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Asia Teacher Treks

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S: China and South Korea 2013

BC: Thanks to Hilton Hotels & IIE for the travel grant, Janis, Jennifer, Candace & Heather for advise, my mother for so much help, & all those who voted for me. | Korean Palace- Gyeongbokgung | Temple of Heaven in Beijing | Simatai Great Wall | Opera School | Peking Opera

FC: Asian Adventure | {China & South Korea Summer 2013}

1: Asian Adventure China & South Korea June 14th - July 4th 2013 | So it started back in February when my school district sent out an e-mail with summer travel opportunities. This grant caught my eye because it was a create your own international travel to fit your classroom. I researched for 1 month and turned in my 2 essays, recommendation, and photo March 15th. April 8th I got on-line and found out I was one of the 30 finalists! Through the end of the month friends, family, and even strangers got on-line and voted for me and my proposal. May 15th I received a call I had won the grant for my proposal, as well as additional grant money for my school!

2: Whirlwind of a Month The last month was super stressful. Here is all I had to get done: Personally: I auditioned for a top dance track at Jitterbug, competed in a Jack & Jill in Portland, went to David Reynolds' wedding, go to Nolte Memorial Day BBQ, attend Orff board meeting, and hung out with Vanessa for a week (after she had been stuck in the airport because of an Oklahoma tornado). Professionally: 2 band concerts, a special ed performance, 6th grade graduation, learn how to teach with a Smartboard, order an iPad, pack up classroom for the summer, finish homework for 2 continuing ed PSU classes. For China: finalize dates (when I had free didn't work, so I had to rearrange my summer plans), buy plane tickets, get visa invitation letter, send passport away to apply for a visa, order Chinese & Korean money, finalize itinerary, wire money to China, open inquiry as to why money didn't reach China (it got there 2-5 days later than the bank said), get medicines and shots, buy a camera to record the trip, learn to use an iPad to document trip, pack a backpack and one bag with only 35 pounds. Sunday, June 16, 2013 I left my house Friday afternoon, June 14th, but technically it's now Sunday morning 1:30am here in Beijing (I missed Saturday because of time zones. In Portland it's Saturday at 10:30am.) Sunday, June 16, 2013 Technically it's Sunday morning 1:30am here in Beijing (I missed Saturday because of time zones. In Portland it's Saturday at 10:30am.) The flight went well. I watched a couple of movies, had a 2nd dinner on the plane, slept for 5 or so hours, and had an omelet for breakfast. Customs was super easy. When I went through the exit there were so many signs with names. It was hard to look on both sides of the walk way, not miss a name, and not hold up the people behind you. I saw a sign that had flipped backwards and it looked like it might be my name, so when I got to the end of the walkway without seeing my name, I went back to that section and said my name out loud. The driver apologized for the flipped sign. The tour guide will meet me Sunday night at 5pm for dinner and the Opera. The driver said he doesn't speak very good English, but I can understand him...just don't know if he can understand me.

3: So I started my day Skyping with my parents. Breakfast was toast w/ jelly, a Chinese biscuit, watermelon, and lots of orange juice. I decided I didn't want to stay inside all day, so I got a map from the front desk and set out to explore (with an umbrella).. I was surprised at how the hutongs looked. They were kind of alley ways with gates which open to narrow pathways containing bikes & most of the family's possessions. There was a lot of construction going on and it was all manual labor. It actually reminded of other poor countries I've visited.

4: I walked to the drum and bell towers. They both had many stairs. The bell tower was very simple, but the drum tower is more ornate and had a museum of time keeping machines to look at. | The Drum Tower | The bell is 63 tons & rung 108 times!

5: The hutongs looking down from the towers | The Bell Tower | The drum was a time announcing tool. There used to be 1 main drum & 24 others

6: Nan Luo Gu Xiang Hutong street shopping

7: When going back home I stopped by a little street with red lanterns that seemed popular since it was busy. It was lunch time, so I decided to find a place that was really busy, figuring if they were busy they must be good. I settled on a crepe place. You paid your money at the counter, they gave you an envelope and then you stood in the long line. The guy put down crepe batter, then some eggs, then green onions and cilantro, flipped it, and then put your choice of fried bread along with some sauces. The sauces were mostly sweet and not too spicy. It was good at first, but by the end I had had enough. Later I discovered this street is famous and called Nan Luo Gu Xiang. The government is trying to tear down the hutongs and so small businesses are trying to buy them up and create a trendy spot to save them. By now it had been raining enough that my shoes were getting wet, so I thought it would be good to go back to the hostel and got ready for the Opera. I met Ben, the tour guide, down stairs. We went to a fancy restaurant with cloth napkins and chandeliers. There were so many dishes, and I was the only one eating! First came the rice, then the onions w/ beef, then the french fries with shrimp and hot peppers, and finally the Peking duck. For the duck, the waitress showed me how to dip the duck in the sauce, put it on a small tortilla, add vegetables and then roll it up...all with a chopstick. I understood, but had difficulty doing that with a chopstick. Ben had printed out information about the Opera so I tried to read it while eating, but eating with chopsticks and reading is not something I am accustomed to.

9: We drove to a big hotel with a theater. The back was normal theater seats and the front were tables set with food. There was a man painting his face on stage as a woman played a zither type instrument. We were allowed to go to the front and video and take pictures. This was very cool. There were 3 different stories told that night. The first was a guy who came to an inn. The 20 minutes or so was a little talking and a lot of choreographed movement that was funny (them fighting in the dark trying to find each other and missing with every swing). During the martial arts dance, the cymbals accented their movements. The second story was a lady singing and doing interesting patterns with her long scarf. This one used more of the orchestra with strings as well as percussion. The 3rd story was about a lady whose husband was dying so she wanted to get the immortal herb from the mountain, but the gods wanted to protect it. So, using acrobatic tricks with juggling sticks and such, she fought off the deer and the bird who were protecting the herb for the gods. After an hour of 3 short performances it was done. I was surprised it was so quick. Later I learned each opera is very long, but it is common to do exciting excerpts from famous long operas. | Peking Opera

10: The Temple of Heaven was quite fun. We saw many different dances, card games, calligraphy with water, Chinese chess, knitting, singing, & badminton. | Monday June 17th | The Seven Stones | The Circular Mound Alter Morning Dances | Inside a temple

11: All of the old people come and enjoy each other when they retire. It seems so nice. I wish Americans would be so friendly and have fun out in the open together. | The Hall of Prayer for a Good Harvest | Chinese Chess | Round building symbolized heaven and square buildings symbolized earth.

12: Temple of Heaven | Echo point- if you stand in the middle and clap you should hear it 1-3 more times depending on where you stand. | The Imperial Vault of Heaven

13: Besides the side parks with all of the retired people, there were the temples for the ancestors, the temples for the god of heaven and the stone where the emperor would stand and make sacrifices or pray for the harvest.

14: We then went to Tienanmen square, which is across the street from the Forbidden City. | Tienanmen Square is the 3rd largest city square in the world- 109 acres. Because of the protests in 1989 no one is allowed to park on this block and there is security to get from the street to the square. | Monument to the People's Heroes. Sitting in a park in the Temple of Heaven.

15: Unfortunately the Forbidden city was forbidden, ha! Since it was closed for construction it messed up our plans because that was supposed to be the rest of our day. We decided to let the driver go and we just walked around different hutongs. We ate a popsicle, discussed different things about China, & took a bus back to the hostel. This night I brought my roommates Salvatore and Bruna to go Swing Dancing at CD Blues Cafe. | Tienanmen gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) tower to the Forbidden City originally built in 1415. | We went to a park where there was a lake & people were swimming. It was hot, but we didn't join them.

