It’s Still Halloween in Hawaii

Sunday was a full day for me, and Sundays are already quite busy.

sf.picI started off the day with my second softball game. I arrived at the Peking University soccer field a bit before 9 am, and the game started at 9:40.

I fielded fine throughout the game like normal, but my batting hasn’t been very good since I started playing in China. The first game I did not get on base at all. That didn’t feel very good. I batted 3 or 4 times, either struck out, thrown out at 1st, or I caused the 3rd out. This game did not start off well, either. First time up to bat, I hit the ball towards 2nd base and the base, which caused the runner ahead of me to be out, which was the 3rd out. Second time up, I hit a wimpy pop fly foul ball that was caught, leaving my head hanging low as I returned to the “dugout.” I hoped that the team was not losing faith in me. Third up-to-bat, I whispered encouragements to myself. I. Had. To. Get. On. Base. Preferably not by being walked, but I was willing to accept any method.

I hit the ball right over the short stop’s head. I briefly expected him to jump up and catch it, but even as he jumped, it was out of his reach. Yes! I finally made it on base during a game. A few batters later I made it to “home plate” and scored. I returned to the dugout with my head held a little higher and shyly high-fived my teammates’ hands.

Right after the game was over, which was supposed to end at 11 but went a bit overtime, I left the field and rode my bike to church. I was late, so I saw the last few minutes of the sermon, but I did get to see the baptism of 5 christians, 1 whom I know.

pumpkin.pic_hdAfter the church service, I went to lunch with some of my favorite people from church. It was a great lunch. We ended up ordering battered and fried pumpkin in honor of Halloween. This was all on Sunday, November 1, but me and another American, David, mentioned that it was still Halloween in Hawaii, so the eating of pumpkin was justified. We enjoyed eating the pumpkin, which is a common dish in southern China, I believe. I first tried it in Southern China, in Rhea’s hometown, and I really liked it.
I took this picture of David eating pumpkin while pumpkin glasses he brought.

A couple of hours later, I went to Tsinghua University fields to play ultimate frisbee with a lot of members from church. It is always good exercise and a good time to connect with people from around the world. We all usually play for 2 hours, and eat dinner after word.

Overall, it was yet another good Sunday. I also missed this last Sunday, since I was on my trip to Henan. It was good to be back. It almost feels like they notice when I am gone, which has not happened in a long time.

Bible Verse of the Day:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Song of the Day:
Kill Em With Kindness
by Selena Gomez

高丹玉

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From The Journal of a Traveler: 河南 (Henan Province)

Preface

Courtesy of the 2 staff members at the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) Beijing Center (which is located at Peking University), a weekend trip to 河南 (Henan Province) was planned for all of the University of California (UC) students here in Beijing.

The passages below are what I wrote while on my trip. I mainly wrote in past tense, referring to what the previous hours have been like, then at the end of each entry, I wrote in present tense, describing the current situation that I was in. I hope it is not confusing to read, as this is my first time journaling while on a trip as well as posting those entries. If you have any tips for me on how to improve, leave them down below in the comments. Enjoy!


2015/10/24 Morning

I boarded the sleeper train and walked down the aisle to find my bunk 16车004号中. On the way, a little girl spotted me. She was on the top bunk, her legs were hanging off the edge, and she was playing with a hand-held game device of some sort. As I was passing by, she looked up at me, took in a huge gasp, and loudly said, “外国人!” (Foreigner!) Everybody started laughing, including myself. I responded to the girl, “对! 你好!” (Correct! Hello!) and I waved at her and kept on my path. Walking the rest of the way down the aisle got me even more stares, but I am used to it.

IMG_8678You may not know this, but a the length of a human’s arm span is supposedly exactly equal to the height of the body. If not exact, then really close. With that in mind, I measured the length of the bed I was going to be occupying for the night to come. It was about as long as my arm span, surprisingly. So, a 6 foot long bed, since I am 6 foot tall (do not let my dad tell you differently). The only factor that shortened the bed was that I kept my backpack right behind my pillow. This wasn’t too big of a deal, though, since I do not normally fully stretch out while sleeping. I do curl up somewhat, though, which was a movement that was very limited in the bunk. The bunk’s width was about the length of one of my arms, without my hand. The barriers, a wall and a rail, restricted me from bending my legs too much.

Regardless of all of these aspects, I slept pretty well.

Right now, I am sitting on a collapsible chair in the aisle-way about to arrive at our destination, 郑州 (Zheng Zhou).


