Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It's been a while since I've updated my blog, so here are a few of the newer things going on!

1. I went to Yichang this weekend which is about a 4-5 hour bus ride away, depends on which bus you pay for, the express or normal bus. Jeremy, Danielle, Dennis, and I headed out Friday about noon. Before we got on the bus we got some lunch at McDonalds, yup.. McDonalds. I had never had a big mac before China! Anyways, we got into Yichang about 5:30 and we were met by Amy and Brad, both teaches who have been in China for three years. After introductions we headed to Pizza Hut. I know right now your thinking... 'You're in China, Tara. McDonald's and Pizza Hut?' WELL! There's always a McDonalds by the train and bus stations and we were in a hurry!! Second, Pizza Hut over here is super fancy! It's on par with or above an Olive Garden in the states. People seriously go there to get engaged. Not kidding! So, after eating we headed to Amy and Brad's apartments and just hung out which is pretty much what we did all weekend! Saturday we went and had authentic Indian food which I had never eaten before! Brad and Amy's campus has an attached Medical school which houses a large Indian population so they have an Indian Cafeteria! And to make things even better English is India's national language so the people there could talk to us! Nice! We headed back to their apartments and just hung out played games like family feud, cranium, we watched Hocus Pocus, and got crazy Chinese massages. I would try to explain them to you, but in eight months just remind me and I'll show you :) Sunday morning we had our usual get-together but it was completely multi-cultural! Chinese, Jamaican, Indian, and American! The four of us packed up and headed home.... Sadly. We headed to the bus station grabbed a ticket back to HanKou and headed home!

Random happenings between now and the last blog:
1. I saw a Chinese man with a full mustache and a goatee!! They can't really grow facial hair here so this is quite a find!
2. I counted the flights of stairs that I climbed today and I'm pretty sure it was 39. But, I left my bowl and cup in Jeremy's apartment so if I decide to go back up and get them, I'll make it to 41. I think I'll stick to 39 :)
3. Danielle has a rat (genius rat) in her apartment. He's been there for about a week and a half, she can't get him to leave!

We're having a HUGE halloween party for about 350 people coming up this Friday and I will have three small parties for my Sophomore International students here in my apartment Thursday & Friday morning. Look back here soon for pictures!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fav English Songs & Lunch

My sophomores have had a really busy schedule lately and have been bogged down with extra studies and activities so I wanted to have a fun lesson for class this week. SO! This week we went over music genres and listened to examples of each. Their musical tastes are so much more broad than in the United States, I feel as if young people today only listen to the 'popular' stuff on the 'coolest' radio station but my Chinese students really had quite a broad range! Anyways, I'm going to share with you the songs that caught me most by surprise!!

-Backstreet Boys; Just want you to know'
-Michael Jackson; Heal the World
-Celine Dion; The power of love
-Green Day; Boulevard of broken dreams
-Boney M; Rivers of Babylon (look this one up)
-I had 3 Linkin Park's in a row!!!
-Il Divo & Toni Braxton; The time of our lives
-The Carpenters; Yesterday no more
-Mariah Carey;
-High School Musical!!- When there was me and you

That only two of the three sophomore classes that I have, and all my students didn't make it through today, so hopefully I will have some good ones to come! After my classes Daniel and I went to lunch with two Chinese German teachers and an English reading teacher. The reading teacher is a brother and was eager to talk to me about sharing certain inspirational books. He learned that I had an English copy of a book he had wanted to read (he had a translated copy in Chinese but didn't want to read it and lose any of the meaning and value) so he was really excited to learn that I had it and was completely willing to share! That's really exciting for me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


On this 14th day of October, I have been blessed with two amazing packages! TWO!

Today I heard a rumor that I had received a package, so I made the trip to the campus post office where I had TWO packages waiting on me! One was from Nicole Calvert! In it she sent not only homemade chocolate chip cookies but also homemade snicker-doodles! They were 11 days old but still tasted like she used heaven as an ingredient! She sent me ziploc bags (can't get 'em!), candles (expensive and awful here), hot tamales, yogurt covered pretzels, a DUKE SHIRT!, chapstick (also can't get here!), Halloween candy, a birthday card which was also filled with videos of herself!

My next package was from Michael and Felicia! It had my Halloween costume in it! Well my Halloween costume for one of the two Halloween parties been thrown! I can't tell you what the costume is yet, but you can see the pictures later. Some of you will laugh and recognize it!! She also sent Oil of Olay face and body wipes which is pertinent for traveling, small bottles and a large bottle of hand sanitizer (China is so dirty you have to make sure your hands are clean!), she sent books! You never realize how priceless books are because they are so easily accessible in the states! All three books are by C.S. Lewis, so I'm really excited to finish the book I'm borrowing so I can begin these! She also sent eye liner! So small but so exciting!

It's amazing what receiving a package can do for your spirits. It reminds me that people are thinking about me, love me, and care about me enough to take the time to send me one. And it makes me feel a little closer to home, closer to my friends, and to my family. Thank you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


October 11, 2008 WUHAN, CHINA

7am - Wake up!
7:30 - talk to Ross/ Laura Bean for a few moments on Skype
7:35 - PARTY (round 1) my parents threw a party for me and I attended via skype! My whole church family was there! But, they left to eat...
7:45 - talked my Felicia and Michael on Skype! Also, painted my fingernails for the first time in forever!
8:30 - 10:20 - Back to the party with my family/church family. I opened my package from my family and received some amazing American food/ some clothes I needed/ candles/ birthday cards!! Got to talk to some people that I missed!
10:40- Supermarket run! We went to a new huge clean supermarket! They have a 'Theater' in it, which is an import store with a ton of American food in it!
1:00 - back on campus, made chicken noodle soup!
2:00 - ate great tasting homemade chicken noodle soup! Hung out with some of the coolest people in China!!
4:00 - watch an episode of "The Office" while Jeremy and Carole make cinnamon rolls for breakfast the next day!
5:00 - I shower and get ready to go out! Danny (my boss-ish) also came over and brought me a Chinese cake... they're very beautiful!
6:20ish - headed out to a sushi place for dinner with the whole gang! I ate tuna sushi, sesame seed roll, and chow fan with eel (fried rice with eel) and a 7-up!
7:40 ish - back to school, fun-fetti cake, fun-fetti icing, and candles that my family sent me in the mail!
8:30 - headed out to the traditional Chinese dancing place (an old abandoned warehouse!) My new Chinese friend Stephanie came along!
10:20 ish - back to our apts!

I got more gifts for this birthday than I have for any other birthday, well that I remember! I received gift box with a Chinese saying written out on parchment, a whole gift bag of different notebooks which are very unique and great gifts, as well as a wonderful card! I received American food/goodies/candles/clothes from my parents, a money purse/ chapstick, lotions, fingernail polish, drinks, dr. pepper. a penguin on a stick that is for massaging backs. It was a great birthday!

Friday, October 10, 2008


My first traveling in China!!

A large group of friends and I traveled 39 hours by train to Urumqi in the Northwest part of China and it was so different than the China that I have come to know! We left by train on a Friday night and didn't get off until Sunday morning. It was so crazy to be on a train for that long! We made two little friends both were little girls around four years old. One was incredibly cute and talked to Jeremy and Laurie for quite a bit and the other girl was quite the little devil and bit Laurie hard enough to leave marks!! Crazy!

We arrived in Urumqi Sunday morning and headed straight to our hostel (my first time in a hostel) which was quite nice! A lot nicer than I had in mind! There we regrouped, showered ( I hadn't showered since Thursday morning!), went to buy some needed items at the store, etc. That night we went and ate a restaurant very close by that was owned by Muslims. So, even the little Chinese that our group could speak didn't really help much. Most of the area that we visited was predominately middle eastern Muslims than Chinese! The language that they spoke was completely different and they used the Aramaic alphabet! I thought that was pretty neat! That day we also went to the street market/ bizarre, there were barely any Chinese people around! All the Weiger people. I bought quite a bit of my Christmas presents there (some I couldnt get on the plane to bring back, but that's another story for later).

