Last week I crossed one more state off of my list of states I have been to: Florida! I had a wonderful trip with Michelle and Melaina. And Florida is a great place-- Governor Charlie Crist, no income tax, a good percentage of humidity (in Sept at least), and gorgeous coasts-- yep, I could get used to that!
We had a fun-packed vacation with two days at Disneyworld, one day at SeaWorld's Aquatica, one day at Clearwater Beach, and one day of shopping-- perfect vacation mix.
Here are some picture highlights:
Clearwater Beach is just beautiful. The blue, blue water and white sand are great. Little wonder it is ranked America's best beach. We had fun exploring the boardwalk in John's Pass too.
Magic Kingdom was adorably decorated for Halloween. Michelle and Melaina at the entrance.
Epcot is my definite favorito! I loved the country exhibits. And the fireworks show, which definitely helped me compensate for a fireworks-less 4th of July this year.
SeaWorld's Aquatica waterpark is so, so fun! This is us in front of the dolphin tank that has clear waterslides that go through it. If only I wasn't screaming with my eyes shut during that part of the slide, I might have seen them :)
"I look once more, just around the Riverbend." We met Pocahontas, and that song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day :) All part of the Disney spirit.
At the Orlando Airport after just arriving in Florida around midnight. It was late and we were excited.
Epcot took me back to China! Only in this China, I could still have my cell phone-- halelujia! And it smelled better sans stinky tofu.
Lately my desire to be like Amy Atlas has been piqued even further (Rach, I blame/credit you for introducing the blog to me first) :) Maybe this is sufficient cause to change my career path? If it means going back to school, yes please :) I've been so happy lately to get to do a couple creative things. First was Amber's bridal shower. I pulled some inspirations from the Amy Atlas site and overall was pleased with how it all came together-- it wasn't exactly what I envisioned, but really does anything ever turn out that way? Then last weekend, Zan invited me to for a girls' night and taught me how to use fondant. I've wanted to learn for so long. And the chance to learn from Zan, whom I credit with being my first baking teacher way back in Heritage, was even better. Here is our cake that we created. I use the term "cake" loosely becauase it's actually only about 2/5 actual cake.
(that may or may not be a measuring cup serving as a cake prop... Zan's genius idea!)
Once upon a time I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and headed to China. I've shared most my Hong Kong adventures-- which was fabulous and my favorite city visited in Asia. The part I didn't get to (and my favorite experience) is when we were invited to lunch at Asia Area President Perkin's home. The view of the bay was incredibly beautiful, but talking to President Perkins and hearing about the Church's work in Asia was even better.
After Hong Kong, we flew to Shanghai and experienced the 2010 World Expo and the downtown area.
Then the study abroad part started. We lived in Xiamen-- an island in southern Fujian province across the bay from Taiwan. We attended Xiamen University, learning about performance measurement and Chinese government history and structure. We also spent nearly every weekend of two months traveling around China with adventures to Nanjing, Suzhou, Guilin, Yanshuo, Tulou, Xi'an, Wuyishan, and Beijing. We had so many fun experiences; I will share some of my favorites through pictures:
China has an amazing history. I thoroughly loved learning about it, yet still have a lot more to discover. We were able to see a lot of the places that served as the government centers including Nanjing and Beijing. (this is at Tiananmen Square)
Go figure there are a whole lot of Chinese people in China. And we stuck out like nobody's business. We got so many requests for pictures that I'm certain if we had charged 10 yuan per picture, we could have funded someone's China trip :)
We took two sleeper train rides through the country and saw beautiful vistas like this rice patty out of our windows for much of it!
Wow. That' s how I would sum up the terra cotta warriors. The portion that has been unearthed is amazing itself, but did you know that this is a mere fraction of what experts believe Emperor Qin Shi Huang's complete tomb consists of? It's incredible to fathom.
These wonders of the world were just as their status indicates-- awe inspiring. The Great Wall of China definitely qualifies. It is so much steeper and taller than I imagined, as well as in much more rugged terrain as it scales very steep hills. It is awesome to imagine how it was built hundreds of years ago-- all 3,000+ miles of it!
Aside from bedbugs (which we unfortunately experienced), cicadas were the insect bane of my existence. They were so prevelent in Xiamen that there was always a constant hum. Luckily, Chinese women have the custom of carrying umbrellas and that was useful to shield the mystery drips from the trees. On their backs is how I wanted to forever remember them :)
China is a beautiful country and one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever seen is Guilin. It was once underwater, which formed the amazing mountains. We took a cruise down the Li River and got to take in this gorgeousness for 4 incredible hours.
The food was... interesting. We definitely all had bouts with everything that can be categorized as "stomach problems." This is Jennica, Heather C, and I in front of a restaurant-- not an aquarium as you may have thought. Our foot-high ice cream cones is more of a tourist fare on Gulang Yu, but I thought the combo was a good one.
I thought the food merited two pictures. Any guesses to what is on this plate? At first we thought some creature from the sea, but alas, it is a platter of duck tongues. No need to even ask-- heck no I did not try it!
We had some great tongxues (classmates) at Xiamen Da Xue! This is my project team: Talia, Sweety, me, and Juliette. We had a lot of fun outside of class too with movie nights, KTV, and learning Tai Chi.
We literally pretty much lived on the beach. While it's not one you would probably opt to swim in, it was gorgeous and we enjoyed many a walk and tandem bike ride along the boardwalk.
In sum, I am so happy to have had this chance of a lifetime! Who'd have ever thought I would go to China-- not me! My time there definitely broadened my perspective of the world and I have a new appreciation for my Mei Guo life.