of the time but when they do it's awesome. It's pretty much like trying to chase around a bunch of talking chickens and then once you get one in place another one gets up and then you just sing and dance and they watch you cause it's funny and then you teach some English along the way....that's the best way to sum up lessons hahah. Even though they give me a headache every day, they are so dang cute!! 

Adventure time! 
So this weekend we were finally able to get out and see another city! It's only about a 30 minute bus ride from here to Xiolan (pronounced show-lawn) and it was so beautiful! First we went to a GIANT elephant and took some pictures and walked around the park. Then we went to a huge market and looked at clothes which are insanely cheap but everything here is China size so it doesn't fit haha. Especially not the shoes, which is what I wanted. After some shopping we went on these little paddle boats on a pond where you could see a giant temple! After the boat ride we went and hiked up the temple alllll the way to the top and I felt like I could see all of China it was so beautiful! After that we hiked down and found a Pizza Hut!!! We were so pumped for some American food so it was worth it for sure. Everyone is so nice to us here! We add people on we chat every day, it's like Chinese Facebook! 

After dinner we got in some tuk-tuk (taxi like things) and headed to the bus station, but lily and I were in two different ones. My driver took us to a sketchy dark area and we were lost for about 10 minutes, a lot of people were coming up to us and trying to get us to go with them, but I finally called the other group and had the other girls in my group say a quick prayer. The other girls were freaking out too and out of no where a lady asked if they needed help, so she called me and talked to a random guy we met and helped us get back to the group. So after prayers and so many tiny miracles we made it back to each other. It was a huge testimony builder for us! 

We were so so happy to make it to church finally!! After all of the new things and unfamiliar things in China, it felt really good to go back to something familiar. We had to take a 2 and a half bus ride there and back. We met in a house with about 30 members, they were from all over! Some from England, the Congo, Australia and lots from Utah and Arizona! They fed us food after and it was very yummy, and NOT rice! We were very tired but our hearts were full. 

We have just decided to embrace the craziness that China has to offer!! This week we are only teaching Monday- Thursday then we're headed off to Yangshou for a long weekend and it is jam packed with fun adventures so stay tuned!!