Yay for VPN through work :) So i think i shall be posting less here… but we’ll see :) New pics on fb!
Yay for VPN through work :) So i think i shall be posting less here… but we’ll see :) New pics on fb!
So in China, there’s only 2 phone companies. And they spam text you, every. friggin. day. Mostly cause it’s free. and it’s a way that everyone can be on the ‘same page’ lol. They send lots of cliche sayings like “make sure you drink lots of water every day and eat fruit! It’s getting colder!” basically like a Chinese mother :)
Occasionally they send cute stories and sometimes i can read the whole thing (these are the good Chinese days). Here’s one that I got today:
A boy liked this girl and told her so. She rejected him, saying, “You are a whole year younger than me”. The boy replied, “When I was 1 month old, you were 13 months old. You were 13 times “me” (this part doesn’t translate well). When I was 2 months old, you were 14 months old. You were 7 times me. When I was 1, you were 2; you were 2 times me. As long as you’re willing to be with me forever, we will always slowly become closer.
Obviously that was really Chinglish-y but you get the point. Cuteeeeee.
1. My English has definitely degraded. The more time I spend in China, the more Chinglish starts sounding normal (for more examples, check out engrish.com) and the more I want to use Chinese to substitute words when I want to say English. This is why I could never be a translator.
2. I’m getting used to China. The fashion is (wearing pantyhose as socks with sandals, one-piece overly sparkly dresses, umbrellas and parasols being interchangeable, the Chinglish on shirts) not as awkward to me anymore, the bathrooms are not as smelly, the Beijing bellies are not so embarrassing (old, young men bare their bellies after meals. Not sure why…) and the babies with no underwear are starting to look cute (diapers are expensive!). More and more Chinese characters are looking familiar to me and I’m starting to re-understand the absence of traffic rules (traffic lights are merely suggestions). Many things have changed here in Beijing (more buildings, more people [according to the numbers anyway], more cars, etc.) since I’ve been here last but most things have not (the people, culture, government restrictions).
(written on August 12, 2011)
After participating in 2 summer camps, I have come to the following conclusions:
1. Kids are awesome, in small portions. When they get too needy or whiny, my first reaction is to run as far away as possible.
2. Because of #1, I probably am not as ready as I think I am to be a mom haha. But maybe it’s different when you have your own kids? I sure hope so… for my kid’s sake.
3. Teaching English is SOOOO exhausting. I’m so glad I somehow got out of it for both camps puahaha. Too much creativity needed and you may be stuck with whiny kids without an out ot run away. I’m sure if I think of a good disciplinary method, it would be much easier.
Disclaimer: I really do like kids as long as they are well behaved :) And anytime a little boy takes care of a little girl, my heart melts pretty quick.
No pictures unfortunately because batteries ran out because of orphanage visit.
Next up after a 3 day debriefing: 10 day wilderness hiking trip in West rural China (XinJiang) which is going to be incredibly awesome :) Chacos, hiking boots, and camelpak - time to put you to good use!
(written on August 2, 2011 when I was at a Guangxi orphanage)
Orphanages are interesting places to be in.
Imagine growing up without parents, without rules and without anyone to show you what love is. Instead, you have older brothers and sisters to show you how harsh and cruel the world is; you have staff workers who will lay down the law but will not open their arms for a hug unless absolutely needed or if you’re under 5.
Then, imagine that you have people outside the orphanage come to play with you, to hang out with you, and in general to love on you. You respond openly to this affection and affirmation and love them back until after 3 days, 1 week, 1 month or some other time period goes by and they leave. How do you say goodbye to love and go back to what it was like before? All you know is that the representation of that amazing feeling of being accepted is leaving and you don’t know if you will ever feel like that again.
Then, after some indeterminate amount of time, some other group comes, loves on you and inevitably, leaves. In addition, every couple of days, some journalists or media or celebrity that wants to bring the public’s attention to the orphanage’s financial needs comes for a photo shoot with the cute, poor kids, passes out some candy, and moves on with their own lives.
