>. China Travel Journal - 中国旅行日記 .<

All of the text is more or less adapted from the actual journal that I kept while in China. c:
If any pictures don't display, please email me right away!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We left at about 6:10 AM from Nashville on a continental flight. The plane cabin was small and it was a bit loud, but not too bad. My seat was a window seat right over the right wing. I was very nervous before we left because I hadn't been on a plane in so long, but once we were in the air I was fine. :) At 7:28 I noticed frost on the window after finishing the egg biscuit I got from Wendy's.
We were in Houston for barely an hour, giving us only enough layover time to get to our connecting flight. I was disappointed, because I'd wanted to meet some of my friends who live there. D: At 9:52 AM we were on the plane heading to Los Angeles, and we arrived there abour 10:40 local time.
I'm not sure when we left LA, but at the time of writing we were flying over the Pacific Ocean. We actually flew across California first, and then went over the water, staying near to the coast for safety reasons, probably. After an hour and thirty-three minutes of flying, the outside temperature was WAY below freezing because we had reached 32,000 feet above the ground...er, water. "How do I know this? Why, the fancy little TV screen located on the back of the seat in front of me. I have it set to "Map" so it shows various pictures in map form of our location, as well as info about time and distance and such in English and in Chinese."
They served us lunch at 5 PM Central Time. xP I only knew because I never changed the time zone on my iPod...the dessert was "Love and Quiches Peppermint Brownies"...which I definitely recommend! "We're parallel to Washington state, sort of...geez, it's going to be a while. ;A;
"It looks like we're going to cross over Alaska, but I'm not sure. Right now we are flying over the Gulf of Alaska and it's been four hours and fourteen minutes since we left LA."
"Five hours and twenty minutes since we left LA. We are nearing the International Date Line. Altitude 34,000 ft. 3799 miles to go! We are traveling at 581 mph. oAo"
At 9:39 back home, we began heading towards Japan. I was bothered because it was still light outside even though it felt like it was nighttime. XD I knew we were crossing timezones and all, but it was still annoying. xP Outside temperature? -54� Fahrenheit.
"Seven hours and forty-nine minutes since we left LA. Passing Siberia. ouo"
WE FLEW OVER THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF JAPAN. ;A; I was like, okay, someone can just drop me off here and that would be nice. In Fukuokaaaaaaa. />A"I'm hungry~ Lol. It's time for breakfast, I tell you! (oAo)ノ*"
There was a place on the map called "Okhotsk," and I kept reading it as "Obelisk." It looked like it would be Egyptian, but it's actually off the coast of Siberia and Russia. o.o
I finally got cold about halfway through the flight, and I went to look out the windows, but all you could see was clouds. T^T I couldn't see Japan...

Monday, May 30, 2011

We arrived in Shanghai at 5:24 PM local time. The Shanghai Pudong International Airport is HUGE. And quiet. Sooooo quiet. oAo We got through immigration easily; we'd had to fill out cards for entry and exit while on the plane, and so we showed them to the immigration officers along with our passports. We each got our pictures taken (we did all of this individually), and then headed to baggage claim. After we got our luggage, we went through customs, which is actually just a line you walk through and the officers look at you. o.o There were a bunch of people waiting along the sides of the walkway-path-thing with signs because they were waiting for their people to come out so they could take them home or wherever. We found our guy and girl, and we left in a taxi-van (hired van). First we went to the apartment on Yishan Road, where two of our party would be staying. There, we met a couple who would be helping them out....and then they treated us to dinner. It was a delicious meal at a high-end restaurant (for which they had coupons XD)~ As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed that the red lanterns hanging on the trees would make for a good picture, so I took out my camera. A guy was passing by and figured he was in the sight of the camera (he was) so he decided to hold up the peace (or victory) sign. So I was like, "Okay, I'll take a picture of you" and I tried to, but he decided he wanted to take a picture with me.

I hadn't even been in China for a full day yet, and already I'd gotten my picture taken with a Chinese person... XD It's on his iPhone too, so...I don't know what he did with it. ^^;; Afterwards, he walked with us and tried to talk to me! But I don't know Chinese so I had no idea what he was saying. DDDDD: Luckily, one of our guides helped with translation, explaining to him that yes, we come from America, and that I don't know Chinese. I was very grateful. ;u; So yeah, he said goodbye and left. >.> I felt kinda bad though; I mean, he seriously was trying to talk to me... ^^;;
After that, we parted ways with the 'Yishan' group and the rest of us (four total) took a taxi to the hotel and Skyped/emailed our families before going to bed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The next day I took some pictures of the room and the view outside the window. It's smoggy...Shanghai rarely sees a clear sky.

Today I rode my first subway train and walked a whole lot with my heavy bag. ^^; I immediately realized that carrying that bag all over China would be an absolutely terrible idea, and began casually looking for smaller messenger-style bags that I could wear across me and wouldn't be as heavy, but I didn't actually find a good bag until I got to Zhuhai... Also, the security pouch I wore worked well, except I had to take money out of it privately before going anywhere, and put it in my pocket. Otherwise it was a bit of a hassle getting it in and out of the pouch.

(Nick and his wife Cheryl, me, Megan, and Bev--Michael is taking the picture)
So via subway and walking we went back to Yishan Lu and I Skyped with my family again before leaving my bag at the apartment and heading out to exchange money at the bank. $100 changed to 642 RMB! A Chinese man whose English name is Mickey helped us on the street; with his assistance we ate outside at a small noodle restaurant, went to a China Mobile booth so Bev could activate her phone, and showed us where Bev's bank was. Once we parted ways, Bev put money on her card and then we walked around a bit.

This is a shopping area--I don't remember what it's called, but underneath the road is a bunch of tunnels filled with many shops and restauraunts. It also connects the basement floors of many above-ground malls. But before we went perusing the multitude of malls, we stopped at a juice stand for a drink.

I bought a pineapple-orange fruit drink smoothie. They juice the fruit right in front of you. It's very fresh and tastes very good. >w< (Also, they use Breville juiciers--the same type of juicer we use!)

Yes, the sky really is gray.

This church is in the middle of the city! (And there I am with my eyes closed... |D) Michael is the one in the green shirt, and Megan (Meg) is the one in the gray shirt.
After a little while, we headed back to the apartment, and stopped at the corner store just a block or two away from it to buy some groceries before actually returning to the apartment.

On the way back to the hotel, I dozed off on the subway against my will--almost right after I sat down! ^^; It was one of the things I was hoping I wouldn't do. How embarrassing... And as soon as we got back to the room, I WENT TO SLEEP. :D

I was awakened by the sound of the telephone some time later, and it was dark outside, so my first thought was, 'WHOA. I've slept so long it's midnight or something now!' It was Mr. Nick Horton (the one who basically organized the entire trip) calling to ask if we wanted to go down the road to KFC or McDonald's to eat or just go to the convenience store because it was after 8:00 and our previous dinner plans to meet up with Bev and Megan wouldn't work now. We ended up just going to the store, even though I wanted to go back to sleep very badly.

I got some Pocky~ ^^ It's Chinese Pocky (Pepero) and Japanese-in-Chinese Pocky (by Glico). Off to the side you can see some yuan and jiao (Chinese money).

Michael got this drink...so I took pictures of it. |D

We went to Nick and Cheryl's room to just sort of hang out and Michael checked her email, Cheryl Skyped with her mom, and we all watched Chinese TV. There was a series or something on about a war between Japan and China. It was cool (and a bit refreshing, actually) to hear Japanese and understand some of what they said. c: Speaking of that...in the elevator, we ran into two Japanese girls. It was really neat. I could understand them. XD But Nick tried to talk to them in English, and then said a phrase in Chinese when they got off the elevator. I was like "No! They speak Japanese! Japanese!" XDD
I didn't get the chance to try talking to them though... v.v;;

The sign in the elevator expresses how much our hotel wanted us to feel at home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Starting out... You can see why I was looking for another bag to carry. This one is rather clunky. >.>

We went into one of the malls we'd found yesterday, glancing here and there for places that might have bags, but there was mostly clothing and miscellaneous things like appliances and ceiling-to-almost-floor decorations.

We ended up taking a look around a bookstore, which made me feel a bit more at ease because I like books and bookstores. c: I found some Hello!Project photobooks that I really wanted, but I didn't get them because the way the price was displayed confused me. >A<;;

This is the inside center of this mall in particular. Shops run all the way back through it, and there's another level underground.

So then we went looking for the Yuyuan Gardens. (To see all of the pictures, head to the bottom of the page and click on the photo albums! One album is mine, and the other is Michael's.)

This is a rock formation that functions as a doorway in the gardens.

Our guide for the day; one of Bev and Meg's students...I unfortunately don't remember his name, as this was the only time I met him. I *think* it was John. Oh, and you can see Nickさん there as well. c:

"Rawr. I eat you."
This guy is featured on the tickets you buy to get into the gardens.
We kinda got lost and couldn't quite figure out where to go to get out. o.o We finally managed to find the way out literally minutes from closing, and breathed a sigh of relief!

This is the entrance just outside the gardens, where you buy a ticket to get in. This picture is facing away from the garden entrance and towards the tourist-trap shopping center of doom. Since we do not like tourist-trap shopping centers of doom, we merely bought a bottle of green tea and moved on.

Because Dairy Queen is a totally integral part of ancient China.

