October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween--Its finally winter!

The whole group wishing you a Happy Halloween!
Hello Friends and Family,
Well, I think today was the first day since we've been here that it was below 70 degrees! It was a beautiful 'Oregon' day. Cold with a constant drizzle! We felt right at home. So we celebrating by hopping on the bus downtown and walking about a mile to McDonalds (we figured we would exercise before we ate fast food) and we had a wonderful day wearing long sleeve shirts and sweat pants. Hope you all have a safe Holiday. Here are the promised pictures from last night.

Ryan and Kealy

SuperLee and E.T. performing a song for everyone!

A whole lot of smiles--Kealy and her students

The Tough Boys!

Kealy and the girls making 'jiao tze' (dumplings/potstickers)

October 30, 2007

Dinner for 15-A night with college students

Hello Friends and Family,

Tonight we had 12 of Kealy's students over to our apartment for DINNER! We always loved having people over to our apartments in the states, but we were a little nervous about tonight, to be honest, hoping they would like the food we cooked, that we had enough, what would we talk about, what we do, etc. But the night was a complete success! We had one of our best times in China so far and so many hilarious things happened they are too many to count. It was relaxing and fun and the students were so kind and even brought some food and cooked some dumplings for us and with us. They said that this is what families cook together so we are family now! A Chinese tradition is cook two coins into two of the dumplings and if you bite into your dumpling and you have a coin, then you will recieve good luck. A little risky, but fun nonetheless. Kealy and I cooked them spaghetti with meat sauce, potatoes and eggs, and we introduced them to apples dipped in peanut butter! They loved the peanut butter. One student stole the bowl at the end and ate the rest, he liked it so much, his chopsticks were covered with peanut butter. We also taught them UNO and had fun playing a couple of rounds of UNO. Some students showed Kealy their pictures and we showed them pictures on our computer of you guys! We took a lot of pictures and video and they even sang some songs for us while one of them played a guitar. They sang us, Enrique Inglesias 'I can be your hero!' and Avril Lavigne, two popular artists here in China, and the girls also sang a beautiful Chinese song to us. We all laughed a lot and had a great time. Kealy and I also sang them a song...'Lean On Me'! We bought some Chinese candy for the evening to celebrate Halloween and we were explaining to them how kids dressed up in costumes and went around to people's houses asking for candy. Kealy rushed out the door with something in her hand and shut the door. She knocked and I opened the door and this is what we saw:

Kealy shouted 'trick or treat!' and all the students laughed for a long time. They also brought Kealy some special necklaces as gifts of appreciation for teaching them English and inviting them to our home. One necklace is for safety and the other is for everlasting friendship.

We're having some problems getting some pictures onto the web right now! Chinese internet! We'll try to get some other pictures from tonight later.

They were all so kind and it was so much fun to hang out with them outside of school. We had a great time together! Hope you have a great Halloween! Be safe, talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 28, 2007

A Trip to the NEW Bird and Flower Market with a crowd of white people

Hello Friends and Family,

Just wanted to continue to keep you update on our weekend activities. We had a good day today, it was beautiful weather and we could actually see blue sky! Pretty rare in the humid and cloudy south. We had the chance to go to lunch with our pizza hut friends plus a couple more at a restaurant in an area of Nanning that we had never explored before; a new bird and flower market with shops and restaurants in ancient Chinese style buildings. When you got to eat with large groups in China, you can get your own private room so you don't have to compete with the noise. So we had a nice air conditioned room where the kids could play (five of them) and we ordered different kinds of food like fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, pork and eggplant, which kind of tastes liked mashed potatoes. We had a nice time and I even got to hold the pizza hut baby, the 10 month old daughter of our pizza hut friends. She likes to dance on my lap and buzz her lips, its pretty cute:

Me with the pizza hut girl and our other new friend

After lunch we walked around the different shops and even found a shop which sold some really cool stuff for cheap, stuff we would like. We bought a wall tapestry made by a minority people in Yunnan that we both really like. Hopefully most of you will recognize the scene being depicted. It holds special meaning to us.

