over the weekend.....

we had a wonderful weekend up in island park with george and leslie!  they took us on a very beautiful {and cold} four-wheeler ride to and from west yellowstone.  plus we did the usual: relax, play, and eat lots of delicious food.  it was also fun to see erin and aaron, and to spend a day with them. i am so excited to bring my family up this next week!


i ate a scorpion.

in beijing, they have a "little eats street", which is basically full of disgusting things to try - {including tarantula!  ummm, no thanks.}  this is a video of the LIVE skewered scorpions.  they skewer them so that they won't die {like through their shell or something}.

and this is a video of me actually eating a scorpion after it had been deep-fried.  {john actually ate two!}


we are back from china!

oh, the beautiful u.s.a.  such a wonderful place.  i find here that the bathrooms are so delightfully clean, and generously provide infinite amounts of toilet paper.  i find here, that people are kind and thoughtful and don't push you trying to get through doorways.  i find that hearing someone hawk a loogie near my feet is uncommon; smelling cigarette smoke is a rarity; seeing a kid take a dump on the street is an impossibility.  plus, we have so much stinking freedom in america, and i love it.

{us + the great wall, which was totally great}

while we loved our experience in china {which will never even measure up to how much i love love loved taiwan!} i am so grateful to be home.  seven weeks outside of the united states felt like a really really long time.  {i can't believe young 19 year-olds in our church go away for two years! freaking amazing}.  over the next few days {maybe weeks} i will attempt to post some of the 2,046 photos i took during our three weeks in china, and post some explanation of what we did.  so start at may 26th and look your way up through my posts over the next few weeks.  {if you are at all interested.  i really am using this as a journal so feel free to read/not read at your discretion!} 



beijing, day #5.

today was crappy.  i woke up in the middle of the night with a definite uti.  {darn those unclean chinese bathrooms….}  so we stayed in for the most the day, only going out for antibiotics and some noodles for dinner and a peek at the silk market when i felt better.  we did a little more bargaining there {i couldn’t pass up that skirt!  or that coat we got john….}  but other than those four hours we were out, poor john had to play angry birds on his phone all day.  i had to take a test anyway, so i didn’t mind staying in, but i felt bad for him!  he was a sweetheart and didn’t complain once.  he even helped me study.  


beijing day #4.

today we went to the pearl market and temple of heaven.  temple of heaven was kind of a sanctuary for the emperor and a place where he went to pray for bumper crops, etc.  and the pearl market was fun because we got to do lots of bargaining {have i mentioned that i’m awesome at it?} and got some great deals on things that i desperately needed {okay – you got me… wanted.}  


beijing, day #3.

the great wall is way more than great.  it is breathtaking.  being on it is like, one of the coolest things i have done – ever.  john and i loved it so much, we plan on going back for our fortieth anniversary!  let’s see if that actually happens…

to anyone who is wondering if they should take a trip to china, the great wall is worth it.  i can give you all the secret tips.  i know which subway station to get off at to get to the beijing north train station, and then which train to take to get there at the perfect time when all the tourists are pretty much gone and you can have the whole wall to yourself.  oh yes, we had the entire badaling section all to ourselves for about an hour and a half.  it was beautiful.

the great wall was also way steep than i ever imagined.  we walked much farther than the average tourist does i think – we hiked in about an hour and then had to hike back.  it was painful.  literally.  the steps are so steep and by the end we had jelly-legs.  but it was totally worth it!


beijing, day #2.

the forbidden city, now called the “palace museum” was probably one of our favorite china sites so far.  i think the great wall will trump it, but we’ll see. 

this is the white walkway that only the emperor could walk on:

how many beasts are on the roof dictates the rank of the building.  this one had eleven, and i think it was the highest-ranking building in the city. 

we got one audioguide and john relayed the information to me the entire tour:

these beasts are on either side of pretty much every big building in china and taiwan.  one lion has a ball under its foot, and the other one has a baby under its foot.  {i think it’s meant to be playful, but it looks like he’s crushing it!}

at night we went and saw the changing of the guard again, this time from the actual square {we were by the palace museum last night}.


beijing, day #1.

yesterday we walked muslim street, bought dried kiwis {i am so sad i ate all the kiwis!}, ate lunch, and then got on a sleeper-bus around six p.m. to start our journey to beijing.  oh boy!

we went to the back of the bus on the top floor.  i can imagine all the chinese people laughing at us in their heads.  “stupid foreigners…. the top and back of the bus? don’t they understand physics?  they’re in for a bumpy ride….”  seriously.  what were we thinking?

the morning was a blur of transferring from trains to buses, back to trains, and then walking about a half-mile to our hostel.  {john also got his first taste of a beijing accent.  we’ve decided that they sound like pirates.}

we got famous peiking duck to lunch, and it was amazing.  oh roast duck, where have you been all my life?  john also introduced me to fried buns dipped in sweetened-condensed milk.  could there be anything more incredible? 

at night we went to see the changing of the guard in tiananmen square.  it was, in a word, creepy.  i feel a little unsettled by the censorship that goes on in china.  i will stop here and comment:

no facebook
no blogger
no youtube
email censorship
cameras on every corner of any public place {even all over the great wall}
many policeman in tiananmen, i assume to prevent protests like the one in the 80s.

too much control over what people learn about the world outside of china.  it scared me a little bit.  i was afraid to write too much in an email for fear that some officer would come to the hostel, handcuff me, and deport me.  they even have some sort of training program or something where people can become “volunteer security” and, i assume, snitch on anyone who speaks against communism?  i’m just speculating here.

after the changing of the guard, we went to “little eats street” which has been dubbed by some u.s. foreigners as “fear-factor street”.  the first thing that caught our eye as we walked in was the live skewered scorpions, that i already posted about in a previous post.

also, tarantula.  which i would never eat under any circumstances in my whole entire life. 

they also had papaya milk {viva taiwan!}, which pretty much made my day.  


xi'an, day #3.

if you walk down muslim street in xi’an, you may be privileged to see a woman stripping meat off of an animal’s skull.  just maybe.

after taking this picture, my camera died.  kind of serendipitous, no?


xi'an, day #2.

if you ever go to xi’an in your lifetime, bike the old city wall.  just pay the stupid entry fee, rent a tandem bicycle, and go.  you can thank me later.

if you need more convincing:

then get cheap, delicious lunch at a place that looks truly disgusting from the outside, but actually has great food.

after that, i would suggest as your tour guide, that you go to the wild goose pagoda.  enjoy laughing at the asians “ooooo”ing and “ahhhh”ing at the fountain, but then laugh at yourself too, because you are doing just the same. 

try to take about a million pictures that don’t work….

and then hope that your spouse reads chinese, and that he can get you successfully on a bus home.  {did i mention that my husband speaks chinese?  seriously, he is so great.  and freaking handsome to boot!}