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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009


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    [post_date] => 2009-07-19 00:00:00
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We just got back from our rural homestays in Sheila's home village! It was a great experience, learning how rural people in China live. We ate our meals with our families, picked tea with them, and tried our best to communiacte, despite the fact that they didn't speak Mandarin and we don't speak their dialect. Although the village was more modern than I expected, it was still pretty rural- for instance, when I asked for a shower, my family gave me a bucket of warm water and put me in the pig pen.

When it came time to leave, we were all sad to part with our families. Some people had become so connected, they never wanted to leave. I'll miss my family, although I must say, I won't be sad to never see another plate of straight-up pork fat again.

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Who Needs Showers When You Have A Bucket of Water and a Pig Pen?

Jess Appelbaum,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

We just got back from our rural homestays in Sheila’s home village! It was a great experience, learning how rural people in China live. We ate our meals with our families, picked tea with them, and tried our best to communiacte, despite the fact that they didn’t speak Mandarin and we don’t speak their dialect. […]

Posted On

07/19/09

Author

Jess Appelbaum

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Even a feast of chuanr (food on sticks!) and ice cream upon our return to Chengdu last night could not quite dispel the twinge of sadness at leavingour homestay families in Tuanjie.We werewelcomed with remarkable generosity and warmth into the life of thevillage, which in just three short days came to feel like home. We became big sisters and brothers to the village kids, accompanied our families to a local market and into the tea fields, learned to make dumplings, taught some English and picked up quite a bit of Mandarin. Students handled the challenges of a rural homestay (including but not limited to bucket showers, pig-sty toilets, and epically enormous spiders) with characteristic humor and good grace, endearing themselves immensely to families who -- judging by the gifts and even tears at parting -- would have loved to keep them longer.

We're off this afternoon on our next adventure: an overnight train to Kunming, followed by a four-hour bus ride to the beautiful mountain town of Dali. Our plan there is to spend a few days in the hills -- and to see what we can of the solar eclipse! -- before heading back to Kunming for our urban homestays on 7/26.

Best,

Your instructors

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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All these places feel like home

Instructor Team,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Even a feast of chuanr (food on sticks!) and ice cream upon our return to Chengdu last night could not quite dispel the twinge of sadness at leavingour homestay families in Tuanjie.We werewelcomed with remarkable generosity and warmth into the life of thevillage, which in just three short days came to feel like home. We […]

Posted On

07/19/09

Author

Instructor Team

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Hey!

We've done it we've reached the halfway point. I can hardly believe it's been three weeks. So much has happened! At Songpan, we did a 3 day excursion to the mountains on horses. It was rough. My biggest obstacle in this experience was my cold. The high elevation left me winded a lot of the time, but I still had a great time. I am not a lover of horses, and continue this opinion after all the biting, kicking, and rivalries amongst the horses. Our guides on the trip were pretty cool. They were all relaxed and knew a lot about the area. One of the guys would always point out the baby yaks for me. One night we even had a little campfire singing session. Our group struggled to perform for them, and then they came back with a beautiful song in perfect harmony. That was a funny night.

We touched back down in Chengdu, and then headed over to Tuan Jie for our rural homestay. I will admit that before coming on the trip I had not gotten excited about the homestay. I was nervous. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Walking into the door, my homestay mother enthusiastically led me upstairs to my room. My family was a mother, daughter, and female cousin staying with the family. The girls were about my age. Out of the group, I got one of the nicer households in the village. Initially, there was an communication issue with showering. They handed me a bucket, and pointed to it. I had no idea what was going on. We called Shiela and cleared up the issue. The rest of that night we were in the TV room (they watch a lot of TV) circled around the Mandarin phrase book laughing and getting to know one another. I really connected with the family the girls did their best to teach me Mandarin, and I did my best to help them with their already developed English. At the end I got a Chinese name which they taught me to right. It's Meng Xin (mUHng sheen) or "New Dream" I love it! Saying goodbye was sad. We took a million pictures and shared contact stuff. I hope I can stay connected and visit them again.

