For starters, both my roommate Rachel and I have been battling a cold for at least 2 weeks now. I was determined not to have one on our trip to Yangshuo for Golden Week, but that didn’t work out. I celebrated my birthday on September 29th. It was so fun! Many of the students gave me gifts, and wished me a Happy Birthday:
I even had two of my students show up to our apartment with cake and gifts, and they sang to me in English AND Chinese! It was too cute. Rachel and the other girls totally went out of their way and got a cake ordered for me that even had the British flag on it! The other teachers already know me too well and it made me feel really special, especially being so far away from home. I opened gifts from them, then we all got ready for Karaoke!!! We went to a new KTV this time where we had our own room and could select our own songs. It. Was. Awesome! Finally, some english music I could dance and sing too! Yes, there was Britney, Christina, Bieber, Rihanna, and The Beatles that were all played. My inner pop star came out many times. As you can see, I was really into this song:
As luck would have it, I had a paper and a final due for one of my classes on my birthday, and RIGHT before we left for our trip to Gualin/Yanghsuo. So, naturally I stayed up until 3am after Karaoke to finish all of it! The next day we were off on our trip for Golden Week. For those of you that don’t know, Golden Week is the equivalent to our 4th of July in the states. That is the best way I can describe it. They have something called “National Day” during the week, and then Golden Week is for the whole week. Our train ride to start off the trip was an overnight train, which I had experienced one other time with my sister Annie when we went from Paris to Rome. I don’t even read/watch the series, but myself and EVERYONE I talk to about overnight trains always immediately thinks of Harry Potter. Let me assure you, that is not the case. There are six people in one room, three beds on each wall. This was my, “Please let me survive this overnight train” face:
I think I MIGHT have slept an hour on that train. I was so tired I laughed at almost anything Rachel would say, then most of the car would erupt into giggles. As my mom would say, I was getting “rummy.” For those that know me, you know I HATE to fly. I would sit through a shorter plane ride in order to not have to do an overnight train ever again..ha, ha. To set the tone for what this trip was like, almost anything that could go wrong….went wrong. I don’t even know where to start. We arrived at our destination at 5:30am and had to immediately take a two hour bus ride into Gualin. Our train was late, so we found out we had missed some of the morning’s activities already. We also found out the tour company had completely changed our itinerary. Poor Mira…..she spent almost all day that day on her cell phone arguing with the tour company about everything that was going wrong. I felt so bad, but there was nothing any of us could do since we don’t speak enough Chinese. We got through our day in Gualin, stayed the night in a hotel, then set off for Yangshuo the next morning. This was what all of us were looking forward to the most. We took a four hour cruise down the river to Yangshuo. The scenery is beautiful…to say the least!! I kept thinking I was on Endor because the mountains reminded me of the ones I would see on the Ewok movies (Karie!!). Here is a shot of Me, Julie, and Rachel with some of the lovely mountains in the back of us:
Yangshuo was A-MA-ZING! I loved it. It’s such a beautiful city with a few western touches. Most of us have not had much of anything besides Chinese food (obviously) for the last month, so we were excited to see McDonalds!!!
It’s really hard to find good coffee in Yidu, so at breakfast the next day I got a coffee and it did NOT disappoint! It’s the little things.
We also went to a show called “Impression” which was directed by the man who created the Beijing opening ceremonies. It was awesome! The show itself was on the river right in the middle of the mountains, which they lit up! Too cool. I have never seen SO many people in one place to see this:
The next morning we had most of the day to tour around town on our own, before catching a bus back to the train station where we would take another overnight train home. Just to cap off the trip, we found out on the way home that the tour company had bought us tickets for the end of the line, rather than our actual stop, and never told us we had to get off earlier so we missed our stop. Luckily the next stop was in Yichang where there was a bus station to take us home. Even luckier, was that we went to the shopping center across from the bus station to get Pizza! I had more Western food in those three days then I have in the last month. It was awesome.
On Saturday, one of our students had invited us out to her family’s house for lunch. They live further out in the country, and it was beautiful! Her parents made us amazing food! And a lot of it!
The biggest plus side to this venture, they had dogs!! And other animals. I was so excited that I cut out of the card game the girls were trying to teach us in order to sit on the ground and hang out with their three dogs. I think this was the first time since I left home that I got slightly teary eyed because it made me realize how much I miss my dog being by my side all the time.
We went for a walk around the property and found this cute dog a few houses down!
I was informed that the family even had pigs, which of course I had to see. There’s are MUCH bigger than the ones my parents have back home!
We had so much fun with the girls, and eating all the delicious food cooked just for us! Both Victoria and Erin even set us up with QQ (it’s like Chinese Facebook) accounts. The kids here are always asking for our QQ numbers, and now we have them. Here is Victoria and I. The Chinese love to throw up the peace sign!
I think that’s it for now. Sorry this was so long, but a lot has happened in a short amount of time! Until next time…