Suzho and USU

After the Field trip we went to Suzhou. It is a little less than an hour by train away and is where our branch is located. We stayed with the Okenson Family, It was so nice to be in a home and to have some good food!
They took good care of us, we had cake with chocolate frosting, waffles, pizza, caramel popcorn, and cookies. it was so so so good! I almost forgot that food does have different tastes and they are good tastes :)
We got there late Saturday night, we just ate dinner and watched a movie. We watched No Reservations, (Emily Ann.... have you seen it? It's really good) Sunday we got up and went to church. We are both so blessed to be able to go to church and to be in such an amazing branch, it is an amazing experience to be here and to get such a different view on life and to see how blessed we are.
Monday we went to one of the gardens in Suzhou. Suzhou is known as the Venice of China, it is an old water town and has tons of gardens. Effie (the mother of the Okenson) took us to Pan Men Garden. It was beautiful.
We also went to a silk factor. It was crazy to see the whole process of making silk. We got to pull some silk ourselves, at the end you get to pull one of the silk ball/sheet things and help them make a duvet quilt. We also met/saw some cool individuals there... (see below :) )

There was a group of Munks! They looked so cool, if you look close you can see us in the back trying to look like we are paying attention to the duvey.

Another adventure we have been on lately is that of support for our team. USU recently made it to the first round of the NCAA. The game was played in Boise, Idaho at 10:30 in the morning. We reasoned it was important enough to watch that we got the key to the school, went to the market for treats and came over at 12:00 am to watch the game.
It was so fun to watch a USU game again. In case you didn't hear the results we lost by one, it was a crazy good game. Good enough to stay up until 3 in the morning to watch it live :)

And this last picture is just thrown in for fun, to show everyone my favorite treat in China.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips!!! So good. The only problem now is that I ran out of chocolate chips... bad new :( Other information that some may find interesting. Is that since we have arrived in China about 2 months ago we (mostly me) have eaten 2 jars of Peanut Butter... I love PB! :) (and luckily China has it in stock)

School Trip to Huaxi

The other weekend we went on a field trip with the school to Huaxi. It was crazy cool, it was a very popular tourist site for the Chinese people, it is a village that is created by all the super rich people in China. They all had houses, which is very rare in China. We got to go through one of the houses; it wasn't much bigger if not smaller than a normal house in USA, but is considered huge in China.
We had a lot of fun, one of the stops we made in the village was to a fake Great Wall. It was life size as of height and it was pretty long just not as long as the real one. So we already got our great wall picture :) We could come home now if we needed.

There was also a huge green house, it was awesome. There were huge tomatoes plants that were super toall, we also saw Starfruit, pineapple (it grows out of the ground!), Grapefruit, lots of citrus fruit, and lots of other gourdes. It was crazy.
We also got to watch our first Chinese performance. It was way cool, we didn't understand the meaning of the story but it was fun to watch, there was some cool acrobatics and a wicked awesome dragon.

This is us at the fake great wall.This is me eating a Chicken Foot!! I didn't really eat it. I tried but it was super hot and I couldn't get anything off. It was just skin and tendons.... aka gross.
Some of the teachers at the school with Chad.
Just some old guys chillin at the top of on of the Pagodas in the Villiage
Chad eating what the school gave us for breakfast. It is called Bazio, it was a steamed bread like thing filled with pork it was really good. But a few days later a teacher bought us some more and they kinda made me sick/dizzy so I don't think I will be eating anymore of those.... But they tasted really good, so well.
Playing Stop and Go coming down the trail from the Great Wall, Chad was the leader and we were all playing it was really funny. I don't know if this picture relays that message but it was really fun to try and stop on a steep trail.
This is Chad with one of the teachers, I do believe that we have more pictures of Chad with other random Chinese girls than with me and Chad. :) Everyone wants to get their pictures with him, they just realize what a hansom man he is :)



So here are a few pictures... The first few are kinda gross. Sorry about that but I needed to show you how cold it has been. Everyday my toes go this white/red color then i soak them in water to slowly warm the up then they turn this dark blue/purple color. It isn't so fun, it is starting to warm up and hopefully thus allow full activity and usage of my toes :)
Here are a few pictures of some kids that I teach. They aren't my home room kids but they are still cute. We made ants on a log this day, it was fun. We mixed honey and peanut butter together to make mud to spread on the log then the ants (raisins) would get stuck in the mud. They all loved it.

We have had the opportunity to go to two different KTV's (karaoke) This video is from the second one, it was better than the first. The first was a lot of echo and it was really loud, but this one was really fun. It was Lauren's Birthday, a girl in our group, and it had a buffet that we could eat at. It was pretty good. Chad rocked the place up :)


Shanghai Nights

Yu Garden

What we get to eat everyday
Chad and our hard core bags

This weekend we went on a 3-day trip to Shanghai. We left on Friday after teaching and got to our hostile at about 7 o’clock that night. The hostile we stayed at was pretty nice, it was called the Blue Mountain Youth Hostile, the beds were softer than the one we sleep on ever night here so that was nice.
That night we met a girl named Titi at the hostile, she is studying Landscape Architecture in Hong Kong. She was here with some schoolmates visiting some of the gardens in China; she invited us to go with her to the Yu Gardens the next morning with her. So Saturday morning we met up with Titi and went to the gardens. Her professor was awesome he was this old man who knew everything there is to know, he talked about the garden of how, why, and who built it and the meaning of things in it. It made everything much more exciting.
After the garden we went to do our first bargaining adventure. We decided that we would like to have big backpacker bags to pack for the weekend trips, so we went into one of the 1000 bag shops. It took us about an hour to decided which bags to get and them running to their “warehouse” to get a bigger bag. We ended up getting two hardcore bags for 350 Yuan, which equals about $51. Pretty good, I would say :)
Next we went to People Square and met a young couple that said they were studying English and Medicine. They said it was their first time in Shanghai as well and asked if we would like to go to a Tea Ceremony with them so they could practice their English more. We said sure and followed them, after we got to the room we told them we don’t drink tea but we would love to watch. So after about 5 minutes of them translating the ceremony and watching them drink 2 cups of tea they said we would stop because we aren’t drinking and that it was time to pay. The bill came out to be 280 Yuan and they said that we would slit it so we should pay 140… First off this is weird because any Chinese person who has invited us to something insists on paying. We said we didn’t have any money because we just spent everything we had on the bags. So the couple and the lady who preformed the ceremony took us to an ATM. This is where Chad stepped up :) Everything just felt weird, the tea ceremony lady was still standing with us at the ATM even though she had already been paid and the couple was getting pushy. Chad told them we weren’t going to pay because we didn’t drink anything and that it was way too much. After arguing for a while they ran out the door and yelled, “Get out of China”
So turns out they were Scammers, lessoned learned if a Chinese person asks you to go to a tea ceremony with them… say “ No get out of China” and run away.
Sunday was amazing. There was district conference for our branch, it was the one year anniversary of the district and it was great to feel so at home. After the meeting there was an YSA fireside that we went to (even though we aren’t YSA). It was at an apartment of a Shanghai member. Elder Subandriyo, a member of the seventy, spoke to us (a group of 20 ish youth in a small apartment) it was simply amazing.
That night Chad and I went and got a pineapple for a market for 5 Yuan = less than a dollar, and ate it at a park. Then we went and found the old people dancing at the metro. This time Chad and I both got lessons from the people. I danced with this old guy who was really good, we had a group of about 10 people watching us dance, we danced the Cha Cha. Chad had an old lady and old man trying to teach him how to dance but they gave up after a few minutes.
Then we went and got a full body massage for an hour, it set us back about six dollars for both of us… :) China is pretty good.
Monday was pretty lax; we slept in and then just went to the train station and came home. I never thought I would miss our hard bed, but it sure is nice to be in familiar places.

Our Home

Here is a little video about our new home, number 404. It is a good place to live for 4 months. I don’t know about long term but its ok right now.
We were a little surprised when we first arrived here by a few things; namely the toilet and the bed. We are getting use to it, slowly but surly. Don’t get me wrong I would prefer a mattress and a sitting toilet but I will take what is presented to me. I just have to keep reminding myself… at least the toilet flushes.
One of these days I am going to count how many stairs I climb everyday. We live on the 4th floor of the dorms, and we teach on the 5th floor of the school. There is no elevator in the dorm, there is one in the school but it is on the other side of the building. Needless to say we climb a lot of stairs each day.
We also found our first DVD store, we had heard so much about them and had gone exploring to find one 2-3 times and were beginning to believe they didn’t exist. Serina took us to Downtown Changzhou on Saturday Night and took us to the infamous DVD store. There were a million DVD’s. Chad found what he wanted, the complete series of Seinfeld. There were 10 discs and they were 15 RMB each, (one dollar = 6.8 RMB) that was pretty expensive for a DVD but they said that it was hard to come by or something. Anyways we were pretty excited; we got home and put on in. It turns out it isn’t perfect quality… Its pretty blurry but it works. We also got Dumb and Dumber (Chad favorite movie) and Fireproof, we had heard it was a good show and the DVD store is like a Redbox. It’s a dollar to view one and we get to keep the movie ☺
I would recommend Fireproof, it was a really good show, quite cheesy but good.
Anyways, at the store I couldn’t think of any movie I wanted so I was just looking at all of them but couldn’t really find anything. So if you think of a show that would be good to have leave a comment and tell me :)

A few days later…..
We went back to the DVD store with some girls from our group and we got a few more movies. We got the complete set of Planet Earth! And Beauty and the Beast. :) Planet Earth is way cool, we love it.
A teacher at the school, Linda, took us all to get massages last night. It was amazing; we got head, shoulder, and feet massages. It was so fun. All 7 of the ILP teachers were in one room each with our own masseuse, it was pretty crowded but so funny. It was the first time seeing Americans up close for all of the workers. They were pretty excited and definitely got pictures will all of us. Chad is a big hit with all of the Chinese women, they all tell us he is handsome, I just point at my ring and walk away :) (ok not really but close)