The First Five Months: Photos

Now for the photo montage: 

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda Water & Light Show. I went with Mike, Sue, RuthAnn, Karen, and Dan, all Americans. Mike has remained a good friend, and RuthAnn’s company is always welcomed, but I only sporadically see the others. The aforementioned teachers are nearly three times my age, creating some slight differences in priorities and experiences. Still, they are all very nice people. That evening, prior to the water show, we indulged in some Pappa John’s. It tastes considerably better here; it’s not just your college kids’ pizza. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the top tourist destinations in Xi’an. It’s a Buddhist pagoda built during the Tang dynasty. The picture I have, as my blog header, does not nearly do the structure justice. 

In Hancheng. I took this picture solely because this woman is holding a six-pointed star, better known as a Star of David to us Jews. I’m not sure of its purpose but the shop she is sitting in front of sells funeral necessities. 
Me in Hancheng at Dacheng Palace. One of the entryways toward the Confucian prayer hall. This architechture is typical of the Yuan Dynasty (Yuan preceded the Ming Dynasty). Just as a side note, and probably the most well known, Kublai Khan bears the responsibility for finding the Yuan dynasty. 
A smiley old man who weaves baskets. I snapped this while in Hancheng. 

Happy children in Hancheng. 

On our way to one of the numerous temples. Loved these alleyways. They are quite similar to the Beijing hutongs (small villages along alleyways). 
Prayer Hall of the Dancheng Confucian temple. 
Stray dogs and cats everywhere in China. While in Hancheng, Ruth and I, who roomed together, saw dog meat for one’s eating pleasure (see next photo for further explanation).   

Ad nausea: Those round patties you see on the right, yes, that is dog meat. Apparently people are starving enough in China to eat this. Fortunately, in my almost six months of residing here I have only had to see this once. There is a funny story that goes along with this…Ruth and I were trying to uncover what this mystery “thing” was. I actually remembered how to ask “Zhege shenme?” or “What is this?” Surprisingly, I could comprehend the response…something along the lines of meat but not meat. Ok, we thought, it must be tofu. No, not tofu, the street vendor said, but in fact, we found ourselves in a game of charades. The street vendor was using gestures and using his fingers to show us legs. As he did this a stray dog passed by. He started pointing at it saying “Nage nage” “that, that.” Ruth and I could not control the utter disgust that appeared on our faces. In case your wondering, I did not try it. There are just some things I do not hope to have the pleasure of eating. 

Snapped along the river that divides Shaanxi (where I am) and Shanxi province. 
Dangjia Village. Two main families lived in this village: Dang & Jia. A good representation of traditional Chinese villages. 
An old woman selling trinkets in Dangjia village. 

Lions guard the outside of temples to ward off evil spirits. This is taken in front of the Memorial Temple of the Dang/Jia family (can’t remember which one). 

Traditional home in the Dangjia village. The courtyard with the rooms located on either side. This is very much what Zhang Jian’s home looked like but with less rooms. 
Just like in NYC, you too can get your name written in calligraphy, but this one is complete with a story. The calligraphist will tell you an extravagant tale about each character in your name as he superfluously drags his paint across the paper in swift yet elegant swipes until his masterpiece is completed.
Pagoda. No place in China is complete without one. 
An awesome swing. I was the first to discover this. Shaoxue, Lin Zhu’s daughter, the coordinator in the Foreign Teacher’s Office, had a blast on this swing. She, her mother, and Chris, another teacher, all were waiting for me at the airport when I arrived in late August. it was a pleasant surprise, especially to finally put faces to names. I had been in contact with Ms. Lin and Chris for over four months. 
Shaoxue and I at Puzhao Temple, a Buddhist temple built during the Yuan dynasty. 

 A normal crowd at the 8am vegetable market. We were about to dine for breakfast on traditional countryside dishes. Much like in the States, it’s the senior citizens that enjoy the early bird specials. haha 

Yuxiu Bridge, built during the Qing dynasty. 

A good elder brother holding his younger brother’s hand. This is taken on the Yuxiu bridge. 

