A Travellerspoint blog

Traversing on Trains

The Largest Annual Human Migration

I just got back from celebrating Chinese New Year with my extended host family in Shanxi Province. The start of the Spring Festival also starts the largest annual human migration. We had to by train tickets months in advance in order to get a ride straight to my host family's home city. The train stations are packed with virtually no sitting space. Its also slightly terrifying because there are military personal posted with machine guns and riot gear inside and outside of the stations.
Because everyone is traveling back to their hometowns there are very few stores or restaurants open during this time period. This can be a little difficult while you're preparing to leave because everyone is so busy that they don't want to cook but there is no where to go out and eat.
Once we got on the train it was pretty fun. It was my first time taking an overnight train and I really enjoyed it. My host sister and I were across from each other on second level bunk beds. We had a great time eating snacks, reading, and watching movies that she had downloaded on her phone.
Next couple of entries will all be New Years focused as its a pretty long and important holiday. I can't wait to post more. I've also attached a map at the bottom highlighting all of the cities in China that I have visited so far :)

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I had to zoom in really close on Google Maps to get the last city because it is so small :)

Posted by VerityCCheslo 21:43 Comments (0)

The Confucius Temple

This is a temple honoring Confucius, a park, and a night market all combined together. When I visited they were busy decorating for the Spring Festival so many lanterns, fairy lights, and banners were being erected around the temple, stalls, and lake. It was a very lavish set up.
There are also a lot of fun foods to try including honeyed fruits, hand spun cotton candy, grilled squid on a stick, deep fried corn, and giant dumplings filled with soup that you could drink from with a straw. I had a great night walking around the temple and park, browsing the stalls, and trying new foods while looking at the lights and decorations.

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Posted by VerityCCheslo 23:15 Comments (1)

Qixia Mountain

A beautiful scenic spot in rural Nanjing that is also home to a large temple complex. Near the temple there is also the "Thousand Buddha Caves" an area along the face of the mountain that has many sculptures of Buddha perched in the stone. This was probably my favorite part of the Nanjing trip. It can be hard to find places to enjoy natural beauty in the greater Beijing area so it was a nice break to spend some time in the great outdoors. It is definitely a must see if you enjoy hiking or visiting working temples.

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Posted by VerityCCheslo 22:36 Comments (1)

The Presidential Palace

This palace has a very long history starting during the Ming and Qing dynasty. It was used to house the offices of the President of the Republic of China until 1949. It is integrated into the city of Nanjing with beautiful architecture and gardening complete with pagodas, dollhouse tables, bamboo, and authentic ancient payphones.

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Posted by VerityCCheslo 18:51 Comments (1)

老师好!Good Morning Teacher!

Teaching in Nanjing

A big part of our trip to Nanjing was the community service component. We visited three different centers to teach and interact with Chinese students from many different backgrounds and places in life.
Our first teaching opportunity was at a rural primary school outside of Nanjing. We split into groups and taught fifth graders English using topics such as animals, daily routines, and transportation etc. My group worked on teaching body parts through games and songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes as well as the Hokey Pokey. During the lunch period we each went to visit a students home and lunch with them and their families. It was a really great experience and it was fun getting to get to know students better and learn a little bit of the Nanjing dialect while talking with their parents and grandparents.

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Our second and third volunteer days were at two centers that help students with severe mental disabilities as well as their families. These centers work to help these students learn communication skills. We came to give the students an opportunity to interact with a new culture. We held some sing-a-longs, played games, and drew pictures together at both centers. These centers seem to be very unique. Both are run by a Catholic organization and appear to be completely volunteer based. Mental illness is a subject that often isn't acknowledged in China and it is great to see an active community trying to bring awareness and help many families.

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Posted by VerityCCheslo 22:05 Comments (0)

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