Monday, September 7, 2015

China Week 1

Well, one week in China down and I don't want to count how many more. I really like it here. Sure the toilets are interesting and they double as the shower and you step outside and you're instantly wet but it's really a great place!

I can't believe it has only been a week and a half since I got to feels like forever!! In a good way.

Teaching was a tiny bit of a disaster but I guess that's only natural on the first day. The second day went much better and I am excited to get back to it! The little kids are so adorable I just want to keep them forever! Even though they call me teacher baby because that's one translation of my Chinese name that the school gave me. They also call me Miss Evie. Apparently Larissa is way too hard to pronounce here so Evie was the spontaneous nick name I was given and it stuck so there you have it.

After only two days of teaching we had our first vacation. We went to a town called Yangshuo. It is so incredibly beautiful! Our hostel was nicer than our apartment in Guzhen and they had almost western food which was great but we found ourselves craving Chinese food most of the time. Our hostel was situated roughly ten minutes out of town in a picturesque valley. The road in to town ran along the Li River and was densely covered by trees and green vegetation mixed with dark stone.

Our first adventure was getting there. We took a sleeper bus. For any Harry Potter fans out there, imagine the Knight Bus and a much smaller and more cramped (and way less magical) version and that is what I rode for 11 hours instead of the 7 it was supposed to be. It was very tight and I was personally very frightened at the lack of cleanliness, then again I am just an OCD clean freak. It was nice to sleep for that long of a ride though.

When we finally got to our hostel, Trippers Carpe Diem, we showered, ate and then headed off on our next adventure-the MUD CAVES!

Ah the mud caves. What an experience! Too bad we didn't know we could bring in our phones or cameras. Such a lost photo opportunity. There were so many incredible rock formations and unlike in the US we could actually touch them! It was truly amazing to see.

Then we came to the giant pool of mud. I have to say it took quite a bit for me to get in since I have a fear of water that I can't see the bottom of and what's in it with me but I overcame that and proceeded to cover my entire body in mud. I went down the natural rock slide and just generally had a good time in the mud with the girls. Then we showered off, relatively and walked a little ways to the natural hot spring. It felt so good! This is where I am pretty sure I saw an Israeli couple that I know I have met before at Zion's or something. Crazy small world!

The next day was mostly a lazy day with intermittent bike riding around the valley and in to the city.

That night we found the kind of cultural experience we had been looking for in a street market. It was so much fun to see everything just like in the movies. We also found the most amazing Mango place with to die for mango juice with a clever tradition of putting paper cup holders on all their beverages and then having their patrons pin them to the walls with a personalized message. So cool. I also found a legit Prada wallet and tried bartering for my first time ever and I must say that I am an absolute pro!

Saturday we rode bikes most of the day while we explored a bit more. Several hours were spent in the city further exploring its many hidden treasures before we took a trip down the river on bamboo rafts.

I am not capable of describing the beauty of that ride. The bamboo raft was extremely relaxing. The intermittent rain made the time even more magical. As did the four weddings we passed. Apparently that's a thing here, to get your wedding pictures on bamboo rafts in the middle of the river. Gotta say it would be quite beautiful!

Our last night in Yangshuo was spent in town going to our favourite places one last time and talking to a few of the other ILP groups that were also there.

What an experience!

That is until I got sick the next day on the bus ride back. It was also a sleeper bus but far less posh than the one before and I am fairly certain that I got the hot seat on the bus like in elementary school. Which didn't help the icky way I was starting to feel.

We eventually got off the bus and found that we were instead in Sha Lang, not Guzhen. Thankfully, our wonderful coordinator Ann got us a taxi and we were home roughly 35 minutes later.

Home. I didn't think that I would call this little apartment home so quickly but it truly feels like home right now. Obviously not the home I will always call home but it is a place of comfort and solace and familiarity which I rather enjoy.

Anyways, we arrived home and I know that I was running a temperature and I felt like I was going to throw up. After taking a shower and almost blacking out, I took cold medicine and tried to sleep. I proceeded to dry heave a few times but then finally fell asleep. Until just before 6:00am that is. That is the glorious time that I was blessed to truly realize just how awful squatters are when one is ill. I must say that that is one reason I can understand western toilets.

All is well though. I am on the mend and ready for my next adventure...well so I thought until we found a baby lizard in our apartment!