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Kung Fu numero Two!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I passed the Kung Fu exam! I got a certificate saying that I am a master! We had to perform our routines in pairs in front of the group, I messed up a lot, so I'm pretty sure the Monks gave it to me cause they felt bad, but who cares! I am fabulous and I love the warrior monks, they're so sweet. Now I'm off to dinner.

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Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting (HI YA)

Today was a good day. We've been at this Kung Fu school by ShaolinTemple for the past couple days. We have been learning this routine the past couple days from this guy (I'm not really sure what his name is, but I do know it means "ox" in english....but we just call him smiley cause he's so serious but when he smiles he's just a little Chinese cutie pie.)

Side note- I am NOT I repeat NOT a master at Kung Fu. Its like a cross between yoga and kickboxing with Billy the bald buff man. Both of which I had tried with more success than this endeavour.

Do's and Don'ts of Kung Fu school:

Don't smile, this is serious business.

Do pretend to know what you're doing, even if you clearly have no idea.

Don't hold back a good giggle, if you hold it in you will shake and throw off your pose's perfection. If you do, the instuctor will do one of two things: smile at you and try to helpan even when there's no saving you're lack of coordination from your brain to your limbs, oooor he will lunge at you. I have experienced both.

Do the yelling grunting noises. I prefer the "WII!!" for obvious reasons.

Don't give up, you're not thaaat bad, and if you are just stand in the back.

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Buddha Buddha Buddha Rockin Everywhere

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So this week we've been learning a ton about Buddhism and Kung Fu. Now to be honest, I really didn't know much about Buddhism other than "karma" and the fact that Madonna is Buddhist. As many of the boys on the trip would say, "ooooh jeepers!"

So anyways, we met with a Monk and he pretty much told us everything there was to know about Buddhism, in a nut shell of course. The founder- he decides to meditate for nine years, umm let me repeat that NINE YEARS. I can hardly sit still in church for an hour and this guy goes and meditates for that long? That's commitment my friend.

I've learned three very importand things about Buddhism. Here we go:

1- Buddha is not their god, he's a role model. Often times people (including Buddhists) think that Buddha is someone that you worship, and that's not true at all. He's just a guy who really knows what he's doinga, kind of like a Saint for the Catholic religion. You see a bunch of statues at Saint Thomas of Saints that were role models, but you don't worship them. Same with Buddhism.

2- Kung Fu and Buddhism go hand in hand. Although there is a great deal of diversity in China with religion, the most commonly practiced martial art in China (Kung Fu of course) is tied in with Buddhism. So you know that guy I talked about earlier that meditated for nine cough cough NINE years? Well while he meditated he would get crampy and his feet would fall asleep, so he came up with a series of poses that would work out the kinks. Later these poses were turned into the martial art of Kung Fu.

3- I will never go Monk. Today we lived a day in the life of a Monk. So we got up at like 4:15 and went to Shaolin Temple (where we've been dropping by all week) to pray with the Monks. Fun fact: we woke the Rooster. We had to stand for an hour and bow sporadically while the Monks did this chant singing combo. Let me tell you, it was rough. They are very committed guys. Then we ate. So before all of this Mama Ping said that we had to eat everything on our plate cause it was disrespectful if you didn't. Well what we didn't know was that this food is (for lack of a better word) naaasty. I held up my fingers to signal "just a little!" But even a little for them is a big steaming pile of leaf guts accompanied by a bowl of milk with sugar in it and this bread that had more grease than a bowler's fine toothed comb. All in all not my favorite meal. But even after talking about all of my morning, I am surprisingly SO happy I got to. It was interesting to know and I've ruled it out as a career path, that along with being a food critic. Yikes!


So that's what I got (so far) on Buddhism. Really to be serious though, everyone should try going to a Buddhist prayer ceremony like this one. I really have never seen anything quite like it. It is very accepting and forgiving of everyone. Not to mention its kinda cool that rubbing a belly gives you good luck.

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Travel Day

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today we had a down day to travel by bus and right now, by train! We stopped by a grocery store to load up on junk food this morning, oreos, peanut butter (which I have missed so much) and lots of candy :). Mom would be so happy with my choices!
We got on the bus for our trip and tried to watch some cartoons on the TV, but let's just say it didn't go quite as planned so I just tried to sleep and watch a movie on the ipod.
Right now it's girls' night in train car 10. We're eating oreos and peanut butter. YUM

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At the Temple

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Today we went to visit a temple in Chengde. To hike to the top of the temple we had to climb 400 stairs, but since we climbed the great wall it seemed easy as pie!

Chengde is a city about an hour from the great wall; we've stayed there for the past couple days.

I've noticed a lot of interesting things about China on this trip. The Chinese love their horns, they honk them all the time and you have to bolt out of the way! Also, it was interesting how the government has control over what people can see on the internet. For example, facebook has been blocked the past couple weeks, and certain sites that would be okay in the US are blocked here.

I can see how censorship would be important, but it is so different from the US. I love China, and this trip has taught me so much about the life in a Communist country. I respect how they live, but now I know how blessed I am to live in the US.

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Paper Cutting!

Today we went to a Chinese paper cutting gallery. When walking in I did not know what to expect. I had anticipated something like oragami paper folding, but when I walked in I was so surprised.

There was a room filled with poster like papers covering the walls, tables, windows, everything! Some all red or blue and others where splashed with many different colors. We learned that Chinese women usually take part in this because they are more patient, consistant and detail oriented. They cut up a butterfly for us, showing all forms of cutting. We even tried our hand at cutting. We learned that when making the colorful cut-outs, they paint while they cut. It was so beautiful!

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Great Wall

The Great Wall was the most thrilling and not to mention exhausting experiences of my entire life. First, we woke up from camping in a valley below the wall. DSA provided us with new tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads. It was as if we had our own town!

Upon waking up, we packed up camp and sent everything down in the "buick." We ate and Ping (our chinese mother) took us through some really fun chinese stretches. Sean pointed at the mountain we were going to hike on and our initial reaction was "what?!" but we made it to the top! Our first glimpse from the tower was compete shock. We were surrounded by brush covered mountains that stretched for miles. First tower down, 39 to go!

We hiked for a good 2 hours till we got to a section where the military blocked us from continuing. Uh oh! So we climbed down the wall and started hiking through the brush and forest. It was a good thing I wore pants because I did not know what I had coming. We hiked up and down, through brush, corn, trees, rocks, cliffs and thorns.

When we finally got to the wall we had already been hiking for about 5 hours! I had never been so challenged! At this point we were so ready to get back on, but there was only one way, up. We scaled the wall only holding onto the bricks! It was so intense!

The last part of the hike was mostly up and down the wall, it seemed like we were rock climbing, but compared to the rest of the morning it seemed like a piece of cake. Finally we had reached the tourist area! We were almost kissing the ground as we got off, but looking back it was all worth it. I chucked my 7 empty water bottles in the trash and we headed straight for food. Although it was a rough morning, I would do it again in a heart beat. As the chinese say, "One is not a hero until he climbs the Great Wall."

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Emilie at the Cube

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What an experience!

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Water Cube

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We had the opportunity today to Visit the Water Cube National Natatorium. We walked from the Bird's Nest to the Cube we ran and danced through a stretch of water fountain sprinklers that were set to music. Personally, the Cube has been my favorite part of the trip because I watched the swimming events with my swim team back home in Wisconsin. When walking into the pool, I was shocked that this was the place where some of the greatest swimming has ever taken place. I was thinking about where Michael Phelps swam, and where his mom was sitting in the stands on TV. It was awesome! The pool area was decorated with a fairy tale castle along the water with a boat floating in lane one and shrubbery all along the blocks.

Everything about being in the pool area just made me think back to all of the events I saw on TV from the Fly to the 4X 100 men's relay...I think we can all remember that right?! This has really been the best day for me so far on the trip, and I can't believe were only in our first week of two! I wonder what we have in store next!

Touring the Olympic Venue

Today we went to the Bird's Nest where the 2008 Summer Olympics took place. Even walking up to this place seemed so surreal. The pictures and TV footage that I have seen of this place really does not do it justice. From first site of the structure you are amazed by the massive size and the incredible shape and appearance. As we approached the actual gate, we all tried to imagine how this looked one year ago today. It is amazing to think that this was the place where people from around the world came to watch the olympic games.

Going into the building we heard music playing to a video montage of all of the greatest athletic accomplishments that had happened just last August. We were able to walk down and even touch the track. We all felt inspired by all of the music that
played, it was probably one of the most indredible experiences I have had so far on the trip.

Follow me in China!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

video

Beijing Bound!

Saturday, July 25, 2009



Here we are planning our trip. Because we meet together at least once a month, we are really able to go over every detail from packing to looking over the itinerary. We are so excited to leave in one week!

Almost Here

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Were getting ready to go, and I'm just starting to pack everything up. Does anyone have suggestions for packing or maybe ideas on what gifts I can bring to the girls in the orphanage?

The Adventure Begins

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I am really looking forward to the cookout where we will finalize our packing details for the trip. We've met once to decide whos going to bring what supplies, and what else we think we should bring. I've been "China-Shopping" where I have been picking up supplies for the trip that I am missing, like jackets, new tennis/hiking shoes, and tons of other things that I know I will need for the trip. We have been talking about it for months and it is crazy to think we are going in less than a month!

Essential Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When August 4th - 18th, 2009
Focus History/Culture
Martial Arts
Modern/Ancient Architecture