Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Vacation: Part the Second

So, I believe that it was Monday when we decided to go to Dafoyen (I don't know if that is spelled right), the five-story mall to hunt for DVDs. Megan didn't go with us because she was meeting with some religious folk and was going to find out how to set up sacrament meeting and stuff. So the rest of us got onto bus 38 to ride to the mall. As we rode, we realized that we had been on the bus too long. Zhongshan is made up of about thirty-six cities or districts, and we had left ours. The bus ride would have been more pleasant, but Kristi had to, I don't know how to say this politically correct, pee. So we agreed that we would get off on the next stop. But the stops we were coming to were not the kind with bathrooms, squatters or otherwise. Finally we found a KFC and we got off on that stop. While Kristi and one of the other girls (I can't remember who) used the necessary, I bought some food. Everyone else bought something to eat, so we had a late lunch, then jumped back on bus 38 and rode it back to the fruit stand. When we arrived home, the girls went to dinner and I bought me some dumplings. Megan came home and asked how the mall was, and I told her what happened. She said that we were silly, because she told Kristi, Steph, and Mistey that we were supposed to take bus 13, not 38.

On Tuesday, we decided to tackle our China Bucket List, with Item # 2: Eat a whole watermelon. We bought our watermelons (which are smaller here) and were all laughing and saying how easy it would be. Ah, how foolish we were. When every single one of us hit halfway, we would finally feel the weight of the watermelon, and would have a harder time finishing. We watched Ocean's Eleven while we ate, and now I don't know how I feel about that movie . . .

September Vacation: Part the First

ILP requires that we receive two days off a month, except for one week-long vacation that we are getting in October. We are saving our money for Bejing, so we didn't go anywhere for the vacation (which was September 12-15). On Saturday, my flat (Megan, Kristi, Mistey, and I) went on a day trip to Shenzhen, which is a pretty big city two hours away. So we hopped on a bus and met up with Tom and Michelle, Mistey's family's friends. Michelle is Chinese, so she helped us bargain. More on that later. Tom and Michelle took us to a fancy restaraunt (that is like a hotel on the inside). We had to take a lift to our floor, then we walked down a hallway that looked like a hotel hallway. We had our own private room complete with a sofa, coffee table, eating table, and bathroom. In fact, Tom and Michelle paid for our lunch. It was very delicious. After we ate, we went to a clothes place where you go into a tarp thing into a building and there are about a hundred little shops where you can buy knock-off designer jeans and the like. I had no need for designer jeans, seeing as I don't really care about them and stuff, not to mention I've lost weight here, sweating like a freak, so I turned my attention to the one task that wo de mama gave me: buy a belt. I am sorry to say, that I didn't take Michelle with me across the way to the belt place, so I overpaid for my belt. I feel horrible about it, but I did get another awesome deal that almost makes up for it. Some of you may know that I wanted a Chinese dress. I can't remember what they are called. But one of the little shops was selling them. I found one that was pretty in pink, so I tried it on. It fit me perfectly and the lightness of the pink goes well with my skin. So, Michelle helped me bargain. The dress was 169 yuan and she asked how much I was willing to pay for it. I told her to try to get it for 90. So then the bargaining began. The sales lady tried to sell it to me for 135, then 120, saying that she's never shown that price and that she would never show it again to me if I didn't accept it. However, while I was thinking I was willing to pay it, I noticed some threads had come loose around the seam, so I pointed it out to Michelle. The dress lady was most displeased when she had to trim it off and give it to me for 100. I can't wait to wear it! We did some more walking around(which could have been better, if it wasn't for Tom smoking all the time. When you walk behind someone who smokes, you get a lot of second-hand), and when we decided that we needed to get going, we went back to the metro station to see the DVD store. Because Tom is such an avid customer, we got great deals on the CDs and DVDs we purchased. I bought an Elton John CD pack with 2 CDs and all five seasons of The Office for 138 yuan. So, that is roughly $20 American. What a deal! On the bus ride back to Zhongshan, I sat with Kristi and we bonded over music. She told me that I had to see a Coldplay concert and that they were expensive, but it's worth the money. So whenever the next Coldplay concert is, I'll be looking for someone to go with. In Zhongshan, we were dropped off at our least favorite place on the planet: the bus depot. We don't have any pleasant memories there from when we came back from Yong Shuo. I was starving and hadn't gone to Micki D's like I so desperately wanted to. Luckily, there is one across the street from the depot. We ate there, then we took a taxi home, seeing as good ol' bus 66 wasn't running at 9:30 post meridian.

