Tag Archives: Life Abroad

#Halloween #HauntedHouse

28 Oct

Totally awesome haunted house tonight.  So proud of my juniors!  All by themselves, they planned and put the party on. The 3rd and fourth floors had been transformed.  Piles of leaves all through the halls and rooms, scattered chair overturned for the ‘abandoned effect’!  The classrooms were amazing – evil butcher room with the creepy guy chopping bloody stuff; creepy dead bride in her red wedding dress, ghosts everywhere including up in the window ledges – they’d jump from the ceiling to scare people. 😱👻 People hiding under tables or in fabric screens would grab your feet 😂  I loved it!  Such a great job!

The Past Renewed

29 Aug
Bamboo

Unhyeongung Palace (Seoul, Korea)

I like this for short #trips

18 Aug

#Tech Smart – Using #Didi in China

11 Aug

SUCCESS! I finally tried using #Didi for the first time this week! In the US, we have #uber but China has a program called #Didi as their alternative. 🚗
I really enjoyed it actually! You put in your pick-up spot and destination. It finds a driver and tells you how long till they arrive, a map tracking their car coming to you, their license plate #, and a car description (i.e. black Toyota). They pick you up, take you to the destination, trigger the receipt – it is automatically paid for via #alipay or #wechat and you rate their service.
By the grace of God they Actually now have an #English versionof the app which lets you type the names of places in English or #Pinyin. Super convenient!!
I do so love #tech advancements 😜

#Ivacy VPN 2017

7 Aug

Ivacy VPN

If you pay any attention to my blog, you’ll know that for the last 3 years I have been living abroad and traveling to many countries including China, Korea, Japan, US.  All truly beautiful countries, you should try reading some of my other posts to see my adventures!

As always, I want to start by saying I do NOT support using a VPN to avoid legal blocks (like the Great Firewall), accomplish illegal or illicit activities, or do anything that the government would not approve of.  Those things are illegal – if you don’t want to follow their local laws, find a different country to live or travel in. 

So if you aren’t looking to break firewalls and get into sites you shouldn’t be getting into, why would you want a VPN?  You can find my list of the pros and cons of a VPN here. In general, I like the security a VPN provides to me, whether at home or abroad. I still use my VPNs in the US, especially if at a public location to avoid the same hacks, viruses, and trojans I worry about while traveling.  A VPN can help keep you fast and safe. Sometimes. Depending on which VPN you choose.  Also, it sometimes helps me bypass technical issues in the system. For example, my university uses Blackboard, but it does have random glitches that drop it a lot.  About 25% of the time, it only works if the teachers use a VPN.   When other teachers are down and out, those with a VPN can still get on.

To be honest, I actually go back and forth between several VPNs right now including Astrill and VyprVPN.  You can read my reviews for them here and here.  But I recently  Ivacy offered me the chance to test them out – kind of a new VPN on the shelf. Here’s my experience so far!
Continue reading

Still looks like #Spring! #Nofilter

26 Jul

#Changchun is full of green and flowers. Everywhere you look people are growing & planting things! #nofilter

The City that Survives

1 Jul


America is my country, but #Seoul is my hometown.  There is something so soothing to me about this city, with the topsy-turvy combination of new & sleek contrasted with old & meandering.  The moment I see my river begin to rise in the bus windows, my soul relaxes and I know it’s all ok.  To stand, looking out over a city as old as time.  Knowing that for centuries, one nation after another (often repeatedly) tried to stamp out its #culture and #Heritage only for Seoul to stay standing.  It’s a Beautiful feeling – Here for 14 days!

#TMI – So Much Fun! 0_0

20 Jun

Had my annual #physical for the #Chinese residence permit & #Visa! 😷

Managed it alone without a #translator – quite a feat! Look at my bold self go 😜

For #China 🇨🇳 you need: Blood Analysis, Urinary Analysis, X-Rays, Ultrasound, ECG/EKG, and Blood Pressure.

 The X-Rays 📷 are competely #Topless with other people (men included) waiting in the room 😱 for their turn – no protection. 😓 The ECG requires baring it all in front of a major, street level window with no curtain and a ferris wheel🎡 right outside❗ Goodbye dignity, hello #crosscultural oversharing! 😂
 

Country Life

15 Jun

This sight will always remind me of my life here in #China.  One of the #values important to the Chinese is making sure everyone has access to a #job so they can survive.  So instead of using big machines to sweep the highways and streets, they pay the older people a small amount to do the job.  It’s not ideal, but it’s enough to live on.  They are very proud of the parts they clean. And the street sweepers are able to use empty plots of land by the roads to grow Food and Vegetables.  

So every day in my small village (Ok, 600,000 people- but That’s a Farming village here. . . .) you see the elderly driving by on these  tuk-tuks with brooms they made by hand.  Really sweet picture in my memory bank!

Whistling Through the Vines

1 Jun

DSC04500

The province of Henan resides in central China, and is home to the largest population here. Although the modern day center is the famous Beijing, China’s history has to a large extent actually centered around Henan itself. Of the six ancient capitals in the country, three of them are in Henan.  If you’ve ever watched some of the popular Chinese martial arts films, you will have heard the names “Luoyang,” Kaifeng,” and “Shaolin Temple.”  I now can proudly say I’ve been to all these places and more! At this point, I’ve visited:

  • Anyang
  • Xinyang
  • Nanyang
  • Pingdingshan
  • Zhoukou
  • Zhumadian
  • Zhengzhou
  • Xinzheng
  • Kaifeng
  • Luoyang

and more! 

