Wednesday, December 30, 2009

things that defined my time in china

trying to capture everything through pictures
waking up to the sound of a crane
sleeping on wood
cheap fruit
watching chick flicks with the girls :)
in-service meetings
tucking in the children
brushing my teeth with bottled water
dropping garbage in the 'rubbish house'
chairman mao
babies in spilt bottom pants
watching e.t. on halloween
the smell of stinky tofu
hearing my feet step 70 steps up to my dorm and 90 up to the computer lab
watching all of my belongings gradually get dirty and dirtier
missing my family
attempting to speak some chinese
$5 massages
eating chow mein off the street
learning the chinese hand signs for numbers
HUGE teddy bears
squatting to answer nature's calls
being with Abigail Barth each hour of the day :)
going to church in a hotel
hang drying every piece of clothing
waking up to a cock crowing
KTV karioke
getting stared at EVERYWHERE we went
ni hao
hearing lots of honking
appreaciating simple things
letting go of germ consciousness
the Yellow Mountains
hard boiled eggs
"teacher whats eats?"
hearing loogis haucked left and right from people of all shapes and sizes
linda (foreign affairs coordinator)
1 yuan bus trips
looking for a mcdonalds to use a restroom
being excited to see my students after a weekend
carrying t.p. in my purse
taking a train everywhere
seeing factories more often than not
sleeping with hot water bottles to keep warm
getting my temperature checked everytime I entered qing ying
having thumb wars with the kids
using a wristwatch
buying $1 movies
referring to the lonely planet quite frequently
savoring quaker oatmel
getting oh so excited over an email
wearing the same outfit for 3 days without changing (sleeping included. gross, i know)
sleeping on the fast train
seeing kids on rip sticks
constantly checking my purse to see my wallet sitting there
chicken feet
my china airlines blanket
bartering for everything
muslim noodles
being on a chinese gameshow
sending postcards
unrefridgerated raw meat
microwave popcorn
trips to tesco
never seeing carpet
the great wall of china
staying the night at random mormon's homes
learning to be patient
packing and re-packing
sweet potatoes
having our pictures taken every day
bank of china
chinese pizza
teasing the school guards
weighing our baggage over and over and over and over
being called "teacher"
learning that i love hot bananas
feeling that a toilet seat was a luxury
leaving things behind
hacking into websites
eating in 'that alley' after church
never seeing a person pulled over
qq fruit snacks
wishing i could pull off a face mask

china was wonderful :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Well. Got home from China. It was hard to say goodbye to the kids and leave what I had begun to believe was my life forever, but I am so happy to be home. After four flights, a bus ride, four security checks, and a car ride, I was home in 38 hours and ready to crash. I was exhausted and so tired, but jet lag is funny. Even after getting hardly any sleep my eyes were wide awake til 4:30 that first night. It gets a little better each day.

Christmas was just what I was looking forward to. Home-made food, snow, and lots of time with family.

Next thing on my list: wisdom teeth extractions. Yikes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bountiful Goes Beijing

Beijing- directly translated as “northern capitol” was a great place for 11 girls to spend a weekend.

Thursday/Friday: We started with the all time favorite train ride there. This one was only 16 hours with hard sleepers. Janae (another teacher) and I even got to sit and watch Indiana Jones with two Chinese men. We all felt like we were riding the Polar Express as we woke up to the passing countryside covered in snow. Within seconds of stepping off the train we quickly became familiar with the BITTER Beijing air. I’ve lived in Utah most of my life, but this weekend was the coldest I remember feeling in a long time. We got situated at the Leo Hostel and went out to see an acrobatic show. AMAZING AMAZING. I couldn’t believe the positions that the acrobats so quickly and gracefully displayed. After taking a hot shower in the cold night air (the community bathroom literally had a gaping hole in the wall) we snuggled up in our bunk beds and warmed up best we could with hot water bottles and layers of clothing.
Saturday: Started off by waking up at 6 am to be up and at ‘em at 7. We piled ourselves into two separate vans and made our way to the GREAT WALL OF CHINA. It’s something you hear about since childhood. Built in the Qing Dynasty and constructed in ten years, the Great Wall of China truly is a sight to be seen. We visited the Mutianyu portion of the wall. Yes it was freezing, yes there was snow, and yes I did get coaxed into paying for a toboggan ride down the hill, but so so worth it. Because of the temperatures and location there were hardly any other tourists- it was great! The skies were blue, we enjoyed some beautiful views, and pretty much just hiked around the thing for 3 hours. Funny that Obama would be there only two days later. After soaking it all up and taking pictures, we bundled up into our vans to begin our 2 hour drive back to our hostel. We grabbed some rice for lunch, warmed up a tad, and paid a visit to Tiananmen Square (Currently the world’s largest public square). Look around a bit and went on our way to the Pearl Market. This place is overwhelming. Floor after floor of everything you can imagine: pearls, scarves, ties, hats, coats, shoes, watches, jeans, electronics, bags, table runners, wallets, purses, antiques, and the list goes on and on and on. I grabbed a few things and began to remember how tiring bartering can get. Some favorite quote lines: “Lady, lady, you beautiful. I give you good price. Cheaper for you, I give cheaper for you. I remember you! Gucci? Prada? We have good quality! Who you buying for? Your mother? Your boyfriend? “

Sunday: Left our hostel at 8 and were on our way to scout out church. Keep in mind that Beijing is HUGE. As the nation’s capitol, a home to over 14 million, and roughly the size of Belgium it can sometimes be difficult to find your way. Church was in a hotel and we wandered for about an hour in the freezing cold to the “Golden Dragon Hotel.” The meetings were great and I even met my oral surgeon who will be extracting my teeth this December when I get home. We found some good food after and made our way to the Olympic sites. After taking the metro we found ourselves in front of what I would suppose is the largest Olympic torch in the world. Honestly- this makes the Salt Lake torch look like a child’s bath toy. Probably three times as tall, it has elevators running up either sides and stands in the middle of the Olympic Square. We took a gander at the Bird’s Nest (Where they held the opening ceremonies and such) and the Cube (aka Michael Phelps stadium) and left ASAP. We were freezing. We had taken our pictures. We were outta there. As far as we had come to see those sights and as amazing as they were, the cold was so unbearable that we could only tolerate it enough to look at everything and head back to the subway.

