Another Great Weekend in Hangzhou

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hi Everyone,

So had another partying weekend in Hangzhou! :) ...Also, heads up (just incase there is confusion) this partying can be done without consuming copious amounts of alcohol... and yes it's still awesome fun!

My Friday, as previously described was just as much fun as predicted! ...I painted lots and lots of bamboo! (pictures of my wonderful bamboo have been uploaded!) it was very exciting, and I have to say for all of my arty friends who are reading this, it's quite an amazingly different technique that you use for the brush strokes! .... you have to hold the brush in a certain position to get a certain appearance! ... and of course being left handed it made everything extra hard to copy! ... my teacher made the most extraordinary face when he saw I was left handed... and exclaimed something in Chinese I couldn't understand, but for some reason don't think was 'Wow, that's great!'

KTV was AWESOME! ... I'm not really much of a singer personally, but Karaoke is great! we did everything from Beatles to Britney Spears and back again! We even found some Spanish songs for the Spanish girls in our class! ... We're going to be planning a second 'class excursion' again soon! ... I'm sorry to say I forgot my camera, but if you're on facebook my friend Megan did and promise to take some next time!

We headed out to Ingrid's B-day party as planned and yeah the 'Mexican Bar' / Bedroom of the Mexican students was great fun... you try cramming an entire party of about 50 people into a dorm room! My friend Kelsey and I hit the town afterwards, we went to some club to support a friend call Alex who DJs there. Personally I'm not a huge fan of techno music, but every performer has to have their posse, afterwards we headed across to another club called Coco and danced the night away... it was seriously like back to back aerobic classes! We were sweating! and I feel I worked off all my dinner! ... It was heaps of fun, (except for the continuous flow of boys asking to dance... you could think that it's flattering, but when you get interupted every 2 mintues (LITERALLY!) by about 20 different guys when you're trying to just have fun with your friends, you get sick of it. How do you get out of such a dilemma you might ask?? Well I was from Michigan, my name was Britney and I had a boyfriend called Justin! ... the boyfriend part works wonders!

The rest of my weekend was mostly lazing around, sleeping and studying... finally yesteday I found a little music store about 2 blocks away where I can play piano for an hour for 5 kuai! HAPPY STEPH!!

That's most of the updates of what's happening in Hangzhou, I've got 2 tests this week so will mostly be doing a lot of study so probably won't post again for a little bit. But I'll leave you with the hint to check out my photos to see the 'present' Mum and Dad sent to me to keep me company over here. I've been instructed to take 'it' out and show 'it' around Hangzhou, so will have to do that soon and will put the photos up to show you.

Hope you're all well and having fun!!

Zai Jian! xx

Busy Friday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hello wonderful family and friends!

IT'S FRIDAY! ... I'm very excited because for the rest of today I'm going to be extremely busy having lots of fun and doing no work! I hope you are all doing the same, but I doubt you are cause you're all such studious and hard working people :)

So since my last post I've been doing my usual study, eating and bike riding with a few extras in between... such as ST PATTY's! ... okay so we hit the winery first and enjoyed our free buffet and I had my glass of wine. (And yes I did try a guiness... and Yes I still stand by the fact that beer, not matter the brand tastes disgusting!)

From here we headed across to Shamrock's the Irish bar, it was alright, pretty crowded but nothing mega exciting except for this one crazy drunk Chinese guy who was cracking out some pretty interesting dance moves! (by interesting I mean just plain weird!) I've got it on video so I'll see if I can upload it onto youtube or something for you all to have a look at.
Another weird thing was that there was a little girl (about 3 yrs old) in the bar as well sitting with her parents enjoying the toxic smoke that engulfed the whole place! .... she was happily clapping along to the crazy Chinese guys dancing.

Afterwards, we headed back across town to the Maya bar, hung out there for a while and then went to Maccas for icecream (McDonalds - as my American friends had no idea what I was talking about when I said Maccas) and off to bed as we still had class the next day... which I happened to miss. Whoops. :0 (I spend the whole morning studying in my room instead and doing a load of washing)

On Wednesday we found a 'Wu Mart', which my American friends were overjoyed to see (American Wall Mart equivalent) while we were searching for our painting supplies for our elective. Justine you will be extremely envious to hear that I got a HUGE amount of paper, 6 quality brushes, paints, ink, a mat, and some really nice quality paper for 100 kuai (about 25 bucks) :) I'm going to be using all of these this afternoon in my elective from 1-2:30 I'm really hoping that it's good cause I've always wanted to try out a different medium! ... and this medium is VERY cheap over here!