IMG_87272015/10/24 Night

After getting off the train at 郑州, a lot of us, there are 8 people from the program in total, got CoCo’s milk tea, and then we drove about an hour to get to lunch. 少林寺 (Shaolin Temple) followed lunch. On the ride there, we noticed it was kind of cloudy. Adding to the skies was smog. I expected to be leaving the smog behind in Beijing, but that wasn’t the case. Regarding taking pictures, I knew nothing was going to turn out fantastic looking.

IMG_8699I anticipated 少林寺 to look similar to the setting of the movie Kung Fu Panda. 少林寺 did not meet this expectation. It honestly resembled the other Chinese temples that I have seen before. Sure, there are some differences between all temples in China, Asia as well, but 少林寺 was not extraordinarily special to someone like me. However, I did have a good time and everything went along smoothly.

Our dinner was quite elaborate. It included 8 cold dishes and 16 hot dishes. This banquet meal is known as 洛阳水席 (Luoyang Water Banquet), which is one of 3 national level banquets of China. 8 of us ate this meal. We did not finish. There was a lot of food.
I am currently in a hotel room watching Chinese television. I am sharing the room with 赵老师 (Miss Zhao), my teacher and friend from over the summer program. She also works as a UCEAP program assistant. I like her and I like spending time with her.


2015/10/25

We all woke up around 8 at the hotel and ate breakfast at a small buffet room on our floor, the 5th floor. It was probably one of the better Chinese breakfasts I have eaten. I am not saying it was delicious, but I was not struggling to find something worth eating. Around 9 we all checked out and hit the road toward 白马寺 (White Horse Temple).

IMG_8783Like 少林寺, 白马寺 was very similar to temples I have previously viewed. It claimed to be China’s 1st Buddhist temple, but I don’t know if I can believe that. There is probably at least one other temple in China that advertises the same proclamation. But one thing that was different with this location was that there was a Thai-styled temple as well as an Indian-styled temp
le. All 3 centers were bordering each other. A lot of the color gold decorated the Thai temple, and looking at the Indian temple made me feel like I was at Luke Skywalker’s home on the foreign planet Tatooine. I told my classmate this and he agreed while mentioning the fact that George Lucas drew inspiration for Star Wars from Indian culture as well as Buddhism.

IMG_8790Since the time of waking up, it had been raining, or at least drizzling. Towards the end of our visit at the temples, the rain had stopped. However, through lunch and time at our next tourist destination, the rain was continuous, with little wind, thankfully.

Our next and last sight to se was the Longmen Grottoes. It was a whole lot of Buddhas carved into the side of a mountain. Personally, I did not find this attraction that great. The Buddhas were not that grand and it was cold and raining. Of course, the Longmen Grottoes were not horrible, just not the greatest was to spend a rainy day. I generally had a good time with my companions, though.

To warm our bodies up after spending a few hours in the cold, we ate dumplings. Following that, we were driven to the train station. We bought snacks and hot drinks while we briefly waited for the bullet train.

On this 4 hour train ride, I listened to music and I am currently playing a round of the card game Monopoly Deal. These train rides go by a lot faster when I have people to talk to, rather than trying to entertain myself.

Overall, this trip has been pleasant. For one thing, I only packed and carried one backpack, so I did not have to manage too much luggage. As far as previous trips go, I overpack and become overwhelmed with both the weight and too much stuff to keep track of at the hotel.

Secondly, I enjoyed spending time with everybody on the trip. There were 2 other UC students from my exact study abroad program, 4 UC students from Beijing Normal University (which is where I was for my summer language program), 1 of the UCEAP Beijing advisors, and the tour guide and bus driver.

Another mentionable note is that this trip was, in a way, free for me. It was paid for by my program fee, which I had to pay for regardless of my choice to participate in these scheduled weekend trips. So, if I had decided to skip this trip, that money that I had to pay as part of the program would have gone somewhere else that would not benefit me, or at least not in the same way.

1st Slow Pitch Softball Game

Today I played my first slow pitch softball game in China. Or ever. I have played 5 years of fast pitch softball, so everything is very alike. The only thing that I still have yet to get used to is batting. And by the way, they use the same sized softball I am used to playing with. We do not play with a cantaloupe-sized softball like my grandfather used to.

