Earlier in the semester, I signed up to do a waltz class with the students. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Each year, the school puts on this huge Olympic ceremony where all of the colleges within the university must participate in the activities. Turns out, my waltz class was to a spotlight dance for the opening ceremonies. So for over a month, we would practice our dance once or twice a week and a week before the event, we would be practicing almost twice a day. The opening ceremonies turned out to be a really cool event and I'm glad that I participated in them.
The week after we went to Chengdu, we had a three day weekend so we decided to go a further distance from Chongqing. We decided we would take a 12 hour train to see the Three Gorges area. So we departed at night and arrived in the afternoon the following day.
This train ride was by far the most unpleasant 12 hours of my life. We were on a crowded train fighting for space in our small section where would we sit face to face with a stranger. With about three feet of space between the seats, the were was hardly any room to breathe. By some miracle I was able to fall asleep and woke up a few hours away form our destination.
When we arrived at our destination, we made our way for the hotel and dropped our stuff off for the day and went to find things to do. We walked around for a little and decided that we wanted to see the new Captain America movie. Chinese movie theaters are pretty nice, they even give you free popcorn and drinks! After that, we walked around some more and called it a night and went back to the hotel.
So we woke up early and went to the bus station so that we could go see the Three Gorges. The trip took about an hour and we went through a twisting road along the river to the ferry station where we would start to go through the gorges. We went with a tour group so we didn't have to worry about finding anything. We went down the river and walked through a village and then went and saw the 'Tribe of the Three Gorges'. This was an old castle like village built into the side of the mountain. To get to this area, we had to take a cable car up the side of the mountain. The trip was pretty cool, the amount of time we spent waiting and traveling made it a little less worth it. But it was still a cool weekend.
We decided one weekend to go to the Sichuan town of Chengdu. One of the students was familiar with the town so she came with us. We took the train and then stayed at a hostel for a night. It was a really cool trip. On our first day, we explored the downtown area of Chengdu and tried some of the local food.
After exploring downtown, we went to the older part of town to see some historical areas. This district was inside of an old style square building and there were many attractions for us to see there. After this place, we went to a newer area that really comes to life at night. This area was also based in an older district but has become modern and packed with people.
After a long day of exploring, we went back to the hostel so that we could rest and go to the Panda Zoo in the morning. When we woke up, we traveled about two hours to see the pandas. Unfortunately, most of the pandas were asleep when we were there it was still cool to see all of the panda exhibits and the other animals at the zoo.
While the pandas were sleeping for most of the time, it was a really awesome weekend. I enjoyed seeing another part of China, I would definitely g
So it's been over a month since I've last posted and I found some free time so I'm going to do the best I can to make these good. I won't be able to remember everything but I'll post pictures so that you can all see what it was like at least.
This place was an ancient fishing town in the center of the city. Really cool area. Lots of tourist attractions and places to have fun. I tried squid (could have been octopus?) on a stick, wasn't that bad.
They had an area outside the village that was on the dried part of the river with food and lots of other attractions. The highlight of the trip was going into these adult sized inflatable things and playing in the water. After we did that and explored some more, we called it a day.
It's been a week since I've last posted and my recent posts have been fairly brief, so I'll try and make this one better.
We left for the Bishan area on Saturday afternoon. After a short bus ride and a decently long walk, we made it to the base of the mountain. At the base of the mountain was the Hot Spring Resort. We would come back to this place after we had climbed the mountain. But as we passed it, we saw a bunch of peacocks walking around outside. There was a wedding going on at the resort during this time so I have to think the peacocks were there for that, but it was still cool to see them. After seeing these weird birds, we made our way up the mountain.
As we got closer to the mountain, we noticed many people carrying water with them. Apparently, the mountain has amazing water and the local people come here to get their drinking water. It's amazing, they travel miles and hike a mountain just for drinking water. It really made me appreciate how I get my water.
The lower part of the mountain consisted of stairs both steep and flat that went through the mountain up to the higher parts. There were worn in trails off the side of the stairs too. These paths were though to be shortcuts. I went with the students on one shortcut and found myself in someone's rice paddy. We eventually made our way back to the trail, but not after a few minutes of getting our bearings.
Once we made it back to the trail, we continued on and found a water source. It was a pipe coming from the mountain with water come out of it. We saw people filling their water up there so I decided to do the same. It tasted good and didn't get me sick so I can't complain. But from this point forward, the mountain would have less steps and more of a steeper trail made of dirt and rocks. As we progressed further, we saw an area with men working out. It seemed weird to us that these men would go up in the mountain just to workout. But we moved on didn't think anything of it. We made it the upper part of the mountain where there were less trees and more clearings.
