Thursday, 22 January 2009

Visiting America!

After a 13 and half hour flight, two hours of waiting in the airport (there was a mixup...apparently the interwebs said my flight was delayed...LIES!), and then two hours of driving....

I'm home!

I will be in America until February 7th. I/my parents are having an open house this Saturday if friends and family are in the area and wanna stop by.

Also, if you need to reach me while I'm in the US I'm using my dad's cell phone. I put the number on my facebook profile (don't wanna just post it on this public site). If we aren't friends on facebook and you wanna call me, leave me a comment/message.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Harbin Video

Here is a video I made of my trip to Harbin.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


So I cannot continue my Harbin in pictures at the moment, nor can I post a knitting update. For some reason blogspot is being weird on my computer and keeps timing out when I try to upload pictures. Bah. Hopefully it will go away soon so I can finish showing all of you Harbin.

For the time being I am trying in a weird way to get over my jet lag before I leave. Since I've had trouble sleeping anyway and my flight back from Harbin was delayed (getting me back to my apartment at 2am) I figured why not? "Last night" I went to bed at 6am and today woke up at 3pm. Not a bad start.

I am currently drying my third load of laundry in a row. Then I shall start the packing extravaganza. I am not looking forward to the 13 hour flight, but I am really looking forward to seeing everyone. I hope I don't forget to bring anything...

Monday, 19 January 2009

My Trip to Harbin in Pictures: Part One!

So I figured for those of you who dislike my long text entries I would tell you about my trip in picture form.

Sooo...Day One!

I took the Maglev train at 6:45 am. Here you can see the top speed our train reached, 301km/h. We made it to the airport in 8 minutes.
My hotel in Harbin was right off of Center Street. It was a really nice place. You can see here my giant comfy bed, as well as a plate of wrapped up fruit. Tasty!
I headed out early on the second day. I walked down Center Street and took pictures of all the sculptures down the way. Here is an ice Venus de Milo.At the end of Center Street is the Flood Monument.
For no real reason I decided to walk across the Songhua River instead of taking a carriage. This picture is from about the middle of the river.
Across the river I went to Sun Island. Before going to the main event of the snow sculptures, I figured I would check out this little Russian style village. It was kind of dull, but prettyAfter that I went to see the snow sculptures. This is the gate I went through.
I got myself some frozen candied fruit like I promised Pete I would. Yum!
There were tons of snow sculptures both big and small, artistic and funny, complex and simple. I will put a link here to all my pictures, but for now I will just give you these two pictures. First, one of the santa the size of a mountain.
And second this BADASS skeleton riding what I can only assume is a hell beast.
For dinner that night I had some fried shrimp, some pork off the bone, a bowl of rice and a Harbin beer.Here are the links to the rest of the pictures from Sun Island, etc.
Harbin 2009
Harbin 2009: Sun Island
Harbin 2009: Sun Island II

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Harbin, the Second Post!

So I am still in Harbin for a short while more before my flight this evening. It's snowing outside so I really don't feel like wandering the streets. Plus I did everything and went everywhere I wanted.

I visited Center Street, the Flood Monument, the Songhua River, Sun Island, Snow and Ice World, Zhaolin Park, St. Sophia's Cathedral, The Temple of Heavenly Bliss, and an Ice Bar. There are three other tourist places in Harbin I can think of; the Tiger Park, Dragon Tower and the Germ Warfare Museum, but I went to those when I was here before.

So the day I made my last post, I got myself a big bowl of beef noodles for dinner and thought about Kellie. (You were with me in spirit!) With my belly full of warm noodles to fight against the cold, I hailed down a taxi and asked him to take me to the Snow and Ice World, the main ice event. When we first crossed the river and I saw the glowing ice structures raising up on the horizon, I was in shock. It really was unbelievable. The entrance gate alone was a massive ice wall.

