Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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The New Year and Luzhou’s Great Outdoors

February 7, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I hope the Year of the Rat is good to you all.

On this special holiday when everyone else in the country is spending quality time at home with their families, I celebrated by running 4 miles in the cold rain. It was not as miserable as it sounds, I promise.

Actually, it was quite lovely. Growing up in the thriving jungle-like ecosystem of the Minneapolis suburbs, I took many things for granted, like seeing the occasional small animal. Or… tree. And being alone on a hiking trail or bike path. That is why this is my favorite little corner of Luzhou, and why I am grateful that the rain kept the sane people inside so I could enjoy the solitude today. It’s not Taroko Gorge and it’s not the North Shore, but Luzhou has its charms now and then.

Yeah… don’t ask me about the last one.

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Long Awaited China Blog

February 2, 2008

I suppose now that more than a month has passed I should say something about my trip to China with my mom.

Beijing was a disappointment to us. I will be perfectly content to skip that city altogether on my next trip.

First of all, it’s smoggy. Seriously smoggy. But don’t worry, they’re going to fix that before the olympics, no problem. The athletes have nothing to fear. Also, the whole area is such a tourist trap. There are people on practically every corner waiting to shove something in your face to buy. The Great Wall, for example. Fortunately, we went on a Christmas hike on a section of the “wild wall” which hasn’t been restored, so we got to see how amazing the wall could really be, but later we went on a bus tour that took us to Badaling. When I finally gasp my way to the highest tower on a section of the Great Wall, I don’t want my view obstructed by someone trying to sell me a “I climbed the Great Wall” T-shirt. (Okay, yeah, I bought a T-shirt.)

Beijing was also a very cold reminder that I will have some readjusting to do when I get back to Minnesota. Which will be soon. I will tell you the details of that in the near future. Which, given my blogging track record, probably means 7 or 8 months after I get back.

Anyway, I submit to you the following picture as a summary of Beijing. Unclear skies, the olympic dream, and the Great Wall swarming with tourists.

Beijing at a Glance

One final complaint about Beijing and China in general is the lack of 7/11s and other such convenience stores. For someone accustomed to Taiwan, this flaw makes the place seem virtually unfit for human habitation. Where, I ask you, is a girl supposed to satisfy a 3:00 AM Snickers bar craving?

The major purpose of the trip for me was returning to Hangzhou, where my family lived 20 years ago. A lady never reveals her age, so I’ll just say that 20 years ago I was older than 3 but younger than 5. So my memories are hazy at best, and of very random things. Still, it is a very significant part of my life since it sparked the interest in Asia that eventually led me here.

I didn’t have high hopes for Hangzhou after Beijing, but I ended up loving it. I even found myself entertaining fantasies of living there. I think I’m calling it quits in Asia for a while, but if I were looking for a new location on this side of the world, Hangzhou would be high on my list.

My mom brought a bunch of old pictures with her, and we wandered around trying to recreate them. Here is an example from a part of Hangzhou which hasn’t changed too much (I’m a little bit taller though).

Then:
Baochu Pagoda in 1987

Now:
Baochu Pagoda in 2007

That seems to be about the only unchanged part of the city. It is unbelieveable, even to me who only sort of remembers it, how much Hangzhou has modernized. Many of the places in the photos simply don’t exist anymore, others have changed radically. A good example is the Hangzhou Foreign Language School where my parents taught. Here is the building in which it was located 20 years ago:
Hangzhou Foreign Language School in 1987

Here is just one portion of the current campus.

Hangzhou Foreign Language School in 2007

I have to include some sheep pictures, just because this statue with the sheep is my clearest memory of Hangzhou. For some reason, while all my other memories are distant and fuzzy, those sheep made a serious impression.

1987:

Gushan in 1987

2007 (The sheep are sadly neglected by most these days, but my love for them will never fade) :

That is all the blogging I have in me for now. Many more pictures, as always, here. Peace out.

West Lake

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December 25, 2007

It seems that WordPress is blocked in China. Fortunately, I am crafty enough to overcome that barrier in ways that certainly no Chinese person has ever thought of.

All just to say, Merry Christmas! I hope all of my readers are having a wonderful holiday season!

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Happy Birthday Confucius

September 28, 2007

To all my fellow teachers out there, have a wonderful Teacher’s Day!

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新年快樂!

February 17, 2007

Happy Year of the Pig!

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The year is coming! The year is coming!

February 6, 2007

 Sorry I haven’t updated in so long.  I’ve been having serious trouble with my internet connection and besides that it’s just a busy time of year around here.  Truthfully, there hasn’t been a lot to say.  I’ve been working.  My mom was here last week, but mostly I worked the whole time so we couldn’t do a lot.

Fortunately, I only have to work this week and the next and then I get a week off for Chinese New Year!  At the kindergarten I have to perform in a skit about the legend of New Years.  It goes something like this:

Long, long ago there was a terrible monster called “Nian”, which means year. Every New Years eve it would rise out of the sea to terrorize the people.  Finally one year a wise old beggar told the people how to scare the monster away.  They had to put up red decorations because Nian is scared of the color red. They dressed in lion costumes and lit firecrackers and succeeded in sending Nian back to his home in the sea… until next year.

I will be playing the part of a terrorized villiage person. AAAAAH!  Help me!  Help me!

I’m sure I will update later about what Chinese New Year is really like around here.

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Family Visit and Taroko Trip

December 28, 2006

Maybe you’ve heard about the recent earthquakes here in Taiwan. Well, we (me and my dad and brother, who are visiting me currently) weren’t anywhere near where the damage occured, so we’re fine, but our hotel room was certainly shaking that night. Quinn and my dad have been here since last Sunday, and we’ve done a lot since then.  It’s been pretty stressful to work full time and have guests as well, but fortunately I got to take the last few days off so we could take a little trip down to Hualien and Taroko Gorge. Here are our past 2 weeks in pictures!

First we got the touristy stuff out of the way, like going to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, Taipei 101,

and Taiwan Storyland.  Taiwan Storyland is a recreation of 1965 Taipei. Here’s my dad in the classroom there, pretending he’s some kind of teacher or something.

Then they came to the kindergarten to hang out with my kids

and watch me teach.

On Christmas eve we went to Danshui

and then came home for a Christmas dinner of soup, fried rice, cookies, and rice wine.

I gave my brother a Xiao for Christmas

and he and my dad gave me an Erhu, so we played some beautiful music together.

On Christmas we headed down to Hualien and Taroko Gorge.  I think these pictures speak for themselves: