Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jack the Monster

Okay, so it’s Sunday right now and I’m finally getting this update written up. First week of teaching overrrr! So far, so good? No blood, right?

It’s been an interesting week! Almost all my lesson plans are finished for this week, but we also start ELE (which is like, supplement teaching for the high school English classes) this week, so we’ll see how that goes on top of our classes.

Funny little story about my favorite monster, Jack. Jack is the kid I was calling Jason in my last update. There is a Jason in the class, but the first day, we didn’t have nametags and Nicole (their home teacher) was a bit confused on their names that day. So Jason is actually Jack and he’s a little monster.

He’s messing around wiiiith… I think it was Ted and suddenly his chair just falls forward. I stop what I’m doing to go make sure he’s okay and everything and he just curls up in this ball, his face all scrunched up and whimpering, even when I get him back in his chair. I’m worried, you know, because it was a pretty loud crash, so I’m just asking him “Are you okay, are you okay?”

After about half a minute of this, he looks up at me and just smirks.


He is still my favorite.

On the last two days, we got our evals done. For the first month, we get evals twice a week and after that it’s once a week.

Guys, I bombed so bad. I know I’m new and we’re all struggling to adjust to teaching and dealing with eight kids in a class and everything, but I swear, the classes Kim sat in on were the WORST. It was Nicole’s class (so the one with Jack) and the first three days, they were amazing. One of my better classes, every time.

Then they all turned into MONSTERS. I have no words for it! I mean, none of them were super… terrible, they were just all over the place and they wouldn’t pay attention and they’d get into fights and one of them is apparently slow in the head or something and he wouldn’t behave to SAVE MY FRIGGIN’ LIFE and it was just bad, bad, BAD.


So yeah, wasn’t thrilled with that. I wasn’t the only one struggling, but it’s just… ugh. On top of that, all the books that were supposed to be in our supplies, so I have to figure out how to get Drama done without books (and in training I went through, that's the one thing I heard about Drama. Always have a book with pictures). Such is my life. Ahahaha.

Anyway, we went to… Nanchueng(?) yesterday! Just to restock on some supplies and some of the other girls wanted to go shopping for clothes and things like that. We had awesome dumplings and I also discovered the best street vendor snack EVER.

Candy covered strawberries. They were AMAZING. It was just fresh strawberries coated in hard candy mixture, like what I used to make lollipops way back when. Just a light coating to make them all stick together but still easy to bite off… Ah, so good, so good. I loved it. Nicole and I also bought some strawberries and grapes (50 US cents a carton for the strawberries, it was awesome) because the one thing we lack in our diet is fruit of any sort. I’m happy. ^^

We found the boxing club on Friday night! It was pretty awesome to watch, even if I have no idea how it works or anything. It was fun to see which ones were better and why and stuff and the nice thing about it was that they actually ignored us. 8D;; Made me happy.

Tim says that after we settle in with teaching and ELE, he’ll help us join some classes and things like that. We don’t actually see Tim a whole ton, because he’s working a lot, but we hang out with Angel all the time. But Angel’s more into the hang out, girl time and food... I want to learn kung-fu, nabit. D: So we’ll see. It’d help if I woke up to at least go take walks when the rest of our teaching group goes on runs, but me and Nicole are horrible with waking up in the morning… well, not horrible. I’m always up around 7, but still.

Ashley had this idea where on our 11 day vacation, we’d see if we could get a group of the senior ELE students to go with us on our trip (the one that I’m not sure if I’m going on, but anyway). We’re going to run it by Casey, one of the English teachers here, before submitting it to Tim and the school, but it’d be lots of fun! We’d be able to continue helping them with English and they’d be there to help translate. Win-win situation, no?

I really need to take more pictures… I just keep thinking that I’ll be here for four months, why rush? Anyway, I really will get all those pictures from Hong Kong resized and sent out.

We have skype credits, so hopefully we’ll be able to tune in later today for Church!

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Day of Teaching Over

It’s Monday night and I have survived my first day of teaching.


I had prepared for doom and it… wasn’t too far off. Better than I was expecting, but still pretty bad. One of the main problems is that my home group (the group of about seven to eight kids that I’m ‘in charge of’ are kind of a super bad combination. Even my head teacher agreed, so we’ll be shuffling the kids around a little bit.

The kids are adorable, though. Some of them are sweet and nice and totally willing to play along with everything. Others… not so much. There’s this adorable little girl called Zoey and she’s sweet and everything, but she’s also a little monster who cries crocodile tears when you do something she doesn’t like. 8| Little girl, if you would behave, than I wouldn’t have had to send you to a corner, and I know you understand me.

Some of the kids have really great English! It’s surprising, we were sort of expecting everyone to be super fresh, but it’s a huge mix.

