Night Writing in Hangzhou

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hi Everyone,

So nothing much to report this weekend. It's the first weekend I haven't gone out at all, the entire time I've been in China... shock upon shock! ... usually I'll at least head down the road to the winery for dinner on a Friday, but I didn't even do that. I basically spent the weekend just relaxing... also it's WAY to hot here to be doing anything else. Saturday arvo, Kelsey and I lay on a blanket in the park reading books and magazines and dozing in and out of consciousness... oh the hard life over here! hahaha :)

Though on Sunday night, we did head up to the top of the mountain to do some sky night writing... now for those who don't know what this is... it's where you put your camera onto a really long exposure and then use a torch to writing stuff in the sky. It's heaps of fun... and it's good for postcards and piccys for back home... I'm currently uploading them onto the link now... but if you have facebook... all the photos are already up on my profile. So anyway, yeah Kels, Dalila, Marte and I all went up there and had some fun doing that... kinda freaky walking back down the mountain later that night (about 10:30) ... but we had a guy with us so it was okay! :)

Now I'm sitting here in blissful air conditioning... procrastinating as I REALLY don't want to do all the homework that I have... but I have another test this Friday and a goodbye party to go to tonight as my friend Marte is leaving to head to Australia for 2 weeks travelling then back home to America. sooo .. I'm going to say bye for now, I hope you all aren't working too hard!

Steph xx

Basketball - China style!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hi guys,

so this week was just like any other really... the usually huge amounts of studying... and then in the afternoons lying on the grass in the glorious sunshine soaking up the rays (without getting burnt! ... got to love the Chinese sun .. not sure why but). Oh and doing a bit of homework here and there ;)

But on Wednesday evening we headed across to another basketball competition. After the tournament I've told you about earlier, they decided that our international students were so good they'd set up an international team and add them into the local Hangzhou basketball competition.
Well last weeks match I missed, but I headed to this one and it was so Chinese! :)

We had to walk down this weird little alley with really uneven broken concrete to reach the courts. They were inside this ... I don't even know what to call it... what looked like a very elaborate circus tent you might say?? ... but it wasn't a tent because it was an actually building with two levels to it and a 100m running track tacked on to the side (hard to explain...)
The courts themselves were covered in dust and players were sliding! (haha adding to the atmosphere!) ;)
Anywho... our international team was playing the Zhejiang Military Academy! No I am not joking with you. They were these crazy little buff guys with (I'm not kidding you)... 12 packs on their stomachs! The game was pretty intense and I'm positive that the refs were paid off, but it didn't matter cause our boys won the game 41 - 30ish something (I can't remember) the point is we beat the Chinese military! ... It got interesting at one point when one of the military guys gave a Korean student on our team a bit of a shove and sent him flying... it it was all good in the end our Spanish guys broke up the fight.

It was lot's of fun, I'm not a huge fan of basketball but this type of basketball I'll watch... it's so entertaining.... oh not to forget that the army guys had like half of Hangzhou down there cheering for them (CRAMMED around this tiny as court!) and it was hilarious... they even cheer in unison... very army like! it was like a war cry! ha!

So that's my exciting news for the week. We're heading out to a combined birthday/goodbye party for 3 of the students in the college tonight in the park behind the library (where there's no lights) soooo it should be interesting! :) I'm going to wear some padding I think.

I hope you all have a very exciting and lovely weekend. I'll write to you all again soon.

Zai Jian xx

Shanghai Weekend Sat-Sun


So after my brief ni hao from Shanghai and a really nice breakfast, we headed across town to the buddist temple. I must admit, I didn't really want to go to the temple, but the girl's really wanted to see it cause it's one of the main attractions in Shanghai... sooo we had to cross it off our list. It ended up that we went on Buddah's Birthday! (who knew). The place was absolutely packed out! There was shrines and statues everywhere, it was really confusing I didn't know who was worshiping what for what reason and with who. You had to give certain offerings to certain idols etc etc... Thank goodness that there's only one real God and he makes it nice and simple for us!

We also drank 'Buddah's tea' while we were there. I drank one cup to 'wake me up' the next 'to relax and help me to sleep' next, 'detoxification protecting the liver and losing weight' and finished it off with a good dose of 'promoting immunity and giving me energy'. Well, I have to say the relaxation one tasted really nice, but apart from that, I basically felt about the same, except maybe a little more of a need to use the bathroom.

Next came the fun part! ... SSSSSSHHHOOOPPPPIIINNNNGGGGG!!!!!!!
We started off in the expensive area by accident so we wasted a few precious hours there, but after lunch we finally made it to the nice cheap 'underground of course' part of the street. It was really good I bought 3 new dresses and 2 new shirts for about $40 Aus and they are REALLY NICE! :)
I honestly don't think I'll be able to shop when I get back to Australia. I'll take one look at the prices and think 'Oh my goodness I could have got that in China for next-to-nothing!' "TAI GUI LE!" (too expensive)

After all this lovely shopping we headed back to the hostel with the plans of heading back out again but it started to rain and we also had another unexpected suprise waiting for us! ... ... ...