Monday: The Forbidden City. This is one of the most famous and popular attractions to foreigners and Chinese because of the history. Home to over 24 of China’s Emperors and their families, the Forbidden City is constantly packed but still well worth it. We got up early and walked there from the Leo. FREEZING FREEZING FREEZING. Purchased a map and an audio tour and went to go see the good stuff before my brain froze. Beautiful architecture and layout. Skidaddled after two hours. Obama went to this site the next day. Too bad- it would have been great to discuss Chinese politics with him over hot chocolate. Spent the rest of the day Shopping at the Silk Market (bigger and better than the Pearl Market). Bartered, bartered, bartered. We were all so exhausted when we left, but were so satisfied with all of our loot. By the end of the day, Abby and I had so much to carry home that it was too heavy to haul to the Metro. So, we took a taxi. Taxis are fast, more comfortable, and not too cheap. This taxi however, decided that it would be real cool to drive through Tiananmen Square while President Barrack was cruising through as well. We sat at a light for about 5 minutes and became thoroughly upset when the driver turned off his car for a second time (meter was still going). We were sooo frustrated and tried to explain to him the he KNEW that he was driving us through a busy area just to rack up the cost! But of course, he just waved his hand at us like he didn’t understand and we continued to sit in rage. After a couple minutes more, we didn’t know how long the waiting would continue. So we paid our dues and left the cab in the middle of the street, flustered. Our backpacks were stuffed and we were hauling HUGE plastic bags full of our shopping goods. Abby’s bag ripped, and we suddenly realized that more than anytime our lives, we just wanted to be on the train. We walked forever to the subway, took the subway to the train station, and then walked a bit more. Sweaty and hot, we hurried ourselves onto our 12 hour train ride home in hard seats (no sleeper this time).

Late Monday/Tuesday: Ten O’clock, Eleven, Twelve, One, Two. We sat there amidst the other Chinese people and tried to be positive about not having beds for our train ride home. All the seats were sold out and there were people crammed left and right in extra places on the floor, counters, and even in the bathrooms to find a seat for their “standing” tickets. Con number 1 about the sitting section: They don’t turn the lights off. For the whole duration of this train ride, flickering florescent lights buzzed in sync with the tracks. At two o clock, my legs couldn’t take it any longer, so I laid some newspaper down in the aisle and slept there for about 3 hours. Abby joined me, and we dozed off as people pointed at us and made comments. When we finally made it to Changzhou, and bussed to our Wujin district, I couldn’t believe that I had made it. The best part of coming back was to see the hundreds of kids passing us as we walked to our dorms. They were jumping up and down, screaming “Teacha Barrook! Teacha Happy (Abby)! Teacha Kresta! Teacha Shalice! ”

Beijing was amazing. The kids are amazing. Life in China is amazing.

More Photos

Me and Janae bussing to our hostel.

Street where we stayed

Acrobatic show

Olympic Torch

Tiananmen Square/The Forbidden City

Bags after shopping

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hangzhou and the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan)...

This was another great vacation. Went with three girls from my trip to Yangshuo. We took a lot of busses for this trip. First went to the city of Hangzhou. I think 87 percent of the people I saw were senior citizens. Don’t really know what was up with that… but then again, it’s a beautiful city that surrounds a lake. So. Maybe the St. George of the area? Ha. We just kind of wandered around the city and took a day to look at extremely elaborate Buddha temples and carvings in the side of the mountain. Lovely time.

The yellow mountains were pretty rad. However, “hiking” in China means a trail with stone steps to the top. So this hike was 5,000 steps…. Straight up, to the tip top of Huangshan. It took 2 ½ hours up and we ran down it in one hour. Beautiful views and clear air!!!

Our only really swell option for getting home was a sleeper train (even though getting home would have taken 3 hours in a car). It was supposedly ten hours long but took 12 when it was all said and done. The squatter on this train was clean (thumbs up) and I hung out with some random Chinese girls for a while, prank calling their friends and speaking to them quickly in English.

Halloween was pretty fun at the school. The kids are just learning how to trick-or-treat, so they yelled “TRICK OR TREAT, TRICK OR TREAT!” at me every time I ran into them for one whole week. I love them. Alright. Thanks for the emails and commenting on my blog! Sorry I can’t comment back…. My hacking websites don’t allow it. But like my sister Corrine’s high school bumper sticker said, “It’s all good.”

Wo Ai Ni

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Last couple weeks here in Changzhou have been just great. This past week I realized how much I’m loving the kids more and more each time I teach them. I used to almost dread teaching (getting the lesson prepared, disciplining the kids) but now I look forward to it because I just love being around them. I love making them smile and laugh and they love doing the same for me. Makes me excited to be a mom someday. But that’s a loooooooooooooooong way down the road. Ha. Today I’ll be teaching the kidlets how to play hangman. Hope they like it .