These sorts of places have actually been built recently, because many Chinese have been concerned about becoming too 'modern' and losing their heritage. It's both cool and strange to see the blend of old and new styles of architecture all over the city.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I actually didn't journal on this day because we were on the move the entire day and when we arrived in Zhuhai I was exhausted. I had scrawled "Took a quick shower this morning" at the top of the entry and that was it. ^^; But from what I remember, we ran down to get breakfast, packed up, and left for the airport. We had to transfer subway lines and, due to the heaviness of my suitcase, whenever we came to stairs, Nick carried it for me and I carried his (rather light) suitcase. (I'm sorry mine was so heavy!!! ;A;) At one point, we were going down an escalator, so I had my bag with me...and again, due to its heaviness...I fell.
Yep. I fell down the escalator. But not far. And I wasn't hurt very badly. And I don't have pictures of the incident, so...you'll just have to take my word for it. ^^;

We had to run across the airport to get to our flight and then wait because the flight was late...so yeah... When we arrived in Zhuhai we met up with Simon, our mentor and guardian of sorts for the upcoming weeks, who drove us to the hotel we would be staying at. It took a while to get there, and I was tired, so consequently I fell asleep. I almost fell asleep standing up while waiting through the whole check-in process too. -A-

Friday, June 3, 2011

I woke up a bit late and almost missed a yummy breakfast! We ate in the Chinese restaurant on the second floor. I had something like anko-and-rice balls (don't know the Chinese name) and ride porridge. After that, we got ready and went down to the lobby to meet with Simon, who drove us around the campus and into Zhuhai City. He showed us different places to shop (for food and essentials) and such, as well as a place in Gongbei that is a really popular shopping mall.

After all of that, we ate lunch at one of the school cafeterias.
Let me explain a bit about that. Our hotel was the Beijing Normal University of Zhuhai International Center's hotel. It's a long name, so we just say Beijing Normal Hotel or BNU hotel. :D Anyway, the university is located on a plot of land that is shared by two other universities: Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) and United International College (UIC). We met and worked with students from all three!
In the afternoon, Michael and I both had headaches, so we were glad to get back to the hotel to rest for a while. Unfortunately, at dinner while we were meeting a group of students who wanted to work with us, I felt very ill (stomachache) and ended up retreating to the bathroom a lot. Finally it was made clear that I couldn't make good conversation because of it, so it was arranged that I be taken back to the hotel. We started outside, but I only made it a few steps before I threw up. Dx It was dark and I was behind a bench thing, so it wasn't like many people could see, but it was still very embarrassing. Dx
Needless to say, I immediately felt better after that happened, but I was taken back anyway. Michael and three of the girls (Vivian, Lucky, and Tina) came with me. Everyone was very understanding and sympathetic, assuring me that things like that happened when you were trying to adjust to another culture and stuff, and that it had even happened to them, but after a few days I had figured out what had caused that to happen to me: extreme heat combined with lack of water. That was why I'd had the headache, and then the nausea. Tip for you: drink PLENTY of good water, especially in hot months!!
Out of all the girls we met (well, I only really "met" three of them that night thanks to my stomach...*rolls eyes*) only two of them were actually able to study with us. The only boy who studied with us wasn't present that night because he was busy or something. However, we did meet some of the others again.

Here's what our room looked like:

^Love that light box thing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I still felt pretty crummy in the morning, so I didn't eat a lot at all for breakfast...only two of the sweet rice balls (the anko stuff that I mentioned before) and a bit of Jasmine green tea. I felt better after talking to my family on Skype and taking a nice shower. ^_^ Then Michael came back up to the room and we went back down to the hotel lobby, where Lucky was waiting with Nick. (Cheryl met Michael and me in the hallway, so she came down with us.) Lucky guided us for a little while; we took the bus into Zhuhai City and bought Nick a cell phone to use in China, and we also exchanged some more money (another $100 each). I wish I had taken pictures of all of it but I didn't!!
Then we went to BIT (see the above note about the school campuses), Vivian's school, and met in the cafeteria because Vivian had prepared lunch for us! Egg sandwiches, dumplings, potatoes, and beans... they were all sooooo good! I only ate two or three dumplings because they were made with pork... Anyway, we talked a lot, and Vivian showed us a bit of the campus before we headed back to the hotel with Lucky. Michael and I talked some in the room and then she took a nap while I drew and listened to music~ d(^w^)b
A few hours later, we went to Simon's house (it's an apartment, but he owns it) for dinner to have a great meal and, again, we talked a LOT.
I was a bit nervous as we returned "home" though...because Nick and Cheryl were to leave the next day to go to Shanghai, and then other places to celebrate their 25th anniversary. So that meant we wouldn't see them again until the Shenzhen seminar on the 18th and 19th. I was worried about how we would make it without "adult supervision," so to speak. Could we survive being nearly on our own? But "I really do feel that we will be okay. We have already made good friends and GOD will take care of us. He takes care of us. ♥"
Simon also gave us an old phone of his to use during our stay in Zhuhai. It was of the prepaid sort, so he had put minutes on it for us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lucky and Vivian met us around 9:15 AM to take us to the family meeting (a.k.a. church), which is a gathering where singing, fellowship, communion, and Bible studies take place. Simon led the meeting, which was held at Hope's apartment.

(This picture is of the buildings in Hope's apartment complex; they all look like this.)
Michael and I met several people there, including Hope herself, Pink (a middle school teacher), and Elaine. (Top picture has Lucky on the left and two guys whose names I don't remember; second picture has Pink and Michael; bottom picture has Vivian and me.)

After worship, we went to the apartment complex's restaurant to eat lunch. I ordered sweet and sour Grouper on top of vegetables and rice, and even though it was a long wait, it was very good!! After some general conversation, it was decided that Hope and Elaine would take Michael and I out shopping (well, window shopping).

The bus was incredibly packed. Sunday is when a lot of people have the same idea about shopping, I guess... (I don't look too happy in that picture, do I? ^^; It was rather uncomfortable being packed in there...the bus was full and they were still stopping to let people on.) We basically went to the same place Simon had taken us (same place in Gongbei--the mall that is mostly underneath the ground), but of course we didn't mention it. Besides, we went through a different section of the mall. :3
Hope bought black pearl milk tea for Michael and I to try, and neither of us liked the "pearls" but the tea itself was okay. We walked around a lot more after leaving that mall and looked into lots of shops along the street. It was really weird though--we kept noticing cotton fluff everywhere!

After some investigation, we discovered that the strange cotton fluff comes from these trees. o.o

Finally, we ate dinner at a locally famous noodle shop! Elaine ordered something so spicy, it made her face go red...but she just kept eating! "So good," she insisted.

Michael took pictures of this day, but I didn't... ^^; I'm glad she shared her pictures with me!
We went to an outdoor market, where Hope bought some vegetables, and then to a supermarket, where she bought some other things. Before we went into the supermarket (which had multiple levels, by the way) we locked our stuff into one of the lockers outside. That was very convenient!

It was very late when we got back, but the day was fun. ♥

Monday, June 6, 2011

After a round of showers, Michael and I set out to find the library Simon had introduced us to. (Bear in mind that while he had given us a map of the campus, it was black and white lines and all the labels were in Chinese. -A- He had also driven us around via back roads, so we had no real sense of which direction led to what.) We wandered over to the wrong library, and since we didn't have time to keep looking, we trekked over to the convenience store across the street from our hotel and bought some bread to snack on... It was so HOT and we had to walk and walk...
At 1:00 PM, Hope and Elaine came for their first session (and our first session!). I studied with Elaine, and Michael studied with Hope. Elaine only knows basic English, so we didn't really get to do much with the actual workbook lesson; we did it but I ended up helping her with pronunciation of words and stuff. I gave her my Skype address and later on she gave me hers, but currently it is invalid, so...Idk. ^^;
Anyway, Elaine brought bananas to share~ Hope invited us to come back to her apartment to play badminton, so later on, Michael and I came all by ourselves! Hope was waiting for us at the bus stop. Elaine wasn't there because she was too tired to play or something. XD So we played a bit of badminton...

Michael and I tried our best but Hope's so much better than we are and the wind (which felt lovely, by the way) was blowing and thus affecting the arc of the shuttlecock as it traveled. Eventually we gave up and went for a walk around the park area, which is still part of the apartment complex. Michael took a lot of pictures, but unfortunately I don't really have many. (And, also unfortunately, the dress I was wearing--which I wore because I hadn't expected to go out--kept slipping down and making for strange pictures. ;A; So...here is a picture of Michael instead! ^o^ And a sign that may give away exactly where we were, if you can read Chinese. owo)

We played "exercised" a bit on the playground...which is to the left of those rainbow arches. Seriously, the equipment is more exercise-style rather than just for play. You really do get a workout. I was impressed.

(^Like this path right here is for runners.)
There were some other people there too, of course, both older and younger. We talked to some cute kids who were having some fun there~ The older girl was rollerblading most of the time but she did show off by using the equipment while rollerblading. She was very, very good with English! Her younger sister, a toddler, kept climbing everywhere and I pushed her in a little swing once.