Tuesday morning we woke up early and caught a two hour bus south to a city called Turpan. Here in Turpan, there were almost NO Chinese people. I loved it! Everyone spoke very basic simple Chinese. Just like me :) The group broke up and some of us rented bicycles and biked our way out 8 km to an ancient ruins called the Jiahoe Ruins (http://www.chinahighlights.com/xinjiang/turpan/attraction/jiaohe-ruins.htm). It was an amazing abandoned ruins with houses made of stone and mud. There was also a giant buddhist temple there still in quite good shape. On the way biking there we saw donkey carts, little kids playing with random things, grape orchards, huts where people lived, I wish I could remember all the amazing cultural things that we saw! After biking back we caroused the little bazaar that they had there, just looking around. Went back to our hotel (awful hotel) to stay the night. The showers in this hotel were so awful! The showers consisted of these stalls that covered the tiny Asian probably but went from about my knees to the middle part of my chest. These stalls were horribly positioned right in front of a window and when someone opened the door to enter, anyone in the hall would have the opportunity to see you if they just glanced in! It was so awful... oh yes. No hot water.

Wednesday morning we woke up, headed back onto another two hour bus, well they both actually took like three hours. Within the three hour ride we went through mountains with snow covered tops, deserts that stretched forever, and even went to through a large section of wind mills (like the ones in Abilene but not even close to the same size!). We got back to Urumqi and headed from the bus station to eat at a cafe called 'Texas Cafe'. THATS RIGHT! The entire place is decked out with Texas pamphlets, license plates, t-shirts, flags, portraits of the band at UT, they have a ton of English books! You walk in and you feel as if your walking into a cafe back home. It was so comforting! AND they had a western toilet!! (toilets here are like glorified holes in the ground made out of ceramic. you have to squat to do your business!) I order a spinach salad and some waffle fries! It was SOO good. BUT, there was no dr. pepper. Strike one! haha. The owner is a guy from Austin, who sadly flew back home for a vacation and but the manager was there who is a late-twenties guy from Plano! It was just crazy to be all the way across the world and to meet someone from Plano! In a guy's restaurant who's from Austin. After eating we went to a different bus station (the long travel station) on the north side of town, completely middle eastern people, crazy! We got on a sleeper bus at 8pm to head towards Buerjin.

Well, on the way to Beurjin, late Tuesday night early Wednesday morning it's really dark outside our bus stops in the middle of nowhere and we just sit on the road for about twenty minutes. So, Danielle and I both have to use the restroom really bad but there is no where to go!! There was this young Chinese lady looking around for the same reason as us, still nothing to be found. We three pair up to climb over a guard rail, down a concrete embankment, and then down another dusty slippery slope to use the restroom. We three just 'pop-a-squat' right there next to each other and do our business!!! Danielle and I are true Chinese people! About the time we climbed back up the bus was firing up because the traffic jam was letting up. It turns out that there had been a terrible car accident which was blocking the road. A motorized cart was crossing the highway and an SUV hit it. It was a really bad scene. It was hard getting back to sleep for quite a while, my mind kept working over and over about different things. Finally I got back to sleep and woke up in Beurgin which is a really tiny Chinese town that is completely different than any other Chinese city!! It was completely clean! They had bright colored buildings! The light posts had windmills on them so they ran off of the power that they made themselves! They had trashcans IN the sidewalks! You could walk up to the trashcan step on a lever and the lid would pop open and you would drop your trash in. It was raised only about two inches off the ground! It had a little Russian influence! It looked like a really cute, clean, northern American city! Anyways, after getting there we had to get a taxi to take us three hours into the mountains to get to our destination of KANAS LAKE! Kanas Lake is easily the most beautiful place that I have ever been.

