Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Our living room. Notice the little reading nook in the window, it's my favorite place in the entire apartment.

My roommate Anna in our bedroom

Uh huh...we have a pool and it's huge

The view from our back balcony

Monday, August 11, 2008

Longji Rice Terraces

Look at the size of this thing! These guys were all over the place.

Wandering through the village, a camera in each hand. That's just how I roll.

The view out of our room window at Longji

Some adorable kids we made friends with while trying to navigate our way out of the village we got lost in. They look a little afraid in this picture, but I promise they loved us.

Now do you believe me when I say our hostels were disgusting?

Hello and welcome to mangoholics anonymous. My name is Brittany and I'm addicted to mangos.

Oh the joys of vacationing...

Anna and I after we finally made it to the bus station. I think when we took this picture the events of the past couple hours still hadn't fully sunk in.

My first ride on a sleeper bus. I wish it would have been my last.

Anna's always making friends wherever she goes. This is the little old lady we followed on our bikes.

Some of the scenery on our way to...wherever the lady was taking us.

I took these pictures one handed while riding a bike and dodging busses, homeless people lying on the street and freakishly large centipedes. Pretty impressive eh?

Well, we just got back from vacation today and we are all exhausted! We left last Thursday and it was insane trying to get everyone out of here because it was kind of a last minute decision to go. To make a long story short, we finally got everyone on the bus and were on our way when I remembered that Anna had put me in charge of everyones passports and I left them in the apartment. So her and I jumped off the bus, booked it back to the apartment (I seriously have never sweat so profusely in my life), and caught a taxi to the bus station. We actually ended up making it there before the rest of our group did so it was all good. I just almost gave Anna a heart attack hehe. We took a thirteen hour ride on a sleeper bus to Guilin and arrived there early Friday morning. We then hopped on another bus and rode another two hours to Yangshuo where we stayed for two days. Our hostels were disgusting (and by disgusting I mean moldy squatters, rats outside the windows and fleas in the sheets) but they did the job. The first day our group, which consisted of seventeen girls, all decided to go up to the mud caves. Anna and I, being the cheapos that we are, decided to rent bikes for the day instead and get lost in Yangshuo. And get lost we did! We ended up riding a few miles and following this little old lady on a bike who took us to her village. She conned us into paying to ride a bamboo raft, which was cool but long. It was a good opportunity for awesome pictures of the scenery though. The raft dropped us and our bikes off in the middle of nowhere and we got completely lost in this village. It was so awesome though to see how most people in China live. We finally found our way out of the village and went exploring in the city. The most exciting thing we found were mangos, which is always pretty darn exciting let me tell ya! I'm officially addicted. It was a pretty awesome day.
Saturday we just hung around the city and did some shopping. Nighttime rolled around and all the clubs opened and that's when things got crazy. Just picture a huge group of insane American girls running in and out of every club they could find, screaming and breaking it down with the locals and that was us. It was a blast.
We woke up Sunday morning, got some breakfast and then took another bus ride up to the Longji rice terraces. The bus ride there was crazy and we ended up getting ripped off of like eight yuan by some jerk of a Chinese man. We were all pretty angry, but it's really only like $1.25 American dollars so we got over it pretty fast. The rice terraces were absolutely incredible! Definitely my favorite place in China so far. We stayed with a local family who cooked for us and let us play with their adorable little kids. We made the mistake of ordering chicken for dinner...and we heard them kill the chicken out back and then bring it out about an hour later chopped up into little pieces, feet and bones and all. It was pretty disgusting. The entire village was full of gigantic spiders and weird bugs. We only spent one night there, but I could have stayed for at least a few days more. The people were so interesting and the scenery was incredible. I loved it there.
We spent all day yesterday on lots of different busses back to Guilin where we got on another thirteen hour sleeper bus. We finally arrived back in Zhongshan around 7:00 this morning and just came home and crashed. As much as I loved experiencing true China with all it's weird food, smells and people, it's nice to come home to a clean apartment that feels like home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sorry about the lack of pictures friends. I would love to post more, but we have been in the middle of a typhoon the past couple of days so the internet connection is really bad and it takes about fifteen minutes to upload each post. The typhoon has been amazing though! Constant rain and wind...something I have been deprived of from living in good old Utah. I'm loving it. Our apartments are AMAZING!!! We are basically living at a resort. It's a gated community where people drive Mercedes and BMWs and there are guards all over the place and we have a huge's incredible. I can't believe I'm actually here and will be for the next five months! Hopefully when the weather gets better I'll be able to post some pictures of our place. Downtown Zhongshan is awesome as well. There are shops all over the place (name brand stores like Puma and Tommy Hilfiger where you can buy things for like fifteen bucks) so it kind of feels like America, but there are still weird things here and there that remind you that you are in a completely different culture. We are leaving on a week long vacation to Guilin today so I'll update you all on more when I get home.

More Hong Kong

Victoria Peak

Can you say BIG Buddha? The picture doesn't do it justice. This thing is enormous!

Hong Kong

The 2008 olympic mascots

You can't really tell, but this is an entire fish, head and fins and all. It was actually pretty delicious.

