bya Gabrielle at 10:41 AM

Cream Brother

This is the first I had ever heard of Cream Brother, the famous cat from Kowloon, Hong Kong. The store where he lived and managed(haha) has since closed and he now lives at home with his owner.

It took 12 days to get to me and traveled 8,352 miles.

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Dreaming in Chinese

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

I don’t know if other people do it, but I sometimes dream in Chinese.

It started sometime after I arrived in China.  I thought it was pretty cool, even though I didn’t understand all that was being said.  When people would talk to me, I would respond to them like I would in real life – a few key phrases or words to try and explain what I needed or wanted them to know. My vocabulary has always been rather limited.

I always wondered why my mind didn’t pretend that I knew Chinese.  I guess it didn’t know how to fake the language.

Even after coming back to America, I still sometimes dream in Chinese.  It amazes me that in my sleep I can recall vocabulary words that I haven’t used in ages.  My most recent dream was rather entertaining, and I thought you would enjoy hearing about it – although I doubt you’ll find it as funny as I did.  I think it is hard to appreciate other people’s dreams because you lose so much in the explanation.  It’s like trying to turn a book into movie or vice versa.

In my dream, me, Phil, and Holy(our Chinese friend) were running away from some Chinese bad guys. We had been running for a long time, but the bad guys were still hot on our trail.  At some point we decide to hop on a train.  The train was headed to Hong Kong.  Well, once we boarded the train and left the station – my dream decided to go completely nuts.  The train, in its attempt to flee the bad guys, jumped the tracks and started traveling at very high speeds over mountains, valleys and streams.  It reminded me of a cartoon.  Somehow we managed to put some ground in between us and the bad guys and were able to rest for a while in our seats that I don’t remember paying for.

As the train started to pull into the Hong Kong station, we started gathering all of our stuff.  In real life, I probably would have been running from the bad guys with only the clothes on my back, but obviously, the same does not hold true for my dream life.  I had apparently crammed every single one of my possessions in numerous suitcases, pockets, and bags and had waited until the last moment to gather them back up.  This is not what I found funny though.  If anything, this part of my dream cause me panic and loads of stress.  What made me smile in my dream would have sent me into side splitting laughter in real life.

As the train pulled closer to a stop, I noticed that there were thousands and thousands of Chinese people waiting to board the train.  There were so many of them, that they had built stadium like seats in the station.  All of them were standing.  And of them were chanting.  Can you guess what they were chanting?  If you have ever been to China for any extended amount of time, you should probably be able to guess.

For some strange reason, every single last one of them was chanting “Jia you! Jia you! Jia you!”

For those of you who don’t know have any idea what “Jia you” means – there happens to be a YouTube video that will teach you all you need to know.  If my dream doesn’t make you giggle, the video should.

YouTube Preview Image

I have no idea what happened once the train stopped because I woke up.  I can only imagine what would have happened had I stayed asleep and the dream continued.  All I know, is that it was the strangest dream I have had in Chinese yet.

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Postcrossing One Country At a Time

bya Gabrielle at 1:04 PM

Here are six more postcards that I received through Postcrossing this past week. As soon as I save up some money and some vacation time, I’m going to have to start traveling again. Maybe to help me decide where to go first, I’ll put all of the postcards I’ve received in a big basket, close my eyes, and pluck one out. That would make traveling pretty interesting. Hrm, I can so see that being a premise of a Discovery or Travel Channel show. I’d watch it. :)

I felt pretty special to get this one from Hong Kong. There are only 68 users there, and I’m sure they are all not active. I loved the architecture of the buildings in China, especially in Hong Kong.

If someone could please translate this for me, I would greatly appreciate it. I was only able to recognize a few of the characters.

I really want to visit Germany at least once before I die. My ancestors came over on a boat in 1854.

I’m convinced that all Germans write their 1’s like little upside down V’s. How wicked. Not wicked in a bad way, wicked in an interesting way.

This is the first panoramic postcard that I’ve received. I really like the colors in it.

If I ever need to be inspired one day, I’ll just pull this postcard out and give it a read.

This is the first postcard that I’ve received from Lithuania. Seems like an interesting place.

It sure took a lot of stamps to send the postcard to me. I wonder how hard it would be to learn Lithuanian. It doesn’t look particularly easy.

Never been to New Hampshire, but I would like to travel north one day – only in the summer though. I can’t stand cold weather. I’d rather be hot and melting than cold and frozen.

