Summer Sun

We’ve had a solid week of good weather. It has definitely been hot and it even got up to 104 degrees the other day, but the sun has been shining and I’ve been loving it. It has made me feel happy and I’ve tried to spend some time outside. Not only do I want some sort of tan, I just want to be outside and feel the sun. I love the sun and even when it’s 100 degrees, I hate  to go inside or in the shade. I guess 6 months without sun really does something to a person.

Saturday Jared, Kristin and I set out to explore a new part of the city and be outside. We didn’t actually get all that far away from where we live but it was a nice day nonetheless. We had lunch and walked around the flower park and the little amusement park attached to it that was basically run down and broken, but for whatever reason had one “ride” open. It was a playhouse where the kids could shoot at each  with foam balls. It was pretty hot that day but we kept wandering and we happened upon an art center where we looked at some really nice paintings.

Sunday I went over to the neighborhood Yonghui and got a few things I needed. On my way there I soaked up the sun and when I arrived I decided to sit outside in the sun on a bench for a little while before going in. It was a beautiful day. It was sunny, warm and breezy. It did get a little hot but soaking up all that sun and vitamin D just warmed my soul. We haven’t had many days of sun here in Chongqing. When it is sunny, the clouds and smog usually cover it up. The month of June was a month of just rain and so July has been nice. (it’s still not the beach but hey gotta take what you can get)

Not only do I love the sun but I got sick last week and I figured some time outside and the sun could do me some good. I had a sore throat that went away after a few days. That turned into a cough and some congestion of course. It’s a summer cold, which is so weird to me, but hey going in and out o hot weather and the cold AC has to do something to your body if you go from one extreme to another. Anyway, I’m pretty much over that thank God.

P.S. only 4 weeks till I’m back in the U.S.A 🙂

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Food of Chongqing

4th of July

July-4thThe 4th of July has been a hard holiday to miss. You might not think about it being that important of a holiday, but when you think about it,  there are only 2 holidays that are specifically American holidays where we celebrate our country and we we came from. The first being 4th of July and the second being Thanksgiving. I missed Thanksgiving when I studied abroad in Spain and it was really hard to miss that holiday but CIEE Alicante had a Thanksgiving Dinner for us and that totally made it feel like Thanksgiving. I’ve never not been home for the 4th of July before. And there isn’t much you can do to celebrate the 4th if you aren’t in America.

Normally, my mom and I have a cookout. Sometimes my aunt and cousins are there too. We grill hamburgers and hot dogs, make potato salad, have watermelon, lemonade, and of course we always watch fireworks. Fireworks are my moms favorite part, so we’ve been to see most of the ones in the area from Clinton to Sylvan Beach to Old Forge. I love fireworks too actually. You only get to see fireworks once a year, maybe twice if you are lucky. So fireworks are special.

Here in China we had to work on Friday July 4th. It was a normal day. On Saturday all my friends and I got together in Hongyadong. We ate Subway for lunch, sat around at a cafe on the river, talked and played Uno. Then we went to the Chinese market below us and got to explore an old part of town. It was a pretty good day actually. It was nice for all of us to get together and spend time celebrating in our own way.

It was sad hearing about everyone’s Fourth but whatcha gonna do? I’m in China for another 6 weeks and even though it was sad and I miss everyone, I’m not going to waste my time here sulking and being sad or depressed. That’s not me and I’d miss out on life. I hope y’all had a great 4th of July and that you appreciate what it means to be American and how important appreciating that is. Not everyone is as lucky as us and you would not have the things you do if it wasn’t for our ancestors.

Here’s what I showed my class because I now know that Disney has the best fireworks and I want to go watch them one day before I die.

Chongqing Summer

Summer weather in Chongqing is ridiculous. It’s hot and it’s humid. It hasn’t even been a “true” or “real” 7-Infrared-SaunaChongqing summer yet. It gets up to 40C or about 120F ewww! The month of June was pretty unusual for Chongqing. There were 24 days of rain and the highest temperature was maybe 89 degree Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius. It was pretty humid throughout the month but the rain made it feel like a warm New York summer but with rain. Then July comes around and bam the sun starts shining. I shouldn’t complain because I’ve only actually seen the sun maybe 7 days total since being here, but damn it’s hot up in here.

temperature_2334980bThis week it has hit 96F and 98F or 35.5C and 36.6C. And besides that it has not only been sunny, it has been humid. The walk to and from work has been like hell. It feels like you’ve been lying on the beach all day in the hot sun, but you’ve only just stepped outside. And exercising? Pleaseeeee, it’s like being in a tropical jungle with you’re whole body drenched in sweat. Even after finishing you’re workout, you’re still sweating until you can reach your shower and turn that cold water on.

And of course, AC has become my best friend. I never turn that thing off. Well ok, to save money on electricity I turn it off when I go to work but THAT’S IT!!!! I live for AC now because really who can stand being outside unless absolutely necessary? No one, even the Chinese avoid the sun and heat like the plague. They have an unfair advantage of having grown up in this weather and of not sweating like us foreigners.

Chongqing is actually called one of the Furnace Cities in China because it get’s so hot. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached those peak temperatures yet. I hope to God we don’t, but well this is China and you know after our month of rain, it’s going to come back with a vengeance.

Note to self (and everyone) Don’t come to China in the summer!! It’s not only expensive to travel but it’s HOT as hell.

 

 

 

 

Jared sums it up pretty well. So go take a look!

