Saturday, June 23, 2012

You know you've been in Asia too long when...

(the yellow part is my commentary) 

~You own more hair bows and scrunchies than in 1st grade, and they are a fashion trend rather than a faux pas (all of the nurses wore these)
Hair scrunchies and shade
 ~Seeing babies with a hole in their pants peeing on the streets doesn't even evoke a second look anymore (learned in China)
This is a completely normal experience in China. When you gotta go you gotta go!
~You never pay more than 10% of the price originally quoted to you at the silk market
~You know the different pronunciations of all the different "bings"(the tones in Chinese are quite difficult)
~Asian people understand your English better than white people
~The garbage truck song is your new ringtone (remember, the garbage truck sings as it makes its way down the street signaling for you to bring out your trash)
~You have forgotten how to pass food to the person sitting right next to you without a lazy susan (you eat EVERY meal with this)
 ~You eat the equivalent of 3 donuts each morning from Cafe 85
"Take off Taiwan" here we come
~You stop questioning what you're eating and just eat it anyway
~You come up with a "Take off Taiwan" workout plan
~You don't even have to try to photo bomb pictures, because you're in all of the pictures already
~You continue to gain weight from food that you don't even enjoy eating
~McDonald's McFlurry's and Sundaes have become a nightly ritual
~You spend all of your colorful money since it simply seems like monopoly money
~You get a smokers cough after being outside in the pollution for 30 minutes (thank you Beijing)
~You have successfully figured out how to maneuver your way onto the Chinese subways, including the "push and shove" method (simply because that is the only way you will even make it onto the subway)
~You have to stand for 3 hours on a train because you have no seat
~You want someone to call you so you can answer it "waaay" (this is their version of "hello" when answering the phone. don't be alarmed if I ever do this to you when calling)
~You can do crunches on your bed and your butt doesn't sink in (gotta love those mattresses and bunk beds)
Our living arrangements
~You mistake one of your roommates moving during the night as an earthquake (true story)
~The same disgusting Asian airplane food that made you sick on the flight here is easily one of your favorite meals on the flight home (also, a true story)
~When honking taxis mean nothing more than "I'm here!"(the honking is a little ridiculous in Beijing)
 ~You see mothers breast feeding their babies while driving a moped
~Every white boy you see instantly becomes the hottest boy you've ever seen
~You cheer out loud when you walk into a bathroom that actually has toilet paper or hand soap
~There is a line of us girls anxiously waiting for the 1 toilet, while 10 squatters are open
~The painted lines on the road are simply "guidelines"(this applies in Irvine too)
Look closely- not only is this car going to wrong way, but it is also driving on the sidewalk. No big deal.
~"Hello" has no meaning to you anymore
~Every Asian you meet apologizes because their English is poor, when it's actually better than your English
It apparently was just too funny to handle
~You begin and end every sentence with "Ni hao" and "Xie Xie"
~Every Asian tells you that any destination is exactly 20 minutes away
~You announce to the group that you just saw 2 LDS missionaries in downtown Beijing (fact: there are no LDS misionaries in China)
~You are shocked to see a 4th floor in the hotel (the #4 in Chinese sounds like the word for death, therefore, there are no 4th floors anywhere- including hospital beds/rooms #4)
~Any item you talk about, you include the word "the" before saying it (The Facebook, The Asia)
~Your straightener and blow dryer have blown out from the high voltage (so far I am 2 countries out of 2 countries on this statistic)
~You state out loud that you'd rather have 7 C. Diff patients than ever smell Stinky Tofu again (this is not an exaggeration fellow nurses)
Never again
 ~You appreciate when Subway offers more than 1 type of cheese
~You can calculate temperature easier in Celsius than in Fahrenheit
~You can't order food off of any menu without a detailed picture of the meal
~You return home with triple the number of pearls you previously owned (who does that? ... how embarrassing for them)
It's okay, this can be my wedding ring. The empress is done with it.
~You appreciate pillows that actually indent when your head falls of them
~You seriously consider stealing toiler paper from the jade factory because you're running out of kleenex's to use as TP in the public restrooms
~You see a 7-11 and shout for joy and feel at home
~Sleeping on the floor of the LAX airport is softer than your bed in Taiwan
~It's ok to walk across the street in the middle of oncoming Chinese traffic, and even feel comfortable doing so (just another day in the life)
~You become picky about Hi-chew flavors (green apples ones are the best! trust me)
~You're breathing in more incense than oxygen in one breath
~It's raining so hard that you don't bother putting on a poncho or pulling out an umbrella
~Your water bottle is filled with steam because ALL the water is hot
~You don't dare to drink the tap water even when you're back in the USA, since you've been told not to for so long (wait! what? water comes out of the fridge now?)
~You're shocked to see a shower curtain (we lived without this the whole time)
~You don't dare to buy a filled donut becuase you're afraid there will be beans inside
~You've accepted the fact that you'll have to hold your trash for the next 4 blocks because there won't be a garbage can (trash cans are endangered in Taiwan/China)
~Hickeys are totally acceptable on your neck and all over your back (referring to the Chinese medicine of cupping)