I sent Audrey a postcard, and she was nice enough to send me one in return. I find it funny that the Post Office let it be sent with the 26 cent stamp, instead of the new 27 cent one.

This one is from Wisconsin, another state I’ve never been able to visit . . . yet.

My first postcard was from a 9 year old boy in Finland. It’s nice to see young people participating in Postcrossing.

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Revisiting Hong Kong

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

Here are some more pictures of our little excursion down to Hong Kong.

Smoke Scene.

Now before I go any further, I want to say that the smoke in the above picture is not my smoke. The picture is not even mine. It all belongs to Tim, our fellow American friend, who taught with us in Fuyang and is now teaching in Jinhua. He didn’t mean for this effect to happen. He just happened to puffing away when he snapped the picture. When the smoke got in the way of the flash it was illuminated. I think it gave the picture artistic flare. The buildings in the background are of course just a few of the many giants Hong Kong has hovering over the bustling population.

Remind you of game? Think of red and black checker board full of holes and sits up right.

Here is another picture belonging to Tim. He always takes the coolest pictures; makes me jealous. My camera is hit and miss. Sometimes is takes a good picture and some time it doesn’t. My camera has a hard time dealing with light. A lot of the time my pictures come out to dark or too bright. I can’t seem to win in anything it seems. Picture taking or children games. Does this particular building make you think of an old game that maybe you used to play? As soon as we came across it in Hong Kong, the first thing that came into my mind was that checker game that came out a long time ago called Connect Four. It would have been really awesome if I could have climbed on top of that building and played a game with someone. Those checkers would have been freaking HUGE! But regardless of how big they would have been, I would have still lost. I don’t think I have ever won a game of Connect Four. After playing and losing a dozen games against the computer in the past few minutes, I know that this is still the case. Heh.

It’s Connect Four. Like the lottery in South Carolina – I can’t seem to win.

I tried taking pictures of the lit up buildings as I walked past them because some of them were pretty amazing. If my camera liked taking night pictures better and could deal with all of the flickering “Vegas” lights, more than this one would have come out. Like most of my China pictures, my little Kodak camera just doesn’t do the lights justice. I don’t think any camera or picture could. There is always so much more to the picture than it shows you. I just wish my memory could always stay as fresh as the day I experience something. I hate how memories fade.

Everyone needs a pet dragon. Wouldn’t you agree?

Once again, this is not my picture. It belongs to Tim. This has been one of the few dragon heads that I have seen since coming to China. I haven’t seen any of the dancing dragons that you see plastered all over the TV as a symbol of Asian culture. I wonder what part of China I have to go to see one? Maybe there is a festival where they have them. We found this dragon in the middle of Hong Kong Park. When we first came across it, there were a lot of people crowding around it and we couldn’t figure out why. Then we saw the drum sitting out beside the dragon. Everyone was waiting there turn in a unorganized line to beat on a few times. I waited my turn behind a little girl.

Random lit up street in Hong Kong.

I think the above picture is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a street, it’s dark, and all of the lights are on. I took the picture because I liked all the neon and the Chinese characters. And I guess that’s that. We are still waiting to get Internet in our apartment. When we do, I’ll start posting about Shenyang. These just happened to be the only pictures I uploaded before we left Beijing – the city that would never let us go. I think I may rename the capital of China, Black Hole, for it sure as heck acted like one for several days. Sometimes I think I am still dreaming and that I will wake up to find myself still sleeping in my Er Wai(Beijing International Studies University) bed. Although, if this is a dream, this is one realistic dream.

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Walking Around Hong Kong

bya Gabrielle at 2:36 AM

Here are a few pictures from our little trip down to Hong Kong. We were only there a few days, but I must say that I really liked it there. It was a bit too expensive for my blood, but the city was clean(and I mean very clean), easy to get around(I loved the subway), and it had many interesting things to go see(even though we were only able to see a few of them). One of the things I really liked was the big buildings. I’ve never been to New York City, but I imagine that Hong Kong is a lot like it. As soon as I got off the subway and walked out to the street, I could feel the buildings hovering over me. I felt like a little bitty ant. At night the buildings were really fantastic. The light shows they put on were something else. I liked walking down the streets just to see all the different displays on them.

One of the cooler buildings we saw. It almost doesn’t look real.