Today we have a 16 hour train ride to Kunming. On hard seats.

Zaijian!

Erica Haybron (Meng Xin)

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Horses and Homestays

Erica Haybron,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Hey! We’ve done it we’ve reached the halfway point. I can hardly believe it’s been three weeks. So much has happened! At Songpan, we did a 3 day excursion to the mountains on horses. It was rough. My biggest obstacle in this experience was my cold. The high elevation left me winded a lot of […]

Posted On

07/19/09

Author

Erica Haybron

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-17 00:00:00
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Hello faithful readers,

We arrived in the village of Tuanjie yesterday evening, and have safely installed all students with their homestay families. We will be here for the next three days, leaving the afternoon of Sunday the 19th for our next destination.

Yesterday, July 16th, we allowed the group to take a breather and catch up on rest after our exhilirating (but exhausting) trek through the gorgeous valleys of northern Sichuan. As you've seen from student posts, we had quite an adventure, ranging out from Songpan to the foot of the Xue Bao Ding glacier, at an altitude of 4200 meters (roughly 12,000 feet). The instructor team is extremely happy with everyone's persistence and willingness to dig into new things, from the trek itself (lead by seven experienced local guides), to preparing dinner, gathering firewood, discussing ecotourism, and taking the time to sit on our own and reflect on the transition from the bustle of Beijing to the unexpected greenery of the Tibetan foothills.

Instructor Sheila Sun's village, where we are currently staying, is located a half hour from the city of Hongya, which itself is 3 hours south of Chengdu. Everyone in the village is extremely excited to be hosting our cadre of learners, and we're anticipating that the group's Mandarin & cultural skills will improve by leaps and bounds over the next few days! We look forward to hearing what they have to say when we're through picking tea and visiting the local markets together...

best,

Your instructors

ps: please enjoy another group photo from our Songpan trip

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Homestays!

Instructor team,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Hello faithful readers, We arrived in the village of Tuanjie yesterday evening, and have safely installed all students with their homestay families. We will be here for the next three days, leaving the afternoon of Sunday the 19th for our next destination. Yesterday, July 16th, we allowed the group to take a breather and catch […]

Posted On

07/17/09

Author

Instructor team

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Ni Hao,

So after a long and strenuous bus ride, we finally arrived in Song Pan. For a town so high up in the mountains, it was filled with stores and was actually pretty busy. The only thing that was running through my mind at the moment though was the four day horse trek that myself and my group were about to embark on. I was both excited and nervous for what was about to take place. The morning of the first day we packed up the horses and began our trek at about 10:30. About an hour into our ride my horse slipped on a rock, making both of us fall. No injuries though which was good. The rest of the day consisted of about 4 more hours of riding, setting up our tents, and playing frisbee. The next we rode the horses to our next camp site which was only two hours away. There we set up our tents again, helped cook our dinnner, and got wood for the fire. Stew, one of our instructors, sam, micth, alex, and i went on a difficult hike to get close to a waterfall near our site. It was alot of fun. The next morning we rode our horses to the max altitude of our trek, where we saw aa glacier of all things. It was one of the prettiest scenaries to date. The next day was our last day of treking. we rode for about 7 hours with little stops. on the way we stopped at a monestary which was beautiful. When we arrived back in Song Pan we thanked our guides and we were all off to take showers because it had beeen a while. The bus ride back to Chengdu was just as long and strenuous and everyone was happy when we arrived back to the traffic hotel where we could finally get a good night of sleep. Today we are off to our homestays though!!!! which i think everyopne can agree will keep the fun and excitement rolling.

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Glaciers in China?

