开封府 (Kaifengfu)

Today my little group and I set out in hopes to explore the Millenium Park, but instead ended up at Kaifengfu within the center of the city. We decided to wait on the Millenium Park because in a few weeks there will be either a flower festival or a changing of the leaves festival there (we still aren’t sure which). Since the price of admission is a bit on the higher side, the decision was unanimous to wait for the festival to see the temples and grounds of the park. Therefore, we ended up at the Kaifengfu. It was most famous for being the home place for Lord Bao of the Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty ruled over China from about 999 AD to 1279 AD, and Lord Bao called this palace home until his death in 1062. Thinking back, it’s absolutely amazing that I was just walking around a huge palace that’s about 1000 years old. Every day I’m hit with sensory overload in China, from the foods and the sights and sounds, and my mind constantly feels bogged down with all of the history here–it’s just amazing. You can find out more about Lord Bao and Kaifengfu here and here. Here are some photos I took while touring around, I hope you enjoy them!

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在中国减肥。。。

Coming to China, I really thought that it would be pretty easy to lose weight. Kaifeng isn’t too large of a city, so the most common method of transportation is the oldest one in the books–walking. I walk EVERYWHERE. There are no elevators in my dorm, and since I’m living on the fifth floor the five or so trips I make to my room end up giving me a good workout. The problem is the food. The food here is absolutely WONDERFUL. Today I went of the West gate of campus and bought 3 baozi (buns, essentially) that aren’t too terrible because they aren’t huge and they’re steamed–not fried. And then my little group happened upon a cart that sold some sort of Chinese burrito. The shell looked like it had been slightly fried, and before they began to fill it they lightly coated it with some soy sauce concoction. The innards consisted of a small amount of beef (small, of course), potato slivers, and cucumber slivers that appeared to have been lightly fried in some oil, and after this wonderful mix was heaped into the soft shell, the cook added some hot spices and wrapped it up. This has probably been one of my favorite meals in China so far, and the best part–it cost 3 kuai. Which is currently about $0.45. So the problem with much of this food is that it really isn’t that healthy. Rice, noodles, buns, dumplings, these weird but delicious pancake things–they’re just full of carbs. And MANY menu items at restaurants are cooked in either oil or lard. So it appears that losing weight in China isn’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped. For dinner I got an interesting carrot/cucumber/peanut mixture that was pretty good–it wasn’t really in a sauce, and I think the carrots and cucumbers were just raw, so that wasn’t too heavy. I got a small helping of some strange vegetable in a very spicy sauce that was…alright. I loved the spice, I’m not sure about the texture. But there was not a single grain of rice nor strand of noodle on my plate, so I felt somewhat healthy.

Today was our first day of classes! I think it went really well. I’m really happy that the teachers speak almost exclusively Mandarin. By the end of the class I felt like I was not only absorbing more of what the professor was telling us, but also listening better. I really can’t wait to see how much my skills will improve by the end of the semester. These classes are moving pretty quickly too–each is an hour and a half long and we’re going through about two chapters in each class. Well, that’s about it for now. I think this weekend we’re going to take a trip to one of the large parks in Kaifeng. It’s the main tourist attraction here–several dynasties have been through the castle there, so I hope to get some fantastic pictures! 慢慢走。

Ben.

What a bummer…

Well, I ended up being placed in the lowest level of Chinese because of a low score on the placement test. I definitely saw it coming since I had almost no idea what any of the questions asked on the exam, but looking through the books and seeing the basic pronunciation charts is quite disheartening. It’s almost as if it’s invalidating the semesters I took at Akron. However, if the Chinese think that’s where I need to be then that’s where I need to be–they would know best, after all. And there really is a huge difference in studying Chinese here than in the states. Ah well. 加油!

We have to pile into a bus at 7 AM tomorrow morning to get our medical examination. I’m not really looking forward to it, except that we’ll be going back into Zhengzhou. Devin tells me there’s a Starbucks there, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, it’ll be close to wherever we’re having the examination and I can sneak off and get some coffee. I can dream right? Drink lots of delicious coffee for me everyone =)

Ben

Wandering around Kaifeng

    Hey everyone! It’s been awhile, I know. I don’t have internet yet! It’s quite bothersome trying to get some wifi set up for the dorm because unlike Akron, Henan University’s internet is strictly through ethernet cords. Unless you buy the necessary equipment to set up the wireless yourself. Hopefully by Monday we’ll be all set up! Yesterday we went to the iron pagoda in Kaifeng, and strolled around what looked like a small park but it ended up being rather large. There was some great scenery, and lots of the Asian people there were taking our pictures, so it felt kind of awkward. I forgot to grab my camera, so I’ll upload pictures some other time. There’s really so much I want to write, but I can’t think of much right now. Haha. Until next time!

ReLAXing in LAX

Sorry guys, I really just couldn’t resist the terrible pun. Dannysha, Amber and I successfully made it out of Cleveland and into LA. The flight was overall pretty good–no screaming children, we didn’t fly into the side of a mountain, eveyone seemed pretty polite–and so far in LAX we’ve had the opposite experience. Well, security here is obnoxious–the TSA worker was suspicious because we checked in 6 hours before our flight. But, he let us through, we rehydrated and got some food and our spirits are restored! We have a lot of time to kill before we leave for Beijing though. The next time I update this we should be in China! Wish us luck in Beijing and Zhengzhou!