One of the days that we were there, we decided to go to Honk Kong Park. It was listed as a good place to visit in one of the maps we picked up(that cost 50 Hong Kong dollars!!!) so we thought we’d give it a go. It looked interesting to me because it had a huge aviary with more than 800 species of birds. Ever since I volunteered at Carolina Wildlife Care, I’ve become very fond of birds. We got there to find it closed because dead birds infected with the avian flu had been found within 3 km of the aviary. How very depressed I was. As we walked around though, we saw some birds flocking to an apartment building. To my astonishment, they were Cockatoos! I know that Hong Kong is a little tropical, but Cockatoos?! I have no idea how they were out flying like they were, but if I had to guess, I would say that they are much like the birds in California – the Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Everyone has their own idea on how the parrots took up residents there.

Nice photographing skills, Phil! I wish these were the birds visiting my bird feeder!

This is another picture taken at Hong Kong Park. We don’t have arches like these back home, but they are nearly every where in China. I remember hearing about their significance at one point, but my memory fails me right now. If I ever have a big enough garden in my backyard, I am going to put a slew of these in it. They are like gigantic frames and the scenery of the garden are their pictures. Gotta love Chinese architecture.

A nice place to wander around and get lost.

Okay, this doesn’t have much to do with Hong Kong, but after Phil took a picture of it at one of the McDonald’s we ate at, I couldn’t resist putting it on here. You have to admit that it’s pretty freaking hysterical. Before you go thinking that this is just some more Chinglish, I have to tell you that the original message on the box was – Sweet Taro Pie. Taro is a potato. Phil just thought it looked much more interesting the other way and photoshopped it. After giving it the name, we’ve both had a hard time calling it by it’s original one. You must know how nick names stick, especially if they are funny ones. The real kicker is the picture of the girl kissing the guy. The expression on his face is just great. The “Caution, I’m hot” adds to the humor as well.

Oh, my Sweet Tard Pie.

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Pigs, Dragons, Cats, and Majong – Oh My!

bya Gabrielle at 3:03 AM

As you can see, we’ve found a way to upload pictures again. At least for the time being. For those of you keeping track, Phil and I are still in Beijing. Our next attempt to get the heck out of this city will be on Saturday the 10th at 11:00 pm by overnight train. So far the weather looks clear so we shouldn’t have a problem in that regard, but at this point I won’t be holding my breath or getting my hopes up. After everything that has happened, nothing can shock me anymore. As long as I get there in one piece, I don’t care how or when I get there.

Because the Internet cafe we use on a daily basis doesn’t have any working ports, we’ve had to upload them via WECL’s computers to our emails and then run across the street and download them to the Internet cafe’s computer desktop where we can then upload them to Blogger. It’s all a crazy mess really, but hey, I get to post pretty pictures again. That makes me happy! : )

So without much further ado, let me introduce you to the lucky five contestants that were chosen for today’s post.

Some elderly people playing Majong at Longmen Village.

I’m not sure who’s driving: the boy or the crazy cat. Located on a wall at Longmen Village.

“Here Piggy, Piggy, Piggy, I’ve got a jiao for you.” One man is about to make all is dreams come true by chucking the equivalent of a penny in this pig’s mouth. It’s the year of the pig, by the way.

I wish this was my front door back home. Everyone would envy me. My memory fails me, but I think this picture was taken at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

One of the 7 dragons on a wall in Hong Kong.

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Once Upon Time, We Were Rich Folk, Too

bya Gabrielle at 1:39 AM

And then we got bounced like one of those toy rubber balls all over China. You know, the ones that will bounce up and hit the ceiling if you throw it hard enough. Man, someone chucked us good and hard. The picture is of Phil’s money right before we departed Fuyang for good. It was approximately 12,000 RMB(maybe a little more) and I had the same amount. So, if you do the math, that would be 24,000 RMB between us. That should have been more than enough to keep us afloat for our 45 day vacation, but like I’ve mentioned before – things didn’t go quite the way we planned. After our crazy ass journey from North to South and back again, we currently have about 3,000 RMB remaining between the two of us. And some of that is money we recently had exchanged because we feared we wouldn’t make it until our next paycheck. We still don’t know exactly when that will be. If the rumors are correct, we might get paid on the 5th. We’ll need it for sure because I am almost certain we will need to buy things to make our new apartment feel like home. The aparment may come “furnished”, but that doesn’t mean we will have plates, utincles to eat with or pots and pans to cook with. Our bed may not even have sheets. I’d be very excited if any of the above pictures were in USD instead of RMB. Then I could say we really were rich, but in actuality, it is only about $1,538. It is a lot in Chinese standards, as long as you don’t try to live a western lifestyle. Well, this post is making me depressed looking at all the money we burned through in the last month and a half – so I better stop writing about it. I blame our poverty on the planes we had to take and our visit to Hong Kong. It was nice, it was fun, but damn, was it expensive!

