Leaving Lishui

A move is in my future! I’m still coming to grips with my decision to leave my beloved home of two years, a place I’ve come to view as my Chinese hometown. It’s a big change that I have mixed feelings about, but it promises lots of new responsibilities and opportunities for growth that’ll be beneficial in the long run. This is a synopsis of the ups and downs of the last few weeks of the term and subsequent decision on my part to let go.

Chengdu 成都: Land of Abundance

As the saying goes, those who enter the Sichuan area of China are susceptible to the persuasive charms of the lifestyle there: the slow-paced rhythm of work, the pleasant climate, the mouth-watering cuisine, the sounds of mahjong being played into the night…

Chengdu 成都: The Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base

The animal is puzzling. It does little to merit its popularity. In the wild, it spends all of its waking time wandering aimlessly to find food. Though it is a carnivore, there is little game where it lives, and the panda is not quick enough to catch it anyway. So it eats bamboo, and since…

Anniversary Sirens for the Great Sichuan Earthquake

I woke up this morning to an air raid siren and a woman’s voice issuing a countdown. Groggy and confused, I wondered if we were under attack. I looked out the window and saw cars driving down my busy intersection and figured that it must be a practice signal, like they do with the Amber…

Songyang 松阳: Damunshan Tea Fields and Old Street

Songyang is one of Lishui’s nine counties in Zhejiang and focuses most of its industry in producing high-quality teas. Over 7,500 hectares (about 29 square miles) of the county is devoted solely to the cultivation of tea fields, with more being created every day. A group of friends and I went on an excursion into Zhejiang’s rural countryside in search of these famous tea plantations to experience the hype for ourselves.

It’s Mulberry Season!

Long rows of short, crowded mulberry trees stretched far beneath covered canopies of mesh wire fencing and plastic tarps. We’d driven a bit further out of the main area of town, near the old abandoned west bus station where I’d first taken a trip out with my 8th graders two years ago. The heat was sweltering, and I regretted not putting on more sunscreen as I pulled my hair up out of my eyes. Armed with my little blue basket, I followed my student and his parents into the dense branches of berries…

The Sad Closure of Lishui’s Only Walmart

Word leaked about a month ago that Lishui’s Walmart was to close on April 16, 2019. A document in Chinese that was shared on wechat sent shock waves through our town. While Walmart hasn’t always had it easy breaking into the Chinese market, it had grown to become a beloved store in Lishui.

Happy Year of the Pig!

新年快乐! 恭喜发财! Spring Festival is upon us! This February 5th, 2019 marks the beginning of the year of the Pig! Why is this important? It’s is the final year in the 12th-year zodiac cycle! This means we can all indulge in a huge sigh of relief and reap the benefits of having worked hard the…

Harbin’s Horrible Siberian Tiger Park 黑龙江阿穆尔虎园

Having been to the Beijing zoo and seen the terrible housing conditions the animals suffered there, I was a bit worried coming here. In all honesty, we probably would not have if it wasn’t included in our Ice World tour. After visiting the facility, we can firmly recommend not going for reasons I detail below….

Harbin 哈尔滨: The Provincial Museum, Monuments, and Other Attractions

Hongbo Square 红博广场 and the WWII Russian Victory Monument Hongbo Square used to be the site of the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas which was destroyed by the Red Guards the Cultural Revolution. Today, there’s a large roundabout above ground with a pretty decorative sculpture in the middle. Some buildings in the area, like the KFC…