Ancient China meet modern China. This is a view of the freeway from the Sima Qian Ancient Road
Chris at what China called a wildlife park, really an eco park. A man-made swamp-like area with no wildlife anywhere. There were actually tourists, Chinese to be exact, swimming in the murky water. This is the last of the Hancheng photo montage. 
Daphney and I at ParkQin, one of the bars that caters to foreigners and Chinese alike. 
Guanzhong Folk Art Musuem. It was quite rainy during our visit, but I snapped a great photo of this theater. These men were standing around, smoking, chatting, and staring at us. It’s amazing the amount of ogling that occurs here. Even after nearly six months, there is still the occasional migrant worker who stares incessantly as they walk by me. 
Chinglish sign. Very typical of Shaanxi province. When I visited Beijing last month, it seems that in lieu of the Olympics the Chinglish signs no longer exist. It is a pity (Chinglish phrase my students will often revert to saying)! 
Paper cut puppet show. This is very traditional Chinese folk art. I wish I knew more about it. I’ll do some research and get back to you. 
Yes the water looks green and filthy, but you have to admit the contrast with the fuchsia colored flowers deems it okay in my eyes. This photo is also from the Folk Art Musuem. 
Most of my students from Tourism English Class One. They invited me to visit Xiangji Temple, Buddhist, during my day off. I took advantage of this opportunity to get to know them better in a more casual setting. They were more willing to talk, and certainly less nervous! 
A beautiful Siberian Husky I captured in front of the lens at Xiangji si (Xiangji Temple) 
Tourism English Class One. This class has relatively normal English names
Top Row: Devin, Victor
Next Row Down: Sophia, Sarah, Donna, Justin
My Row: Jeanette, Me, Alice, Aileen, Cherry
Bottom Row: Lisa, Hestera, Virginia
A beautiful sunset at the temple. 
Alice, Sophia, Me, and Lisa. 
Trotter, my college girlfriend Annie’s younger brother, visited Xi’an. He studied at Beida, Beijing University (extremely famous) last semester.  I spent the day showing him around and he treated me to my first Starbucks since leaving the States. It was heavenly! We dined together before parting ways. It was really nice to share our experiences with one another and speak English at a collegiate level. I love my students and all but it does get tiring always having to simplify what I want to say. Sometimes I want to use that extensive college vocabulary I worked so hard to gain. 
Big Night Out! Daphney, Mike, and some of Daphney’s other foreign friends enjoyed a night of debauchery. And by debauchery I mean some drinking, but mostly dancing at Club 1+1. This club consisted of three of four floors with many intricate staircases and the smallest dance floor I have ever seen. At some point during our dancing, Mike, Daphney, and I started a conga line. We soon had the majority of the dance floor joining in, a mix of foreigners and Chinese parading around, doing the conga. 
Tourism English Class 2. Shh, don’t tell my other classes, but this is my favorite class. They are very active, laugh at my jokes, and constantly ask questions. It’s great!
Amidst our bike ride to a nearby mountain to have a BBQ/picnic. This is Suki. We shared a bike, tandem of course. I  never experienced a tandem bike before, and I can honestly say it’s not something I enjoyed immensely. The majority of the time it felt as though I was losing balance and that we would both tip over. 
My students making lunch. We noshed on chicken, various vegetables, and bread. 
Clockwise from top: Ellen, Me, and Kelsey. Kelsey is my most talkative student, but she still has a lot of pronunciation issues. 
My Jewish Christmas, eating Chinese food with Chinese people. Okay, so not a traditional Jewish Christmas but I think a fair substitute. This is Hannah. She is significantly shorter than me, I nicknamed her “the baby”.
Some of my students from Tourism Management Class Two. They are all dorm-mates. Dorms in China are no less than 4 and can be upwards of 12 in a room. Most XISU students live in rooms with six students. From left to right: Hannah, Sierra, Candice, Linjo, Jenny, Wendy. These girls act like sisters. They tease each other, talk about boys incessantly, and enjoy playing pranks on one another. They loved to share all their recent pranks with me, usually Linjo is the victim of such debauchery. 
Da Yanta, or the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in winter. The fountains are covered in ice, and as you can see it’s clearly cold out. Scarf, hat, and gloves weather. Thankfully it is beginning to get a bit warmer here, key phrase being “a little.” I spent this day with Sam and Sarah, from Tourism English Class One. We enjoyed Yang Rou Pao Muo (mutton and bread soup) at Hui Ming Jie (Muslim Street) before making our way to the Pagoda. 
Beautiful lanterns are displayed not only to make the barren scenery look more attractive but because the New Year was approaching and red lanterns are hung in any possible location to bring good luck in the new year. Red symbolizes luckiness in Chinese traditional culture. 
Maja (Mother) sent me delicious chocolate from the one and only Dylan’s. I devoured this in approximately two days, although I did share half with Zhang Jian. Thanks Mommy!

I know this is excessively long, but I wanted to fill you in with more details about my first five months here. Stay tuned for the next installment: Beijing & Hainan. 

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