Journal Entry Number 1: Tuesday
1. To what extent does travel effect our perspective towards others?
2. How does an understanding of any other culture help us to enhance our studies?
3. To what extent does preservation of animals ensure the survival of a species?
Our first day in China was a success! We had a great breakfast at the hotel we stayed in. There were many options and there was even a noodle bar with a chef that would add whatever we wanted to the soup noodle combination. Along with a large variety of noodles and add ons to that, we also had a fruit bar, lots of different pastries, and steam buns filled with pork or yellow bean paste. After breakfast, we went back to our rooms, packed up our bags and checked out of the hotel. We boarded the bus and drove across town to the panda preservation sites.
The pandas were so cute. At the site, they had about 150 pandas and there were whole sections that were sectioned of specifically for the baby pandas, so cute! Most of the time, the pandas are not very active, they eat and they sleep but while we were there, we were able to see the baby pandas wrestling with each other. After that we went to see the older pandas, they were some what active but a lot more lazy than the younger pandas. A lot of the pandas were really high up in the trees which was really impressive to me because I didn’t realize how lazy these large and slow moving animals were.
After the panda preservation, we went to a get lunch, we ate a popular meal style for this region called hot pot, this is similar to the American style of fondue. There were eight seats around a large table that had assorted meats and vegetables that we could add to the pot that was pin the center of the table. The pot in the center was split in two sections, a spicy side and another side that was not spicy. I put all of the vegetables that I was cooking at the time in the spicy section of the hot pot- they really do like their spicy food here. Along with the hot pot that we had for lunch, they also served fried rice which was really good.
After lunch we got back on the bus and traveled to these local (tourist) markets. There was so much to do and see at these market. The path of them was in a tennis racket shape, the entrance was also the exit and the small shops and store fronts circles around a very polluted body of water in the center. While at these markets, many of us bought small things like chopsticks or bunny keychains. I bought several postcards from a cute artisan book store while in the markets. I also bought a pair of pearl earrings from a store that was taking the pearls right out of the oysters and showing us the process, it was very cool. To eat, there were a lot of options for snacks while in the markets. Celine, Isabella and I chose to buy these ice creams that came with nitrogen cereal on the top of it. When we put the cereal in our mouths and started chewing, it a lot of smoke came out of our noses and mouths. The ice cream was even more frozen than normal ice-cream is because of the nitrogen. It was really interesting to try it!
Right after the markets we went straight back to the airport where we had been the day before, this time, another domestic flight. I worked on some Chinese homework before the flight took off but as soon as I put my laptop away, I fell asleep until Isabella woke me up because we had landed.We ordered fast food for dinner and it was quite an interesting experience. I had fried potatoes with a sweat and sour sauce drizzled on top. Chloe had fried chicken and I had fried potato and they both had a sweet and sour sauce drizzled across the top. The “dessert” that was served was this strawberry and banana fried thing that was very sweet even though it was fried. It was an interesting combination. After dinner we cleaned up and packed to move out the next day and then went to sleep.
Journal Entry Number 2: Wednesday
1. Does patience have an impact on the way that we view other cultures?
2. To what extent does travel teach you more than experiences in the classroom setting?
Today was such a busy day… We started the day off at 5:45 with morning calls to our rooms. We packed all our stuff up before breakfast and went downstairs to eat by 6:30. The breakfast buffet at this hotel was very large. There was a large variety of options, they offered noodles but because we were the first people to eat breakfast, it was too early for them to be ready. With this, there was a large fruit bar with a lot of different options of local and western fruits. I do not enjoy dragon fruit but for the people who do, I was told that it was very good, almost addictive. Other options for breakfast were fried spring rolls, steam buns filled with different pastes, fried rice, and sir fried vegetables. Right after breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and boarded the bus for the long five hour bus ride we had to endure. So far, we have spent more time traveling than we have actually touring. We’ve had a lot of practice sitting on buses, planes, and airport floors.
While on the bus today, our tour guide was a lot of fun, she tried to make the five hours as entertaining as possible. She sung as a native song of the region in Chinese and then translated the lyrics into English so that we could understand it. After this, she invited us to use the microphone to sing our own songs. Tess and Celine sung a song that they learned and performed for the CGS open house. Isabella sung jingle bells in Chinese that she learned in middle school. Chloe sung 朋友 (peng you) a song that she learned in her first couple months of studying Chinese with 乐老师 this year. After all of this, Mr. McCarthy has been carrying his guitar around him and he played “My land is your land” and we all sung along with him. After all of this singing, we took some time off and worked on some of our homework. After a long enough time working on homework, we got bored and started talking again, our tour guide noticed that that rest was long enough and she started to give us a background on the region that we are in.
She talked about the family values of the region and how it is a good thing to be old. When someone doesn’t call an elderly person in this region with respect or without saying grandmother/grandfather, it is looked at as very disrespectful and makes the older person feel poorly. Our tour guide, then talked about the styles of families in the regions. The family’s in the small towns and cities outside of the major cities have large families ranging from 50-80 people in one family. These types of families that have two or three sons, they all share one wife, one of the men lives at home and takes care of the kids, one of them goes to school or work outside of the town and the third works near the home of the wife and children, the order of these men switch each year or so, one moves home, one moves away and one moves to work. This is very common because it is so hard for men to find wives.
After our conversations on the bus, we drove all the way through to our destination, Dali. In Dali we went to The Three Pagodas. It was so pretty there with so many places to look at the pretty views from the rising tiers of the temple and the bright colors of the buildings. With all of the picturesque scenery, we were also able to learn much about the cultural norms of the people in this region. For example, people here, when it comes to religious procedures, try out several different temples or gods to worship until they find one or two temples that gave off results or seemed to work and then they continue to pray at given god or temple religiously. Another thing that we learned at The Three Pagodas was that the people who built this area, the Bai people, were really focused on the architecture of their buildings and land. Everything was built in complete symmetry and artistry with the other buildings.
After The Three Pagodas, we checked into the hotel and got ready for dinner which was also at the hotel. For dinner there were a lot of options for the people who eat meat and the vegetarians alike. A part of the dinner experience in China, we learned, was to serve the meat whole. To exclude any part of the meat is viewed of as bad luck. Therefore, the chicken and fish that was served for dinner included the head. For me, I had a vegetable soup and a vegetable stir fry. To end off our nice second day, we are currently finishing off with our first study hall from 7:30-9:30.