One major difference that I have noticed playing slow pitch here in China is that there is no real strike zone. The only way to tell if a pitch is a ball or a strike is a mat that is located directly behind home plate. If the pitch lands on the mat, strike. Anywhere else, ball. I am not sure if this method is used in the States or not. My other guess is that they do not have a qualified umpire to referee the game. Based on the equipment and conditions these college students work with, I would not be surprised if the latter is true (somebody please inform me of the truth in the comments section).

The arc of the pitch is the factor I am not used to. That is something for me to practice on and improve.

About the conditions: we play ball on an astro turf soccer field. The neighboring university apparently has a baseball/softball field, but not us. The field as fences and nets around the borders, with two games going on at one time, with their outfielders overlapping a bit (softball practice squeezes two more games onto the same field). A majority of the players do not wear cleats, myself included. You can wear what ever pants you like. I, as many others did, wore denim jeans. I chose this apparel because my sweat pants are high waters on me now. But the pair of jeans I did wear were generally loose and allowed me to move freely. Before the game, we warmed up in a field of weeds and foxtail plants (I do not know if there is a more proper term for those plants).

Here is two differences I have found between slow pitch softball in China and what I am used to:

  • A foul ball can be the third strike
  • Not only do runners not slide, but they are not allowed to
  • Instead of exchanging high fives or hand shakes with your opponent at the end of the game, they bow. They also bow to the referee.

As for my performance in the game, it was poor (I did better during practice). I did not get on base once. I batted a total of 3 times, a caught pop-fly, strike out, and thrown out at 1st base. To be fair, the sun was in my eyes while batting. But honestly, that’s just an excuse for me being out of practice of this sport that I truly enjoy. That’s honestly why I play it. It is not to win, but it is to enjoy it. To enjoy learning about it. To enjoy playing it. To enjoy exercising.

The game score was 7-8. The other team won. It was a good 7 inning game.

IMG_0920 IMG_1040 IMG_1043

Bible Verse of the Day:
All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
1 John 4:15
Source: Bible.com

高丹玉

Autumn Has Arrived

The AQI of Beijing was incredibly low once again today so I decided to go out and take photos with my DSLR camera on campus. More specifically, the lake. To me, it’s more like a large pond. But anyway, it was looking good on this great day. The wind was blowing and it was a bit chilly, so I think that deterred some people from coming outside. Which means less people walking into my photos. Here they are:

IMG_8644

Can anybody guess the practical function of that stone fish in the center of the frame? Leave your guess in the comment section!

IMG_8643 IMG_8640 IMG_8618 IMG_8617 IMG_8612 IMG_8608 IMG_8607 IMG_8587

With all of this wind and the chillier air that we have for more than a few days, I figure that autumn has arrived. In California, we don’t really have cold weather for very long. As soon as it gets cold, it warms right back up. This winter in Beijing is going to be quite different for me.

You can find 2 more photos from this day on a photo challenge post of mine.

Bible Verse of the Day:
I know the lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalms 16:8 NLT
Source: Bible.com

高丹玉

I think I joined a softball team?

3.pic

My lunch: chicken, rice, bok choi, and a fried egg. A flat price of 9 RMB (~$1.50).

I had four hours of class today; 2 hours of Chinese language learning and 2 hours of Chinese Folklore and Culture. After class, I decided no to go straight to lunch because that is what everybody does at 12:00 and it can become incredibly crowded at the cafeteria. So, in the meantime I decided to walk around campus because it is a nice day. It’s a bit windy, but here in China, winds coming from the North blow a lot of the smog away. The AQI today was lower than 50 (as low as 21!), so generally a really great day. I walked around campus, took some pictures with my phone, and checked if any people were playing soccer on the soccer fields I know of. There were more people playing basketball than soccer. 12:30 pm came along and I went to the cafeteria. Sure enough, not as many people. There were still a good amount of students there, but I did not struggle to find a seat.

While returning to my room after lunch, I decided I was going to go out and try to join a pick-up game of soccer. No exceptions. I had to at least try and ask somebody if I could participate. I had to or else I would spend 10 hours during the whole afternoon and evening on my computer. After the decision, I changed into appropriate sporting attire, got some water and headed to campus on my bicycle. I arrive and I stand right outside of the entrance of these two small soccer fields. All of the sports fields I have encountered in China have been astro-turf, aka not real grass, and these Peking University’s fields were no exception. Both fields were being used. One field had 6 people, so I figured they did not need an additional player. The other field had 13; perfect! I could even up the teams. I stood there on the opposite side of the chain link fence for 5 minutes, trying to time when I was going to ask somebody if I could play. I didn’t want to ask when the ball was too close to the goal that I was near and I also didn’t want too many people to hear me. The time to ask finally came.

