Couldn't resist...Picture 1: A shot of the misty mountains from the rock steps up to the rice terraces.Picture 2: A view of the village from the top of the mountain.Picture 3: Some of the local women climbing the steps to go to work. Such dedicated farmers.
The last part of our trip was taking a bus to the rice terraces! I've seen tons of pictures of the rice terraces growing up, so I was really excited to see them, and they most definitely did not disappoint! They were awesome!
We had to take a three hour bus ride out to the terraces, which wasn't too bad compared to any of our other transportation stories haha. When we got there we were able to walk around the villages and see how the farmers live and what their houses are like. Their houses are three stories high. The bottom floor is where all the animals live, the second floor is for bedrooms and "living" as they put it, and the third floor is for food, a.k.a. the kitchen. I thought their houses were really pretty, and had a nice rustic Chinese mixture, which was neat to see.
We also got to see a show demonstrating some of the local culture for us. In this village the ladies only cut their hair once- when they turn eighteen. So, as you can imagine, they had really long hair. They also have different ways of wearing their hair depending on where they are in life, such as single, married and a mother. In the show they demonstrated how they make their buns with over 4 feet of hair. I have no idea how they live with their hair that long. Can you imagine the up keep? Wow.
After the show we went to a different village that was higher up in the mountains, right up with the terraces. There we ate lunch, which consisted of "Bamboo Rice" which is a hollowed out bamboo stick filled with a rice and veggie mixture and then cooked in the fire. It was delicious. After we ate we started climbing the rock paths up higher into the mountains to get to the rice terraces. This village was literally on top of the mountains, and we were immersed in the clouds, and it felt like we were on top of the world. It was gorgeous.
There were a few places that you could stop along the path to take pictures of the rice terraces, which went on and on in every direction, with thousands of "steps" all over the mountains. They look sooo cool. Its crazy to think that people actually managed to make all these terraces, and then farm on them. It blows my mind. Its got to be so much work. They do get to look at one of the most beautiful places in the world, though, while they work , which has got to be a plus. It really is so beautiful there. You can just look at it for hours and not get sick of it. I was sad to leave, and wish we could have stayed a little while longer!
On the second day of our trip we were able to take a bamboo raft tourof the stunning karst mountains along the Li River. It was soooooo cool. It was raining that day, and so there was a lot of fog and mist surrounding the peaks, and it gave a wonderful effect to the scenery. It was like we were traveling through the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings haha. Sadly, the fog made it really hard to capture the mountains on camera and still give them justice. They are so hard to describe. Just trust me that they are astonishing.
Our guide was really funny. He had laminated pictures of the mountains we were seeing, and every few minutes he would hand us a couple pictures and start going off in Chinese, like we knew what he was saying. He would just sit there, talking and pointing up a storm, while we just nodded our heads at him. And then he would light up a cigarette. I swear he went through a whole pack on our boat ride. It was gross. He was a funny old man though.
Another funny story on our boat ride: It was raining, right? And there were lots of other rafts going up and down the river while we were. We passed another raft going in the opposite direction, and one of the guys had put a plastic bag over his head to keep the rain out! A plastic bag! Haha! I thought it was common sense to NEVER do that, but... it seems like a good idea, I guess... until you pass out lol. Too bad he was going the other way.. I really wanted to see how that whole plan worked out for him.
But it was so cold! It was about 8 degrees Celsius (I'm not sure what that is in Fahrenheit..) and all we had were thin jackets. It was freezing in the rain on a raft in a river. We loved that bamboo raft, but it felt nice to get off and get warm and dry again. We all ended up buying North Face coats at a market that night, along with hats, gloves and scarves. We were really cold, if I didn't get that point across very well. But the next day we were all snuggly and warm in our coats!
After exploring the Mud Caves on Saturday, we stopped for lunch at a little village nearby. We got some great sweet n' sour chicken, and then wandered through some shops set up along the road. Guess what we came across in front of one of the shops?? A baby monkey all dressed up in a costume! And the man let us hold him! It was really funny, cuz my hoodie has fur around the brim of the hood, and the monkey immediately jumped over to me and started to stroke it, and then he just grabbed out a fistful of it and started to eat it! Haha it was funny. Something even funnier was that when Becca came up to try and hold him, the monkey tried to slap her in the face, repeatedly. Haha he just loved my fuzzy coat so much he didn't want to go anywhere else! He was adorable. Sadly we couldn't get a picture of him without paying.
Next, we rode our bikes over to Moon Hill, which is one of the 'Dr. Seuss' mountains with a huge circle in the middle of it that is shaped like a moon. You can hike up the mountain and take pictures from inside the moon, and it was really neat. But it was a lot of steps up to that moon haha. At the top we got some great pictures though! We also met some cute kids from a nearby city, and one of the girls knew some English. We walked back down with her and her mom, and they were very intrigued by how large American families were. The girl, who we named Samantha (she reminded us of one our really sweet girls we teach named Samantha), kept saying how she was an only child, but then she would talk about her brothers and sisters, so we are still confused on exactly how many kids are in her family. Maybe the other 'siblings' she was talking about were really cousins or something.. who knows. But she was a really cute girl!
We rode our bikes back to our Hostel after that, and then went to a restaurant named Minnie Mao's for dinner, where we got Burgers and Apple Pie!! Oh I love American food! After getting a belly full of food, we went and crashed. We were SOOO tired. It was a ton of biking and hiking that day, and we had been up since four! Man, a hard bed never felt so soft!
First: The little village we ate at, with the mountains in the background.
Second: A picture of Moon Hill from far away.
Third: View of the mountains through the "moon" in Moon Hill.
We went to one of the coolest places in the world last weekend. Seriously.
It's a little town called Yangshuo. It is home to some of the neatest places and sits on the west bank of the Li River nestled amongst beautiful karst peaks. These mountains have been nicknamed the "Dr. Seuss" Mountains for apparent reasons, and they are the stunning mountains I have EVER seen.
Anyways, I'll get back to my trip. We left Friday afternoon on a sleeper bus (Woohoo it was like riding on the Knight Bus!) for about 11 hours and got off at a street in Yangshuo around 4:30 in the morning. Apparently we got off on the wrong stop. (But can you blame us? We cant understand Chinese... at least it was the right city..) Thankfully, some other Chinese people who got off the bus with us knew a little bit of English, and they had a cell phone, so they helped us get a hold of our Hostel and get to where we were going. One of the best things about Chinese people is that you are always automatically friends, and they will always, always help you.
By the time we got settled at our Hostel, it was around 6:00 in the morning, so we waited for some of the restaurants to open so we could get breakfast. We found a great little place really close by that had amazing noodles in peanut sauce, fried rice and dumplings. We ate there a few times on our trip it was so good.
The next thing on our agenda for the day were the Mud Caves! The Mud Caves are huge caverns inside some of the 'Dr. Seuss' mountains, and we couldn't wait to play in that mud. To get there we had to bike, and we found a place that rents bikes for 5 kuai, which is less than a dollar, for the entire day! How crazy is that?? So off we went on our bikes. It didn't take long for us to get lost, however. Our Hostel lady didn't give very good directions (a common occurrence, sadly) and so as we circled around a few different round-abouts and rode down a few roads for a long time, we finally found the right way. Luckily, the ride was breathtakingly beautiful. This town is seriously nestled right in with these incredible mountains. The landscape was seriously beyond description. I wish I could post my memories on my blog so you could see it all so much more vividly.
After about a 45 minute bike ride we got the Mud Caves place. We had to take a very fast and bumpy ride in a van along a dirt road to get to the actual caves, and I must admit I was terrified that the van was going to fall apart on every bump it hit. (Side note about Chinese people: There is that misconception in American that Asians cant drive, and I just want to set that straight. They can. They sooo can. They might seem fast and crazy, but they are in way more control and waaay more vigilant than any American driver)
So, to get inside the caves you have to take a little row boat through a small entrance in the mountain, and follow that river a ways inside. Then you get out of the boat and you get to literally walk all through these HUGE caverns. Some of the rooms were at least 5 or 6 stories tall, and super wide. They were amazing. And the rock formations were so neat to see. They also had little wooden paths they had made, crisscrossing the river and climbing over the rocks. We felt like we were in several different movies haha. (To name a few: Walking through the Mines of Moria in 'Lord of the Rings', exploring our pirate cave where we dump off all of our pirate loot like in 'Pirates of the Caribbean', Working in the mines like the Seven Dwarves in 'Snow White' Hi Ho!!, On our way to find One-Eyed Willy like in 'The Goonies', walking through Batman's Lair in 'Batman Begins', Finding the horcrux in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', rowing our way to Queen Mab's Dominion in 'Merlin', etc., etc.)
