Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tea Farm

We traveled to a tea farm and learned about the various types of tea grown locally. Some of these types include green, black, Ginsing, yellow and Olong tea. Each person was given a sample and had the option of purchasing any of the tea after the lecture about the health benefits of tea. It was very interesting because I drink a lot of tea and I was able to find out more information kinds that I had never discovered. In China, it is popular to become a "tea master" and give lessons to tourists about tea. Our guide had been studying for six years and finally became a tea master because he wanted to know everything about the crop. I would definately recommend that if one enjoys drinking tea, he or she should visit the tea farm and learn about new types that exist.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Longji Village

While in Guilin, our group stayed overnight in the Longji Village. We drove for about an hour through the mountains until we reached the top where the villagers live. The building that we stayed in resembled a log cabin and the family lived off of bare essentials. We ate "Chinese Hot Pot" for every meal which consisted of meat and vegetables cooked in a pot over a fire. After dinner, the local villagers came to our cabin and did a traditional dance for us. They sang and danced for a few hours and even invited us to join in! It was very fun to learn the steps and move around the cabin with the locals. That night, we huddled together in one bed for heat because the temperature was negative 10 degrees! Most of us never actually fell asleep because we were so cold. The next morning, we took a hike through the mountains and the view was breath taking. Strangely, it got up to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit by noon. Traveling to the village was definitely one of the most interesting and amazing experiences.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Language and Art

During our stay in China, we attended a language class and were taught some of the basics. It was interesting to learn about the history of Chinese language, but it was difficult to understand the symbols. Since we had such a short class, we were only able to learn certain words rather than figure out the grammar. I found this session helpful, however, because I was able to use my new "survival Chinese words" when dealing with the locals. While visiting markets or in a taxi, we were finally able to thank people and communicate on a small level. In addition to the language class, we also attended a lecture on Chinese painting. This fascinated me because I learned how to correctly hold the paint brush when painting in a Chinese style. I have always been interested in art, and I enjoyed creating images of my own. Our instructor painted sample images of nature and Chinese symbols and assisted us with our paintings.

Friday, February 16, 2007


On January 8, 2006, our group visited a museum, cave, and exam house. The museum had paintings of various Chinese emperors and also contained landscape images posted on the wall. The exam house was a place where a former emperor took his final exam to gain power which lasted three days and three nights. Following that, we saw the magnificent cave with natural formations. One of the exhibits had a cave formation resembling a dragon, and another one looked like a fisherman. After the cave visit, we ventured to the GXNU Wangcheng campus. We climbed over three hundred stairs and looked out over the entire city of Guilin. At night, we paid a visit to the pedestrian mall. Street venders lined the roads and people came up to us hoping that we would buy their products. They were very pushy and this area became very overwhelming. Our group was especially careful because, being American, we were prime targets of pick pockets. A group of three men even followed two of my friends and me around the mall. We quickly retreated to a well-lit area and did not return to the market. It was so much fun to experience night life in Guilin, and I definitely learned more about the culture.

Hotel in Guilin

While in Guilin, our American group stayed in a hotel. The first night, my roommate and I stayed awake for most of the night, unable to sleep because of the freezing temperature. Most buildings in China are not heated, so we assumed that this hotel room did not have a thermostat. The next morning we found out that placing the room key into the slot on the wall activates the heat! We were relieved to figure this out because now we would not freeze during our few nights in Guilin. Later that night, we attended a welcome dinner and were treated to some very unique dishes. These consisted of pig intestines, roasted ducklings, and pork. In order to be polite, we ate the food served to us and actually enjoyed this new food!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace in Beijing was similar to the Forbidden City, but there were many memorable differences. Instead of just historic buildings, the Palace had nature pathways and ornate architectural buildings. While strolling along a dirt path, we came across a large group of people singing songs. After they were finished, the leader of the group asked us to sing an "American song." We agreed to sing them "Row Your Boat" in a round. We felt really "cool" singing this in front of about 25 Chinese men and women. However, they applauded loudly when we completed our serenade.

During our walk back to the bus, we noticed a man painting Chinese symbols on the sidewalk. He was using an oversized paintbrush and water to complete the message. Our guide informed us that the man was writing a love poem. Later, we came across a row of vendors selling paintings. Many of them depicted colorful landscape images. The trip to the Summer Palace was scenic and stands out because of its unique cultural history.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


The food in China was very delicious, but we had to venture outside of our comfort zones and try new dishes. One meal that stands out in my memory is the "Hot Pot." In the center of the table, there was a large pot of boiling water. We were given a variety of ingredients to place in the bowl, such as vegetables and meat. After the mixture was cooked, we all took turns scooping up the soup that we had made. Traditionally, meals are served "family style." This means that there is a large amount of food in the center of the table, and each person takes his or her turn picking out food. All of the food excluding soup is consumed with the help of chopsticks. Getting used to these sticks was difficult for our group, because we never had experience with them before. After many frustrating attempts to pick up rice and vegetables with the wooden sticks, we started to get used to the idea. As time went on, many of us preferred to use these utensils because it was a learned skill that we wanted to practice. We even had competitions on who could pick up the most rice with chopsticks.

Sometimes, we were given food, and we had no idea what it was. One time, we sat down at a table with a collection of rolls in the center. Hungry and hopeful that the food would taste good, our group started eating the rolls. The rolls contained some kind of meat that was sweet and cold. It tasted odd, but we figured we had just eaten meat of some kind. Later, our guide, Chung came over to us and asked where the rolls were. After explaining that we had just eaten them, he became very concerned. Chung stated, "That had raw chicken. I hope you have stomach of steel." Fearful that we would now become sick, our group asked him why the rolls were placed on the table if they were supposed to be cooked. Chung explained to us that we should have put the rolls in the hot pot. Fortunately, no one got sick and we all learned a very important lesson: Always wait for instructions before eating!