Ciao, China

IMG_6368It was a wonderf time in China, but I’ve been back in the USA for three weeks now, and not to sound dramatic but man it feels good to:

  • flush the toilet paper
  • shower without shoes on
  • use a dryer when doing laundry Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes on Apple iOS 12.1
  • be able to read the menu
  • communicate with the people around me
  • drive my car on streets with other drivers who don’t have an incessant need to honk at everything
  • seriously I love not hearing the honking
  • play my guitar again
  • oh, and have my own room!! Many happy tears were shed.

anyway I love the USA and I think I’ll be sticking around from now on. Not to get too real, but I just turned 25 a few weeks back which means I’m getting pretty old. And old people don’t do well living in foreign places. Well, this old person doesn’t.

So I can honestly say that some of the highest and lowest times of my life happened while in China. For example, a high: stargazing on the Great Wall. A low: diarrhea in a squatter. Let’s just say, crap happened (hah punny) but also non-literal crap.

But as for the last-week-in-China update: I selfied with a lot of children

I withdrew 10,000 rmb (Chinese currency) in CASH to pay for my hospital bill because they didn’t accept my VISA CARD (still bitter)

and discovered a super awesome street market that was extremely close to our house the whole time but that we had never visited before (maybe it was for the best because I may have spent a lot more money if I had known).

The conclusion that I have come to is this: China is a fantastic country. I give it five stars, even though I saw the stars like two times the entire four months I lived there. I highly recommend that everybody visit it, and that they bring a lot of money, because everything is cheap and even the frugal (me) make exceptions for non-necessities (hello useless terracotta warrior themed pocket watch that I don’t even know who to gift to. And if you’re reading this like “man, a terracotta warrior themed pocket watch is just what I’ve been missing,” then hmu, I have a surprise for you (hint: it’s a terracotta warrior themed pocketwatch.))

Honestly, we met locals here in such odd ways who came to play such big roles in my experience. First there was Kevin. We were getting dumplings at this restaurant on the fourth floor of the Walmart plaza when we went to pay, and there Kevin was, at the register, and he just started talking to us about how he worked for an American company and had been to Chicago. I don’t really know what happened next but we swapped WeChats (the sole form of Chinese messaging and social media) and said he could show us around the area sometime (it wasn’t like, creepy. He was a normal guy with a wife and two kids who, like several other Chinese people, had an interest in Americans).


So the next weekend he offered to take us on a sunrise hike on this one cool mountain. He said he’d pick us up at four in the morning. I didn’t know how to tell him that four in the morning doesn’t exist to me, so I just went with it. Maybe it was unwise to meet a man we barely knew at four in the morning when it’s dark and nobody’s awake, but he was kinda shrimpy and I figured three American girls could take him. Also, I never for a second felt unsafe in China, so I didn’t worry too much about it. He took us hiking, with his friend Peter and Peter’s daughter, Mia (her Chinese name is Yi Mi, which directly translates to “one grain of rice”). We hiked for an hour and the view of the sunrise was… fog. That was the theme of my China hikes, I feel like. Anyway, then he bought us breakfast and he bought us each our own personal coconut (super cool? they put a straw in it so you can just drink the water out of it which was freakin neat-o until it didn’t taste very great.)


A few weeks later, Peter took us to a Buddhist temple in Zhuhai. It was so beautiful and I learned so much about Buddha, or the Buddhas? Because there are literally thousands? And I just Googled that to fact check it and there’s a lot of information there, but Peter’s friend, Patience, told me there were thousands of Buddhas, so if you’re going to come after someone for misinformation, it’s not me. It’s Patience.

The other man we met was also named Peter, but we met him on the train from Shanghai to Guangzhou. He lived up around Shanghai but he traveled often for work and came down to our city a couple times to visit. He just really ~~loves~~~ English. He invited the whole crew out for a pizza party at Pizza Hut and the guy probably would have ordered the whole menu for us if we wanted it.


After we blew through 5 pizzas, a rice dish, an appetizer platter, a green salad, a fruit salad, and fancy drinks (the juice kind), we were just hanging out and chatting when I asked “hey Peter, do you like KTV?” (KTV is super popular in China, we saw KTV places everywhere. It’s basically karaoke, but you get a group together and rent a room for it, and the rooms are way fancy with disco balls and couches and a giant screen TV) and he said “yes! Do you?” and we admitted we hadn’t done it yet and he said “let’s do it now!” and we went over to the KTV place and Jammed. Out. It was really awesome, but I think I prefer karaoke, because KTV tracks don’t omit the vocals, so you’re just singing with the artist instead of soloing. And the music video plays on the giant screen, which gets real awkward when you’re trying to sing Brittany, Beyonce, or Miley with a middle-aged man in the room.

Yeah. China had some good moments. Including, but not limited to:

That time we were discussing different clothing throughout the dynasties and one of us asked Wendy, our teacher, what she thought of an American wearing a modern Chinese dress to a prom and Wendy said it was offensive. And then we asked if there was ever a time non-Chinese people could wear traditional Chinese clothing and have it not be offensive. She said yes, and listed several examples. So we asked what an inappropriate occasion would be. She said porn. Yeah… she didn’t know what prom was.

That time we were hiking in Zhangjiajie National Park and this woman said “my boyfriend thinks you are beautiful, can he take a picture with you?” and I, mildly horrified, agreed, and then was introduced to her “boyfriend,” a maybe three-year-old boy.

That time we had the typhoon and the river behind our house overflowed into our driveway and there were fish swimming in our driveway but then they were all put in a bucket and then they all died but they were still in that bucket in our driveway and it smelled so bad walking by them.

That time a mouse lived on our balcony.

All the times Nina came into my room to have me do recordings for her and wouldn’t sit on my bed because she “hadn’t showered that day” like I cared

That time it was Teacher Appreciation Day and we got served some goose blood. Because nothing makes you feel appreciated like congealed goose blood.

That time Adaline saw a mother hold her baby over the Walmart trashcan as the kid just pooped right into it. And all the other times kiddos just dropped their pants and peed on the streets or playground or wherever.


That time we were told that the government didn’t actually give the school authorization for more than one English teacher, so the day the inspection happened, they gave us the signal and everyone had to stop their lesson immediately and follow the principal to the storage closet on the roof where we just sat for a little over a half hour…


Oh yeah and that time I was in a hospital for four days. I stole a pair of hospital pajamas or whatever the heck you call that outfit, but then I felt bad, so I gave it back when I went to get my stitches out. And my surgeon said we will be friends forever, so that’s cool.

I think I experienced all the classic China moments. I wouldn’t even trade them for a working dryer and normal toilet. But boy am I glad to be back where the garlic bread is. (I’ll miss those dumplings, tho.)