We were able to go on a tour of the whole cave, which goes through 4 of the mountains, and the go back and play in the mud! So we changed into our swimsuits and dove in! It was WEIRD. You can float on the mud, and it is such a weird sensation. It is probably the closest I have ever felt to flying haha. You just are suspended, and it doesn't feel like you are touching anything! We got some great muddy pictures! (We had to buy them from the workers though, which was kind of lame, but of course they were way good pictures so we had to do it.) It was so weird. So after floating, rolling and flopping in the mud, as well as sliding into it, we hosed off and then made our way to the hot springs that were also inside the caves. The hot springs felt SO good! It was kind of like a waterfall, with little bath-shaped pockets on different levels with the water cascading down. You just pop a squat in one of the holes, and soak up the heat! We were able to relax in there for 30 blissful minutes before being ushered out into the cold.
That was the first adventure on this trip! Stay tuned, for there are many more to come!
First: Some of the mountains in the background of the Li River. Beautiful, huh?
Second: Me, Becca, Chelsey and Lindsay inside the caves. We got to climb on top of the formations!
Third and Fourth: These are two of the pictures we bought in the mud caves, so I had to take a picture of the pictures with my camera, so that's why there is a slight glare, but it was the best I could do until I get home to a scanner. Aren't we muddy? haha
That's how many times I was hit with a stick today.
So how did I get in this situation?
I have one word:
I don't recommend having a stuffed animal piñata game while teaching a whole bunch of unruly and boisterous five years olds, unless you are looking for some kind of torture.
There I was this morning, unsuspecting and excited while I prepared for today's lesson, reminiscing over all of the childhood memories I have of hitting a piñata. As I sat tying that stuffed monkey to a long bamboo stick, I had no idea that in 30 minutes time I would be cornered by a little four year old boy named Ron, who was blindfolded, walloping a stick, and VERY determined to hit that stuffed monkey. I might add that Ron added eight of those whacks to the "Hit List."
The problem was that these blindfolded and dizzy children would follow the sound of my voice while trying to hit the stuffed animal piñata, so as I was telling them to "hit the monkey!" the kids would come right over to where I was standing, brandishing that stick the entire way. I dodged where I could, but I will most definitely have bruises tomorrow.
It was still a very enjoyable day. The kids were cute as always. I just have one more word for you: OUCH.
Photo: This is Ron. Imagine that running at you with a 2 foot plastic stick. It's a good thing he is so dang cute.
On Friday we had a Halloween party with our students!
All of the teachers dressed up in costumes and the kids loved it. I decided to be a fairy and made wings out of hangers and garbage bags and when the kids saw me they all shouted "butterfly, teacher, butterfly!" I decided to just go with it instead of try to teach them what a fairy was. So now I am a butterfly. Lindsay made a way cool pirates sword, and even put beads in her hair. Chelsey was a witch, and Becca and Teresa were cats.
We also taught them how to Trick-or-Treat! We decorated paper bags and then the kids went from classroom to classroom knocking on the doors and chanting
while we dropped candies into their bags.
(FYI Chinese candy = Gross)
After the Trick-or-Treating, we played the Donuts on a String game where you have to try and eat all of your donut without using your hands. At first the children were okay at not using their hands, but after a couple minutes they got restless and started to cheat. They were SO FUNNY to watch. Most of them were sticking their tongues out as far as they could reach, trying to rope in the donut. The donuts also had sugar on top, and so the kids' faces were covered in little white granules. Haha they were adorable.
The kids had a ton of fun learning a new Holiday from us, and we had a ton of fun teaching them about Halloween. All in all, It was a
Photo #1: All of the teachers in our costumes with our foreign coordinator Annie.
I am a Senior at Utah State University and majoring in Mathematics/Statistics Composite Education. I hope to become a professor and teach college math someday. But the average college student changes their major three times and I only have once, so you never know...