Yesterday I had a lesson with my Chinese Tutor, Yeon Hong. (She teaches me Chinese for 1 hr I teach her English for 1 hour.) It was really good, I finally felt like I could string a few words together to make something sound some what coherent.

Finally that leads us to today! So here's what's going to be happening because yes I know you're all dying to find out! ;)

I'm heading out for a game of tennis with my friend Korean/American friend David, lunch at 12pm, painting elective from 1-2:30pm and then we have a class excursion to KTV (The ultimate Chinese experience... KARAOKE!) I'm slightly nervous about this, seeing as I'm not exactly the words best singer... but hey where can you sing if not in a foreign country where everyone is out of tune anyway. Oh except for this one guy who rode past me on his bike yesterday.... he was singing like Paverotti... CRAZY!
Anyway, then we're heading to another all you can eat and drink buffet at the winery then my new friend Ingrid's b-day party at the Mexican bar at 8pm. (The mexican bar is actually the Mexican students room which they have turned into a bar... I have no idea where they put the beds!) Followed by a night a Coco Bar which supposidly has some good music!

So a very long and exciting day... which hopefully I'll make it through with lots of photos to show you along the way! :)

Also, before I sign off, thanks for the lovely letters in the mail Untie Lynden, and Darren I didn't get any jet lag thanks for asking. Grandma, you'll be happy to know we have Tai Chi out the front of our international student dormitories every Thursday afternoon, however I chose to do the painting elective instead so I don't get to do it... but it looks very graceful!... but I'm sure you're way more advanced! And Poppa, I'm very impressed that you're making smoko now! I'm expecting an amazing cuppa next time I'm up! :) And Marshal, hopefully you got my text message, but if not Happy Birthday for yesterday!

Love you all heaps,

Steph xx

Fun in the Sun!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My goodness I can't believe it's been about a week since my last post! Time is flying over here!

This is just a quick entry as I'm quite exhausted from all my wonderful excerise! But just thought you'd like to know that the SUN HAS BEEN OUT! WOOOOOOOOT!!!!!!! :)

Yes we have had wonderful glorious sun all weekend!

So last week was the usual study, biking, eating and more study (I'm really becoming quite a local!) Friday, I had my exam and hopeful did pretty well. (haven't got the grades back yet) But I went out for some retail therapy on Saturday with the girls and we found the 'underground markets' (quite literally underground!) There was everything you could think of from gucci through to chloe and burberry... and of course China wouldn't be China without the fake Louis V. Oh and Sunday we climbed a mountain! :)

Yes, for those who don't know, my university (which has a moat) Also backs onto a beautiful lush mountain! :) Soooo we decided to climb it, along with 2000 other Chinese people (I exaggerate... but only a little) ;) But the views were amazing, and when I get the chance I'll upload them all fr you.

Today, you'll be very happy to know chubby stephie who hasn't done any exercise in WEEKS! bought herself a 104 kuai tennis racket (about $25) and headed to the courts! ... well all I can say is that I sucked! but that's okay I've got 4 more months to get my swing back.. and it was fun! :)

Finally, tomorrow is St pat's day so we've all bought white t-shirts and painted them up with all sorts of wacky designs and some of them have ummmm... shall I say 'interesting' quotes :) all very Irish of course! Photos will be provided of course! :)

So I wish you all a very happy St Patricks Day and will let you know what mischief we made of it tomorrow! :)

Zai Jian!

Wushan Square, Party-Party & Wuzhen!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Okay peoples, be prepared for a large amount of reading!

sooo since my last entry I've been extremely busy! There's just so much to tell you that I don't know where to start... I think I'm going to do the nerdy thing and categorize everything by day.

So today we had classes in the morning and I finished up all my homework for the weekend so that we could have some wonderful misadventures! Friday arvo, the gang got together and we headed out to the infamous Wushan Square. This place is one of THE 'tourist destinations' for Hangzhou. It's got all the nic-tacs from fans and umbrellas through to glass ornaments and caricatures. However, the truely exciting part is the little side alley which sells all of the traditional Chinese dishes!! Mhhh hhmm... anyone for some duck blood soup?? Or if that isn't really your style, how bout just the duck head itself?? ... chicken claw maybe??

