Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ocean Park

The semester is winding down! In an effort to have one more fun day before studying completely takes over, Liana, Sophie, Anne, and I went to Ocean Park. It’s an amusement park, but the major lure is the Panda’s and ocean life. We had a really good day, and I took some fun photos of God’s AMAZING creatures. The colors were so vibrant, and I was especially captivated by the Jelly Fish exhibit.

Before the Ocean Park pics, two others need space in the bloggersphere...I Finally made it up to Victoria Peak on a clear night. It was quite a view!












My radiant friend, Liana!










It seems that all clown fish have been permanently named Nemo.


This was a four story, viewing aquarium simulating an atoll reef. Liana said all the fish are very well fed in aquariums like this, which makes sense so that they can coexist more peacefully.






Quote of the day: “He has fish in his purse”






the new home for the Panda's...opening soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beijing

After taking about 240 pictures while in Beijing, I picked my favorite 60 for facebook, and then further reduced them to 30 for blogger. So it’s safe to say this is just a recap of the highlights, and if you’re interested I have a bunch more pics that can be viewed at a later date! After a week off school for the Easter holidays, I am in Hong Kong for 4 more weeks and then it’s back to the USA.

So lets see where to begin…I went to Beijing with 5 other students from my home university. Dr. Bennion, a Bowling Green professor (who has been the overseer of our program) met us there and planned two days of tours for the group and a meeting with the American Embassy. Three of us opted to take an approximately 3 hour flight, and the other three chose to take the train for about 25 hours. My group included Melissa, Liana, and myself. To insert an interesting point, the stewardesses came around and collected all foreign newspapers before we landed, because they are not permitted in China. We got in pretty late and needed to change a small amount of Hong Kong money into RMB for the taxi ride to our hotel downtown.

I hope the next two paragraphs are not a bore, but I have to tell the money story, as it was my first experience in China. Here goes…None of us had notified our banks about our travels, opting rather to take sufficient HK$ and just exchange at the hotel for an almost non-existent fee. Well, all the currency exchange places were closed (after midnight) and we were about to just go ahead and get money out of an ATM and then call our banks when we spotted a currency exchange machine—woohoo, right? Well…turns out, after we stepped up to the machine and touched “English”, a guy in a blue suit stepped up and said he would help us, as he worked for Travelex (the company of the machine). At this point we didn’t really need the help, but he seemed determined. I was fishing my wallet out of my bag and he was clicking some things on the screen when he announced that it was temporarily broken. What, it was fine a minute ago??

The man said he would take us to a Travelex booth and exchange the money himself, and we decided to followed him back past customs (showing our visas and passports again) in desperation. Along the way he said there would be a commission fee. Being skeptical, I ensued a series of questions about why the machine quit working? Why we had to pay commission when the machine we wanted to use was out of service? Finally, after he said the machine charges commission too, I had to give up and just be thankful we weren’t going to be stranded at the airport for the night. Poor guy, I was definitely giving him a hard time and a suspicious look.

When we finally made it out of the airport we got a taxi and were on our merry way to the hotel. I have to say I felt extremely comforted driving on the right side of the road! It was an enjoyable 30 minute ride and traffic was really light so late at night. Ok, now for some pictures!



Noodles in the park..delicious.


Intricate designs on the ceiling..at all the temples and parks!








Outside the forbidden city--that mote is 3,800 meter long!





Scorpions and seahorses on a stick…the scorpions were still squirming. The guy would cook them up fresh for those interested. No thanks!








Outside the entrance to the Forbidden City. Most people use the other entrance, and it was nice going against the tourist crowd…smart tour guide.


Intricate carvings in stone between two sets of steps


The Forbidden City



The other entrance (our exit) with Mao Zedong picture…facing Tiananmen square.


Tiananmen Square


Temple of Heaven


Andrew and some ladies that wanted their picture with him. This happened sooo many times! People who probably hadn’t seen many westerners wanted pictures with us. Some even took our pics while we were weren’t looking. It was crazy.