My favorite is a little smartmouth called Jason. He’s one of the older kids, maybe eight or nine? He’s got the basics down really well and he’s an avid reader. I’m not sure why I like him so much, he’s not in my group even, he’s in Nicole’s and he’s a tooootal brat, but it’s the kind of bratty I can work with. He makes fun of how I dance, he’s very insistent that I hear about every single time his classmates misbehave (which means he’s yelling ‘TEACHER, HE’S SPEAKING CHINESE’ at me every two seconds), and he’s got the attention span of a goldfish. But I likes him a lot, I cannot tell you why.

Poor Bryndi was a bit of a silly-head and wore a nice dress and high heels, she had blisters by the time we finished teaching. We actually didn’t teach every single rotation, due to some scheduling slip-ups. We took a picture of our ‘survived the first day’ look. We survived! And I still adore being called teacher.

I ended up getting almost sick at dinner, I’m not sure why. I think it’s because it was high tension while I was teaching and then we went straight to dinner, so I wasn’t settled. I didn’t eat a lot and I just felt gross… Meh.

After dinner, we headed back to the apartments…. You know what’s really funny is that the other teacher and caretakers encourage the kids greeting us, so when a class passes us, the teachers all have the kids chant ‘Hello, Teacher!’. It’s so cute. ♥

I crashed once we got into our rooms. I was just SO TIRED, it was insane. I slept for about an hour and woke up like I’d been hit by a semi. To wake myself up, I went for a walk.

I think the boys (cause the dorms we’re in are only boys, as far as I can tell. Most of the school is boys, though, soooo….) think I’m crazy, because here I am, the weird American teacher, running around their space in my crazy knee high socks and my stupid shorts. So much staring, I wanted to laugh.

So that’s how the first day of teaching was! It was an adventure and I have no idea how I’m going to make this work for the next four months… but we’ll just have to make it work. It’d help if we actually had a proper supply closet, but we don’t seem to have a third of the things that the last ILP team supposedly left us. Ah well.

Anywho! Congrats to the Athens Branch for becoming a Ward. I’m really sad I couldn’t be there, but I heard it was pretty awesome! ^___^ And it’s a little belated, but congrats Kaelyn for finally teething, I know your mommy is super happy with that.

Anything else?

Oh, Val. My teachers want to know when your baby is due in June. 8D I totes cannot remember.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Not Yet a Teacher

Okay, so it’s been a few days since my last update. Saturday night right now, we’l l see how I do with this one.

When I last updated, we’d just been around for a day or so, but I think we’re getting the hang of things, though we haven’t started teaching yet. Meals are at 8, 12, and 5 and since this week had a lot of parents dropping their students off, we also were asked to stay in the main office for an hour or so every day… basically they were just putting us on display, ‘cause we’re their newfangled American teachers.

Wednesday and Thursday also held special surprises for us… we ended up teaching! Sort of. Basically they stuffed us into a huge classroom with fifty to sixty kids and told us we had an hour.

… Basically we ended up singing a ton of camp songs. I used Da Moose and Big Buffalo and others. The Frog Song is especially popular.

I learned something while doing this though… Being called ‘Teacher’ by enthusiastic kids is incredibly awesome. My ego loves it. :DDDD They also like the way I flail around when singing. Hehe.

Besides that, there hasn’t been too much out of the ordinary until last night and today. Last night there were fireworks because of the Lantern festival! They were setting them off in the middle of campus and it was pretty awesome.

This morning we got woken up at 6AM with Chinese pop music. I guess the kids here have classes on Saturdays too, or something. It was a great way to wake up, if just a little on the early side.

Then there’s the fact that most, if not all of the students are back now… our teachers apartments are above and below teenage boy apartments. I walked outside to take pictures of the construction outside our dorm (they’re building another one and the brick laying seems to be going super fast.) I get a tap on the shoulder. Turning around, I find four teenage boys smiling at me and asking me if I’m a teacher and where I’m from and if I could take a picture… Random, but I took a picture of them and showed them it. They got all hyper and said thank you and then ended it with a ‘You’re so very beautiful!’

Guys, I’ve never been called beautiful in my life, this is hilarious.

Oh! Also, while we were hanging out in the office, one of the Chinese English teachers gave me a Chinese name. It’s Lin Qiaoyin and it apparently means something about having a sweet voice. I will have you also know that among the people we’ve met, I’m known as the crazy, noisy one. I slide on the cafeteria floors and the Chinese thinks it’s a scream.

Tomorrow will bring a new adventure or two. One is sponge cake! I guess on Sundays, the cafeterias serve it, which is something unusual. Another is skyping for church! We’re part of the Chinese International District Branch and it’s for people all over China. So we’ll be skyping for Sacrament meeting and then doing self study for Sunday School/Relief Society… Though I can’t seem to get to work, so I’m not sure if it’s blocked or what.