So you all know about the latest world news on 'Swine Flu' ... WELL... when we got back to the hostel we were met by 3 sets of police cars with matching police in uniforms and about 8-10 people in white coats with masks on. SLIGHTLY FREAKED OUT AT THIS POINT>>>>>

They were in the middle of disinfecting the entire hostel because a group of Mexicans had been staying there the past couple of days (we didn't know this). We asked if there had been a case or if they Mexicans had it or not and they said that they hadn't it was just precautionary measures... but you never know if they're telling the whole truth or not... :( (it's okay now but, the incubation period was until Thursday.. and today is Friday when I'm writing this so I don't have anything) but it was definitely going down as memorable in my Chinese moments! (see my photos for pictures of the people in lab coats)

Anywho... so we kept on going about our normal business, had pizza for dinner again in the bar while watching 'Music and Lyrics' and then headed out to the ritzy and glitzy 'Cloud 9 Bar' This play is 100 kuai at the door and drinks start from 80 kuai. It is the tallest bar in Shanghai and over looks the entire Shanghai district! ... well we hopped out of the taxi, looked up and.... ... ... saw clouds.

... bummer. We didn't really want to pay 100 kuai to see clouds at eye level. So after a few random photo opportunistic moments we hopped back in the taxi and headed off to find 'The Wall' (This is meant to be the longest bar in all of Asia and very impressive - so says the guide on the back of the tourist map)... well all I can say is a repeat of ... ... ... bummer.

It took up 1/2 in the taxi to drive literally a block (going around the block at least 5 times and stopping and asking for directions)... found the place ... and you guessed it... it was closed.

Well after all that excitement... we just decided to head home. We'd had a pretty good weekend and we weren't really feeling like paying the taxi driver another 50 kuai to drive us over to the other side of town where the other bars were. Sunday, we basically got up, ate our French breakfasts, got on the train and came home.

So all together it was a very eventful weekend in Shanghai. I have to say I think my highlight was definitely the shopping, but it was great just to hang out with the girls and explore the never ending streets of Shanghai!

Hi from Shanghai

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hi guys,

So I'm sitting here in the bar of our hostel in Shanghai writing this to you!

Yes, I'm up here for the weekend in Shanghai and it's been really fun so far, Kels, Dalila and I are up here just to hang out for the long weekend. Yesterday we didn't really get up to much, just walked around and looked at stuff. We tried to get to see the Bund, but public holidays in China are CRAZY... we couldn't even get within 100m of the Bund, the police had blocked off all the streets leading up to it for crowd control.. I'll show you some of the pictures when I get back home so I can upload them.

Today we're having a French Breakfast (the best thing I've tasted my whole time in China!) it's 25 kuai from the bar... :D When we're done I'm heading with the girls to the largest buddist temple in China which should be interesting... and then my favourite!.... and I'm dragging them all along to qipu street which is THE cheap knock off shopping street in Shanghai! WOOOOOOOTTTT!! .. .I do like to shop! :D

Anywho... I'm going to go get them so we can get this day started!

Hope you're all enjoying your labour day long weekend and not studying crazily like little Justine said she was in her email! tut tut... too nerdy! :P

Steph xx

Out and About Again!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hi Peoples!

So, yes I am back on again before Justine's birthday - i.e. Tomorrow... so again another happy birthday to the pretty lady! :)

Sooo I had a rather riveting weekend I've been out and about heaps and it doesn't seem to be slowing down either!
FRIDAY: To start it off... for the past week it's been really nice sunshine and great warm weather! AND LOVING IT!... However the one day we have an excursion... it buckets rain the whole time! ahhhhhhhhhh.... meh. mei guan xi (no worries) Therefore I had a nice a soggy Friday trekking up and down islands down in Qiandao Hu (about a good 2 1/2 - 3 hrs south-west of Hangzhou). For those who can't read my pinyin (i.e. everyone reading this blog) the simple English translation is 'I went to One Thousand Island Lake' ... This is a HUGE man made lake with over 1000 islands in it. (pretty impressive) ... well it sounded impressive.. I didn't really get to see much of it as it was basically all fog and clouds. (you can see my amazing pictures with their spectacular views in the link)
Our boat (chuan) started off with bird island where you guessed it... we saw birds (very wet, depressed looking birds) poor things. Oh and lots and lots of gold fish, the giant Chinese ones and the smaller ones too. (oh and by giant I mean like 1 metre long... yeah there's serious goldfish over here... not the pet type!)
Next off was monkey island.. haha yeah Marshal, and yeah it's not a rip off the computer game. We were meant to see monkeys here, but alas... it was raining and monkeys don't like rain... so I had to make do with the stuffed animals available in the store. At monkey island it cost 40 kuai to take the chair lift up to the top of the mountain... and of course all of us cheap uni students said 'tai guai le' (too expensive) so we trekked up the side of the mountain (horrible flash backs to year 10 camp... ohhhhhhh the memories Jus.) Finally made it to the top where we were meant to see these AMAZING views... well... you guessed it... clouds! :)
... ANYYYY who... This was all made up for by the fact that we could slippery slide down the mountain to the bottom! :D yes... you heard right. I slid down monkey island!
We then hopped back on the boat for a good old traditional Chinese lunch (basically fish, tofu and weird vegetables that looked like twigs... interesting to say the least). And yes... in the photos that is mean with a large spoonful of fish head! ... and no I didn't eat it!
Finally we finished off the day with a visit to snake island. Well you can just guess was we saw here... I wasn't too impressed and couldn't bare to watch the baby mice get eaten... bu hao!

