A Travellerspoint blog

Chinese hair cuts

overcast

These past few days have been calmer then usual compared to the usual hussle bussle of school life. Thursday was fairly uneventful. Although i did get my hair cut! which was an adventure of its own. I had mentioned to my 奶奶 (grandma) that I had wanted a hair cut. So Thursday after dinner me and Ma Ri and grandma went to the salon. Ha, funny. Salon... It was probably a shop no bigger then 15x 15 feet. I mean tiny. there was one stylist and girl who looked about 12. The hair dresser was finishing up with a man and there was another woman waiting and i kept hearing whispers of 外国人 (foreigner). Finally the guy just up and said "你是因国人吧?" You are British aren't you?haha no not quite, although closer then most. Usually I get asked if I'm french. I politely told him no i am an american in which he immediately asked how much i weighed. I told him i didn't know how to convert it into kilograms plus in america it is considered very rude to ask a woman how much she weighs. Then my 奶奶 stepped in and I stopped listening to the conversation. Every so often she would ask 对吧凯西?( isn't that right Kacey?) and I would just nod and say 对奶奶 ( yes grandma). After ma ri got her bangs trimmed it was my turn. Ill admit i was a little worried about the cleanliness factor of the salon, as there were piles of hair on the floor and dirty brushes and the sink they washed my hair in was rusty. Thank God I didn't have wifi or i would've spent My time waiting web Md-ing diseases you could contract through your scalp. It was like any other hair cut though. The lady knew what she was doing and she took her time so by the time my hair was washed cut and straightened (for the first time in over a month!!!) there were 3 women waiting and the 12 year old was busy giving the lady next to me a perm. Approximately $3.21 later.image

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My 奶奶 told me later that the lady who cut my hair is the best in the neighborhood and that the small shops are incredibly more cheaper then the big shops. Doesn't change the fact it was pretty dirty and my head itches today. That's ok MaRi seems fine and the mosquitos are out so I've probably just been bit. Oh joy malaria.
Friday was our field trip day!! I got to Skype with my family which was really nice as I hadn't gotten to actually see my dad or my nieces yet. Here's a family photo :) image

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Our field trip was scheduled for zheng hua men and Confucius temple. I was told that Zheng hua men is the biggest inner city wall in the whole world.*skeptical raised eyebrows* and was pretty cool. While waiting to get in we saw the infamous old men and trained birds, and yea of course I asked to hold one, and yea It was awesome! image

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Can't you tell by that excited look on my face? It pretty much went like every other field trip in the way that we pretty much just took pictures with each other so enjoy the result of that. But first!!! A history lesson. In china every single brick has the brick makers name, his supervisor and where it was made inscribed on it. This is in case a quality control issue arises and the brick wasn't made well, the correct people can be tracked down and killed. True story. And here's photographic proof.image

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And here's some cool dragon things and one of my classmates devin image

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Here we have my good friends Maggie from San Fransico and Lev also from Seattle
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This is the actual wall
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These are my classmates plus the program director plus a few of the Chinese roommates
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And this is the saddest picture I've ever taken.
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One of my classmates, Alex, had bought a huge inflatable hammer. While walking down a semi crowded shopping area we hear Alex say " uh hey you guys who's kid is this? He's trying to steal my hammer" funny right? Not for the next 15 minutes while a 5 year old sobbed and latched onto poor Alex's leg refusing to let go until he either gave him the hammer or bought a flower. Eventually one of the Chinese roommates picked him up and we all pried him off of Alex's leg. It was funny at first then we all realized he was being made to do this and it put a damper on everyone's mood.
This all happened at Confucius temple which was really cool but I'll admit my hands were too frozen to take many pictures. I live here though so I know I'll be back so check back for pictures of that :)
It's 11:45 Saturday night now and I have to wake up early to go to the market with my grandma so I must sleep! Byeeeeeee <3

Posted by Kaceyroo 07:30 Archived in China Comments (2)

First week of school!

