Thursday, July 8, 2010

Teaching kids & meeting new friends

After Xi'an we took a long slow train across the countryside of Shaanxi and Shanxi and slowly made our way towards the small ancient city of Pingyao. We spent hours talking with our Chinese bunkmates in the sleeper cabin. We had interesting conversation although they asked us why we were going to Pingyao, despite the fact that the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We took everything they said with a grain of salt considering they also told us there is nothing to see in Tibet, Xinjiang, Gansu, Ningxia, and pretty much the entire North East of the country.

We arrived in Pingyao in the dark. We were the only ones to get off the train at this small train station, the only ones walking through the station. It was slightly eerie considering my time in China has shown the train stations to be the busiest places, filled with the most people, and with a population of 1.3 billion, I am talking a lot of people!

This should be interesting, we thought. But, it was great, the hotel sent a car to pick us up and the transition from the train station to the hotel was flawless. The best way to describe our ride to the hotel is "dark." There are barely any street lights in Pingyao and it is crazy dark! But people were still out, riding their bikes in the dark, selling fruit, playing games of cards on the side of the road.

Our hotel was in a traditional courtyard house.

View from the top looking down into the courtyard

The room had a traditional kang bed - it was huge, could easily sleep a family of 4! but it was hard, as expected, though not uncomfortable.

The bathroom was interesting because there is no separate shower... the room is very subtly tilted and the water drains even better than in a shower.

The next morning, we went with some local teachers to an English school to teach English to local elementary school children.

This says "English is the bridge to walk towards the world."

Us with the students, who were really amazing and brought smiles to our faces!

The gorgeous jewelry box our hosts gave us, as a thanks to us for helping them teach the kids English.

Afterwards, they took us to their local middle/high school and introduced us to the principal. They are very proud of their school, with good reason! The school is huge, has amazing facilities and is basically the equivalent to the campus of a community college in the U.S. Not only that, but the government doesn't fund the school -the money to build the school was obtained by loans, also, the school opened a local factory and proceeds from the factory benefit the school.

After this, our amazing hosts really took us under their wing. They told us their car is like our car, wherever we want to go, they will take us, they will show us Pingyao's famous sites and be our personal tour guides. These were the friendliest, warmest, most hospitable people I have ever met. I doubt you'd ever hear of this sort of thing happening to a foreigner visiting the U.S.!

They took also took us out to dinner twice, took us to a folk show and then to an amazing lunch where we were the guests of honor... after showing us Pingyao's most famous sites.

Pingyao's beautiful rooftops

Take one

Take 2, there we go.

Out to dinner with our new friends.... the hubby 真的入乡随俗! Already rocking the peace sign, or V for victory, who knows..

Notice all the food is mainly around us? This was the third time we've been taken out by new Chinese friends - and they always order more than we can eat, and they mainly watch US eat, "try some of this!" "have some of that!"

As you can tell, we had a really awesome experience in Pingyao! and we still keep in touch with our new friends on Skype.

Well we are off traveling again, I'll try to post from wherever I am but if not, I'll talk to you in a week or so!



BTW the hotel name is YIDE Hotel and its amazing, highly recommend, the hostess is incredibly gracious and concerned for your well being... also has a delicious Chinese restaurant on the premises. We also only paid $64 USD a night.


  1. Oh wow...that hotel looks truly "traditional" from the outside to the bed. I don't like traditional chinese beds as they are hard as rocks! Were you guys able to sleep comfortably?

    That is so nice that you guys got to go meet local kids and teach them english. That must've been such a treat for them to see true Americans in the classroom. And how funny that the food is placed directly in front of you two! Such typical hospitality : )

  2. lovely pictures, sounds you had a great time there!

  3. Haha love seeing your husband rocking the peace sign, so Asian :) As usual, fantastic update. Enjoy your next location!


  4. Awesome. Your doing great! I read your post about feeling homesick...I know you probably have heard that THAT is normal..happens to DOES!!! You need to cut yourself some slack. You are in a TOTALLY dif culture. I mean, even in can find spaghetti and some styles you recognize, but China??? come are in a different world. Embrace it and enjoy your time. Your year will FLY by and then you'll be back in boring US of A and missing your Zhong Guo friends... trust me!!! Your doing amazingly over there. So proud of you blog friend! :)

  5. you always have really great pictures and interesting stories. :)

    <3, Mimi

  6. I started reading your blog after seeing you post on the Int'l Nesties board - I love hearing your stories! Thanks for sharing :-)

  7. How cool that you are getting to teach english in china?! I think that's awesome, and you're right its so kind of the hosts to show you around and give you gifts...

    great pics Steph, keep them coming :) (oh and I love your bag!)

  8. I love the buildings there, they look amazing! I'm glad people are being so welcoming to ya'll!

  9. So beautiful :) Makes me want to go!

  10. Amazing pictures and such a wonderful read, Steph!:D

    And how nice is that jewelry box?:D
    Beauty. Fashion. Interior Design.
    & Life According to Marie.

  11. That's so great that you met such friendly and hospitable people there. Love reading about all of your travel. Keep them coming!

    I do have to say I totally understand that you're home sick. I think I told you but I was born in Taiwan, came to the US when I was 10 and my first visit back (when I was 22) I came back early because I was home sick. Ironic, no?

  12. Pittpurple - good to see you here!! A friendly face :o)

    JCHokie - that IS funny! It makes me feel better though. Everytime I leave Beijing I realize how awesome Beijing is, so I at least have more of a "home" feeling with Beijing the more I travel away from it.. lol.

    Oh and we finally received our household goods from the U.S. so I have all my own kitchen supplies, my own sheets, and pictures of family up around the house. It really helps to feel more at home.

    KEL - THANK you! I'm really glad you responded since you lived in China for a few years. You would know!

    Thanks for all the comments everyone!


  13. Wow you guys are having so amazing experiences over there!!

  14. I love reading about your adventures, it must have been so refreshing to be somewhere without so many people!

  15. aaammmazzinngg pictures dear.
    what an amazing adventure.<3

  16. That hotel looks so neat!

    Colby and I have talked about going to Asia to teach English. He lived there for a year and we want to go back sooo badly but we couldn't leave our dog Roxy, lol. Maybe we'll just go visit some day, and I can use your blog as a vacation planning guide :)

    Your adventures are so fun to read about!

  17. Just reading your blog makes me excited to go to China! What is the food class you took, I want to look into that! Also I would love to meet up or get together. Were not sure on our schedule yet but will be in Beijing and Xi'an July 25-Aug 6

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