Sunday, July 23, 2006

Buddhas, ballroom dancing and badminton

Given the good time I had this weekend, I may have agreed to come despite the sweat. Two of our TA's, Lily and Lynn, took us to a National Park that was just a ten minute taxi ride from our hotel (Keyan). By the end, we were more confused than we were at the beginning as to what kind of park it actually was, but I will try to describe it:

Picture about three times the size of Woodland Park Zoo with trails, pathways, canals,bridges and lots of temples and sculptures. I don't know how many times we turned a corner to gasp... at a two hundred foot stone Buddha (completed by three generations of a family), or waterfalls or trails with interesting themes. My favorite trail was called "The Finger Path" and was decorated with Chilology sayings and huge representations of very nicely manicured hands holding the objects referred to in the sayings. We took boats to islands and tasted wine at one of them -"Inebriation Island" - where, by the way, we had to wait out an hour long spectacular (and kinda scary) lightning storm (not a bad place to have to wait...)

One island had many sculptures interpreting the writings of the famous writer from this area, Lu Xun. Another island had a beautiful waterfall, which we stood under and waded in the clean, cold water. It was a hot day (until after the storm) and we had to suck on iced blocks of water to live through the heat. One temple in particular was quite beautiful, and we took about an hour to read the stories depicted in the pictures about the life of the Buddha. After seeing so many Christian churches and art pieces all through Europe, this new form was especially interesting for me. The strange thing about this park is that is was almost empty...evidently the government has been investing in parks like these, but we wonder how they keep them running (don't they know they should install a Magic Mountain ride?). We thought it was much more beautiful than Hangzhou and Westlake (their "heaven on earth").

Last night we just walked down to the canal where the carnival was taking place, only this time it seemed to be badminton night - birdies flying everywhere - and I also got to see the ballroom dancing I had heard about. One group was doing kind of a techno swing dancing and another a waltz.

Both yesterday and today I was feeling good enough to get up and go running at the great that felt. I know this week will be much better just because I feel so much better. Being sick in a foreign country, especially if you are teaching, is just no fun at all.

Today Pamela took us to "the largest pearl factory in the world." My favorite part of the day was the hour long van trip out there because we passed through villages and saw a lot of green takes a while to get out of the industrial masses. The factory was overwhelming - just strings and strings of pearls, white, pink and grey. I managed to get a few pretty cool pieces but overall I thought a lot of it was very gaudy.

I'm spending the rest of my time uploading pictures for my brother to post...did you know I haven't been able to access my blog at all since I've been here? Fortunately, my brother set it up so that all of your posts come into my hotmail account (when it is working, of course!) Bye for now!

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