sunny

I am with my host family now. It is so far going really well. I live with parents, grandparens and a young grand daughter. She is 13 and in the 8th grade. Everyone is absolutely wonderful! the family has two houses so I only live in one with the grandparents and young daughter. Our house is cold. all the time. In china it is not uncommon to wear your jacket from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. And the slippers. we all wear slippers from the moment you walk in the door till the moment you leave the house. Finding slippers that fit me was a riot, and embarrissing but mostly just hilarious. My families house is down a small alley and then we walk up this gated staircase (it looks super sketchy, has no lights, is very dirty) up to the 5th floor. But I wasn't that worried because if i have learned anything from China thus far it would be that you can absolutley never judge a house by its outside in China. The air pollution is so bad that it is the biggest waste of time to try and clean it. So even though my apartment building was gross the inside is absolutley spotless. My house has an enormous ping pong table in the middle of the room that I have yet to use but hopefully this weekend me and Ma Ri ( little sister) will play.
I have my own room which is awesome. It is relatively big and one wall is a huge mirror. Score. it has a heater and an air conditioner and a huge window. My bed is slightly softer then a rock :)
I use my hot water bottle and my down blanket every night to keep from freezing. hahah everything is different. The showers are interesting. if you want to take a shower you have to turn on the hot water heater a few hours in advance, our shower has a heat lamp on the top so you don't have to undress in the cold. That is the one thing I have noticed and the one thing they have repeatedly asked me. Are you cold? Are your hands cold? You are not allowed to drink anything cold such as milk or water. As soon as I get out of the shower my grandma is waiting to give me a blanket and has my bed made for me. She continuously says my house is your house I want you to be comfortable. You are my child now. She does my laundry makes me food, paacks me lunches, tries to do my hair for me (which i politely refuse because curly hair is way different then straight hair to managage lol) and she holds my hand when we cross the street. I feel like a complete child.
Funny thing happened the other day. I gave them some things to wash, including a few socks. I have lost an incredible amount of things while we were traveling prior to the start of the program. That includes most of my socks, lotion, retainer, chargers etc. There is a little piece of me all over China. Sooooo after washing my clothes they realized I 4 socks. All different colors. This was mind blowing to them and I took the next ten minutes trying to explain that I had lost them and had went and bought new ones. Oh and I had left 80 kuai in my pockets. oops
Classes are good. Very challenging. My listening comprehension is absolutely superb. I can listen to people talking and not have any issue understanding what they are saying. However, I tested into the intermediate level. The people in the intermediate level have had 2-3 years of chinese. I have had 1. So I understand the concepts, but I don't recognize or know the majority of the characters in my book, so when I go home from school I spend at least 4 hours on my homework just translating the questions and knowing how to say the answers. I do this for two classes and it takes up an incredible amount of time. However I have seen both professors at office hours and they are impressed with my speaking and listening skills so that is reassuring and they both know that I haven't had as much experience with characters. So i know they are patient with me but it is still frustrating the amount of extra effort I have to put in. My grandma has started helping me with my homework at night though so I am improving quickly.
The food is great as well although I have eaten things I wouldve perferred not too. Pigs feet, kelp, intenstines, stomach, donkey dick, fermented eggs, and I'm pretty sure I ate brains last night. Oh well my family is impressed I eat everything so thats good. I finally asked how many exchange students they have had in the past. I'm the first. It makes sense why they are incredibly attentive. They are ALWAYS giving me snacks and ALWAYS asking if I am comfortable, it hasn't gotten annoying yet but it might. lol
Thank god I have been abroad before or else this would probably be a little bit more difficult to handle. But trust me everything is fine, I'm having a blast, I am super duper busy but I will get internet at my house tonight and hopefully will blog more

Posted by Kaceyroo 23:47 Archived in China Comments (1)

Death mountain!!

snow 19 °F

This post is from a very long time ago and i finally have reliable enough interent to post it :)

We were supposed to wake up early today to see the sunrise but neither one of us could drag ourselves out of bed until 8am. Then we were kind of slow going and we eventually left a little before 10. It was mostly my fault though because I didn't charge my camera ahead of time and there was no way I was going up death mountain without having photographic evidence! We had asked the front desk service people about how to get to the bus that takes us to hua mountain but after wandering in a few circles in the rain we eventually just took a cab to the train station. We tried to buy a train ticket but they were sold out. Then we saw it. I think it is referred to death mountain because you die just trying to get there. I mean this bus we took was a complete dump. And full of old Chinese men and three girls our age. We got a seat in the back. These are our what are we doing on this bus faces image