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bya Gabrielle at 3:20 PM

The word is that we will be leaving Beijing(thank God) for Shenyang either on the 3rd or 4th, but I have no idea which mode of transportation we will be using. I vote for the plane, but we have too much junk. Supposedly, they will pay to have our stuff shipped there, so I see no reason to take the train if that is the case.

Currently, to bide our time, we have been watching season after season of Smallville and House. We’ve also stocked up on a whore of movies that we picked up at various DVD stores for about 7 yuan each. They are all pirated, but strangely I feel no guilt handing over the money for them unless I get home of course to find that they don’t work! I guess that is what we will continue to do until we leave. It is the cheapest way of saving money, and right now are funds are pretty limited after are trip to and from Hong Kong. I sure hope we get paid soon.

Oh, and the best part about finding out when we leave is finding out when we start teaching. That would be the 5th. The Chinese sure know how to wait to the last minute. I don’t know how they expect us to teach with no preparation. I guess we will manage some how. We always do.

Shenyang is a big city and we will be smack dab in the center of it. That being the case – we should be able to pick up on a wireless signal. If not, it may be longer to post the pictures, but I will get to them. It just might take me a bit. Believe me, it is just as frustrating for me, as it is for you. I want you to see them too.

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Bouncing All Over China

bya Gabrielle at 11:25 PM

Currently, I am sitting in the Viennea Airport Hotel in Shenzhen, China. Geographically, it’s like being in Florida. It’s a nice city, and I find it hard to believe that about two decades ago it was a mere fishing village. But, I am way ahead of myself.

Phil and I spent about two weeks in Beijing, walking around and doing normal touristy things. We bought a tourist map at a local bookshop for 8 yuan and tried our best to plan out our days ahead. Beijing may not be that pretty, it’s rather bleak and depressing actually, but the one thing it does have is things to do. There are about a dozen temples and parks littered throughout the city, as well as shopping centers, markets and whatever else you can think of. Transportation isn’t that bad, but from where we were staying – off of the 5th ring road – it took nearly an hour if not more to get to any one particular place. That had mostly to do with the fact that Beijing is a large sprawling city and we had a hard time finding things within a reasonable walking distance. Even though we stuck to the subway and took taxis when it was the obvious better choice, our poor feet hurt on a daily basis.

We went to Tiananmen Square which reminded me of a Super Walmart parking lot. It was impressive because of it’s size, but other than that it was just a huge slab of bricks and would have helped out the air pollution problem more so if it was a park. Of course we visited the Forbidden City as well. Parts of it were under construction because of the Olympics. Beijing wants the city to be as pretty as can be when the hordes of people come to visit in 2008.

The one thing that these picture don’t express is how cold it was the day we decided to go to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It wasn’t the actual temperature that was so bad. For the majority of our stay, the temperature stayed in the 30’s and 40’s during the day and dipped a little below that at night. The problem was the wind. As I stood in the middle of Tiananmen, 30 mph wind gusts slammed into me and Phil. If either one of us had been a little lighter, I think we would have experienced what it was like to be a kite and joined the others fluttering above our heads.

It was in Tiananmen that we learned of the first of many Art Exhibits of the day located in the area. As we were walking around, a young man and woman approached us and began talking to us in English. They wanted to know where we were from, what we were doing in China, what we thought of Beijing, so forth and so on. They explained that they were art students and that they had some of their art work in one of the fancy buildings we were standing by. Supposedly it was free and that they just wanted to show off their traditional Chinese paintings. They tried very hard to get us to follow them in, but Phil and I have grown wary of Chinese people wanting to show us something special and free. We have found that almost everyone has something to sell a foreigner, and more times than not – it’s a scam. We declined and went about our business. At that point in time though we thought that they had both been sincere and didn’t think too much of it, but within the next 30 minutes or so we were approached by another man wanting to show us the same thing. He seemed as friendly as the last guy, but decided then that it was probably something we wanted to avoid. The funny part is that by the time we got down walking around Tiananmen and the Forbidden City at least 10 other people from 10 other exhibits asked us to come look at their art work. Some where more persistent than others. Eventually we just had to start ignoring them or telling them we had already seen it which really confused them.