Had a couple of our church friends visit us here in Changzhou. We showed them a little around the town and also passed by the TALLEST pagoda in ASIA. Who would've thought??? In Changzhou? Crazy, I know. It was a good time.

Stayed home this weekend to watch General Conference (we got it on disks from our branch president). LOVED IT. I can honestly say that I have never been so engaged in listening to every word the speakers had to say. We did it the normal way, watching Saturday and then the Sunday sessions the next day. The whole time I kept thinking to myself that I could easily watch all 4 sessions together. That good. Maybe it’s because I’m so far from home and conference reminded me of that? Maybe the speakers were just exceptionally good? Maybe I need more direction in my life? Who knows…. But bottom line, I really enjoyed it. So awesome also to see a few of my peeps from Bountiful singing in the choir on Saturday (Teresa Crapo, Karyn Alvey, Julie Warren)! Here were some of my favorite parts:

“Knowing God and making efforts to know Him will be eternally worthwhile and will bring you the greatest joy you will ever have.” –Robert D. Hales

“God will not require more than the best we can give.” –Jorge Zeballos

“Repentance always means that there is greater happiness ahead.” –Neil L. Anderson

“No matter who you are, or what you may have done, you can always pray.” –Boyd K. Packer

“Prayer is your personal key to heaven, and the lock is on your side of the veil.” –Boyd K. Packer

“What we know is not always reflected in what we do.” –David A. Bednar

“What we love determines what we seek, what we seek determines what we think, which determines who we are and what we will become.” –Dieter F. Uchdorf

“We can and must expect to become better as long as we live.” –Henry B. Eyering

“Each of us can do something to help someone.” –Thomas S. Monson

“One day, the gospel will be heard by every ear.” –Brent H. Nielson

So anyway, great conference. I kind of sound like a missionary ha. But it was “so good” (my dad used to always say this after reading Gordon B. Hinckley’s ‘Standing for Something’….. and we relentlessly gave him a hard time about it :) . Hope all is well in the USA, Mexico, Israel, or wherever you are.

Wo Ai Ni!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This might be long.

So, it was one of the most amazing vacations I have taken in my life. We had 8 days off because it was the HUGE Moon Festival (the only Chinese holiday second to the New Year where EVERYONE goes home and spends time with their fam). Abby, Lindsey, Shereesa and I started out by bussing to the train station (one hour) and taking a train (five hours) to Shanghai where we stayed the night at my mother’s friend Leanna’s home. We arrived at about 1 am and left her house at 7 that morning. After grabbing some fruit and “Chinese Pizza” (basically flatbread with MSG and green onion), we boarded our 25 hour train ride to Guilin. This was so interesting and although flying would have cut some major time I wouldn’t have picked a different method of transportation. Our “hard sleeper” beds were out in the open, in train cars consisting of about 100 people. Stacked in rows of threes, we had the middle beds on our way to Guilin. After getting situated in this tiny area, I was excited to lay down and take a rest. Um yeah, feet hanging off the edge kind of got in the way. But not to worry, I can still sleep great with my legs curled up, so I just got used to that. One nap, two naps, three naps, and eating in between each of them. It was great. We didn’t have a lot of English speakers around us, so it was fun to interact with the travelers. I loved the reaction they gave us when we showed them our journals. They poured over those pages as if they were the golden plates or something. But the feeling is mutual: when I watch someone write in Chinese I’m fascinated every time.

The train lights go off at ten o clock and most people wake up when the sun rises at 6 am. Workers go back and forth on the 1-foot-wide isles selling packaged fruit, ramen, dried meat, cigarettes, drinks, toothbrushes, and random toys for kids. It’s really so interesting to see the scenery as you fly by the beautiful countryside. Farm after farm. One thing that has caught my attention in China is the huge number of senior citizens working. Seeing an 80-year-old woman slaving away in the heat of the day has become a commonality. Overall the train rides were good. I generally felt that my stuff was safe and that the people around me were trustworthy. However, the worst part of this ride was the train squatter… no question. It was one of the most disgusting sights I have ever seen slash experienced. Picture this: Opening a rusted door into a 2’ by 2’ area for “doing your business” shared by a few hundred people. Everything goes directly onto the train tracks and the floor is completely moist from who knows what. So you, of course, avoid going to the rest room until your bladder completely freaks out. Then why in the heck do they advise you to keep yourself thoroughly hydrated when travelling? Urgh. The moment comes when you can’t avoid it any longer. You go inside after waiting your turn and…. there it is. Squatting itself could be considered an art to be mastered. After getting a good stance and preparing to just hurry and go potty, you remember that you’re on a train. Trains move. They rock forwards, backwards, and side to side. So yes, you have no choice but to grab onto the absolutely disgusting handle bar screwed into the wall about a foot off the ground to keep your balance. Okay okay, I won’t go into any further detail. But let’s just say that it’s very much a part of the experience.

So, we got off our train to Guilin, found another bus (one hour) that took us to the breath-taking Yangshuo. Again, I’m going to apologize that none of this blogging will include pictures, but PLEASE take the extra 5 seconds to Google this place. So good. And I also promise to post pictures when I get back in the USA. Okay- We get to Yangshuo and are already taken away by its beauty. “Dr. Seuss mountains” is what everyone calls them. Almost like gigantic rolling hills covered in green that come straight up out of nowhere. Not the most gradual. The sky was clear (woot) and we were in a location close to the Li and Yu Long Rivers. Our hostel was such the best: Monkey Jane’s Guesthouse. Not because of the quality but for the good times we had there. We had a tarp for our ceiling, a cement floor, stains on the walls, a huge hole in the door, a cockroach or two running around, and holes punched in the windows…. But hey it worked. We even were there to see the female owner of the place shave her head during our 7 night stay there. “New life, bikini dancing, freedom, I’m going to jail in 2 weeks”, she rambled after we asked here what brought about that change.

