Saturday, June 12, 2010

China: Week Two

Another long week of classes done!

Last weekend a group of us went to Thousand Island Lakes - sadly, I do not have any pictures. We were rather rushed because we only had 4 hours to explore (it's a two hour bus ride so we had a bus home to catch) and we went "white water rafting".  Though really, it was a little tame to be called white water rafting. If I had brought my camera rafting it would have died - I got super soaking wet. I wrote about it for my blog entry for my technical communications class. Not as good as last week's entry, but here it is...


Last Saturday, a group of us decided to check out Thousand Island Lake. We spoke to some of the Chinese students previously and were told it is a very clean and beautiful area. Wang Kai even said that not only is it good for swimming, but the water is so clean you can take a glass, scoop up some lake water, and drink it! I wasn’t about to go start sipping lake water, but I was excited to explore the area.

When we arrived at West Station, we found that the next bus available wasn’t leaving until 11:30 AM, meaning we had a 1.5 hour wait. We decided it would be worth the wait and stuck it out at the bus station, playing cards to make the time pass. Some of the locals at the bus station would walk over and quietly watch us play every once and a while – an event that has happened elsewhere around Hangzhou as well. If I actually knew how to say more than “nĭ hăo!” [hello] and “wŏ bù chī ròu” [I don't eat meat], I would have asked them to join us! They seemed extremely interested in what we were playing.

At 11:30 we boarded the bus, where I nearly immediately fell asleep. Napping while driving Chinese roads, however, is extremely difficult because of the non-stop honking. People here do not just honk their car horns when they are angry at someone’s driving abilities – they honk when they are passing you, they honk when to tell you they are going through intersections too fast, and sometimes they honk to just say hello.

Once we arrived at the Thousand Island Lake area, we were quickly surrounded by some of the locals. There were a lot of confused expressions until Kevin and Ji (both speak Mandarin) took over and cleared things up. We discovered that the boats that take you to different islands were already closed because of a triathlon, or some kind of race going on in town, in addition to the cloudy weather. Since we were not able to explore the islands, we decided to go white water rafting instead!

We took a hotel tour guide van up the zigzagging roads to the mountains surrounding the city. The drive was an adventure in itself. The drivers here are insane enough in city traffic, and it only gets more exciting going up curvy mountain roads. A few times I honestly felt that I would go flying out the open window beside me.

After making it to the top, we all got helmets and life jackets and were put into little rafts in pairs. I was wearing jeans at the time, so I sat down carefully attempting not to get them wet, knowing that they would remain cold and soaking the remainder of the day if they did. My attempts were futile. Nearly the moment I was settled in my raft, a water fight began and I was drenched before starting the ride down.

The river was really more like a shallow man-made gully, but it was still a blast. Every so often, a dam would slow the water down, leading to a cement/rock water slide. Will, who I was paired with in the raft, had the paddle so I almost always ended up going down these nearly vertical drops backwards, making it more scary and therefore more fun! I was soaked when we got to the bottom, my jeans extremely heavy with water, my lips nearly blue from being so cold, but ecstatic from the thrill. It is definitely one of the highlights of this trip so far.


Tomorrow we head to Huangshan, where i have to walk up 7000 steps. Sounds extremely tiring to me, but it's supposed to be extremely pretty.

Other than that, i've been pretty busy with school. Since it's a semester of class bunched into 6 weeks we have an exam every 1.5 weeks or so. Our bigger writing assignments seem to always fall when we have a mechanics exam too! I'll have a little more free time from now on though because I no longer have a 1.5 hour Mandarin class in the afternoon.

Tomorrow (Sunday, June 13) until Wednesday is the Dragon Boat festival! I will be gone for most of it at Huangshan, but will be around Wednesday to see the celebrations. I've been told it's cool, but I'm not really sure what they do! They are supposed to have some pretty cool boats on West Lake though

That's all for now

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