A Travellerspoint blog

Reflection

It has been a few months now since I have returned to Boston. To this day I really miss a lot of things I enjoyed in China, but I also miss a lot of the things I hated. I grew to love the squat toilets, healthy deserts, oily food, streets crowded with crazy drivers and kids in school uniforms etc etc. Today is the August moon festival and I went to Chinatown where there was a celebration. I remember going to the same thing a year ago. This time last year, we were nervous and unsure of what we would encounter in the strange land of Beijing. The closest I had ever been to Chinese culture was americanized Chinese restaurants, and Chinatown festivals (consisting of some Chinese performance, a lion dance or two, and booths selling baby turtles and bonzai trees). Thinking back, I knew nothing about the place that would become my second home. I know it is a little late, but I just wanted to thank everyone who made this trip possible and helped it become one of the best experiences I have ever had. I won't soon forget the kindness, patience, and hospitality I was met with during my stay in Beijing. I hope that one day I can continue this blog, or start a similar one, when I travel and return to China in the future.

Posted by Maia L 15:37 Comments (0)

Trip to Yunnan

5 days in Southern China

The trip consisted of a lot of driving and very touristy towns, but I can't deny that we saw a lot. Strangely, I think my favorite part of the trip was all the driving we did because we got to sit and be lazy (everyone was exhausted) and look at the beautiful countryside scenery. We arrived in Kunming (capital of Yunnan) late on Sunday and we drove to Lijiang early Monday. The trip was nine hours but we split it up by stopping in Da Li along the way. I think despite its very touristy market feeling it was my favorite town. We ate lunch there and went shopping. The whole town was surrounded by mountains and the sky was a deep blue that day with big puffy clouds casting shadows over the mountains. That combined with the warm weather (which just became warm over night two weeks ago) made the whole experience really pleasant. We then arrived in Lijiang for dinner where we selected veggies etc to be fried up and were ripped off by the owners who decided on a ridiculous price. Tuesday we went to a snow mountain where there were some yaks in a field that looked like it was from Lord of the Rings. The altitude was very high and Emily and I had to walk really slowly in order to not run out of breath. It also rained heavily allowing me to sport my attractive neon yellow emergency poncho. It stopped raining and we saw this pretty lake. Yunnan has a lot of pretty lakes with clear water that come as a shock because the water in Beijing is so disgusting. Oh, we also went to our first minority village that day. Yunnan has a higher concentration of minorities than other areas of China. We went to a Bai minority village. I found all of them to be rather touristy and it was hard to decipher how they really lived from shows put on for tourists. The village was also surrounded by mountains making it a nice place to explore and there were tons of cats hanging around. After the village we went to another lake and then to a pretty park with a lake. Finally we went to LiJiang old city which was actually just a huge touristy market. At least these markets are outdoors. The old city was a lot less sketchy than the new city where we were ripped off buying dinner. Wednesday we went to another nice park with a path surrounded by bamboo, a fountain, and another nice lake. There was also one of those butterfly gardens where you go in and there are all those butterflies. It was bigger than the one at the museum of science but all of the butterflies were the same species. We then headed back to the Da Li area and looked at a wealthy minority family home. This was followed by a tea ceremony where we tried three different kinds of tea while people danced (rather unhappily) with costumes on. The first tea was plain, the second was sweet and supposedly had yak cheese in it, and the third was the first tea that i ever actually liked a lot. It tasted like a fireball sucker. I don't know why I liked it so much the concept is kind of gross. We drove the rest of the day to ChuXiang, the touristy town representing the Yi minority (the minority of our tourguide). We ate dinner there and watched a dance and then danced around a fire pit as the minorities do. On Thursday we went to the stone forest which was a park with really tall rock structures. We then went to this crazy "flower market" which sold lots of foods and random other stuff and was set up like a maze so you couldn't get out without buying something. They had free samples stacked with MSG to get you hooked. I, being me, got out without buying something. On Friday we flew back to Beijing and stayed at Michelle's house in the suburbs and made annies mac &cheese and I don't care that this and many of my other sentences are run-on sentence.