Finally, we headed to Hope's apartment. We were supposed to have a home-cooked dinner, but it was late and there were so many mosquitos that she invited us to come back for lunch the next day. So Michael and I went back to the bus stop...and then the hotel. We talked for a while (again) and I laid my iPod and earbuds on the bed with the volume turned up so we could both hear it...and we drew!~ I asked her to draw because she hadn't in a while, and I wanted to see what she did. So she referenced my Yu-gi-oh! book (Millennium World vol. 2) and drew a fantastic picture of Yami. (^o^)/

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So we went back to Hope's apartment for lunch; we rode the bus there and back all by ourselves~ Lunch itself was really good! I'm amazed at how well everyone can cook! Hope prepared a fish, lots of vegetables, soup (it was actually broth from the water she'd boiled the vegetables in), and of course rice.~ After eating, we talked a bit and then she let us borrow her laptop computer to email our parents. While Michael was using it, I read the Bible with Hope. It was a really special thing to me, I think, because I don't normally do that at home. I just read it by myself. It was nice to read it with someone else for a change, and then to talk about it afterwards. :3
At long last, we figured we'd better go...but it was SO HOT again, and I got another headache, so when we went back to the hotel, we turned on the TV and watched some variety shows. We even found a Chinese dubbed anime. The same war movie/show/thing was on too. XD
That evening, we went to Vivian's Intercultural Communications class (BIT...see above for the school name) and we met some new faces...Tom, the one boy that studied with us, seems very proper and very interested in Chinese history. Comito seems to have a great character and she is studying Japanese. In fact, her name (that is, English name) is the Japanese pronunciation of her actual (Chinese) name.
Anyway, we ate dinner at the school, but I couldn't eat a whole lot... Furthermore, I was really excited about attending the class...but unfortunately that same sick feeling from before had settled over my stomach and by then I knew that if I didn't get cooled off I was going to throw up again. Because, you know, the building her class was in is largely open to the outside, is not air conditioned, and has fans that make very little difference. D; I kept dozing off, because that's my natural defense against the nausea...but I wanted to be respectful and pay attention to the class, so I tried to stay awake and not get sick(er).
I did end up having to leave, but not before the highlight of the class: the teacher called for volunteers. No one raised their hand. So I did. She came over to me and when she suddenly realized that I was a foreigner, she stumbled backwards in surprise! The demonstration was on the distance you prefer to have between yourself and another person when you are talking with them, whether they are strangers or not, and so on. At 7:45 PM there was a short break, so that was when Michael and I left. Vivian walked us out to the bus stop and I apologized nonstop, grasping my water bottle as though my grip could convey just how sorry I was. I felt really bad about it because it was the second time in only a few days that it had happened! I decided then that I wouldn't let it happen again. I didn't want to ruin another good evening! Good news is, it didn't happen again. Yay. :D

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We went early in the morning to the school's convenience store, which is located across the street, and bought some liquid laundry detergent and some fruit. Then we came back to the hotel and washed some of our clothes in the sink. XD For lunch we went to the Western restaurant located on the first floor and ordered spaghetti, but it wasn't very good. Mine was made with vegetables (which was good), but it was drowning in sweet and sour sauce, of all things. Ew. Michael's was better, but still not good, not to mention it was made with meat.
Having nothing to do until evening, we merely stayed in the room and drew and what not. Before we were supposed to catch the bus, we explored the campus some. We went into the BNU library (which was actually more of a classroom building) and tried to use the internet, but the only thing those computers would do was search for books on the school catalogue. So we shook our heads at our non-English map with no directions and went to the bus stop in front of our hotel to catch bus 10A. Our destination? Pink's school.
We talked to a Chinese guy who knows English and has been abroad--I think it was Kenya he went to--and he helped us with knowing what stop at which we were to get off. Pink met us at the bus stop and escorted us to her school which was a middle school. As we went into the building, students stopped walking to stare at us, and some even started following us and saying hi. Inside the classroom, everyone seemed so excited to see us and I was so nervous that I literally couldn't say anything. ^^; Kids were standing outside the classroom watching us. o.o
Michael did most of the talking while I just stood there. Unfortunately, she talked very fast most of the time so I don't think the kids really understood what she said...but oh well. ^^; We (she) talked about the differences between Chinese schools and American schools, and then the students asked some questions. I felt bad about my nervousness when one girl shyly asked me about formal dining in America and I drew a blank. ^^; My face was beet red. I'm sure it was. It certainly felt hot...not counting the outside heat, of course. I don't even remember what I said, but I called over to Michael and luckily she needed me to come over to where she was for something else anyway.
After all of that oddness (orz) we handed out some of the Jolly Ranchers that Michael brought from the US, and wrote our email addresses on the board in case any of the students wanted to contact us--which, of course, they didn't and still haven't--because they wanted our phone numbers and we couldn't do that. ^^; Then we got bombarded with requests for autographs, photographs, handshakes, and hugs!

One of the boys wrote on the board that he wanted a hug, so Michael hugged him and I was going to, but I think he hadn't expected two, so I didn't. What was funnier than that was when Michael was in the middle of talking (to Pink or the class, I don't remember; probably Pink), that same boy started to write "I want to kiss" on the board only to erase it right after. XD The class cracked up and so did I, and Michael was clueless. XD
We were given handmade origami as gifts, too! We each got a rose and a bow. My rose has a stem but Michael's doesn't, and Michael has a large origami bow while I have a small one that the girl who gave them to us made while we were standing there. ;www; It was so sweeeeeet. *cryforever*

We felt like celebrities.
After school ended, Pink and her husband took us to a very nice place for dinner--very nice as in the seats were not chairs nor booths, but COUCHES. Well, loveseat-type couches, but still.

The food was also very good! Michael and I both ordered the same thing, only I didn't eat any of the chicken--just the veggies and rice. The restaurant also had these cool water refillers that were pumps... You pumped the water into your glass. And after dinner, we...came back to the hotel. Yay~

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Today Vivian comes at 2:00 for her English study, and after that we have nothing to do, so...I don't know what we'll do. XD I took a shower again today--we plan to go to the library to check email this morning, so we need to go soon or it will be way too hot to be outside."

We left at around 10:15, 10:30 or so and went to the libary; that is, the library Simon had originally shown us in his super-fast tour of the campus. ^^; The library itself is good, and the computer area is very nice with several computers. Unfortunately, you have to enter a username and password into the computer in order to use it, so we had to leave. We tried to eat lunch at the downstairs cafeteria, but we were confused because they were serving food and then suddenly stopped. They turned us away. We think it's because they were serving breakfast and needed to prepare for the lunch menu... I don't know.
So anyway, we went to the store and bought some food items, and then we returned to the hotel to attempt eating lunch at the second-floor Chinese restaurant. We couldn't read the menu, so Michael pointed to something at random and I pointed to a picture of vegetables. (ovo)b The servers came back and asked if we wanted rice, so we said yes. It turned out that the mystery item Michael had pointed to was a very strange soup. O.o We avoided it for the most part, but devoured the vegetables and rice~ (^o^)
"Apparently Vivian is bringing a friend with her."
"I've discovered that a lot of things here are past their expiration date. Like the Pocky/Pepero/Pejoy. =A= Admittedly, I am counting down the days 'til we go home. The days go by slowly here... I suppose it's a good thing for me though. I'll be very glad to get back to CGing and familiar things and, more importantly, my family. ;v; (Actually, I later discovered that in China things are printed with the dates of their creation, and a lot of food items tell you how long they're good for, so you can look at the date of manufacturing and compare it to the current date to see how far along the product is on the expiration cycle.)
"Vivian brought her friend Barbara, and I studied with Vivian. It was quite nice. :) We exchanged email and got Tom's phone number also. (Tom is the boy we were supposed to meet before but didn't.) Now we have nothing else to do for the evening~ We'll have cup noodles for dinner and probably watch TV, but otherwise... I guess we'll walk around or something... (=u=)/? I want to go to the park with Joshua (my brother), but he is not in China! XD He'd better be coming up with dance moves to that song, and Connie (my step-aunt) had better be painting! LOL"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today we went to a bread factory in Zhuhai City to talk about the Bible and God to the shop owners and some others. The funny thing is...we were trying to take the bus to Simon's house but we misunderstood him--he said it was 45 minutes from his house to the bread place. But what Michael had asked him was "How long is a bus ride from here to your house?" so when he said "Forty-five minutes" we were thinking something completely different than what he was thinking. We rode to the very end of the bus line. ^^; Actually, it worked out pretty well, because aside from being next to a garbage facility (Seriously? Putting a garbage place next to a bus stop in the middle of town? Who even does that? we weren't far from the bread place. Simon picked us up via car and we got straightened out as to what everyone meant...he actually lives only fifteen minutes away, not forty-five. ^^; Then he picked up Elaine and a new face for us, Ivy, at the next bus stop.
After the discussion, the chefs made lunch for everyone and gave out free bread! It was left over from the day's production. We also got some delicious, double-layered cheesecake.
Then, Ivy and Elaine wanted to study English with us, so Simon dropped us off at the hotel. But since we were a bit tired and Comito was coming at 2:30, all four of us actually took a nap! XD Then Comito came and I worked with her while Michael worked with Elaine and Ivy. After Elaine and Ivy left a few hours later, Comito stayed and talked with us for quite a while. Close to 7:15 we left for the bus stop because Michael and I were going to ride bus 69 back to Simon's house for singing and a devotional, but this time with better directions and a clearer understanding of where he lives. But the bus fun was not over yet.
There were three bus 69s lined up at the station when we got down there. The first one left without our noticing, and without knowing whether or not another bus 69 would go (or when), we ran after the first one for two stops before giving up. |D (People must have been thinking "Crazy foreigners..." Ahaha.) I prayed for another one to come soon, and it came! So we got on and rooooode~
When we got to Simon's house, we were directed to the right house by two girls: Myra and her cousin, Betty. The singing was supposed to start at 7:30, but I have no idea when we actually got there... Elaine, Coco, and Kiki were there also. :) We sang and both enjoyed it very much. ^w^ It was a lot of fun. ♥
Simon posed a question to the group that had been posed earlier in the day at the discussion in the bread factory: What is/How do you explain the difference between the Chinese gods and the one, true God? It was a good discussion! I think it really gives you confidence in knowing that what you believe about God is true; that he IS the one and only and that he created everything. Actually, when we got back to the hotel that night, I was reading my Bible and found some verses on this very topic in Habbakuk (2:18-20)! After the discussion, Shirley, Simon's wife, brought out some VERY AMAZING pumpkin pie. It was so good that whipped cream ruined it. It was sooooooo good. ;v;
We took a hired car back to the hotel, which was a little scary simply because it was similar to a taxi ride and I just don't like taxis. (Not that anything bad has happened to me in a taxi or whatever...they just scare me.) ^^; But for most of the ride we weren't alone, so that helped a lot.
We arrived at the hotel somewhere around 11:30 PM! I hadn't even been aware of the time at all! Needless to say, it was very easy for me to go to sleep! Oh, and it was quite funny--that day, whenever we slept, it rained. So we couldn't ever benefit from its coolness...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"IT'S SATURDAY AGAIN. Felt like it took so long to get here! LOL~" Michael and I got up early because we were going to try to use the library computers again, but Simon hadn't texted or called us in regard to it. (We told him about not being able to use the computers and he said he would see what his contact there--Mrs. Feng?--could do.) So we were in the hotel all morning, watching TV. Except Michael went outside because she couldn't stand being cooped up for so long... She literally ran around the campus, came back, and took a second shower. XD
Some pictures she took while out:

