“Round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate..” ~ Tolkien
Last week one of my good friends from UK came to visit me for few days. And it was all exciting, fun and it made me very happy to have someone from back home come to see me.
But that meant I was also busy as hell and with very little time for writing. But I’m back today, and I’m sharing few pictures from our adventure around Hangzhou.
We wondered around quite a bit, and because I’ve discovered recently how beautiful Hangzhou actually is, I’ve decided to take my friend to one of those places too. But because of our limited time together, and the fact that I had to work too during the week, I decided to stay closer to home and explore the nature scenery around my area (bare in mind, because is China – my area is the whole city of Hangzhou – which is HUGE).
That was how we got to Xixi National Wetland Park (Chinese: 西溪国家湿地公园).
This park is one of the most famous Wetland Parks in China, and the chance has it that is located in Hangzhou, and covers over 1,150 hectares. It’s mostly famous because it was the original site of the Chinese South Opera, but also for a yearly Dragon boat festival.
There are lots of things to do there, and you can stay for as long as you want. You can go on boat rides (which we did), you can shop for traditional snacks and obviously clothing and also just walk around and enjoy the scenery.
And I think the most impressive thing about this place is the fact that Xixi is a peaceful oasis in the middle of a very busy and still-developing town. The fact that you can come here and enjoy nature and that there aren’t as many people as everywhere else in Hangzhou – all of that make this place more worth it to visit!
I hope you enjoy the photos I took. I hope you like them so much that maybe one day you’ll visit this wonderful place.
It was a beautiful adventure, that thought me to go out and explore more and to be thankful I’ve been living in this wonderful city for the last 10 months!
“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” ~ John Lennon
Peace & Love,
My teaching experience in China is slowly coming to an end. I still can’t believe I’ve got about 7 weeks left in China, and about 4 weeks of teaching.
And because of that, I want to share some things that still make sense for me in this non-sense. Few weeks ago, I had to give my students a mid-term. This term is coming to an end slowly, so they needed grades. And while I thought and thought and research of things my Speaking classes could do for their mid-terms, I stumbled into more important things.
And I thought to myself: what do I want to do? Follow the rules and give them a boring speaking test? Or be creative and enable them to be creative as well, and allow them to spread their wings too?
Obviously, I chose the second option. Because school is not about learning from books, memorising and competing for the highest grades. College especially, should be a place where students should be given space to discover themselves and to discover the world. And that’s what I’ve been doing with my classes for the last 7 months. I created a space where they can talk freely, and where they can be themselves more with no judgment from me or their colleagues whatsoever. IF more teachers would do this, the results would be astonishing. I can honestly say I’ve learnt as many things from my students as I’ve taught them. They keep surprising me every day.
So for this mid-term, I decided to have them perform.
Yes, not that creative, but bear with me.
I’ve given them three poems. Each and one of them sent a very important message to the world. I told them to work in groups and put together a performance that would enable the message of the poem to be heard and understood by the class. The only requirement I had was Passion. Do it with Passion. Pour something in the performance. Let me see you.
And they did. My girls amazed me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t inspired enough to record them, but I did took few pictures.
They kicked ass. It was a big difference even from last term. They’re growing more accustomed to my liberal way of teaching, but also they’re more comfortable with speaking their mind.
Which is wonderful to witness. I started with 20 girls in each class who were barely able to speak few sentences in English out loud (not because they cannot speak the language, because they’re acing the theory part) to girls who even make jokes with me in English.
It’s one of the reasons why teaching intrigues and captivates me. Seeing that before your eyes, standing in front of them and being real, talking to them as adults – it makes a difference. It makes all the difference in the world.
And I’m just thankful that they allowed me to be part of that with them. So, so thankful that it will make my leaving very hard. It makes me very sad that I won’t be teaching them next year.
But before I get too emotional and start balling my eyes out (there’s plenty of time for that), here are the three poems I gave them. I won’t discuss them too much here, because the poems speak for themselves, but also because I’m dedicating them a whole post. This poems and my students’ reactions to them in class today, brought me back to myself a bit more. And I’m so incredibly thankful.
It made me realise how blessed I am to be here, but also that Inspiration is Holy. And it comes to you when you least expect it.
1. Michael Lee – Pass on. Watch this. Believe me, this boy makes everything better. His thoughts make me believe that are still good people out there.
2. Jon Jorgenson – Who you are. An ode to Women. What a performance.
3. Rudyard Kipling – IF. A classic and deep poem. Performed here by Jayme Louis Liardi
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep..” ~ Robert FrostAs part of my latest adventure in China – The Tonglu County (I’ve talked about the first stop here) the second leg of the trip were two hikes: one in a natural park with loads of beautiful lakes; and the second one was a hike up in the heart of a mountain and above a splendid waterfall. It was breathtaking – part of it because it was so hot, but part of it because it felt like I was on top of the world. So many beautiful places, so close to where I live. I was just so happy to have taken this trip – I’ve made friend, I spent time in the mountains and had time to reflect on myself. For me, nothing compares to a trip in the mountains – not the beach, not the amusement parks, not the zoo (especially not the zoos). Being in the nature gives me a sense of liberation, but also it remembers me how small I am.. I’m a particle in this whole universe, a universe that does not revolve around me. All my problems seem particularly smaller when I look around myself and I’m surrounded by the greatness of nature.
I hope you enjoy the following pictures – I think we picked the most perfect time for the hike – everything was blooming, everything was green and welcoming.
The first stop was Daqi National Forest Park. The park covers about 700 hectares, and it’s spread for several kilometres west of Tonglu. It has it all: forests, waterfalls, chain bridges and breath-taking views.
The entrance is about 25 yuan, and the opening times are from 7am to 6.30pm. If you find yourself in the area, it’s definitely a place that you should visit.
The second stop was Bai Yun Yuan Waterfall 白云源. This place is not as known as Daqi Park, and because of that we were rewarded with a more quieter and peaceful hike. Not that many people adventure here.
But let me tell you, it was well worth it! The view from the top of the waterfall – the wind through my hair, the cloudy day – it was just perfect. It made me stop there for few minutes and just say few prayers of gratitude.
I realised in that moment that the only way to come back to ourselves, is by going back to nature. No technology, no parties, no pills or alcohol will ever manage to fix our deepest issues, the way that going back to nature and reflecting does.It’s a lesson that I need to remind myself every day – even taking a walk outside, getting out of my crowded head will help.
Peace & Love,
I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Few weeks back, when I was writing my post about my trip to Jianglang Shan, and I was day-dreaming about new travel plans and about the mountains – Cracking China made an announcement about an upcoming trip in Zhejiang province.
Lavender fields, hiking, waterfalls .. it all sounded like a dream. So I decided to sign up and 2 weeks later I was on my way to a new adventure.
Today I will talk about the first leg of the trip: Dipu village (递铺). Located in the northwest of Zhejiang province, Dipu has been around for the last 1000 years. Slowly progressing, but with lots of things going for it, you’ll be captivated by gorgeous flower fields, small family owned restaurants, and you’ll be given an inside into the life of the villagers.
What I love about these old villages is mostly the fact that everyone tries to make a living and adapt to the tourist masses that come by. They will sell home-made food on the street corners, jams, honey, hats. It’s amazing how resourceful they are.
Enjoy the flower parade!
This little girl was chasing a butterfly. It was the sweetest thing I’ve witnessed in a while.
The thing that impressed me the most on this trip was how many things Zhejiang province has to offer. So many things to experience and to discover.
So if you ever find yourself in this part of China, I suggest you give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Peace & Love,
Today, I’m sharing with you guys few pictures that I took this month. It is basically what I have been up to in March.
*Warning: lot’s of reading involved, smoothies and job applications.
This is basically what defines my days this week – reading to get inspired, smoothies to keep healthy and job applications.. well because we all need to do some planning sometimes.
Here it goes.
What inspires you?? How did your month looked like? Share your pictures. I would love to hear from you.
Peace & Love,
We left Hangzhou in a rush - we needed a break, we needed to make some Kodak moments for the years to come.
In the last six months, China taught me to lower my expectations – too many things are so different from what I knew, so to adapt, I had to accept and take things as they are.
Pointless to say that because of that, I was not expecting much from Hong Kong. I thought, ok maybe it will be a little different than Mainland China.
I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Hong Kong was Wild. It felt like Home. Surreal.
It had that New York vibe about it – you could get lost and be found there.
People were all chilled – none of that desperation to get to a place first, no more pushing or talking loud. And my favourite – no more people staring at me. Wherever I went, I could communicate with people without feeling frustrated or feel small because I did not speak the language.
Until I arrived in Hong Kong, I don’t think I really let myself think of how much I don’t click with the culture in Mainland China, and how much I miss Western culture.
And I’m talking about the little things like going to a shop and getting whatever the hell I want – it became a big deal in China.
And I’ll be honest here, I seriously think I was having another culture shock the first two days. I was wowed by everything I was seeing. It felt like I was closed in this tiny box for six months and I was escaping finally.
Here are some photos that I took. I tried to organise them the days and the places that we saw.
Day 1: Bagels and Coffee at McCafe. Kadoori Botanical Gardens, ISKCON Hong Kong.
Day 2: ISKCON HK, Lantau Island & Big Buddha, Turkish Dinner
Day 3: Wandering around + Shopping; New Years Street Parade and Indian Spice.
Day 4: ISKCON Temple, Nunnery and coffee with friends.
So that was Hong Kong for me.
This were my own opinions and experiences. Obviously, not everyone will agree with me. But let’s keep in mind we are all different and I am entitled to feel this way about both Hong Kong and Mainland China.
In my next post I will tell you about my adventurous adventures in Mainland China during Spring Festivals.
Peace & Love,
“Santa Claus is coming to town..’
It’s Christmas day and I’m sitting here trying to send Xmas wishes to all my friends, but in between I’m looking at possible places to travel next. I think there’s a serious case of Wanderlust building up!
But in the Christmas mood, today I want to share with you what I did with my students for Christmas.
I had a long debate about it, but in the end I decided that I will do Secret Santa with all my classes. We will talk maybe a bit about Christmas and watch some Christmas classics!
When I planned that, I did not expected it will go so well! These were, to be honest, the best memories I have made in China so far. Everyone got involved and they all tried to make this week so very special for me. I was trying to make it special for them, but they made it special for me!
We shared good moments, laughter and we took lots of pictures. It was wonderful. And I’m trying very hard to express it in words, for everyone to understand how much I love teaching here in Hangzhou and how proud I am of my students.
I don’t know if I’m going to teach them in 2nd term, but they made this first few months here extra-special.
Here are some of the pictures we took. In each class, I had one of the students put on a Santa hat and give the prezzies away to everyone.
Day 1 of Christmas Celebration – Monday, December 22:
Day 2 of Christmas Celebrations – Wednesday, December 24:
Day 3 of Christmas Celebrations – Friday, December 26. Poorer quality – I forgot my camera on Friday, so all the pictures were took with different phones..