Now for our last round of Engrish:

You’ve heard of fire hydrants, now get ready for the fully equipped


Me @ everyone I interacted with on my birthdayIMG_6448IMG_6369

Hm things sure have changed since the last time I was in EuropeIMG_6367

I was almost inspiredIMG_6256IMG_6244IMG_6243IMG_6241IMG_6240

went all the way to China and didn’t even find my Mr. RiceIMG_6066

not same, life definitely frightens meIMG_6063



Appendectomy Recovery ft. Hospital Swag

Sick, slick and stylish. That’s how I felt last night, when I had to get dressed in this hospital geddup that looks like the striped pajamas that the bananas wear in my childhood television show “bananas in pyjamas.” I’m honestly surprised they fit me.

But what I’m feeling right now, in this hospital bed, is disappointment after hearing that the only thing I can ingest for the next three days is porridge and hot water. RIP me. Porridge can be more accurately as chicken noodle soup but instead of chicken, it’s pork, and instead of noodles, it’s rice, and instead of, like, lunch, it’s for every meal!

*later update: that’s only if your lucky. I just ate some disappointing, flavorless porridge for dinner tonight. Honestly flavorless an like why.

Anyway Yeah so I just got my appendix removed! In China! And if you were to ask me how I expected my last two weeks in China to be, I would not have said “yeah for sure I’ll be in the hospital giving them a piece of me (literally)”

YEAH SO (whoops didn’t mean to caps lock) yesterday around 11:30am, I started to feel crampy. My back and stomach hurt and I thought I just needed to lie down and take some ibuprofen. However, it progressively got worse, and around 2:30 I told Nina (chinese coordinator) to take me to the hospital. I get stomach pain all the time, but it usually goes away when I lay on my stomach or if I take ibuprofen. However, it was just getting worse in every position I tried to lay in, even after an hour of taking medicine.

Nina came home to take me to the hospital and we were sent to emergency and I got a ultrasound (which heckin HURT) and a blood test. Results were: appendicitis. At first she gave me the option to have surgery or have an injection/some medicine that will help it go away in a week, and the price of surgery scared me, so I thought “how about pills,” but then the blood test results came back and they said I needed surgery.

From there on, i had to do a NUMBER of uncomfortable things for surgery prep, including BUT NOT LIMITED TO

-pee in a cup

-poop in a cup

-get a shot in my bare butt with Nina in the room (she looked away)

-wear a seatbelt in a wheelchair (this was more weird than it was uncomfortable like I don’t even wear a seatbelt in the back seat.)

-other things that I don’t really wanna talk about due to the scarring nature 🤷‍♀️

Then FINALLY they wheeled me away and knocked me out so I didn’t have to writhe in discomfort anymore.

Apparently it is customary in China after a surgery goes well for the surgeon to take a picture with the parents of the person who had surgery and the removed organ, so… meet my new parents, Rachel and Chelsea.

A lot of people have asked me if I was nervous to have surgery in a foreign hospital where I don’t speak their language, but 1. I was in so much pain that I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted the pain to end. And 2. Maybe asian stereotypes can be racist but Chinese doctors? Seems like a jackpot to me.

When Nina is gone, we communicate with google translate (#godsend) and it says things like “did you have anal exhaust” when asking about my flatulence history.

P.S. anal exhaust hurts when your insides are torn up.

Also, the IV was referred to as “potion,” so I got that magic stuff flowing through my veins, friends.

Nina didn’t want me to be alone so she brought Rachel to stay with me and I’m really thankful for that. Apparently the other girls said they’d come stay with me if they had to, but didn’t really wanna. Can’t for sure say I’d be any different.

Every few hours I have to get up and go for a walk. Today on our walk, we found one of our students! playing hookey. At the hospital. Because it’s the place to be when you don’t wanna go to school. It was really fun to see a familiar face. I love those kids.

So anyway I don’t know when I’m getting out of here but I hope soon because it’s not rlly my my favorite place to be. The girl who shares my room had the same procedure and she’s still here like 5 days later. I’m not interested in that life. But maybe atleast now I can finish the Mandarin Duolingo unit and still have no idea what anything in China says 🙂

Please enjoy my amateur meme game

Hey Yo Yangshuo

Ever heard of the Dr Suess mountains? Me neither. Until every American in China wouldn’t shut up about Yangshuo and the mountains there which apparently are the mountains that… inspired? are depicted in?…the book “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen inspired cakes and party decor so I feel like I have.

See the resemblance?

Anyway now I gotta read it because I’ve seen the mountains now and they are pretty cool. But the books says “go move mountains” and uh… They were pretty big so I just let them lie 🤷‍♀️ photographed em a lot. It’s also where the photo on the back of the 20 yuan was taken.

Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself. We were told that it was going to be cold, but we were told that by southern Chinese people who…think it’s cold at like 70 degrees. So we packed short sleeves and sandals. Well… bad move, chief. It was actually cold. And it was raining.

We got this hostel that was right across from the Main Street called West Street where we ate and shopped every night and I was not prepared to spend as much money as I did… too many good finds. And good bargains.

Actually, the first night I needed a wall charger because I didn’t bring one and so we found one at this shop for 10 yuan ($1.50) and so I was buying it and they give “lottery tickets” to everyone who buys something and you either win 300 yuan off some Jade jewelry or 900 yuan off some Jade jewelry (apparently there’s only three 900 in every thousand tickets) so I guess I just had to use it toward some Jade jewelry because…when in China. So I dropped some serious cash (like $27) on a necklace valued at $156. Bling bling, son.

The next day, we rented some mopeds from the hostel next to ours and explored the town. We were Ride or Die chicks for a day and It was mainly Ani and I riding and Rachel struggling to go faster than 20 km/h because she isn’t even a licensed driver in the US, much less in China where the lanes are made up an the laws don’t matter.

We tried to follow the map but instead ended up just looking up on maps where to go. It took us out along this beaaautiful farm road where there were fields and mountains all around us and though it was raining, it was so gorgeous. There were cute farm houses

and chickens crossing the road. Typical.

Then we came to a bridges overlooking the river where old ladies sold us flower crowns they made 😍

We then went back to the hostel to warm up and wait for the city to come alive so we could go back out to West Street and drop some more dolla bills.

The next day, we paid some tourism company to take us on a tour because we knew we’d never make it out to Moon Hill, the Gold Water Cave, and bamboo rafting on our own (I would have been a pansy to the cold). In the deal, we got a random tour of the ancient chinese Ma Ling village where we met the Chinese Rapunzel and got super cute keychain pics with the actors.

The whole tour was in chinese so we didn’t really get much out of it, but I did open google translate at one point to use the microphone and see if it would help much, and uhh this is what it translated while she was pointing to a big comb looking thing on the wall

so that ended that method…

We went to this restaurant by Moon Hill where you could look at it and it was cool but randomly at the base of there are just ????

So I looked it up and ????

Anyway the place they took us was fancy and expensive and didn’t have anything we wanted sooo we went down the street and found an outdoor, plastic tablecloth and stools sorta joint and gazed upon the transformers as we downed the noodles.