 

Zhangjiajie- The Avatar Mountains:

After work on Thursday Jared and I went home to finish packing, make sandwiches, eat dinner, and make our way to the train station. Our train left at 7:21 and went from Chongqing to Huaihua. We would arrive in Huaihua at 4:30am and then catch our train to Zhangjiajie at 5:30. At least that’s what we thought. The first train from Chongqing to Huaiahua left 10 mins behind schedule. The train ride was rather smooth and the trains were not bad at all. Our students had said they could be really bad but actually they were quite comfortable. There were maybe 30ish beds per train car. Each train car is divided into 5 or 6 sections and in each section are 6 beds. 3 beds lined each wall: 0157a876f44c12cda0ae4c575b170d21d460c2af951 bed near the floor, 1 above that in the middle, and 1 closer to the ceiling of the train. We had the middle beds.  There were little kids under us that were demon children. Within 20 mins of boarding the train, 2 train attendants asked to take a picture with me. They were women so I was a little confused because they normally want to take a picture with Jared but hey that’s better for me haha

We arrived in Huaihua over an hour late. So we thought we missed our train to Zhangjiajie. We arrived in Huaihua to find out our next train was delayed 2 hours. We waited and it became 3 hours and then there was no time at all. We had to exchange our tickets for a train that left at 9:13 which was the time we were supposed to arrive at Zhangjiajie, now we wouldn’t arrive until 12:34pm on Friday June 27th.

So we arrived in Zhangjiajie and weren’t exactly sure how to get to the park. We ended up taking a taxi and this guy tried to get us a tour guide. The tour guide guy was hardcore trying to sell us a tour, but it was expensive and I can navigate myself. He tried telling us that they don’t speak Mandarin because the people in the park are all minorities. Then he said that they hate Americans and that without a guide you would get lost and never find your way around. Well, let me tell you that was all BS. We navigated, found our way and talked to people in Mandarin just fine.

When we got to the park, we bought maps that had all the trails on it and we just followed that. It was pretty easy actually. The first thing we saw when we stepped into the park was MONKEYSSSS. Lots of them! I actually took more pictures of monkeys than the mountains right in front of me. I mean come on, monkeys or mountains? Def monkeys every time.

Anyway once we got past the monkeys, we saw how beautiful the park is. There were trees, a river, the mountains above us, grass and it was nice to be in nature. It was like being in a forest with a tropical rainforest jungle feel. It was hot and humid but thankfully that first day wasn’t that hot at all and it was cloudy. I haven’t seen that many plants and animals since I arrived in China.

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The first hour or so was a pretty nice hike because it was mostly flat with some incline going up, but the second and third hours were tough. I’m not the most active person but I do go to yoga and I run on the treadmill at the gym and I walk A LOT. The hike during those 2 hours was just stairs going up and around the mountain. It was a very tiring and sweaty hike. I think I sweated off 5 pounds doing that hike, but when we finally got to a platform to look out over the mountains I forgot all about that torturous hike and was in complete awe. The mountain makes you work for it but it was so worth it the moment my eyes saw the view.

It is the most incredible place I’ve ever been. I’ve travelled a lot but I mostly saw cities. The only place that was even close to Zhangjiajie was Slovenia’s Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj but they were picturesque and gorgeous whereas Zhangjiajie is magnificent and awe-inspiring. Zhangjiajie is so amazing that I don’t know how anyone can even question whether there is a God or not. I know there is a scientific explanation for  how Zhangjiajie was created and there were several signs explaining that there, but I personally don’t think that anything that marvelous and astounding came to be all by itself.

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Once we finished the rest of the hike up to our hostel, showered and ate some dinner because we were starving, we went down the path next to the hostel and looked out over the mountains while enjoying a nice cold Tsingtao beer. The next day we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the other side of the park. On the way to the bus stop we saw rice fields and people going to work in the fields. While we were on the bus we saw some great views of the mountains. The roads were really windy and the bus driver was driving way faster than he should. It was kind of scary. Chinese drivers already aren’t the safest drivers but those bus drivers take the cake for worst driving, although we didn’t die or get into an accident so I guess I can’t complain.

The other side of the park was even better than the side we hiked up. There were dozens of platforms to look at the mountains and even though they were all similar they weren’t all exactly the same. While going down to one of the lookouts I got cornered taking pictures with random Chinese people. I was just minding my own business taking a picture of the mountains and then the next thing I know I have a line of people wanting to take a picture with me. Seriously. No joke. Being foreigners we always get asked to take photos with random people but Zhangjiajie has the record so far. I personally had like 15 people take a picture with me or of me within 10 mins and together Jared and I took at least 5 more pictures with people.

We tried to take the cable car down the mountain but it was broken L and we had to hike down. It wasn’t that bad because we were going down and we did get to see more nature and more views of the mountains for the first half of the way down. The second half was pretty boring actually because there wasn’t anything cool or interesting to look at and it was just stairs down. Towards the end there were some rivers and mini waterfalls which were pretty. And we saw a creature we never saw or heard of before… it was like a bug but it was white and walked around like a peacock with his feathers on full display the only thing was this thing was about the size of the nail on my pinky. We made it to the bottom, hopped on the bus to the exit, and then walked to the bus station to catch a bus to the train station. Once back we went to McDonald’s for some much needed lunch and to chill out for a while before our train. Once we got on the train it was smooth sailing till we arrived back in Chongqing Sunday June 29th at 6:45am.

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