16: We drove to a Beijing Opera school for students ages 14-19. I got to observe many classes. The first teacher talked to us about how important different aspects of the body are. He showed us the different hand positions for different characters. The boys got their practice beards and high shoes on and began practicing the basics. | We next went to a girl's class (Dan), where the teacher showed me one of the head dresses. It was very heavy. We took a picture in it, but I couldn't just stand there, the teacher helped position my hands, arms, shoulders, the way I was facing, everything. I loved it. In class they were also doing tricks and spins with the weapons. It was very fun to watch. Later we observed a gymnastics class with flips. | Beijing Opera Vocational School | Notice the high platform shoes | Banhu | Gymnastics | Long sleeves, gestures & singing

17: Then there were a few classes where they were practicing specific stories. The guys' fighting scenes were interesting especially their movements in high shoes. The girls practiced singing with recorded music sometimes or a live musician on the banhu. I also liked how the teachers would imitate the percussion music with either voices, empty bottles or poles. Other classes were more one on one. The teacher would say a line and do a move and the student would copy him. Here I also got to pick up some of the weapons (only used for males) and have a student help make the correct body shape. They even go down to the feet making sure every tilt is correct. I'm having a blast. | Tuesday June 18th

19: Face Painting | Monkey Face | Our final visit was backstage for make-up. Originally actors wore masks, but as the operatic arts developed, face painting became popular because facial expressions could be seen. Face painting, called Lianpu, is especially important in the Peking Opera because it distinguishes different roles, dispositions, and morals through symbolism. | Color symbolism: Red-loyalty, integrity, courage Black- serious, selfless, strength White- crafty, suspicious, sinister Purple- solemnity, justice Yellow- intelligence, bravery, brutality Blue-uprightness, stubbornness Green- brave, impulsive Gold/Silver- immortals, demons, or monsters.

20: After make up remover, paper towels, then soap, then water and washing, the face paint came off. It took a lot of work, but I think my face looks normal again. It took at least 1 hour in traffic to drive back to the hostel. Angie (who taught at Quatama for a few months) had been teaching at an international school in Beijing for the last 2 years. She found my hostel no problem and we took a taxi to dinner at Nan Luo Gu Xiang. It was nice talking to an American and just hanging out. | Angie and I | China Central TV headquarters | Beijing traffic

21: When I got back to my hostel Salvatore asked if I wanted to go out for the night. Our whole room thought that was a good idea so we went back to Nan Luo Gu Xiang and looked in all of the shops. Our room (203) had become friends, and we thought it was cool we were all from a different continent, so we took a roommate picture. Salvatore is from Italy, Joe from China, Bruna from Brazil, and me from the United States. The language we had in common was English. | Room 203-Salvatore, Joe, Bruna, Carissa | This way to Lucky Family Hostel

23: Wednesday June 19th The Forbidden City ~Construction began in 1406 ~Imperial palace for the Ming & Qing Dynasties ~Yellow is the color for the Emperor ~The number of statues on a roof show the status of a building. A minor building has 3-5, the Hall ofSupreme Harmony has 10. ~24 different emperors lived here ~980 buildings

25: The outer courtyard was very open and big. Ben said there were no trees or grass because the emperor was paranoid and didn't want anyone tunneling under or climbing over. Because of that there are 15 layers of bricks as the courtyard pavement. Once we got to the inner courtyard the buildings were closer together and you could look in the windows at the Emperor and Empress' beds and such. They even had a room for entertaining Westerners. My favorite part of the Forbidden City was the garden in the back. There were fun rocks and pretty pavilions. After the Forbidden City we went to visit the Beijing Art College & learned about their program for both western & traditional Chinese music.

26: 798 is an art district in Beijing. It used to be a bunch of empty warehouses, | The big dome, the National Performing Arts Center, is actually a different | Art seems to be very important as a way for them to express their feelings against the government without getting into trouble.

27: but artists bought them and now it's become their workspace and art galleries. | part of the city. We visited at sunset and there were ladies twirling ribbons.

28: The sleeper car on the train wasn't that bad. It was a straight shot to Hohhot, so no stops. They woke us at 6:00am. There was some confusion about which train station in Hohhot to get off at, but with some calls to my tour guide and charades with a girl across from me, I found the correct place. My tour guide's name is Crystal. She is really nice and friendly, and so is the driver so I feel like I'm an exchange student. She took me to breakfast; I had sausage, fried rice, apples, sweet bread, dumplings, and hot orange juice. In general, it seems all foods are for all meals, so she offered me noodles and soup, but I just couldn't do that at 8am. We then went to a nice hotel, for a nap. The hotel room is really nice, relaxing and luxurious, especially after a hostel sharing a bathroom with 3 people, having to wear shoes all the time and getting dressed in the wet shower room.

29: Thursday June 20th | At noon Crystal picked me up for lunch. We went to a Hot Pot place. Then we went to the Great Mosque built 1693. At first I thought the big white building was the Muslim mosque, but it ends up that is just a hotel in the Islamic style! In fact the whole street had architecture in the Islamic style. Crystal said she really liked the way the street looks. The driver talked to one of the students there.

31: {at the park with mom + dad} | When we got to the Five Pagoda Temple (A Buddhist temple) there were lots of children. Crystal said there were respectful rules: 1) No pictures inside 2) don't step on the threshold 3) be quiet 4) don't wear hat or sunglasses. Well, when we went in, children were running all around, playing tag, splashing in the fountains, etc. We went into some of the buildings and Crystal said it normally is very quiet and peaceful but it is hard to experience that with all of the kids. One of the famous things in the temple was the 1st star map in the world, made by the Mongolians (MingAntu). After looking in the buildings with the big gold Buddhas, I started talking to the kids. They liked to say hi and practice their English. It was very cute. You could tell all the beginner phrases they learned in class "Hello, how are you? Nice to meet you too" etc. It was fun. They took a class picture under a pavilion and I asked to join. This was certainly the best part of the day.

32: Friday | June 21th | Fun | Dancing | After arriving at the Mongolian Singing & Dancing School we observed the boy's dance class. They began the morning with ballet basics, but they were kind enough to perform a Mongolian dance that imitated an eagle and wrestling. Later we went to a girl's class where they had 5 bowls on their heads; they would spin around and dance.

34: Title | Traditional Instruments | Gu Zheng | Ma Tou Qin | Pipa

35: Title | Love You | We wandered around looking into the practice rooms. We passed a girl playing a Pipa which is similar to a lute. She let me hold it and also showed me a scale. We also passed a room full of Gu Zhengs which is like a dulcimer. Now it was time to observe a private lesson for the Ma Tou Qin (which means 2 string horse headed instrument). The student had been studying for 2 years. When the teacher demonstrated it was beautiful! After watching their lesson for 40 minutes I got a chance to ask questions (it was hard to ask questions & for Crystal to translate them). I also got to try playing the instrument myself. This one was easier to play than the Banhu. The teacher helped me play a scale and I could easily understand him because he spoke in solfege. The two strings are low so, and do. You usually use the back of your finger and put it underneath the side of the string instead of using the tip of your finger to press down. The instrument I was playing had little white dots on the side of the finger board which acted like frets. The teacher also demonstrated throat singing which is super cool. It's like humming/growling and then it produces overtones so that you hear 2 notes simultaneously.

36: After a cafeteria lunch we had an hour, so I read my Bible. Crystal is always showing me phrases she likes so I shared 1st John 3:1 about God's love for his children. She said her grandmother had a Chinese Bible but she has never read it. She asked what the Bible was about. I said there were stories, flipped to Genesis and told about creation. She recognized the story. Crystal wrote notes about the bible stories and asked me to summarize the Old Testament. I said, "It is God showing his love for his people as he teaches them how to live and love." At this point we had been talking for maybe 45 minutes and it was time to go to class again. So we stopped, but she asked me to continue the New Testament later. We observed more dancing classes. Some teachers were nice and others were very strict and would hit the students. After a while, a teacher came to get us, her name was Dr. Grilee (which means sunshine, but sounds like the English word girl to me). She took us to her office for a private lesson about the Mongolian Long Tune. She sang for us so I could know how it was supposed to sound. We began with some vocal warm ups practicing the pronunciation. Students usually take 2 months to practice the correct pronunciation. For dinner we watched a restaurant make 3 types of you noodles.