It's amazing that all of this is around our hotel!! The other buildings in the above photo are from school campus(es).
At 12:30 we ate lunch at the UIC cafeteria (the one we had tried to eat at before) with Coco, from whom I discovered that cafeterias are called canteens in China. Apparently. Another thing I learned is that Coco's Chinese name means 'coconut wind,' so her English name is Coco--from 'coconut'! How cute! >w<
"Tomorrow she is going to Malaysia with others from her graduating class. I hope she has fun and stays safe. :3 Soon Betty is coming for an English study, but I don't know if she is bringing someone with her or not. Comito is coming this evening at 7:00...
"The sky is quite overcast and we've heard thunder; one would assume it would rain again. Coco said that a typhoon came through not too far away from here, and I do remember seeing a Chinese TV report on flooding somewhere, so... OAO I would like for it to rain. And it just thundered again."
Betty came just after I finished writing that sentence. XD Her cousin Myra and another girl whose name I don't remember came with her, so we did a group lesson. Afterwards, we talked for a while about the development of the Christian groups--mostly the Catholic group and how it's different from the "normal" churches--and Betty fell asleep! XD (There are strange Christian groups... >.> I was born Catholic and ended up in a First Nazarene church, and now I am in a reforming Church of Christ church... There seems to be a large Catholic following in China, and they were asking about things pertaining to the traditions that Catholics place high importance on. Having been in a Catholic church for some years, I was able to provide more information on this.)
"After they left, Michael and I went to the store (which for some reason does not have paper towels) before Comito came. Comito spent hours with us teaching us a Chinese song! It was fun, but we didn't get to do the English lesson... ^^; I don't really mind though. It really was fun. (^o^)"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"We were the first ones to arrive at the family meeting today, which was cool, and it rained all morning, which was also cool. ^w^ It was much more comfortable than the typical Zhuhai summer heat!
"We ate lunch at the same place again, but this time I ordered tomato and beef with rice. Of course, I didn't eat the beef. XD Afterwards, we had to go back to Hope's apartment because Michael had forgotten her ring. There we met Hope's sister/friend/I'm not sure; her name is Brittany and she has a 19 month old son named Caleb. She just got back from Singapore a few days ago and she wants to show us Macau. (ovo)b Very nice.
"Sunny and Rainy (new faces!) rode with us back to the campus because they are students at UIC, though they didn't come to the hotel. Since they are UIC students, we asked them about the password problem we had, wondering if maybe there was a guest password we could use. There isn't! They graciously gave us their password information so we could sign on... ;A; I was pretty nervous about that, but we'll see how it goes. Thanks. ;u; Ever so grateful.
"Michael and I took a nap and set the alarm for 5:00 so Michael could do some more laundry. We ate dinner in the room... We basically stayed in the hotel the whole evening. I tried several times to start a new file on the Pokemon Soul Silver game that I had brought, but even though I pressed the buttons to allow it to restart, it wouldn't let me erase the old file. =A= So I started a new game on the Yu-gi-oh! 5D's game and played that. I beat the first person, Rally, in one try, but I haven't beaten anyone else yet. >.>"
This entry also says that I went to bed at 9:00.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Both Michael and I had a rather restless sleep; we kept waking up and it was storming so loudly all night! The thunder was so...explosive! It's still been raining off and on this morning.
We actually woke up before the alarm clock sounded, so yeah. After a round of showers, we sat around until about 10:45, when we went to the bank across the street during a break in the rain to see if they could change money over for us, but we discovered that no, they can't. They said that we have to go to the Bank of China. So we came back to the hotel and had a snack: one apple, peanut butter and crackers, and some Pocky. :D (This is when I discovered that the date on products is not the expiration date, but the production date, and that most things there have a shelf life of twelve months or something.) How interesting.
This particular day was one of those that was so packed with activity that when we got back to the hotel I was far too tired to write in my journal. ^^; I wrote down some notes instead to help me remember.
We met Brittany--I think we went to Hope's apartment to meet her but I can't say for sure--and along with Caleb we headed into town to look around. Brittany wanted to take us to the mountain and to the beach, but she needed her brother to drive us to those places, so via walking and a bus we went into the city and walked around a mall (we had to wait for her brother to become available). Brittany bought some washcloths and towels for Caleb and talked to some acquaintences, and then we headed back outside to meet her brother, who graciously took time out of his busy day to drive us to the mountain. I took some video of the way there:
{insert video here}
There was some really nice music playing in the car. At some points it sounded familiar, but I don't think I'd heard it before, so I don't know why. ^^; Anyway, Brittany's brother gave us some water (seems everyone keeps fresh, unopened bottled water in their cars...), which was nice, and we actually drove halfway up the mountain, which made me a bit nervous. I always wonder how the car manages to keep pulling itself up instead of gravity sucking it downhill... It's like the magic of a plane flying. Wow.
Anyway, we reached a certain point on the mountain that was somewhat level and had a guest house-type of building. One could eat there in the middle of their trip up (or down) the mountain, but we were in a slight time constraint and didn't. I also seem to remember Brittany saying something about this place having a spring with good water that people could collect, and that was part of the reason there was that building there, but it's not in my notes so once again, I can't say for sure. ^^; I wish I'd fought my sleepiness back then and tried to write the full entry. orz
We walked part of the way up the mountain only to get to a good vantage point so we could see a panorama of Zhuhai, Macau, and Hong Kong all in one place, and Michael and I took some pictures. We didn't go up any farther because it would have been even more dangerous for Caleb to be up there, and dangerous for the things he might be holding (he dropped something once while we were standing there and there was no way it could be retrieved ^^;). After we returned to the car and went back down the mountain, Brittany's brother dropped us off at the beach. We thanked him for his time and he left; Brittany gave us some bakery bread she had with her and we walked into the sand towards the ocean.
The sand there is a dark color, and very rocky until you get farther out, where it becomes soft like the sand I'm used to seeing (feeling?). The water is blue, but slightly muddy in color in places. Apparently they are filling up the water in certain areas with earth so that it will eventually become land to build on, which accounts for the muddy color. :(
On that small beach is Zhuhai's trademark statue of a fisher girl; of course we took pictures of that. ;3
While we were on the beach, some middle school girls wanted to take pictures of us and with us. It was adorable; they were so excited and we were just kind of like, "Um...hi..." XD
Across the street from there is an expensive restaurant about to serve dinner...which Brittany promptly treated us to. oAo I felt bad about it costing so much, but the food really was really good. We got our own room with an elegant setup: a large, round table with plenty of space and dishes and a Lazy Suzan, comfortable chairs, a TV, and a bathroom. Yes. A bathroom.
As I said, the food was REALLY good and we left feeling quite happy (though bad about the expensiveness of the place; Brittany said it was fine, but still ^^;). We returned to the hotel after that, I'm sure; I don't have anything else written in my journal for this day, so...yeah.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

"So it rained again, and we went shopping again because we ran out of crackers and I ran out of peanut butter. We both had a drawing time in the evening and had hilarious conversation. Lunch was at UIC cafeteria, and after that we checked our email. Michael checked hers first because I still felt uneasy about it. I read an English newspaper called China Daily instead. Then I went to check on Michael and ended up using the computer after her while she logged onto the one to the left of me. Later, Simon met us in the hotel lobby and personally exchanged money for Michael--he gave her 650 RMB from his own wallet and she gave him $100. I guess he can now exchange that to RMB again... He encouraged us to encourage the students we met with and to try keeping a record of our hours available and hours worked. So far, this week isn't looking too good student-wise..."