~Getting food off of the street is better than any sit-down restaurant
~You eat scorpions with the stinger still attached
~You can fit 10 girls in a 10 x 10 leopard print room, and it's more comfortable than your dorm beds
 ~Your male instructor helps you shop
Doing laundry in our newly purchased silk robes
~There are more people on the beach on the cloudy, rainy day than a beautiful, sunny day
~The temple baptismal font water isn't tall enough to cover your knees (i even had the bruise to prove it)
~You have had a bug bite on every inch of your body at some point during the trip
One of my roommates legs
~You wonder why everyone isn't constantly telling you you're beautiful anymore
-Your instructor told you you would lose weight and you return having gained some related to the copious amounts of 7-11 cupcakes consumed daily (buying out the entire stash of those cupcakes became a daily routine as well... yikes)
-Google translate is now bookmarked in your search bar (slash is the only means of communication with some of the staff at the hospital)
~You create a "You know you've been in Asia too long" list while waiting during a 10 hour layover at the Taipei airport :)
First day in Taiwan

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Wow, it has been a while since a post. I am already prepared with a bunch of excuses as to why it has taken me so long to finish telling the details of my Spring adventures in Asia. First, there was the jet lag to tackle. And yes this was quite the ordeal. I don't know if any of you have traveled back to the U.S. from Asia before, but to put it simply, it was the worst jet lag I have ever experienced. You are up during the night, sleeping during the day, never know what day or time it is, can't figure out if you are supposed to be hungry or not, and to top it off, you are supposed to resume a "normal" life according to everyone else's time clock. Needless to say, it took me about a week to feel normal again, but don't fret, we finally got there! After the jet lag would have been a perfectly acceptable time to write about China, but then the best parts of summer quickly caught up with me. I did a lot of this:

There was way too much to do with all of my naps, reading, more naps, more reading, and the occasional Downton Abbey episode. As you can tell, I have been quite busy! (To help you read through the sarcasm, I have also worked several shifts at the hospital so far and have loved it!) As some of you know, nursing school leaves me with little time to do one of the things I love most- reading [for pleasure and not just my textbooks]. Throughout the school year, I collect book titles that I want to read once the summer term hits. To prove my nerdiness, I even have two lists- one on my computer and one in my planner, just in case one is not nearby. Now that summer has officially arrived, I have delved into this list and am already on my third book. It's a problem. Hence, the lack of a blog post. Anyways, enough of excuses! Let's move on to the good stuff. China!

After Taiwan, about half of my group (including my instructor) traveled to Beijing for 9 days. The last three days of our trip, we were on a group tour hitting all the major sites. The days before that we were left to fend for ourselves. Naturally, this included a lot of shopping. I felt like we hit up about every market we could find in Beijing and revisited some of them up to three times. Another problem. The pearl market was my favorite. This was probably the biggest of all problems because I am IN LOVE with all things pearls and always have been since the day I got my ears pierced. So much so that I probably only go about 9 days out of the year without wearing some sort of pearl on me. The pearl market is exactly what it sounds like- thousands and thousands of pearls in all shapes, colors, and sizes stretching as far as the eye can see. I may or may not have left here tripling the amount of pearls I owned back home.
A little bit of heaven on Earth
Bargaining in action. I was pretty much the worst at this part and always had to have someone help.
The markets were a blast! About 90% of us had to invest in an extra piece of luggage to make sure we made it home.

We also went to the Beijing Zoo one day. It was just like a regular zoo except that it had a panda house, making it about 10x more amazing.

Apparently the panda wants nothing to do with us. Rude.

I REALLY wanted to touch the turtle.
First time petting a zebra! I was scared, I'm not going to lie.
I want this as a pet! Seriously.

Beautiful lake in the middle of the zoo.
We also experienced the night markets in Beijing. These were somewhat similar to the ones in Taiwan; however, some of the food was... different. For one, they eat taranchula on a stick. Not. Okay. Sorry to all my viewers, but you will not being seeing a picture of that tonight. My extremely large fear of you-know-whats prohibits me from posting a picture of it or even having one circulating around on my computer; thus, I did not take a picture. I couldn't bring myself to even stick around the things long enough to take a picture. I am sure Google images has some lovely ones to make up for my slack.

The real question is, what do they not put on a stick? Scorpions? Check!
*You walk up to the stand. Say (meaning point to) you want some scorpions. The guy then grabs a stick of scorpions. THEY ARE STILL ALIVE AND THEIR LEGS ARE MOVING AS IF TRYING TO RUN AWAY. The guy tosses them behind him, into a large fryer. Apparently the fryer evaporates all the poison from them (pretty sketchy if you ask me). Oh, and the stinger is still attached and definitely edible, or so the guy told us. After a few minutes the guy pulls them from the fryer and you eat. I couldn't bring my self to do it (between the poison and the stinger), but some of my friends did. And they are still alive and kicking!

Snake on a stick? Check!
Thinking about it.

Doing it.

Not too sure about it.

Some more critters on a stick? Why yes. Just ask around. They have pretty much everything on a stick!

As mentioned earlier, the last three days we were in Beijing were our tour days. We saw so much during that time and for the sake of all of your time, I will just devote a few pictures to each place.

Tiananmen Square: I guess I am not really sure what I was expecting to have happen here, but the whole situation shocked me. The feeling I had while being here was palpable and a little disturbing. It is actually really hard for me to put into words. We all know the history behind what happened at the square and I felt like we were the only ones that actually did. I asked our tour guide to explain the events that took place and I was not prepared for her answer. She told us that some people were protesting socialism in the 1990's. And that was about it. We asked her questions about some of the things we knew about Tiananmen Square and she did not understand what we were talking about. She just kept repeating her same explanation over and over again. It was clear to us that the government has told them one thing and conveniently left out the rest of the details. This is something that is very interesting and different to me. We spent a short while walking around the square, but I was more than ready to leave that pit in the bottom of my stomach behind. I will never forget what it was like to be standing there where so many people lost their lives and yet being surrounded by many people who do not know the truth of it all. After we got back to the hotel that night, I tried looking up Tiananmen Square on Wikipedia and it was completely blocked.
Interestingly enough, this was about it.

Our group. And a random Chinese friend in a red shirt who wanted to be a part of our picture. This was how it always was. So funny to me!
Entrance to the forbidden city
The Forbidden City: I wasn't expecting it to be an actual city! But it was and we walked the entire thing. Loved it! All the architecture looked pretty much the same, but cool to stand where emperors once stood.
The emperor was the only one allowed to go through the middle doors because they were taller. The rest of us/commoners were required to go through the shorter doors which lay on either side of the emperors door.

Dragon Boat ride across the lake:

A Tea Ceremony: The fruit teas were delicious!

Jim and I are demonstrating proper finger placement for a male and female while drinking tea.
Ming Tombs: I was really excited for this part, but to be quite honest, it was a let down. The only tombs we saw consisted of a mountain side where the emperors were buried. It is still cool to say that I have been there though!
This was also the only day where we saw BLUE SKY during the entire nine days. It was beautiful. Beijing has terrible pollution. In the other pictures, what may looks like a cloudy day is straight up pollution, not clouds. My allergies were out of control.

Jade Factory:

"Ball of Happiness"

THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA: Everyone always asks me what my favorite part of China was. I would probably have to say the Great Wall of China! Part of me couldn't stop thinking about the opening scene in Mulan the whole time I was there, but I was still able to focus on the history that occurred here. It was incredible!
We rode the gondola's up the mountain.
I was a little nervous to ride the gondola's in the first place, but then when one showed up like this, I really got nervous!
First step onto the Great Wall!

Some parts were crowded.

Some parts were steep. Okay, the whole thing was steep.

The gang.

This picture makes me laugh. This was not staged at all, but the guy on the ground in the background captures what a workout the Great Wall really was.
Acrobatic show:

Temple of Heaven:

Playing games in the nearby park
Rickshaw ride:
Silk factory: We saw the entire process. From the silk worm to the finished product.
I wanted to buy it because it was so incredibly soft!
Beijing Olympic Stadium:

We are the Olympic rings. Check out that air pollution too. They say that for every 6 days you are in Beijing, it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette. Nasty.

The torch
It's hard to believe that this marks the end of my adventures in Asia. Flying home was bittersweet. Not a day goes by that I don't think about all the fun I had and the many things I learned. I am sad it is over, but at least I have 2000+ pictures/videos to relive it by!

We arrived safe and sound at LAX and took one last picture to complete the journey. Okay, well it turned out to be three because there was a slight interruption.

This was not planned! But absolutely hilarious he managed to walk right in front of the camera as the picture was being taken. Classic.
It wouldn't be the end without a good ol' peace sign.
Next stop...