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We are just sitting here in the airport, and it is the first time we have had free wifi anywhere.  In about 14 hours we will be back in America.  It is pretty crazy to think it went that quickly.  It was sad leaving all of our guides, or new friends I should say.  Just when we finally had everything figured out, it is time to head back.  

Today, we ended up eating in a typical Chinese restaurant.  It consisted of dirty, used chopsticks, dirty plates and dishes, and no air conditioning.  It was awesome.  If we would have had that as our first meal, we all would have rather starved ourselves, but it was completely different this time.  Everyone dug in right away and we pretty much destroyed the food.  

China really grew on me.  At first I was a little skeptical of what was ahead of me, but I officially love it here.  Even the weird smells, the pushy people, and the unsanitary everything.  It is so laid back and it was nice getting away from everything for awhile, but I am ready to be back home with everyone.  

I don’t have a lot of time, so I will update a final time when I get home with some pictures and text.  See you all soon!

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Shanghai

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A few pictures from Xi’an

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Shanghai

We are officially in Shanghai and it is officially completely different from the rest of China.  It is crazy to think there is a city like this in a third world country.  I have barely been by my computer lately and they have wifi no where around here.  Therefore I haven’t been able to post much.  

We fly out tomorrow to head back to the states.  It is pretty crazy to think we are already going back.  I am completely dreading the 12 hour flight, followed by the 3 hour flight, followed by the 5 hour drive home.  It should make for an exhausting day of travel.  As much as I am not ready to leave this place, I am ready to be back and see everyone back home.  

It has been an amazing experience and I will upload some pictures when I finally touch ground in the states.  

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On to Xi’an

I know I have been lacking on the blog lately, but here is my update for the last couple of days.  We have been EXTREMELY busy, but I love it.  I am definitely not ready to go home at all.  All in all, China is awesome.

We had our graduation from SIAS.  It was extremely informal and a lot of fun, kind of sad though.  We have really grown close to our Chinese guides.  They have basically lived with us for the past month.  On our last night there, we of course had to go to the night market.  We were sitting around drinking beer and just talking.  We were going to play some games as usual, but then Bruce said, “We should just talk, we will probably never see each other again in our lives.” That is when reality really kicked in for me.  Our new friends live halfway across the world, and that was our last night with them.  

It really is an experience of a lifetime, but it coming to an end way too quickly.  When we first showed up, we were thinking that this month would go on forever, but it hasn’t.  It has flown by.  

After we had all said our goodbyes, we headed out of town and went to the Longmen Grottoes.  It is the home of 100,000 Buddhas carved into the side of a mountain, of varying sizes of course.  Some of them were a few inches tall and the biggest one was hundreds of feet tall.  They were interesting, but it was really hot, and we had a train to catch, so we didn’t stay long.  After that we had to go to the train station.  We have 6 people and 1 guide, so the taxi situation is interesting now. 

The first group left and headed to the station, but we were stuck there trying to wave down taxis, but there were absolutely none in the area.  We ended up having to take a bus, which took us way out of the way, then we had to take a taxi back to the station.  Ohh and by the way, none of us having working phones.  It took us about an hour to complete the 10 minute drive.  They were sitting around wondering if our car had gotten a flat tire, or just spontaneously combusted, but it was neither.  

We took the high speed train, which was an experience in itself and we ended up in Xi’an.  That is where we are now.  We officially have 3 days left in China and then we are headed back to the states.  They took us to a nice restaurant tonight and it was weird because we were complaining about how nice it is.  We realize that when we get back, we can have all of our luxuries.  We really have embraced the culture.  We were complaining because our dishes were clean, they food was too American, they had normal toilets in the bathrooms, not just wholes in the ground, and that there were more foreigners in the restaurant than Asians.  

The next few days we have a lot of sightseeing to do, so I will try to keep you all updated, but no guarantees.  If not, I’ll just tell you about it first hand when I get back. 

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Mopeds

It is now officially the 23rd day here and does not feel like that at all.  It feels like we are just starting to get settled in, but we are just getting ready to pack our bags.  A couple weeks ago I was telling some of you that I will be ready to come home when this is done, but now it is quite the contrary.  China is awesome and I don’t want to leave now.  It seems like we have only been here for a short period of time, but we only have one more full day left here at SIAS. I have also just figured out to upload videos, so I will try to put more of them up. 

Yesterday I ended up needing to convert some more money, so we had to go to the bank.  Instead of taking a taxi, we rented a mopeds and they were super cheap.  It cost less than 50 cents an hour to ride.  They are probably not the best mopeds any of us have ever ridden, but it was awesome.  The coolest part was the fact that I could honk at everyone and they would move and I didn’t have to follow traffic laws.  There were times when we were cruising on the wrong side of the road and turning into wrong lanes, but everyone does it, so we fit in.  Well I shouldn’t quite say that we fit in.  People tend to stop and look quite a bit to see Americans riding mopeds throughout Chinese streets.  We got to go more into the actual city and down the narrow streets.  Probably one of the best parts of the trip thus far.  Tonight we are going out again, so it should be interesting to see what we can find tonight.

I will try getting some more videos up soon because they show way more than I can say.  I must also say that I have taken more pictures and videos in this trip than I have in my whole life.  Usually I am not a fan of taking pictures, but I am up to about 800 and have about 75 videos. 

We officially graduate tomorrow and move on with our lives from SIAS more into real China.  The trip is going really fast, too fast.

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Here is one of the reasons we don’t eat at the CAFE anymore, and probably one of the reasons the food makes us feel sick a lot.  Yes, the chicken head is still on the chicken as it is being served.

Here is one of the reasons we don’t eat at the CAFE anymore, and probably one of the reasons the food makes us feel sick a lot.  Yes, the chicken head is still on the chicken as it is being served.

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I am officially starting to slack on the tumblr posts, but for good reasons.  Every day we are staying much busier and every night we are going out and doing something.  Yesterday after classes, we ended up having a Chinese chess tournament.  After that, we went out to a restaurant that was different from anything else I have had here.  It was really good though.  Everyone is fed up with eating at the CAFE every meal, including our guides, so we stopped eating there. Therefore, we are getting to try a lot of different types of restaurants and they are all pretty good. 

Last night after we went out to eat, we went to a different night market.  At this night market, it was mostly for shopping.  We hung out there for awhile and bought a few things.  After making it into the center of the square, we saw 2 pretty big dances going on.  In one the squares there were probably a couple hundred people spread out equally doing the exact same dance.  After a song finished, they turned on a new song, and then did a different dance.  We decided to join in on the action.  Not knowing what we were doing, we definitely stood out more than usual.  We received quite a few laughs, but many of the people take the dancing seriously.  It was an experience though.

Riding in a Chinese taxi is an experience in itself.  Here they don’t take the road markings and laws, they take them as loose recommendations.  Basically, no one abides by any of them. The drivers just honk and flash their lights when they are coming up on them and if they don’t move, they just go to the other side of the road and pass ignoring the oncoming traffic.  The taxis are extremely cheap too.  It costs less than an American dollar to have a 10 minute taxi ride.  After the dance we decided to take one of the motorized rickshaws.  It was quite the ride.  Those are even cheaper.  It cost about 15 cents per person.  

Everything here is ridiculously cheap.  It’s awesome.  

We are going to have some western food tonight at the campus mansion, which is pretty legit.  It is the owner of SIAS’s guest house, and he will be there tonight for a BBQ with us.  I guess that means we are fairly special around here. 

I am just glad we are getting to experience the real China more.