38: At 10am we drove for about 2 hours to a different district in Inner Mongolia. When we arrived at the Yurts in the grasslands there were 4 people dressed in traditional Mongolian clothes to welcome and sing to you. We are in the traditional Yurt with no windows, just a door, 3 beds, a TV, and a restroom. Since it was 12:30 we went to the huge Yurt for lunch. They served lamb, tomatoes (with sugar!), cauliflower, lamb broth (which was fatty but tasted good & salty), and rolls. Afterwards, Crystal and I took a walk. I thought it was perfect, the sun was shining with a slight breeze and blue sky. Crystal thought it was too hot to walk. In the afternoon we finished the Jesus story. We watched some boys do archery (but they used broken arrows). The 6pm horse racing consisted of guys riding the horses around in a circle twice. The 2 front guys looked like they were trying to go fast and win, but 2 of the guys in the back were just trotting. Despite this, Crystal said "Very exciting." Then 4 guys put on a wrestling vest. They paired off and wrestled. Then the 2 winners went against each other. The demonstration was over quickly. When they hung up their vests the driver said I should put one on. He taught me how to grab on to the vest at the sleeves; we wrestled & he won. Then it was dinner time. There was a whole ceremony for the lamb. The people chose a king and queen of the kingdom, there was a song, they cut the lamb, they each ate a little bit of the lamb and then drank some alcohol. All of the Chinese people were crowding around to get pictures and Crystal encouraged me to do the same. During dinner there was some singing, dancing and playing the Ma Tou Qin. The Chinese tourists got up to sing some of the songs, it was like Karaoke. Some of them just stood by the singers to get their picture taken. There was a girl who danced with 4 bowls and a guy who played a bull fighting song on the Ma Tou Qin, but I thought the students at the school had done better yesterday. We were behind all of the action instead of the front, but the driver made sure I tried on the queen's clothing and got the Hada. Hada is a piece of silk used as a greeting gift among the Tibet and Mongol nationalities. Usually the silk is white in Tibet and Blue in Mongolia. Outside it started to pour, and then there was fun lightning to watch. The electricity did go out at one point. After it stopped raining they made a bonfire and everyone danced around it and watched some more performances. The throat singer did sing this time, but the background music was so loud it was hard to tell what was him and what was synthesizer. They finished with Gangnam style. When we got back to our Yurt I shared some American songs and the Shim Sham with Crystal.

39: Saturday June 22th

42: There were some issues with the itinerary, so with the whole day ahead of us, and absolutely nothing on the schedule, I bought cheap replacement sunglasses (mine had been stolen at dinner the previous night), grabbed my Bible and headed to the grasslands. When I was finishing my reading there were 2 men on horse back herding cows. I thought that was kinda cool. | Sunday June 23rd Before 6am loud music came on. The music is especially loud because there is a speaker pointed at our yurt. I think they play the music at meal times. I ate 2 hard boiled eggs, 3 fried biscuits (they were very good) and some "porridge" which was rice in hot water. Unfortunately, the shower does not work.

43: In the afternoon we took the car to a pile of stones which I guess serves as a marker and an alter. Then we visited a local family. The family made their modern house 5 years ago. They receive tourists and sell souvenirs. They also have lambs and cows that are part of a mud and straw stable/house. This was built 100 years ago and her sister stays there during busy summer season to help with all the tourists. | We tried to go to sleep early, Crystal at 8 and me at 9. Unfortunately they were looping the same dumb song over and over so we had to fall asleep to a never ending song.

44: I was so glad to leave the grasslands tourist spot. I woke at 5:40am, quickly ate breakfast and was out of there by 7am. By 8:30am we arrived at the primary school. This school is very small, 7 teachers for 40 students. Crystal said most schools are bigger and more crowded. I got to observe English class where all of them tried talking with me. Then there were morning exercises, recess, a look in the teacher's room. | 5th grade graduation party | Students stand to answer questions out of respect.

45: Monday June 24th | An American visitor is a big deal, so all the teachers wanted a picture with me.

46: They asked me to teach the 5th grade English class. I read sentences from their book and asked them the questions, letting them answer. They asked me to sing songs, so we did "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes," "3 Blue Pigeons," "Everybody Loves Saturday Night," & "A Sailor went to Sea." Then, I asked them to sing me a song. They sang a New Years song I already knew the tune to. We joined the graduation ceremony with all the teachers, 5 students and lots of fruit to eat. The students all gave short speech of thanks and the teachers gave advise for the future. | I asked Crystal for the kids to play Diu Shojur; it's similar to duck duck goose. | Amy was my favorite 3rd grader. | Morning exercises

48: We arrived at the airport at noon for my 1:45 flight. The driver gave me a bottle of water and a melon to eat. Crystal helped me check in and we said goodbye. Security in China also doesn't like water bottles, so I drank it all. I walked around the airport waiting for my flight. The gate was changed, and then the flight was delayed. There was a downpour of rain; I thought maybe that was why it was delayed. Other flights were delayed too, but not all. All the other delayed flights had estimated leaving times...mine did not. At the gate they wrote a sign...but it's in Mandarin. I asked if anyone spoke English that could translate for me...no one responded. I saw a girl with a phone and motioned I would like to borrow hers (mine was running out of battery AND had no reception here). I thought I could call the tour guide and they could translate for me. I called but I didn't know what to tell him, so I handed the phone to the lady and she explained in Chinese what was happening. When I handed the phone back to the lady she spoke a little English and confirmed the flight was just delayed but not canceled. At one point people were giving the flight attendant their ticket and he gave them back their ticket and receipt. I figured that was the thing to do, so I handed him mine too. But then everyone just sat down with their receipt. I'm not sure what it does, but I got one. I later asked the flight attendant what was going on. He had a difficult time remembering English words, but eventually I learned we would leave for Xian at 6, and I should "sit down and wait a little while". I thought waiting for 4 hours was funny for "a little while," but he went on to explain that I wait for a little while at the airport and then follow him to a hotel because it was such a long wait. Well, at 4pm we finally left the airport. I memorized certain people's clothes to make sure I'm following the correct group since I can't understand the announcements. We got on the bus and the bus ride took about 30 min. I was very surprised the hotel wasn't closer to the airport. I think the flight attendant mixed up his numbers because leaving at 6pm doesn't make sense. One positive was going past the Hohhot museum. The building was built for the 60th anniversary and is super cool. It has grass growing on the roof because Inner Mongolia is the grasslands. I had wanted to come back to the building if we had time, but didn't, so when I saw we were close today I got my camera out.

49: When we checked in you were supposed to write things in 3 columns. Of course I didn't understand any of the columns and couldn't just copy everyone else, because I couldn't read their writing. They had me write my name and gender, then handed me a key. The flight attendant looked at my card, asked the receptionist and then said my room was B202. At 6pm we were supposed to meet for dinner and at 7pm we will depart for the airport again. (Like I said, I think the flight leaving at 6pm is wrong, it must be 8 or 9). When I went up to the room I couldn't find a bathroom...but there were ladies in the adjoining room. I was surprised. I used "their" bathroom. I guess they are putting 4 people in a room whether you know them or not. I was planning on being at a hotel in the afternoon anyways, I thought I could use internet to communicate with everyone back in the US, backup photos, and just enjoy the nice Hilton. Unfortunately, this hotel does not have Wifi. Oh well. I like experiencing real life and not tourist stuff, so this is real, I'm stranded with a bunch of Chinese people. I've seen a guy yell at the flight attendants, everyone else clustering around chuckling. I also just want to take a shower, but my shower stuff had to be checked because they only allowed my economy ticket 1 backpack at 5 kilos. Luckily I had a good book. I ended up reading my book in the lobby for a little while. A lady from my room motioned it was time for dinner. I followed her. I wondered why we left the hotel and were going by ourselves when I thought we were all going to eat together at the hotel paid by the airport. The lady asked for directions from boys on the street and it seemed they were confused. (Asking directions is very common in China. My drivers would always yell out the window to figure out where things were.)

50: Eventually we joined 2 other ladies and found the other half of the hotel with the dining room. We were some of the first people, which was great because the food wasn't picked over yet. They had quite the buffet for us, so I had some soup, rolls, fish, vegetables, etc. The Chinese eat so fast. The whole airplane...well probably at least 40 people, got food, ate and cleaned up within 30 minutes! When we were finished it was raining, so everyone didn't want to go back to our original building. After the rain, everyone returned to the hotel lobby. Some ladies (one of them was Sue, the English speaker) were talking energetically and sort of ran out of the building. I followed them out to the street where they caught a cab. I asked what they were doing. Sue said they were going to the airport. I asked if I could join them. I felt bad because I hadn't given the room key back, but I felt like I should follow Sue...on the other hand I didn't want to give up my room key and not have a place to be if following them didn't work out. So a taxi pulled over who already had a lady in it...which meant there weren't room for the 4 of us...only 3. The man was nice and let me go even though I wasn't part of their original group. The lady previously in the cab was wanting to be dropped off in this area, but there was some arguing as to where. I think Sue was getting frustrated and was afraid we weren't going to make it to the airport in time. I was wondering why I had joined this rebellious group which had to pay a taxi and hopefully get there in time instead of waiting for the bus and letting the airline take care of us. Sue said her boyfriend had already booked her another ticket. I thought "oh great, I have no ticket and I'm on my way to the airport."