Olympic Park from the window


We took a tour of a Cloisonne Pot factory, which I really enjoyed. Cloisonné, an ancient metalworking technique, is a multi-step enamel process used to produce jewelry, vases, and other decorative items. (from Wikipedia, of course :)


All of us and The Great Wall of China!! We were pretty excited.








Our tour guide Jamie





That was 454 steps, in case you were wondering :D


Our fancy restaurant dinner on Thursday. Peking Duck with Liana’s roommate, Sophie, and her mother. They live in Beijing and very generously took us all out to eat and taught us about all the dishes on the table. Sophie’s dad couldn’t make it due to work, but it was great meeting her mom (who doesn’t speak English) and a few of her friends.








The Summer Place. It is a huge garden/lake place where the emperor would retreat in the summer. Absolutely gorgeous.





Blurry, but for all my Troy readers—HOBART!! This company started in my hometown.

Well that’s it for the pictures. I can’t do the trip justice with a blog entry of course, but it at least shows a bit of the experience. We had great, clear weather for sightseeing, which Jamie said is not usually the case. One place I didn’t get a picture of was the silk factory we toured. It was interesting seeing how silk is made, starting with the silk worm, and moving through a series of phases. Did you know that the little strand of silk on one cocoon can stretch longer than a mile!

It was strange not having a working cell phone and Internet connection. For some reason calls to the US didn’t go through, even on Melissa’s calling card. I definitely realized how much I like being able to contact those I care for, and it was a long time without talking to my mom. :) We managed to get to an internet cafĂ© to check our emails and let our parents know we had arrived safely, so we all felt a little better after that. It only cost 3 RMB for an hour! That’s about 44 pennies US$. For a little info, the Chinese Yuan is also known as Yuans, and RMB. It was weird getting “change” in bill form. For instance, if you pay with a ten you might get 2 fives back. The fives are smaller in size, and represent half a yuan, but it definitely had me confused at first, especially because coins are used too.

It was neat being able to recognize that the language is different in the Mainland than in HK. Granted, I still have no idea what is being said, but I could recognize that it sounded a bit different. HK has 2 official languages, English being one of them, so it's pretty easy to get around. However, in China, that is not the case. All of us felt a little more challenged than usual in the communication department. While traveling back to HK, we were excited to return to a place where we feel comfortable..or at least familiar.

Hmm, what else to share... I can’t think clearly because I stayed up way too late trying to finish this post. I may write a follow up blog if enough things come to mind that could be added, but I guess I’ll go ahead and call it a night. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Coming Right Up

It will be weird missing Easter at home. It is a special time, and I'm used to spending most of it with my church. But rather than just sitting around campus (we don’t have classes all week), I’ll be flying up to Beijing on the 13th and returning to HK on the 18th! I picked up my mainland China visa at the Chinese consulate in Wan Chai a few days ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I’ll save the blogging for afterward!

I’ve reached a point where the end is in sight, but it’s still far away..43 more days. In an effort to put some of the thoughts drifting through my brain down on paper, I have started several lists. Keep in mind that some things are really random, and that the items are not in any particular order.


What am I looking forward to at home?

*Being with my family/friends
*Charlie- I always miss my favorite k-9 when away.
*Seeing grass instead of concrete
*Driving places
*Being inside a house, an actual solid house with a front door. I haven’t been in one since the morning I left Troy! (Only the really rich live in houses here, due to the high population.)
*Homemade Lasagna/homemade banana bread/random fruit smoothie concoctions in the blender…fooood in general.
*Being finished with dorm life forever (although this entire year has been free from kids being immature—still happy it’s over)

What will I not miss when I leave?

*Rice-at least for a while
*The construction outside my window
*Crossing the streets!
*Noise, noise, noise.

What will I miss?
*My new friends and acquaintances
*Hearing my roommate talk in her sleep, in Cantonese! haha..It always amazes me that people are dreaming and thinking in different languages.
*Hopping on the MTR and going places
*Pacific Coffee Company (I don’t know for sure, but this company may have more market share in HK than Starbucks)
*Church and fellowship with the Ralee family and others
*My potted plant (I don’t think customs would appreciate me bringing soil back)