Over together it was good but, I came home at 7pm tired, drenched but with lot's of photos and memories :)

SATURDAY: Today I spent the whole morning trying to get my internet to work properly... but it kept on dropping out so it's taken me this long to upload all the photos... and sorry people I still can't get on facebook... so if I haven't replied.. it's not cause I don't love you! ... honest (well some of you at least) ;)
In the arvo, my good buddy Kels and I hopped on our little zi xing che (bikes) and headed off around xi hu (west lake) ... I swear we did atleast 7km and I now have thighs of STEEL! (Yeah Rhi, I'll moon walk you all the way to the sun!)

SUNDAY: Today was Kelsey's day... she absolutely loves basketball and because of her knees can't play anymore... soooo I was up at 6:30am on a Sunday morning to go cheer on and watch the male international students play basketball at another Zhejiang University campus. I must admit I'm not a big fan of basketball but it was fun sitting with Kel and watching the games. (Yes I must sadly admit I was a groupy) ... however I must add in that it was also very educational! ... For all those who ever want to cheer on their team in Chinese simply say: 'name' Jia You Jia You!! ... Kelsey's and my chant was "Jia You, Jia You, Liu Xue Sheng Jia You!" (go international students!) Also upstairs there was a taekwondo competition on... so we went up and saw some sparring for a little while as well!
At the end of the day our 2 teams from my campus' results were: TEAM A: UN (Kurt-Englishman, Marious-German and USA guy) 3rd place and TEAM B: Spanish Boys (Marty-pronounced Marrrrrrttteeeee, George - Hoorrrrhhheeeiii and the other guy) came 1st... Hoorrrheeeiii was very impressive with the 3 pointers and won that competition as well.
First prize wasn't a trophy as you would normally guess... but a Pierre Cardin tie (which by the sounds of it is really nice) but ..... it looked like it had been stolen from the early 90s and it DEFINITELY should have stayed there... it was the most hideous thing I think I've ever seen... it goes right up there with the side ponytails, tulle and boys in tight pants!

Sooo there you have it .. and very exciting weekend!
This coming week is going to be just as packed but so I'm probably not going to have a chance to write anything for at least another week. Today I had my friend David's goodbye party cause on Thursday he heads to Korea for 2 weeks then home to America. Tomorrow I have my Chinese friend Li Cheng's farewell as he also leaves to study in America for 3 months on Saturday. Wednesday we're meant to be heading out for KTV (karaoke) and I have a test... and then Thursday Kelsey, Dalila and I are heading to Shanghai for a long weekend of fun fun fun!

Now that I have finished making you all terribly jealous... my work is done! :)

I love you all miss you heaps and will have many many more stories for you and LOTS of photos in about a week!

Zai Jian xx

Another Week of Study

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

hello my lovely readers (all 4 of you... maybe more... I'm not sure... none of you have accounts... anywho..........)

I'm sitting here waiting for my American friends so we can all head out to dinner so I thought I would write to you and let you know what's happened in the past 3 days (not much) .... sooooooo.

MONDAY... woke up... went to class... had lunch... studied... ate dinner... studied... went to bed.

TUESDAY... basically the same deal... oh but I also did a load of washing... (you'll be very proud Mum. The washing machine I used is still intact and no one was floating in a sea of bubbles) i.e. last time I used our washer at home!

Wednesday... we I actually came pretty close to murdering some people today... hahah... and you think I'm joking. (Serious face). Soooo like a good little girl (and one who was up till about 3 in the morning twice last weekend) I went to bed at 9:30 to catch up on some zzzzzzzz... at 12:30 I was still staring at the ceiling. Why you may ask. .. I'll tell you... DRUNK HIGH PEOPLE SUCK!