The rest of our adventures are covered in the next blog post September Vacation: Part the Second.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

China Girl: Not Just A Song By David Bowie

There is much that I must catch my readers up with. I know that ended in a preposition, a practice I am very much against, but I am tired and I couldn't think of another way to phrase the sentence. Anyway, Facebook and other social networking sites are indeed blocked in mainland China. My head teacher, Megan, has found a free proxy site that we can use, so here I am. For those of you who have Facebook, you are aware that I can access it now. Mi padre did suggest to update my blog for me, but that is unnecessary, seeing as I have the power now. Here's how it's going down: I last left you at the ferry station-port-thing. I had a vanilla cream frappicino at the Starbucks there and it was pretty good (Seinfield reference). Then we boarded the ferry and it was the only time I have ever been seasick. The reason being (I don't know how to say this politically correct and all) I was currently being visited by a monthly friend and I was nauseous. When we arrived in Zhongshan, we were taken to our complex. Literally, that is what it is: a bunch of apartments all gated in with guards at the gates. We live in a suburby kinda area call "Kaiyin". This is where the plot thickens; our apartments are not in the same building. Sarah, Sydney, and Stephanie are all in D5. Megan, Mistey, Kristi, and I are in F10. This is good, because we paid for the internet only for F10. We were taken to dinner that night where we ate many things including duck chin. Throughout the past month and a half, I have eaten many things I never imagined. Most notably, baby pigeon. If only PETA or Shaleia could have seen how it's served. Basically, it looks the same as when it's alive, but there are no feathers and it's cooked. It was surprisingly tasty. After teaching the summer classes, we started our new ones. The real semester. We not only teach ILP, but Cambridge, which is completely different. But whatev. We went to Yong Shou (where the Dr. Seuss mountains are) two weekends ago, before starting the new semester. It was the ghetto; the real China, if you will. There were lots of people with hunched backs and chickens everywhere. I've never seen so many chickens in one place in all my life, including the scene of the castle past the goblin city in the middle of the Labyrinth. We went to the mud caves, and hiked up to Moon Hill with old Chinese women following us. They fanned us and tried to get us to buy water. I caved in because I was dehydrated. I paid too much, but I did negotiate the price down from the original asking price. We rode on bamboo rafts down a river. We also saw the rice terraces. All-in-all, a good vacation. However, on the night bus (HP reference) there was a gentleman in that back with us smoking. He barely cracked the window open, so we were getting an unhealthy dose of second-hand smoke. However, every time he hocked a loogey, he would open the window all the way. Very classy.

Nighttime Shennanigans

Teaching children has it's ups and downs. They are cute. An up. They cry a lot. A down. They alternate between "Teacher Teacher!" and "Laoshi Laoshi!". An up. Some cry when you look at them. A down. For instance, there is one little girl who's English name is Julia. She is a doll. When she's happy. Today (Today is Tuesday, September 8th) Mistey and I were sent out to greet the children and their parents as they got to school. When Julia and her mama came, I said (with a smile and in a little kid voice) "Hey Julia!" Julia responded by bursting into tears and saying something in Chinese to afformentioned mama that I can only assume means "Please stop beating me!" (a line borrowed from Kristi). I can only hope that there is nothing personal in that, seeing as I am a kind-hearted individual, but it is a bit of a downer when you smile at children and they break down into hysterics. I also have a new best friend (sorry guys). His English name is Joe. He stuck right by my side through the whole time I tought with him (I am teaching Cambridge this week). He kept grabbing my hands and when we went on our walk around the school, he kept pointing out various objects and asking me what they were called. He is a little cutie.

Mistey went running this evening. Megan, Stephanie, Kristi, and I were all sitting in our living room chillaxin'. Kristi finally notices Mistey's gone and comes up with a brilliant plan: we turn off all the lights and hide. When Mistey comes in and turns on the lights, we jump out and yell "Bah!" Somehow, the plan evolved to us lying on the floor as though we are dead. Then Steph has the brilliant idea that someone should lay across the table to make it more realistic. I volunteered for the position. After we all got settled into our various poses (a sort of lame Top Model assignment), Steph askes "So are we still yelling 'bah!' when she comes in?" The answer to that, my dear readers, was no. Dead people don't yell "bah!". Anyway, so we are all feeling pretty good with our brilliance when we hear a door close in the hall. Thinking it's Mistey, we all get really quite. It was Sarah. Sarah walks in the door and, when we realize it's her, we all yell "Get on the floor and act dead!" After a few more minutes, we decide it looks really lame with all of us on the floor. Seeing as Steph was the most legit looking, and I was in the funniest position (lying across the glass coffee table), Megan, Sarah, and Kristi run into the kitchen. After a few more minutes of excruciating pain to my hip bones, Mistey comes in. She apparently sees Megan running to the side of the kitchen, then turns on the light and asks "What's going on?". The girls in the kitchen jump out and yell "bah!". And so ends the story of tonights adventures.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Shortest Blog Ever

Waiting to go to Zhongshan. Pray that facebook isn't blocked on the mainland!!!