People should be proud of me. My tolerance for spicy things has shot up from what it used to be, because… Well, people kept on telling us that the food was going to be bland and I will admit, the rice does get kinda old (but come on, I’m in China. Durr, there is rice everywhere), but there are always three to four side dishes and there is always at least one spicy one. Tonight’s was this potato and duck floating in pepper sauce dish. It was so good, but goodness, it left my lips burning after the first bite.

I’m not quite sure what else to say. Once it gets less wet and cold, I’ll go around and properly explore and take pictures! And of course, come Monday, I’ll be able to tell you about how my first day of ‘proper’ teaching was.

Toodles for now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hong Kong to Mainland China

Sorry, it’s been a few days since my last update. Things have been crazy since we left Hong Kong! So I’ll just take the time right now (since no one is awake – it’s 6:30 AM) to catch y’alls up on things.

{No 1} Hong Kong’s touristy things.

To start off, Bryndi is safely here. Like the rest she is short and nineteen, go us. I’m excited about our whole group, we get along really well.

Anyway, George picked us up at about ten on Saturday morning for our bus tour. Just so you know, the bus seats were lined with the exact same material some of the buses from the Academy were. Bit of nostalgia, yo. 8)

Our first stop was Victoria Peak. Way high up, had the most awesome views even though it was super foggy and windy. Nicole’s ears even plugged up and it took her the longest time to get them to pop once we went back down. Everyone was freaking out because of how crazily our bus driver drove us up there, but… I had fun? 8DDD It was awesome, the roads were so narrow and there were so many cars and our bus was HUGE. But the trip up was fun too, you had more awesome view of the water and boats and everything is so greeeeeeeen. Having come from Ohio, where everything is dead and brown and freezing, it was a great change of pace. :D I do have pictures, but again, lazy.

On the way back down, we did nearly have an accident. There was construction on the road and the workers manning the signs for traffic managed to have both sides saying ‘Go’, so when we drove through, there were cars coming the other way and we did a hard break and I nearly faceplanted into the seat in front of us. Lots of angry Chinese yelling, but the other cars backed up and we were able to get through with no harm done. (:

Next stop was the… we think it’s called the Stanford market, but we could be wrong. Anyway, it’s basically just a huge street faire sort of thing. Jewelry, toys, clothes, paintings, you name it, it had it. I will just have you know, Suki, that I have a present for you when I get back. You had better like it, ‘cause it’s completely GORGEOUS. )8 Just saying . ♥

We did some bartering too! It was funny because Kim’s the only one who’d really bartered before so we had her come over and help us with it when we were looking at things. It’s fun, though not everyone does barter, so it gets a bit confusing… Anyway, not a whole lot of excitement there. We saw some reaaaally pretty dresses and things like that, but we also saw them at the… I think it’s at the Ladies faire? Something like that. Some other street faire thing we found while in Hong Kong.

Next was Aberdeen. George called it the Typhoon shelter and we got to go on these little boat rides and see the Jumbo Floating Restaurant! It was soooo cool. Kind of made me think about Spirited Away. We also sailed through what looked like fleets of gypsy boats. I have no idea what they really were, but it was awesome. The water was this really intense blue-green color too… Lots and lots and lots of fun. The boat we were on were adorable and the fisherman manning it had pictures of his wife and kids and it was cute.

Our last stop was a Jewelry factory. It was pretty much just a quick tour of how they hand make all their pieces (which lasted about five minutes) and then we spent the rest of the time in their showcase rooms where lots of Chinese ladies tried to talk you into buying things (which lasted about twenty five minutes). The jewelry and figurines were super pretty, especially all the jade and pearl. For some odd reason there were saddles propped up in random places.

That was the end of the bus tour and goodbye to George. The rest of our stay was ours to have fun with and have fun with it we did. After we got back to the hotel, we went in search of food. Ashley and Desi were pretty hesitant because of the noodles last time, but Bryndi wanted to check out one of the places we found and it turned out really good. We all got different things and they were all pretty good dishes… I can’t remember what the others had, but I got this seafood curry and it was pretty awesome. ♥

After that, we were going back to the hotel to make plans. A bunch of girls wanted to go to the temple and then to some light show that George had told us about, but since I had been up since 3 AM and Bryndi hadn’t slept well since she had been through her whole ordeal with delayed flights and coming to Hong Kong by herself, and Nicole’s feet were blistering, we decided we’d go see the temple the next day and we’d take a nap and then take Bryndi to go see the area around us, since she hadn’t been with us the night before. We actually didn’t sleep, but we rested and then went out and explored and then we headed back and stayed up talking until the others came back from the light show. Sadly, I was out like a light before 9 PM came.