If you don't know my room faces into the court yard in the international building.. and China being a very 'liberal' country ;) doesn't even flinch when the boys bring out the ooba-huge bong and set it up on the patio. WELL... you can just imagine the wonderful WOOTing and WAHOOing that happens when you mix large quantities of Chinese beer and imported ... 'you know what' . They sat directly outside my window and I swear if I had a shotgun... their bodies would still be there! (not really but anyway) ... I have real rage issues to deal with here! ... should be fine by the time I return... you hope anyway.

Apart from that 'kick-starting' my morning the rest of my day has been pretty good. I had class in the morning, and my American bud Kelsey and I worked extremely hard (feichang nuli) all afternoon doing our homework (zuo ye) ... i.e. this means sitting out in the park behind the library sunbaking (with suncream on.... honest Mum). and.... doing homework when we're not dozing. Also just came back in from a good game of tennis with my mate David. Sooo... feeling pretty tired but good.

So ... I'm sure that was riveting.. but it's filled in a good 20 minutes for me so I'm happy :) Hope you all have a wonderful evening and I'll blog again soon... Also, in case I don't blog again (which I should but anyway...) I'd like to say this...

ATTENTION... ATTENTION... ah eh hem (clear throat)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUS!!!!!!!! I love you and miss you heaps and heaps! :)

(Will, If you are reading this... enjoy her while you can... I return in only a few months.. and I plan to hog her! :) )

Steph xx

My 'holiday' weekend

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Soooo.. I'm FINALLY up to date with uploading all of my photos! Sorry it's taken so long, but I literally have to leave my computer on all day to get it done!

Last week was a pretty big week, we had our 3 mid semester exams! I was a bit freaked out about these exams because I had Mum and Dad visiting the week and 1/2 before so I was a little bit behind on the lessons in comparison to everyone else. Also, for all those people back in Australia who complain about not getting enough time to study, or being given to much to learn to quickly... GET OVER IT! China knows how to do it hardcore! ... I was given a brand new lesson to learn 4 days before I would be examined on it ... plus 21 other chapters I had to revise during that time. (And this was only 1 of the 3 exams... during those 4 days I also had 2 others to study and be examined on) The new chapter contained 24 new words I'd never seen before including words like ji nian (English translation - Commemorate) Which I had to figure out how to use in a sentence. Which I have now discovered ji nian you piao (commemorative stamps) are very popular here in China!

But... even with all of my moaning and groaning I made it through the week! ... I still don't know what my grades are for the other two exams but I found out this morning I got 91/100 for the 21 Chapters exam. WOOT! :D

Because of this amazing hard amount of effort, the girls and I decided that the weekend was going to be an extreme partying and shopping weekend! So Friday night we danced away at Coco till 3 in the morning. It was heaps of fun, just us 4 girls (Dalila, Kelsey, my pommy friend Jenni and myself) It's awesome exercise jumping around to the music... and I think my lyrics vocab is getting bigger too!

Saturday was awesome! ... we all headed out to the clothing markets :) VERY HAPPY STEPH! I bought 2 dresses and a cute shirt. It was literally a street of shops minimum 4 levels tall for each building. We only made it through 1 1/2! That night, even though I was pretty tired Kelsey and I headed out to watch her friend Alex DJ at a warehouse graffiti party (she'd promised she'd go and I didn't really want her to go by herself.) After downing a HUGE bottle of ice coffee I was set to go!
... ...
1hour later we FINALLY reached the venue. The poor taxi driver couldn't find it for the life of him! and no wonder, it was down the back of the highway behind the railway lines... (now to my parents and grandparents, don't panic... it sounds like it's in some creepy neighbourhood... but it wasn't and we were hanging out with boys we knew all night!) ... plus the 'graffiti' part of it... was literally like finger painting it was heaps of fun! :D It was like art gallery/ club / pub / paint studio.

Sunday, I was completely exhausted (since we didn't get home till 2:30 in the morning... it took us an hour to catch a taxi) but I really needed to get some cheap shirts to wear around campus and also Mum wanted me to get a mosquito net for my bed. So I was off again (in the pouring rain) to the small products market. I got 5 shirts for 60 kuai (about $15 aus) and net for about $4. So all together good buys :)

I was very proud of my shopping efforts this weekend and we had sooo much fun :)
Today I had to be up by 6:45am (Almost didn't make it) ... pressed snooze. But I'm heading into the 2nd half of the semester (yes, they don't have a weeks break in between terms like we get in Australia) and already I got 44 new words to learn today! Soooo... yes, I love China, had a great weekend, but really regretting going to class this morning as I now have to sit here for the next 2 hours trying to cram more stuff into my overloaded head! LOVE IT!

I hope you've all enjoying your Easter break and you remember the true meaning of Easter!

Love you all, keep safe and email me often! :)

Steph xx