Changsha Vacation!

Trip Start Aug 05, 2009
Trip End Aug 01, 2010

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Flag of China  , Hunan Province,
Friday, November 27, 2009

Last weekend was amazing.  We have been in the groove of teaching for about 3 months and can see much progress in many of our students.  Of course, there are the speed-bump classes that make us want to pull our hair out!  Overall, it has been quite the positive experience.  Our students 'Wow' us everyday.  The first half of the semester we were teaching one class on weekends at our friend Elizabeth's private school for gifted youngsters (a.k.a. kids' whose parents can pay for them to take extra classes).  This half of the semester we have had weekends free for travel, as the other foreign teachers in our town have taken over the weekend classes.  Don't forget that we are in an extremely poor town that is mainly agriculture, and many families have very little money.  Most of our Stateside luxuries are nowhere near us.  Small things that you wouldn't think about like a deli sandwich, some cheese or ranch, and a nice glass of Jack Daniels whiskey have been forgotten!  This is to say they have been replaced by new awesome things many of which I do not know the name of.  We have been living very quaint, spending much time with our students and other English teachers at our school.  Here's some update about our lives..

I know it was a while ago, but for Halloween Kori and I dressed up and invited our students to the local Shwombi Square.  Students can go skating around the square, which is very fun for them.  I, however, have to large of feet and cannot fit into skates! (sad)  I dressed as a scary jackolantern painting my face black and crazy, and Kori dressed as a cat.  It was alot of fun, and we taught all our students the 'trick-or-treat' song.  We handed out ALOT of candy too.  That night when we went home two of my students who practice art/drawing asked to do our portraits.  They are both very talented at drawing and English, and we have our portraits hanging on our fridge.

We have a dog!  His name is Bucket.  He is a cute little fur ball about a foot long.  He is full of spunk and loves to chew! His teeth are growing in right now so he's in his 'terrible 2's' stage of life.  Smart little guy though, and already knows where to go to the bathroom (for the most part haha).  He keeps us company and is alot of fun.  I was skeptical about getting a dog at first, but I do like the little guy. Only when he's not crying at all hours of the night

About a week and a half ago, 4 of Kori's students knocked on our door.  None of them could speak a lick of English.  They invited us out to do something, like mimes (haha). We hopped on their motorbikes and were off!  They took us to a field where we gathered twigs and straw to start a fire.  Once we had a decent fire going, we threw some sweet potatoes in.  After about 10 minutes we pulled the potatoes out, peeled them, and had a tasty snack!  It was very interesting the whole situation, and alot of fun.  After this they took us to a Buddhist temple just outside Xintian.  They taught us how to bow to Buddha, and we walked around the area a bit.  Quite an amazing experience, and they couldn't speak any English!

We took a trip to Changsha last weekend.  It is the capital of Hunan Province where we live and teach.  It is a huge city!  I had Thursday and Friday free from class, as my students had an exam.  We were able to get Kori's class canceled on Friday, along with our FAO Brown.  It is about a 6 hour drive to Changsha.  When we arrived, we checked into a hotel room and went out to explore.  The shopping was quite amazing in Changsha, and we walked around shops for a few hours.  We stopped at McDonald's or KFC whenever we were hungry!  Miss some good 'ol American Junk Food!  We went to a club called F1 that night which was pretty fun.  Loud music, girls dancing on speakers, expensive drinks, and foreigners!  It was outrageous how much the drinks cost. I suppose we have been living in the "Xintian Dream" paying a mere 2 kuai for a large beer.  For a small Budweiser it was 30 kuai, and you had to order 12 minimum!  It was overall a fun experience, and we met alot of cool people.  We were invited into a private VIP room with some Changsha locals, one of which studied in Canada for 4 years.  His English was amazing, and they were celebrating his brother's birthday.  We played some drinking games with them for a while, and then went downstairs to dance the night away!   The next day we went to an amusement park called "The Eye of the World."  This place had a little piece of every country.  We saw Mount Rushmore, Sydney Opera House, Statue of Liberty, Buckingham Palace, traditional Thai houses, a huge Buddha, Western cowboy town, etc etc. It was raining that day, so the roller coaster and bungee jumping were closed! Sad, but we are planning on doing the highest bungee jump in the world located at the Macao Tower.. Watch a video online, it's crazzyyyy!  We rode a few rides, went through a haunted house, watched a 3D movie, rode the merry-go-round, and played some carnival games before we were beat tired!  We went back to the hotel, cleaned up, and went out for some more shopping.  I had a rough time trying to find something that I liked, in a size that was available.  That night we went to a club called Mei Li Si Shi which translates to Beautiful Girl 44.  This place was alot of fun.  They had a 'show' before people go into the club.  Kori got to participate, laying on the ground with four other girls so a BMX rider could jump over all of them!  Luckily she was in the middle so she wouldn't get nicked.  We stayed out very late that night and had alot of fun dancing and talking to other foreigners.  The next day we walked around some more, did some shopping, and got on a bus Xintian bound at 6 PM.  We arrived at about midnight to get ready for classes the next day.  Thankfully, I planned our lesson the week previous. 

We have been teaching our students about Christmas now.  They really love the concept of the holiday.  With my good classes we are doing a Secret Santa activity.  We will be hosting a Christmas party at the end of the month with presumably hundreds of students and teachers.  My classes will perform some Christmas carols that I have taught them, some students will play instruments, and Kori and I will have to do some sort of song-and-dance.  We picked up some Santa hats and stockings in Changsha, so they will come in handy. 

 We had an interesting Thanksgiving filled with chicken feet, seaweed, white carrot, and other strange dishes.  It was special because a couple of our friends got together at our FAO Brown's house.  Even the teachers who couldn't speak any English made the effort to wish us a 'Happy Thanksgiving.'  Afterwards Brown, me, and 'the guys' went for a foot massage. 

Other than that, we have just been trying to stay warm!  We think often about everyone at home!  Kori is super excited to go home in February, and I am excited to travel Asia with my best bud!  We are planning a trip to Guangzhou for New Years, and will stay with our friend who is teaching there.  We also will make a trip to Shanghai in mid January to see my Dad who will have a 2 day layover there!  Very excited to see him!! 

Love, Peace, and Pi Jiu.


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sheri brown on


don't know if you'll see this but wanted to let you know that your travels and adventures sound amazing. Thanks for writing a nice,long letter and including all of the pictures. And doing it in a way that Grandpa could share it with all of us. We think of you often, are so proud of your spirit, and pray for your continued health and safety.

Happy New Year!

Sheri, Kirk, Tyler, and Alex

Megan Blackburn on

Wow...look at you growing up. Being an inspiration and living. Congrats Adam :)

Julie (Mom) on

Adam...Thank you for keeping this journal is great to feel a part of your life with your words and pictures! I'm so proud of you!!!

Love to you and Kori! Mom

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