… And woke up at 1 AM. It was so frustrating! I couldn’t go back to sleep though, but I tried for about… five hours. Our internet was down because Desi had accidentally tripped over the cord and I hadn’t fixed it properly until morning. Anyway. So it’s Sunday!

I’ve already gone on my spazzy-flail over Kisumai debuting, but it was such a huge thing and Desi thought something was wrong and Nicole thought I was crazy. I actually skyped with a friend, just to spazz at her about it because I was freaking out and crying and I couldn’t concentrate enough to get dressed properly. Yes, I am that pathetic.

But after that all was going on, we set off to go see the temple. Bryndi had gotten the directions and said that Kim told her the temple was on temple street.

… Lemme tell you guys, there isn’t another street that we ever saw that was the total opposite of where the temple would be.

I think it was the slums, because it was horrible and just… yes, horrible. I’m sure there were worse, but we were sort of dying and gagging and wondering what the heck we were doing there except that was the only Temple street and everything and Bryndi swore that’s what Kim said. (Kim says she didn’t, but we just settled on them both misunderstanding each other.)

The only good thing about that trip is I was in a taxi for the first time ever. Not that it was amazing or anything, but hey, TAXI. :DDDDD

So we go back to the hotel, figure out what was wrong and check out of the hotel. We checked our baggage with the concierge because check out was at noon and our transport to the train station wasn’t picking us up until three. So off we went to the temple again, this time with the help of clear communication and adorable bell boys. Oh my gosh, they were adorable. ♥ I tried to get pictures of my favorite when we left, but I couldn’t from the angle of my bus seat. But Nicole asked him how to say Goodbye in Cantonese and he just waved and got all smiley, going ‘Bye-bye~!’. So cute.

To the temple!

It was so amazing; I can’t even begin to say. It was raining, but that didn’t really detract from anything. We spent about an hour there, just looking and sitting and feeling great. It was such a beautiful place to be and it helped clear out all the scummy feelings from the morning trip to the slums and just… amazing. I’m really glad we managed to make it because it was such a great thing to see, especially since traveling meant we really couldn’t go to church. (Well, we could have, but we didn’t really know that until after we got back from the temple.) But seeing the temple was fantastic and definitely the best highlight of the whole Hong Kong trip.

(Oh, and we saw missionaries on the way back. We ended up rolling down the window and screaming ‘we love you missionaries’ at them and they did hear us, but I think they probably though we were just crazy. ^.~ )

After that, we were picked up by a travel guide person called Matthew. He took us to the train station and explained what we needed to do once we got into the main land and everything like that. The train ride was only about two hours long, not that bad at all! I read Goose Girl most of the time. Ah, I love that book so much.

Now, once we got into the other station in… Gangzhou, I think, we thought we were supposed to be meeting out Native Coordinator and going on an overnight bus to our city… Well, t’was true for our Fuqing companions, but t’was not so for us. We met our native coordinator! His name is Tim… and he explains to us that he has a bus that will take us to a hotel and then he’s taking us out to dinner and we’ll drive to our city the next day.

The hotel wasn’t all that amazing or anything. Kind of run down, but nice, you know? The dinner, on the other hand, was awesome. Tim ended up just ordering for us because it was kind of hard to tell what things were like from the pictures and none of us spoke Chinese and Tim does speak English, but it’s sometimes hard to understand him. But he ordered a million dishes and it was all pretty awesome. Some of them were these hot plate dishes where they have this metal frame and they put a fire in that flame and then put the dish on top of it so it’s all sizzling when you dish yourself some.

Ashley’s dinner conversation mostly consisted of asking Tim if she was doing anything that might offend anyone. Just a tad bit paranoid, as she will admit herself. Everyone else ewww-ed at the chicken that was served with its head, but… eh, it wasn’t that bad.

Our driver also ate dinner with us and nicknamed me ‘The Strong One’. Not sure why, but it may have to do with the fact that I have broad shoulders and fifty pounds on everyone else. Hm. But he liked that one a lot. He’d constantly poke at me and do this shoulder flexing thing. It was kind of hilarious. We ended up naming him Arnold, since he didn’t have an English name and we had no idea how to properly say his Chinese name. So yes, Arnold. He actually smokes, but he does it smartly, so we never ended up breathing it in, thank goodness.

So after dinner, we went back to the hotel and fell asleep pretty instantly. It was only maybe nine, but we had to get up early anyways. Tim served us breakfast as well! There was this little place next to the hotel that was open at six in the morning and they served the most AWESOME dumplings ever. They tasted just like Dad’s wontons only they were steamed. I ended up eating two servings of them, plus a bowl of rice porridge, which was bland, but not nearly as bad as some of the girls made it out to be.