The Snow and Ice World was sprawled out over a huge rolling landscape. I went in a sort of circle and made sure to see everything. At times in was frustrating because it felt like it was all too much. My eyes didn't feel big enough to see everything and I couldn't back up far enough from each sculpture to fit the whole thing in my camera frame. There were ice pagodas, a giant ice Harbin beer, and lots of ice duplicates of famous buildings. There was also a Bird's Nest (the Beijing Olympic Stadium) made of snow, and a snow Boddhivista. I made sure to go down one of the many ice slides (and my poor tush still hurts). I took a bunch of videos and pictures and cannot wait to post them.

There are a few drawbacks to traveling alone. Some things are just more fun with someone else. They had all sorts of stuff that you could do at the snow park, like sledding, snowmobiles, horse drawn carriages...things I just didn't feel like doing alone. Also, I like taking pictures of people, not just sights. And there was no one to take pictures of me! Luckily a couple asked me to take a picture of them, so I asked them to return the favor. I have one picture of me at the event I have been waiting for 4 years to go to. Bah. Ah well.

Eventually I saw the whole park and would have gladly walked around again but my poor footsies were freezing even with three layers of socks and fur lined boots. I had a fun cab ride back chatting with the driver.

Yesterday I went to St. Sophia's Cathedral, an underground mall and then the Harbin Buddhist temple (the temple of Heavenly Bliss). I really love temples. I think I have been in more temples in my life then churches.

Then my attentions went entirely towards finding an ice bar. It was the last thing I wanted to make sure I did while I was in Harbin. My research online led me to believe that the ice bar I was originally looking for was on Center Street. I walked up and down Center Street twice. No luck. I also heard there was an ice bar in the Harbin Shangri La Hotel. I found the address and headed off. Jackpot! The hotel had an "ice palace" restuarant and an ice bar.

I tried to have dinner at the ice palace. First of all I got weird looks from the waitresses when I assured them that yes, it was just me. Alone. The only food the offered at the palace was hot pot. I tried to order the cheapest set and they said you needed at least two people to get that one. They tried to sell me one that was twice as expensive. Frustrated, I left the palace and went to the bar. Another oppertunity when traveling with someone would have been helpful.

The bar was pretty cool. The bar counter, shelves, stools, tables and chairs were all made of ice. I am pretty sure it was colder in the bar then it was outside, which is hilarious. I got myself the two drinks I figured were essential to order. One Harbin beer and one shot of vodka. Vodka really does taste better when it is ice cold. The foam of my beer actually froze to the side of the glass. Ha.

I had been sitting for a short time when a woman sat next to me at the bar. What shocked me was that she was alone. Like me! I asked her where she was from and we got to talking. Karen is originally from Australia but lives in Hong Kong. We toasted our vodka and talked about visiting the Snow and Ice World. She was fun to talk to. We exchanged information and parted ways. I took a cab back to my hotel. The cab driver surprised me by saying "Welcome to Harbin!" in English. I laughed and thanked him in Chinese, which led to a conversation in Chinese. He asked me how to say all the tourist places in Harbin in English. He asked me when I was leaving and if I was going to take a taxi to the airport. When I said yes, he said he wanted to take me. I asked how much, he gave me the same price that I was charged from the airport. And since that driver charged me in front of a police officer (if you remember my last post) I figured it was the right price. I said sure and told him what time to meet me at the hotel. I'm guessing he either just thought I was interesting or wants me to teach him more English. Either is fine with me and now I don't need to worry about waiting for a driver.

Anyway, that's really all for now. I should be arriving in Shanghai around 11pm if my math is correct, which means I will probably be back in my apartment around midnight. Then it's time to post Harbin pictures and start packing for my visit home!

Expect a Harbin in pictures post soon!

Much love,

Friday, 16 January 2009


I am posting from a wangba (internet bar) in Harbin. Boy does this seem familiar. During my last two trips to China I spent many an hour in internet bars in Harbin.