Day 1: Got massages on the rooftop of Monkey Jane’s place. Couldn’t stop laughing. Again. Conversion: Eight bucks for a one-hour massage. Took pictures with random Asians that would approach us (maybe 8 people each day asked to have their picture taken with us. Ha so funny). Met our dear, dear friend Victor from Quebec. Hit the hay early cause we were exhausted.

Day 2: Rented the sweetest bikes for the day. They had baskets to keep our stuff in and bells, which actually were handy considering the crazy amount of people out on the streets. Just biking around and seeing where I was became so unreal to me. I couldn’t stop getting the song “Lost” out of my head by Coldplay. Too appropriate for it all. It was hot, so the wind against my face felt good. We got to the famous Moon Hill about 45 minutes later and hiked to the tip top (this is another one of those places that you can Google). FABULOUS views. Hot, hot, hot. Wandered in some nearby villages after and grabbed a bit to eat. Later that night wrote messages on paper lanterns at the hostel rooftop and sent them up into the sky after we lit the candle inside them on fire. Probably not the best for the environment, but it sure was magical. More pictures with random Asians.

Day 3: The OFFICIAL day of the Moon Festival. Did the famous Mud Caves (yes, you have to Google this). We walked through caves with helmets and flashlights, looking at different rock formations and then bathed in the mud bath. It was such a free feeling. Best mud bath of my life. Came outside to a bunch of Chinese tourists waiting to go in. All four of us girls cannon balled into the rinsing pond (where some of them were already swimming), which instantly triggered a water fight. It was us against a bunch of 40 year old Chinese men. “Lawei, Lawei!!!” they yelled (foreigner, foreigner). Hysterical. Had a hard time picturing my parents having a squirt gun fight with some random Chinese girls touring America. Anyway… ha. Cameras shot out of bags and I suddenly felt like Britney Spears at the beach. One man showed Lindsey and I the over 200 pictures he had taken of us girls just swimming. Bizarre. The bike ride home from this day was quite interesting. I was just pedaling away when I saw it…… a man. He was strolling up the street, same direction I was going but on the opposite side of the road…. BUTT NAKED. Yeah, totally unexpected, especially in the extremely modest country of China. But gave my friends and I a good laugh. I mean, he wasn’t running and didn’t look nervous or anything. Just walking up the street like any other guy. Ate some fab food and met a whole plethora of people up on the rooftop that night from countries including France, England, Israel, Germany, and Canada.

Day 4: Got our bikes after breakfast and made our way to the Yu Long River where we found the Dragon Bridge. (Lindsey did all of the navigating for our day excursions… she has a talent.) One of the most gorgeous bridges I have ever seen- kind of a half circle shape. From the moment I saw it, I knew I had to jump off it. Fifteen meters high with bamboo rafts passing under occasionally. Some of my friends from the hostel where there and jumped within a few minutes after we got there. Abby and I made our way back up to the center of the bridge…. GEEZ. It looked so far down. Abby was fearless so I told her that I’d go if she went first. She went, no problem. I slowly stood up on the wall of the bridge, straightened my body, and looked down at what I was jumping into. Terror came over me…. Fast. Funny how much shorter the fall looked from far away. “One, two, three!” I jumped… and screamed the entire way down. My vocal chords hadn’t felt that way in a while. Hit the water on my rear-end and it’s still hurting one week later… but well worth it . J

Day 5: Breakfast and on our way to rock climb for my first time ever! No liability forms or anything… gotta love China. So we pretty much got there, stretched, and put our harnesses on. It was hard and completely new to me, but fun to see that I could actually make my way up the side of a cliff with some help from my Asian mate “Sky”. Shereesa climbed up the side of it like a little monkey. I hope she gets into it later in life. Later that night went to a beautiful spot that the tourists call “secret beach.”

Day 6: Kayaking on the Li River, about the width of a football field. It lasted three hours so I for sure got a good workout on my arms. I felt like I was in a movie or something as we passed little villages here and there. Cute little naked Chinese kids played games beside the river, water buffaloes made random appearances in the water, and an old man followed us the whole time on a bamboo raft to show us the way. My mom would have loved this. Then Monkey Jane had free dinner on the rooftop. Loved the fried bananas. There’s something about a hot banana. I’ve decided that it brings out the natural sugars in it or something. Cause now I’d take a hot banana over a cold banana any day.

Did a lot of shopping, eating, and walking everyday. If I were to ever revisit China with my family, this would be my first choice of places to bring them. Bye bye Yangshuo… “Love you long time."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Best of Changzhou

September 26, 2009

Before I came to China my friend Ryleigh told me that I would have experiences in here that no one would ever understand unless they were there. I wondered what type of experiences would fit this category. Today was the fist day that I decided would be almost impossible to accurately describe to an outsider. But I’m going to give it a go.