The drive was about eleven hours long, including a stop for gas and bathroom (for those brave enough to use the squatters) and then for lunch, which was gigantic and awesome and I felt bad because there were like, eight huge dishes and we couldn’t eat half of it. So much food. O_O But really, Tim was spoiling us rotten. I guess it really is a huge thing to have us coming to stay with them for four months and he got us snacks for the ride too and always said ‘If you’re happy, I’m happy’. He’s a total sweetheart.

The drive was super long and tiring, but we arrived! And… it was not what I was expecting. I knew the school had campus housing, but I didn’t realize it was basically a boarding school for kindergarten to 12th grade. The campus is SO FREAKING HUGE, I DON’T EVEN. Like… no, it’s bigger than some of the other girls’ college campuses. We went bug-eyed.

Our dorm rooms are nice. There are some problems, but we shall overcome them! One of them is that they’re not very well insulated, so even though we have heating, it doesn’t heat very well. We’ll work something out about that, though. Another is that the teachers before us did NOT clean out their fridges and they’re so gross. |: Guess who’s going on a cleaning spree once it warms up a little more. So rude! We all vowed that we would not leave our rooms like this when we left.

But we met Angel! I’m not sure who she is or anything, but she speaks English and she’s absolutely adorable. She has that cute asian fashion and everything and I want to keep her in my pocket even if she’s three years older than me.

During dinner, we also met the Dean (affectionately called Tiger, I guess. Something about his family name using the same kanji as tiger.) And the Headmaster! We feel like we’re at Hogwarts when we address him. ^_^V

Dinner was also pretty awesome and hefty. I swear, they had better not try and feed us like this all the time or I won’t be losing weight at all. So much food! We ended up trying turtle too, which was pretty okay. It was a lot of fat and the meat tastes like clams. I also ate a fried shrimp whole. It was surprisingly yummy, even if I didn’t peel it and it had its head and tail still on. We did a lot of toasting too. And Tim, of course, had to make fun of us and our randomly weird eating habits. I think it’s Ashley’s fault for being so paranoid, because it’s not like we were eating that different.

Anyway, Angel and Tim got us settled and they’ll be installing the wireless in our rooms soon and it’s cold, but we’ll survive. We do need to get toilet paper… And luckily Kim is rooming next to me and Nicole, because we got a squatter toilet and she got the flushing one. But we have the washing machine and shower, so I guess it’s an okay trade…

Random tidbits, but the exchange rate for money in Hong Kong is 1 US dollar to 7.09 Hong Kong dollars. In the name of pricing… I don’t know. Hard to explain it all and I’ve actually got to go take a shower and face the day. I slept through the night at decent hours though! I went from 10 to 5:30! So that’s all for now~.

Edit: We had breakfast and lunch and went to the city! The city is about 40 minutes away, so the school is actually kind of isolated. Oh! And Chinese roads are insane. There’s a million cars and buses and it’s like it’s okay to go onto the other side of the road as long as you honk your horn and get back in your own lane before another car hits you. +___+ How do they do it? I don’t knoooow.

Oh, and I tried a chicken’s foot. I didn’t really eat it, mostly because it’s way too difficult to eat to be worth it, but eh, the bit I gnawed off didn’t really taste like anything anyways. I think I’m definitely the one adjusting to the food the fastest… So far nobody’s tossed anything at me that’s so different than what I’ve had at home or in San Francisco.

It’s now almost 2 PM… But the wireless router should be installed sometime soon, so after today, I shouldn’t have to wait for internet. It’s required that we have internet access, so we can keep in contact. Cool, nyan? I haven’t found out what stuff works and doesn’t yet, though.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

{Crying for the Legit} Happiness can be a dangerou drug

Guys, my next update has absolutely nothing to do with being in China or my personal life at all. Except maybe a part of my heart.

I finally got my internet back and one of my friends has emailed me. (And I get a million tweets as well.)

Kis-My-Ft2 is debuting.

To most of you this means nothing at all, you may not have even heard of them (though if you know me long enough, you'll at least be able to recognize them.)

Old movie is old, but. Guys, I can't even coherently. My fellow teachers are looking at me like I'm insane and I'm half crying and I'm flailing and my fingers are shaking and I can't breathe and I think I really am going to cry and ... yeah, I'm crying.

I've been waiting for over two years for this to happen and I just. It's amazing and I'm so proud and excited and I have no idea what's going on except they're debuting in May and it's going to be amazing.

They're just special to me, really. It's hard to explain but it's beyond the pretty boys on skates thing and I just. I grew along with them, I guess you could say? I just. I justaksjdf;lasjdkf.

Soraodujfla;sdjf;l asdfj;asldfj ;sal fkjlowirejlasdjfl;skjfjlasdf;lsmjfsj.

