Thursday, December 17, 2009
West Lake was calling our names, so we pried ourselves from our beds to see the famous scenery in which we were so nicely located. Dad, it looked like the east coast of the U.S. and it even smelled like it! What a glorious thing. We walked around the lake for a while. Lauren and I had a hey day with all of our picture taking. We pretty much ran amock. But Yu Ling was waiting to meet up with us, so we left so we could attempt to make our rendezvous. Yu Ling is one of Lisa's friends she made while she was living here. She's pretty much the sweetest Chinese woman. Before I actually got to know how sweet she was, we first had to travel to meet her. Taxis ignored us left and right. We had no clue how we were going to get there, as all we had was the address in Chinese and no directions by bus. Luckily, the traffic conductor looked at our little post it and was able to communicate with us what bus we needed to take and that we would have to point at the paper once we got off the bus to get further directions. Turned out to be just fine. We got there with no problem- other than the fact that we were an hour late. Yu Ling was so sweet even though she had waited so long for us. She had chosen a really nice restaurant, too. It was a hot pot place. Chinese hot pot is simply a wok in the middle of the table that is on a hot plate and it has two sides (spicy and not spicy) and you get it boiling and add the things you want to eat. Kinda like the melting pot I guess. So much fun and such good food! I tried lotus root (a cold dish) and it tasted like a sweet potato but looked really funky. It was such a good time. I got to sit next to Yu Ling and we talked about all sorts of things. I wish we could've spent more time with her over the time that we were in Hangzhou.
After a few hours of chatting and eating, we took the bus back to the hostel and crashed. We were going to be getting up early to go the the materials market with one of Yu Ling's English students. Her name was Iris and she was just as cute as Yu Ling. Again, we were late, but only a half hour this time and it was because we had to walk quite a ways from where the bus dropped us off. But we found our way and met Iris and her friend Amanda. They helped us through the maze of booths with fabric. Wow! Talk about overwhelming. It was huge! An entire wing of the second floor was dedicated to buttons and such. We only lasted a few hours when our bellies started to growl. But priorities are priorities, so we went to the train station first to purchase our tickets home. And what was there? A Burger King. Where do you think we ate for lunch? Burger King. I knew we were going to be eating Chinese for dinner because Yu Ling was taking us out again, so I thought Burger King wouldn't be too bad. I was right, it wasn't too bad, but I would never eat there back home. I'm ready to be able to turn down Burger King and McDonald's. More shopping was calling our names, so we made a run for it. I got my last couple things before we met up with Yu Ling.
Dad, she is one of the most generous people I've met while here, and she's so loving. She paid for dinner for all six of us for a second night in a row! It was just as good as the night before, and then we got to go over to her house for tea. It was a really good night.
The next and final day was all on our own. We went out to lunch for some pizza and then headed to the other end of town to check out one final shopping area. That's where I got this really pretty coat! I feel like such a grown up in it, Dad. I'm all grown up! What're you going to do? Dad, I'm almost 21! Weird.
I'm almost home now. Can't wait to see you. I've missed you so much. Love you and hope you're doing well, Daddy.
Your little adventurer,
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It was 6 a.m. when we arrived in Guilin and when we discovered just how cold our weekend was going to be. I knew we could reach our hostel by walking, so we started- in the wrong direction of course. We stopped at another hostel and figured out how to get to the correct location. Once there and checked in, we climbed five sets of stairs with our numb limbs and pilled six girls on two beds. At the time, I didn't think I was tired, so I laid there squished against the wall listening to my iPod only to wake up three hours later- warm. But don't worry, Dad, we all got up and did more than regain normal body temperature and z's. We rode buses!! And lots of them! Our first destination was to the train station to get our tickets home. The hostel gave us correct directions. Our second destination was elephant trunk hill. The hostel did not give us correct directions. Our alternate second destination--McDonald's, for hot chocolate. Oh, did it taste and feel so good! We did some more bus riding without arriving anywhere at all, really. We took the hostel's directions to the commodities market to only find what looked like a massage parlor from the outside, but very well could've been featured in the movie Taken if the inside was a location. Creepy! We booked it out of there. But then we did find some sort of market where we all purchased items to help keep us warm, as we would be riding down a river the next day. I got a beanie, gloves, leggings, and a blanket and do not regret a single one of those purchases.
We wandered around looking at all the trinkets and items for sale. I tried several stores to get a North Face jacket down to the price I wanted it for. They were not budging. So we took a break and had dinner at Ryley's. I had lasagna, and it was every bit as good as home. With my belly now full, I headed out with a new determination to get that North Face jacket for the right price. Finally, a store offered me a jacket (not the version I was looking for, but still good) for a decent price and I got it. Then it was off to The Drifter's Cafe, where we had apple crumble, to show off my new purchase. That apple crumble was the topper to a wonderful day. You would've loved it, Dad! With the scoop of ice cream on top and the chilly air, it was like I was back at Girl's Camp and President brown had just dished me a good helping of his dutch oven apple cobbler. Yum! Needless to say, I slept well that night.
Tina, Barlow, Sarah and I woke up the next morning to go to the mudcaves. Yes, it was cold, but we weren't going to miss out on this, are you kidding me?! It was all a little sketchy getting there, but we got there just fine. To actually get into the cave we had to board a row boat. Kind of Harry Potter-esque. The sixth one, to be specific. It was a little chilly inside, but the further we went back to warmer it got. At the very end were some pools, so we changed into what we brought to get messy in. Barlow was the brave one and decided to jump in. The moment her head broke the surface of the water was the moment I realized I was okay not following her lead. Sarah wanted to get in as well, but she didn't want to jump, so she awkwardly slid/fell in. It was quite the sight. Love you, Sarah, but that was super funny. We then walked back to the mud to get all sorts of messy. We were unaware, however, that the mud bath was a foot deep. Probably a good thing. The mud felt so strange in between my toes. And who walks into the cave as we're playing in the mud but Bartos and Christine! It was nice to see them again. They were really cool. Before we could head to the hot springs, we had to wash all the mud off. Our guide made sure to point out any mud still on our bodies. The hot springs turned out to be more like bath water that was once hot and left standing for a half hour. Warmer than luke warm, but nothing special, other than the fact that it was very unclear where the water was originating.
Back to the hostel to shower! The real hot spring. My shower was pretty much a sauna. Glorious thing. The rest of the day was spent on West Street and eating at Ryley's, this time I got creamy spinach soup and garlic bread, and Drifter's for another apple crumble. We did not want our stay here to end. But the next morning we did have to get on a bus back to Guilin, where we barely made it to the train station on time. Or so we thought. We ran into the waiting room thinking we had missed it or would very soon miss it. Tina jumped over the rail and ran to find someone who spoke English to help figure out the situation. Turns out that everyone else in the waiting room was also on our train and that the train was late. And now we're back in Fuqing, safe and sound. How've you been, Dad? Hope you've had some adventures as cool as mine. Love you.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
As soon as we got back we started assembling our costumes. Lauren and I were fairies. I was good and she was bad. Tina was a new age American-Indian. For wings, Lauren and I used cardboard and covered them with color appropriate paper. Tina made a really cute head dress and earrings. Lauren Bailey, Madi and Sarah put on their colorful wigs and headbands with cat ears. Jessica was also a cat minus the wig. Emily was an emo/punk, which is the completely opposite of what she really is making it that much funnier. Katrina was a Mormon hick with a tattoo. Nicki was some sort of Pixie. And Jeshua was a cowboy. We made do with what we had and it worked out well. Emily was the make-up artist for the day. She did Lauren's, Della's and her own make up. They looked really good!
Pressed for time, we rushed down to our classrooms and arrived there at the same time as our kids. After teaching them to say 'trick-or-treat' we went to our individual classrooms and waited for them to knock on our door. It was a little backwards. Instead of the trick-or-treaters dressing up it was the candy hander-outers that did the dressing up. Once the kids knocked on my door I got a little bombarded. I don't think they understood the purpose of their bags because the kids that had them still held out their hands instead of their bags. Also, I don't think they understood that they only get one candy from each door instead of the whole bowl. That made it hard to know who had gotten candy because I was just putting candy in hands because there were so many kids around me there was no way to really tell what hand went with what face. After an hour of trick or treating it was back up to our rooms to watch some Office. Tina, Lauren and I watch The Office a lot.
It was then out for the night. There's a street in downtown Fuqing that we know as Garden Street. Lauren found a nut shop there the other week that sells almonds for cheaper than Trustmart. She also got some awesome sesame-covered cashews and walnuts. I got some really good raisins there that one of the Kung Fu teachers had me try. After a little dinner we went to Pig City Games. I'm thinking the translation is off, it's too funny to not be. There we did this funky ride that twirled us round and round. Nearly got sick. But the whole point of going there was because they had a haunted house. It was really small and rather pathetic, but quite pleasurable. The girls were rather skittish so I just smiled and rolled my eyes at them. It was quite dark, but the mechanical dummies were never really hidden and sometimes a guy would reach through holes and try and grab them. Just hearing their screams was funny. You know me, Dad, I don't really do haunted houses back home because they just don't scare me, and they're pricey. But it was entertaining to hear the girls freaking out as they were hesitant to push onward through the maze after feeling an arm on their shoulder. We asked if we could go again for free, and, of course, they let us. I think they let us because they were with me in thinking it was rather hilarious how much the girls were screaming. I think they did it for their own entertainment. The Chinese people must not react like that.
All in all, it was a pretty good Halloween. Tell Bart Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Today I made a rice sock. It reminded me of that. The smell of rice and the warmth of it against my skin. I miss you, Dad. It's hard thinking that you won't "be there" when I get home from the airport, and that I won't be able to see you, but I know you're there and I know you're even here sometimes. That's where the rice sock comes in. It's my reminder that you're here and that you're near and still love me. I love you, Dad.
Mom sent me some pictures of Christ. I hung one up right above my bed. He has a little boy close to his shoulder with his hand on his head. It makes me think of you. I don't know why. You didn't really do that. You gave me hugs, but you never did that exact thing with me. I sometimes feel like you are now, though. I miss you a lot, Dad. I haven't 'seen' you in so long. I know you're there. It's hard thinking I won't see you for a while. I hope you're doing well, Daddy. Stay near, okay?
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Once we got there, I was so excited! There was this real funky lighthouse that we walked to, but the majority of our time there was spent on the sand and in the water. It was so cool! I was on a beach in China!!! As cool as it was though, it was so frustrating, Dad. There was garbage in the water and on the beach. I could have hit someone. Biggest pet peeve right there. But I still had a blast. We would see if we could jump over the really big waves. Jeshua tried to launch me and Lauren over one, but it didn't really work. I've never had more fun at a beach! Because it was overcast, I was forced to just play in the water. There was no laying on a towel. As nice as that would have been to just lay in the heat, I'm glad it turned out to be overcast.
Lauren and I were also buried in the sand up to our waist! We got so sandy. It was a really fun day trip. Once I got home I was in the shower. I felt so gross. And then we watched Earth. The happiest movie ever! That movie makes me happy to be alive. And it more than testifies that we have a Heavenly Father who created this beautiful planet and us as well. It makes me excited for life and what's ahead of me. I just get giddy thinking about it, Dad. I'm so excited to be going to BYU this winter. Hopefully the college life will be fun there. It'll be interesting dating there. I remember that I didn't want to go there straight out of high school because I didn't want to get married right away. I was a little silly. I'm also very excited to go back to school! Now that I'll be back at a big university I can take all sorts of classes! I already have some in mind. I can't wait, Dad. Tell Mom "Hi" and give her a kiss for me.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Lauren and I made a playlist thus named to prepare ourselves for a night like tonight. I've never seen I rain like this before, Dad! I la la la LOVED it! We were all in our room talking about our trip to Beijing when we saw flashes out the window. Next thing we know, it's coming down like lions and wolves--not just cats and dogs. Despite the fact that I had just showered, I went and danced in the rain.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I remember when you sat me down to talk about China. You asked why I was doing this when I talked about how much I wanted to go to Italy. You wondered why I wasn't planning that first. As soon as I explained my reasons and you understood that I was doing this to hopefully make it easier to get a scholarship to send me to Italy, you were behind me one hundred percent. Even if I don't get to go to Italy, I will never regret my decision to come to China. I've really found myself here, Dad.
It's different from just being at a semester of college. Moving away from home, I learned better habits and things like time management and self discipline, but living in a different country adds another factor. I've never clung tighter to the gospel and my Savior. Before, sure, I would read every day, but if I was tired, sometimes I would just read a few verses just to say I did it. That's the good version. Like Elder Oaks said, there are three degrees of quality: good, better and best.
I'm better at scripture study now. I love reading. There's always something waiting for me on the next page. What would it be like to have people read what I wrote several hundreds of years from now and be affected by it? I'm not directed by the Spirit like these men are in the scriptures. They have nations and generations they were entrusted with preaching the gospel to, which is what allowed them to write things that stand the test of time and can change a person's life in the 1850's and in this millennium. What a blessing!
In addition to having better study habits I have also improved with the small things--I'd like to think at least. I floss my teeth more now. I know I won't be seeing a dentist for a while and Mom reminded me that you said to floss the ones I want to keep, so I do. I pay more attention to what I'm eating and really try to make sure I am have some veggies every day, but if I don't, it's not entirely my fault because I can only really eat what the cafeteria serves. I sure hope I'm making you proud, Dad. My time here isn't even half over and I already know that it's going to change the rest of my life. Thank you for sitting me down and being the objective person you are by making sure I wanted to do this. Because of that talk, I knew I couldn't back out just because you had to leave. I knew you'd still want me to do this, and now I see why. I love you, Daddy.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
DAD!!! I did it!!! Today was so much better! The kids didn't make what I had made, they didn't really follow instructions, and I was still a little flustered, but I was ready for all of that! I knew it could happen, so I simply adjusted! It was so much smoother than yesterday despite all the things I just said. I feel like it was more of a success.
My roommate, Lauren, her dad sent me something. It was entitled the Ministering of Angels By Elder Holland. He said:
"My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face."
"May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord’s promise as contained in one of President Monson’s favorite scriptures: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, … my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
"The ancient prophets who died were those who came to visit their fellow creatures upon the earth…It was such beings-holy beings if you please-who waited upon the Savior and administered to him on the Mount…In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh."
Thanks for coming and helping me, Dad. I couldn't have done it without you. All the things you would do that were affective in your primary class came to mind, and that really helped in my teaching. As I was laying in bed last night, feeling a little 'woe is me,' I felt comforted just laying there. Thanks for coming. You always know what to do or say when I'm down, and I may not remember what you did or said to cheer me up, but I remember how I felt. I love you so much, Dad. Tell everyone back home that I miss and love them. Oh! And tell them to enjoy their good food, because they may not know how good they have it ;)