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We kinda waited around for a while until we asked the girls next to us when we will leave. "When seats have no more opens" so pretty much when the bus completely full. Oh and could this bus driver, uhm...drive? Swerving in and out of traffic, honking like crazy, slamming on his brakes, going really fast. It was like he was on his own little private race course. I will admit, I was getting really nervous. By this point it was snowing and we had no idea how long the bus ride would take, how we would actually get to the mountain etc, and when we asked the girl sitting next to us she kept saying "no problems, you just get a hotel. No problems" we tried to explain that we had an early flight to Nanjing the next day and we didn't want to stay the night but she couldn't really understand. It wasn't until we were in the middle of nowhere that we realized the two girls in front of us wanted to climb the mountain and come back to Xi'an later that night as well. These two girls literally saved us. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, where we were going. Nothing. If we didn't meet up with them we would probably still be at Hua Mountain.
Once we got dropped off we ordered some really cheap soup and bought some "supplies" which included a "fashion color poncho" and gloves with traction dots on the bottom. We were then told to take a cab to the bus station and buy the tickets for the bus up to the mountain. We caught the bus and 20 min later after driving up a long and windy road we made it. image

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It was snowing sooooo hard. We bought our gondola tickets and crammed into these rusted tin bucket things. It is at this point, when you are hundreds of feet in the air, that you think of Chinas lack of quality control and you ask yourself "why in the hell would I trust this?" I asked the two girls if they were scared and they said no not at all. Ahhh communism will provide. image

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By this point you couldn't even see the wire that was a few feet above us it was so foggy and snowy...and it was like this for about 10min. image

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Dontfreakoutdontfreakout
We finallllyyyy made it to the climbing point. Here we stood shaking under the eaves trying to put on our fashion panchos over our backpacks and taking pictures. image

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You really couldn't see much. One thing I've learned in china is that when you climb mountains, you actually just walk stairs. So in all honesty we walked the stairs of death mountain. There was even a hotel on top of one of the peaks. I would hate to have had to build that! We pretty much just played around on the mountain and took pictures.
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it is also very common to inscribe your name on a lock and write a prayer on a ribbon so the whole mountain was scattered with them. image

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also... chinese people dont make snow angels and this is the look of confusion when you try and show them how to make one.
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At one point or another we all took a spill. I was lucky enough to catch myself on the chain rail before I slid down a cliff, although my knees are now bruised and scraped it all worked out in the end.
We made it down the mountain
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and back to the bus just in time to catch the bus home to Xi'an. All in all this day we took, 3 cabs, 5 busses, and 2 gondolas. All in about a 7 hour period. We all pretty much passed out on the bus ride home. When we got back to the rail station we ran across the street to eat at....McDonalds. I know I know, but here in China you eat at Mackies if you have money. For some strange reason I ordered a McFlurry even though I was freezing. I sat at a table next to this old man. Everything was fine till he hawked up the biggest nastiest sounding luggie and spit it.right.on.the.wall.
If you know me, you know how much I hate that sound and everything revolving this. And I hate to say it but this is a common occurrence everywhere you go in china, and probably the hardest thing to get used to. I couldn't handle it though or eat my chicken nuggets without gagging so we found a new table.
We eventually made it home. I took a nap, skyped with Coley and crashed. Only to wake up at 4:30 am to go to the airport.

Posted by Kaceyroo 23:44 Archived in China Comments (1)

The Great Wall of China

sunny 32 °F

Thursday 02/15!
Today we climbed the Great Wall!! It was amazing!! And incredibly difficult, at one point it felt like you were practically climbing a ladder. It was collllddddd though. And they had people selling stuff every so often on the wall. We broke down and bought a coffee, it's cost ¥30. Holy smokes that was expensive. Here are some pictures!
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The tour that we picked also included lunch and we got to try some really delicious food. Our table had another American at our table, his parents were from Seattle which was kind of cool. We both pretty much passed out on the way home on the bus. We got back and immediately took a nap. We woke up a few hours later, organized our things a bit and then decided that we should go out again as it was our last night we could stay out late. I was looking for a club in the lobby when the French guy sitting next to me was trying to explain about this club called spark. His accent was so incredibly hard to understand. He said he had heard a lot about this club though ( at least I think that's what he said) so we decided to go. It was actually pretty lame, and it cost ¥100 to enter. We did meet two really nice guys though. "Chris and Kyle." I really wish people would just tell me their Chinese names, I obviously know your name is not Chris. Haha They taught us how to play this dice game that w had been seeing at all the bars. It's pretty much a dice version of bullshit. Kinda fun. We danced a little and talked a little then we all decided that this club was lame and wanted to go home.