Sorry, this is degrading, I cna't skjasldk type or spell or breathe and mom and everyone else alsdjf li sgoing to thing I'm pathetic and I am but I AM SLDKFJ :SLDKFJ PROUD OF IT, NABIT. PROUD. PROUD OF THEM AND OF ME BEING THEIR FAN.


Friday, February 11, 2011

{Smells Like Adventure} Aka, OUT OF THE COUNTRY, AAHHHHHHH

Okay! Proper email/blog post, since it’s a good point to write one. It’s now 3:25 AM in Hong Kong and sleep is being evasive, boo. );

But it gives me several hours to document the saga up to this point! Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start~♫

{No. 1} Columbus to Salt Lake (and the horrors of packing)

Okay, so long story short, I don’t like UPS. They’ve made my life a total pain for the past week or so because they were insisting on delivering everything to my grandparents’ house in McArthur – and then, when I absolutely needed something, they didn’t deliver at all; the excuse was ‘bad weather’ and there was barely ANY SNOW AT ALL. Way to fail, UPS, way to fail.

The box that they didn’t deliver was my Melaleuca order which had everything from meds to vitamins to bathroom stuff that I kind of needed. So it’s Tuesday night, I’m supposed to be at the airport by 5:30 the next morning, and I don’t have any of this stuff at all. Cue rising panic (that I had mostly been ignoring up until that point.)

Luckily Mom was able to pull enough things to get me by and everything looks like it’s going to be fine, but still. Ew.

So Mom ends up driving me to Suki’s house and we get there at 3 AM. Obviously nobody is awake, but hey, we have a key, no big deal. We crash for about an hour and a half before Mom takes me to the airport. She helps me get checked in and walks me up over to the security gates and then it’s FLY, LITTLE BIRD, FLY… Sort of. *laugh* It was kind of scary, you know? Like, I’ve flown without adults before, but I always had Kimmi and Josh with me too, so to be totally alone was a very weird thing. Luckily there was wifi and I got to talk to Dad and some of my friends before boarding the plane.

Okay, now I’m just going to say this once, but because of how late I was booked on all flights, I was always sitting with strangers. The most friggin’ uncomfortable thing ever, especially if you’re sitting in the middle seat. Which I was until I got to Salt Lake.

The flight wasn’t too bad, overall. Long-ish, but we also got emergency clearance because two of the passengers were having some sort of medical problem, so we were rushing to get them to the paramedics. I’m not exactly sure what was wrong, but there was a couple doctors on the flight and it didn’t seem overly serious, just serious enough to get us there fifteen minutes early.

My first layover was in Phoenix, AZ. I actually remember it from when I flew out to San Francisco with Dad a couple years ago. It’s an okay airport, I guess.

But oh, great! My gate is on the entire other side of the airport. Cue lots of walking! And on top of that, the flat escalator walking things…. Most of them were broken. Guys, my carry-ons weigh a ton. +___+ It was not a pleasant experience.

But I do get to the gate okay and I had about an hour to kill. Ended up going to Burger King which wasn’t actually that expensive for airport food and the burger didn’t suck as much as the last one I had.

Boarding the flight was fine. It was only about a three hour flight to Salt Lake, if I recall correctly. I did attempt to sleep on some of these flights, but that didn’t work out so well. But the nice thing was that even though I had two strangers on either side of me, this couple with their two young sons were sitting right behind me. Cutest thing ever. The boys talked about everything from wanting to snowboard and ski to their favorite dragons. I suppose I’m a creeper for listening in, but it was hard not to and they were just so adorable!

But yeah, flight to Salt Lake went just fine.

Uncle Brent lives in the area, so he was able to pick me up and hang out for a few hours. We went to In ‘n Out, which all of my friends on the west coast have been telling me to get since they found out I didn’t do it while in San Francisco. It’s an okay burger. Definitely better than MickyD’s, but nothing like Five Guys. But the pricing makes it totally worth it. Two bucks for a decent cheeseburger isn’t something to sniff out. So yeah… not fantastic, but nice.

Then we headed over to his office. Now this is where you can totally tell that Uncle Brent and Dad are related… the first ten minutes in Uncle Brent’s cubicle is spent explaining where all the food is. There are no papers being filed in the filing cabinets, that’s where all the food is. So I ripped off some snacks, stole some wifi, and ended up leaving with a gigantic thing of beef jerky, which really helped on the flights. ^-^V I actually just finished it. But yeah, it was actually mostly me in the cubicle because Uncle Brent had to do three interviews and stuff. It wasn’t bad though! And it was really fun to hang out with him and get caught up on his life and catching him up on my life (especially the nieces. Val, he thinks it’s very strange that you’re already pregnant with your third.)

Then it was back to the airport, pick up the luggage, and off to the Delta terminal! We were one of the first people there, but Jill, one of the ILP reps, was there too, so Uncle Brent and I said goodbye and it was now ILP time.