Then when we got to the cave, the tour guide came to us and said “hey bring all your things and come with me” and nobody else on the bus got off…. so we just went with the guide and she took us to the Gold Water Cave and told us she’d wait for us while we went with this other random group.

It was a sweet cave and there was this one part where there was a giant sphere of some stone and the lady would shine a flashlight on one part of it and then move it and the spot where the light was would stay glowing! Then they had rows of ladies selling that stone in different sizes and styles and they would turn the lights out every 30ish seconds and all the stones would glow!! And I am dumb for not buying a cheap one. Hm.

We went further to the Mud Bath! The lady at the tourism place told us we couldn’t do it because it wasn’t in season but when we got there, the guy told us we could get in, so holla atcha mud bath. It was sooooooooo cool and the fact that it was in a cave was really nice because there were no weeds and freaky stuff growing in it.

Then we got out and walked down to the hot spring! But might I suggest a name correction and say warm spring because it was ~~not~~ hot. ‘Twas a warm bath. But after the weather outside, it was a welcome warm spring.

Then we went home, got warm, and I’m sure you could guess what we did that night…

Our final day had me illin and so we all just started the day the American way (McD’s breakfast) and went to the movies! We saw Venom in 3D and they gave us little lenses to clip onto our actual glasses so we didn’t have to stack pairs on pairs. Classy 👌

Then we spent so much time and money in this ~~adorable~~ postcard cafe where you can mail postcards to yourself in the future and it was so fun I love mailing stuff and I love postcards and writing notes. However I did forget to ask people their addresses in advance so holla to all the people who were up at 1/2am and let me know where to hit em up with the mail.

then of course, as with all my good photograph ideas, I was ~robbed~

Anyway that’s the price you pay for originality.

The food in Yangshuo was really excellent at some places (like the Indian place 🤤) but there was this one place that had garlic bread (and I was on a hunt for garlic bread) so I sprung for it and… tbh coulda waited a month for the real deal.

Bone app the teeth, am I right?

Anyway, this vacation went way over budget on food and souvenirs but it delivered and I got no regrets. Except the one where I forgot to pack a freakin jacket.

And of course it is now Engrish Time

Also one night, we happened upon a lady throwing out prizes and stuff for idk what reason because I don’t understand Chinese but you are now lookin at the proud owner of a selfie stick

High on Shanghai

Ok so long vacations, in theory, rock. You plan on doing everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and then you go, and you have fun, and you spend a lot of money, and then you near the end broke and exhausted. So that feeling hit the group about the same time that we hit Shanghai.

We hit the hostel and then the plaza nearest to us to find some food. We found a little bakery called Paris Baguette and there was one baguette in the entire bakery, so we know now why it isn’t Paris Baguettes. But it was a really good baguette and I might live my entire life in pursuit of another one.

Shanghai has such a western vibe to it and did not remind me of anywhere else that I’d seen in China. Definitely a more progressive city without the historical aspects that the others had. Someone told us that if you want to see 10,000 years of history, it’s in Xi’an, if you want 1000 years, it’s in Beijing, if you want 100 years, it’s in Shanghai. I can see and agree with those (in my very, very, limited knowledge and opinion.)

More Markets

The first day, we went to the Science and Technology Market (to make some more friends, obviously.) It was actually super cool because I asked my dad if he wanted a knock-off Rolex, and he sent me a picture of what he wanted, and so I found people who sold Rolexes and found the exact one from the picture and haggled it down to $30 in no time. These places are magical.

So many previous volunteers had said that the Science and Technology Market of Shanghai is better than the Pearl Market, but our group definitely loved the Pearl Market more. The people there were so much more fun to haggle with. People in Shanghai let us walk away without calling after us. Very unfortunate.

Also, in China, in various places, there will be people who just sit outside with a hot pot of sticky liquid sugar, and they make Chinese zodiac symbols out of it. I got a rooster, which is my Chinese zodiac, Rachel got a bunny, which is hers, and Chelsea got a dragon, because she wanted to see him make one.

That night, we went to Nanjing Road, another bargaining marketplace. You were probably thinking I was done spending money, but I was not. I was on a quest for a rolling suitcase to accommodate all my stuff (the bag I brought was so full and heavy, it was giving me bruises on my shoulders). A man must have sensed my need, because he found us and took us to this place down this back alleyway and though he said he’d never come down to my price, he did. And the lady who was selling with him was not happy. But I – got – wheels, baby.

Nanjing Road ended at the Bund. The Bund is the Shanghai skyline. I was not prepared for all the beautiful buildings along that skyline. They were so tall and they had light up images on them. Some of them had the Chinese flag, it was super cool.

Wow, Animal

The next day, Chelsea, Rachel, Haley and I went to the Wild Animal Park. My feelings can most accurately be summed up by a journal I found at a convenience store in Zhongshan a month or so ago.

It was actually really cool. We went in a safari bus where we passed zebras, wolves, a bear that literally climbed on our cage and stayed there while we drove, several lions and tigers and cheetahs that we (the tour guide) threw some raw meat at, and sun bears and other awesome animals.

There was a kangaroo enclosure where you could go in and feed them and pet them for about $3. I didn’t do it because I’m an idiot who didn’t think it was that cool at the time, but now as I write this, I realize that would have been very cool. Especially because there were some little joeys in the pouches of their mommies.

On the other side, there was a llama enclosure, where Tina the fat lard was finally eating her dinner. (Ok they’re alpacas but full disclosure, idk the difference.)

I fed an elephant in my elephant pants and I got to stroke his trunk and look into it’s majestic eyes and put vegetable chucks in his trunk, so it was a mad success.

They rode the elephants, the camels, and fed the zebras, but my hour was yet to come. I didn’t get to hold a baby tiger, but I PET A BABY CHEETAH. I kissed him, too. I definitely should have picked him up. I mean, it was against the rules, but what were they gonna do, ask me to leave? They would’ve done that anyway. Except it’s probably good I didn’t do that because kitties have sharp claws and who knows what cheetah kitties claws are.

Look at him, workin on that roar. Oh my GOSH I want one so bad. There was also a baby sunbear. He sucked on my finger. Pretty cute.

Then we saw the Pandas, the hippos, the other animals. It got more like a zoo after that but uh… I will never forget that cheetah.

We got back to the hostel and I became really lame. The nightlife in Shanghai was probably poppin, but I didn’t live to see it because sleep is my one true joy. After baby cheetahs.

So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way…

Sunday was one of the chilliest days ever–we went to the Friends café, Central Perk. Because why wouldn’t it be in China.

It was also fitting because my life is a joke, I am broke, my love life is D.O.A., and it hasn’t been my day, my week, my month, or even my year. So that’s it, who’s going to be there for me? This hot chocolate, I guess.