I didn't bring my computer because I didn't want to deal with bringing in. Sadly I cannot show you any picture or video I have taken until I get back to Shanghai.

I should back up. So, on the 14th I woke up at the ungodly time of 5am. I had already cleaned my apartment and packed so all I had to do was go outside and find a cab. I took the first cab I found and asked him to go to the maglev station. The maglev is this super fast train that goes to the airport. I figured I would give it a try and save myself some time and money. The cab driver tried to get me to let him drive me all the way to the airport. When I insisted, he just kind of laughed. I had been in the taxi for about 5 minutes before I realized he hadn't started the meter. I was convinced for a moment that he was going to drive me all the way to the airport and then charge me some outrageous price. I wrote down his license number just in case. He did drive me to the maglev station and when it came time to pay he made a big show about how he forgot to start the meter. I gave hime 20kuai (what it costs to get me to Century Ave, about equal distance) and he just took it and left.

The maglev was pretty cool. It only took 8 minutes to get to the airport. The train got up to 301km/h. As my dad once joked, it did feel like the train spent the first part of the trip speeding up and the other half slowing down. Once at the airport I got checked in. I found "River Town" in a bookstore at the airport, so I bought it to read. Someone suggested it to me. It'll be the second book I read about Americans teaching English in China. The first was "Coming Home Crazy". When I got out of baggage claim, I looked for Yuki's father. My student had insisted on having her father pick me up at the airport, saying that a taxi driver might overcharge me. I waited about 20 minutes and then called my student. She had confused my flight information and thought I was going to be arriving at night. In the end I took a taxi.

I really like the hotel I'm staying at. I was really worried at first that it was going to be some super fancy, super expensive hotel. But it's perfect. Clean, neat. There was a plate of fruit waiting for me, filtered water, and a big comfy bed with a huge, warm comforter. Ahh. It's also a 5 minute walk from Center Street.

Yuki had a friend of her father's meet me at the hotel and take me out to lunch. He was a police officer, which was a little strange. I can now say I have been inside a Chinese cop car. He didn't speak any English and after being surrounded by Shanghai dialect for 5 months, I had trouble understanding his Chinese. Lunch was still pleasant though. We had some sweet taro, cucumber, pork off the bone, and garlic fish. And Harbin beer of course! After lunch Yuki called again and asked if she wanted me to find someone for me to "play with" tomorrow. Maybe a friend of her mother's? I told her that was very kind, but I was looking forward to exploring by myself. "Oh! So you want to play by yourself?" she asked. I told her yes. :-)

After getting back to the hotel, I was exhausted. It was only about 4pm, but I knew I couldn't really handle going out. I haven't been sleeping that well lately, but I don't know why. I figured I would take a nap. Instead I "slept" until about 7am. I say "slept" because I just remember constantly waking up and still not feeling rested when I called it quits and got up.

I bundled up and decided to go out and wander. I felt proud of myself finding Center Street (until I later found out the Center Street was super close and I had instead made a HUGE circle). I stopped in a few shops but didn't buy anything. Took some pictures. I got to the Songhua River. A bunch of people tried to sell me horse drawn carriage rides, but instead I decided to walk across the river. It was pretty cool. Very quiet.

On the other side of the river was Sun Island. I first stopped in a little Russian Style Village which was a waste of money. The buildings were kind of interesting but the place was deserted and the entire "village" was just shops. After that I went to see the snow sculptures. THAT was cool. There were some HUGE sculptures like this ginormous Santa Claus the size of a mountain. There were also smaller ones that were amazingly well carved/sculpted. I bought some candied fruit on a stick and wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the winter wonderland.

After exploring all of the Sun Island, I decided to take a cab back to the hotel. I couldn't feel my face anymore and I was pretty sore from walking for 6 hours straight. I took a nice hot shower at the hotel and bundled under the covers. Watched a little Chinese TV. I headed back out for dinner. I decided to go to the place down the street that I had gone to with the police officer. I had liked the food and there was a giant picture menu on the wall. I picked out two dishes, a bowl of rice and a bottle of beer and settled down. I had this fried shrimp on a stick thing and some more pork off the bone.