51: Once we got to the airport, Sue had me go to information and a couple of our rouge friends were there too. Information wasn't too helpful and Sue had to go, so I was left typing my English into a phone and having it be translated for the lady. In the middle of this translation Sue motioned me over to the ticket counter. I went up to the manager and they gave me a new ticket. But since I had a checked bag the man I had squished out of the taxi had me follow him down to baggage claim to pick up my bag. My determined friends left me at baggage claim so they could catch the plane that was supposed to leave in 25 minutes! I waited impatiently for my bag. When I got it, I ran upstairs and almost threw it at the check-in desk so they could re-tag and check it for my new plane. I got in line for security check again, and I was only 5 people after all of my pertinacious helpers. Once we got to our gate we saw the plane was delayed again! But luckily this one had a new departure time...only 15 minutes aways instead of no projection of ever leaving like our previous plane. My new friends said we were very lucky to be leaving. So at 8:30 we boarded the plane and landed in Xi'an at 10:30pm. Since I was so late, I missed the dumpling banquet and the music show. The Hilton Hotel was supposed to be about an hour away, but it was past traffic hours so we got there earlier. Thanks to Hilton I am a diamond club member so I got a room upgrade and got put on the fancy floor. The room was so nice, and there were fruits and desserts waiting for me. I relished the hot shower after days of not having one. It was also good to get internet and say hi to family after 3 days of no internet. Finally, I went to bed at 2am.

52: Our first stop was the Terracotta Warriors since that was the main reason why I was in Xi'an. When we got to a nicely paved area with lots of real shops I was surprised. I was expecting dirt roads and little tent shops. My guide, MJ, said with all the tourists they have money to build. | It was cool to see rows and rows of men. | The room was really hot and humid. | Tuesday June 25th

53: We entered Pit 1 which is the biggest of the three museum pits.. The army was constructed for Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), the first Emperor of China. To create this army for the Emperor's afterlife it took over 720,000 people and 37 years (building began when Qin was 13). During his rule, Qin standardized coins, weights, and measures; fought to unify China, interlinked the states with canals and roads; and is credited for building the first version of the Great Wall. Despite all of these accomplishments Qin is known as cruel because his enormous projects killed many people.

54: The work is not done. Archaeologists dig carefully, sift through the dirt, & put together the pieces. | After the emperor was buried the pits were plundered; bronze weapons from the terracotta army were seized, leaving the soldiers empty-handed.

55: They estimate 8,000 soldiers between the 3 pits, but they have not all been excavated yet. Originally they were painted bright colors, but the paint has oxidized. | The wooden roofs of the armies' pits were burned, the earth fell in, & the figures were broken. | Any pieces they can't find, they will fill in with replacement clay for display.

56: Standing in front of the different museum pits. Pit 2 had not been plundered, so they found bronze weapons. Pit 3 the warriors face inward instead of out because this was a place for ceremonies and sacrifices compared to the other pits which were ready to defend and fight.

57: Cousins were digging a well on their farm in 1974 & found terracotta warrior fragments. They now sit and sign books. | Although the terracotta army is life size, the bronze chariots they found are half sized. | I posed with these statues at one of the shops, but MJ didn't know why the emperor was small.

58: The city wall in Xi'an is one of the oldest and most complete city walls in China. | There are 98 ramparts on the wall. These buildings outside the wall were very decorated. | A god of good luck, believed to be so powerful that it needs to be covered with a cloth.

59: You can rent a bike to go around the 8.5 mile wall. It was a hot day, maybe 97 degrees, but | luckily it was 5pm and with the wind from biking it was bearable. | I found the contrast of old wall-new city fascinating. The wall was enlarged to it's current size | We left at 6:15 to find a famous noodle chain. You could watch them stretch the dough & cook. | by the Ming Dynasty in 1370.

60: The train arrived in Beijing around 7am. I checked with the family in my soft sleeper car to make sure I had the correct stop. The driver met me at the train station and we waited for Ben to arrive. I fell asleep on the 3 hour car ride to Dongpo Inn. The driver had to ask for some direction because it was remote. It is at the foothills of the Simatai section of the Great Wall. My schedule said this was a home stay, but I think something was lost in translation because it was definitely an inn with many rooms run by a family. The family was nice, but we didn't really do much together. After checking in to the inn they said we would walk about 15 minutes to the village for lunch. This was where the other half of the inn was and a school group from New York was staying up here. We had some good food and then Ben and I went on a walk. We traveled down the road we had come and walked along the river. We took some photos of the Great Wall, found a temple to the mountain god, and discovered a nice cool spring to dip our feet in. | Thrilled to see the wall from the Inn. | The village we walked to for lunch.

61: Wednesday June 26th | This is called Mandarin Duck Lake and separates the west section of Simatai from the east. | Walking down the road from our Inn...our car drove up this. | The spring Ben and I found to cool our feet. | Temple to the mountain god. | Great place for a local to store their bike.

62: We went back to our rooms where I downloaded photos, read my Bible and journaled. It started to thunder and lightning so I went to the main common room and played cards with the driver and Ben. We played Old Maid (Ben lost a lot) and a Chinese version of Presidents. After a while it started hailing. Eventually, the sky cleared and we ate dinner outside, watching a rainbow form over the Great Wall finishing with a beautiful sunset. It was fun to talk to the other visiting Americans & be able to have all my English understood, not have to speak slowly.

63: Beautiful

64: The lady knocked on our doors at 5:30 so we could eat breakfast and get an early start. The Simatai section where we are has technically been closed for 3 years, but the guard doesn't get there until 8am, so she suggests all her guests start climbing between 6 and 6:30. I had heard it was quite the hike so I ate a lot of eggs and toast for energy. We were off at 6:10. Ben had never been to this part of the wall so when we got there he had to call and ask which way to go. (We started at east tower 2 and headed west). We wound our way down to the suspension bridge and then had to climb all the stairs to get back to the wall. I certainly didn't count stairs, but we had to take breaks now and then. The morning was a little cloudy but it felt nice and cool while exercising. Photos gave us a good excuse to stop and rest. Eventually, the clouds burned off and the sun shone on the wall. It was beautiful! To be so high up and see all the mountain ridges is great. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting the Great Wall to be like, I guess more flat, but this section goes along the mountain ridges so there is a lot of up and down. Sometimes there are stairs, sometimes it is just a ramp. Sometimes the stairs are really short and other times they are so tall. Sometimes there is enough room for my whole foot and other times I can barely fit my size 6 shoe on the stair and I have to turn my foot sideways. The wall is under construction so you can see places that are falling apart, places that were rebuilt a while ago, or places that are really nice because they were just finished. We passed by some workers who were breaking up the wall to replace the broken bricks with full bricks.

65: Thursday June 27th | Notice the holes at the bottom for water drainage. I was shocked how steep it was!

66: The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. | The main wall is around 2,145 miles long with an extra 1,770 miles of branches.

67: died building it. Contrary to popular belief, it cannot be seen from space without aid. | During construction, it was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many

68: In 221 BC, Emperor Qinshihuang unified the country & ordered to link all city walls together, thus the Qin Dynasty Great Wall came into being. Later dynasties restored, rebuilt & expanded sections of the wall to defend themselves. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is especially known for the work done on the Great Wall. The Ming adopted a new strategy to keep Mongolians out by constructing walls along the northern border of China. The Ming construction was stronger & more elaborate due to the use of stone & bricks instead of rammed earth. Today, most remaining sections are from the Ming Dynasty.

70: The great wall varies, but the sections I walked were generally 23 feet high and 20 feet wide.

71: The Jinshan (gold mountain) ranges have an altitude of 2,300 feet. Here you can see the "cloud sea."

72: The arrow shows the Dongpo Inn where we stayed. The small gray box is the bathroom next to the Simatai Wall east tower 2 where we began our hike, going down and crossing the suspension bridge to the easier 18 towers on the west side. | The Simatai section is described as perilous, dense, diverse, ingenuous and peculiar because of the steep ridge on the east side. Originally built during the Northern Qi dynasty and rebuilt in the HongWu years of the Ming dynasty by Qi JiGuang, the Simatai section of the Great Wall is the only part of the wall that retains all the original features of the Ming Dynasty wall. The bricks used to build the walls here were stamped with the date on which they were made and the code numbers of the armies that made them.