Spoiler Alert: it was not very good. But it was such a cool joint! There was the orange couch, the wifi password was iloverachel, and there was a TV playing through the episodes of Friends. I could have stayed there all day. Also, their menu was so perfect. And the burgers came topped with a toothpick and piece of paper that said “Joey doesn’t share food” which is kind of my life motto.

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

Our last train ride was an all night sitting train ride. I had an aisle which was awesome despite the fact that the lady next to me had to get out to pee 17 times. Rach and I actually set out to find the train car that was the restaurant and they had really disappointing food. But we met a dude named Peter who spoke great English and bought us some really expensive bottled water in exchange for out “English tips” (which we didn’t really give that well) but he was way nice. He actually reads the same books I read in my Senior English capstone class, so I’m impressed.

And then we went to school, back to the kids, and spent a week without talking to each other because we got too much of each other on vacation.

Just kidding. Kind of.

Beijing? More Like Bae-Jing

In case you didn’t know, China thinks that BJ means Beijing, which is why the I ❤ BJ shirts probably seemed like a good idea to the Chinese marketing team but uh… I have decided to cancel Chinese tourist shirts until further notice.

Temple of Heaven

We went to the Temple of Heaven because apparently it’s a Beijing “must-see.” It was cool and it was rather cheap, but it was just another pretty building to get pictures in front of and then I was done. However, when you’re with a bunch of young American women, you have to take at least 17 pictures of each of them in front of each cool thing. So we were there a while.

And then one girl wanted a jumping picture. So everyone wanted a jumping picture. And then the Chinese people started taking jumping pictures, too. So you could say we started a trend at the Temple of Heaven that day.

Material Girl in a China World

I try to adopt the financial motto of “spend your money on experiences, not things,” but that was before I went to the Pearl Market. Now I am Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation.

The ladies there are super smooth and you can bargain them so low. Before I went, I knew that it was a bargaining market, but I thought it would be handmaid souvenirs at tent covered markets along a street. Not so. It looks like a fancy mall and there are just a bunch of professional-looking kiosks without price tags and when you ask “how much?” they say “for a normal person?” *type a number in the calculator* “but for you?” *type a lower number in the calculator* “because you are friend.”

So now I have a lot of friends in Beijing whose names I don’t know but who gave me really good prices because I “am friend.” Having the stuff is really cool (also I had to invest in an extra suitcase in Shanghai to fit all my extra stuff, word up) but bargaining was the best part of it all. When would I have ever wanted a Gucci bag? Never. And I actually didn’t buy it for me, but bargaining it down to $30 was really fun. And maybe it’s not real, but 1) who’s going to inspect it? and 2) she did take a lighter to it and burn it, which will be useful for all the…fires… it spends time in…


We went to an acrobat show and there wasn’t any second of it that was unimpressive. We even got last minute seats in the front row. Ok, it was the second row, but nobody was in the front row, so basically…

I honestly wonder how people can do stuff like that (ride a bike while someone sits on their head) but some people lead amazing lives. Some of the participants hit us up after the show to sell us a dvd and you bet ya girl bought one so if you wanna see some sick chinese tricks, HMU for a movie night. I’ll bring chinese milk candies or somethin crazy.

Tianmen Square/the Forbidden City

Our vacation was also China’s vacation. It was the national holiday, which is like the Fourth of July but for an entire week where all of China copied our game plan, so the streets and buses were packed for like a mile outside the forbidden city in every direction. I bought a flag and a sticker and was real patriotic. You could’ve mistaken me for a national if I wasn’t like… three times the size of a normal Chinese person and white.

I got some pictures, looked for the chain of dragon people like in Mulan (there wasn’t one, pretty lame) and then got bored, but you know who didn’t get bored? All the Chinese people wanting to get pictures with US. We should have been charging money per picture, I am on so many Chinese camera rolls now.

Then we went back to the Pearl Market. To see all my friends again.

Also they had a food court with a restaurant that was BASICALLY a Panda Express but with like… actual Chinese food and no cream cheese wantons 😦 No orange chicken, but the Sweet and Sour chicken was pretty orange so I took it.

The Great Wall

When I was deciding whether or not I wanted to come to China, I considered squatter toilets for four months and said that the Great Wall better be the Greatest Freakin Wall I’ve Ever Seen for it all to be worth it. It delivered. That truly is a Great Wall.

Also we have western style toilets in quite a few places so I truly get the best of both worlds.

We hiked parts of the restored and unrestored wall and I think I died several times. People run marathons on that wall. Those people are insane and way more ambitious than I could ever be. I couldn’t even climb it without stopping for multiple breathing breaks. I knew there were stairs on the Great Wall, but I thought it was mostly flat walking and then an occasional 5-10 stairs. Wrong. I mean, the Great Wall is several thousands of miles long, but it’s through the mountains, and where there aren’t giant, awful stairs, there is just a super flat, steep grade.

But we didn’t just hike the Great Wall, we backpacked and CAMPED ON IT. Stargazing on the Great Wall of China? Watching the sunrise and sunset on the Great Wall of China? Everything gets cooler once you do it on the Great Wall of China. Ate noodles on the Great Wall of China. Brushed my teeth on the Great Wall of China. Peed on the Great Wall of China. Life is beautiful. 

Rachel got us matching shirts that say I Climbed The Great Wall so basically I wear it every day. It’s in Chinese and English so everyone knows.

Our tour guide was an Italian chef named Umberto. Who better could show you the best of China? Also did you know the Great Wall was originally built in the border of China and Mongolia to keep out the mongols? And then they ended up conquering China despite the wall? I feel like a certain president with Wall fetishes might like a history lesson on a country he claims to love, idk.

The Great Train Station

Our last day in Beijing, we had this great idea to check our bags at the train station and go do some exploring before our train left at 9 pm. Woulda been a great idea if, yknow, everyone else in China didn’t have the same idea. All the baggage check places were full so we took our stuff to McDonald’s and hung out there instead. Because there’s no place the American’s would rather spend their vacation time than at McDonald’s.

Eventually we found a different luggage check operation and slipped off to the Silk Market (another bargaining market) where I made some more friends. on the way out, there were these people selling knock off designer wallets and silk for suuuuper cheap. No idea where they found that stuff. But let me tell you: there is a hierarchy of knock offs. The Prada knock-off wallet I got? Super nice. Can hardly tell it’s fake. (actually, I can’t tell at all that it’s fake at all. I just know that they probably wouldn’t have given it for so cheap if it was real). The Louis Vuitton one I bought from the sketch dudes outside the market? So fake I can’t even handle it. Pretty sure it would melt if you took a lighter to it. The zipper alone raises all the suspicion. But it’s checkered and cute and I’m cool with it. The silk, however…. let’s just say it’s good they sold it while it was still in the plastic.

So after Beijing took all my money, we went to pop some more tags in Shanghai. and we got a sleeper train to get there. And those are the best kinds of trains. But I woke up at 6 am scared to death we missed our stop (which wasn’t until 9) and that really ruined the slumber party.