My plan was to go back to the hotel and make an early night of it. I wasn't really bundled up since I had just a short walk to the restaurant and I wasn't planning on staying out long. That changed when I walked out of the door and saw a glowing ice castle in the opposite direction. I figured "What the heck" even though I was wearing about half as many layers and it was twice as cold. It turned out to be a Disney Themed ice park. There were some amazing ice sculptures. They also had a giant ice pirate ship and Aladdin's palace. When I was just about finished wandering around the park, an announcement came on to say that the park was closing in 10 minutes. How is that for timing?

When I got back to the hotel I took another hot shower. My poor thighs were pink and numb. Did i mention Harbin is cold? How cold, you ask? When I breathed into my scarf, my glasses fogged up. The fog immediately froze. That's how cold Harbin is. My first night here it got to -17F...and that's not including wind chill. Today I am wearing three layers of socks, fur lined boots, two layers of thermals, snow pants, two layers of gloves, a hat, my hood, and a ski jacket. Yeah.

Today I "slept" in. I was hoping the physical exhaustion would help me sleep. No such luck. Ah well. Today my plan is to go to the Ice Bar, if I can find it. I am talking to Pete right now trying to find out where the big ice buildings are. I keep finding mixed information online. Ah well.

This may be my last post until I get back to Shanghai. Look forward to pictures! And send warm thoughts to Harbin!


Monday, 12 January 2009

I Bought an Erhu!

I made a video about my new erhu.

I meant to just say "Hey look what I bought!" but I realized after I put the video up that it's sounds like I'm trying to be all educational. Oh well.

I also butcher "Twinkle twinkle little star", but considering I had bought it the day before, I think I'm allowed to suck.

Oh! Just for reference, this is what it sounds like when someone actually knows how to play an erhu.

Bunch o' Videos

So I spent my time that I had to be in the office but had no work to do organizing my pictures and videos. Yay!

So here are some videos for y'all.

This is another "Sped Up Shanghai" video I just made for fun. I took it from the back of a pedicab from the Yu Yuan Garden to East Nanjing Road.

This is just some video I took at the Long Hua Temple at New Year's. It starts with the countdown and then includes some dragon dance and firecrackers. In some parts of the video you can hear the 3-ton bell being rung.

This last one is some video clips I took in SuZhou including the rickshaw ride to our hostel, a video of our hostel room and visiting the Twin Pagodas.

That's all for now.

Much love!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Soup Dumplings and XiaoLongBao

So I am at work now for the 7th day in a row...although I'm not really doing anything. I finished all of my grading and paperwork yesterday but I am still supposed to be in the office...just in case?

It's not so bad. I'm using this time to burn some CDs that Ned lent me and to organize some of my pictures and videos. Besides, I get to enjoy the heat in the office (which finally got turned on) instead of wasting the electricity in my apartment.

After leaving work yesterday I met up with June to wander around old Shanghai. It was fun to do that again. We did some shopping. It was no where near as crowded as it was when we went in September. That was nice.

I like this picture because it's old Shanghai and new Shanghai together. You can see the financial tower in the background.After some shopping we decided to go to the restaurant (one of June's favorites) we didn't go to in September because the line was so long. This time the top floor was almost empty! We nibbled on raw ginger and sipped green tea until our food arrived. We each got a soup dumpling, along with some xiaolongbao (crab dumplings) and a kind of fried shrimp dumpling.

