On China National Day, our family joined a few friends on a trip to Guilin. It was one of the most beautiful places we have visited so far in China. The mountains all around were very dramatic limestone formations. The cave we visited took 2 hours to meander through, where we started at the bottom and gradually found ourselves high above the rock and formations we had just seen. I hope these pictures help to give some idea of what it was like.
Welcome to our beautiful city! The place we have called home for over 5 years. This enchanted city has been captured here in an amazing pop-up book my friend Shawn Wu. After the short AD you can see the original copy, and please stay tuned here to find out how you can help us get this book published!
Since returning from our holiday trip during the Spring Festival, Lester Alemayehu and I have visited a few more interesting spots in China. We thought you might like to take a look!
The first stop was Heng Dian a small town 4 hours out of Hangzhou. This town is famous for it’s movie sets as it is the largest of its kind in Asia. You can visit famous sites like the Forbidden City or Hong Kong streets all in one day! We chose the local temple and garden grounds for this weekend’s haunt.
Hangzhou Wetlands Park
The city of Hangzhou and our new home has an amazing botanical garden as well as a great wetlands park and some amazing tea tree hilltops, all quite large and spread out in comparison to the small size of the city. We went with some friends to visit the wetlands on a sunny spring day. Their son Danny was born the day after Alemayehu.
Hong Cun – Hong Village
The next location was the our most picturesque stop in China to date. WWe took a school trip with Lester’s workmates to Hong Village and Yellow Mountain about 5 hours drive away. I really enjoyed this particular trip, and despite the incredible crowds, I still think it was totally worth it!
Last but not least, the amazing Yellow Mountain. Our timing was perfect. The weather was gorgeous, and the clouds delicately wrapped mountain peaks, making for excellent pictures.
Lester and I are sitting in our hotel room porch, enjoying luxuries banned in China like facebook and cable TV. (Ok Vincient, our trusted Chinese friend pointed out that, technically cable TV is not banned in China…) It’s just like Barbados here, the weather, the beach, the laid back culture. Some would even say the beach itself is better than Barbados and they may have a good point, except for the streams of tourists everywhere, and hundreds of locals trying to sell you everything … food, massages, clothes, boat rides, island tours… Everyday at least 40 people ask us to buy something. We realized that we haven’t learned how to say hello in Filipino, I think it might be, “Hi Mam… Hi Sir…massage?”
But, the beach makes it all worth it. The beach, the weather and the laid back culture. I had a wish to go to the beach. My husband is a good man, he heard me and made my wish come true. As I walk past all the bags, key chains and trinkets that say Boracay, if I squint my eyes it looks like they say Barbados. Except we don’t have that many things to buy on the beach.
The tourist here are from all over the world, lots of Chinese, Koreans and Japanese as well as people from other places in Philippines. Then thre are Europeans, Australians and Americans. Not so many blacks though. The three of as are still too much of a spectacle to be totally comfortable. It’s really hard to get used to the stares and giggles. Yes we are black. No I am a woman. Look again, and you cannot deny that I am beautiful.
I hope you like the pictures, we worked hard on them. We want to remember how nice it was here, and make the memories last a lifetime, cause there are too many wonderful places to visit in Asia, so although we love you, changes are we won’t be coming back to Boracay Island.
We’ve got one more delicious day… but here is a sample of the pics. For more, check out my google album, formerly picasa, now on google plus!
China is a big place, as I am sure you know. It is hard to explain and the contrasts between major cities to someone who has never been to China. I guess the easiest way to explain it is, even though Lester and I never throw our garbage on the street, our son Alemayehu somehow got into the habit of throwing garbage on the floor even in our home. In Longhu, Zhengzhou that is the norm and it goes unquestioned. In Hangzhou the streets are clean with no garbage in sight.
Today we live in a 20 story apartment (with a swimming pool) about 30 minutes drive from the West Lake, and the heart of the city. Everything we need is a few minutes away, including a great daycare, dentist, restaurants, computer service store, vegetable market and department stores.
The contrast for us between Zhengzhou and Hangzhou is admittedly, not entirely due to social and cultural differences. We in fact did not live in Zhengzhou, but Longhu, a small town on the outskirts of the sprawling city. We also lived on the Shengda campus with everything paid for by the school, surrounded by a cushion of English, i.e. tons of other foreign teachers, and hundreds of eager students. In Hangzhou, we rent our own apartment and all our expenses are our own (a truly frightening thought after being totally spoiled for 2 years). The most conflicting thought for me in my new home however, is the fear that every time I go down on the elevator my skin color may startle someone trying to go up, as the door opens on the 1st floor… Believe me, it has already happened enough times that I can’t seem to relax.
There are not many foreigners in this part of town, and I am rather surprised to find it so. I was sure we would find more people to hang out with and more couples with kids. I hope Alemayehu is not the only foreigner at his school again.
Tomorrow I will visit China Academy of Art, my new school. Now that I am a student I imagine that I will have more time for internet posts and pictures and so on, but maybe that will change as soon as I figure out where the foreigners are at! *^_^*
There are tons more foreign teachers at Shengda this year, and for Halloween that means tons more fun! Check out the Red Devil, the Red Barren and the US Soldier in Red China killed by the Arabian Knight… and OH! The infamous David Bowie. Can you guess what Alemayehu and I were dressed as? I’m not telling. You’ll just have to figure it out yourself!
For more Halloween Madness, check out the Gallery.
It was so wonderful seeing everyone over the summer. Our trip to New York was a triumph as we looked back, and took a moment to reminisce on the way we used to live not so long ago. Strutting around the streets of New York without Lester, but with an active toddler, made me stronger physically and mentally. Summer in the city is always an adventure and seeing the city through the prism of motherhood was surprising so. Can you honestly say that you know where all the elevators are on your frequent subway stops? Or have you ever spent time wondering which of the people sitting in front of you and smiling at your baby, may offer you a hand up the stairs when you get off the train?
Most times it seemed that motherhood brought only changes. But then there were all my friends. Mostly unchanged. Living simple, happy, fulfilling lives. And all brimming over with such enthusiasm, love and admiration for our new family and home.You made out trip back to the Big Apple and Brooklyn special indeed.
Guyana was a triumphant look ahead. Even as we visited all Lester’s old friends and family there was constant talk of his return. Yet still my first time on that soil was like a homecoming, because there is so much in common with Barbados. The old made new and the new just like the old.
China is our home now, and our return home after almost one year brings a unique kind of fulfillment. As we struggle to learn a new language and to make the most of our time here, we invite your comments, suggestions and encouragement. Thank you for waiting so patiently and thank you for your participation.