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

"We're going to do laundry today, check email and eat lunch...probably at the UIC cafeteria again; not sure. After that, we need to do something besides stay in the room! We might have three people coming tomorrow. Friday we'll go to the bread factory again, and Saturday we go to Shenzhen.
"Tom decided he wanted to come today at 1:00 PM so he did...and he came by himself. He went through five lessons and asked more questions about the history and origin than anything else. It was very odd because we barely asked any of our questions pertaining to the lessons, and when Tom left, he left abruptly. o.o But oh well... I hope we helped him somehow. He did say that the English used in the workbook made it a lot easier to understand.
"Ah, yes. We checked email sometime after 11:00 AM, but I hadn't gotten any replies. We were going to eat lunch at 12:20 and I was worried we wouldn't get back to the hotel in time, so when we went, I didn't order anything. Michael did order something and she shared with me (thank you!); thus we were able to eat lunch in half the time it would have taken, and got back with time to spare.
"In the evening, we played cards in the room for an hour and I won both games! XD After that, we ate dinner at UIC again, and then we walked around the campus before returning to the hotel and proceeding to talk for three hours."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Still only one student so far. We will study with Elaine tomorrow after the trip to the bread factory...
"I took a shower this morning and we ate breakfast (with eggs again!) at the hotel's Chinese restaurant. Later, the cleaning lady came, so we went outside and walked around the back of the hotel while I combed my still-wet hair. Then it started raining. Luckily we had taken an umbrella, but since both of us were underneath it, both of us ended up being half-dry and half-wet. XD Since it was just a light shower, though, we didn't get too wet. We ate lunch (cup noodles) in the room.
"Now it's a bit after 1:00 and we're waiting... At 2:00 we go to meet Brittany because we're going somewhere with her. The thing is...neither Michael nor I are quite sure where."
We went to the orphanage that Brittany volunteers at! It was very interesting to see... It's right across the street from an elementary school in an older part of the city. Lots of people sell things out of their houses there. In places it looks shady, but that might just be because of the age of some of the buildings. I really felt as though I was in a "lived-in" Zhuhai rather than in what's typically seen by most foreigners. It was a special feeling, I think. :3
We walked around there a lot because we had to take some buses and a taxi to get there. We had missed the express bus from Hope's apartment because Michael and I were an hour late getting to the apartment. ^^; We didn't leave the hotel early enough to catch the first bus, so we had to wait for one of the other ones to move. (The drivers pulled up, turned off the buses, and took a thirty-minute break. -A- Talk about bad timing...)
Rewinding in time... We first went to a place that was further into the city that had some shops and...I think there was an adoption or babysitting service there or something... I don't remember exactly. There we met Brittany's mom, who took Caleb for Brittany. (He was going to stay with Brittany's parents for a day or two to give Brittany a bit of a break.) Her mom gave us yogurt drinks (I want to say they were peanut-flavored...) and then we parted ways.
I don't remember if we took a bus from there to another stop and then a taxi, or what, because I didn't write that part down in my journal, but I remember walking for a few minutes until we got to the orphanage itself. Brittany talked to the officer at the gate, who let all three of us in, and then we quickly went inside.
The orphanage looks similar to a school; it has classrooms and a playground area, including a small basketball court and tennis court. We met a few of the kids, many of whom are special needs kids, and looked around for a few more minutes before going into the director's office, where Brittany spoke with the director about renewing her contract/license so she could continue to help out there. I wish I had taken pictures... ;A;
We left the orphanage just as school was letting out for the day, so there were kids everywhere. Some who passed us would try to say something in English (basically just "Hi" or "Hello") and then giggle afterwards. One actually managed to say "Hi. How are you?" but then he ran off. XD I was like, "Uhh...good, but you didn't stay to listen to my answer so it doesn't matter. Have a good evening."
After walking around for a little while, we met up with Hope and went someplace to eat. It was within a mall of sorts, and near a bus station. Once again, I have no pictures. Forgive me. orz But, well, we had some hotpot! ^^ Hotpot is basically a pot full of boiling hot water, and you have lots of food items in separate dishes, which you place into the water. It cooks at your table! Once the food is cooked, the water becomes a soup so you can then eat that too. It was pretty good, but I could not finish even half of the bowl. XD (In my defense, the bowl was the size of my head or bigger. People might tell you that there are small portions in China. I would have ask them where the heck they went.)
After dinner, it was decided that we should go burn off the calories we'd just consumed by going bowling! But it was getting dark so we had to hurry. The bowling place we went to is much larger than the ones I've seen in the States, but it works pretty much the same: you pay for your rented bowling shoes and a certain number of games. In our case, Hope had a season pass or something, which let us bowl either for free or for a very, very low price for as long as we wanted (until closing time, that is). Again, I'm not sure if it was for free or a low price as I hadn't written about that in my journal; I only wrote that we went.
It looked similar to ones I've seen here in the States, but a lot cleaner. The bathrooms looked old, however, and were dark...and "Asian style" so...yeah. ^^; That was definitely different from the ones here. Again, I have no pictures...sorry... ;A; As far as the actual bowling lanes and balls, it was one of the few times that Michael and I saw items labeled "Made in the U.S." XD
We had a lot of fun, and Hope tried to rescue me from my embarrassing bowling fail with her expert advice (she's honestly such a pro ;v;/) but I still did poorly the entire time. orz I'm sorry, Hope! It's not you; it's me!
I had my camera with me; God knows why I didn't take pictures... I only took this short video:
[insert video here]
After we had cleaned up our area and turned in our shoes, we realized that we would have to hurry if we were to make it back to our humble abodes that night--buses would stop running soon. D: So we ran everywhere, checking each bus stop to see if our needed bus would stop there, but we had little luck until finally we came across one and waited, hoping for the best. We thanked God because our bus came and we were able to pile aboard...I don't know for sure if it was the last one for the night, but I'm fairly certain that it was.

Friday, June 17, 2011

We got up early, got to the bus stop early, got on the bus early, and arrived at Simon's bus stop early, where he picked us up on time only to arrive at the bread factory early, which ended up being okay because they had finished their baking early!
As they were clearing off the table so we could all gather around it, a gecko without a tail was uncovered! oAo It was definitely a big surprise. The gecko escaped unharmed, though I have no idea what might have happened to it after it ran off...maybe the factory's cat found it? ^^;
Anyway, we had a nice discussion about why we believe in God and how he changes our lives. We finished up early, or so it seemed, and so we had to wait a bit for lunch...but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was exactly what I had been wanting to eat the day before: rice, carrots, and lettuce. Well, what we got wasn't exactly lettuce, but it was a leafy green that tasted a bit like broccoli. That worked. There was also tofu with chives, which I mixed up into the rice. The factory's cat kept meowing while we were eating. ;v; It's a rather thin but very cute cat.
Elaine studied some English with us, and then we left for the market. Again, God knows why I took no pictures. *hangs head in shame* Sorry... (Michael took pictures though. I need her pictures...) I kept dozing off on the bus, much to my surprise and chagrin, but once we reached the market I was energized again. I was amazed! There were so many things there! Fruit, vegetables, meat and meat-ish products like chicken feet (ew), eggs, trinkets...all sorts of things! Elaine bought us some lychee fruit, which neither of us had eaten before, and I will tell you that if you can ever get some fresh lychee, EAT IT. It is soooo delicious! After returning to the States, my mom and I went to a local Asian market and got some canned lychee; it does not compare. But...the more lychee you eat in one sitting, the sweeter they taste, so I'd recommend having just a few.
Myra and Kelly met us at the market, and we bought some veggies and stuff before heading back. Michael and Myra took taxi-motorcycles, but I was too afraid (I will only ride a motorcycle if my dad is driving it!) so I took a covered rickshaw (electric motor, I believe) with Elaine and Kelly. It was really interesting; we were low to the ground and yet on the street with regular vehicles and motorcycles. oAo The lady driving it kept honking at people to move out of the way, and sometimes people would ignore her and keep walking along at a snail-like pace. It was funny, but the horn was really annoying. ^^; And the cover of the rickshaw was nice, because it started sprinkling rain while we were going along, so we basically stayed dry. ^^
The rickshaw lady dropped us off at Myra's apartment, which is in the same neighboorhood as Simon's, and we headed inside to begin preparing food for that night's big dinner at Simon's. We prepared the vegetables, and then Myra took Michael and I over to the couch and taught us about Chinese tea while Elaine and Kelly continued with preparations.
Actually making the dumplings was fun too! I learned a lot. We didn't have enough dumpling bread to use up all the filling, though... My favorite dumpling out of the three kinds we made was carrot and corn. :3
Betty came, and then we went to Simon's house for dinner, where we met many more of Shirley and Myra's colleagues (they work at a school). Myra is very good at playing the piano! She is so natural with it~
I did take some pictures of this evening...just not during the day. I...don't know why. ^^;

