Category Archives: Uncategorized

…and while in Dehang

I ate bugs. They were skewered and BBQ’d.

They didn’t have a strong flavor and were mostly just crunchy.

Just something a little interested that I felt deserved its own post.

Dehang (德夯), April 2010

Great News: Last week the local government decided that our school would be a site for China’s equivalent of the GED. Classes were canceled for Friday so people from around the city could come and take the test.

Danny and I each have Thursdays off, so the unexpected cancellation of Friday’s classes left us with a four-day weekend.Unexpected three and four day weekends have been pretty common throughout the semester. Even though we are only scheduled to have one official three day weekend this semester (Dragon Boat Festival, observed next weekend) We’ve already had three, three day weekends.

After toying with the idea of going to Beijing (a 15-20 hour train) we decided to go to Dehang (8 hours), a tiny village in a national park on the east side of Hunan Province.


Dehang was pleasant. The village itself is mostly populated by the Miao (or Hmong) minority group and the women still wear traditional looking skirts and jewelry. The national park is dotted by steep karsts (see my post on Yangshuo).

We spent our two days at Dehang hiking, which was interesting because it was mostly walking up very big karsts, then walking down.

Steep karts.

But climbing was worth it, as it led to views like this:

There were tons of waterfalls in Dehang. Watching waterfalls is great and the waterfalls in Dehang were impressive, unfortunately all my pictures of the waterfalls look the same so I’ve included just the one.

Overall it was a good weekend. It was nice to get out of the city and into more rural settings.

From the students

Recently Danny and I have been giving our Junior 2’s in-class assignments that they turn in at the end of class. This assignment was from as lesson about frequency words, at the end of class the kids had to write sentences using words like always, sometimes, and never. Danny got back these two gems from his students, the first from a student who’s English name is “Oh My God”.

And then the favorite among the teachers:

UPDATE: Allee has her students doing a pen pal exchange with a class in America. Her students are a few year older and some of them can write complete letters. Read some of their letters at her blog:

Some photos of Changsha, 拆

Dana, my Chinese tutor, is an avid photographer. She’s a small spark plug of a women who builds some of her own cameras and knows all the most interesting places in Changsha. I followed her around for an evening after one of our tutoring sessions, here are some of the better pictures from that night.

Dana pointed out this character spray painted on an old fence. She told me that the character (拆, chāi) marks buildings the government has decided will be torn down. Often these building are old apartment buildings with families that don’t necessarily want to move out. In their place newer skyscrapers will be built. Dana said that the families had gotten a fair price for their property and that they were lucky because that wasn’t always the case in Chinese cities.

The 拆 character again. It translates as take apart or pull down. In this neighborhood there were many buildings marked with 拆.

Unused traintracks near Dana's house.

It's good to take pictures with Dana because she knows how to use my camera. She showed me a little bit about adjusting my camera's aperture and shutter speed. The result? The photo is much prettier than the bridge actually was that night.

There I am.

Yangshuo, February 2010

After about a week and a half in Changsha finishing up school applications, I started to get antsy to do some more traveling before school started again. At first I was thinking of going north to Beijing and then Harbin for the Ice Festival.

Unfortunately Harbin just wasn’t possible. I had decided on Harbin too late and the train tickets were all sold out. Or more accurately, I wasn’t willing to spend 2+ days standing on a train without a seat in order to get up to Harbin. Instead of the freezing north, I went South to Yangshuo in the Guangxi Province. This was my first time traveling by myself in China, so ofcourse I missed my train stop, a mistake that extended the travel time by 9 hours.  Beyond that everything went relatively smoothly, I bought tickets for buses and boats with no problem.


Yangshuo is a relatively small city that in the past decade has become very popular among foreign backpackers, especially rock climbers. The region around Yangshuo is full of large limestone hills. These hills are very famous in China and they are often the subject of paintings and poems.

The highlight of the trip was renting a bicycle and traveling through the surrounding countryside.

Moon Hill

I met Ken in Yangshuo and ended up traveling with him for a day. He's from Shanghai and like most Chinese tourists had an enormous camera. He also had a binder of 200+ pages with information on things to do and places to stay in Yangshuo for his five day trip. Nice guy.

I’ll end with an unimpressive, but significant picture. The scene is from the China’s 20 Yuan bill:

20¥, about $3.00.

Unfortunately the morning I was there it was overcast, though still neat.

Thailand, Part III, Ayutthaya

The city of Ayutthaya in northern Thailand was the capitol of the country for over 400 years, approximately from 1350-1750 AD. The Burmese destroyed the city the 18th century, but there are still some good ruins.

Old Map of Thailand (Siam)

During its time as a capitol city, Ayutthaya was one of the largest port cities in all of South East Asia. The Siamese traded with all the Chinese, Japanese, and all the European seapowers.


Unfortunately, most of the Buddas were beheaded by vandals.

Budda head in stone. My students in China were very impressed with this picture.

A final parting shot from Thailand. This me at a museum in Bangkok dressed as a Thai citizen from the 1950's. Note the vacation mustache.

Thailand, Part II, Koh Pan’an

After a few nights in Bangkok we headed south to the island Koh Pan’an.

A brief aside: Changsha in the winter is cold and wet. Its a tricky kind of cold, there is still a lot of humidity in the air so even though the temperature is usually above freezing the coldness seems to penetrate and get in between ones bones. So leaving Changsha for Thailand was nice, really really nice. When we were finishing the semester in Changhsa, nothing seemed better than spending a good chunk of time bumming around the beaches of Thailand.

Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures of our time on the Koh Pan’an, carrying around a camera everywhere like an anchor and keeping track of it on the beach just didn’t interest me at the time. I did get a few quality shots though.

Phil and Kelly

Phil, Victoria, Kelly

We spent 10 days on Koh Pan’an, the time mostly spent snorkeling, reading on the beach, hiking, eating, and a little bit of scuba diving. And we rented mopeds for the week, which was really fun.