74: After walking a while we got to a place where a lady charged us money to buy a ticket. We had now left the Simatai section and were in the Jinshanling section. There was a very steep section and an old peasant man sat there with his cane waiting to "help you up and show you the way." Ben told him we didn't need him as a tour guide. I thought it was kinda funny because you can't get lost on the wall, and he was an old man with a cane...we should be helping him! | We got to the first exit and Ben suggested we go down. I was confused because I was having a great time and the schedule said we were hiking all day with a packed lunch to eat. | Notice how steep it is; once you are at the top, it looks like a drop off! As we were coming down that hill it was the first time we saw other people climbing the Great Wall. Besides tourists every now and then, when you came to a tower there might be some locals who had brought up food and drink to sell. | I thought since we were walking a line that after 4 hours we would have to turn around so we could go back to the inn, but Ben said the driver was picking us up at this Jinshanling section so we only had to walk 1 way. | You want me to go up this?

76: I think these are the 2 tiered Jinshan watchtowers. | Many towers had background info.

77: We kept walking past exits until Ben said he would wait for me and I could go on. Eventually (around 11:30) Ben yelled out he was hot, had no more water and no food. He was planning on going to a restaurant, not eating on the wall, so we could either exit now, eat lunch and come back for more, or we could go to 3 more towers now, but be done for the day. I chose to exit now and come back later. We walked to the exit and as we got there I realized I didn't have my camera! It wasn't in my pocket or in my bag. I had heard pickpockets were bad in China and I was worried the group I had passed by myself in the tower had maybe stolen it. Ben told me not to worry and we back tracked where I had been. It had dropped out of my pocket and we did find it on the ground. I was so glad.

78: So we walked back to the exit again (this was the 4th time that we had walked past some of these towers and steps). There was a nice path down the mountain, then a street with vendors. We passed some restaurants, but it wasn't what Ben had in mind. We had to leave the ticketed area and ate with our driver in a hotel restaurant, took a short break and were back hiking up to the wall at 1pm. By now it was really hot, and unless under a full tower which still had a roof, the wall has very little protection from the sun. We made it to the Xiliang Zhuanduo Tower, which is only a few towers from the end of the Jinshangling section, but there is no exit at the end, in fact, we had already passed the last exit. We had already done 48 towers, so I decided just to sit and enjoy the view in a breezy spot in the shade of a tower. It was so great. After a reasonable time of admiring the view I said we could go and we walked back down to our driver.

79: Ben says all his other tourists come, walk up to one tower, take a picture, say they have walked on the wall & go back to the car. He said I am his first tourist in his 3 years of being a guide to make him walk a whole section. I was surprised (but he did say I was younger than most of his clients). Poor guy had no clue this morning that he was going on a 7 hour hike.

80: { You are my sunshine } | Xiwuyanlou & its barrier walls. | Round towers are uncommon on the Great Wall, but Jinshanling has two round watch towers separate from the wall near Zhuanduokou on the north side. This is the West Beacon Tower. | Barrier walls are also a distinct feature of the Jinshanling section. These are a series of 3 meter high walls which cross about 2/3rds of path to allow better defense of the towers if the enemy made it on to the wall. They are found on inclined areas near watch towers. | Barrier Walls looking down

81: Title | The section on the left is known as the Leopard Wall due to its unusual spotted appearance, which results from its construction using rocks instead of bricks. You can see the difference compared to the brick wall on the right. | On a clear day you can see the majority of the Jinshanling Great wall, and in background the Simatai section as well! In the middle of the Jinshangling section is a part that looks like a Y. I wondered why it stuck out to nowhere instead of being part of the continuous line. I learned it was to help protect the Zhuanduokou pass and that these branches are common.

82: View from my bed | Trying to make dumplings | The Inn keeper learning guitar

83: Back at the inn I took a shower, downloaded and shared pictures, tuned and taught the Inn keeper how to play the guitar, and read my bible. A couple from Belgium arrived at the inn and all of us tried our hand at making vegetable dumplings. The driver and the Inn Keepers tried to show us how to make the dumpling curved, pressing together the dough in little pinches. Ours didn't pass inspection and they kept trying to help us. We walked to the wall to watch the sunset, but it wasn't very good. As soon as the sun disappeared Ben wanted to go eat, but usually it's only when the sun disappears that the sky turns the good colors so I wanted to wait. Eventually we wen back and ate a variety of food. The sweet and sour chicken and the fresh home grown beans were my favorite dishes. I said good night to everyone and packed my bags to leave the next day.

84: Friday, June 28th | The farthest east I got, looking at East Tower 6 | Different stairs up to West Tower 6 | Some stairs are skinny and tall, others are not.

85: I liked the Great Wall so much I decided to go climb it a little more since I woke at 6am. I let the driver know where I was and set off by myself. Yesterday we had seen some construction workers on the wall at 6:35, so I decided I could walk for 15 minutes and then I needed to turn around and go back for breakfast. This time I walked up the wall the other direction. It really wasn't that bad. I was expecting to be sore from the other day, but it was really easy to go up. I went past 3 towers and did the ramp up to the stairs for the 4th tower before I decided it was time to turn around. Again, climbing down was really easy. I ate breakfast with Ben and asked if he wanted to go climb the Great Wall again. He said not really, after all we would be late getting back to Beijing. I said "Late for what? Today is a free day, I have no plans." We ate and then he said he would go with me. I got ready really quick and we were going down to the swinging gate by 6:50. After about half an hour Ben said he would wait there and I could come back since we weren't hiking all the way to the exit today. After about 10min he called me to come back so we could return before the guard got to his post by 8am. We were off the Great Wall by 7:55. We went back to the Inn, packed up and drove back to the hostel. I slept for most of the drive, but I asked Ben if we could go get lunch before going to the hostel so I could have his help ordering. He insisted we go to the hostel 1st and then I could find a place for lunch close by. We got there at 11:15 which is before checkin time so I had to wait in the common room until my room was cleaned. At least I had internet. I got to skype with mom. But after waiting so long since breakfast, I was starving, so I went to get lunch by myself. Deciding I had enough Chinese food I asked the desk where Western Restaurants were. They suggested one around the corner called "Backyard." I found it after walking down the wrong alley way for a while and turning around. I ordered Pizza and Mango/Mint tea and since I had leftovers I ate them for dinner.

86: Unfortunately there were frustrating misunderstandings with my itinerary, but eventually I had a night tour set up with a different guide and driver. At 7:30 I met my new guide, Jason. We went to the Olympic Park first since it was farthest away to allow the sun to set. The stadium looks so cool and the water cube so weird. I'm really glad I got to go here. Jason said the stadium is a circle to represent heaven and the pool a cube to represent earth. They are on either side of the North/South line of the middle of the city. Everything here has such purpose and meaning.

87: Next, we went to the Performing Arts Center which wasn't lit up. From there, we walk to Tienanmen square and the Forbidden City since you can't park by them. By now it was raining, and sometimes kinda hard. Jason helped hold the umbrella as I took pictures. They dropped me off at the hostel around 11pm! I had no clue it was so late. Oops!

88: Title | Let's Laugh | Slept in till 8:30, did some internet at the hostel, invited Marysa (a Canadian at the hostel) to come to the Summer Palace and we met Wenfei at 11:35 near the subway stop. Since I had a driver this was the first time for me to use the subway. It's only 2RMB a ride no mater how far you go, so it's cheap. Wenfei pointed out the advertisements which are lit as pictures on the subway tubes and then the train goes so fast it makes it into a movie. Cool idea. We met her friend, Jessica, at a mall for a Thai lunch. We ordered mango pork, veggies, pineapple fried rice, and fish. The pork came in a sweet potato fried basket that was so good! I also really liked the fried rice. The girls insisted on paying for us saying it was a cultural thing. I thought they were really sweet. We then switched a few subways lines and walked to the Summer Palace. The ticket lady said we wouldn't want an all inclusive pass because at 2:30 there wasn't time to see it all. We bought a map, but still didn't really know where to go. In general, it seems like a nice park with lots of water and standard palace buildings. Unfortunately, it was hard to see across the water because it was a foggy day. We walked a lot (the park is 2.97 km2)! It was fun to talk about cultural differences between North America and China. We talked about music class, Tibet, dating, babies, smoking, etc. By 6pm we were looking for an exit and took the subway back to the hostel, saying goodbye to our Chinese friends when their stop came before ours. At the hostel we ran into our Swedish roommate who was going to dinner. We asked if he wanted to join us. We decided to go to a close restaurant called "Donkey burgers." it was good, but certainly not like our burgers. the buns were a crispy, flaky rectangle and the meat was sliced donkey. We also got some garlic vegetables. It was fun to talk about different counties' issues and politics. Soon it was 10:30 and I had to get back to pack up. My clothes where done drying from the laundry so that was great. I took a shower and went to bed. | Saturday, June 29th

89: The 17 arch bridge has over 500 carvings of lions in different poses. | Chang Lang means long corridor. It is almost 1/2 a mile long with more than 8,000 paintings. | Originally started in 1750 during the Qing Dynasty as the "Garden of Clear Rippples," the park became called the Summer Palace when the Empress used it as a summer resort. The palace was attacked in 1860 and 1900 and rebuilt both times.

