Thursday, March 4, 2010

Traveling

Hello everyone! Well, several people requested that I keep a blog about my life in China. I’m going to give it a try, but I’m warning you now...I’m really bad about starting out strong on a blog and then after a couple of months forgetting to update very often. I’ll try my best not to let that happen, but if I do and you want more updates, leave a comment or email me and remind me!

I left from the Nashville airport on February 22nd. I checked in my bags, and then spent a little time with my family and Billy Wayne, taking silly pictures. My flight was at 2:45, and that was the start of a long but thankfully uneventful journey—I first flew to Dallas, where I met up with several friends, then we flew on to San Francisco. The flight from Dallas to San Francisco was great—I had a window, and I could see the Rocky mountains in the moonlight below. Those of you who know me know how I am about mountains—no quicker way to make me happy than put me on a mountaintop with a view. And then finally I saw the lights of the city--as we came in to land, we flew low over San Francisco bay, and I think I saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. After a four hour layover, we took a midnight flight for Hong Kong. The transpacific flight was fourteen hours, but I don’t mind flying. It may sound like torture, but really, it’s not bad at all. We were fed a meal about an hour after takeoff (one AM, so I’m not sure which meal that supposed to be), and then I slept for a few hours, as did most people on the flight. About halfway through most people started waking up. I meant to get some reading done, but I spent most of the rest of the flight watching several episodes of CSI on the little screen on the back of the seat in front of me. International flights these days are great—a choice of dozens of movies, tv shows, music, games, even a language program on which I did practice a few Chinese phrases. Fourteen hours, and I still didn’t see the movie I wanted to see! Anyhow, we landed in Hong Kong at 6:30 in the morning. We had crossed the international date line, so it was now Wednesday, February 24th. From the Hong Kong runway, I could see the Pacific Ocean on one side, and steep green hills on the other. In one day, I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life, and I saw it from both shores. We took a two-hour flight from Hong Kong to Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in central China, and we were finally on the ground to stay.

In Wuhan, I was happy to see that all of our luggage had made it. I always dread getting my bags for fear that one or all of them has been lost somewhere along the way. I’ve never had a bag completely lost, but I’ve had several delayed somewhere and delivered a few days later. No such problems this time! In the airport, I separated from the group I traveled with, as they were either staying in Wuhan or flying on somewhere else. I was met at the door by Frank, the waibon (person from the university in charge of the foreign teachers) from my university, and two other girls who were also new teachers. Lindsay is from Chicago, and Roanne is from England. The four of us loaded into a small bus belonging to the university, and we drove nearly four hours to our city, Jingzhou. This was our first look at the Chinese countryside. In fields along the way, water buffalo roamed free; before long, I saw several farmers plowing small fields with water buffalo. The houses along the way were still decorated with red banners around the doorways, in celebration of the Chinese New Year, which was last week.

We finally got into Jingzhou about 1:30 in the afternoon. Altogether, it took thirty-seven hours to get from my parents’ house in Columbia to my new apartment in Jingzhou.

Not long after we arrived, Keith and Jason, two American teachers who have been here since August, came to meet us. We went down to Frank’s office, where we met Casey and Tabby, a couple from Tennessee who are in their fourth year here in Jingzhou. They live on another campus, but Casey teaches a few classes on this one, too. Frank took us all to eat at a restaurant down the street. First, they gave us all bowls of some sort of bean milk soup, which was new even to those who have been here a few years. We all sipped at it politely, but it was nothing special. I wasn’t very hungry, but I had some fried rice. After we ate, Frank walked around with us and helped Lindsay change some money at the bank, and found an ATM where Roanne and I could use our cards to get some Chinese money.

After that, Keith took us to a nearby grocery store to get some basic food and cleaning supplies. Once I got back to my apartment, I started to unpack and do a little cleaning.

I like my new apartment. I’ll post some pictures; it’s easier than trying to explain it all. The door from the stairwell opens into a hallway; on the right is first the bedroom and then the living room. At the end is the kitchen. On the left are the doors to the small room with the toilet and the bathroom with the tub, sink, and washing machine. Off of the living room there is a door to the sunroom—a glassed-in balcony. It is quite large; it wraps around two sides of the living room, as I have a corner apartment. At the end of the sunroom is a rod for hanging clothes to dry. The hallway, bedroom, and living room have a wood floor, and the rest is tiled. The furniture maybe isn’t exactly my style, but it all matches and I like it pretty well. The apartment needs a good, thorough cleaning, but I should have it looking presentable in a few days.

Despite only having a few hours of sleep on the plane, I managed to stay awake until eight. I woke up at four in the morning with a headache, but after about an hour I managed to go back to sleep and slept until seven.

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