Well... yes, you guessed it, I'm to much of a 'chicken' to try any of that stuff, but I did get stuck into an interesting rice dish served with fruit inside a pineapple, a spicy chicken kebab looking thing and some weird fuit salad looking drink. (which probably wasn't that smart as it was cold water, but hey, I didn't get sick so alls good!). --> you can check out the pics in the photo link for my blog!

Anyway, after all that delicious food, we weren't really feeling the need for a huge free buffet, so we turned up at the winery at 9pm instead and just enjoyed a nice glass of wine. But guess what!... to my very happy suprise, this winery is just around the corner from the uni and it's TOTALLY AUSTRALIAN! The AFL was on the TV (don't worry, the rugby is meant to be on later)... and all of the wines were Australian. I had a lovely cab sav!

So yes, I'm very excited about this little place, and by the sounds of it, they've got another 'free buffet' style thing happening next Friday, so I still get my free Han Bao Bao (Hamburger in Chinese).

As for S.O.S.'s grand opening... pretty bad actually, it was crowded, smokey and they only played techno music... so there's not much to say there, apart from the fact they had cool glow in the dark ice cubes! (which I'm sure had some kind of interesting chemical... oh well... don't fret I didn't eat the ice!)

Well today wasa relaxation day! I started my morning with a lovely jog around the campus, ending up at the post office where I picked up my 'care-package' from the parentals... (CHOCOLATE!!!!!) Thanks guys! Picked up a croissant and coffee for breaky and went back to bed. The rest of the day was spent in bed catching up on readings, doing a whole lot of research for Dad for business stuff when they come over to visit and watching lots of episodes of Bones! :) SOOOOOOO GOOD!

Today was very exciting! Kelsey and Dalila and I caught a cab across town to the East Hangzhou Bus Station and then caught an 1 1/2 bus to a small water town called Wuzhen. You can check out the pictures on my blog as well. It was absolutely beautiful! We paid an arm and a leg to get in the door (120 kuai) but it was so tranquil you couldn't help but get lost in the little alley ways of this peaceful little town which is built on a river.

We spent the entire day here, after we saw the 'tourists' area, we then decided to head out into the 'real' China in Wuzhen. It's amazing the huge difference! (see the pictures to know what I mean). I don't think they're used to seeing 3 western girls walking down the main street, so we spent the entire time smiling and waving, getting asked for photos and saying 'hello' to everyone. As this is probably the only English word they know, EVERYONE says it to you!

However, we kinda got sick of it, and by the end of the day when we had to wait 1 1/2 hours for our bus, we just pretended we didn't hear and talked among ourselves.

Another thing that made it very tiring, is that there is probably about 50 people with rickshaws waiting for you to get tired and ask for a ride, so they literally follow you down the streets yelling at you 'lai lai' (come, come) to hop in. They even chase the buses down the street as they are arriving! (ahhhhh mayhem!)

However, even with the crazy stalker rickshaw guys, it was a great day! ... we slept most of the ride home and was in bed by 9:30 for classes on Monday.

Okay, so the last day to catch you all up on, but it's also one of the most exciting!
Because I GOT A BIKE! Yes, it's very very cute and it's orange. it's got TINY little wheels, but it's the most amazing little thing because it folds in half so I can carry it inside and store it in my room. Brett and Megan have them as well and we all went for a lovely bike ride this arvo to Ying Li Temple. It was beautiful. (you can see the pics of my bike and the temple in the link)

These bikes are so fantastic, it means we can get around town so much easier and stop off whenever we want. It also saves us a heap of money on taxies. We got them for a steal! ... bike, bike chain and basket all for 295 Kuai! YEY!

So yes, this is all of my very exciting news, you're all up to date! ... leaving it there, because we're all about to head down for dinner!

Love you all, hope you aren't asleep after all of that typing you just had to read... WAKE UP!

Bye! xxoo

Almost forgot...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oh also, I forgot to mention that I signed up for electives! Guess who is going to be taking Kung Fu classes on a Wednesday and Chinese Traditional Painting classes on a Friday! WOOT... rather excited.

Anyways that's all.

Bye :)

Baby Bum B-Day

Hi Everyone,

So following on from my previous blog, I told you how I was heading out with my US friends for Megan's B-day. Well we have a lovely dinner... had a REALLY good curry (for some reason Chinese do really good curries which are sweet and spicy but not too hot!) Then we proceded back to our shi tang (dining hall) to chaow on some b-day cake.

Well, we're still unsure to this day whether it was the cake or the table, but either or both smelt like a babies bum!