90: Summer Palace | Jessica, Carissa, Marysa and Wenfei | Jade Belt Bridge

91: I woke at 5, met Jason at 5:30 and we drove to the airport. It was a little confusing because you went through security before checking-in at the ticket counter (and my translator told me the wrong ticket counter). Anyways, after getting checked in myself, the flight went quickly. They served us lunch, but ran out of choices by my row (the fourth row!) . They had what they called a movie trailer, but it was at least a 20 minute summary of The Great Oz with no sound. It was interesting to see what parts they highlighted since I saw it 2 weeks ago. Customs was easy but it took a while to get my bag. When I left, a guy handed me a brochure, but I didn't want it. I think it was for a church but I had arrived in the afternoon so I figured it was too late. Later, I read in my tour book about a huge church with great singing. They do translations for foreigners and have 8 services, so I could have caught an afternoon or night service if I had realized, oh well. I found the subway no problem and got t-money which is a card you load money on to for transportation, but you can also use it at vending machines. I got a map and was able to go to the Anguk stop no problem. Looking at the map in my Seoul tour book I turned left on the first thing that seemed like a legit street, but I turned around deciding it was wrong because on the map it looked like it was supposed to be a big street, so I went to the next big street and asked some ladies. They didn't understand my English tourbook and were no help. I had bought a SIM card in China, but it didn't work in Korea. I went back to the small street and ran into a place | called Yellow Brick Hostel, so I carried my luggage to the second floor to ask them where my Banana Backpackers Hostel was. They were very nice, printed a map on google and told me streets might not be very big even though they look like it on the map. So, with that advice ,I found my correct hostel and checked-in to a bottom bunk. (The Banana Backpacker Hostel was on neither of the streets where I had previously looked. Earlier what I had discounted as an alleyway was really the street I was supposed to go on. After I knew this it was no problem finding my hostel the rest of the week.). | Sunday June 30th

92: Chinese Food | Crepe | Peking Duck | Baoji | Berry Oreos | Orange Pork | Spicy Chicken | Hot Pot | Cafeteria Food | 3 kinds of Noodles | Xi'an Noodles | Hohhot Noodles | Donkey Burgers

93: Korean Food | Pizza | Bibimbap | Bubble Tea | Samgyeopsal BBQ | Paris Croissant Cafe | Ice Flakes | Peach Soda | Mango Marshmallows | Red bean & cream cheese cube | Pastries | Eating with Miriam | Fried bread w/ filling

94: While I was reconnecting with the Facebook world (China doesn't allow fb), another girl checked into my room. Miriam had just spent two weeks studying Korean music! How cool is that? We decided to go together to the N Seoul Tower. On the way past Unhyeongung palace we heard music. It said free admission so we went in. The concert was almost finished, but I still got to tape a little of it. Since Miriam had just studied this she was able to tell me it was Samulnori and the five instruments (2 gongs, 2 drums, and an oboe type instrument) represented the five elements (fire, wood, earth, water, and metal). The dancers had hats, some with long ribbons that they would swing around as they were playing & dancing. It was very interesting. | Female quarters in the palace

95: After the musicians were done we dressed up in traditional Korean clothing and had 20 minutes to take pictures around the Palace. When the lady said we had only 20 minutes I thought that was a huge amount of time, but it passed quickly. | Me and Miriam

96: Once the palace closed we took the subway and then bus to Namsan park. Luckily, the bus took us all the way up the hill so we didn't have to walk it. There are thousands of locks at the top of the hill (and consequently the foot of the tower). People come here with their significant other and lock relationship forever. They have locks in the shape of trees, all over the fence and they just started a big heart. (I found it interesting that the letters are all in English). We were both hungry so we went to a traditional Korean restaurant with a view. I ordered cold bibimbap which is more or less vegetables with rice. I tried the kimchi (fermented cabbage) which comes with every meal here, but i don't like it. Too spicy for me. It was kinda cloudy today, so we decided not to go up the tower when you wouldn't be able to see anything. We walked down through a forested trail, over the old fortress walls, and back down to the street. We passed a statue about Korea's independence. Miriam said at first the old traditional music was scorned because it reminded the people of when they were weak and under Japanese rule. They wanted to modernize everything to get away from that horrible time and become strong and powerful. It is only now that they have been able to rebuild that they are starting to bring back the traditional music. After so much walking I was just too tired to go swing dancing, so instead of going I just went back to the hostel with Miriam and we all hung out in our air conditioned room. | Electric bus | Fortress Wall built 1396 | Independence memorial | Being goofy with the fish lens

97: It looks like a piles of trash, but they are all locks. | Fun heart that is starting to get locks on it. | The North Tower | Close up of the locks. | N Seoul Tower Built in 1969 | Haechi is a mythical beast that once protected the royal palaces of Seoul, and is now a symbol of the city.

99: Monday, July 1st | Miriam was going to work this morning so I set out by myself after we had breakfast together at the Paris Cafe in the subway. The cafe had so many yummy pastries it was hard to choose, but we both got "Cinnamon rolls" that looked more like a huge hunk of sticky caramel bread. It was good. Monday is the day lots of palaces and museums are closed, but for some reason Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesday instead. I walked to the Palace because it was close and saw some kids on their way to a field trip. I was a little early for the English tour so I just took pictures and looked around myself. I debated leaving before the tour started, but Miriam said it was good, so I stayed. At 11 the tour started, but at the outer gate drums were distracting me because it was the changing of the guard. I saw the ceremony from the back, but I wish the guards had been part of the tour too, it only lasted 5 minutes. Anyways, the tour was very good. She talked about the different paths for the different ranking officers, about how far each person could come in the outer court, about the heating system underneath the rooms which lead to eating and sleeping on the floor, and about the nicely decorated chimneys were in the back of the house which were still originals. The tour ended with the tragic story of Queen Myeongseong who was killed by Japanese assassins in 1895. | Changing of the guard | English Tour

100: The emperor's throne. It was very common to be asked your zodiac sign. I am an ox. | Royalty living simply. The Blue House. Everything had to be rebuilt after the Japanese occupation.

101: It was kinda hot, but I walked around the back gardens our guide hadn't taken us to. I also looked through the folk museum and found some instruments and a crazy 7 layer dress. I went out the back entrance to see Cheongwadae (The Blue House) where the presidents live. President Park Geun-hye was inaugurated on Feb 25 2013 and is the first female president in Northeast Asia. By now I was hungry, but my tour book had 3 good looking places semi-close, so I decided to check that out. Unfortunately, the map doesn't show hills, so it was an up hill walk. I was expecting the signs to match the letters in my tour book, but I think my tour book had only English names and the restaurant signs had only Korean names, so how was I supposed to find them? I settled for a place with pictures and cheap prices. I ended up ordering fried rice at 2pm. After lunch I continued the up hill climb to Samcheong park, but with the heat of the day it was just too hot to hike, so I found a bench and read my bible.

102: I decided to continue going up the road, but eventually chose a path down a residential neighborhood. There was this guy taking pictures and then all of the houses turned really cute and there were lots of tourists and I realized I had stumbled into a Hanok (which I was hoping to go to, but wasn't expecting to approach it so quickly). | Some of the houses had little museums set up & you could pay $1 to come look. I looked at a place where they did gold embossing on fabric. The guide was really good at explaining the meanings of all the symbols & the process of using fish glue & gold, but I really was more interested in the house. | If I come back to Korea I would like to do a Hanok stay at least for 1 night. | Bukchon Hanok Village | Hanoks are traditional Korean style houses

103: The 1st little section I went through was so great I decided to cross the street and find the other section of Hanoks. This one had a lot more museums, some with workshops where you could make purses or something (although, this being Monday, some of them were closed). | Always interesting to see new city buildings in the background and old homes in the foreground.

104: Walking back to my hostel wasn't bad. I was a little confused as to where I was, but the signs pointing to landmarks really helped. I decided if you need to find a random place, like a specific hostel or restaurant, good luck. Even if you have a map, it's near to impossible to find businesses as an English speaker. But if you are trying to see tourist sites or know land marks, the signs all point which way to go and are written bilingually in Korean & English so it is no problem. Anyways, I made it back to the hostel successfully. I met Miriam back at the hostel and we walked to a restaurant near the subway station for dinner. She ordered hot bibimbap and I ordered dumplings (1/2 were meat and 1/2 were vegetable). Korea is so safe & trusting the restaurant lady kept an open filing box with her money right by the door! After dinner I went by myself to Big Apple Swing. Your entrance fee got you a ticket to exchange for a small water bottle, pop, or fruit juice. I found a place to stash my stuff, got my dancing shoes on and asked a guy to dance. I danced a lot the first hour and all of my dances were good. There were probably about 5 other foreigners there as well, someone from Romania, another from Ohio, and I didn't ask the others. I did enjoy the fact that no guy turned me down. All you had to do was make eye-contact with a guy and bow, then you danced and afterwards you would bow again and say "Gamsa Hamnida." In the middle of the set the DJ played the Big Apple, Tranky Doo and Shim Sham all back to back and it was fun to join everyone who knew these old Jazz line dances. Also interesting to see the Korean variations (or really how everyone in this scene did the exact same variation). Now it was getting really hot and people were starting to go home. I needed to make sure I was back before the subways stopped running. (Although on weekdays it sounds like the subways go till 1am). So after 2 hours of dancing and it being after 11pm with a 45 minute subway ride to go, I left. I got back to the hostel surprised to see everyone still up. Took a shower and we went to bed around 1:30am.

105: I had asked what hostel people were planning and Miriam also wanted to go to the Changdeokgung palace. She was going to work in the morning, but we set it up to meet at 1 for lunch. Sweet red beans seem to be the thing here, so for breakfast I had a cream cheese and red bean cube that was very good. I only had a few hours so I tried to stay close to the hostel. I went to the Joyesa temple with three huge Buddhas. They were in the middle of worshiping, so I got to hear their chants. I was looking for some building from my book and stumbled into Insasdong which is a road of tourist things. It was fun to walk through there, pick up some bubble tea, pretend to be a king (the mural was the typical background behind the kings throne). I went to Tapgol park with a big pagoda statue and a mural of a revolution. By now it was time to head back to the hostel. | Tuesday July 2nd

106: I had passed a restaurant that looked really nice but seemed to have reasonable prices. Miriam and I went there. Since it is traditional, we had to take off our shoes and sit on pillows on the floor. After trying to decipher the menu and going back and forth with the waitress, we ordered pork. She brought lots of dishes to our table, cooked the meat on a stove on our table and then cut it up in to bit size pieces with scissors. You put the meat and the toppings all in a lettuce leaf and eat up. It was nice to have Miriam with me to tell me what things are good (we have similar tastes) and how to eat everything since she had been there for 2 weeks. We made it to the Changdeokgung palace just in time to join the tour. Unfortunately, it was raining on and off. The tour was very similar info to the Gyeongbokgung palace so Miriam and I kinda zoned out and just took pictures. Next we went on the secret garden tour. It is supposed to be an hour and a half tour, but no one told me that or the starting time of the tour when I bought the ticket. | Nakseonjae Complex

107: Injeongjeon is the throne hall | The Secret Garden- Miriam & I in front of Aeryeonjeong. The Jahamnu Pavilion. Me & the Buyongji Pavilion.

108: Unfortunately I had already booked a 5 o'clock show, so I left the secret garden tour after 30 minutes, ran to the subway,and found the theater (once you get used to reading their maps, if there are key locations to look for, it's not bad). The show was called Nanta. It was like a STOMP show with cooking utensils. The lobby was really cute. There was a cut out scene for you to take pictures in. The door way was decorated with kitchen utensils. There were also free lockers for bags, so that was nice. The show began with 4 people carrying candles coming on a dark stage. The lady took a wooden bowl, scooped up some water and let it trickle out. The solemn mood was reminiscent of Buddhist monks. They continued to make calm peaceful music with kitchen utensils (the lady turned the wooden bowl upside down in the water and hit it with a chopstick and a cloth mallet to get 2 cool sounds). Eventually they took off their black robes and were in white chef outfits with energetic music. | Longest running show in Korea. Performed since '97.

109: The show was a mix between comical blue man group, & STOMP, with a little magic and acrobatics thrown in. There was a part where they had a competition to make dumplings, they used 2 volunteers from each side and I was one who got to go up on stage. My job was to spoon the vegetables in the dough, squeeze it shut by closing my hand, and then put 4 on a steamer tray and roll the conveyor belt down for it to be counted. Since this was a speed competition there was no one telling me I was making them wrong (like at the Great Wall); in fact, sometimes the lady just put hunks of dough on the tray and called it done. Anyways, my cheater team won. They gave me a wipe to get the flour and dough off my hands and a little gift coupon. Another audience participation time they threw little kid plastic colorful balls into the audience; we would throw them back and they would try to bat at them with kitchen utensils. They also drummed on big trashcans or something while water was in it, so water flew everywhere. It was cool to see the influences of Korean music in the show from the solemn monk like procession to the ribbons worn on the head for dancing (they just did it in black light). After the show I turned in my gift coupon for a picture they took of me on stage. It was dinner time so I asked an information booth for a good cheap Korean restaurant. (I love Korea, it's so visitor friendly, you barely need a tour book. If you are in popular tourist places they have offices or stand on the corner and are ready to give you a map with a suggestion of where to eat, get money at an ATM, etc. They are great!) The restaurant had dividers at a 4 seat table so they could seat 4 individuals without it being awkward. They only had 4 menu choices, all $8, so that made it simple. I ordered the noodles the girl next to me had, hoping that it was not spicy. It was fine, some kind of noodles with beef and a few dumplings. They kept coming around filling up everyone's kimchi. The bowl was big so I was stuffed.

110: I walked around Myeong-tong because it was fun seeing all the activity and all the streets lit up with lights. But it was just lots of stores (including H&M, Krispy Kreme, etc) and it was raining. When it would start pouring we would all duck under an eve of a store. When it would lighten up we would continue on our way. I got back on the subway and went to the south side of town for the swing dance at SwingTime. By the looks of it I was the only foreigner there, but that was okay. I enjoyed this night a little better because it was cooler and there were good dancers who asked me to dance a second time. I danced for 3 hours and near 11 o'clock I had an awesome energetic dance. I even got a dancing compliment from one of the leads. Rode the subway home (half of the seats were full...Seoul really is a night city) and found the girls still up again. We might have been up till 2am!

111: I was hoping to get started a little earlier just to beat the heat, but between sleeping in, printing dancing directions and trying to figure out what to do, I didn't get to breakfast until almost 10am. Miriam was checking out of the hostel that day, so we said good-bye with promises to stay in touch. I started at Insadong with a stall of freshly fried dough with a sweet center. The filling tasted like honey or syrup but with a peanuty flavor too. I went to Kyobo (a huge Korean book store) in search of a great Traditional Korean Music book in English recommended by Miriam. The book store is actually down underground just before you have to pay to get into the subway. I had come by subway, and since the stop had said something about performing arts I thought I would go up and take a look. When I walked out the exit I saw a long concrete island with fountains and statues in the middle of traffic. I had stumbled onto a very picturesque spot in Seoul, a pedestrian street called Sejong-ro. On this island there were men dressed in white dresses standing in formation & then dancing. They had a director, a video camera and a photographer. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing, but by the time I crossed the traffic to the island they were taking a break under the tent. During their break I took photos. The statue is of King Sejong the Great, who created the Korean alphabet, han’gul. He was also a fan of music. He initiated the development of musical notation for Korean and Chinese music, helped improve designs for various musical instruments, and encouraged the composition of orchestral music. In the background you can see the Gyeongbokgung palace, and the Blue House, all with lovely backdrop of the Bukhansan mountains. | Wednesday July 3rd