Here is June with her soup dumpling.
June took this silly picture of me enjoying my soup dumpling in the proper fashion. First you use your straw to get all the soupy goodness out of the dumpling. Then you tear it up and dip the pieces in vinegar. TASTY. That little red tag on the straw has a warning in both Chinese and English that the soup inside is BURN-YOUR-MOUTH-UP-HOT.
The soup dumplings at this place were AMAZING. We had them across the street last time and I thought THEY were amazing. But the amazingness of these far outstrips the amazingness of the other ones.

What are in these dumplings you ask? Well check out this sign I saw on the way out:
If you can't read that it says "Dumpling stuffed with the ovary and digestive glands of a crab". Don't let that deter you though. They really are delicious.

I was excited to find that they sell xiaolongbao and these fabulous fresh fried dumplings (that taste just like the ones I had in Nanjing) in the food court under Carrefour. The other night I ordered some to go and then wandered down the street back to my apartment eating them while checking out street vendors. For once all the street vendors spoke to me in Chinese first. I guess I looked more like a native eating my dumplings with my chopsticks.

MAN I am making myself hungry.

Here is just one more picture for all of you.
I went shopping for Harbin last night so I will probably post pictures of all my fancy new cold weather clothes. Also once I finish organizing videos I will hopefully post some from Suzhou and New Year's Eve.

That's all for now!


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Fighting in the hall...

So that was pretty scary.

Last period today I was showing a few episodes of "Friends" to my class after a hard day of exams. One of my students who was sitting by the door suddenly opened the door and went out into the hall. I didn't think anything of it at first. The rules are kind of lax in between exams since many student head to the library to study or outside to play basketball while waiting for their next test. I heard excited voices from the hall and figured that maybe a former student was coming back to visit or that a special afternoon snack had arrived (both common events).

I stuck my head out in the hall to find out what was so exciting and saw the tell tale "something bad is happening" circle of students. I figured out a second later there was a fight going on, and with a sinking feeling I realized I was the only authority figure around.

I rushed forward in an attempt to get between them but the one closest to me was lunging towards the other student so I pined his arms down and held him back. Luckily some students on the other side grabbed the other student. After struggling a bit the student in my arms seemed to calm down so I let him go and stood between them in the typical "both arms out, keep 'em as far away from each other as possible" stance. I told the students gathering in the hall to go back to their classrooms. I took a quick toll of the situation and noticed one student had some scratches on his face and the other was bleeding from the mouth.

The student I had been holding back before tried to push past me and kick the other, so I had to hold him back again. Luckily at that moment the principal showed up and things cooled instantly.

I herded my students back into the classroom and put "Friends" back on. I am so glad that fight didn't happen when I was teaching a real lesson because I doubt you could force students to pay attention after that. In this case, watching a sitcom was the perfect distraction.

I'm sad that one of the students that was fighting was one of MY students. The other was an older student. I feel oddly protective and also proud of my students when they do well. Kind of like a big sister. When they do something wrong I feel disappointed. Of course, I can't pass judgment because I have no idea what the fight was about or who started it. It's in the hands of the administration now.

I hope I handled the situation well. I was mostly in shock when it happened. I never would have expected to see a fight here and I really never expected that I would have to be the one to break it up.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Quotes from my Evals..

I am mostly writing these for myself. In case next semester I start feeling down on myself I can look back at all the nice things my student wrote about my class/me.

-Your classes are very interesting. I have a lot of fun.
-Cheer up!
-Take care yourself~
-You're doing a great job.
-Stephanie's class is the best English class in my English study life.
-Fun, I'm lovin it
-Stephanie is great.
-Good teach you are, but the students are too naughty.
-Stephanie really makes our classes interesting and full of fun! :-)
-Your classes are the best classes that I've ever had.
-You always very care about us. When we looks tired you will let us have a game sometimes.
-We can have a lot of fun, learn the knowledge in a relaxing atmosphere.
-I like the class atmosphere now, I hope you can keep it.
-I like you, you're nice! :-)
-I like your class very much.
-(Under suggestions) More class! more Stephanie's class in every weeks!
-I think all the things is good. REALLY.
-You are very interesting. I like you very very much!
-Stephanie you are lovely.
-(Under what do you like best about my class) Creativity, things usual teachers don't do or won't allow.
-The classes are quite good!!!
-Your class is really interesting, I like it.
-The class is very funny.
-I like your class! Hope you can teach us a long time! =)
-I'm so happy to have your class in this term.
-I like your class very much!
-The class is very good!
-It's comfortable to have your class.
-I think Stephanie's class is fun. It's very relax for me.
-You've been so kind to us. I really appreciate that. I'm really looking forward to next semester. Thank you!
-She is really kind and so patient to us. She always have fun with us, activities left a deep impression on me and this is a good way to quickly get to know each other.