It was supposed to start off with “lunch for Mr. Fung’s birthday.” Mr. Fung is the beloved bus driver that carts us around town if we’re on a special errand or something. He was turning 36 and doesn’t speak a lick of English…. But still invited all 11 of us girls to something much more flashy than we would have expected. We were told that there would be cars to pick us up. A random bunch of 3 or 4 cars came and we loaded up into them one by one. It only took about 7 minutes drive to get there. Funny how nice it was to be in a car for once. I noticed how smoother the ride was compared to the bus. We unloaded along with about 10 other teachers from our Tsing Ying school. After going through a couple of buildings we were lead up a marble staircase to the designated party room. After everyone was seated there were maybe 100 people in this room. I knew it would be an interesting meal, just looking at the things they had already pre-dished up for us. Course after course after course came. Everything Chinese you could imagine: noodles, rice porridge, duck, eel, chicken feet, dates, sweet potato, egg rolls, whole fish, shrimp, birthday cake, miso soup, beef tendon, “roast” beef, snake, beans, watermelon, fish eggs, dumplings, and MEAT after MEAT after MEAT. And its not like we just went in a line and picked what we wanted…. They brought us these dishes for each table. Each dish had PLENTY of food for each girl. We started counting the courses after a while. An hour and a half had passed and we assumed that the meal was coming close to an end. The dishes kept coming. It then became a game and we started to count the plates. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…. And so on til 30 COURSES. And so it was, the most full I’ve been in 4 weeks. They gave us elaborately wrapped/decorated party favors including candy, individual birthday cakes to take home, cigarettes, lighters, and Great Wall Cabernet. Haha. Too funny. Mr. Fung’s 14 year old son was boozing it up the whole time with the adults.

Next we made our way upstairs to a reserved KTV room. KARIOKE. It’s so big here. This soon gravitated from singing Chinese songs we were unfamiliar with to just a big dance party including a lot of Mr. Fung’s friends. The Chinese boys our age were extremely drunk from lunch and were continuously asking most of us girls if we had a boyfriend or if we wanted a Chinese boyfriend. One that I named Harry would not leave me alone ha. He was really nice but just a little pushy. He put his camera phone two inches in front of my face a few different times to try and get a good shot of me … even though the “lighting was bad.” ☺ We eventually were all on the dance floor when Harry pulled me into the middle of the circle to get groovy with him. Ha- this worried me a little. So I quickly grabbed both of his hands, stretched out our arms to make a distanced circle between us, and did an almost galloping motion from right to right and then left to left ha. It reminded me of the dance move that Jo March does on Little Women with Teddy. And the Asians aren’t too big into it. Ha. Harry kept giving me the up-and-down along with “I like it” and “You are so nice.” So I told him I had a boyfriend.

We left that huge Birthday party and were taken back to the school in cars. Next on the agenda was an ILP family that came from Shanghai to visit us. They had really young kids (one was a baby). The Mom is in her mid thirties and did ILP twice in China. Between the two ILP’s she served a mission in Taiwan. The Husband was a head teacher with her the second time she did ILP in china (both of them speak awesome Chinese). We met the family at the regional conference in Shanghai and they just told us that they wanted to bring us some stuff that we probably couldn’t find here. GEE. They were too nice. For each girl they brought pancake mix, boxed cereal, 3 containers of soy milk, peanut butter, jam, cake mix, syrup, frosting, spaghetti, and a bunch of other stuff. Just dropped it off… all of that food for all of us like it was no big deal. How nice of them. We just couldn’t get over how thoughtful it was of them to drive 90 minutes to basically bring complete strangers a bunch of food and head back home.

Next we had to make it to a performance. This was our 4th time performing our dance routine. It shows a lot of our Chinese teachers from the school and a little bit of us. It has been a big deal thing. At the beginning when we were learning it, our rehearsals would last up to 6 hours or so. Anyway….. So we get to this outdoor stage to perform. There were already a couple thousand people seated- government officials to be exact. We waited a while for the program to start and BAMM. Fireworks! Yep, it has begun. I think I see fireworks every week in China. And I catch myself wondering if they’re ok with the sky being gray every day. So, the fireworks get going, we wait for our turn to perform and we’re on stage. Being the tallest, I’m in the Middle… actually front and center ha. It was fun. I loved hamming it up on stage and keeping a big cheesy grin on my face the whole time. It’s hard to imagine this, but picture a bunch of Chinese teachers in Michael Jackson and flapper girl outfits dancing away on stage, followed by 11 young female Americans in denim capris and bright colored polos dancing to a song that says “Chihuahua” over and over. Bubble machines going off on either side of the stage as well as a fog machine. EVERYTHING in China has to be really glamorous (or in my opinion extremely overdone ha). But nonetheless it is totally part of the culture and its fun to be a part of that. So we finish performing, the crowd goes wild for the Tsing Ying school and we go off stage. About an hour later we do the finale number with all of the performers which includes a lot of froofy/graceful moves with our arms and hands. We stand still in the final pose and AGAIN, fireworks! But this time BIG fireworks. Like the ones in Eagle Wood on the 4th of July. We were blown away by the fact that they were going off directly above us. We were literally cowering our heads to avoid the debris falling from the sky as the show went on for five more minutes. This didn’t seem to be a problem to anyone else ha… and it also seemed completely normal to have this firework show in the middle of the city next to a bunch of 34 story office buildings.

Oh China ☺

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


What to say, what to say.

For starters I have my big vacation planned out- all the details and everything! It's next Wednesday. Can't believe it. So here's an idea of what will happen: Take a 2-3 hour train ride to Shanghai Wednesday night, stay at Leanna's house that night, get up early the next morning and board our TWENTY THREE hour train ride on a HARD SEAT. yeah. All the beds were sold out. This should be fun. Then get to Guilin. Take a train to Jishoua (3 hours or so?) then a bus to Fenghuang, then a taxi to the hostel. Yes. That's just getting there. So we'll be in Fenghuang for 3 days. This is ancient china. Red lanterns everywhere, city divided by a river with little bridges and stone steps across, not a lot of modern-ness. And we couldn't be more excited. Then.... going to Yangshou. You can google this place too. One of the most beautiful places in China. We plan on swimming the mud caves, maybe doing some hikes, and hopefully just find a bunch of random things to do! This vacation is over the Chinese Moon Festival... so basically its only second to the Chinese New Year... yeah. LOTS of Asians... EVERYWHERE. I have to carry all of my belongings with me in a back pack the whole time. So for eight days I plan on taking two shirts, shorts, jeans, and tennis shoes. A little bit of snacks, some pills, and three other girls! Woot.

The Chinese experience still gets better every day. My kids are DARLING. Even if they aren't my students or I don't know them, I have little kids running up to me wanting to hold my hand or get a hug or just practice their English by saying "HELLO!" Precious. These are the names of my homeroom: Jake, Minnie, Sally, Nicolas, Kevin, Katie, Jenny, and Blake. They call me "Teacher Barrack" because often times they call me "Block." When I correct them and make the rrrrr sound, it comes out as "Barrack". Ha. Good times asia.

Went to church again last week and I'll be going again this week. It does take a bit of time but every time I get there it is well worth it. I wake up at 5 to get ready, leave the school at 545, catch a 45 minute bus, take a train for about an hour, take the metro, and get to church a little before it starts at 10. I love it though. And I never regret going. Oh yeah- I have a calling now. Sunday school teacher for the young men! All two of them ha. I'm excited though. Because in truth, I've never really been in love with Sunday School. So now that I am teaching it, maybe things will go smoother? Who knows.

One of my new thrills here is giving the Chinese people English names. It's just the funnest thing to do. Even I have an Asian name: Ting Ting. The other day on the train we met a boy who looked exceptionally bright. So, we named him Harvard. Other names have included George, Obama, Gus, Dr. Seuss, and some others that I can't remember.

Just figured out how to taste the MSG in your food: watch for the tingle in your tongue. It's like they are trying to get us all buzzed up on the food or something. But whatever. Most of it tastes good. It just reminds me of the Teen Girl Squad comics, when the girls get MSG'd from eating pan-asian-rolls. :)

It's getting not so unbearably hot here. It's rained most days this week, which is nice for me, because I get to wear more of the small wardrobe that I brought.

And now, I get to go teach a morning class the difference between MAD, SAD, and GLAD. After they eat the hard boiled eggs that are delivered to their room every morning ha. Ok well more later. Thanks for the emails! Maybe someday I'll figure out how to post pictures...

Wo Ai Ni

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend in Shanghai*

Wow this place is awesome. Unfortunately I won't be able to post pictures on here but oh well. I'll make sure to use those "paint a picture" skills I learned in school. So the miracle for this weekend was that my mother's dear friend, Leanna, let me and a few of my friends stay with her in Shanghai this weekend. This city is ALIVE and there is so much to do. Yesterday we got up, ate a delicious breakfast and went out to see some of the city. Leanne and her driver Mr. Ma took us to some of the coolest places to shop! We went a little crazy when we saw all of the awesome things because Changzhou is really not much of a tourist town. At all. We bought everything from cool antique watches to satchels, Buddha rings, old music, chess sets, bracelets, jewelry boxes, and postcards. Fun day with the girls, Leanne, and her cute daughter Margerette (is that how you spell it???). After the shopfest and eating some delicious food for lunch (dumplings, soup, tofu, fresh greens) we headed to the other side of town and went to a regional conference. Elder Oaks is here in China for the weekend to speak. I really really liked some of the things he said:

"The purpose of life is the means to become what God would have us become . . . All people that live on this earth are children of God . . . Don't let the ways of the world lead you to believe that God has changed His standards that have led us through the ages."

Very good. Then for the closing song we sang "Families can be Together Forever." Did they really have to? ha. They must have known that most of us are thousands of miles from home. After the conference we headed back to Leanne's place and went just around the block for some ice cream and foot massages. I think I was laughing 63% of the time. I guess that I am just an extremely tickle-ish person and will probably never fully benefit from a massage as most people do. Hard life, I know it. Today is Sunday and we're headed back to the other side of town for more conference. There's a special YSA fireside after and they're having me play the piano for some musical number- wish me luck! ha. We're headed back to Changzhou tonight so we can teach in the morning. Hopefully the kids with swine flu recovered over the weekend so we don't get it as well. Well, more later!

Wo Ai Ni!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'd say every day has a miracle. Or something close to it. For example, the other day I was buying train tickets with a couple of my friends to Shanghai for the weekend. After a 45 minute bus ride to the station we discovered that there was no ticket booth that had someone who spoke English. After standing at a booth, confused, with about 15 impatient Chinese people behind us, Frank came out of nowhere. "Do you need some help?" he said in his cute little asian accent. "YES, we do!", we happily exclaimed. That was the miracle on Tuesday. Yesterday's miracle was that us ILP teachers found a website the hacked our way into BLOGSPOT and FACEBOOK! Beautiful. Yes, there are a million popups and yes it probably wouldn't make Mao very happy. But nonetheless I can finally make a post and tell a little about my time thus far in CHINA.

Getting here was quite the adventure. Us 11 girls took a flight from Salt Lake City to San Fran, then from there to Taiwan, then from there to Shanghai, then a 3 hour bus ride to our interesting "little" city, Changzhou. From the minute I walked into the airport until we stepped foot into our dormitories, it took us a total of 34 hours to get here. Changzhou has more people than Salt Lake and is a pretty huge city, but is a small place for China. So, it is not visible on most maps we find here.