Xi’an: The City Of Love

Rach says it reminds her of Vegas but there are: no casinos, no strip clubs, no miniature models of places around the world, and no 1000 degree weather at night.

I call it the city of love because: I love it. That’s it. It’s nothing like Paris buuuut There is a light and music show projected on the city wall every night, multiple pagoda style buildings, a super cool city wall, and its just so charming.

We arrived Friday night at around 10 and I honestly expected it to be a small, dead town where people only went to see the terra-cotta warriors. I was dumb to believe that because we exited the metro station to see a light show, people selling light-up balloons, and a man with a turtle. The turtle was just lying on its back, moving it’s neck. He had some leaves right in front of it that he obviously couldn’t reach and he didn’t have a hat out for money so I have no idea why he was doing that to the turtle. But every single time we walked passed that very place, he was there, with his upside down turtle and leaves.

We checked into our hostel and I think I just want to move in and live there forever?

It’s beautiful, there are TWO CATS and a guitar and a restaurant and the ceiling is open but there are branches and leaves strung across the roof area and there’s even a bar underneath it. It’s called a “terra-cotta warrior themed bar” and we thought that sounded cool so we went to just check it out and there was one (1) imitation statue of a warrior and nothing else. I may have missed the other decor, though, because I took two steps in and was assaulted by the stench of smoke and alcohol and had to turn around immediately.

We woke up the next day and went to see the terra-cotta warriors!!! Chelsea and I get super bored on tours, but the other girls really wanted a tour guide, so we split up and Chelsea and I went to look on our own while the other girls took a guide. Part of our DIY tour was sitting in the pit 3 area while reading Wikipedia about the history of it all. Very informative. Can you imagine just digging a well on your farm one day and discovering a whole underground clay army from centuries ago? I’m shook they’ve only known about this for the past 40 years. Also being the archaeologists who get to uncover and restore them? Neato.

On their tour, the other girls got to meet one of the farmers who discovered the warriors, so that’s cool. Definitely missed out there. But they also got taken to a jade museum where they got talked into buying some /super/ pricey jade (because Xi’an is like the jade capital of the China?) and I am not jealous of that. (Note: they are happy with their purchases and that is awesome for them. I’ve just read a ton of posts and reviews and looked up prices elsewhere and it all sounds sketchy to me, so if you ever go to Xi’an, be aware of that.)

While they were on their 4 hour tour, we were bargaining in the shops. Chelsea is an amazing bargainer. I’ve decided I’m not buying anything unless she buys it because I know she’ll never stop bargaining it down until it’s the lowest it will possibly go. You would not believe her skills. Like the jade rings we got? (might be fake, but they withstood all the tests. Also who has to know it’s fake?) 80 yuan down to 5 yuan. (You could say “there’s no way it was real if they sold them to you for 5 yuan” and maybe that’s true, but if jade really is that common there (the mountain is just filled with it) then is it really that rare and precious? Just a thought.)

I got a little terra-cotta figurine and the lady told me it was handmade (in contrast to the machine made ones right next to it.) I don’t know what the originally price was but she gave it to me for 10 yuan. Rach bought one on her tour and it was a little bigger but it looked exactly the same and she paid ten times what I did. They told her it was made with the same clay as the actual warriors and that it was different than the ones sold out in the markets because those ones will disappear if you put them in water (???? Who is putting them in water???)

I say: it will literally sit on a shelf as a reminder of the day I rode a bus for an hour out to a random place to look at a pit filled with many clay men. I have no doubt that both hers and mine were made the same way and I honestly can just tell myself it was made from the same clay and feel great in my ignorance.

Tour guides are swindlers, man. But they have good stories sometimes.

That night we went to the drum and bell towers and there was a place where they had fresh cut fruit and they gave you a big plastic bowl and said you could fill it 2 kilo for 34 yuan. I just wanna say it was too expensive but it was freakin delicious and I’d do it again.

The next day we biked the city wall. Xi’an is the only city who’s wall has remained completely in tact. It was a really cool ride but they give you racer bikes and all I wanted was a cute basket and handlebars that were higher than the seat. It was really bumpy and I’m surprised my glasses stayed on the whole time. I really wanted to bike it at golden hour (like right before the sun set) because I hear that’s the most beautiful, but it was ok this way, too. If I could do it again, though, I’d do golden hour all the way.

Leaving the hostel was probably the hardest part of leaving the city? But it was a dope place. Could definitely spend longer there. I love that everywhere you go in China, there is dancing when the sun goes down. We walked the Main Street last night and every ten meters there was a different group with a giant speaker, blasting music and dancing. One of these days, I’m joining them.

Until then, catch me in Beijing. ✌️

Ring around the Wrong Finger (probably)

Ok so I had a pretty weird encounter.

Last week in Zhangjiajie, Rachel bought a ring at the market. It was like a green glass ring (looked kinda like Jade) and it was only 5 yuan, but she liked it a lot. Then one day, she dropped in the shower and it shattered (the people at the jade shop say it’s because it was protecting me. I say it’s because it was a cheap fake?) . So today, at the shops, I saw some rings and thought I could spare 5 yuan to buy Rach another ring.

I asked the lady how much they were and she pointed to the price tag where it said 80 yuan! So I was like “yikes nevermind I don’t want it” and she asked me to give her a price I would pay (like to bargain). The only price I would have paid was 5 yuan, but I wasn’t about to insult her by saying “yeah How about you lower the price 75 yuan,” so I just tried to say no. I was still in the shop waiting for Chelsea to buy her stuff, and so the lady kept lowering her price, showing me the tests of how it scratches glass (rag she dragged it along the glass case and it scratched it!) and doesn’t burn (like glass does) when you scrape it against itself (trying to show its real Jade) and finally said “ok 30 yuan!”

80 to 30 by just not wanting it, that’s the secret.

I was still not going to spend that kind of money on a ring ($6 would break the bank, yknow?) so I, again, said no. Chelsea came over and said “we found a shop that sold them for 5, so that’s what we were expecting.” The lady looked shocked and said “5 yuan???” And I, feeling bad and trying to be nice, was like “maybe it was fake? I don’t know?”

She was puzzled for a second and I thought we’d settled it and she goes “ok 5 yuan.” Just like that! What!!!!! So heck I bought me one, too. Mine was black though because I like black rings.

So I gave Rachel the green ring and asked her to marry me (because that’s a standard thing you have to do if you ever give a ring to anyone, right?) and our whole group was just sitting eating fruit by the Xi’an drum tower and a Chinese girl about our age comes up to me and says (very sweetly) “Hi I’m sorry, I’m a Christian and uh” and she shows me her phone and i in google translate it says

“Are you asexual?”

So at this point, I am confused because

1. Like, maybe? I’ve been asking myself that, too, and

2. What kind of person has the sixth sense to sniff out asexuals? Is it something I’m wearing? Do I just seem like that kind of person?

So, very confusedly (and probably laughing because freakin Rachel is dying of laughter) I said no, and she shows me her other google translate that said “I just think it’s interesting because I don’t know very much about it.” And then she says “oh I’m sorry” and walks away.

And like, I am so confused at this point? and I’m laughing, which I feel bad about, but Rachel is not helping, and the girls who asked me are just standing at a distance and pointing to their fingers, and I think of my ring. And I’m like “oh is that a thing in China where asexuals wear black rings???” And then I realize—


So anyway now I feel bad because the Chinese girl is probably embarrassed and I’m embarrassed and Rachel is probably still laughing but now that we’re asexually engaged we got cheese fries and cheesecake to celebrate.

Note: ok I wrote this last night and then I wondered if she could have indeed meant asexual, so I googled it and APPARENTLY it totally is a thing that asexuals wear black rings on the middle finger of their right hands (not specifically in China, just in general). I don’t remember which ring my finger was on, in all honesty. I think it was the ring finger but it may have been the middle. BUT If she did mean this, though, why did she lead with “I’m a Christian”? And also, if I had said yes, uh, what then? I speak into her google translate and explain it to her? What kind of conversation would that be? How incredibly random.


Zhangjiajie ft. Me

Alright so here’s the situation: you’re at the train station. You pick up your ticket. You have about two hours until your train leaves. Thinkin of hittin up one of the three KFCs in that train station for dinner. And then you realize:

You’re at the wrong train station. The one your train leaves from is across town. It’s rush hour traffic right now.

Do you:

⚪️ Open the DiDi (Chinese Uber) app and order a DiDi before you even exit the train station and then realize you have no idea how to exit the train station

⚪️ Run around aimlessly trying to find the exit, considering climbing over barriers, running after people who look like they know where they’re going, all while taxi drivers try to convince you to let them drive you for double the price of a DiDi

⚪️ Ditch half the group and leave them to fend for themselves and find their own way to the other train station (don’t worry, they knew how to DiDi)

🔘 All of the Above

I was trying to contact our driver to let him know our location, but data is terrible and nothing would send. Not because of the terrible data, though, but because of the inappropriate nature of what I said, which was: “we are by parking garage 13.” The app said it would not translate or send that because “This message contains inappropriate content.” I don’t know what parking garage translates to but uh?

??????????? How bad could it be?

The driver did eventually find us and when he did, I showed him my ticket and what time our train left and asked “will we make it in time?!?” To which he said “…no..” so I decided he couldn’t understand me and prayed that we would. And guess what. We made it. We got out of the car and booked it, the other girls coming up in a taxi right behind us, and then we weaved in and out of Chinese people, running to catch our train.

Then it left late. 🤷‍♀️

I’ve heard a lot of stories about Chinese trains, but luckily I didn’t experience any of them.

Didn’t have to stop in the middle of the night to pee in a trough ✅

Didn’t have to stand for 15+ hours ✅

No mysterious liquids on the ground ✅

However, we did have to sit upright overnight for like… 14 hours? And that was.. rough. But I met a little kid who was pretty cool and knew how to say “what’s your name?” So we had that conversation quite a few times. Yet still I forgot his name because it was a Chinese name.

We got into Zhangjiajie at 9:40ish am and ate at this cute little bakery right by the train station and then went to our hostel which was a pretty neat place. After checking in we headed to the National Park, which was harder to find than we thought it would be. A few wrong busses (and a correct bus) later and we were in the AVATAR MOUNTAINS.

So Day One At Zhangjiajie National Park:

It was honestly one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The picturesque pond, the stony mountains, the random giant heart lock on the ground just for kicks? Just an awesome scenery. Then half the group ditched us to go hike somewhere because we got tied up in looking at dragon pillow souvenirs that I didn’t even commit to buying. Shucks.

So we found some stairs to climb that went to the Huangshei Village and we had the ~brilliant~ idea to climb them thinking that uh…there was a cable car up top to bring us down?

(Yeah that’s a thing in China, you don’t really hike up mountains, you climb stairs to the top of a mountain. A lot of stairs. Who needs a stair master when you have the mountains in China.) we hiked with a shirtless Chinese dude for a bit and then he stopped and took some stuff back down so we went on alone. We never actually talked to him or anything, and he honestly probably thought we were just out of shape Americans.

So 3000+ stairs later and you’d think the view was awesome but our timing had us looking at some sick fog instead. There was a cool lookin pagoda up there too.

And there were a bunch of people at the top of this lookout and we would occasionally just hear this “ooooooo” sound, so we climbed up to see what was going on and every time the fog cleared even a little to where you could see the mountains, they really ate that up. So we cheered along and then I took a video where I (very poorly) sang Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” while openly disproving the line “never was a cloudy day.” You can find it on the ‘gram. Though you probs don’t want to.

Then we hiked down (because we couldn’t find the cable cars…or the village, tbh) and that’s when I counted the stairs. Then it got dark and we exited the park while a taxi driver harassed us because he really wanted to give us a ride (aka take our $$) but we found a bus instead and man let me tell you, after a 13 hour bus all night and and a 3000+ stair hike all afternoon, we smelled pretty rank. Holla at the showers.

Day Two:

We hit the Yellow Dragon Cave and spoiler: there was no dragon. and it wasn’t even that yellow. Honestly I was a little let down because it was just a cave with different colored lights in it but we still ended up climbing about 800 stairs (#werk) and taking a neat lil boat ride so it was not a complete loss.

Also, in the cave, there are two gates that you have to choose between—the gate of happiness and the gate of wealth. They lead to the same place (hahaha) but it posed an interesting question: would I rather happily live in squalor or be able to dry my tears with dolla bills? We all chose happiness but we came through the wealth gate on the way back and does that mean I’ll be happy and rich? Or double poor and extra happy? Or neither because I chose to get greedy in a Chinese cave? Or neither because literally it’s just a cave? I mean either one, I think I’d be fine with.

On the way to the cave, there was this lady taking a picture of her friend in front of this little pagoda thing over the bridge and she came up to me with her camera so naturally, I expected she wanted me to take a picture of her and her friend, and naturally, I was wrong. She asked me if I would take a picture with her friend. So now I am captured in the memory of a Chinese lady’s trip to Zhangjiajie. Magical.

There were street shops outside and we practiced our bargaining skills. Got pretty good. Realized that no matter how low the price, I still didn’t want any of the stuff. But I got a cool magnet for 5 yuan so I scored big. Also the ice cream was way good.

Afterward we went to ride a cable car up to…. a mountaintop where there was supposed to be a McDonald’s but it was closed. Alas, Rachel’s McDonald’s fast was in vain. (She wanted her first McDonald’s in a foreign country to be on top of the mountain, so she purposely avoided McDonald’s until then for that very reason.)

Getting the ticket was insane for me, though, ok? So we get student discounts with our international student cards and it’s half off, which is a pretty sweet deal. So it’s going well and I haven’t had a problem until I go up to this ticket window, and the lady is like (through google translate) “I can’t sell to you with the discount because you’re 25.” And like FIRST of all— I have like three months until I’m 25 so excuse you. SECOND of all— why no discounts at 25? am I all of a sudden assumed “not poor” at 25? Is that what the chinese think is a “get your life together already” age? I guess I can’t really argue there.

Anyway, that was a fight and I was upset, but we skirted around that issue and never had it again! The cable car was cool but I was stressed out because they were standing up and taking pictures and I was worried we might fall. Which we didn’t (shocking). Also another local wanted a pic with me so…is this fame?

When the McDonald’s was closed, we hiked down the mountain and I counted the steps (again) and it was about 3000 (again). But it was cooler this time because we happened upon a pack of MONKEYS. And they had babies! One was so close to us!

Then we had to catch a taxi home and that kinda hurt the wallet but then I remind myself that $1 is 6.8 yuan and that the 70 (per person) yuan fare is like $10 which is actually extremely cheap. Perspective.

And because we were in the McD’s mindset, we sought one out for dinner. The nug life is still goin strong in China, my nuggaz.

Day 3:

We woke up really early and went to the park in the pouring rain where I did not have an umbrella, poncho, or shoe covers. So you know what I got? Stopped, every two feet, by a different lady selling ponchos, shoe covers, and umbrellas. I finally bought an umbrella and it stopped raining pretty soon thereafter, but the bargain I got was worth it. Also it was a pretty sweet umbrella. It says “China” on the handle (as opposed to “made in China,” lest I forget where I bought it.)

We walked around the park, took a bus, did a mini hike, arrived at a convent in the mountains. I thought it was super cool and thought “oh hey I could totally be a nun in these mountains” (or whatever the Buddhist female equivalent of a monk is) and then Adaline reminded me that it would be hard to deliver pizza all the way up there and I reconsidered. Idk man I like pizza but that is such a beautiful place to live.

I tried to look inside the building but there were men smoking and playing cards in the doorway so I don’t think it was open for visitors. Also safe to say it’s not a very religious place anymore.

We hiked (walked) along the river and there was this business that you could pay two men to carry you on a chair along the river. Only 300 yuan to live like royalty.

Also we saw people taking wedding pictures. Can you imagine bridals in the avatar mountains???? Wild. And here is a selection of my panoramas that look vaguely the same yet different because I haven’t had time to go through and decide which is my fave.

We came back to the hostel early and I did some laundry (because stairs + humidity + rain = sweat = gross = my backpack smells very nasty) and guess what it didn’t even dry completely before I had to pack up the next day and take all my clothes home where I would inevitably do the same laundry again.

This is Rach and I atop the hostel roof doing my laundry (the washer was on the fifth floor, aka the roof, aka the place I didn’t leave for a full half hour because no way was I climbing down and back up more stairs to leave and come back to my wet clothes).

We ate dinner at the hostel because we were too exhausted to leave and I had Kung Pao chicken in China. Honestly I think I like our (‘Mercia) version better (uncultured white girl) but also it was the least sketchy meat I’ve seen in this country and for that, I was thankful.

Day 4:

Imagine: more stairs.

So this day, we did Tiananmen Mountain, home of the ~world’s longest cable car.~ It was raining (shook) and the top was just fog. Straight up.

So we walked around until we found this entrance for a trans-mountain escalator? I was intrigued, so I checked it out, and it was exactly what I thought. It was probably 7 or so SUPER LONG escalators that took us down the mountain. What?

(Should’ve taken a pic but I was honestly so shook they put so many escalators in a mountain)

Then we came out at the heavenly gate, which was pretty cool in the fog.

But then the only thing I wanted to do at Tiananmen mountain was hike the Stairway to Heaven but we started at the top and the only way to go was down?

So did I descend into hell or just get more down to earth?

Apparently there was a guy who was wearing a shirt that said “Highway to Hell” while hiking the stairway to Heaven. I guess he had a change of heart but didn’t have time to make a change of shirt? Idk man the Highway to Hell sounds a lot less painful but idk.

After descending, I wanted to hike it, so I convinced a couple of them to do it with me. Apparently the number nine means luck and good fortune in China, so the stairway to Heaven is 999 steps, but you know me… I counted. And either I’m really bad at counting (even though I did on the way up and the way down) or Heaven is full of liars a gullible followers, because there were only like 906 stairs. I felt cheated but my quads were kind of thankful.

The road we took in the bus down was apparently the road with 99 turns. I did not count because that honestly sounds pretty awful. I was focusing on breathing because the nausea was strong.

Then we played games at the hostel for the rest of the afternoon. Our train came at 5 and it was a 13 hour sleeper train and it was beautiful. Honestly was a little worried about it but they gave us blankets and a pillow and I was set. Also there was another little kid and he was singing a weird English song but my word he was a cutie. Big fan of children and Chinese sleeper trains.

That was our short vacation. We got home, I got sick, then it was Friday and we’re literally on another 8 hour train going on our long vacation. Yeah Xi’an, let’s kick it.

Also how do you say sudafed in Chinese because I need that stuff.

Just Another Mangkhut Monday

Before the typhoon, talking to the Chinese teachers who live below us:

Me: Nina, what if your room floods?

Nina: it won’t, I’ve never seen that happen

Me: we’re going to the market to get flashlights in case the power goes out

Jonna: no need, I’ve been through many typhoons and the power has never gone out.

During the typhoon:

The first floor (where Nina’s room is) floods knee deep, AND the power goes out, taking the WiFi with it. Smh.

Local time is 11am on Monday and outside is calm, cloudy, and a little rainy and windy; the only evidence that a storm passed through here this weekend is all the leaves and fallen branches in the street.

Well, that, and the insane heat that we’re all dying of thanks to the A/C going out with the power.

Somewhere in the not-too-distant distance, a rooster caws, just like he has been since SIX IN THE MORNING.

We live on the third floor of a house which sucks when heat rises and we have to climb up all the stairs while we’re all already dripping with sweat, but is pretty nice when all our stuff doesn’t get ruined by typhoon flooding.

Also I just hit myself in the face trying to fan myself with a plastic slate, so that’s probably the most dangerous part of this storm for me.

Our living quarters are pretty cramped, so we all kinda hung out on our beds for the weekend, which wasn’t the /most/ fun I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty close.

On Saturday night we asked Alice to order pizza for us (like call and order because we don’t speak Chinese), (don’t worry the storm hadn’t started yet) and instead they went to Pizza Hut for us and got us a stuffed crust pineapple pizza and you know what??? It didn’t suck. But the cost was equal to more US dollars than I would typically spend on a pizza. Oh the sacrifices. But it was an excellent pre-typhoon meal.