My only worry now is that I am TOO lenient of a teacher! Ah well.

I got some good suggestions too. Some student wrote specific songs or bands they would like to learn about. A couple gave me ideas for games. A few said they would like to go outside. Oddly enough a lot of students said that the love letter was either their FAVORITE or LEAST FAVORITE writing assignment...huh. Maybe some students thought it was a little embarrassing.

I suppose that's all for now.


Monday, 5 January 2009

My first semester is winding down...

Things are both more and less busy right now.

Teaching classes is easier since the students are mostly studying and reviewing for their finals which start tomorrow. I've been playing games or teaching them songs in class. However, very shortly I will have another STACK of final papers to read. Thinking back on all those midterms I had to read makes me shudder. Ah last hurdle before break.

Yesterday in class I noticed a student was using their cell phone under their desk. Rather than take it away I tried to convey to them how OBVIOUS it is when they use a cell phone in class. I took the girl's cell phone and asked her to stand in front of the class as though she was teaching. I sat in her seat and looked down at her phone as though I was using it. Do they really think they are invisible two feet in front of me in a class of 15 students?

The school doesn't require it of me, but I asked my students to fill out evaluation sheets for me. I wanted to know what they felt about my class and about me as a teacher. I asked them not to put their names on them so they could feel comfortable saying things they didn't like. I think I will probably make a post with all the nice things my students said about me. It would be nice to have a look back on when I am feeling like a crummy teacher. Oddly enough, some students asked for harder tests and more work in class. One student even said I should be more strict. How is that for a sign that I'm too easy as a teacher!

I have to invigilate one final on Tuesday and one on Thursday. I have to sit and watch the students study for two classes on Tuesday and two classes on Thursday. Wednesday I have nothing...Friday through Sunday...grading papers! Whoo!

I am a little worried about Harbin. I looked on and last week it got as low as -17F. OH DEAR. This week I am going to take a trip to Decathalon (the sports store) to get myself some boots, a good hat, thick socks, and maybe some thin gloves to wear under my other gloves...

I can't believe that I am coming home to visit in just 16 more days. Time seems to move so quickly now.

Anyway, off to my last class of the day.


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Christmas Stuffs

I finally got around to making this video...

Friday, 2 January 2009

Suzhou Pictures!

I finally put my pictures up from Suzhou.

Here are a few previews:

The rest are on Facebook and can be found HERE and HERE.

New Year's Eve

So I had a few choices of what to do for New Year's Eve.

First, Lucy invited me to go with her and her friends to Suzhou. Since I just went to Suzhou last weekend I decided not to. Zeno also invited me to go with her to her church for a choir performance. I'm not a religious person and thought I might feel a little awkward so I declined. I was invited on facebook to go to the "I <3 Shanghai" bar for their "Halloween on New Year's Eve" party, but I went there for the real Halloween and only have my jester costume. I also wanted to do something more traditionally Chinese since I won't be in China for the Chinese New Year (January 26th...just FYI).

I took a look on the City Weekend website and found out about the Longhua Temple. It's the largest and most complete Buddhist temple in Shanghai and is famous for it's 3-ton bell. The tradition on New Year's Even is to ring the bell 108 times (108 is a really luck number in Chinese). They also have a celebration with fireworks and a dragon dance and such. So I decided to go there.

Zeno warned me that it was going to be super crowded so I decided not to bring my bag. In big crowds it always seems to get caught in a wave of people. I'm glad I decided not to bring it! And not because of the temple! I headed out early so I decided to get off the subway at Nanjing Road East since I still have not been to the Bund. (I swear I am going to be like those people that live in NYC all their life and never go to the Statue of Liberty.) I ended up walking the wrong way and ended up at People's Square. It was CROWDED. Like...if I had seen that my first week here in Shanghai I think I would have run in the other direction screaming and crying. No exaggeration at all...if I had stopped walking forward I would have been lifted by the sheer force of people. In comparison, the temple was deserted. I'm still glad I stopped there though. It was kind of fun to see the crowds there. There were tons of young people buying glowing horns or fuzzy hat that looked like cow heads. All celebrating the Chinese year of the Ox.

I took the subway from People's Square to a road near the temple, then took a short taxi ride to the entrance. The first thing I saw was this lovely lit up pagoda outside the entrance.

There were already fireworks going off. There were tons of scalpers (or "huangniu" if you remember from my post about the Jazz concert ;-) ) selling tickets. I got a bit worried since I didn't know you needed tickets. I thought I was going to have to deal with one of the scalpers and get some outrageous price for being a foreigner. Then I walked past the ticket booth. Haha.

I really want to go back to the temple during the day and during a normal weekend when I am sure it will be less crowded (although it wasn't as bad as I feared and no where NEAR as bad as People's Square). The temple was beautiful. There was one hall that was full of hundreds of small golden Buddhas. I didn't see any signs saying pictures weren't allowed but just to be safe I didn't take any inside of the buildings. Besides there were people praying and I thought it would be rude. If I go back and find I can take pictures I will to show you guys because the insides of the temples were lovely. There were giant braziers filled with burning incense. My jacket still smells like incense and firecracker smoke. I love this picture.
After I walked all around the temple I went back to the front where the main event was happening. They announced the 108 people who were going to ring the bell before midnight. The video screen at the bottom right of the next picture shows the procession of people ringing the bell.
After midnight struck I turned around a snapped this picture of the fireworks going off right outside the temple.
Then there was a dragon dance. This was the best picture I could get. I took some video too that I will put up later.
When I walked out of the temple there were people burning incense in little fires all over the place.
There were also people writing wishes onto ribbons and either tying them on to or throwing them into a tree outside the temple. I tried to take a picture of it but they all came out looking like fuzzy orange blobs.

There were an insane amount of firecrackers going off. At one point a wave of smoke that looked like a scene out of the movie "The Fog" rolled over and past me. I had to breath through my scarf until the air cleared and I could see again. Take a look at this picture. All that red stuff you see is the remains of firecrackers.
After all that I wandered a bit looking for a cab. I figured it would take a very long time so I was surprised when it only took me about ten minutes to get one. I happened to be walking past an apartment complex and some guy was getting out. I hovered around the cab until he paid and I snatched the cab before someone else could come along.

When I got back to school the gate was locked and the guard was asleep. Usually just the latch is locked and I figured out long ago how to reach my arm through the bars and undo it. This time there was a chain around the door and it was padlocked. The guard was asleep in the guard shack with the door closed. I felt bad but I was cold and tired and I had no choice but to slam/shake the gate over and over again until he woke up and let me in. I wished him a happy new year "xinnian kuaile!" and then went back to my apartment.

And that was my semi exciting New Year's Eve!

Just a side note. I think this is funny and I want to share it with all of you. By the time I finish explaining it, it won't be funny anymore. Oh well. The Chinese year of 2009 is the year of the Ox. Ox in Chinese is pronounced "niu" which sounds like "new". Sooo...I can say to people..."Happy Niu Year!".


I amuse myself.

Happy Niu Year!