Luckily being one of the first ones there meant that I was one of the first ones checking in. Poor Delta flight worker, she was so impatient to get us all checked and then her eyes just kinda went wide when she realized how many of us there were. There were… sixty? We met up with a handful more in LA, but most of us started out in Salt Lake and there’s about seventy of us total. Mostly girls, too. Kim, my head teacher, says that ILP just naturally attracts more girls. Which is good, boys are distracting and dumb (:P) and there are no boys in my group.

So more hauling of the carry-ons! It was so insane how much walking we had to do. The flight to LA was short and uninteresting, for the most part. The flight attendants were sweet though, and asked that the other passengers wait a little bit to let our whole group off because we needed to get to our Korean Air gate.
… Okay, so LAX experience was a monster. We had to get to the international terminal and that is in a different building on the other side of the airport. On the second floor. Our shoulders were –dying- by the time we got to the place and through security and everything. (This is, if you hadn’t noticed, a running theme.)

{No. 2} On the way to Hong Kong!

But it’s exciting! You know, we’re LEAVING THE COUNTRY. And besides the Head Teachers, not many people had left before, so we’re all tired and jittery and excited.

I’ll apologize in advance for not taking many pictures. I think there’s only one picture before getting to Hong Kong and that’s of the plane we flew on.

Guys, the international planes are HUGE. OH MY GOSH. Double decker planes and I really liked the Korean Air ones because every seat had its own personalized entertainment system with movies and games and everything. The movies were impressive, actually. They had things like Secretariat and Megamind on it. Oh! And music~! I got to listen to V6, TOKIO, Kanjani8, and KAT-TUN. Kind of awesome, I don’t know. I’m only dreaming, dreaming~♫

The first flight on Korean Air was to Seoul and it was the longest. Eleven hours, I think? Extremely long. I slept through about six hours of it, I think! I missed the first meal, which was supposedly very good, but I wasn’t all that hungry when I woke up and the flight attendants were happy to serve me drinks and a snack because of it.

Let me tell you guys… the Korean flight attendants are ADORABLE. Their uniforms, their mannerisms, they were so, so, SO cute.

We landed in Seoul and had to walk all the way over to the transfer terminal and then to the gate we needed to board at… which was the farthest one away. We’re tired, sweaty, and my feet were swollen. .___. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. BUT! We were in Seoul, how amazing was that. (Sort of, I guess. Aren’t airports considered neutral territories?)

We had about an hour and a half to wait before boarding our next flight and then it was on to Hong Kong! The next flight was only about three hours long, but we got a meal. ^_^V Bibimbap (I think) with seaweed soup and some sort of kimchi like thing only it was made with like… zucchini or something. And red bean rice cakes. Yummmm~. Bibimbab is basically some meat and veggies and mushrooms with rice and red pepper paste.

{No. 3} The final arrival~

And then we’re in Hong Kong!

Surprisingly, customs was painless. Just hanging a form over and then exiting!

I have more pictures of this part of the trip, but I’m lazy and therefore am not uploading them.

We met our tour guide for the next two days. His name is George and he’s that typical funny, middle-aged Chinese guy. He knows all the right jokes to make the girls laugh (there are about thirty of us at this point, mostly girls, plus two guys). And the drive into the actual city was awesome. The scenery was amazing! And I do have pictures of that, so no worries. Lots of fog though, I guess they had a sudden warm spell, but it’s supposed to be colder today.

We get to our hotel, which is a nice place… they had a bar called the Sip Sip Bar! 8DDD Ahahaha, I laughed so hard seeing the name. They also have a cake shop that is decently priced, so guess who’s getting a peach custard bun when the world actually wakes up.

Okay, so before we go on to the adventures of exploring Hong Kong, I’m just going to intro my fellow teachers in the same school. Besides our head teacher, Kim, we’re all short and we’re all nineteen. Except, perhaps, for Bryndi. Bryndi is the fifth teacher on our trip, but one of her flights was delayed, so she wasn’t with us. Kim went to go pick her up with the tour guide last night, but since they’re in the room next to us, I have no idea what’s happened so far with her.

But there’s Kim, my head teacher. Ashley, Desirea (I think that’s how you spell her name) and Nicole. And me, of course. So far, so good, we all get along very well, even though we all have different interests and personalities. But hey, some of them like anime too. (8 So we’re doing good.

Anyways, they room us by teaching group, so it’s me, Desirea, and Nicole and then Kim and Ashley (and hopefully Bryndi) are in the room next to us.

So we’re finally in our hotel rooms. First thing on my agenda? A shower.