We’ll have to go back when our parents come in July. It may be windy then too, but at least it won’t be so blistering cold. The wind made it very hard to enjoy everything and I didn’t get as many pictures as I wanted because my fingers were too cold to snap them. I’m surprised my camera actually worked. There was one night that it absolutely refused to take a picture of a temple. It was that cold. We more or less ran through the Forbidden City trying our best to avoid the dirt that came with wind. I had heard about the dust storms before hand, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. There was a thin layer of dirt constantly sticking to the chap stick I kept putting on my lips to keep them from drying out. When I would breath, the little grains of dirt would fly into my mouth and for hours I could feel them gritting between my teeth. Yuck, yuck, yuck is all I have to say. Next time I am going to wear a surgical mask like some of the other visitors I saw that day.

The one thing that I never knew about the Forbidden City is how big it is. It’s massive. Just when you think it is about to end, there is yet another section to explore. I’m sure that there is a lot we didn’t see due to the fact we were trying our best to get back into the warmth of our dorm. It may have been more helpful to have had a tour guide since we didn’t know the history of the place. I think the next time we go I’ll fork up the money for it. Maybe by the time we get back they’ll be done with the construction and we’ll be able to see it without all the scaffolding. There was one particular building that they were working on and had built a wall up in front of it. They had painted the wall to look like it would have had it not been for the construction. I found it pretty funny.

During our two weeks we saw a few markets and some other touristy spots, but for the most part we stayed inside our dorm to save money. We found out not long after we got to Beijing that we would be taking a trip to Hong Kong because our last school had kept our important documents(ie visa and foreign expert card) too long and had let them expire. Because of the New Year approaching, we had to take a plane to Shenzhen and then cross the border into Hong Kong. It’s nice that we got to go see Hong Kong, but I had hoped that I if I went there, it would have been under different circumstances. So far, this little trip down south has been entirely on our bill causing us to burn through our savings and reimbursement of our plane ticket to China. As far as I know, our trip back up north is on our bill as well. Guess we’ve got to make the best out of bad situation. Seems I’ve been telling myself that a lot lately. I’ll get into that and our trip to Hong Kong in my next post. I’ll also post some more pictures for those of you curious as to what we have seen thus far. So, until next time. Laters.

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Beijing and All It’s Glory

bya Gabrielle at 2:50 PM

Ah, Internet.

After much searching and aching to feel these little keys at my finger tips while ones and zeros clammer through the world wide web, I have at last located an Internet cafe. I never knew how reliant I was on the Internet until just now. I’m sitting next to two Chinese men. The one on my left is busy blowing up bad guys in World of War Craft and the other is downloading and searching for things I’m not quiet sure of. I do see some weird scantily clad Chinese cartoon characters on his screen . . .

Well, I guess you may want to know how our train ride went. I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

At about 4 pm on Tuesday, we began taking our luggage down the 40 some odd steps that led to our hostel room. Phil was nice and took down the bulk of it. I played the weak and dainty girl and carried down our back packs. They weren’t light, though. Each had a lap top computer and some other odds and ends that we deemed important enough to bring with us. We stood out like the white Americans that we are as we rolled our bright purple, orange and turquoise bags down the streets of Hangzhou. Thankfully, the train station was just a few streets away, but it felt like miles with all that weight. I’ve made a promise to myself to never bring so much junk with me if I ever go to another country for an extended amount of time again.

Our train was due to leave at 6:03pm, so we made it to the train station in plenty of time. It’s always better to be early than to be late, you know, and it can’t be more true than it is in China. As we rolled our bags into the soft seat waiting room, I crossed my fingers and prayed that the ticket takers wouldn’t forbid us to bring all our crap in. They didn’t say a word and I was very much relieved. We plopped a squat and waited the hour an half for our train. The time passed quickly, and soon we heard the call for our ride – train number Z10. I was very pleased to find out our platform was on level ground and that there were no more stairs to drag our crap up. We hopped on the train and found our seat without too much of a hassle. Again our bags caused chaos. The aisle was small, and everyone else wanted to get to their seat, too. We got a lot of stares as we tried picking up our bags one at a time and placing them on the racks above our heads. I am sure that they were wondering why we had so much stuff and where in the world we taking it. Of course, they had no idea that we weren’t tourist, but instead residents like themselves and that everything we had with us were our worldly possessions.

