Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elephants Rule!

Not falling off was quite the challenge.

Flight of the Gibbon

Getting all geared up! I felt just a tad bit violated by this guy.

Christmas Day 2008

We spent Christmas day this year in an orphanage in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Earlier that day we went to the local market and bought some toys and candy to give to the kids. Our guesthouse had a guitar that they let us borrow and Travis learned some Christmas songs so we could sing with the kids. When we got there the minute we stepped out of the car we were swarmed with kids holding our hands and wanting to play with us. We spent the day playing games, singing songs and learning about their lives. The children there range in ages from ten months to fifteen years. They all sleep and eat in a tiny little room in the back and this shack you see here is where they play and have school. The poverty in Cambodia is heartbreaking and I wish I could do more to help these children who have next to nothing. But the one day we spent here was so eye-opening and rewarding and each child was so unique and special. It will be a Christmas I will remember for the rest of my life.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Well, we made it to Cambodia. We have spent the last three days on airplanes and buses and we finally arrived in Phnom Penh this afternoon. It has been a long three days, but I have loved every minute of it. Cambodia is absolutely incredible! We were able to see a lot of the countryside on our long bus rides and it is so beautiful.
On our way down here to Phnom Penh we stopped at a rest stop and there were people selling fruit and meat and things to eat...among those things were fried grasshoppers, crickets and turantulas. They had tons of live turantulas crawling around in a huge wicker basket and they just fry them up and eat them. Competely disgusting. But we figured hey, it's not too often you're in a place that eats things like this so why not eat monsterous spiders while we have the chance? So we did...we ate one. It actually didn't taste too bad, but the thought that I had spider legs in my mouth was a little much for me to handle.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zai Jian Zhongguo :(

Holy moly, it's my last day in China!  It's the weirdest feeling.  This morning we got up and cleaned and packed up the rest of our stuff then went into town to get our favorite noodles one last time.  It was so weird walking down the street and riding the bus and going to the bakery just thinking that it would be my last time doing all these things that I have been doing every day for the past five months of my life (or every other day in the bakery's case - this has been quite detrimental to my weight loss plan).  It's kind of a surreal feeling knowing that I will be getting on a bus tomorrow morning and probably never see this place again.  I have so many mixed feelings about it because I have grown to love this place so much, but nothing will ever feel quite like home no matter how much I love it.  This has been an amazing experience and I'm grateful for all the things I have done and learned here.  
Now on to my next adventures!  We leave bright and early tomorrow morning for the Hong Kong airport...where Meighan and I will be the ENTIRE day before we fly to Bangkok.  But such is the life of a backpacker (yes, I am officially donning this title as of tomorrow morning).  Bring on the dirty clothes and twenty hour bus rides I say!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Well my time here in China is winding down fast.  I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things.  What on earth could be bigger and better than China?! you might ask... why Thailand and Cambodia of course!  Meighan and I bought our tickets to Bangkok today.  While we are enjoying the short time we have left here in China, we can't help but look forward to and day dream about the awesome things we will get to do on our next travel adventures.  
Teaching has become such a joy for me and I have really grown to love the kids.  Having such few students enrolled in our school has turned out to be a great advantage for us.  I have been able to get to know each child individually and they are all so different, but so adorable.  It is definitely going to be tough to leave them.
Our next couple weeks here are going to be dotted with sporadic Christmas celebrations and going away parties, but for the most part we are going to be doing what we regularly do - just hanging out and having fun together.  I miss everyone back home and hope you are all having a fantastic Christmas season!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beware the Rice Cheeks!!!

They are not a myth! Here's the proof.

Pre-rice cheek
Post rice cheek...so depressing

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for...
Bakeries - Chocolate - Hamburgers - The Internet - Cool days - Hiking and camping in the beautiful Utah mountains - Rockin' out in my car - Fall leaves - Music - Dairy - Cows - Cheese - Milk - Cream Cheese - Butter - Sour Cream - Ice Cream - Autumn - Meighan Peck aka BIG MAMA! - Mitt for 2012 - Ocean beaches - Sleeping in - Clean water - Bon fires - Anna Fisher - Disney movies - Catherine Urie - Christmas lights - Socks - Chelsea Blyle - The product Raid - Soap and toilet paper in bathrooms - Mashed potatoes - Logic - Sugar - Salt - Baking powder - Flour - Nature - Rain - Birds - Christmas - Things I'm not allergic to - God - Cheap transportation - My hands (to smash mosquitoes with) - Snowboarding - Puppy dogs - Paper towels and napkins - High heels - Naps - Dishwashers and dryers - Clean, non-toxic, breathable air - My mom - My dog - Noncrusty underwear - Democracy - E-mail - Doctors - Smiles - Candace Jones - Buses - The kids at our school - Water - Family - hands - China - Peanut Butter - Pizza - Eyes - The gospel - Friends - Oatmeal - Bananas - Communication - Missionaries - Classic movies - Cafe Rio baby! - Skype - Bangs - Turkey - Gum - Toilet Paper - Hand sanitizer - Bug and mosquito repellant - My bestest soul sista Jessy! - Shorts - Asian pears - Normal pears - Cards - Home - Family - Books - December eighteenth - Brains - Leader of our church - People who speak English - American heath care - Board games - Cologne - Hot chocolate - Feet - Our wonderful school food - Spell check - Ice skating - Bottled water - My ipod - Hair straighteners - Tampons - Mistletoe - Christmas tree farms - Sledding - Pea coats - American toilets - Summer inner tubing - Coconuts - Sweat pants - Coconut milk - Laughs and smiles - Rain - A good friend - Green grass - Chinese face masks - Thanksgiving - Love - Wendy Hallows - Burritos - Dreaming - Snowy mountains - Toothpaste - Pina Coladas - Bubble bath - Sweethearts - Catching the bus when you are in a hurry or lazy - No smoking signs - Nuemonovitramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconiosis...the longest word in the English dictionary - The airplanes with American food - 99 cent tacos - Cheap gas - American pedicures and manicures - Fans - Bathroom breaks on a long bus ride - Kind Chinese people who tell me they don't know or show me the right way to go - Cleaning supplies - Being able to laugh at a woman singing on the bus and she doesn't know we are making fun of her - Glasses - Porta potties - Sharpies - Brownies - Birthdays - Computers - Chinese techno - Headbands (to tame the greasy hair) - Deodorant - Being able to wear shoes where I want to wear them - Carpet - Central air conditioning - Heaters - Vacuums - Chapstick - Sunday dinners - Fitted sheets - allrecipes.com - Microwaves - Four seasons - Guitars - Cake mix - American butter - lds.org - MTR - Body Pillows - Ovens - Apples - Photobooth - The words 'pengyou' and 'dui bu qi' -Photography -Kenny G -Niel Diamond - Spice Girls - Facebook - Laxatives - The Book of Mormon - Metamucil - Elephants and machetes - Smart people - 'In God We Trust' on money instead of the face of Cherman Mao - Hair dressers - Listerine - CHINA!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Only In China...