Repeat for 1 year, 2 years, 10 years until you are 15 and jaded.
People will always leave you. The things that are constant are discipline and passing on the things you’ve learned so that those younger than you don’t have to go through the same thing. The other alternative is to numb out the outside world through watching TV all day and not interacting with visitors unless absolutely required to.
“It’s like a zoo,” one of my friends said. Except these are real kids, who not by their own fault are stuck parentless in a loveless environment.
Wow, I took my parents for granted.
There’s no easy answer. The people who are visiting the orphanage were like me, coming in with good intentions. But after seeing the kids and how they react and placing yourself in their shoes, I never want to visit an orphanage again unless it’s for a long-term commitment. There must be a better way than this; I just don’t know what.
Woo hoo, now that I have an itouch (switched with my friend who wanted to use my iPhone) and have downloaded the Tumblr app, I’ll be updating much more often :) I still have about three Posts that I need to upload lol.
Couple cool things:
1. Got a job!!! Yayy!! I’m going to be the Exec assistant for a private equity firm called Schulze Global Investments. The company is considered a pioneer in many of it’s emerging market ventures so it’s gonna be fun! I start in 2 weeks so still have time to chill.
2. I got 3 suits (pants and skirts) and 5 collared shirts tailor made for less than $1000. Was super lucky and our team has been meeting up with a fashion consultant who regularly meets with princes and sheiks and he critiqued our interview clothing and made suggestions. Then he went with us to the Silk Market and picked out suits N everything here. I will post pictures soon (I need to buy some work heels first).
3. I bought a guitar!! Left mine in the states and one of my friends helped me bargain for a pretty nice guitar at the Music Street here (imagine a whole street just selling tons and tons of instruments). It’s supposedly a legit Chinese brand and it sounds great. When in China, act Chinese right?
4. October first marks the beginning of the National Holiday in China which means mass traveling outside Beijing. I don’t think I want to compete with 1.6 billion other people so I think I’ll just chill at home :)
5. Now that I have a job, I’m going to get a hair cut! My roomie, Kwan, is gonna cut my hair so we shall see how that goes. I have full confidence in her though and will post pics!
So good to be in Beijing. But. I miss you all a ton :) working on putting pictures of everyone up on my wall!
Google Docs is blocked -_-’ the more sites that China blocks the more that I feel pushed to get a VPN. VPN = bad because that means I have access to Facebook again which is too much of a wasting-time-temptation.
I will do an actual post soon :)
Posted on 8/20/2011 4:18 am, Beijing time; 8/19/2011 1:18 pm, California time
I started this tumblr with the intent to have a cool website when people search my name during my job-searching times (this is what happens when you read tons of recruiting columns). But it’s now going to be my “China/abroad experiences”.
So, TAIWAN :) My first traveling-by-myself trip. Oodles of fun, met cool people and had a lot of enlightening experiences. It’s going to be a long so pace yourself!
Day 0: I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan’s largest city and immediately took a train down to Hualien, my first stop. However, due to the delay in the flight landing, the train didn’t arrive until 3 am. So my first night in Taiwan, I’m walking around at 3 am, passing by guys playing basketball at a nearby park, and an overall empty Hualien. I get to the hostel that I had booked a reservation at, hoping it was a 24/7 check-in.
Lesson #1: Hostels are not open 24/7.
The garage was closed and I tried the back gate to see what other entrances were possible but everything was closed. I put all my bags down and was about to get settled to nap on a bench outside. I mean, it would only be a 4 hour nap right? But then, the motherly and/or rational side of my brain kicked in and said it might not be very safe for a single young female to be sleeping out on the street, even for 4 hours and so I listened. I looked closer at the garage and there happened to be a business card for the hostel. Elated, I jotted down the number of the hostel and went to the nearest public phone to call the hostel contact.
Lesson #2: Public phones are an awesome invention. Not only are they cool in movies, but they are also extremely helpful in real life when you don’t have a cell phone.
In Hong Kong, I didn’t had a cell phone since I was staying at my aunt’s place. It didn’t make much sense to have it in Taiwan either since I would only be there for a week. Anyway, I called the hostel lady and she actually picked up (5 stars for this hostel!) and said her staff would open up the place in a bit. Chyea. Amazing.
Day 1: Sleeping in on a vacation – guilty. Slept in till noon, got my gear, walked back to the train station to grab a bus to Taroko Gorge, the nearby tourist attraction. I arrived at the park and realized there were no buses that take you around (boo.) So I walked to Shakadang Trail and ended up doing a 1 ½ hour trail that ended up NOT at a top of a hill. Sucked. See first picture post below.
After I finished the disappointing trail, I sat to wait for the bus. After an hour and a half, the locals thought I was crazy for still waiting for the bus and they were concerned for my safety since it was dark. One of the local girls volunteered to scooter me down the hill to the bus stop; that was AWESOMEEE :) That was when I decided I’m either going to get a scooter or a motorcycle when I get to China.
Day 2: The morning of day 2 was spent deciding whether I wanted go to Taichung, straight into the typhoon that was there. My plan to go to Green Island was thwarted since ferries were closed in preparation for the storm. I ended up exploring Hualien around on bike which was fun, cheap and fast. I sat on the edge of the ocean thinking deep thoughts (i.e. I can’t believe the last time I saw the ocean, I was on the other side of this water mass in Santa Monica) for about half an hour. Then I decided to head down to Taichung anyway since there wasn’t much more to do in Hualien.
When I arrived in Taichung, I had no idea where I was going to stay since everything on hostelworld.com was booked. While sitting on the bus, wondering what I should do, my prayers were answered as two laowai (directly translated as old outside meaning foreigners) climbed on the bus.
Lesson #3: White foreigners are always a welcome sight, especially when you are tired of speaking Chinese. Even better are when the white foreigners can speak better than you and know the area better than you.
Disclaimer: My Mandarin Chinese used to be conversational-ish level but it’s been a good 2 years since I’ve had to use it and things were still very slow in coming back. Plus, it takes an insane amount of brain power for me to think and speak in Chinese which means that English is still my preferred language of choice.
Anyway, a total miracle in my mind and then I found out Lex and Grant are from the OC originally (yay Californians!) and that Lex had lived in Taiwan for 4 years already, spoke pretty good Chinese, and had traveled to Taichung a couple times before. Jackpot :)
Lex took us around to some local night markets, a Taiwanese specialty, where I ate some weird stuff (oyster omelets?) and ran into a family with a daughter that had graduated from UCLA. I was wearing my UCLA shorts and this random lady asks me if I had graduated from there and we proceeded to chill with the mother and 2 daughters for the next hour eating random Taiwanese-y stuff. UCLA is taking over the world. Oh, UCLA is also considered a brand name in China. And more people know what/where UCLA is than what UC Berkeley is in China too.
Then, Lex took us over to a local coffee shop where this aboriginal band was playing. I felt very cultured. He had me try bu-lin which is a betel juice thing. According to Wikipedia: Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant,causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. Side note: Word says that past sentence was grammatically incorrect. Also, when you spit the nut out, it comes out red so it looks like you’re bleeding. It tasted pretty gross so I only decided to eat one.
Day 3: On Day 3, the typhoon had still stopped the ferry to Green Island from running. I ended up just chatting with Lex about China, Taiwan, Taiwanese women vs. Chinese women, and other random topics for half the day. Lex heard about another local aboriginal performance in a town about half an hour outside the city so we took a bus to Dulan. The hostel owners gave us a quick tour of the town (they had a map of the city on the fridge and walked us through that) and said that there was a great sashimi place next door. Sashimi for 100NTD ($3!!) was decent and then we headed over to the performance. It ended up not being very good so Lex suggested that we break into the sugar factory next door.
Dulan is known for its sugar but in recent years, the economy has not done as well. Consequently, sugar factories close down and American tourists break into them. There wasn’t much to explore but it was definitely interesting as I had never seen a sugar factory before (during the day or night). We weren’t tired after that so we decided to take a midnight hike to the beach about a half an hour away.
Best experience in Taiwan: Lying on the beach in the dark staring at a million stars and slowly dozing off while listening to the crashing waves.
Day 4: It seemed liked everyone had the same idea as me. When I got the ferry at 9 am to catch the 9:30 am ferry, it had been sold out for about an hour and the next one wasn’t until 1 pm. My waiting time was spent wondering around the area, eating fresh seafood for lunch and at 12:30 pm (caught an earlier one!) started off for Green Island. The ferry was infamously known for being so rough that passengers constantly throw up on the side, so I was determined to beat the system. After a successful boat ride, I arrived at the beautiful Green Island. Named because of its beautiful greenery (so original), I was excited to spend a whole day in nature.
Because I was the hard-core self-sufficient spontaneous traveler, I had not reserved any rooms, assuming that I could walk up to any local hostel and stay there for a night. Instead, due to miscommunication, I ended up being mistaken for another girl and end up getting kicked out to another hostel. It was after paying for the spa and a bike rental that I realized I had no money left. I had heard that ATMs were far and few in between but I thought my magic Charles Schwab card would bring me through (no foreign or ATM fees). It didn’t.
Lesson #3: Listen to what it says on WikiTravel. If it says they don’t have ATM machines that work, they don’t have ATM machines that work.
Anyway, I decided to not eat dinner but I had already bought the hot springs ticket so mind as well use them. Biked about 45 minutes to the other side of the island to soak in natural sulfur hot springs (or something like that) for about 1 ½ hours? Couldn’t last beyond that because my skin was beyond wrinkly and I was getting bored. Biked back on an empty stomach with hopes of eating the bread that was in my backpack that I had brought earlier. It turned out to have molded.
Lesson #4: Bread doesn’t actually last that long.
Spent the rest of the night watching “Monster’s Inc.”, “Date Night”, and “She’s the Man”. Yay for Hollywood in Taiwan :)
Day 5: Woke up the next morning to a pleasant surprise hanging on my doorknob outside: Breakfast!! This is the only hostel in all the places that I had traveled that happened to serve breakfast J I decided to walk and explore the rest of the island because the hostel lady had said the rest of the island was hard to bike through. I ended up walking for about 4 ½ hours, an hour of which was in heavy rain. I’m very glad I had brought my umbrella but at a certain point, that didn’t even matter.
I ended up arriving at this random deer farm (see pictures below). Just when I was about to give myself a pat on the back for walking around an entire island, I found out I made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at where I had started.
Frustrated, I realized that there was nothing more of the island to see as I had no more money to scuba or eat. I caught an earlier boat out back to the main(-ish)land (China is actually called the mainland, hence the –ish) and caught a train to head down to Kaoshiung.
I guess the typhoon had actually moved south because it was truly pouring when I arrived at Kaoshiung. I arrived absolutely drenched and famished at the hostel. They tell me there is a great Mexican food restaurant which I immediately go to. And my, was the food absolutely amazing. Prior to that, I hadn’t been spending much money on food since it’s so cheap (a good meal for $1.50 USD) but I couldn’t resist splurging on this meal.
Side note: there are no pictures before this point because I thought you couldn’t upload more than one picture on a Tumblr text post. Silly me…
That’s a chicken quesadilla, carne asada fries and a mango smoothie. So. Amazingly. Good. That ended a not-so-great day on a marvelous, delicious note.
Day 6: I slept in the next day and woke up feeling slightly odd. I had a dream where Lex and Grant were talking to each other, so I thought maybe I just missed them a lot. I called a friend and waited as he made his way over. The doorbell rang and I was surprised that he got here so quick. I opened the door and instead, there were two Caucasian guys standing outside. Slightly disappointed, I opened the gate and surprise! Lex and Grant were entering in. It turns out that they had arrived yesterday but had gone out for the night, come back at 1 am, stayed in the same room as I did, and woken up very early this morning for their own adventures.
After catching up and exchanging numbers, we parted our ways again as I met up with an old friend (Andrew Hiah~) and walked around Kaoshiung and caught up. We went to a Western café called Pasadena and had crumpets and tea (he went to school in England so this was a logical choice):
Afterwards we went to his home where I met his absolutely adorable dog:
Then, after walking around one of the night markets and getting delicious Turkish ice cream, I decided to take him back to the Mexican restaurant (Pancho’s) because it was THAT good. We stuffed our faces and he vowed to bring his mother there as soon as possible :)
We said our goodbyes and I headed off to another hostel. When I arrived, the place was locked; it was starting to look like my first night in Taiwan again. Luckily, someone opened the door and said that the owner was out. I walked around the hostel but it seemed like it was full? Confused, I sat and waited an hour until the owner came back only to find out that I had in fact, reserved the following day. Augh!!
Thankfully, he was able to point me to another nearby hostel and gave me a ride on his scooter (yay!!). It worked out great because I got my own room and a good night’s rest.
Day 7: I slept in and was too tired/lazy to do the bike tour of Kaoshiung. Caught the 5 hour cheaper but slower train ride all the way up north to Taipei and met an old co-worker from UCLA (Spencer!). He showed me to the nearest night market and we caught up on the past 4 years. He had been living in Taipei for 2 years teaching English with his girlfriend and I was so surprised that he planned to continue to stay in Taiwan for another couple of years! Taiwan had a way of growing on you, he said. He was planning on buying a car (sort of like buying a car in NYC) and an apartment. Tired, but glad to be out of hostels, I slept in his apartment’s tatami-style mat ready for a full day of exploring Taipei.
Lesson #5: My limit of traveling and staying in hostels seems to be 7 days.
To be honest, I was pretty pooped by this time. Every hill was starting to look the same and the food was good but not as amazing as I thought. I was ready to just spend a day sitting in and watching a sappy chick flick or something. But the thought that this was my last day in Taipei and that I had not even gone exploring yet got me going. The previous day, Spencer and his girlfriend had told me about an amazing natural and somewhat illegal hot springs that was just outside of Taipei. The hot springs turned out to be amazing.
So basically the instructions were that I would walk down this shady-looking path way to a gate that would clearly say “Do not enter” or something to that effect. However the gate would be open and you would be able to just walk around the other side. You would reach and see several other signs that say “Keep Out” or something to that affect until you see the natural hot springs.
Waterfall + 1 local that was there.
The location was actually a natural combination of hot springs and a waterfall. You could alternate between one and the other quite easily. The waterfall ended up being wayyyy too cold for me so I sat at the junction point of when the scalding hot springs and freezing waterfall water joined for about an hour and a half. It started to rain so I ended up heading back.
By the time I had returned home and taken a much needed hot shower, my feet were exhausted and somewhat cut up from my new sandals. I ended up bumming around, facebooking and generally not doing much until later that evening.
Finally, unwilling to end my Taiwan trip on such a terrible note, I called Lex up and we grabbed the famous niu rou mien (beef noodle soup) and walked around the city. We later met up with his friend, hit up a couple of foreign and Taiwanese bars and called it a night.
The classic Taiwanese niu rou mien (beef noodle soup)
In case anyone was wondering, this is pretty much all I drank the last night. I loveeee kiwi juice. Even in Taiwan.
Day 9: The trip to the airport turned out to be pretty hectic as I couldn’t find the correct bus. All’s well that ends well though and I was soon on my way back to mainland China, satisfied and pleased by my first trip to Taiwan :)
And random fact: the entire trip including lodging and transportation (except flight) was $375 for 9 days in Taiwan!
Congrats if you read this entire thing!!!