Tired and hot, we finally got everything settled and took our seats. It wasn’t long before two Chinese people came to their seats(directly across from us – like looking into a mirror). They took one look at us and said, giggling of course – “Foreigners” – in English like we weren’t there to hear them. They then looked at the rack above us and saw there was no room for their two little bags and had to find a place to put them. Come to find out, they were on their way to Beijing to study English(they knew some English already). I think that we couldn’t have sat by better people. Talking to them made the trip go so much smoother. The 14 hours was tough, though. 14 hours on any form on transportation is hard. I managed to get about 2 hours of shut eye towards the very end, but it wasn’t enough, really. I wish that we could have traveled during the day because the only thing that I could see out the window the entire time was the light of the buildings and cities that we past. I can’t imagine the scenery would have been spectacular. I rode on a train to Shanghai once, and the scenery didn’t change at all. It was just farms and run down houses for 2 hours and some change.

We arrived in Beijing at about 7:30, just like we were supposed to. Our two new friends asked if they could have a picture of us and we obliged. We said our goodbyes and waited for the train to empty before exiting ourselves. Before we could do this, four Chinese men appeared and asked us if they could help us take down our luggage. We said no, that we could do it, but they insisted. They took down the four suitcases and started rolling in down the aisle. I thought they may try to run off with it, so I kept up with them as best as we could. As soon as we got off the train and started walking a little bit, they stopped and asked for 200 RMB. Phil and I both laughed hysterically and demanded our luggage back. They dropped the price to 100 RMB and we still laughed saying we didn’t even want them to take it in the first place. The price got dropped again to 40 and that is when we decided to take our luggage back into our possession and head for the exit. They weren’t happy with us, but I didn’t care.

We got to the exit with no problems, and met the people that were supposed to pick us up. In the world wind of everything, I forgot to take our tickets back from the ticket taker, and as a result, lost our ability to be refunded, but hey, it could have been worse. It was cold outside, but I had expected worse. Our greeters didn’t say much to us. All I heard way Morning, Cook, and Phillip. I thought maybe they didn’t speak English. They took the majority of our luggage, so I was happy. The trip to our next destination was a bit of a weird one. We seemed to be going the backward ass way, and through the worse part of town. Once or twice I was sure that the person driving was lost. The thought crossed my mind that these weren’t the people that were supposed to pick us up and that we had been kidnapped in Beijing, but that was my imagination running away with me as it normally does. Heh.

We arrived at a sketchy looking gated community that reminded me of a military base. It was actually a college campus. Beijing International Studies University. WECL, the company we will be working for in Shenyang has a sister-school here. They dropped us off at the dorm building that would become our home for the next several days and made us happy by helping us take our luggage up another 40 stairs to the third floor. Let me remind you that up to this point no one had said squat to us in English, so we didn’t have a clue what was going on. We were starving and tired, and couldn’t decide what to do first. There was a place at the front desk to buy drinks, so I got some liquids in me to hopefully quench my hunger. When Phil and I stepped out front to see where exactly we were staying a Chinese woman came out with our room number 310A and started speaking Chinese that we couldn’t understand, but we knew that she wanted us back in our room. My first thought was that we were under house arrest or something like that. Yeah, my imagination running off with me again. Heh.

We went back to the room thinking that maybe we had a telephone call, but the phone never rang. I laid down on the bed trying to figure what in the world was going on and why our room was so cold. This is the point in which I started to panic – but just a little. When I am hungry, cold, and tired, I am just not a happy person. I was all three of these, so you can imagine what I was like. Soon there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find two Chinese men holding a sink. Apparently, our sink was faulty, and they were there to fix it. A few minutes later, we had a new sink, and they left. I was too tired to care what was going to happen – whether the room would start warming itself up or how we would get food – so I did the only thing that seemed like a good idea. I slept. We both slept.

We slept for several hours and awoke to our bellies threatening to start eating anything our eyes saw. It was time to get out and find something of substance before we died. I didn’t care if the guards at the gate refused to let us out – I was going anyway. It wasn’t a problem, thankfully, and the guards let us out without even a word. And what did we see right outside the gate? The most beautiful site to a starving person . . . a McDonald’s.

More or less, we ate, we walked around a few blocks and came back home. And that was a first day in Beijing. Today is our third, and nothing that spectacular has happened. We went to the Beijing Zoo. All most all of the animals were put up because it was freezing outside. On the up side, we only spent 30 RMB to get in, so I didn’t feel ripped off or anything. Also, we went to a pedestrian street and had some yummy street food. I had some fried banana that tasted like a funnel cake. And my favorite – fruit on a stick with sugar drizzled over top.

And what is in store for us now? We will be in Beijing until the the 8th or 9th of February. Then we have to go to Hong Kong to get ourselves legal. That’s a long story; not as long as this one . . . but I’ll leave it to another day.

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