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"So it has rained every day this week. XD We got up at 6:00 AM and completed our packing, left out suitcases in a room that the hotel has specifically for luggage, and then left with the group of people going to Shenzhen for the seminar! Vivian, Myra, Kelly, Elaine, Hope, Simon, Shirley, and a boy and two other girls are here. Um...maybe two more, because I heard them say there were twelve of us going, not counting Michael and myself because we are staying at the same hotel as the seminar team, and that's what they were talking about.
"The seminar is held in the main room of a small apartment. The woman who lives there often tutors many students, so people are used to hearing lots of noise from that room; no one will be suspicious.
"We listened to the first part (in the middle it got boring and I nearly fell asleep, but then it got interesting again), which was on recharging from work and other things having to do with working and functioning in the workplace with God's standards. Then we ate lunch there, and after that, Cheryl and Ben (the son of one of the seminar teachers) took Michael and me to the hotel. Even though this hotel room is smaller than the others we've stayed at, I like this one the best because it's so much nicer. The beds are comfortable and the bathroom/shower door actually closes! We won't have a lake in the bathroom when we take our showers here!
"Um...so then we went to Cheryl's room and called Ben up there too since he was in his room, and we set out to find the nearby garden. It was a long walk and it took both time and effort, and we had to ask for directions once, but we finally found it. I don't know how it is so hard to find because it is a pretty big park, but whatever. ^^; We looked around and took pictures, and then we headed back to the location of the seminar. On the way we stopped at a McDonald's in a large mall so that Ben could get something to eat. By the way, the McDonald's here are SO FANCY...like, glowing tables and fancy light fixtures fancy. o.o
[picture here]
"We returned to the seminar location just as they were setting up to take a group picture, so we were able to join in! ^o^ After that we went to a restaurant. With so many people it was a bit of a challenge, but since tables had been reserved beforehand by some of the girls who attended the seminar, we were able to get there and get seated without too much trouble. Seminar attendees also went to the restaurant, so we ended up taking up around three large tables!
"Because it was a pre-decided menu we were eating from, there was a lot of meat on the table, which meant I had to search for vegetables and eat four bowls of rice. (They were smallish bowls, mind you.) We talked for a while before leaving. Having split from the others at the crosswalk by the restauraunt, the group in which we were traveling was not so large, which allowed us to move faster.
"We stopped at Starbucks so Ben and his father could get frappicinos or something, and Michael and I got ice cream at the convenience store near the hotel. At the hotel, I got to Skype with everyone at home and it was very lovely." ♥

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"AMAZING BREAKFAST OF DESTINY. There were vegetarian noodles and rice, sweet bean buns, toast, cereal, cauliflower, fruit, and boiled eggs, and Michael and I were so happy that we went back and got seconds! We got to Skype with our families again; after that we went to the seminar. The lunch break was McDonald's and they ordered a fish sandwich upon my request. (Thanks!) Yes--in China, McDonald's, KFC, and many other places like them deliver. o.o
"The first half of the seminar was more interesting than the second half, I think. Michael and I both took notes on it. Since the second half wasn't as interesting, I was glad I had thought to bring and listen to my iPod. I could still hear the seminar, but I had background music. Much better.
"Our group left to get some delicious bakery bread to eat on the way back (we also got fresh corn on the cob from a vendor and some drinks) but we had to eat all of it before we got in the van! The driver wouldn't let us get in until we had finished. :( Well, it makes sense. He didn't want his vehicle to get food all over it, I guess. Once we finished, we hopped back in the van and headed back to Zhuhai, and to a new hotel room.
"Yep. We had to get a new room because we had to check out in order to save a night's pay, and because the hotel will not let you hold a room. Someone must occupy the room. Ugh. This particular room was gross, really. Dx It had spiders in the curtains and the room overall smelled musty; the bathroom had mildew or something because it didn't smell very good either. It was also missing a desk. D: The only good thing was the light in the closet worked, unlike our previous room."

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Ate breakfast at the hotel's Chinese restaurant and managed to actually understand some Chinese, which was cool. We successfully ordered rice porridge and eggs. Nice. (=w=)b
"Then we wandered around the BNU campus for two hours. We located the BNU store, but it's very far away from the hotel. We ate lunch after dropping off the crackers and cup noodles we'd bought. Then we stopped by the closer store (the one across the street) to get distilled water and bread and came back to the hotel to straighten things up. Comito came at 2:30. We talked and everything... She read one lesson because we sort of nudged it at her, but she really wanted to work on her pronunciation instead (though she did ask a few questions about the text). At about 7:30, we went to the UIC cafeteria and ate dinner--I only got rice--and we paid for Comito's food because we were the ones who invited her to go with us. Once we got back to the hotel, she left.
"Comito's 'English' name is the Japanese pronunciation of her Chinese name, which means 'peach spring.' The full pronunciation would be 'Momo Haru' but the characters can pronounced more than one way. We talked about several things while she was there, including Father's Day, and we had fun taking pictures with her phone. (She took most of them, of course.)" :3

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Michael washed some clothes... Originally we had nothing planned for today, but we just got great news! At 1:45 Simon is going to pick us up and we are going to the beach because Lucky wants to be baptized! And after that she will let us use her computer so Michael can email some pictures to Pink. :D
"Lucky decided she wanted to copy all the pictures on Michael's camera to her computer. ^^; We met her friend Sara and visited Sara's dorm room as well. I took some pictures of Lucky's dorm room, and one of Sara's only because I wanted a picture of Sara, Michael, and Lucky. c:
"After that, we ate dinner at the BNU cafeteria (I actually managed to get some fish AND some broccoli!) and walked back to the hotel. We took several pictures along the way. :3 Lucky and Sara dropped us off in the parking lot and headed back to their dorms.
"I drew a lot today compared to the other days we've been here. XD I also wrote some." ^^

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Nick is supposed to come down to Zhuhai today. Tomorrow Brittany is going to take us to Macau. I don't know if Nick will go with us or not.
"We have nothing planned for today, but we do want to check our email. I think I would like to draw and write some more, also.
"We checked email and there was a butterfly in the library! Without its wings spread, it was almost the size of my hand! It was so pretty, fluttering all around the plants in the front entrance...
"Then we walked to the store and bought some bread buns with filling, and a bread cake and 'pastry' bars (they're like granola bars, but really flaky).
"Actually, Nick is coming tomorrow, and we now have nothing to do today... UGH. TTATT It's only 2:30..."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Brittany is taking us to Macau tomorrow because the rain here is relentless. Michael and I ate lunch at the UIC cafeteria and then spent several hours in the library checking email and reading books. :3 At a break in the rain (shortly after 3:30 or so) we went (ran?) back to the hotel. I read the Bible and Michael has been drawing and eating sunflower seeds. Lol."

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Nick came with us to Macau~ Cheryl and the seminar team has already gone back to the States now. "Well, we rushed again to get to Brittany's only to discover that the bus that stops there, picks up passengers, and goes to Macau didn't come that day. So we had to take a normal bus, and then a taxi. Once at the border, we only changed over 200 yuan, but it was plenty. Now we have souvenirs!
"Macau and Hong Kong money is actually interchangeable. o.o How...interesting.
"So...after all that we had to go through the security check and hand over our departure cards, then go to another gate and fill out arrival/entrance cards, and finally we got on a shuttle bus to the Venetian, which is a miniature, fake Venice-hotel-casino place. On the way there we got free packs of playing cards. More souvenirs. Yay.
"We walked around inside the Venetian and ate lunch there. Brittany, Michael, and Nick ordered Macau food, but I ordered Japanese food--with naruto! Inside the building, part of the ceiling was painted to look like the sky, which was cool until you took notice of the sprinklers. XD
"We moved to the next place fairly quickly by taking the bus back to the original station and getting on a regular bus that would take us to another place. We headed into town and saw some of the older buildings, including a Catholic church and old meeting houses and stuff. Of course, since Macau was a Portuguese colony, instead of English/Chinese being displayed on signs, there was Portuguese/Chinese, and everyone drove on the left side of the road. Also, so many people had some form of bike; whether motorcycle or mo-ped, bike or motor-powered bike. We saw some really pretty lotus flowers around a fountain in the center of the historic location we were at. (Lotus root is really delicious, by the way. We ate some before at the fancy restaurant Brittany had taken us to the day we went up the mountain and visited the beach.)
"We rode a bus again to get to another place that had the remains of a church, and that was nice (read:okay), but what was most interesting was both on the mountain above it and on the street leading up to it. Above it was a courtyard area with old cannons all pointing conveniently towards a prominent casino building. The street was filled with shops and had so many fine samples of cookies and pastries and many other bakery items that were really good. There was even a seaweed (nori) dessert thing that had a thin layer of something similar to fortune cookieness and it was rolled up into a swirl. Inside of that was the nori!
"Anyway, after we went up on the mountain and toured the tourist center, we came back down and headed across the border, which took longer than we wanted because it was rush hour. (People who work in Macau from mainland China and vice versa were crossing over along with us miscellaneous visitors.) But it was as we expected, because Nick told Brittany we needed to try to get back before 4PM since we had dinner plans with Simon, but Brittany kept insisting that 5PM was okay. Well, it wasn't. Late we were, by an hour, and more than that even, since the taxi we took there from the border got a bit lost since we had only seen Simon's apartment from the back and he was trying to at it from the front and I DON'T KNOW."
Since we would be leaving the day after next, many people we had met before returned to eat dinner with us. We stayed for a long while and chatted~ We talked about so many things that I couldn't write them down even if I wanted to. ^^; But we laughed a lot and it was fun. :3 Everyone was a bit sad that we would be leaving, and we were too, really. When we were saying our goodbyes it turned somewhat tearful. ^^; But altogether it was a happy ending--albeit a late one...we got back to the hotel really late..."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"So we were originally supposed to leave today but didn't, and perhaps it's for the best because we got to sleep in late and then go spend the day at Simon's house and wash clothes.
"Actually, we weren't supposed to sleep in late. >.>
"And we hadn't quite planned on staying the whole day, but it was fine. :)
"Simon's apartment is on the top floor, which has a rooftop deck strung with clotheslines. Instead of a washer and a dryer, he has two washing machines and no dryer (something like this is common--to not have a dryer), so all of our clothes got air dried. We actually had to wash our clothes by hand in a tub of detergent and water from a hose, and then put them in the washing machine, which spun them around so they would dry faster. We dodged bugs, bright sun, and raindrops (weird combo, I know) to hang up our clothes, but eventually everything was clean and dry! ^o^
"We entertained the idea of going swimming, but I was uncertain... I kinda just wanted to stay inside. We almost watched The King's Speech but as much as I wanted to watch it, I was partially afraid of getting a headache (sometimes movies do that) and partially wanting to watch it for the first time with my family rather than here. I was more inclined to sleep. In retrospect, how boring. ^^; We did return Simon's phone and everything too...
"Their family was getting ready to go on vacation, so the kids were packing and all that. It was interesting to watch a bit of daily life." xP
I don't have any further notes on this day, so I don't really remember what we did for dinner... We did go back to our hotel to pack our life back into our suitcases. I tried to get most of it done that night; I didn't want to have to bother with it in the morning!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We had to get up earlier to finish getting ready and had an hour before we needed to leave, so we went to the store across the street and bought some bread to eat. Michael shoved the rest of her stuff in her bag, we turned our keys in, and left! oAo
Getting our luggage on and off the bus proved to be difficult. Well, for me. Especially when the aisle got blocked and the driver didn't realize we needed to get off so we almost missed the stop. ^^; We knew we weren't going to make it to Hope's apartment by 10 AM, but that didn't mean we weren't going to try! Luckily, a woman was waiting for us across the street from the bus stop at the other bus stop, and she helped us with our luggage the rest of the way...street-crossing and everything! Thanks. ;A;
Oh, my heavy suitcase. =A=
Steven Chen substituted for Simon, but he did most of the talking in Chinese and didn't explain to us in English like Simon would do, so aside from Nick's opening lesson about attributes of one's personality, I was very bored and read the Bible in my lap instead. We didn't eat lunch with everyone because of time constraints, but we exchanged words and emails and hugs, and I met another Catherine! XD Hope gave us the umbrella and said that we could have it so whenever we use itt we will think of her. ;v;
We rode the bus to Gongbei--it was so crowded! For part of the time, I had to half-sit on Nick's suitcase when we were finally able to move to the rear of the bus, and because I was only half-sitting, my legs were SO SORE. XD; We reached the airport shuttle bus office at the perfect time and were able to get on the bus just before it left! On the bus we ate some yummy trail mix (mostly chocolate!) and a leftover bread. Then we dashed through the airport to get tickets, ate spaghetti (but Nick had a sandwich), went through security, and finally got on the plane headed for Beijing! We got there somewhat late because our plane arrived in Zhuhai late, so we had to wait for those people to get off before we could get on. We were going to take a bus to the train station and then get a taxi, but there was confusion with the bus and we ended up taking the airport subway. (Bev and Meg had already come through and were waiting at the hotel. Bev was convinced that they had not taken an airport shuttle bus. But they had. =A=) Then, after arriving at the station, we miraculously piled onto a rickshaw--with a motor--and the guy took us to the hotel.
Bev and Meg had gone out to eat then, so they brought back some food per request so we could have something for dinner. My favorite was the bread with leeks/chives/something chopped up and baked into the center. Yum~ They were called cottonseed cakes or something, but...I don't know. XD
We ended up going to bed so very late... >.>

Monday, June 27, 2011

I didn't write down anything but a few notes on this day, so I'm pulling directly from my memory and photos. ^^:

In the morning, after breakfast, we discussed what we wanted to do for the next few days. We could choose from three things: the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall of China. After our adventure the day before, we didn't really feel like climbing thousands of stairs on the Great Wall, so we decided that for this day we would go to the Summer Palace.
We headed out, stopping at a McDonald's upon Bev's request; she wanted to buy us all some ice cream. So each of us got an azuki bean McFlurry, which was quite interesting. XD After that, we located the Summer Palace and headed inside the admissions gates to buy tickets as well as a map of the palace area. As soon as we did, random Chinese people came up to us offering to be our tour guides. We turned them down, but one lady was persistent. She insisted that she knew a lot about the place and would show us around and take group pictures of us for a low price. We kept saying no, but Bev wanted a tour guide and managed to get the price lowered so it was actually reasonable for us to pay her. She walked us through the gardens and over bridges and other areas, pointing out things of interest and giving history tidbits, which was nice...but she moved so quickly that we'd have to jog to catch up with her after taking our own pictures and things. She was really quite annoying, to be honest.
We stepped onto a boat that had a printing service, I think--where they burn/print something onto wood and you buy it from them--but left quite quickly, which I was quite fine with as there were many other people there. Finally we ditched the lady and paid her, and moved on to another area of the Summer Palace that we could enjoy at our own pace.
We relaxed underneath a pagoda next to the lake and talked, and of course salespeople tried hitting us up, wanting to sell us maps, cards, fans, hats...anything that they could (and nothing that we hadn't already seen a hundred other people selling before). Bev caved easily and bought several things, and Michael bought one thing, but I just smiled and refused.
After a little while, I suddenly noticed out of the corner of my eye that someone was taking a picture of me. Upon further investigation, this person was not only taking a picture, they were using a professional camera. Not only that, they were dressed as a hippie! Yes! This Chinese (I assume, anyway) guy had the flowered shirt, billowing pants, and all! He seemed very nice, and took many pictures of Michael and I... I think he liked my hair? Anyway, he showed me one of the pictures he had taken of me and I kid you not, it looked just like it could be the cover of a magazine. I was very impressed. So we took a picture of him and with him, both with his camera (which his assistant used) and with our own. I...really felt like I was doing a photoshoot. This guy took so many pictures! I never saw the pictures he took of Michael, but I'm sure they looked great too. ovo
There is this corridor at the palace gardens that is called the Long Corridor, but I call it the Corridor of Extreme Longness. It is filled with tourists (both Asian and other), and vendors trying to sell things. We walked alongside the corridor rather than through it; after all it is open to the air. Some kids were running around and birds were hopping from rock to rock on the water feature that was full of idle, algae-covered water. Despite all of the commotion, it really seemed to be a relaxing place, especially after we had ditched that tour guide lady. It really is a long corridor, though.
We headed back to the hotel fairly quickly after returning to the pagoda by the lake and saying hi to the hippie guy again. By this time we were tired and didn't want to walk down any more long corridors. XD We took a shortcut to the nearest exit (I think it was the western exit? I don't remember exactly) and took some buses back "home".
I'm not sure which restaurant we went to, but we ordered several dishes and devoured them. ;v;

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I again only wrote down a few notes on this day, so again I'm pulling directly from my memory and photos.

"So Nick retrieved his wallet from the taxi company and ended up calling to wake us up at 8:30 instead of 7:00. We had to rush to breakfast! At breakfast, Bev brought a student who had recently returned to China from MTSU, a Chinese girl whose English name is Patty."

I don't remember exactly when Nick had lost his wallet, but it hadn't been but a day or two before he got it back. He checked it and everything was inside. While we were eating, he told the story of how he got it back. It was a long and funny process! The taxi driver had to drive all the way across town to the other taxi company, and wasn't allowed to park in certain places. He had to keep circling until finally he found somewhere to park. Then he had to change his shirt because his company was a rival company, and only then was he able to go in to talk to the manager, who was eating breakfast. After a while, Nick finally emerged with his wallet!

On this day we decided to tour the Great Wall, but without any guides. When Nick had been on the Great Wall with the seminar team, they had wanted to go on a tour, which had been much more expensive and far less interesting because the tour people have you stop at expensive places where they expect you to buy souvenirs, tea, and other things (the prices are outrageous, just for tourists ♥). A much cheaper alternative would be for us to walk and take cheaper buses, so that's what we did. We had to wait a little while for the specific bus that would take us to the Great Wall, but it was okay because I then got to take a nap. |D
There is a whole tourist shopping/eating area before you even get to the part of the Great Wall where you buy tickets to go up! We ate some gyoza and drank some tea before we went so we wouldn't pass out--but we didn't eat enough to where we would get sick.
Bev was wanting to go up on the lift and walk down, and I was getting a headache so that sounded good, but in the end I decided to walk! Meg went with Bev, and Patty, Michael, Nick, and I started the trek up the mountain--er, the stairs. My headache subsided and I took many pictures! And...many people took pictures of me! XD Even some Korean guys stopped me for a picture.
At some points on the Wall, you almost have to crawl up because it's so steep! It made me laugh half the time; I never got frustrated with it because it was just too funny! On the way down, it was the same. I actually walked while leaning backwards so that I was closer to being parallel to the steps, and it made it a lot easier to walk even though I was bending backwards! XD
Bev and Meg walked down with us. The funny thing is, we arrived at the top before they did--and they rode the lift up! We all turned around together and headed back down, but Megan, Michael, and I reached the bottom first. Bev was having some difficulty due to the heat, so Patty and Nick walked back at her pace, and the rest of us waited at the bottom.
Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel. And guess what was outside, crawling about in the dark? VENDORS. I wanted to blow them all away. I seriously did. I was ticked off and didn't want to see another one ever again. Orz Michael bought a fan or something from one of them and I wanted to scream. XD Needless to say, I was very happy to see the hotel room!
Still, we were hungry, so we ventured back outside to go to the restaurant Bev and Meg had been to earlier. They were out of Beijing duck, but I didn't want any anyway. XD Instead I ate some vegetable dishes and rice~

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Today we got a wake-up call from the front desk at 7:00 AM, and I took a shower. We met for breakfast at 8:30, and then left a little after 9:00 for Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. The People's Square (Tienanmen Square) has been the largest people's square in the world. It is literally a giant square with a few buildings in the center and some megatron-TV things of enormousness. Bev didn't go with us because she was too tired (she stayed at the hotel until 1:00 PM), so Michael, Megan, and Nick went inside the...uh...the building that has chairman Mao's [most likely wax] body in it while I happily waited outside and held all the bags. I was definitely kept busy during the wait, because at least seven times people came to me wanting pictures of me with them. One guy even came back later to take a photo with all of us.
After that, we went to the Forbidden City... It is sooooo big. O.o We bought some 'preserved fruit' bread as a snack, but there was barely any fruit in there and the bread itself was only so-so--edible, you know, but not that great. ^_^;; We went through the third gate after buying our tickets and were amazed at the big-ness of the place. We took lots of pictures and Nick gave us mini history lessons. It was really nice. C: About halfway through, we got more picture requests, and once I was actually asked to take a picture of a girl. I just find it interesting that she asked me instead of the others. Maybe it's because I had my camera hanging around my neck and no one else had theirs out? But that's not even the most surprising part. A WHOLE GROUP OF GUYS wanted to take pictures with me...one at a time. They rotated out with each picture! WHAT?! XD So many random people have pictures of me now... >///<
We were nearing the end when we stopped to get ice cream, and once we completed the entire walk (minus detours like the Hall of Clocks and the museums and galleries and stuff like that) it was...after two, I think. Then we had a talk on the phone with Pat, a retired teacher from Chicago, whom we were meeting at Starbucks. Bev was meeting her before us. They taught together at a school here in China for a little while, so they're friends. Pat has been teaching in Beijing and she is returning to Chicago soon. Anyway, we walked all over the place before we finally found the Starbucks--hidden behind a large, red barn-like building. >.>;; It was definitely after 4PM when we arrived, and we just stayed there, playing UNO and chatting. Well, I didn't play UNO, but it was fun to watch. Pat kept winning and Patty kept getting all of one color each time. Once she showed me she had all blue cards, and in the next game, all of her cards were yellow.
Patty brought her boyfriend to meet us and also came with proof that Nick Horton does indeed look like that Hong Kong movie star. XD
After a little while of playing UNO by the lake, we went across the street to inquire about a rickshaw ride around Houhai [lake] area. Finally we got them to lower the price by 30 so we got 40-minute rides for 50 each. C: Patty translated the wee bit of Chinese history the Chinese drivers relayed as we traveled around the lake. The buildings were...old. It was really interesting to see the quality of life the people in them live. It's definitely not an expensive area.
Bar Street was ridiculous; it literally was just a bunch of bars with fancy couches on the sidewalk occupying the space on the other side of the pretty lake.
We had to tip the drivers, which was weird but whatever (gave ours 4) and then we (meaning Michael, Nick, Megan, and I) were planning to go to the Silk Market for last-minute souvenir shopping. Pat told us about another place that was closer and showed it to us on a map, so we went there instead. I still don't like doing the whole bargaining thing. TAT This lady was so mean about the panda plushie I was getting for my brother. I had basically just some change and she was like 'No, I won't budge on the price.' I had to pay more than I wanted to, but believe it or not I hadn't seen any panda plushies anywhere else. I had to buy it from her or my brother wouldn't have one. So...yeah..."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"We left later from the hotel than we were supposed to because Bev wasn't ready...and then on the way to the airport shuttle bus station, Michael and I had to go to the bathroom, so we missed the first bus. It took an hour and a half to get to the airport and we therefore missed our flight. We had to buy new tickets (and thankfully we did get 20% back as a refund for our other tickets) and wait a few hours until our new flight. Despite the unspoken anger and tension in the air, I remained pretty calm, although that's not to say I wasn't upset too. We had all been ready, but Bev hadn't been! Even with that, if Michael and I hadn't had to have a pit stop, we would have made the bus and the flight... But it was no use being angry about that now.
"Our new flight was SO FANCY. There were THREE cup holders and a coat hanger and a remote attached to the monitor that doubled as a game controller. Wow. So I played Sudoku. No, I didn't win a single time. >.>

"When we arrived in Shanghai it was of course much later than we had originally planned for, so we didn't have time to go to Yishan Road and back. Instead, we got different subway tickets at the airport and decided to go ahead and split up. As we were standing in a circle, praying, a guy noticed. After talking to him, we found out that he goes to a Presbyterian church that is not far (two miles?) from ours in Murfreesboro! So that was pretty neat, meeting another mission worker in Shanghai who came from close to home~
"Nick, Michael, and I were headed for the hotel from before, so we got off at a different station than Bev and Meg did. But while we were distracted in conversation with the Presbyterian, we went the wrong direction and ended up at Shanghai South Railway Station instead of Shanghai Railway Station. We had to get back on the subway and ride back. Needless to say, we were very tired when all of it was done. ^^;
"Meg met up with us at the hotel again, and shared the room with Michael and me, using the cushions from our couch and Nick's couch to sleep on."

The three of us talked and laughed a whole lot, somewhat at Michael's expense because she put too much Peppermint oil on her nose and then tried to wash it off with water--which only spreads it. I'm fairly certain I took a shower that night in order to avoid having to get up extra early to take one the next day. Lights out! One more day...

Friday, July 1, 2011

"We got a wake-up call at 7AM, but I woke up at 6:30, so I went ahead and got ready. We ate breakfast at 8:00 and left the hotel just after 10:00, so we had plenty of time to get to the airport. It was after 1PM when we were finished checking in because we had to wait for the lines to open...during that time I checked and sent email on Nick's Kindle! (It was slow but very interesting! XD) After that we proceeded to security. We made it through that and then went to find some lunch. Having only about 200 yuan between the four of us, we couldn't really get the expensive Chinese food, so we settled for Burger King. XD I got a fish sandwich with French fries that were actually good, bottled water, and for dessert: BK ice cream. I got a chocolate soft-serve cone, and it took me all of eating it to figure out that it tasted like chocolate marshmallows. O_o

Anyway, we went to wait for boarding, and once we finally got on the plane, we ended up sitting there for two hours because of bad weather somewhere on the flight course.
Now we are flying over Canaday (we flew up over Russia and the Arctic Circle) and are heading towards New Jersey. We have about four more hours to go. We're 36,996 feet high...flying at 602 mph, and it's -65 degrees Fahrenheit outside. c: Our plane isn't as fancy as the one we flew on yesterday, but it's still much better than the one we flew on originally (from California to Shanghai).
It's a bit strange that we're 'already' going home. I mean, while we were in Zhuhai, every day went by so slowly, but now, as I look back...it's been a month! OAO Wow. De, Uchi e kaerou! ♥
Now we will be in Newark, New Jersey in about an hour... -48 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
We just crossed the U.S. border and we're now in New York.
In Newark in about 40 minutes, but I think we'll miss our next flight, which is at 8:35. We're supposed to arrive in NJ at 8:00 or so. >.> Oh noes. D:
We arrived at 8:05, and while waiting in the immigration lines I talked to Mama on the phone~ It was so nice to talk to her!! After making it through there we nearly RAN through the place! We met a Canadian guy and talked with him on the train to Terminal A, and then we ran through baggage to get to the boarding area. Mama had told me that our plane was waiting for us, but when we got there, we discovered that our plane hadn't even landed! We had to wait for it, because it was late too! XD (Thank you, God!!)
Now that we knew everything was okay, we were able to get a little bit to eat. Michael and I both got lemon poppyseed muffins and I also got a vegetarian sandwich and a bottle of water.
After a little more waiting and calling our families to make sure they were at the airport to pick us up, we left. I actually slept for a little, and I think we actually arrived at 10:45. Wow! Originally we were supposed to land at 10:05, so I think God really worked something out there! >w<
We saw our families waiting for us in the waiting area and happily headed for them. They greeted us warmly with lots of hugs and love! I was very happy to see both Mama and Chip, and Josh and Nana; nice to see Chip because he had to work Saturday and couldn't be out too late. So anyway, it was very lovely and I talked a lot about my experiences instead of sleeping on the way home. XD

It's amazing that all of this really happened! I have evidence recorded on picture and video, and a record is written in this journal, and I have memories in my head; I have email addresses and Skype addresses of Chinese friends and I know more people in the church now. I really went to China. And now I'm back.
Thank you, God! ♥~"

To see all of my photos, click here!      \(^_^)/     To see all of Michael's photos, click here!