Before the storm, I had to call and talk to the ILP office about a bunch of precautionary things and something they said was to stay away from windows.

Uhhh…there is not a possible way we could have stayed away from windows. In our rooms? Giant windows. Bathroom? Windows. In the hallway? Sliding glass door. The landing between the first and second floor? Giant old window that won’t even close.

Then I went down to see Alice and Jonna and they were just chillin with their windows open during the whole storm, like no big deal.

These people have too much chill during typhoons.

Last night when the power was out, we lit some candles and played some card games. We joked that it looked like a sacrificing ritual.

Then Alice went to the neighbor’s house to make enough noodles to feed the whole house. Yknow, while the first floor and area outside the house was flooded knee-deep. Priorities: in China, it’s noodles.

Anyway, typhoons work hard but the Chinese work harder. We are alive, safe, and the AC just came back on so #blessed.

Note: Typhoon Mangkhut was the biggest storm to hit China in the past few decades. It was a category 5 storm and it hit Hong Kong pretty close and then proceeded to Zhongshan (Guangdong province) where it downgraded to a lesser storm after hitting the coast and coming more inland. Here is a photo of it in relation to hurricane Florence.

Read more at:

The Chiner Things In Life

Super Typhoon Mangkhut has officially stepped into Zhongshan and I am -losing it.-

Pretty excited, pretty apprehensive, mostly just ~really curious to experience this type of storm. It’s about as strong as hurricane Florence buuuut I think it lost power after tearing up the Philippines? But also I’ve heard a lot of conflicting information so I don’t know. Storms are unpredictable, just like my hair in humidity.

So China has been actually pretty cool? The humidity is melting me and so I looked up humidity in comparison to the Netherlands (where I lived for a year and a half) and this humidity here is 93% while there it is 100% and I honestly don’t know how I survived it. I step outside and it’s a baptism of my own sweat every day. Air conditioners are China’s greatest invention. (Actually idk who invented it but China seems like a safe bet.)

So many things to update so let’s BEGIN.

When The Saints Go Marching In

Going to church on Sunday’s is an all day experience. They pick us up at 6am, we go to other schools in the Zhongshan area to pick them up, and then we trek over to Shenzhen where the branch meets at 10am. (Idk if you can math, but that is 4 hours one way on a bus.)

It costs about 10-15 bucks depending on how many come and split the bus cost. When they drop out last minute and make the price go up, it gives me very unchristlike feelings. Which is unfortunate for a sabbath. Especially when 8 of those sabbath hours are spent ON A BUS.

The first week, it was pouring and the streets were flooding and watching them try to drive when the roads are flooding is hilarious. I have pictures but they don’t do it justice.

The church building is just a house that was repurposed as a church and I thought someone very dedicated lived there and was and I was impressed. Turns out I have been fooled.

It’s a foreign branch, so most the members are American. However, it’s not because of what you think! A FALSE myth that people believe is that Chinese people do not have freedom of religion. But they do! There are several Chinese branches with Chinese leadership that operate in mainland China. However, they are not allowed to practice with foreigners. I’m not super sure why, but they are pretty strict about it. We’re not allowed to discuss religion, but we can tell Chinese people that we go to church and that’s about it.

Teacher’s Day

So the Chinese are really into teacher’s day which is -sweet- because they took us out to the crazy restaurant with all the Chinese teachers and served us goose.

Like, all the parts of the goose. The feet, the meat, and the BLOOD.

It was this squishy gray stuff and I should not have asked what it was because I was not prepared to hear it. I died a little inside as I watched the other teachers try it.

Then one of our cooks is named Mikey and he was out with us and the girls are girls so they were talking to the girl (Chinese) teachers trying to set him up with someone and so adaline went to ask him how old he is, because, well, that’s important for set ups, right? And seriously everybody got SO weird about it and thought she was interested in him. Even with a language barrier, we could feel the maturity of that room become so high school. So don’t ask Chinese men their age if you’re not interested ok?

It was actually hilarious though so no regrets. Though I’m sure adaline might have some…

(Mikey is on the…(second guesses my knowledge of right and left)… right?? He’s the younger one)

We took this pretty sweet bus there and back and on the way back we were just bonding with the Chinese teachers by belting Lady Gaga songs and if that ain’t the right way to celebrate teacher’s day, I’m content doin it the wrong way.

The British Are Coming

Actually they already came but I like the headline so I’m using it. Nina told us that we were going to have to share our office with three more English teachers who will be teaching at the school sometimes. Two of them are from the UK and at first I was miffed because hello? They talk funny and say things like “rubbish”? Also I was miffed because hello? Aren’t the seven of us good enough for you?

But then I met the UK teachers and they’re really sweet and so I have no qualms. However, I was caught off guard the first time I talked to her and all she said was “cheers” when I told her I’d leave the door open for her. Tally ho, lassie.

“I Have People That I Know In China” -DJ Trump

Alice and Jonna, two of the Chinese teachers who live below us, took us to the mall in the next city over and took us to these amazing restaurants where they had Chinese pizza (like it’s not worthy to be called pizza but it’s still good) and spicy green beans. I love that everything is spicy here. I’m livin for it. But I am NOT livin for them only serving boiling hot water in tiny fetchin cups. I’m also not living for the body getting used to different foods while you’re options for toilets are mostly squatters.

She also said she’d take us to this donut shop and showed us pictures of how good they looked and taught us how to say donut in Chinese and then…. we couldn’t find the donuts 😦 so the next night, they brought us a box of donut magnets and a sweet note and I could have cried it was so sweet. Also I thought they were real donuts and I almost shoved one in my face until they said we can’t eat them.

Show me someone who doesn’t think that’s the sweetest thing and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a heart. Or a donut magnet.

On our way to the bus stop, there was a man who tapped my shoulder and wanted to sell me a bird. He had quite the selection but I’m honestly concerned at how he got these animals and why he was walking through the streets with a cart selling them to Americans.

“Hm, this person is clearly a tourist and doesn’t speak my language, she must need a bird to complete her China experience”

And now its time for the best segment of Heckfest in China: engrish

And we found LOT at the bookstores and stores. Enjoy:

a STUDENT was wearing the shirt that said “trashy”


Some other interesting things:

We take a cooking class with our boi Jim (the cook) and we made Chinese cookies this week! They were pretty dang good.

Nina has been teaching us Chinese classes and today we learned how to count. We took a DiDi to the store today (Chinese version of Uber) and thought we’d impress the driver by counting out what we owed him in Chinese. We got to three before he got impatient and just said “okokokokok”

And lastly we have successfully completely two(ish) weeks of teaching! My favorite quote about the kids so far

Someone: how is arts and crafts with the juniors? How does that’s work?

Rachel: well, Elwin started eating the beads…

I promise to update more frequently: the next post following up with 1. if we are still alive and 2. an exclusive interview with Elwin on the taste of beads.