Well I’m back at site. Its been a while since my last post. Just getting back into the swing of things at school and beginning teaching my last semester at Southwest University. But this post is about what I did before that. Following the last semester of class, which ended in January, I was traveling for more than a month. It was a great experience, however I would have like to spend a bit more time in some of the places especially Taiwan and Japan.
Prior to traveling I spend a week in Chengdu with the rest of the Peace Corp China 22 and 23 volunteers for a Mid Service Training. It was good to see everyone and go back to visit with my host family too.
First I went to Taiwan with my friend Skip who is serves in the province of Guizhou. We only had time to spend a few days in Taipei, but it was great. First the dialect of Mandarin is closer to what we learn than what the people at my site in Chongqing speak. The food was great and the people were friendly. Also the slight cultural differences from the mainland were very interesting. It was almost like a mixture of China and Japan in terms of the sights and sounds. People were more quiet than the mainland but not as quiet as Japan. People wait in lines that was nice. It is of coarse more economically developed than most of the mainland and noticing the differences in how people interact there to where I live was fascinating. Overall I really enjoyed what I saw of Taiwan though I hope return and see more of it in the future. Next Skip and I went to Japan. We spent most of our time around Tokyo.
The first thing I noticed after touching down in Japan is just how quiet and reserved everyone is compared to China. You can walk down the street in one of the biggest cities in the world and not hear a sound! Also the food was amazing, I even saw a Taco Bell, one of my guilty pleasures that I have not seen in almost 2 years. Though we had also no language ability in Japanese all the people were great and helpful. We even got to see our friend JJ a previous PCV who now lives in Japan. I wish I could have seen more of Japan too, but I will be back. Next Skip went to South Korea to go the Winter Olympics, and I went to Hong Kong, then back into southern China.
All the people in Hong Kong. They are everywhere haha. It was nice to have some non spicy Chinese food again. The food in the south especially the Cantonese is less spicy than the food where I live in Chongqing. However, being a volunteer it was a little too expensive as was Tokyo. I was now traveling by myself which I like to do because it forces you to use the language. The mixture of English, Chinese, and Cantonese was pretty cool to see. I was only there 3 days then I took a train to town of Guilin.
I thought Guilin was pretty cool especially the rock formations which are on the back of I believe the 20$ Chinese note. I should just note that everywhere I have been and probably everywhere in the world you can find good food, and Guilin is not exception. However, one of the main reasons I went there was to see the rice terraces that have been farmed for hundred of years by minority ethnic groups in China. They really are a sight to see.
I would recommend if you are in southern China to stop in the Guilin area for at least a few days there really is a lot of interesting things to see and do. After a few days there I headed into the southern most province in China Yunnan. The first stop was the capital city of Kunming. I must say that the weather in Yunnan was one of my favorite things about it, other than the food and people. I don’t see blue sky often in Chongqing due both smog and fog so it was a nice change of pace. Also I was able to meet up with a former student who is from Kunming and we enjoyed a nice meal and chat. There are not many places for site seeing in Kunming but it seems like a nice place to live. It was good to see some friends then head on to next leg of my journey.
After Kunming I headed a bit north to Dali which has a famous ancient town and large lake, as well a big population of minority groups. It is worth a stop for a couple days. However, my ultimate destination was hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge so I made a stop in the city of Lijiang before beginning my trek. Luckily my friend Jojo was finishing the hike as a arrived so we spent a day exploring the old town of Lijiang too.
Having a few days rest before I began my trek up the mountain was the right call. The hike from the bottom to top took the better part of two days. We stayed on night at a hostel on the top of the mountain. I went by myself by I made some friends with some folks who I did the hike with. If you are up for the activity I say do it! You don’t have to do the whole thing you can just do the bottom part which is easier, but actually still quite strenuous. The views are amazing! Tiger Leaping Gorge…
So there it is in photos a month and then some of traveling. Would I do it again? Yes, though I may go to a few less places. Sadly the Peace Corps only lets us travel during school brakes and I wanted to see a lot of things so I had to cram it all in. Hopefully I will Post a few more times before I COS (close of service). I’m just now sure what other exciting things I will do, if i’m lucky a few short trips on some weekends. I will surely be doing a lot of teaching and meeting with students, working with my students has really been the highlight of my service. I recently found out I will be leaving China in July around maybe the 11th, so I got that going for me which is nice. Thanks for reading.