You may be thinking... ah yeah Steph is just exaggerating with one of our wildly entertaining stories... but all I can say is "if only I was!" For all those out there who have had children or have worked with children know that putrid dirty nappy smell/really old change table. Yup, that's what I'm talking about.

So being the mature responsible people we are, we sat there and endured it... while laughing hysterically between mouthfuls of what we thought was chocolate cake.

Oh yes, this is the next part of my highly entertaining story! ... So Brett and Megan ordered a chocolate cake, because China doesn't have much chocolate, so we thought we'd splurge!
... WELL! All I can say is that the outside looked extremely appetizing (chocolate curls etc.) However we were gravely mistaken to think this happy chocolatey feeling could last forever. Yes... you guessed it.. it was a sponge cake on the inside with fake cream filling and weird chunks of what looked like fruit salad mixed through it. All I can say is that it was another one of my many "China Experencies".

So as you could probably guess, we weren't overly enthused by this cake, so we sucked up to the kitchen staff (the ones who bring us our meals) and gave the rest of it to them. (hoping that we hadn't made them sick incase the baby bum small had come from the cake) ... fingers crossed!
And so far I think it has worked as I've had hot jiaozi for breakfast every morning since! WOOT!

Anyways, that's my exciting tale! ... THE END. Will be heading out tomorrow night for a free buffet (yes I said free) at a local winery.. (weird, yes I know!) and than to the grand opening of ... THE VAULT at club S.O.S. and hopefully checking out WuShan square on Saturday if the weather permits. sooooooo probably won't be back on for a little, but till then. Hope all is well, miss you all heaps and stay happy! (This especially to my uni friends who have just started back up again.)

Steph xx

Depressing News.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hi Everyone,

So I have some depressing news to share with you all. One of the main things I was looking forward to in China (apart from the shopping) was getting a traditional Chinese blind massage. This is a full body massage for 1 hour for approx AUS $10.

Today was the day! ... totally excited we headed down there, and suprisingly the people actually were blind! ... we were ushered into this small room with 6 bed/table looking things, Kelsey and Dalila didn't look to enthused with the look of the beds, but after fresh towls were laid down we hopped up and laid down for our soothing experience.

... Well... not quite soothing!

I have to say that was one of the most painful 1 hours ever! My massage hurt! even though I said tai zhang (which means too hard) he would lighten up a little bit, but as soon as he moved onto the next area he would start really hard again! OUCH! Also, I wasn't to impressed when he cracked my neck, fingers and knees. (sorry to those who are fond of chiropractors ... but I'm definitely NOT!)

But once again, it was all part of the China experience, I can cross that one off my list! *Phew*

Also, another suprising thing today was that I'm starting to see a lot more beggars outside the university, I don't know if it's because all of the students are back for the semester or not, but it's really difficult walking past all the time. We all feel so bad.

However, to end it off on a happy note, today has been my friend Megan's birthday (hence the reason why it was only us 3 girls at the massage place, Megan and Brett had gone off for a special afternoon of pampering at the Dragon something...) So in 10 minutes I'll be heading across town to enjoy a lovely Thai restaurant (yup good variety in my diet! ;) ... gotta love that rice!) and a big chocolate cake that Brett and Megan found at the local Taiwanese Bakery. We sound soooo multi-cultural!

So zai jian everyone!

Steph xx

Fresh Lunch... mhhhh

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hi Peoples,

So I'm heading into my 3rd week here and still enjoying it!... didn't really doing anything to exciting this past weekend as the weather is still freezing cold and it's still raining. However, I'm feeling more hopeful for next weekend as it's meant to clear up!

Rather exciting! ... might head to Wushan Square or something.... so many exciting possibilities!

Nothing much to report, but I thought I'd let you know one interesting thing I happened to see. Having grown up on vegemite sangas from the freezer for most of my lunches I've never truely experienced the whole 'fresh' sandwhich thing. Well I truely understand it now... I was heading out one of the uni gates with my friend Kelsey when we saw one of the guards pulling something out of the moat ... yes peoples if you didn't already know my uni has a moat.. pretty sweet huh! So curiousity got the better of us and we waited to see what he was doing.

Well it happens that there must be something alive in our little moat because he pulled up a picnic basket at the end of the rope put it on the ground and progressed to kick something out of it... being slightly disturbed we moved on, but I thought that was a very interesting... ideas for anyone who works in the city and forgets their lunch (i.e. Marshal) just find yourself a rope and picnic basket swing it over the goodwill bridge and you'll be snacking away in no time!

Zai Jian!

Steph xx