During our final hike to the top of the mountain, we came across a group of wives who were having a picnic. They were very happy to see and wished us well. So we made our way to the top and took lots of pictures and then began our trek down.
So as we made our way back down, we ran into the group of women who having a picnic once again. They were the wives of the men who were working out lower on the mountain. They insisted on us taking our pictures with them and trying their homemade wine. And that's exactly what we did.
So we left the wives to their picnic and continued down the mountain. There were some scary points because of the rocks and steepness of the trail. But after about 45 minutes, we were back at the base. We then ate a small lunch of noodles and went to the hot springs
I couldn't get any photos of this place, but it was pretty cool. It was like a resort/lodge thing at the base of a mountain. Inside there were a bunch of pools of varying temperatures. One was 42 C, which is about 107 F. Once the heat got old, I went to the fish pool. The fish pool had little fish that would bite you. This is relaxing to some, but not for me. I couldn't handle it. After an hour or two of the hot springs, we left and found dinner.
We had another very large meal with many courses, but I finally found something that I could not eat. The only way I can describe it is pig fat over a pile of bad tasting black mush. Aside from that, the dinner was really good.
All in all, it was really cool to hike a mountain and go to the hot springs. Th
Today we went to the famous Diaoyu Fortress. It was here that the Chinese held the Mongols back causing them to ultimately lose their campaign. It took the Mongols a month to take the fortress and because of the amount of resources used to take this fortress, they were unable to press much further to the west. But after a two hour drive, we arrived there around 11. It was misting outside which made it really cool and also very slippery. But the fortress was huge and built into a mountain. I really enjoyed going through the fortress. I think the historical significance
Instead of venturing to anywhere far out of the city, we decided to go right into the center of it. We left at about noon for Jiefangbei, the central financial district of Chongqing. It took about an hour on the subway and buses to get there, but it was well worth the wait. Once we got out of the subway station, we found a cluster of skycrapers and shopping centers. In the very center of the district is a monument. This monument is there because Chongqing became the capitol during WWII when Japan had invaded. The area is really cool and it will look even better once all the construction is done.
The malls here are very different from what is in America. Instead of having one or two floors with a very spread out arrangement, these malls have many floors and are full of very small and expensive shops. They had stores like Louis Vuitton, Armani, and other designers. I'm sure they have less expensive malls somewhere, but the two that we went to had nothing but designer products.
After some shopping, we went towards the river in search of lunch. We found this area that had a pirate theme and ten floors. On the ninth floor, I found what I was looking for. It was a Tex-Mex restaurant and an Irish Pub. Having food that wasn't just noodles was amazing. I love the food here, but I need diversity sometimes. The food and atmosphere was great and I plan on going there more. After we ate, we went back to the apartments because we had to be up early. We're being taken to a 13th century battleground that is near here.
I also just found this photo from earlier, it's the view from my roof
So my work schedule has really started to pick up. I'm doing about 21 hours of in class time with the students, 2+ hours office time, around 10 hours of grading, and various hours of general prep work for classes. I'm really happy to finally be working close to 40 hours for this co-op. The only bad part is that I don't have too much free time. I'm still able to travel during the weekends so that's good.
In terms of future blog updates, there won't be as many as there were before. Like I said before, I'm really busy so I won't have too much time to be posting. And since I'm working a lot now, there won't be too much to talk about. I'll keep updates of where I travel and the cool things I do outside of class, there just won't be much of it during the week.
Today we decided to venture out of the Chongqing area and see the rock carvings in Dazu. In order to get there, we had to take two buses for about 2 hours total time to get there. But the adventure started when we left for the bus station.
To get to the bus station, we had to walk down dirt paths and cross small wooden bridges to get there. It was an interesting walk and amazing that something so remote could be so close to civilization. The bus station was like any bus station in America, full of people and dirty. The buses were the same but I didn't mind it. The first bus ride took us to a smaller city and the second took us to a remote mountain with many Buddhist carvings.
The Dazu carvings were amazing. They were started in the 12th century by Buddhists and it goes throughout the entire valley. I can't go into to much detail about the carvings because I couldn't read much of it, but they all represented different parts of the Buddhist faith.
The date is February 22, 2014. I've lost track of how many days that I have been in China. All I know now is that I need Chipotle. I thought I would be able to last three months, but I can barely last two weeks.