Justin Gluck,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Ni Hao, So after a long and strenuous bus ride, we finally arrived in Song Pan. For a town so high up in the mountains, it was filled with stores and was actually pretty busy. The only thing that was running through my mind at the moment though was the four day horse trek that […]

Posted On

07/15/09

Author

Justin Gluck

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We returned to Chengdu last night after a long bus ride back from Songpan. The ride was supposed to be7-8 hours, but it was augmented due to several long stops, including one where the engine started overheating and we all had to get our for a while as the driver fixed the bus, and another whereanother bus scratched our side mirror, and our driver bantered with the other driver untill he gave him money to fix it.

The horeback trek was alot of fun. We had a group of seven guides leading us, along with one of the guides daughters, the infamous 'Baby Cinnnamon'. The weather on the mountain was hot and sunny by day and cold (and usually rainy)by night. I'm happytosay that i was very good with sunscreen andI managed to leave the trek without looking like a tomato. We each got our own horses that we stuck with each day of the trek.This was my first time really riding a horse, so it was definitely a new experience. My horse, Brutus, always managed to meander away from the group and take his own path, I think in hopes of making his way to the front of the line (he never actuallysucceeded). There were also some timeswhenI think he just completly forgot that he actually had a person on top of him, and ran straight into the trees, soI became quite an expert at dodging branches.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the third day, when we rode our horses up to the top of one of the mountain peaks. It was a beautiful place, there were waterfalls and flowers and yaks all over. We had a perfect view of a giant glacier, which was really neat and definitely not something i was expecting to see in China. We picked snow tea (Xue Cha) on the top of the mountain, and alot of us managed to getsome to take back home. Another oneof my favorite parts was visiting a Buddhist monestary later that day, spinning theprayer wheels and looking at the temple. It was a really interesting place.There was also one night where we helpedthe guidesmake noodles for dinner, which i really enjoyed. I could probably go onmuchlongertalking about all of my favorite parts of this trek, butI think I've said enough. Our next stop is ourrural homestay at Sheila's village, which we will leave for later today.

Sofie

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Back from Songpan

Sofie Seiden,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

We returned to Chengdu last night after a long bus ride back from Songpan. The ride was supposed to be7-8 hours, but it was augmented due to several long stops, including one where the engine started overheating and we all had to get our for a while as the driver fixed the bus, and another […]

Posted On

07/15/09

Author

Sofie Seiden

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    [post_content] => So. We are back in Chengdu after a 5 day trek through the mountains of Sichuan. I am glad to be back to a city with people, beds and showers but through out the hikes and during the horse rides I felt I was in a peaceful place. The mountains were the most scenic and dramatic I have ever seen. On the way back we stopped at a Tibetan village and walked around a temple that overlooked the town. When we were approaching the small city of song pen and started hearing the cars and people working, the "real china" I knew that the hike was over and it was time to start a new journey. During a discussion at the base of a snow toped mountain higher then any mountain in mainland US the group reminisced on times we have had on the trip. "Everyday is an adventure. Really guys each day is exciting and has a story with it"  

"This is the best summer of my life"

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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one with the yaks

Mitchell Bowman,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

So. We are back in Chengdu after a 5 day trek through the mountains of Sichuan. I am glad to be back to a city with people, beds and showers but through out the hikes and during the horse rides I felt I was in a peaceful place. The mountains were the most scenic and […]

Posted On

07/15/09

Author

Mitchell Bowman

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    [post_content] => Just got back from songpan, after a pretty crazy week. we got into chengdu after a loooooong train ride from beijing, and spent a night in chengdu, but noone was really feeling that good after the train. the next day the massages definitely helped everyone out, and me along wiht sam justin matt and stew got this Chinese medicine vaccum thing that was supposed to suck the bad spirits out of you, but ended up just kinda hurting, and giving big dark circular bruises all over my back, and it kinda looked like we had flesh eating diseases or something. that night we had hotpot, which was delicious, but spicy. really spicy. the next night we got a late night call asking if we wanted a "massage", and even after we said no we still got a "messus" at our door about half an hour later. we also got to witness some a fight between a man and his wife, and had the cops drag these people down the hall out of their room. we got up early the next morning for the bus which was supposed to be 9 hours, but turned out to be 11, after bad roads and slow drivers. the hotel in songpan that we were staying at was a shared building with the bus station and the police stations, and it was weird and really crappy. with no running water. which means that toilets didnt flush.. and no showers.. we got up the next morning and headed out on our stalions into the hills. Some of us were a bit nervous about riding horses, but it was quite a beautiful ride, and we got our first peek at the snow peak, which we wre to get a lot closer to a couple days later. we got our first meal, consisting of vegetables in boiled water, and we met baby cinamonn, a vicious 12 year old girl, in a pink sweatsuit, that almost killed caleb. she was crazy. the next day was a short 2 hour ride into our second camp site, and this beautiful velley souroundede by huge mountains. we went for a little hike that day, abnd got to a really cool waterfall, after climbing for like 2 hours. the next day we got up and went up to the snow peak, which is truly indescribable. the mountain was huge, and we were in this valley with just yaks, and a little river. we got back to camp, and had a little singing sesion witht the tibetan guides. the next day we had a 7 hour ride back to songpan. we stopped at this icnredible tibetin budhist monestary. we got back to songpan and had another hotpot. got back on the bus after another fun hotel stay, and made it back to chengdu a couple hours ago. oh yeah and we got some yak jerkey, and yak baozi.
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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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just ate some yak jerky

alexander peskind,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Just got back from songpan, after a pretty crazy week. we got into chengdu after a loooooong train ride from beijing, and spent a night in chengdu, but noone was really feeling that good after the train. the next day the massages definitely helped everyone out, and me along wiht sam justin matt and stew […]

Posted On

07/15/09

Author

alexander peskind

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2009-07-14 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => This is a photo from the last day of our trek. We started our trip in Songpan on horse back and spent the next four days remote areas about seven hours, onour horses,outside of Songpan. We were really lucky to have good weather and a great group of guides with us which included "Baby Cinnamon",a vicious little girl who was one of the guides daughters. We are now back in Songpan getting ready to go back to Chengdu before our homestays.
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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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Group Photo from our trip

Caleb Moran,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

This is a photo from the last day of our trek. We started our trip in Songpan on horse back and spent the next four days remote areas about seven hours, onour horses,outside of Songpan. We were really lucky to have good weather and a great group of guides with us which included "Baby Cinnamon",a […]

Posted On

07/14/09

Author

Caleb Moran

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    [post_content] => 

Ni hao!

It's been over a week, and the concept of "we're in China" has really sunk in for many of the students. Some of us have even begun craving "American" food. Even if some of us haven't yet voiced our desire for a home cooked meal, our bodies have certainly expressed it. A considerable percentage of the group has fallen under the weather. Fortunately, we took a chill day today which I, personally, appreciated. Tomorrow we're off again to do trekking at elevation quite possibly with Sitchuan horses (?!).

Since the last post, much has happened. Most significantly, we hiked up to the Great Wall and spent the night in a guard tower. When I was told we would do this, I imagined a moderate path up to a considerably preserved portion of the Great Wall.Contrary to my prediction, we took a rigorous uphill path to a worn down portion of the Wall. The view from the top was amazing! We also got to catch the shadow of some fireworks that drunk Americans were setting off from the hostle.

Also significant to our trip was the 30+ hour train ride we took from Beijing to Chengdu. While long and monotonous, it had it's moments. We were given the opportunity to speak with Chinese, and many of us were able to hold somewhat of a conversation. I was able to befriend two Chinese children, and we communicated with mixed english, mandarin, and picture drawing. And the views were simply astounding.

zaijian!

Erica Haybron

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China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

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It's been over a week!

Erica Haybron,China Comprehensive Survey, Summer 2009

Description

Ni hao! It’s been over a week, and the concept of "we’re in China" has really sunk in for many of the students. Some of us have even begun craving "American" food. Even if some of us haven’t yet voiced our desire for a home cooked meal, our bodies have certainly expressed it. A considerable […]

Posted On

07/9/09

Author

Erica Haybron

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