Also, we found two wall pictures that were written in Chinese that were scripture verses so we bought two; 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter or ai -pronounced I-in Chinese, which means love) and The Beatitudes (fu-blessing in chinese).

A beautiful girl in front of the beautiful new bird and flower market

We came back and hung the pictures up and cleaned the house. Tomorrow will be a busy day of teaching and we will be preparing our students for their conversational mid-term next week, where they will meet with us one and one and we will choose a topic and discuss it with them for two minutes. We are also going to share with them about Halloween and finally, we are going to have a pretend Business Expo, as the real ASEAN-9 country expo is in town this week. Hopefully we'll get a chance to go down and take a look. We'll try to get some pictures from that on here too. Hope you all have a great Sunday! Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 27, 2007

We're Lovin' It-A day at the city center

Hello Friends and Family,

Today we got up early (for a Saturday anyways) and hopped in two or three different buses to finally make it to the 'city center'. In about the same time as it takes to drive from Salem to Sandy (a little over an hour) we can get from our apartment to the heart of Nanning, termed 'the city center' by all of our hip college students. Its the main area of Nanning, filled with shops and malls and parks and...McDonalds!!! We were craving McDonalds all morning and were hoping to even get there in time for breakfast (pancakes and eggs and hashbrowns, hmmmmm) but the bus took longer than we planned and we got there after breakfast time at 10:30 (breakfast ends at 10:00 here because they sometimes eat early lunches). But we were craving McDonalds so much and hungry because we hadn't eaten anything, so we decided to have lunch at 10:30 and man was it good, as you can tell by my face:

After McDonalds we wanted to just walk around and explore the city center. They were lots of malls and different side streets with shops and we had a great time people watching. It was Saturday, so there were a lot of people downtown, I think shopping is a very big deal for them. Plus, Renmin Park (People's park) is also at the city center. Renmin Park is frequented by the older generation of Nanning Chinese and there are many activities for them there. In the park, the men smoke and play different card games and Mah Jong. Also, there was music playing and people were dancing. At first it was a ballroom/tango type dance and we stopped and watched the dancers for a while. Then it turned into an electric slide/techno/tai chi type dance and we had a great time watching 60 year olds keep up with the beat. We even saw a guy dancing and smoking at the same time, maybe trying to counterract the effects of the cigarette?

The city center

We sat down to rest and realized that may have been a mistake. We began to feel like the animals probably due at the zoo as 90% of the people that walked by would take a four to five second look at us and stare. The other 10% probably just didn't see us. We decided just to smile and make due, we even took some pictures of them as they walked by, why not?

We didn't rest long and we were back to shopping. The stores were mostly shoes and clothes and I think they was a competition to see which store could play their music the loudest. Each store we passed had huge speakers and was playing their own song, so it was a little loud, but silly and we enjoyed it. Also, we stumbled upon and wedding dress fashion show in front of the McDonalds we had eaten at earlier. We thought we were being stared at! At least they were getting paid though:

After we spotted the golden arch again we were craving some ice cream. They have these 24 hour walk thru type things that sell different kinds of icecream like floats, REAL chocolate icecream cones and icecream cones with flavored swirls...I got grape!

We also found at neat store with some Chinese dining and tea sets and we bought a nice tea set with some money that my parents wired us for my birthday. Thanks Mom and Dad! We're really excited to have you all over for real Chinese tea and use our China Tea Set:

Tonight we went out to Zhongshan Lu (Middle Mountain Road) which is famous for its BBQ restaurants with Chris and Hua, some friends and teachers, for the final birthday celebration. Now when we say BBQ, its not the steak and chicken type, but more of a grilled spicy sauce cooking just about any kind of meat or vegetable you can think of. This was what we pictured China to be like. Large crowds and lots of outdoor cooking with tables and places to sit. We really enjoy spending time with Chris and Hua because, not only are they great friends and a lot of fun to hang out with, but they know the city well and of course, they speak English! So we had a great time and saw all kinds of different things we COULD have eaten, if we had chosen to: pigeons, fish heads, squid, vegetables of all kinds. In the end, we settled on beef, pork ribs, shrimp, oysters and a green leafy vegetable. It tasted great! We think it would be a big hit in the states:

Can you find the fishheads in this picture?

Kealy's eating pork ribs and I've got the vegetable thingy

Our good friends Chris and Hua

After the BBQ we went to the cinema to see if they were playing an English movie, but no luck, so what do we do on weekends in China...we went and got our hair washed! It was fun with Chris and Hua because we could talk to the people giving us the hair wash because they could translate. They laughed at how tall we were and the girl that did my hair said I was the tallest person she had ever seen and the girl doing Kealy said she loved her hair and her eye! I agreed with her.

It was a great day full of lots of interesting sights and fun moments. We'll get more pictures from today on the blog in the next few posts, but we wanted to share with you what we have been up to. Its 1 AM here and I'm going to get up at 4 AM to listen to the Wolves football team beat up on the Western Washington Vikings and also hopefully hear my brother break the ALL-Time record for TD passes by a quarterback at WOU. Congratulations bro and GO WOLVES!

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 26, 2007

A Birthday Celebration

Hello Friends and Family,

Today Kealy and I had a great time together, hanging out and celebrating life together. This morning, Kealy came and sat in on my one class for the day and it was fun to have her in class! It was nice to see a caring face. Then after lunch here at home (Top Ramen and bananas) we went downtown to have our massage. It had to be one of the best ever! The extra half hour really made the difference and we felt great, so we decided to just walk back towards our apartment, which is about 8 miles away, and whever we got tired, just hop on the bus. We wound up walking about four miles and had a great time seeing the city. The 9 country ASEAN business expo is this weekend, so the city has been spoofed up and decorated with flowers, lanterns, etc. and it looked beautiful. Kealy cooked a great dinner for us and tomorrow we are going to go back downtown again and explore (maybe hit McDonalds for breakfast and/or lunch (ah McGriddles!)). Then, some friends are taking us to have some BBQ. We'll be sure to get some pictures of the BBQ up for you, here are some pics from today. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday cards and salutations. We miss you. Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy

October 25, 2007

Ryan Birthday Celebration

Dear Friends and Family,
Tomorrow is my Sweet Love's birthday. We are going to get a hour and a half massage by two blind guys. They are supposed to be really good! The cost for an hour massage is 25 yuan which equals about 3.5 dollars. After the massege we will make what we know to be Chinese food (stir fry) one of Ryan's favorite meals here. The High School asked us to M.C. an Oral English Corner Game Night tomorrow night as well. We each will be in a different classroom with about a hundred Chinese students and some teachers, but we will be running the games. Fortunately, they provided the games. One is bringing some students up to answer questions to win a prize, the second is having students act out verbs that they are shown for the crowd to guess, and the last game is like Simon Says. Then they have time to talk with us afterwards and are given a topic that we provide. So, since we are going to do that tommorrow night we are celebrating some of Ryan's B-day tonight with ice cream, mentos, chips, and movies after we eat our breakfast/dinner meal of eggs and potatoes (another of Ryan's favorites). Someone needs to stop us before we get sick. Ryan's birthday will continue onto Saturday with finding him some birthday presents. It is a little difficult trying to get him some gifts without him knowing and being safe at the same time. Chris and Hua, the other foriegners here at the middle school, invited us to go have a BBQ to celebrate. So Ryan gets a three day birthday with lots of fun and food!

Today, when we went to the market to pick up food for today and tomorrow we saw some interesting things such as when we bought our meat they have all the meat sitting on the table without anything under it, flies are landing on some, and people come up and touch to see if they like it. Then, when we buy the meat he grabs it with his bare hands, slices it and puts it in a bag for us, never washing his hands. Then we hand him the money and he gives us back change with some blood and guts on it. One interesting thing we saw today was sitting on the table next to the meat we bought: a water buffaloe's brains. Also in the market we saw a dog that had met his maker and was being sold for dinner. We didn't know how to respond. INTERESTING!

On a lighter note, we are doing good. Yesterday I joined Facebook and have had fun connecting with friends. My Mom started a blog which is nice because we will be able to share pictures and stories with each other. In our day in age it is wonderful for us to stay in touch even though we are miles away, making it seem like we are close. Thanks!

Time to celebrate!
Kealy and Ryan

Also, we wanted to say hi to the Jamison Kids; Clay, Gracie and Shelby, who faithfully read our blog each day. We miss you guys!

October 18, 2007

Ms. Kealy and Mr. Ryan, May I ask you a question?

Hello Friends and Family,

Its been a pretty 'normal' last couple of days, for living in China, that is. So we thought we would share with you about some of the teaching we have been doing this week. On Sundays, we usually plan out our lesson for the week together, and we only have to create one, 1.5 hour lesson, and we each teach the same lesson nine times to nine different classes. Well, this week, we decided we wanted to encourage the students to talk about something they knew well, so we decided that one of the topics would be movies! Also, because we realized while being in the hospital here in China how hard it is to explain when you are not feeling well in a foreign country, we thought we would also talk about 'seeing the doctor'. We planned our lesson and it was pretty packed, but we thought we would give it a try. So on Monday, the first lesson is always a little sketchy, because we're not sure how long certain activities will last or how the lesson will go. Without knowing it, Kealy and I started our lessons on different topics. We each have a slightly different teaching style, so we talk about the lesson but then plan/adjust the activities to fit our style. Well she had started talking about 'seeing the doctor' with the students, and by the half-way point, a ten minute break where we get to say hi to each other and see how class was going, she hadn't gotten very far because the students were so interested in the topic. I, on the other hand, had started with movies on accident and was having an equal amount of success. So we decided to teach our lessons entirely about the topic we had started on and we discovered a great strategy. Why not perfect a lesson on two different topics during the same week, and then the next week, we could switch topics and the other person already had an ironed out lesson that would work well. Brilliant! So during my movie lesson, I start out with asking questions that they in turn will ask each other: Have you seen any good movies lately? What kinds of movies do you like? What is your favorite movie? If you could be a movie star, who would you be? Pretty basic questions but it gets them talking English. We make a list of different kinds of movies and I imitate the genre. For example, with action, I play James Bond and get down on my knees and shoot a gun. For horror movies, I scream really loud and surprise the heck out of my students, its fun to watch their faces knowing I'm about to scream at them. I do a pretty good Kung Fu impression too that they laugh at. We then make a list of popular American movies in China; Titanic, Harry Potter, King Kong, Crash, etc. and a list of popular Chinese movies. I have them write the titles on the board in Chinese and then they have to explain the movies to me, what they are about, how old they are, etc. Then they have to discuss the major differences between Western and Chinese movies and they have some interesting responses. Then, at the end of class, they play a game where one person has a movie in mind and the other person has to ask questions to figure out what the movie is. We try to design our lessons to get the students speaking comfortably in English and also having opportunities to listen to us speak English so they get used to hearing a Native English Speaker. Finally, at the end of class, I write HOMEWORK on the board in huge letters and I wait and listen to them all groan! Its great! Then I write, 'practice speaking English'! And tell them in order to improve they have to practice outside of class. They all laugh and giggle and then I tell them to go away! Its been my most favorite lesson so far. Tomorrow, Kealy will tell you about 'seeing the doctor' on the blog, another great lesson.

Tonight we also went to English corner, a one night a week event where students can show up and speak English with us. Sounds fun, right? 30-40 students crowding around you bombarding you with the same questions over and over and staring at you trying to hear you talk. Its a little wierd. We both feel a little shy. Everyone is staring at us, not because we are skilled at something or famous, but because we were born white and in America. We, however, are getting used to it and learning how to concentrate on specific students and are having some good conversations with them. Tonight, some of my students even asked me about American politics, history and religion, so we had a good discussion and I think they understood the majority of it, so that was cool. They are all very polite and very eager to learn, but sometimes we feel a little overwhelmed.

We went back to the movie store and bought the first season of Prison Break for $1.50. It is very popular here and all of the students like to talk about it, but we've never seen it, so we bought it to catch up, and to have a way to relax and something to watch. Please pray for Ryan as he goes back into the hospital tomorrow for a check up to make sure the infection is gone in his sinuses. Check back tomorrow for Kealy's lesson! Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

A view from one of our classroom windows

A view from the patio where Kealy and I take our breaks and talk

October 16, 2007

A night at the college--A basketball victory

Hello Friends and family,

Hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing weekend. We had the same and are enjoying a healthy balance of excitement and relaxation. We have been watching a lot of movies as a way to unwind each day and tonight, we even bought 14 pirated movies for a total of US $1!!!

As part of our effort to develop more relationships here in China we decided that, in addition to Thursdays (English Corner) we would go to the college one night a week and just 'hang out' with students. Tonight was the night and it worked out great, as two of Kealy's students invited her and I to come watch one of their intramural basketball games and one of my students invited us to dinner. So I met Kealy at the college after her classes and we watched her two guy students play basketball. They were really happy that we came and we had a great time talking and laughing with the girls that came to watch the boys play. The level of basketball was pretty good as well, about the same as college intramurals in the states. They ref their own games and everyone was pretty fair and they keep score but righting on the concrete with chalk! They came over a half time and they were losing to the freshmen and, after the guys asked us for tips, I asked them if they were worried that they were losing to the freshmen? He replied, "all in good time, Mr. Ryan!" and they came back and won! We also had a good time with Kobe at dinner. He shared with us a poem he had written and his English is very good, so we had a really nice conversation. He told us after dinner that he was 'proud to have eaten with us'!

Here are some fun pics from tonight.

Kealy with the girls at the basketball game.

some of Kealy's students in her classroom

Ryan with the victorious basketball team!

Also, on Sunday, we ordered KFC in Chinese for the first time, before we just pointed and hand motioned like silly foreigners, so it felt good to be able to order 'the real way'. Have a great day and we'll talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 13, 2007

Life's Little Luxuries and a Birthday Dinner

Hello Friends and Family,

We have had a great time the last couple of days just enjoying daily life and continuing to develop relationships with the great people that are here. Yesterday we got to spend more time with our 'pizza hut friends', Americans, living here with a 3 year old son and 10 month old daughter. Kealy went for a walk with Tiffany and I got to stay and play X-Box with Brent. After a little Madden and Ghost Recon (video games) we all went to a Japanese restaurant! We laughed that we were eating Japanese food in China, since they are pretty similar, but it was quite good and we particulary enjoyed the fried rice. Today was a great Saturday to sleep in and the weather was nice and cool (low 70s). We went for a nice walk and lunch at KFC! Then, after lunch, for a total of $3 American money, we each got a 45 minute hair wash and massage and Ryan got a haircut and Kealy her hair styled. It is such a great relaxing and fun thing to do and so inexpensive also. We laughed and giggled for the whole hour as we enjoyed and relaxed.

This is Kealy buying one of our favorite snacks, watermelon from Hainan Island.

After our wonderful massage we walked around the block and I found some sandals that barely fit me enough to wear around the house. We also spotted some cute kids and they followed us for a while and we bought some ice cream for them and they thought that was pretty cool.

Tonight we were invited to dinner at the college to celebrate the birthday of one of the teachers from the Phillipines, Elaine! We felt so honored to be invited to her birthday dinner and she even cooked some food that they knew we would both have in common; deep fried shrimp, spaghetti and hawaiian chicken. All of it was delicious. Her husband Richard even brought out his guitar and sang us Filipino folk songs and we had a great time sitting on there porch and talking together.

After dinner we headed home and of course stopped by our favorite mini-store that we stop by each day for icecream, mentos, juice, and other snacks. They know us by name and the family that runs the store are really friendly, the guy even gave us some grapes today for free to snack on. One of the daughters has a one year old and she is trying to teach the child how to say 'aunt' and 'uncle' in English so she can call us that. Pretty fun. Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 10, 2007

Lantens and Cotton Candy-Nanhu at Night

Hello friends and family,

Another day and the attempt to obtain 'normalcy'. We are taking small steps each day, a chance to rest and then some adventure. Our piece of adventure today was dinner at KFC (okay, that was the easy part) and then a trip to Nanhu park in downtown Nanning to walk off the pop and fries from KFC. The park is espcecially beautiful at this particular time because of the Mid-Autum festival and National Holiday that recently occurred. The lake in the middle of the park is currently full of large decorations, called 'lanterns' by the Chinese but are more like giant displays filled with lights at night.

As you can see, the lights are beautiful and the displays are quite large. They line the walkway around the lake so we spent an hour just walking around the lake and enjoying the different displays. There were many other people there and the atmosphere was really enjoyable, plus the weather was a cool low 70s. We really enjoyed just walking the lake and people watching; little toddlers running around with shoes that squeaked, young couples flirting and holding hands and older men and women walking for exercise and clapping their hands as they walked. We sang songs and enjoyed the atmosphere of being in a park in China and trying to soak in the culture and the positive and relaxing atmosphere that permeated the park.

We even found a vendor selling cotton candy, quite the treat and so we bought some and ate it as we walked. We are trying to do something fun and adventurous each day and today was a success. We are enjoying all the free time we have together just to be together and hang out. We are also enjoying getting back into the schedule of teaching and getting to know the students more. Hope you had a great day, too! Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 8, 2007

Keeping an open mind

Hello Friends and Family,

Well, we got back into the routine today with teaching at the college. It was good to see all of the students after not teaching for two weeks and they were eager to see pictures from our trip to Sichuan. We took in the computer and showed them some pictures from the trip and they quite enjoyed them. This week we are talking about travel itineraries and they are planning two day tours of Nanning for our 'foreign friends' that might come to visit. So if anyone of you could see us, there will be about 100 different itineraries to choose from. They enjoy it and it gets them talking, it also gives us an idea of what else is in Nanning that we haven't seen yet and might want to explore. Kealy made her increasingly famous potato and egg meal tonight with some onions and mushroom flavor thrown in. Delicious! After dinner we went out in the dark and I got creamed by my wife in two games of PIG! We are trying to exercise and be active and regain our strength from the last two weeks. We are also trying to eat fruit for dessert instead of ice cream, but the ice cream here is really good. The fruit however, is also sweet and delicious. There are some great watermelons from Hainan island, a province in the south China sea and some orange/tangerine that actually has a green peel and looks like a lime.

As we continue readjust to our teaching schedule, we are working everyday on having an openmind and observing the interesting things that have happened to us with a positive attitude. Things are very different here, not bad or good, necessarily, just different and we are working hard at accepting and embracing those differences in hopes of gaining a better understanding/appreciating for the country and culture we are living in. Here are some interesting things we have seen that have made us laugh/gasp/puzzled:

-When standing in line for the Grand Buddha in Sichuan, Kealy felt something on her arm and looked down and the Chinese lady behind her was rubbing her arm and admiring her white skin and freckles!
-In the same line, we turned around and there were a group of Chinese tourists snapping pictures of us like we were celebrities or animals at the zoo and when Kealy was on her own on Huanglong mountain, two different random groups of people asked to get their picture with her. I think it is because she is so beautiful.
-On our long hike down from Emei mountain, we came across a man in just shorts in the freezing cold carrying a huge pile of umixed concrete on his back. He was exhausted and tired and a person next to us told us that he would probably make four or five trips up the 3000 meter mountain a day and make about 2 US dollars a trip. It really put things in perspective for us and whenever we get tired or frustrated, we remind ourselves we could be carrying concrete up EmeiShan.
-Traffic in China is absolutely crazy. The only rule is that no one follows the rules, its about getting in position so the car in front of you has to stop or they will hit you. Crossing the street is the same way and honking is frequent. In addition to this, some drivers, instead of taking a test to earn their license, just pay extra and are giving a license to drive. They chinese call them 'road killers'.
-Finger nail clippers are a common tool for fixing split ends in China and cardboad boxes are used for clipboards at the hospital.
-It is concerned 'bad for you' to eat fruit BEFORE your meal. It is considered a dessert.
-One wonderful thing about the Chinese, is that when you are in trouble or there is a crisis, they will drop everything they are doing to help you and will not rest until you are comfortbale or the issue is resolved.
-There is no concept of a line in China, you just have to get closest to the cashier or bus and get on.
-If you have a friendship with someone in China, than they consider you family. There kids will call you 'uncle' or 'aunt' and you are their 'brother' or 'sister.