Posted by Maia L 01:20 Comments (0)

A strange week

I will try to recount this week vaguely and then go into more depth on interesting matters.
Monday: rehearsal, changing and running over to the newton banquet for newton education and chinese big cheeses, old american and chinese exchange students, and the original two women who started the exchange, then back to rehearsal
Tues: Visited the great hall with the newton edu people and listened to some boring speeches then went to the theater and was bored out of my mind in the dressing room.
Wed: rehearsal ALLL day in the theater and performance dress rehearsal thing in front of the parents.
Thurs: our first real performance followed by our second real performance
Fri (today): trip to a hutong(rode in a rickshaw three times with my principle) and prince gongs mansion followed by our third performance
now more in depth
Monday: i got my costume and was very disappointed with its ugliness. we then rushed to the newton banquet where there were a few stray american ex-exchange students and some chinese ones. Both newton north and south principles were there, the superintendent, several other important old people, and jingshan school's principle. we were promised american food which was what i was excited about, but it was disappointingly meat heavy and i accidentally ate a sandwich with fish eggs on it :(.
Tues: boring
Wed: woke up at six to get to the theater at 9. the traffic was really bad. rehearsal was brutal...sitting in a room with only flourescent lights surrounded by mirrors all day when its actually nice out sucked. you really loose track of the time of day when there is no natural light. I really screwed up on the dress rehearsal in front of the parents. When i was supposed to speak i spaced out completely/ was distracted by the crazy applause we were getting for our terrible chinese. There was a long applause and laughter fter the previous line, silence (a long one) and then, "OH" (of course my microphone was on for everyone to hear). I think it was ok because the parents didnt really care but however funny it was it was equally awkward. Got home at around 11
Thurs: woke up at 5:40 to get a head start so the traffic would be better. met up with michelle around the school and went to the theater at 9. upon arriving (about a 1.5- 2 hour journey from my house) we were told we needed out tap shoes. we had not needed them once nor had we rehearsed with them ever. The chances of slipping were high and i also had left them at my house. I had to go back to get them and got back to the theater at about 12:30. All i wanted to do was sleep. i again screwed up part of the dance, this time in front of the little children. i ran too the wrong position before everyone spoke their lines and had to back peddle. finding the spot isnt so easy as it is done whilst under a large blue silk cloth in about 15 seconds. and i am on the opposite end of the stage. It was awkward enough to have to move around while everyone else was still, but i also exclaimed "OH SHOOT" and of course my microphone was on the whole time. Again i was laughed at (at least im entertaining the crowd). It was frustrating because i didnt have to speak for a while, but my microphone was still on yet when michelle spoke her lines immediatly after my incident her microphone was not on. just my luck. The show at night though (the important one) went well for me. The actual show itself had a lot of problems, but the americans were perfect. (this was a big show because everyone's host siblings were there and really important officials... hujintaos family may have been among the crowd, and the newton peeps)
Todays show was filmed by CCTV for airing national television. We did fine although right when i started my lines after pausing for the crowd to applaud the previous line the crowd decided it was time to laugh and applaud. I had to yell over the audience and i don't think they heard me and didn't give me an applause :(. Also the sound was slightly messed up for part of it so the directors wanted us to reshoot our whole dance. This may happen during tomorrow's show.
I have to say this has been one of the most exhausting weeks ever. it may be because of the extended period of time i have to where contacts (since they wont let people where glasses during the show) combined with the make up seeping into my eyes (which also is CAKED on our faces all day) but my eyes burrnnn. I will now go to sleep. Tomorrow's show will be bitter sweet because it will be the last time we get to see some of these kids. The performance is annoying but it has really brought us together with a lot of awesome students and without that we are not sure how much we will see of them (they may not allow us to go back to school)
Also on sunday we leave for yunnan province for a week. then we will only have two more weeks in beijing :(.

Posted by Maia L 07:50 Comments (0)

videos attempt two

info: michelle and some chinese kids learning a little part of our dance in this part michelle is "teaching" the chinese kids how to tapdance/riverdance and they cannot do it and all fall on the floor...the reverse thing also happens to the americans learning tai chi but that is not in the video

Info: part of one of the many strange warm ups meant to prepare us for a day of dancing...not as easy as it looks the song (john jacob jingle hymer smith) is long and that means lots of jumping

Posted by Maia L 18:46 Comments (0)

Dance Videos

Edit: OOPS looks like you have to be logged in to see these...i guess everyone will have to be patient until I can figure out a way to post it onto the blog
http://www.travellerspoint.com/my_video_gallery.cfm?cmd=view&videoid=ca2b698e3a024d979be73c191b01e129

info: michelle and some chinese kids learning a little part of our dance in this part michelle is "teaching" the chinese kids how to tapdance/riverdance and they cannot do it and all fall on the floor...the reverse thing also happens to the americans learning tai chi but that is not in the video
.

http://www.travellerspoint.com/my_video_gallery.cfm

Info: part of one of the many strange warm ups meant to prepare us for a day of dancing...not as easy as it looks the song (john jacob jingle hymer smith) is long and that means lots of jumping

Posted by Maia L 04:44 Comments (2)

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