Getting around is actually not that bad. Sometimes we're surprised to find that if we just start speaking to someone they actually know "a little english". To get into the big part of town we take the 302 bus which costs 1 YUAN (the equivalent of about twenty cents). Everywhere we go here, we get interesting looks, as if we're walking around naked or something. Changzhou is not a tourist town. You can figure that out when you google it and nothing pulls up besides this blog. For a lot of the Chinese here, we are the first white people they've seen in real life. The little kids are so cute and telling. They get huge eyes, gasp, stare, and then call for their parent's attention so that they're sure to see the white person.

We teach at an international school called Tsing Ying. We live with the kids in the same dorms, eat with them, and teach them for 3-4 hours every day. I love it. We pass them and all of their cute little asian faces scream "Hellllo teacher!" Teaching is fun, but demanding and requires a lot of energy. I have an awesome room mate, Abby Barth. Friend from USU. woot. Our beds are literally wooden boxes with less than an inch of padding. Yet everyday as I lay to sleep it seems to get softer and softer. We were without hot water for about 2 weeks, but for the last week it has been working. Hopefully stays that way ha. I have also become quite accustomed to my personal squatter. Mastering this method should be considered an art. No more just sitting on a toilet seat and pulling out your favorite magazine. We have AC, which means we can relax in our room. It has been cooling off lately, but when we got here it was HOT. The time difference was initially hard to adjust to, but we finally did it. Here, we are 14 hours ahead of Mountain time.

We were really lucky last week and were able to go to a private church meeting in the Nanjing branch in Nanjing, China. It was great to see some other Americans and be able to freely speak about religion. This weekend we're going to Shanghai! Crazy. Me and three friends will be staying with my mom's high close school friend Leanna. We cannot wait. She's going to show us some fun places over there. We're also going to a sort of "stake conference" where Elder Oaks will be speaking.

October first is the big week long holiday for most Chinese people. It is called the Moon Festival. They eat moon cakes, sit and stare at the "very very round moon" (the full moon ha), and celebrate. For that big week long vacation me and a few other girls are going to take the vacation of our life! The first city we will be going to is called Fenghuang. Check out this link to see some awesome pictures of this ancient town: "". Then we'll make our way to Yangshuo. You should also check this out if you have some time to kill. Both way beautiful cities.

Any who, I kind of don't know what to write anymore or what people even care to hear ha. But when I get connected with my laptop this weekend I'll be sure to post some sweet pictures of my good old time here. Yes I miss some things back home, but everyday I love this place more and more. Wo Ai Ne!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bye Bye Bountiful Bubble.

I usually like my blog posts cut and clean (lists), but today I'm feeling like letting my thoughts flow. According to me, I seem to be doing pretty well with the stress of the last week and the coming week. Just got back from an amazing trip to the BIG APPLE with my mother and Corriney. Was an awesome bday present. Loved it. We did lots of amazing shopping, ate some delicious food, saw the sights, went to two amazing shows ("Phantom of the Opera" and "In the Heights") and walked allllllllllllllllllllllll over that town! So I got home like around 8 tonight, visited some peeps that I needed to talk to, and am cleaning all of my laundry tonight! gah. Plane leaves at 730 tomorrow night. Salt Lake City to San Francisco to Taiwan to Shanghai to Changzhou. The beloved and anticipated Changzhou. I just want to meet all the people, get my taste buds next to some rice, and be ready to experience something different than ever before. It's going to be a change for sure: No FB for the whole time (comm. government just blocked it around 4th of July), might not use a cellular the whole time, and no BOYS.... I know... how will I survive? ha. but really I'm EXCITED to be rid of these things and jump into this culture head first.

So. Wish me luck with packing and turning 175 lbs of luggage into 100. Wish my pilot luck that he will not crash the plane. Wish my mother luck that she will be able to sleep for the next 4 months. Wish my dog luck that he will not die when I'm gone (he's getting there). Wish our tummies well that they will not need any Pepto for the 4 month stay. And wish these Chinese babies luck so they can soak up English like a sponge!

Here are some pictures from the trip! (thanks mom)

Monday, August 10, 2009

What you can learn in 99 days.

Yes, it has been 99 days that I will have resided in West Yellowstone this summer and it boggles my mind. Things have changed so much. Relationships with people have become different, my opinions on different cultures have changed, and I have this new appreciation for a bitty part of the universe.

What I learned in West Yellowstone this summer:

-Living in a trailer is just like living in an apartment. For some reason the word almost has a negative/humorous connotation, but all my room mates and I loved the double wide.
-Summer FLIES when you're working.
- The Mountain Man Rendezvous is not the most authentic..... but still has good stuff
-Hebgen lake is beautifulllllllll.
- Everything here is colder....
- Running a family owned business is hard work.
-I guess it is pretty cool to be able to look out at the nations 2nd largest bronze elk statue every morning. ha.
-Police are BORED. Not only did I get pulled over twice, but all of my room mates did as well. And each cop tried to convince us that because we were working in Montana, we would need state plates. psh.
-Groceries are expensive. Just one gallon of milk is almost $5.
- People will murder if their coffee isn't done on time.
- Housekeeping is... fun. Would never do it again but glad that I did it for a third of the summer.
- Once you meet a local, remember their name, because you WILL bump into them again.
- Hope Blooms Eternal
- Bozeman is fun! Just a smaller town like Logan, but considered the big city.
- 9 o clock p.m. sacrament meeting does exist... and I liked it!
- It may just take you 9 times in the park before you see a bear! That's how it worked for me :)
-Separate checks...... urgh.
-Pet friendly cabins... bleh.
-Working a lot is a ton of motivation for visits home. And makes that 5 hour drive seem like 2.
-European boys are much more sly and refined than American boys.
-Firehole is great.
-I will never let my kids eat the saltine crackers while they're waiting to get their food is a restaurant
- Beer makes people act foolishly and drives people to give up more important things.
- Good places to eat in town: Sydney's Bistro, Tubby's Bakery, Geyser Grill, Wild West Pizzeria, Canyon Street Grill, and Mooseberry's.
-Bad places to eat in town: The Gusher, KFC, Arby's... ha
-Appearance is not everything. Some of the roughest and strangest people here have become my best friends.
- Be yourself. If you're going to do something, then be ok with the fact that that is who you are.
- Yellowstone will supposedly explode a few years down the road from volcanic activity.
- Swinging after work is the best.
- The Playmill kids are nice and very entertaining.
- Huckleberry
-"Is there anything else I can get for you?"
- Making a shake takes longer than you think.
- People serving your food CAN do whatever they want with their food.
- Even after 99 days of being frustrated with your job, upset about your circumstances, and ready to leave, you still WILL be sad to go home.... because the people are what make this place what it is... and i will miss them. Much.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

6 hours of sleep
12 months a year it snows here
3 slash 4 room mates
139 squeals from the fridge each day
1 flooded bathroom
57 different tables
9 separate checks
83 bags of ice to fill
3 visits to the post office
1 national park
99 days in West Yellowstone
3 jobs
1 too many police officers
4 trips home
10 minutes into town
46 buffalo
1 bear- finally!
5 trips to Bozeman
183 cabin reservations
3 times at the Playmill
56 naps
4 times to night church
8 spiders killed
10 times into the park
283,983,114 of the brightest stars in the world
4 times boating
7 lectures from Sherry
174 hours on facebook (yay front desk)
1 LDS ward
12 salad dressings
0 attractive guys
5 restaurants that deliver
75 costco bottles of water
6 times in the hot tub
33 complaints
86 calls home
1 police report
13 chocolate-peanut butter shakes
1 taste of every restaurant
6,666 feet in elevation
2 times being pulled over
19 different languages
481 credit card swipes
1 horseback ride
59 extra sides of ranch
1 time at the gym
71 pitchers of "bad" coffee
1 showtime each night at the cinema
4 bags of sunflower seeds
9 visits from hometown friends
1 camera
41 nights of pure exhaustion
3 encounters with Sharon
4 "5-hour" energy shots
10 thunder slash lightening storms
2 alarm clocks
3,104 text messages
5 people to tip out
161 photographs

1 interesting summer... woot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bilbo Roars On Obese Kilts Everywhere.

Bears Bingo Babies Birthdays Bandits Bountiful Big Bouncers Backpacking Boys Baloo Bang Bloopers Birth-control Bleaching Blunt Bowling Boston Bolivia Boredom Being Brag Barf Banana Bread Beanie-Babies Breathe Bitter Butter Batter Blot Blue Beef Boiling Brisk Barbies Barbara Blow-pops Bionic Bunny Blog Blondies Bullwinkles Burger Betty Boop Brinkerhoff Branches Blushes Brothers Bloom Bishop Bingham Build Bite Bitter Beer Brandy Balogne
Round Rookie Rawr Real Read Ream Relish Rivers Rawlings Reminsce Renee Rolling Ratatat Reading Rainbow Resentful Repair Repent Remind Recoil Rewind Release Refurvish Renowned Rancid Richard Rinse Ripe Ricoche Rent Revive Ringer Referee Rain Rapido Renny's Round-up Ronald Reagan Roy Riverdale Richmond Renesmee Reports Really Raptor Raging Retard Religion Radical Raspberries Radiology Racing Rascist Return Russia Rwanda

Omnious Opthamologist Optomotrist Orthopedics Oral Oprah Oh Oregon Oreos Obama Oklahoma Ohio Old Omaha Ocho Oshkosh Orchards Olympics Over Only Of Open Orange Oval Ovaries Osteridge Oak Oafs Oatmeal Orphan Oarsmanships Obediance Obese Obituary
Oven Osterige Opal Olivia Ocean Ogre Orchids Omletes Olivander's Organ OJ Oprah Olives Oats Oak Open Operation Orientation Oriental Octapus Octave Octuplets Octagon October
Oblately Oblong Obsessions Oedipal Offensive Oiliness Onions Omen Opaque Ora Oriental

Kleenex K-mart Kittens Kraft Kill Kite Kime Kaka Kristine Krista Krisindalandayana Krishna Kate Karen Karena Kalindy Kaylinda Klu Klux Klan Kaden Krispy-creme Kind Kiev Kendall Kisses Kick Korn Kilometers Kinetic Kid Killers Kentucky Keep Keeper Kilomanjaro Know Knowledge Kiwi Kiki Kotton-mouth-Kings Kum&go Ksl Knight Kuala Kwanza Ketzakwatal

Evenly Ever Evergreen Excited Extreme Evangelical Extra ET Extravagent Emotional Exceptional Except Exempt Exception Emancipated Earth Egor Egotisical Eguana Equidor Economical Eccentric Economart Eyes Ethonol Excedrin Ecstatic Ernies Erin Errands Equipped Earrings Errie Ear Everyone Eel Ear-full Earnings Example Earthquake Emergency Ecstasy