We are experiencing so many different and new things each day, we wanted to let you know of some. We have many neighbors that visit us each night; geckos, the occassional, yet frequent, rat on our walks at night and tonight, after basketball, we were swarmed by about ten young boys who kept jumping up as high as they could to see if they could reach my head and so we stopped and played with the ball with them for a while. Lots of great adventures! We love you all and we miss you and we are glad you can share this adventure with us. Talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

October 4, 2007

One the Road to Recovery--Recaps from a crazy month

Hello Friends and family,

Alright, I think we're ready to jump back into the blogging world and get back on track. It has been a crazy last couple of weeks, but our Rock has stood firm and the waters are hopefully subsiding. Tomorrow is Ryan's last day going to the hospital for IV and anitbiotics, after that he will continue to take medication and go back in in two weeks for a check up to make sure the infection is gone. We are very thankful that we were able to get to a good hospital and the college has been very helpful in getting us adequate care. We start teaching classes again next Monday and so we are preparing lessons, hanging out and trying to continue to build relationships while we are here.

But we didn't want to forget to tell you about our trip! We had an...hmmm...interesting time. We saw some amazing parts of China and met some really neat people that we traveled with. Here are some brief highlights and pictures. We will provide a more detailed account of our trip on our travel blog over the next couple of days if you want to check it out!

-Three hours before we were flying out of Nanning, we found out that our tour guide for the trip could not get time off of work to go with us so we were one our own. We have already paid for the plane tickets and she promised to take care of us over the phone and set-up people to help us along the way, which she did.
-We arrived in Chengdu, Sichuan, a province in the mountainous region of China next to Tibet. The very first day was one of our favorites. We visited a Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, basically a zoo for pandas and got to see them close up and in all different stages of developemt, including some one month old twin panda babies. We also watched some adolescent pandas wrestle and play king of the mountain for fifteen minutes...one of the highlights.

-That evening, after exploring a temple, we went to a Sichuan Cultural show, with music, drama, some incredible hand puppet displays and the famous #2 magic in China, face changing. The magicians have masks over there face and with a twicth of the neck or blink of an eye there mask changes in front of your eyes, quite astounding.

-The next day went joined a tour group in route to visit the world's largest Buddha. 25 stories tall and 1200 years old, it was an architectual amazement. It was carved out of rock by a monk and took over 80 years in the 800s AD. We enjoyed getting to know two gentlemen from Singapore that spoke excellent English and were our 'unofficial' interpreters and friends.

Mr. Buddha himself

Our friends and 'interpreters'; Bruce and Darris

-The next day we visited the #1 mountain in China. Emeishan. We were expecting grandiose views and inspiring scenery, but instead had a long hike and a lot of fog. Nonetheless, it was cool and fun and we even got very close to some wild macaques.

-The next four days we spent traveling to the Northern part of Sichuan on the bumpiest road you can imagine for 10 hours. We were stopped by crazy drivers and goat herders, but saw some beautiful country and a glimpse of the Tibetan culture. Alpine lakes and beautiful colored water awaited us at 'Jiuzhaigou' or nine village valley. A national park of sorts, much like Yellowstone, which we explored for a day and a half. We met a chinese couple who spoke English and were very kind and we even dressed up in some of the local costumes.

-Though I wasn't feeling well and didn't go, Kealy ascended HuangLong (or yellow dragon) mountain, a heigth of 4100 meters, about 13,500 feet and hiked down for about four hours through limestone pools and majestic scenery.

Kealy, the mountain conquerer!

-There were many temples along our way and we got an interesting glimpse into the Buddhist community and its origins,backgrounds,beliefs,etc.

-We finally made it home after a week and crashed, hospital, etc. you know the rest. But we had a good time, nonetheless, we were protected and we learned a lot about each other and this crazy world! We love you and miss you all very much. talk to you soon. We are feeling better and more uplifted and have run into more potential for relationships to grow.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson