“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; the wildness is a necessity.” ~ John Muir
Today I’m starting a new series on the blog – Come with me to .. –
I am planning to travel even more in the next few months, and I’m planning to show you all the beautiful places and people I meet on my way.
My trip to the mountains began with this song blasting in my ears:
I got on the bus, day-dreaming about road trips, adventures, being up in the mountains, in the woods and asking Mother Nature to dive into the wildness.
This happens every time I set on a trip. I feel like all my dreams and ideas are trying to escape my mind and fix themselves more into my soul.
Every time I get somewhere new, the common wanderlust for new places settles in, and all I want to do is go a little further, explore a little more, walk that extra mile and discover undiscovered treasures.
Jianglang Shan is located in the Zhejiang province, the same province I work in. Is a 4 hours bus ride away from Hangzhou, which might seem long,but considering how big China is, it is actually not that long. I was prepared for the ride – a very good playlist, a good book and snacks.
This is how the adventure looked like in few pictures:
There were a lot of stairs to be climbed. Way too many.
I’ve made a friend on my quest to conquer the steep steps.
And we felt infinitely small facing the greatness of nature.
And then, 3 hours later, we were happy to make it to the top.
Being up in the mountains felt so good, that I decided to take another trip as soon as possible. That being said, I’m going hiking again next weekend. And nothing is more exciting than that.
That’s the thing about Wanderlust. You need to have a plan to go somewhere new, in order to keep that spark in your soul. You need to know that you will be somewhere new, meeting different kinds of people, experiencing the life through their eyes.
And that my friends – that’s real wealth in my eyes.
Peace & Love,
“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” ~ Joseph Campbell
You know how sometimes when you’re in a public place, someone that you don’t know comes way too close to you and you start to get uncomfortable? When you feel like you have to lean back, just to put some distance between you and your ‘space harasser’?
Well, I do.
And coming from a culture where personal space means a lot (as it should), I’ve had a few problems in this department since arriving in China. And I will share with you today few things that crossed my mind.
Last encounter that caused this problem to come up again, happened about two days ago, in a bar in downtown Hangzhou.
Me and a bunch of my friends go there almost every Wednesday to have dinner and to play Trivia. Old-Skool, I know! But we are loving it, and the atmosphere is also so vivacious and exciting. It’s also nice to spend some time surrounded by lowai (that’s a term Chinese people use for foreigners).
Because the setup of the tables we were sitting at was quite strange – me and my friend were sitting with our backs to the bar and basically to where the organiser of Trivia was sitting.
So we were getting into our game, having fun, enjoying our food and drinks; and half-way through the game this guy comes by our table and starts talking to me and my friend about random stuff. Now, note that we kinda knew the guy (he’s part of the team that mostly wins Trivia every week).
But basically you could tell he was few drinks in, and he was trying to make all this funny jokes and ha ha, and hi hi. But then he places a hand on my shoulder. From the back. And I was like ‘Wohoo, my dear Sir. What is going on here?’. I let it drop once, but then he kinda just leans over my chair to write something on a piece of paper and he’s basically leaning into me. Again, defence mechanism went up, I tried to lean the other way, tried to move, because he was getting too close. Uncomfortably close without my permission.
My friend sees him and she tries to get him to sit on the chair next to us – which was empty by the way, but he could not be bothered.
He was in his own little world, feeling like he was charming these two attractive young girls. Which he was not.
Thankfully, the game started and he had to leave our table, because I was being bitchy at this point, and I was giving him my stare- of -death (which is scary, believe me).
But it got me thinking – what is it with these people? Why can’t everybody get the idea that when you are so close to someone you don’t know, a defence mechanism sets off?
The way I see it, we all long for security – we need to feel secure about our surroundings and about the surroundings of the people we care about. And when someone steps into that personal space, they violate that right of security that we all should have.
Now, I’ve done a bit of reading, and a bit of travelling too, and I know things work quite differently in China. Because there are so many people, and this and that and you don’t get that privilege here.
Wait a moment .. privilege?? How did this simple thing – the need to safe – became a privilege? In what parallel universe have I gone to? I honestly ask myself this question every time I think about this topic.
It is not ok to say personal space is a privilege. It is not ok to find excuse for people that come so close to you that you can feel their breaths on your neck. It is not ok to turn your head the other way and pretend you did not noticed it.
Or maybe it’s just me.
In my head, that’s a right that no one in this entire world should be denied. Of course I’m not naive, I think about all these places in the world where so many bad things happen – to children and women especially – but we, as a human race, should strive for making conscious decision to help one another, to free one another.
We, as human beings, should fight for the right to freedom of any kind, for those around us that cannot do it.
And the only place where we can begin to do that, is ourselves. Standing up for ourselves when we feel in danger. When we feel uncomfortable.
*Please note that the above was just a personal opinion of an issue that bothered me. I have the deepest respect for all cultures around the world, I live to learn about all these Cultures. But there are certain topics that I feel in a way we, as humans like to comply to and accept them without challenging them.This is one of them.*
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,
“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..
It’s been a month of experiences, adventures and trying out stuff.China is not a place where vegetarianism is really popular. At least the part of country where I live now. Ordering food in restaurant takes time. People look at you funny, even ask you ‘why’. It has been tough, but not impossible. I thank God I have had the fortune if meeting some amazing people that became my friends, that always help me order stuff. I have put few extra kilos on, but I know they are just adjusting kilos. Trying out stuff -especially pastry and bubble tea – but things will get better, once I sort my routine out. Also, I have been obsessing about Indian Food and Coffee. I went out of my way to order Indian Spices so I can start cooking again ;and I have been trying out all sorts of coffee (bought at Carrefour, which I am THANKFUL for).
So, because I love my veggie food and there is no way in turning back to meat (even if people keep advising me this), I started doing some research about vegetarian restaurants in China, and I am particularly interested in finding the ISKCON centres and visiting them. So I might be heading to Hong Kong soon. And India.
(*)If anyone that is reading my blog has any suggestions regarding vegetarian restaurants, please feel free to leave a comment!
The following photos represent my last few weeks in China in terms of Food:
>> Gong De Lin Restaurant, Shanghai – Birthday Lunch at one of the biggest Vegetarian Restaurants <<
>> Sweets, Coffee, Bubble Tea <<
I received this cakes for a Birthday Dinner – Yummy!
Unexpectedly Delicious – Healthy Seeds Snacks
Green Tea Rolls – Chinese Idea of Sweets is Way Different than what I am used to.
My friend, Rachel made muffins in a steamer. She is Amazing and she keeps feeding me.
Casa Miel Cake – not as sweet as I was hoping!
This right here – Coconut milk. New found obsession.
I also found cereals at Carrefour.
>> Fruits, Veggies, Cooking <<
Coucous Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Green Peppers and a squeeze of Lemon.
Snack time: Prunes, Water Mellow and Coconut
Since I’ve got my spices, I decided to use them: Spicy Curry Beans with some Fresh cucumber
The apples are tasteless, but all the citric fruits! Ohhh, simply delicious. I have had the best Grapefruits, Tangerine and Oranges here.
These Pocky sticks are quite addictive! Plus some peanuts, Grapefruits and Tangerine.
My lovely Mug – because why not.
I bought Ginger and Coriander and decided to freeze the excess for future cooking experiences.
My tiny collection of spices! Tiny, but it does the job. I am particularly fond of my Garam Masala, delivered all the way from India!
Cutting a Coconut is no easy job, people!
My tea collection! Everybody drinks tea here, so I figured I might as well go all the way and try everything.
Fried Noodles with Veggies
Spicy Tofu with vegetables and Rice
Indian Food!! We found a restaurant called Omar Cafe Indian Kitchen Restaurant on West Lake
More Indian Food.
Vegetable Curry with Rice. And a Chinese Fanta.Another Birthday Dinner – Family style at a really tiny restaurant that sells delicious food. What I have learnt is that it’s challenging, but just like with everything else in life, if you stick to your beliefs, to what you think it’s good for you, things will work out in the end. Yes, it’s a bit of an effort ordering in restaurants, or explaining people sometimes – but it’s my decision – it’s part of my uniqueness and part of who I am. SO, an advice for any vegetarian moving to china: don’t be put off! You won’t be starving. There are always kind people willing to help you, places where you can buy a thing or two to cook. It’s such an amazing and different experience that it would be a shame to miss it because you have listened to one or another! xO
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
It has been a while since my last post!
I started this one few times over the last few days, but life got a bit crazy!
But it is safe to say that I will always come back to my writing and to this blog. This is my cabinet of memories.
Sooo, with no further ado, a few words about my first few weeks in China!
China is big. China is really hot at the moment. China is crowded and Loud. But oh, so, so wonderful.
It’s like you step in a whole new world. The moment your feet step out of the plane, you are hit by a stuffiness that threatens to suffocate you, and a mass of people hurrying out to different places.
Everywhere you look you see something being built, something being developed. Hence the air pollution and the impossibility to see a patch of blue sky in cities like Shanghai or in my case, Hangzhou.
I think that has been my only complain since I have arrived: the absence of blue sky. I have spent my summer in Pennsylvania – heaven in terms of nature! So for me this is a big adjustment.
But other than that, my life here is a daily adventure.
I do not speak Mandarin yet – the only words I know are Hello, Thank you and Yes.
You can imagine, daily tasks like ordering food, shopping or asking for directions – they are converted into a ‘lost in translation’ adventure.
But I am being realistic, it could have been way, way worse! Thank God that I adapt really easy to new situations and I’ve been mastering sign language. Of course, my million watt smile seems to be helping in most situations!
I made it my goal this year – I will be able to have a decent conversation with someone in Mandarin even if it kills me!
In terms of ordering vegetarian food in restaurant – that’s a whole new challenge! It seems that for most Chinese people the concept of being vegetarian is completely strange.
And although is a bit harder than ordering any meat food, it is not impossible. You just need a really good dictionary or someone that speaks the language enough to order for you!
More about this in a different post.
I have started teaching about two weeks ago. I have 7 classes of students for both Speaking and Writing in English.
I honestly love it! My mum was telling me the other day that she can tell I like it – she can see the passion in my eyes.
I feel like a different person too. I wake up every morning knowing that I am doing something to help other people – that I am shaping futures. And honestly, you do not understand how big that is until you stand in front of 50 students that are eyes and ears to anything you are telling them.
Knowledge truly is Power.
I will end up with some photos describing my last few weeks, the friends I have made, the places I have been..
My school has palm trees. What else can I ask for.
Making friends! This girl is the best. Birthday Dinner
Shanghai TV Tower
West Lake, Hangzhou
The Little Things.
Military training month for Freshmen.
Birthday Card from sissy.
Of course, a new plant. Still haven’t named it.
Best vegetarian dry hot-pot in town.
And I went to a Chinese wedding. And I was taking pics of everything!
The view from my room. I live on the 11th floor. Coincidence?! (11 is my lucky number.)
More Birthday cards.
We also have a lake where lotus flowers grow. And fish.
Night Markets are the place to be.
I was a judge in a National Speech Competition. Because why not.
More updates over the next few days, but for now, I need to go back to lesson planning!