Kanas Lake is a turquoise/blue lake tucked away in these snow topped mountains with trees turning yellow and orange from fall! The air was crisp and clean which is almost like air from heaven when your used to dirty Wuhan air! The road to get there was very... OH, I forgot. During the taxi ride up there was fog like I've never seen for before! You couldnt see two feet in front of the car and the road we were on had incredibly sharp turns with mountains on one side and a drop off on the other. It was terrifying at some points in time! Second, the taxi driver was trying to learn some English off of us so he could try to get more English speakers to take his taxi! He knew "hello/good bye/i love you" and the way he said it was priceless! He learned "you take my taxi please", "one person - 50 yuan", and quite a few other things. He was hitting on Laurie the whole trip up there it was quite hilarious.. OH he told her IN ENGLISH, "I'm a bad boy" HAHAHA! Okay... back to Kanas Lake. It's this National Park that is gorgeous and inside of it are these villages of people who now pretty much just work the tourists. The main village is in this awkward stage of still having the old village look with the log cabins, animals in the yard, etc but now they're trying to make it touristy and they are putting up these fancy buildings everywhere and they have buses that run all during the day into the night time. It's really sad to see this absolutely amazing breath-taking place being turned into a tourist-trap. We probably got to go while it was still beautiful and untouched! We spent the night in this random woman's yurt which is like a large tepee! You officially can't stay in them, but Danielle, Jeremy, Laurie and I ran across one while walking through the forest and Laurie walked up to the house next to it and knocked on every door until someone answered and she just asked if we could stay there! And we did! We had a wood-burning stove (made more for cooking than staying warm) but it went out before midnight leaving us in freezing weather with just barely enough covers to cover our bodies!! We watched the sunset over the mountains and the stars were absolutely beautiful!! The stars stretched from one set of mountains on one side all the way to the other side, no clouds! There looked like there were a billion stars! It was gorgeous!

Thursday morning we packed up our stuff, walked along the lake and rivers once more, ate some lunch in a near by log cabin, and headed out to catch a taxi back to the nearest town three hours away. Instead of a taxi, we got on a mini-bus with all people from Taiwan whose English was wonderful! After we got back to Buerjin, we had some dumplings at a tiny hole-in-the-wall place. They were pretty good but we failed to notice til the end that they had an inspection notice on the wall stating they failed their last inspection and there was a huge sad face on it! It funny! We left and headed to the bus station (right across the street) and got on our sleeper bus back to Urumqi!

15 hours later Friday morning we find ourselves back in Urumqi and we headed straight for the airport to catch our flight back home to Wuhan! We get through the first line to get our tickets, our bags get checked.. PROBLEM #1. Danielle and I weren't allowed to take the decorative/ traditional chinese knives that we bought onto the plane, even in our checked baggage! I bought three for Nathan, my brother-in-law, and father. They were worth quite a bit and I just had to get rid of them.... boo. So, we get over it and get in line to go through security... PROBLEM #2. Daniel and I left our passports with our boss so he could get our residents permits. He told us we would be fine with a copy of our passport and some other paperwork we had, which you had to have a passport to get. (He also didn't know we would be flying back) SOOO we try to go through security and NO! They won't let us through!! We ended up having to pull our luggage off the plane right before it takes off, and stay in Urumqi for TWO MORE DAYS! So, to treat ourselves, we went back to the Texas Cafe where I had a hamburger (didn't taste anything like I would have wanted it to.. boo) Back to the first hostel, back to the bazaar to replace the Christmas presents that I had to throw away! Our boss over-nighted our passports to our hostel, which we were really unsure would get to us through Chinese mail! Blah, Blah, Blah after paying 74.3% of my salary for the month, I finally got a plane ride home! Sunday night.... HOME IN WUHAN!!

I left so much out... I will post the stories that I remember randomly when I remember :)