First Weekend Completed

Trip Start Jul 03, 2006
Trip End Aug 21, 2006

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Hello. Hello. It's Sunday. I've officially completed my first weekend in Hangzhou. The program leaders here are doing their darndest to keep us busy every second, it seems, either so we don't get into trouble, or so we focus on the good things about China and not on the so very strange things that also take place the slaughtering of live poultry in public.

Saturday was no exception. The program people took us on a long hike, to a beautiful, mountainous location about two hours by bus. The group consisted of about 20 of us foreigners with our 20 or so Chinese roommates and our teachers. We made for an interesting group. We hiked, it was a pretty strenuous hike up a pretty steep hill, but it was covered in bamboo (never seen a bamboo forest was very Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragonesque.) Then down the other side of the mountain was a river with sparkling clean water. (Some of the Chinese roommates drank from it, but I was a little skeptical.) We stopped at three waterfalls along the river and swam in all of them. Pictures are coming, I promise, but you have to bear with me because I am working with a very slow Internet connection and it takes several minutes per picture. After the hike, we ended up riding in speed boats across a lake surrounded by the bamboo-covered mountains, and ended up at a fancy restaurant where we had dinner, even though we were were covered in sweat and river-water. All in all it was a very interesting day.

Today, Sunday, I had to complete the third of our bus exercises. The bus exercises are this clever idea that the program people came up with to get us to get to know Hangzhou. They give us destinations throughout the city and require us to find our way there and back by bus...alone. It is an excellent way to see the city and to learn how to use public transportation. I only got lost the first time. But this time, after I had seen what I was required to see, I stumbled across another attraction. The house of Hu Xue Yan, a very rich man who is accredited with owning the most luxurious residence during the Qing Dynasty. Well, old Hu is long dead, but his house isn't. You can tour it, and I dare say, it is a very luxurious house and it doesn't get more Chinese than that. Dragons everywhere, gardens, ponds with big, colorful carp, caves, winding passages through dozens of rooms decorated with jade, marble, and ivory. coming. Wait for them.

Then after my little tour, I was invited to play basketball with some of the Chinese roommates. I was the only girl to (ever) play with them, but I dare say I held my own, scored a few points, and may have even earned myself a standing spot as their point guard from now on. We'll see. The level of play is not too high, but it is really fun.

That's all for now. School starts at 8am tomorrow, and I still have homework to do.
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