Big Buddha

Yesterday was an exciting day. After we landed in Hong Kong, we met Mathew and got on our "Top Model" bus. After we reached our hotel, he asked us if we would like to do our tour that day instead of the next (today) and we agreed. We spent about 5 hours, starting at 2, touring Hong Kong. It reminds me a lot of Times Square here. Also, it is humid. I'm not sure on the percentage, but it's a lot. When I got of the plane I thought I would die from lack of oxygen. But I'm adjusting to it. We went to a mall at the top of a mountain (only 1,300 ft.) and got to see the whole city. Then the batteries in my camera, Lady Stardust, died. My mother was right: the batteries that come with the camera don't last long. Then we went to a place where they showed us how they make jade. After the 5 minute tour, we went into the gallery and got to look at the finished products. They had a ton of pearls and I wanted to buy some for the low price of $3,500. That is Hong Kong dollars, and the ratio to America is about $7:$1, but that is still a lot. But one of the ladies explained to me how they find the diamonds and showed me different jewlery pieces. After that, we went to a market and were given 40 minutes to "buy and bartar" according to Mathew. I did bartar successfully and I was slightly surprised. I'm not going to say what I got, since they were for my sisters, but each one cost hk$30 and I only had hk$50. So I told the man (that was following me around trying to get me to buy something) that I really wanted them because I promised my sisters I'd bring them some back. But unfortunately, I had 2 sisters and only hk$50. I asked if there was anyway I could get the two of them for that (plus 2 postcards for afformentioned sissy-poos) for the $50 and he said "Oh . . . okay!" and I delightedly made my purchase. AT 8 pm we went and saw a "light show" by one of the malls, but it was kinda lame. The lights were supposed to be on buildings going in time with the music, and they weren't really matching up. It was still cool though. We were all really tired, though.

Today we had an excellent adventure. After having the breakfast of champions of items purchased at a bakery (I had a crossiant and a blueberry cheese tart which tasted like cheesecake), we went to see the Buddha. Since we no longer had the Top Model bus, we walked several blocks to the metro. We had to use 2 different lines to get to the island by the airport, but it was fun. On the way we passed Disneyland Hong Kong. Once we got to the city we needed, we went to the cable car place and purchased our "enlightenment tour package" which allowed us to get the ride up, walk to the buddha, and ride back. We spent most of the morning and begining of the afternoon up at the buddha. It was pretty big and we were lucky to see it; Mathew told us that sometimes the clouds are low and you can only see half of him. We also went to the monistary there and there were giant pots of incense where people were praying. Needless to say, it was really neat. When it came time for lunch, we found a restaurant named "Europe go go" and ate there. It was awesome: It had food we were used to. I shared a margharita pizza with Sydney. When we were finished, we came back to the hotel and crashed for a little bit. I took a nap and it was relaxing. This was also when I found out that the adapter that Sydney let me borrow didn't charge Hayward. Luckily, Megan had an extra one and is letting me use that. Hayward is now at 99% charged and it makes me happy :D

We went to the Mormon Temple in the evening. It is beautiful. While we were there, we went behind it and sat for a while. There was a huge, ugly slug on the stairs and I almost stepped on it. Ew. Once again it rained, but like all the other storms, this one lasted for roughly 5 minutes. A couple of the girls wanted to come back in the morning and do baptisms, but they weren't sure if they could. They tried to ask the nice man in the building, but he only spoke Cantonese. We did pass by a side door and an older gentleman saw us and invited us in. After being assured that I could go in that far, we went in and talked with him for a little bit. He was some sort of missionary helper personel thing and was very friendly. His family was originally from Hawaii, but he lives in Mapleleaf, Utah. After we chated with him, we caught the bus back to the hotel and ate at the restaurant we did yesterday for lunch.