Guys, my feet and calves are so SWOLLEN. On top of that, I have bruising damage on my shoulders from all the carry-on hauling. I don’t mean to sound like a baby, but it was intense. Thank you, Pain-a-trate, you are a live saver. ;o; - The rooms are nice. To use the electricity, you have to insert your card in a little slot at the front of your room. Handy for conserving energy! There was also some American snacks like Pringles and a kit-kat and drinks! Which included about three to five small bottles and cans of alcohol. ;D Awesome.

Kidding, we haven’t touched them.

So we decide that the next thing to do is get some money exchanged and go exploring! We’re hungry and everything too, so seeing what’s around and getting some food would be great.

Guys, if you’ve ever, EVER been to Chinatown in San Francisco, I will just have you know… the area of Hong Kong I’m in is basically Chinatown x 239480. I suppose that’s not a surprise or anything, but it makes navigation a breeze. It doesn’t really matter that not many people speak English, they know enough to barter and to get the right food, and it’s just… exactly like Chinatown.

The exchange rate here is about 7 hong kong dollars to a US dollar, just FYI.

So we walk around a ton. Some of the others get souvenirs and things like that… There’s a lot of really pretty, cheap stuff, but eh, nothing I was really looking for. But there was a huge street fair and tons of shops, and it was a lot of fun. I got hit on by an asian dude trying to get me to buy a pair of earrings. I laughed. :P The things they do to sell things, ne?

But after a few hours, we decide to head back. Our feet are still in rather questionable conditions and we’re hungry. So we end up heading back and Nicole and I stop at a pastry place and get a few buns. The buns that Dad brings back and the ones here… no difference. But yummy. :D I had a custard bun and this… nori wrapped meat one. They were both really good and they were like… 7 bucks each (so about a US buck each. Whee.)

We stop at a different vendor because Desi, Ashley, and Kim want food. I end up buying some octopus balls (WHICH WERE AWESOME) for six bucks. Which is about… hm, 85 cents in US money? But it was gooooood.

The other three ended up getting this chicken stuff, but I think… we’ll have to say they were disappointed. X: AHAHAHAH. They weren’t expecting what they got, I think. Ashley nearly cried (half laughing) when she tried her stuff. They all got these ramen chicken type dishes and I… well, wasn’t’ going to stop them, but you could tell that the place we were at wasn’t really the noodle type place. I ended up eating part of Ashley’s stuff and it wasn’t bad, but it was… well, chicken flavored things and definitely not the best. Ah well, they will learn. (They will also learn how to use chopsticks…)

Then it was back to the hotel where we played this really dumb ~Love Truth or Dare~ card game and ended up having long conversations about baby names in an attempt to stay awake late enough that we would sleep at decent hours. Obviously you can tell this didn’t work out so well. We crashed at aboutttt…. 19:00 and I woke up about 3:00. But oh well, we’ll adjust all the way eventually. George is picking us up in a bus today and we’re going to see a few different places and then exploring again in the evening. I’ll take more pictures and all that good stuff. I have some pictures I took just for Dad, Val, Mom, and Reed, so you’ll be getting them eventually.

This is stupidly long, but I figured it’s a good wrap up point too. I’m a bit tl;dr right now, but hey, we’re all caught up on events now. I’ll write more after we get to Linchuan and you can always ask questions for the next email/post. ^-^V (which will probably be done by Suki if blogger is really blocked in China...)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

[Something closer to panic]

I'm mostly posting this just to make sure I have everything set up with Facebook, but I might as well get in the habit of writing things out like this, right?

Mom was wonderful and got me all worked out with getting baggage checked and everything. I think.. I think I'm good to go. Thanks, Mom. ♥♥♥

I'm sitting in the airport right now, on my way to Phoenix. Once to Phoenix, I'll be on a plane to Salt Lake... I'm not sure what's happening in Salt Lake, it's possible that I'll be sitting around for four hours and leeching the wifi while babysitting my two gigantic suitcases.

After that, it's on to LA. Then Seoul (sadly no Kpop star-stalking, though I'm sure Ukiss will be flying out somewhere, they're always doing that.) Then it's on to Hong Kong! - I am also unable to stalk ABC-Z because I was two weeks too late for that. Feel my woe. (Not that I'd know where to look for them, but omg, Tottsu. ♥)

Anyways, I'm super tired. Due to some 'flat tires' in the packing/leaving process, I have only had about an hour's worth of sleep. Super, super tired, but maybe this will help me adjust to new timezones since I'm already getting messed up.

I'm sure nervous, I'm not going to deny it. I've never flown by myself before! Let alone... well, you know, left the country. We'll see how this goes!

After this, Kim and Suki are taking over my facebook and blogger. Actually, that's a reminder, I need to go send them my passwords and all that. Anyways. Uhm. Ahahaha.

Time to go! Love you all, especially to the ones I didn't get to say goodbye to. ♥ Wish me luck!