Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Since I mastered the 陶笛 (taodi), also known as the ocarina (which is a bit too fruity of a name for my taste), last week,

I decided to learn how to cook (or at least put food together) this week. Here is my first attempt at salsa (before and after I mixed the ingredients together and added some ketchup). Its turned out surprisingly well. Its fun too because I can buy the veggies right off the street for super cheap and pretty fresh.

Edit* I'm not sure what happened with the font but it doesn't want to change.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dragon mountain

This morning a friend and I took a 15 taxi ride and 45 minute bus ride to Feng Long Shan (something Dragon Mountain). We met some nice Chinese students on the bus who become our tour guides for the day. It was about a two hour hike to the top but the view over the flat country around Shijiazhuang was well worth it. (the pictures really dont do it justice). The first picture is looking toward Shijiazhuang and the second is looking the other way toward some mountains.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


As I was watching rush hour traffic out my bedroom window like I normally do on Friday evenings, I saw a camel weaving between cars. I watched it for a minute in disbelief before I ran to get my camera (sorry about the quality).

Monday, September 12, 2011


Last night four friends and I went out for a great Chinese dinner. We were all sitting around the table chatting when I said something about the temperature here being kind of chilly at about 68 degrees. They all stared at my like I was stupid and I realized that they all went by Celsius and at 68 degrees we would be roasting to death. I thought it was pretty cool that I was sharing a Chinese dinner with my Australian, French, Scottish, and Welsh friends. I didnt realize before I came to China that I would not only be experiencing Chinese culture but also tons of others. Im doing my best to learn about them, but at the same time thanking God that I am an American.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today my respect for teachers of all kinds went up a hundred fold. After teaching five classes today, I was more tired than any day on the farm or any of my other jobs. There are so many ways that teaching physically and mentally taxes you (but that stuff is boring and depressing and I'm tired). Some little things that made my day included calling on a portly kid named Bacon, another big kid after class telling me (surprisingly fluently) how wonderfully he plays the accordion, and a kid whose favorite food is "all the things" (a man after my own heart). They are all really neat kids and although it will be an often monotonous task, I can already see there will be many worth while parts to it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

For the family


One major problem that I've had while here is the breakfasts. While you can get fruit for breakfast, most parts of a Chinese breakfasts (as with most dinners) seem to be fried in oil. This kind of food really hits your stomach hard and isn't my favorite way to start the day. So on Sunday I went on a long hunt for some milk and cereal. The milk was the hardest to find. It's not refrigerated at the store and doesn't come in a solid container. I finally found it warm and bagged (I almost made a huge mistake at this point and didn't recognize the character for alcohol (jiu) on some of the bags, I guess some of them were fermented milk). Anyhow, my labor finally paid off and I got to sit down to a good (albeit strange) tasting bowl of cornflakes.

The hospital

This morning we had to go to the hospital to get tested for various ailments. It was a pretty cool experience, the hospital simultaneously tested around 50 people. We jumped from room to room getting EKGs, ultra-sounds, chest x-rays, etc. There were no lines and no privacy while in the rooms but this allowed them to get us in and out in a hurry. It did worry me a little, however, that the urine tests were done on your own in the main bathroom and then you simply placed your cup on a tray with thirty other uncovered cups. The only time I had a problem during the entire experience was when I was laying on the ultra-sound table with my shirt pulled up to my neck. The nurse said to me several times during the procedure "big breast," each time more urgently. Finally I realized that she meant to say "big breath" and I quickly obliged.

Weighty issues

As a small side note, I weighed about 210 lbs before I left the US. Now food here is plentiful, delicious, and fatty; however, it is not my mom’s cooking. I think it would be cool for all my readers to guess my weight upon my return to the States (the winner receiving something special). I will guess 198 lbs. Everyone leave a comment on this post with your guess in it. (Pictured below is my lunch from this afternoon to provide a point of reference)

At the school

I am now getting myself moved into my apartment. The apartment is spacious enough for me but it’s going to take a lot of work to transform the barren walls into something homely. I am going to be mainly teaching junior level classes (I think 8th grade or so); I will have about 20 classes over a four day period. I also just found out that I will also be teaching two thirty minute kindergarten classes a week (which could be fun but also likely a madhouse. I sit in on a class today and begin teaching tomorrow. There are about 11,000 kids on the campus and it is hard to escape the constant buzz that arises from that many kids in such a small area. I can see the halls of a guy’s dorm from my room and during certain times it really looks like a busy ant farm.

The city

Toward the end of the four hour trip from Beijing (next year a 1hr trip on the bullet train (whose billion (according to our driver) dollar track is currently under construction)) the tops of the massive apartment buildings appeared in the distant mist. These plain but giant building are awe inspiring in their own way. It struck me that living in one of these buildings must have a significant psychological effect on a person.


I arrived at Beijing airport on Wednesday evening at about 7:30. On my way to the gate I was excited because I made it all the way with no major hitches. That was until I did not see anyone waiting for me at the gate. After searching the area, emailing everyone I knew, and throwing up in the bathroom, I found a comfortable seat I could find and got comfortable. I did manage to get about two hours of sleep. The airport did its best to keep me from finding any rest. One efficient Chinese man drove his huge floor waxing zamboni machine past me every 5 minutes. My seat was near a neat Chinese decoration (shown below). At about 2 am, two ladies began to clean the structure by dipping their rags into a bucket of water and slapping every square in of the wall-thing. If I was in a good mood the sound might have sounded like a cool drum beat; in my state, however, it sounded like a busy firing-range until about 4am. I finally got in contact with someone at the school and was picked up at about 8am.