Today was a good day. I must now upload pictures to facebook and then go to bed.
Okay, so the pictures are taking forever to upload here, so just check facebook.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Greetings from Taipei

Hey y'all. After 12 and 1/2 hours flying over the Pacific Ocean without seeing the sun for at least 17 hours, I am safely in Taiwan. It is 6:10 am Thursday, July 30. I only spent 2 hours in Wednesday and it wasn't the greatest day. I am typing super fast because I don't want to risk plugging Hayward into the outlets here to charge (they look like ours, but I'm not sure of the voltage) and have him blow-up. The journey has taken me 3 days. Even though by your time it's only been 2. My knees hurt because of all the sitting I've done. Taipei doesn't seem to be so humid, since my hair is somewhat decent. Not yet poofy. Anyway, had beef, potatoes, and cheesecake (at least, I think it was) for dinner on the airplane this morning at 2:30ish am San Francisco time. Had a Chinese breakfast of rice soup, a roll, and fruit sometime between 2:45 ish and 3:30 ish this morning Taiwan/Hong Kong/Zhongshan time. The rice soup wasn't actually so bad. I ate most of it.

Right now I'm just sitting in the terminal A8 waiting until 6:55 when we can start boarding the plane. I've been trying since San Francisco to get a decent wifi interent connection and thank God for A8!

Hahaha, I might seem a little disjointed in my writing, but that's because I'm operating on what I estimate to be something between 2-4 hours of sleep. But I'm not tired, so my dad was right about arriving here being better than coming home and adjusting. Not that I know the difference officially, but I'm guessing.

Anyway, thanks for the warm wishes and keeping me in your prayers!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm On My Way

Here is my itinerary for tonight: 7:33 pm leave Salt Lake via Delta Airlines and arrive in San Francisco 8:41 pm. At 1:35 am (Cali time) we leave San Fran and arrive in Taipei at 5:30 (the the 29th). Then we are going to tour Hong Kong for a few days.

However, the past 24 hours have been pretty exciting. Not necessarily in a fun way, but still. So yesterday I was cruising down the Bangerter to go to SOS for my last paycheck and this is where the drama unfolds. While waiting at the light on Bangerter and 4700 S., there was a truck used for moving produce (or candy or something) in the right turning lane broken down. There was a yahoo in a truck that whipped infront of me from 2 lanes over to turn right. His truck was blocking my lane (which was supposed to continue through the light). It was a red light, so I wasn't completely peeved. After all, I was in the Corolla and had the air conditioner on. I was watching said yahoo. He was a classy fellow: sleeve-less dirty shirt on, sticking his cigarrette out the window and pounding it on his left side-view mirror, and talking on his cell phone.

And the plot thickens.

The light turns green. Yahoo, still partially blocking my lane, sits behind the broken down truck for at least 30 seconds. Then he realizes what I have, that the truck is not moving. So he whips around that truck and continues to go straight instead of turning to prove what a humungo yahoo he was. Miffed, I start going straight, but before I could even reach 5 mph, a lady from the middle straight lane cuts in front of me to do an illegal right-hand turn. However, this causes a problem: I'm going straight and thwarping Ms. Illegal Right-Hand Turn's plan. She crashes into the front left of the corrolla. I was just entering the intersection. There was a Sherriff who saw the whole thing. I pulled off to the side of the road and so did the girl that hit me. However, she was further down the road than I was and had to back-up to where we were. I have a feeling that if the Sherriff hadn't been there, she would have kept going. So I called my mom and she came down to meet me. We gave the Taylorsville officer the information he needed and he talked to the other girl. After about 25 minutes we were free to go. It was the other girl's fault. Much to my chagrin, my mother had me take her hybrid and continue to pick up my check.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And So It Begins . . .

Here it is: my first blog entry. How exciting.

I started this blog (though I have been previously against such things in the past) as a way to keep my family and friends updated while I'm in China. You see, I am going to China to teach English to little children. I am not being paid money, but I am really excited for the experience.

For me, the worst part of starting a blog (or any other sort of profile) is coming up with a display name and title. The display name was simple for me. But not the title. I wanted it to be something awesome. Something that when people looked at it, they thought "Wow, that is awesome. Just like Ammanda!" ;) Luckily for me, I had mi padre helping me out. Unluckily for me, he crushed all my joke titles, like "Bowie Lover" or "*insert title with lots of swears here*". But I want you all to know: They were joke titles. Emphasis on "joke". I wanted a title with lots of pizzazz. I happen to like titles that are really long, too. But my father reminded me that my blog title is part of the address. He then suggested (after turning down the highly popular "Ammanda's Blog Rule" idea) "Just Sayin" which is actually something I say a lot.

What a wonderful story ;)