1. You sleep on a slab of wood every night and enjoy it
2. You stay in your pajamas for over 24 hours
3. You eat meals that are staring back at you
4. You can fall asleep on a 5 minute bus ride and go through an entire REM cycle
5. You order food off menus you can't even read
6. You are required to give exact change when purchasing something and if you don't you either can't buy it, or you get old sticks of gum back for change
7. Your church pulpit is made from dressers covered with a mosquito net
8. DVD store owners move an entire trick wall aside to reveal a wonderland of black market movies
9. Fourty girls can live together with minimal fights or drama
10. You can make pretty much anything in the microwave
11. You spot a mosquito from all the way across the room and kill it in one gigantic leap and smack
12. Mother nature calls and you walk to the side of the road and proceed to answer her
13. You go grocery shopping in boxer shorts and eat all your groceries on the bus ride home
14. You only shower twice a week (maybe) and have no problem with it
15. You smell like feet the moment you step out of the shower
16. You watch disney movies ALL DAY
17. You don't leave your apartment until 5:00 PM on a good day...and that's to go get dinner
18. You can talk about strangers sitting right next to you and know they have no idea what you are saying
19. You freeze your butt off at 60 degrees
20. The temperature drops 2 degrees and scarves, coats and gloves are suddenly a necessity
21. A family of five can fit on one motorcycle
22. An entire family's belongings can fit on the back of a bicycle
23. Grandmas spit loogies on the ground the size of baseballs
24. You see a guy get pulled over on his bicycle for the PVC pipe he is carrying being too long
25. You walk around with your neck stuck out to convince yourself that you don't have rice cheeks
26. You eat rice at least twice a day
27. You answer the phone screaming "Wei?! Ni hao..."
28. The street sweepers spend all day sweeping the leaves off the street and then they turn right around and spit on it
29. Members of the same sex holding hands is a common occurrence and seeing couples of the opposite sex holding hands weirds people out
30. You have to allot time on vacations for photo shoots with random Chinese people

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Day at the Market

They eat every part of the animal in China. Here we have the hearts, brains and livers of the chickens.

This little market is right down the street from where we live. It's crazy because we go straight from Beverly Hills to like third world China in just a few blocks.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The mosquitos are getting serious

I wake up every morning to at least three new mosquito bites. I have no idea where they come from seeing as how I rarely see actual mosquitos in my apartment. They seem to have discovered a new liking for my fingers and toes. I've decided that, of all the many places I have been bitten in the past three months, these two are definitely the worst.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fact of the Day

Eating large amounts of white rice causes the human body to produce excess amounts of saliva.

Ever since arriving here I have been asking myself, "What's up with the Chinese and spitting?" They seriously spit everywhere - on the sidewalk, on the bus, on the floor in the mall...it's not normal and it's completely disgusting. I have had a hard time coming to accept this part of Chinese culture, but the discovery of this scientific fact has helped my level of acceptance to progress to at least a moderately tolerant level.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At School

We heart attacked our Chef, Michael because he makes such awesome meals for us.

Learning to make jiaozi (dumplings)

Dance Partay!!!

This is what we do on weekends in our apartment when we are bored.

Nicole trying to break dance and Anna peeing herself in the background.

Soulja boy!

We always like the finish off the night by eating rice straight out of our oversized pot.

Just a regular old day in China

This is a serious problem for the Chinese.

Anna has gone pro at making mass amounts of popcorn.

Mom, look! They wear detachable sleeves here! If you moved here you could wear yours without anyone making fun of you...and you would be the tallest person in the whole city. This place was made for you!

We made this tower of deliciousness in the microwave. Who knew?

Mama Taggart putting the finishing touches on our masterpiece.

Trav and me just practicing our kung fu... in the Forbidden City...no biggie.

Yes, Abbey Road does exist in Beijing.

The Terra Cotta warriors!!! Insanely, awesomely, crazily incredible.

Is it weird that doing this felt slightly sacrilegious to me?

Our early morning bike ride through Xi'an.