Monday, June 28, 2010

Ni hao from Pingyao! Shanxi Province, China

Hi everyone!! We've been having a fabulous time traveling - silly me, I forgot the USB cord to hook my camera up to the computer, so I have tons and tons of pictures I haven't been able to upload yet.. lots of pictures and posts when I return.

Yesterday we took a 9 hour train ride from Xi'an to the small, ancient town of Pingyao in Shanxi Province. On the train, our Chinese bunkmates asked us why we were going to Pingyao, and they told us there really isn't anything to see. Friends... this entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don't know why they think there isn't anything to see here! The ancient city is still entirely enclosed by the wall and there are tons of old courtyard houses still intact.

Today, we had an amazing day and a very rare opportunity - we taught English to about 40 elementary school students. Last night the manager of the school came to our hotel when he found out English speakers were staying there - and he asked us if we would be willing to come to the class to teach the students about animals using English. We agreed, a little bit hesitantly because of the occasional person who tries to scam us. This morning after breakfast, they picked us up at our hotel and off we went, crossing our fingers they weren't going to kill us. LOL. Just kidding.

It was really fun, the kids were repeating us, all 35 of them saying at once "A lion has 4 legs." "I have 2 legs." At one point, my husband had them all (including himself) simultaneously quacking and flapping their arms like a duck. I have a great picture of it to embarrass him with later.

Afterwards, our new friends took us to the local middle and high school. It was huge. They have 6,000 students - but not only that, it was just BIG. A lot of students' homes are really far away in small villages, so they live at the school in dorms, like we do for college in the U.S. We met the principal, vice principal, and there was lots of picture taking. It was really funny - they really want to expose the kids to foreigners.

Finally - our new friends invited us out to dinner tonight! And before they dropped us back off at our hotel, they gave us 2 small gifts as their way of thanking us. I was given a beautiful jewelry box - it is the "techan" here - hmm... how to say it in English... the "special product" of the local area - what its known for. Its beautiful! Everyone was so warm and kind to us - we have met amazing hospitable Chinese friends on this trip.

Since I don't have any real pictures to show you because of the USB cord mishap - I did try to take a couple pictures - using my Macbook - of the really cool guesthouse we are staying at. It is in a traditional courtyard house that was built in the 1700s. Its gorgeous, a great mixture of the old and the new!

And trying to give you a view of the room - its a traditional style kang bed - its huge. It could fit a family of 5 on it, really. Its a lot harder than we are used to though. Anyway, I love the furnishings in the room... you'll see it a lot better when I get my real pictures upload.

I'm laughing because my husband asked what I was doing, and I told him I was trying to get a picture of the room for the blog - and he told me maybe I should move my big head out of the way, ha ha ha! That guy.

OK, off to explore the city! Hope you all are having a great time wherever you are. I promise I will be back and commenting on all your blogs soon enough - I so desperately want to catch up! But my internet is shoddy at best - right now I am using the wifi in the guesthouse restaurant.

Until then!



  1. That room looks beautiful ! Can't wait to see more pictures !!

  2. Haha it's a unesco heritage site but 'there's nothing to see there'... had to laugh. It all sounds so exciting. Looking forward to seeing your photos!

  3. Wow, what an amazing experience to be able to teach English to children. So incredible Steph!

  4. It's so wonderful of you to teach English to the children :).

  5. What a great opportunity, to teach the kids English! Sounds like it would've been a fun experience!

  6. Can't wait to see the pics :) Sounds like fun that you got to teach a little bit!

    I'm glad people were nice to ya'll and not trying to pull another scam!

  7. SO jealous that you got to teach Engligh to children! I SO wanted to move back to Japan and teach English after still tugs on my little heart strings from time to time. :) Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to see more pics!

  8. Hi! I mentioned that I was going to China in my blog and your friend let me to you! I can't wait to look through your blog. I am headed to Beijing and Xi'an... any thoughts on must sees?!

  9. sounds like you are having such an awesome time there! what a cool thing for you guys to do :)

  10. Thanks guys!! We had an amazing time but are back in Beijing now. Will be traveling again next week and am very much looking forward to it!

    Kelly and sara - there are all kinds of amazing things to see. Obviously in Xi'an, the Terracotta Warriors - they are so worth it. I really enjoyed them. In Xi'an seeing the drum tower is neat, as well as walking through the streets of the Muslim district - there is a Muslim temple there and its definitely worth a look. There is a restaurant all the guidebooks recommend - Wuyi - its great! I think the best part of Xi'an is just walking around and exploring.

    AS for Beijing - there is so much to see here... I recommend Ritan Park, of course Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City, Yiheyuan is the summer palace which is really neat to see... Wangfujing is a famous street, very modern but also has the famous street and night market where you can eat (or at least look at) the weird foods... oh also, a MUST - Beijing Roast Duck, go to Dadong for this. Beihai park is awesome, Houhai is a great area for nightlife and is also around many of Beijing's hutongs, so be sure to check that out... and I HIGHLY recommend taking a cooking class here! I made a post about it not too long ago, I did it with Hutong Cuisines... it is definitely a highlight! Let me know if you need anything else, I will help you however I can!

  11. Sounds like an amazing experience! My grandparents on my mother's side are fro China, I'd really love to visit some day.

  12. How awesome!!!


  13. Oh I can't wait to see the photos! Happy 4th sweetie. Hope you find a fun way to celebrate there :)