This past weekend, I got the opportunity to add a new city to my list — Gongyi (巩义市).  Gongyi is a small city about 1 hour from Zhengzhou (the capital).  On one side you have Mount Song and many hills (beautiful!). On another, it is bordered by the Yellow River, one of the 2 most famous in China. 

Image result for Gongyi map

The entire trip for us was planned by the Henan Tourism Organization (the provincial tourism committee), so we didn’t actually have to pay for anything. However, the cost wasn’t bad at all even if you did pay.  

DSC04487

The bus ride up there costs about 10RMB ($1.50) and was extremely interesting just on its own. We passed the lovely shrine/temple shown above (I’m not exactly sure what that was – we didn’t stop), but even more awesome were the hundreds of Cave Homes we passed!  Here in Gongyi, many people actually still live in caves dug into the cliffs surrounding the area.  Although most westerners think “oh poverty!”, this isn’t actually true.  A lot of these homes are really nice and awesome!  They have running water and electricity, drive up roads, yards and gardens in the front, elaborate front doors, etc.  They are really nice, just inside a mountain. I wasn’t able to get excellent photos since we just drove past them, but sometime I want to go back. 

When you arrive in the city, you’ll see a lot of things dedicated to DuFu (杜甫). DuFu lived in the Tang Dynasty (700s) and is considered perhaps China’s best poet!  According to the Chinese, he was born here and is still revered as seen through the statues and monument decorating the city.  According to the tour guide, the Chinese consider him the #1 literary person to know and he has often been considered the “Chinese Shakespeare.” His ancestral home is here too!

 

SONG TOMBS

Once we arrived, we had a small trek to our restaurant so we walked through the Imperial Mausoleums of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  Also called the “Song Tombs”, this area is where all but one emperor of the North Song Dynasty are buried.  They include Tai Zu (Zhao Kuangyin), Tai Zong (Zhao Guangyi), Zhen Zong (Zhao Heng), Ren Zong (Zhao Zhen), Ying Zong (Zhao Shu), Shen Zong (Zhao Xu) and Zhe Zong (Zhao Xu).  🙂 

This part was free (it’s just a giant city part area where you can walk around) and was huge for a city park. A great place to take your kids for a picnic! Up towards the tombs themselves are a long row of stone statues that were really interesting. 

DSC04516DSC04511

 

After lunch, we got back on the bus and took about a 20 minute ride to the Kang Mansion (Kangbaiwan – 河南巩义康百万庄园).  “Baiwan” means Millionaire, so this is the home of the Millionaire Kang family.  Considering that they lived hundreds of years ago, that’s a pretty big claim!  

 

The family originated with Kang Ying-Kui in the Ming Dynasty, and its fame lasted more than 400 years (that’s 13 generations!).  According to a monument inside, the family was famous not only for its wealth, but also for its honor. The monument is a plaque written by an emperor honoring the Kangs for having 8 generations of “good, noble, honest sons.”  Apparently, they were loyal, fair, honest, and not corrupt–well worth honoring!

DSC04613

Kang Ying-Kui came to fame by suppressing Bailianism (a so-called the White Lotus Religion– mixed Buddhism with Taoism and worshipped a goddess Wusheng Laomu).  The group didn’t fit in with the accepted religions of the time and allowed men and women to “interact in a shockingly free manner.” 😛 (Apparently they brought a bunch of “groups” together and were a threat of rebellion.  Anyway,  the Kangs were really fashionable and already pretty rich from their own business (river transportation and agricultural products).  There was some sort of phrase like “if you travel 1000 miles you’ll still be on Kang property).  This brought them to the notice of the royal family who helped raise them up even further. 

DSC04619

Inside, there are 19 different parts and about 65,000 square meters.  There are 53 multi-story buildings, 97 “bungalows,” 73 cave homes, and approximately 570 rooms in total.  It was built in the 17th – 18th centuries (1600s-1700s), and the architecture is in the form of the North China “Loess plateau” style.  Basically, that means it was in the era’s feudalistic form (many small buildings with hundreds of carvings and art in the wooden, brick, and stone beams.  It follow strict formality and traditionalism–“building face the street, ports on the river, cave dwellings in the mountains–everything according to its place and order.” In the 1960s and 1970s, their home was one of the 3 largest in China–today it’s the only one of the three that is open to the public. 

Admissions: 30RMB (about $4.50)

Anyone 60 years or older get 1/2 their tickets (I think?).  People 70 years or older aree free.  Full time students can have 1/2 price and children under 1.4 meters are free. People with disability cards are free, as are servicemen and disabled veterans. 

Opening hours: 8:00-18:30

Transportation
2. Take NO.11 bus in Gongyi city to terminal station (1 Yuan) and then transfer to Kangdian town by minibus (1 Yuan).
 
Website: Here

Gongyi Grottos

DSC04814

Fabulous! The Gongyi Grottos is a Buddhist temple created around the Northern Wei period of 479-499 AD.  The statues though are as old as 384 – around the 600s AD.  There is the nearby Longmen Grottos in Luoyang, but the Gongyi set is somewhat more well preserved (although not quite so large). 

DSC04851

To be honest, a lot of the younger people were quickly bored here — but as a historian and cultural student, I found the place truly fascinating.  They have one very elaborate, colored and painted temple area with a tall statue surrounding by the various Buddhist deities on either side.  All set in beautiful painted depictions of myths and stories. 

 

All in all, it was a lovely day full of awesome art, history, and culture. My favorite kind of trip!

%d bloggers like this: