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Kim's Blog

Last Day in China!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Today was our last day in China! I can't believe that the trip is coming to an end! We started the day off eating breakfast and then boarding the bus, after this we got on the train for a five hour bus ride. The bus ride didn't seem very long, we talked and laughed the whole time. We really have become like a family here we are all so close. After checking into the hotel we got ready for the peking duck dinner! I was so excited to go to this famous restaurant and eat the famous duck. It was such a nice place, and we were given our own private room. The waitress' then brought out an assortment of food one which was scorpions. It did not look appetizing, it looked a little scary a bunch of them sitting on rice cakes. Still, everyone tried it. When it was my turn I was so nervous, it was just the actual act of putting the scorpion in your mouth that was the worst part. It was so gross to look at it but I ate the scorpian! It really was such a mind game, the scorpion tasted like nothing it was just really crunchy. This was an experience, I never ever thought I would eat something like that. It was definitely the weirdest thing I have eaten here, but I am happy to say I did it. After that the waitresses brought out the duck. It was amazing, it was so delicious. It was one of the best meals we have had here, the duck was outstanding! It was a great farewell dinner. I seriously can not believe that this trip is ending. It was life changing, the things I have learned and the people I have met on this adventure have all influenced me so much. I am forever grateful I was given this opportunity, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Tomorrow we will be waking up early to say goodbye to our California friends:( after that were off to do some last minute shopping before heading to the airport. We still have some time left in China, and I know our trip will end the way it began, with excitement and adventures.
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Kung Fu Masters!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today we woke up at 5 30, this was yet another early wake up but for a good reason. We walked down to the temple and did kung fu exercises with a warrior monk! His technique was very different from the one we learned in the kung fu school. It was interesting to see that two places so close to each other are teaching different techniques. After this we walked through the pagoda forest. It was beautiful there, and very peaceful. The pagoda forest was filled with tombs of monks, they were all very beautiful. After breakfast and some resting we headed to another kung fu session in a clearing by the temple. We were very sore and tired but we had a lot of fun with the warrior monks who were teaching us! After this we had some time to rest and relax before heading back to the temple. This time we had our final examination. The monks sat back and watched as we performed the routine two at a time. I was a little nervous but it was exciting and fun, when the monk handed me the certificate I was very happy! It felt good to see all our hard work had paid off. The certificate is something I will always save. After this we headed to the hotel for showers and relaxing time before we went to dinner. Tonight dinner was very special because two warrior monks joined us along with our four teachers from the kung fu school. We had so much fun with them learning about their lives and just being able to interact with them. Their lives are so different than ours and these past four days we were able to experience just a little bit of that. It was such a great thing to do and I enjoyed it so much! After this we headed back to the temple, we thought we were performing for our teachers but many warrior monks and students were there. It became a talent show, many people did tricks or performed songs. It was a lot of fun. It was such an amazing feeling to look around and see kids from all over our country bonding and then to see all of us bonding with kids from China. The happiness in that room tonight could put a smile on anyones face, there was so much support in the room. Everyone had such a great time and enjoyed hanging out with the local kids ! Tomorrow we have a five hour train ride which will be nice to relax and to hang out. I can not believe the trip is coming to an end, it flew by so fast!
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Shaolin Temple and Kung Fu School

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today we started the day off extremely early. We had a 4:30 wake up call! At this time we were going to the Shaolin Temple to pray with the monks. This was a very surreal experience. Outside it was still dark when we made our journey from the farmhouse to the temple, however when we arrived it was beginning to get light and we could already tell it was going to be a beautiful day! As we entered the temple we separated into two separate lines boys and girls, next we entered the temple and began out morning prayers. It was amazing to just be standing there praying with monks in China. It was definitely an experience many people will never get to have, and one I am so grateful for. After prayers we headed off to breakfast with the monks. We ate in silence, but to my surprise it wasn't a long breakfast. The monks ate as soon as they were served and were finished before some people even got their food! This was very surprising to me, I thought that the breakfast would be long and very formal. Next we helped clean the courtyard. It was fun, and we got to meet "uncle" he helped us sweep and was so sweet! After that we had some nap time and headed to the kung fu school for some more training, we had a two hour session. I was extremely sore from the day before but it was a lot of fun. We got to use weapons like swords and sticks, these were a lot of fun . This was the first session, after lunch we returned for two more hours of kung fu! It really is so amazing that we get to study at this school. Rather than just taking one class one day we are actually continually studying there, it feels like we are real students at the school. Tomorrow we have another early wake up call and will be practicing kung fu with the warrior monks! I am excited and nervous I hope our training has helped and we can keep up with the monks! :)
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Kung Fu School!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today was yet another great day in China! It seems like everyday I say that! There really is never a dull moment here and at every activity we find ourselves saying this is the best thing so far! Today we participated in classes at the Little Dragon kung fu school. It was so much fun, we started off by running laps and then stretched a little. Next we practiced a routine. Our teacher was a little intimidating but once we got him to open up we all were laughing. The kung fu was definitely intense, dancing really helped me and so many of the positions reminded me of things I have done in ballet. A lot of the kung fu is plieing and involves balance. It was really interesting to see their style and the way they moved. Our teacher was amazing and he made everything look so easy! We all had so much fun and can't wait to go back tomorrow. After kung fu we came back to the hotel , hung out, and of course ate our favorite oreos. After that we ate dinner and attended a Chinese music performance. It was set on top of a beautiful mountain. It was the first time I have ever seen such a beautiful sky in china! The setting was absolutely stunning the mountains were strung with lights and there was a beautiful bridge and amazing flowers and landscpaing surrounding it. The lights alone made the show beautiful, they lit up the entire scenery giving it a warm glow and giving it such a serene feeling. Throughout the show music was played it was so peaceful and when we left we all felt so relaxed and calm. It was amazing how music could have such a calming effect! The show really was beautiful and such a treat! Tomorrow wake up is at 4 30 !! At this time we are off to the Shaolin Temple to do morning prayers with the monks and then help clean the temple. I am excited and also nervous! However after meeting the monk two days ago I am excited to see more of what their life is like:)
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Chengde and Luoyang