112: "Spring" | Admiral Yi Sun-sin | Clothes of an Emperor | History & Culture Park

113: There was also a little hut with ladies willing to dress you up in the costume of an emperor. I backed up further to another statue, this time with a water fountain. The statue was of Admiral Yi Sun-sin an undefeated naval genius. Walking a little more I found some cool buildings, a display thanking the US for helping in the Korean War, and a little stream. This little stream is Cheonggyecheon. It begins with a cool 70 ft sculupture that looks like a shell. The colors are symbolic of Yin and Yang. The ribbons inside are inspired from woman’s traditional dress and DNA. It was hot and the stream was nice so I continued down the stream enjoying the waterfalls and dipping my feet in. After a while, I decided I was hot and found the nearest subway station and tried to find the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. After lunch I found the park just fine, but it didn’t seem as cool as it looked on the map. There wasn’t much to do; the park is under construction, and it was really hot. I liked the statue called “Recycled Haechi,” and I stopped into the History museum, but very quickly I headed back to the subway. | "Recycled Haechi"

114: I decided I was so tired I would rather go back to the hostel and rest up for tonight’s dancing than go and see some random sights. When I walked into the lobby I found Miriam sitting there. She showed me all the cute clothes she had gotten at a second hand store. I told her I hadn’t been able to find it, so she agreed to walk me there. Before she left she told me of a traditional concert opportunity at the Gugak institute. Then, we said good-bye a second time. I went back to the hostel to finally take a nap. Later, I decided to get ready to go to the concert Miriam told me about. While going to the subway I ran into her a 3rd time! She gave me directions of how to get to the Gugak Institute; then I really left. When I got off the subway, Bus 22 was there just as she said, and it was easy to find the music center.

115: Luckily/Unluckily Story Luckily, I walked into the building and saw a desk that said information and tickets. Unluckily, there were no traditional Korean concerts this night, only Western music. Luckily, I kept walking around and saw a beautiful fountain show with classical music. Unluckily, I still couldn’t find a concert hall with Korean music. Luckily, at the far end of the institute was the Gugok center with a Korean concert. Unluckily, the line was long. Luckily, I made it to the ticket counter by 7pm for the 7:30 concert. Unluckily, the concert was invitation only and they wouldn’t let me buy a ticket. Luckily, the lady behind me said she would give me a ticket of hers. Unluckily, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Luckily, I was able to get some pizza fairly quickly. Unluckily, it was back by the fountains a 5 3 minute walk. Luckily, the lady had amazing seats. I was sitting in the center of the 2nd row! Unluckily, it was a children’s concert. Luckily, the children pictures helped tell the story of the songs I couldn’t understand. Unfortunately, I still really didn’t understand. There was a story about a boy on a train, another about a squid, and a final one with a bunny, but I never figured out more than that. Luckily, the singing was beautiful and fun. I got to see the traditional Korean instruments accompanying the singers, and in the middle of the concert, the whole audience sang Arirang. There were also monks who did a whole ceremony. Unfortunately, Miriam thought the concert would be an hour, but it was almost 2 hours, so that messed with my schedule dancing plans. Luckily, after the concert there was a bus waiting by the center. Unluckily, it wasn’t bus 22. Luckily, I went in and asked if they were going to Namasan Bus Terminal subway stop and they said yes. Unluckily, I didn’t see the subway stop until after we had passed it. Luckily, I asked a lady to help me get to a subway. Unluckily, there were lots of stops and traffic lights. Luckily, I was able to find the green line at stop Gangnam. (It was a super busy place with lots of young people). Unluckily, this stop was even further away from my desired stop. Luckily, I found my way to the swing dance. Unluckily it was now around 10:30 and I had been hoping to show up at 9pm. I decided to forget it and just go back to the hostel. Luckily, I was able to make it back to my hostel before midnight and have time to pack my bags.

116: Stoplights for bikes & walkers counting down the wait in Beijing | Gas masks and instructional videos in subways in South Korea just in case North Korea nukes them. | Most toilets were porcelain squats in China, but the Dongpo Inn tried to make the Westerner's comfortable by placing a porcelain seat over the porcelain squat. It's not hooked up to water though, thus the red water bucket. | Korea had nicer toilets, in fact, some were bidets where you could choose water temperature, dryer temperature, & even sound effects. | Korea-Cookin' Nanta sign to the nice toilets | Randomness | Leaving Beijing

117: My favorite translated sign! Summer Palace, China. | Glasses sanitized by UV rays in Korea | Biggest train station in Asia Beijing, China | 7 layer dress in Seoul museum | Nan Luo Gu Xiang store sign | Not sure what Uncle Sam is saying, but I thought it was interesting seeing it in Beijing, China.

118: I woke this morning a few times, but finally got out of bed around 8:45am. Since I was awake and had a little time, it seemed I should see something close by, but I didn't want to lug my suitcases around, so I only had a nice final breakfast at Paris Cafe. At 9:30am I boarded the subway. I worked on my journal for the 20 or so train stops and then arrived at the airport exactly 2 hours ahead of time. I figured I had a little time to look around at the mall first so I did, and then checked in at 10:45am. China Eastern couldn't check me in to the Air Canada flight so they said I would have to re-check in at the Beijing airport. | The flight was fine, I napped some, read my Bible and the Korean music book I bought. At 1:25pm, when we were supposed to have arrived, the pilot got on and informed us Beijing was not clearing us to land, so we circled the airport for at least 20 min. I had already been nervous about catching my next flight, and this delay was not helping. Finally around 1:45pm we landed; we had to wait for the whole plane to unload and then load on to a bus to take us to the terminal. Even after we got to the building we had a ways to walk. Customs was quick once we were there (maybe 2pm-ish). The baggage took forever. Mine finally came out at 2:30pm and I ran to catch the bus to terminal 3, but it pulled away as I hit the side asking it to take me. At 2:42pm the next bus took off, this time with me on it, but of course it had to make a stop at terminal 1 first. There was traffic and stop lights and it was a ways until terminal 3, but by 2:55pm we arrived. I ran to the check in, and tried to check in myself at the kiosk because it had no line. Of course it wouldn't work, so I just started telling everyone at the desk "I have a flight in one hour and it won't let me self check." One lady told me to go down where there were desk agents, but there was a huge line! So I just kept saying “I have an international flight in an hour.” I think a manager heard me and got me next in line. | Thursday, July 4th

119: So by 3:05pm I'm taking the shuttle to the international gates (which of course is the second shuttle stop)...it's now only 15 minutes until my plane boards. At 3:10pm I go through customs, but the flight attendants didn't give me a departure form on my last plane, so I have to get out of line to get a form and fill it out. After customs there is security which took forever. By 3:25pm I was walking to my gate. There was another red and white plane going to Vancouver currently boarding, and I got in line for the wrong flight; I had stopped 3 gates too early. When I got to my correct gate everyone had already boarded. At take off time (4:05pm) there came an announcement the airport wouldn't let us leave, so we waited an hour, but then there was a lightning storm. Other planes were leaving but not us. Eventually we started taxing at 6:30pm, 2.5 hours later than our original departure time..so I thought I was going to miss my Vancouver to Portland flight. Overall though, I'd rather be in English speaking Canada than China so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad to be stranded in BC. | After flying for maybe 20 minutes I had already finished one movie since we were allowed to watch movies while we waited to leave. I tried to sleep but unfortunately since we've been going to bed so late I wasn't tired until late and they turned on the lights and served breakfast at 4:30am or earlier. (The lady next to me wanted to know why they were serving so early. I said it was because we were arriving at 5:30am Beijing time although it would be 2pm in Vancouver). Luckily for me, even though we were 2 hours late I had a 5 hour lay over, so I hadn't missed my flight...in fact, I went through US customs and had time to hang out. Because of crossing the international dateline, July 4th was a day that lasted 40 hours for me. I was picked up by my parents by 6:30pm and was able to watch the fireworks that night. | Since we waited at the gate so long the flight attendance had brought us pretzels, orange juice, water and headphones all before we took off. I also munched on my mango marshmallows. When we did finally take off there was a beautiful rainbow and then sunset.

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Carissa Martus
  • By: Carissa M.
  • Joined: over 9 years ago
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Asia Teacher Treks
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  • Started: over 6 years ago
  • Updated: over 6 years ago