The Hong Kong temple

Da na na na na na na na da na na na na na na na....BATMAN!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Ni Hao all! Ok, so I have so much to tell and definitely not enough time because we are using public computers right now. First of all, all my luggage got here safely and as far as I can tell nothing got stolen or anything. So I'm pretty happy about that. Anna wasn't so lucky. One of her big suitcases got left in California so she is still waiting for them to ship it here. We spent the first two days in Hong Kong and that was really cool. We stayed at the YMCA International House and there are about 30 girls in our group. Everyone has two huge suitcases plus some so it was hilarious watching the little Asians freak out when they saw our bus pull up. The first day in Hong Kong we got settled into our rooms and went to see the big Buddha statue. We opted to take the bus instead of the cable cars because it was cheaper, and it ended up being such a good choice! They drive so crazy here! We went up this little windy mountain road for like an hour. I don't know how those bus drivers manage to fit two huge busses on those roads going like 35 but they do it. We saw kind of like the outskirts of Hong Kong and beach and everything on our way up so it was really cool. The Buddah statue is on top of this huge mountain surrounded by the ocean and it is gorgeous!! I wish I could send you pictures, but it was like ultimate China. Anyway, the next day we went on a tour in the morning and went to Victoria Peak and a jewlery factory and stuff. It was cool. The bus dropped us off at church around 1:00. The ward was so amazing! It was mostly little Phillipino women who had left their children to come to Hong Kong to work and send them money. They were all so amazing and nice and cute. It was fast and testimony meeting so we got to hear a lot of their testomnies as well as some testimonies of the girls in my group. We have an awesome group. All the girls are really fun and we are all way close already. After church we took a ferry back to...somewhere (I usually pride myself in my sense of direction, but I have been completely disoriented ever since I got here.) We then took a bus down to the Hong Kong temple and we ran into some missionaries. Of course two of them were from Utah and we all knew the same people and everything. They took us on a little tour of the mission home and then we just took some pictures by the temple, which is gorgeous by the way. The next day we all woke up around 5:30 AM because our biological clocks are wacked out (the difference is 14 right now it's 3:15 on Tuesday afternoon here and it's 1:15 Tuesday morning there). We walked down Nathan Street to this really yummy bakery and then took our breakfast up to this park we discovered. There were seriously like a million stairs and they were way steep. We almost didn't make it to the top. It sucks to realize how out of shape you are, especially when there are a bunch of 80 year old Asians at the top of the stairs laughing at you and egging you on. I really do feel like a fat American here. Everyone is so tiny. People at the park were doing tai chi and jogging with umbrellas because it's so hot. I definitely don't need lotion here, my sweat does the job. After that we took about a four hour bus ride across the border into mainland China. Customs was insane because of all of the luggage. The view out of my window the entire time was full of banana trees, rice paddies, and huge mountains. We finally pulled into Kayin (it's like a community inside Zhongshan) around 3:30 PM yesterday. When we saw it we were all freaking out because it is seriously like Beverly Hills. Our apartments are really nice and our back yard is just a big courtyard with walkways and ponds and gazebos and palm trees....I seriously feel like I'm just on vacation at an insanely nice resort. Ah I wish I could post pictures!!!! We are hoping that the internet will be set up within the next few days in our apartments so I will be able to call you guys and send you pictures. You won't be able to believe it! Oh and our community has a pool....and it's like the biggest pool I've ever seen. The Chinese ILP directors took us out to a really nice dinner last night and during dinner it started pouring rain. I was so excited because I have been having rainstorm withdrawals this whole year. Today we woke up early and did some P90X (thanks Jess and Adam!) and hung around until about noon and then took the bus into downtown Zhongshan to see our school. It isn't finished yet, but it is so amazing!! It's like nicer than any school I have ever seen in the U.S. There is a pool in the front and a huge dance room the size of a gym that will eventually have big mirrors and stuff in it. It's really open because the weather is always so nice here so all the hallways are outdoors and uncovered and surrounded by palm trees and stuff. They said our cafeteria will be really nice and they will have Asian food as well as western food so we can eat normal food if we really need to. I'm going to try and eat like a Chinese person as much as I can while I have the chance, but I have found that I'm already missing sandwiches and chocolate and breads and stuff. It's going to be tough. I haven't had any really bad experiences with food yet though. Anyway, our school is awesome and huge and I can't wait to meet all my little cute kids!!! With the olympics here things are kind of crazy so they aren't allowing foreigners to teach until the olympics are over. So as far as we know right now (plans change A LOT with the Chinese) we have a month to play and travel until we actually start teaching. Saawweeeet!!!! I better go, but I'll try and post as much as possible. We are really pushing to get the internet set up in our apartments so hopefully it will be soon. Love you all and I hope you're not missing me too much! I'm not missing anyone horribly yet :). I'm absolutely loving it here, I honestly don't think I'll ever want to come home. Adios! (I still don't know how to say goodbye in spanish will have to do for now)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Packing for the next six months of my life

This is only funny to those of you who really know me. My six month supply of blistex...I'm
honestly afraid that it will run out.