Posted by Kaceyroo 17:16 Comments (0)

I hate the Beijing zoo

semi-overcast

On Wednesday 02/14
I woke up really early to catch up on blogging. We were supposed to meet our tour guide for the Great Wall at 7:30, but they called us and changed it to 8:30, then 8:00. It was starting to feel more and more like a rip off. There were signs posted all over the hostel about fake tour agencies who just take you to a made up shopping center and never actually make it to the wall. So we finally met up with the tour guide the first thing she said was, we will first go shopping on the way to the wall. Red flag!!!! We immediately told her we weren't going and that we weren't told we were going shopping. We argued for a good 10 min and she called her manager about getting our money back. She gave me his phone number to call him if we had any problems getting the money back. I asked what his name was and she said she didn't know. What the hell? We eventually got things worked out and planned on going back to the square to get our money back. We were at least up early and I had intended in blogging and emailing, but while in the bar at the hostel I made a new friend and we chatted for a few hours. His name is Brian and he's from the UK, he's an older guy who just retired and is traveling around for a while. He was telling me all about trekking in Nepal and we got in the topic of trekking gear and then Mountain Hardwear. He nearly lost his mind when I said I used to work for them. He wanted to know everything about them, what's the best stuff to buy etc. i thought he was going to cry when i told him i had a 60% off coupon that he could have. ( Just now as I'm sitting in the lobby again he came to say hello. He's had food poisoning for the past 24 hours, and he thinks he got it from a place nearby. Shit. )
Later after chatting we went to the Beijing Zoo. I can't begin to tell you how much I hate this place. We saw the pandas which were really cool. image

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They are definitely not as cute in person as they are in photos. Afterwards we were going to take a picture in front of a statue but we were waiting for a mom to get her child off of it, when the child begins to pee. All.over.the.statue.
Sick. Welcome to china.
We ran from that place, and headed to the wolf area. This is where I get kind of upset. They have 4 wolves crammed into one tiny cage.image

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They have numerous breeds in this area, but they are all in cages way to small, half of them don't have water and one wolf was limping and sickly looking. We got kinda depressed after that and didn't want to stay any longer. We headed across the street to go to the planetarium, it was closed. So we went to the dinosaur museum. Also closed, but I did get to ride a dino!
We took the metro to the temple of heaven, but first we wanted to get dinner. It took forever to find a restaurant. We eventually found one and it was packed! We waited for a table and decided to order more duck. They were out. So we each picked an interesting dish. Misty picked donkey and I picked this fish soup thing. Later I found out my fish were actually whole fish and the donkey was actually just it's...uhm..dick. I like how they left that out of the meal description. While sitting there a table across from us were kind of snickering at me trying to manage my chopsticks. I caught them laughing and they go... Hello! And then asked if we wanted some baijiu, otherwise known as white rice wine, otherwise know as paint thinner. It was like drinking rubbing alcohol, and it hit us both immediately. The surrounding tables by this point were all watching us and our faces turned beat red. They offered us some of their tofu and were very interested in us. We left soon after, our whole meal only cost us each about $10.
We headed to the temple of heaven, but it was closed. :( we took the metro home. By the time we got back to our hostels street it was very dark. It was supposed to be the last day of the New Years celebrations which means that all of the saved fireworks needed to be used up. That means hours and hours of fireworks. China during the new year already sounded like a war zone with all of the fireworks going off, but tonight was something all on its own. I mean, you were dodging fireworks left and right.
When we got back to the hostel we decided to go out to the club with Simba and Ahmed, we found this club called baby face online but I guess it was closed. We ended up going to this club called cargo. I was bombarded by this korean guy and his Chinese friend. Neither one could speak English very well but they really wanted to talk to me. The only English thing they could say? Michael Jordan. And Miamri Heat. Seriously, every other second, USA Michael Jordan!! It got annoying quickly. We switched to the club next door. We ordered a drink and were sitting at the bar when this ridiculous looking guy comes up to us. He has a nearly shaved head, is wearing a ski parka and has huge lense less glasses on. He was the absolute spitting image of a turtle. No lie. Misty whispered in my ear, omg it's a turtre and we were in hysterics.
We headed home soon after.

Posted by Kaceyroo 17:14 Archived in China Comments (0)

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