Monday, August 10, 2009

So many things have happened in the past few days! My phone died so I was unable to blog about yesterday! Yesterday we visited the emperors palace in Chengde. It was very beautiful and very interesting! The roofs were all covered in gold and we found out people used to scratch the gold off the lower roof for money. When you looked at the tops you could see the difference in the lower roof and the upper roof! We were all dreading going to the palace because we had to climb 400 stairs, but that turned out to be a breeze. After the Great Wall we were ready for anything. After the palace we showered, ate lunch, and boarded the train! The train was a lot of fun! It wasn't as tiny as I imagined it would be and we piled all 8 girls into one car for our favorite thing girls night! We had so much fun talking and we have all become extremely close. We always joke that we feel like we have known each other our whole lives. It is so fortunate that we all get along so well and I really feel like I have made such amazing friends who I will always have a special bond with. Today we headed to Longmen Grotto. It was stunning and the carvings were amazing ! We saw huge Buddhas and Buddhas as small as 4 centimeters! After that we drove for a little and then to the Shaolin Temple. The temple was huge and beautiful. We got to meet a monk! At first I was a little scared because I wanted to make sure I knew everything appropriate about how to greet him and to make sure to be respectful, however mama ping filled us in! The monk was very nice, and it was very interesting to hear him speak. We preformed our Shaolin song for him, which he said was great! We have gotten pretty good at it :) Next we ventured to the kung fu school. The school was filled with hundreds of kids ranging from age 7 to 20 all doing kung fu! They were insane and were doing things I have never seen before! The flips they were doing were so cool, everyone of them looked like a stunt double. After dinner tonight we all hung out in Maha and Katie's room. It was a lot of fun just like always. We always have so much to talk about and have such a fun time together! Tomorrow we are off to the kung fu school to learn! I can not wait and am so excited! :)
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A Great Day in Chengde

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Today was another great day! We all woke up a little sore from yesterday and a little tired! It was a nice surprise when we went downstairs and breakfast looked pretty much like the breakfast we were used to at home :) After eating we were off to the Imperial Summer Palace. The palace was built as a Summer house for the emperor, empress and the concubines. Because it was a summer house it was not built very beautiful and was a place for the emperor to relax. However it was still unbelievable, the complex was enormous! We hiked the "Mini Great Wall". It was tough also, but after yesterday we could handle anything! Next it was off to do some paper cutting! The women doing all the paper cutting was amazing! She made the most beautiful designs. She told us she used to work at Epcot at a paper cutting station! It was really interesting to see all the different designs. It could take up to 2 years just to do one cut out! They truly were stunning artwork and I had so much fun learning about the art of paper cutting!! :)
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The Most Amazing Experience Ever

Yesterday was the most amazing day! It started off by camping the night before on the Great Wall! We set up camp in an area right by the Great Wall when you looked up you could see the beautiful wall it was amazing! Camping was fun, for a first time experience the Great Wall was a great place to start. We set up camp and put our tents up pretty quickly, me and caitlyn only needed very little help:) after awhile of hanging out we all went to sleep pretty early, the next morning we were going to be waking up at 5! I was surprised that I was able to sleep , but I actually slept a pretty long time! The next morning was the hike! We ate breakfast and then it began. We first climbed up a huge rock, this was a fun way to start our morning! The hike was tough uphill through bushes and cornfields, but it was the best! It was very tough to climb and I don't think I have ever sweat that much in my entire life. The hills were so hard to climb and at many points there were straight drops down, but at any point you could look up or behind you and see the Great Wall. It was memorizing, there are no words to explain its beauty. It was breathtaking and one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Every time the hike got rough we just kept thinking of where we were and how amazing this opportunity was! It was a once in a lifetime chance! It was
absolutely stunning, and sometimes frightening! However I never felt nervous, there were doctors with us incase we ever needed help and our whole group was always together! It was so great, the scariest part was definitely walking across the narrow bridges where there was wall on one side and a huge drop on the other! Another scary part was when we literally climbed up the wall vertically! Not many people can ay they scaled the Great Wall! The experience was overall amazing, there really is no way to describe it, and no picture that could ever do it justice. It was such an amazing experience and I am so grateful that I was given this wonderful opportunity!
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Essential Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When August 4th - 18th, 2009
Focus History/Culture
Martial Arts
Modern/Ancient Architecture