“我可以参加吗?” (Can I participate?) I said to the goalie. He yelled at somebody across the field, asking if I could. The other guy shouted back some answer.

“_______, 不好意思. 对不起.” (Something that I could not fully understand but he was talking about a team. I am sorry. I am sorry.)

I did not play soccer today.

After I was rejected, I ran around the track 2 times before I remembered that there was another pair of soccer fields on campus. I packed up my things and rode my bike there.

Baseball! Correction; Softball! Yet another correction; Slow pitch softball!

I saw soccer on the other pitch, but when I saw softball, my decision was made. I parked my bike and stood outside of the chain link surrounded fields once again. I was standing by the home plate area. There were a lot of people on the field. Who was I going to ask? My second chance arrived.

“我可以参加吗”? I said. I hoped it was the last time.

“可以啊” she replied. Yes! I was in. I walked around in order enter the field. Two girls approached me, including the one I originally asked. We spoke half Chinese and English. Both of them were perfectly capable of speaking English with me but I just wanted to practice my Chinese. A few other people came over while I briefly introduced myself and they told me things I needed to know about their group and such. At some point, I was going to go to another team, because I told them I was in a certain department, but as soon as I said I had played on the diamond for 6 years, they were happy and did not want to lose me to a different team. One thing lead to another and ended up on first base with a glove on my hand. It is where I belong, really. After a little while, I headed over to home plate and tried batting, which I knew was going to a bit different since I have only played fast pitch. I hit a few balls here and there, but I will still need to work on figuring out what is and is not a strike. More time passed by, and a guy on the team asked me if I wanted to play in a game against the medical department team.

“什么时候?” (When?) I asked.

“现在.” (Now.) He replied. I figured I had no where to go so I agreed to join. The assigned me to first base and the 8th batter position.

4.picDuring the game, I fielded well and batted alright. I was having trouble swinging all the way through, which has always been a problem for me. So my hits did not go very far. I got on base every time I was up to bat except once, when I was thrown out at first base. I never scored at home plate, for I was always on base when the third out occurred.

We played until past 5 pm. After it was all over and wrapped up, I was invited to come eat with some of them. My choices at that point were to either go with them or eat by myself at the cafeteria. I chose them of course. We all rode our bikes to the west side of campus (we were playing on the east), and ate at a non-crowded second floor restaurant. Many topics were discussed, including my interest in buying a set of team jersey, hat, and pants. It will cost a little more than 300 RMB (~$50). I told them I would think about it. I currently still deciding. They also invited me to come play with them this Sunday at 12 pm at what they call Freshman Cup. You apparently do not have to be a college freshman to play, just a newcomer to the team.

I have a selection to make. The first option is to go to this Freshman Cup at 12. The other option is to go to church at 11 am and frisbee at 4 pm, just like my past Sundays have been. I want to go to church and especially frisbee because there are only so many weekends left were it will not be too cold to play, but the same is true for baseball. I make my decision on the point of why I came to China: to learn more Chinese and to bond with Chinese people. There aren’t too many Chinese people at church and frisbee. And besides, I think this Freshman Cup is just a one day event. I don’t think it will carry on to the next few Sundays.

Overall, today did not go how I had expected. I prepared to play soccer, but played softball instead. I am not saying softball is better than baseball, but I was certainly glad when my hand was put in a glove.

Origami I made today in my Chinese folklore class.

Origami I made today in my Chinese folklore class.

Song of the Day:
Stuntman by DANakaDAN

Bible Verse of the Day:
Taste and see that the lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Psalms 34:8
Source: Bible.com

高丹玉

Dry Eyes and Game Night

First day back to class from a week long break and my eyes feel like they have had no rest for 2 days. I figure it is either all of the time I spend looking at a computer screen or today’s windy and dry weather. Probably a combination of both. So, during all four hours of class today, my eyes were quite uncomfortable.

5.pic

A classmate of mine invited me to join a board game night with him and his friends at a local cafe. I was told there was majiang and some sort of automated majiang tables, so I was definitely in to go. There was a fee of 25 RMB (人民币) to enter the cafe, but with that price you get unlimited drinks and ice cream. When I arrived, I got a little bowl of chocolate ice cream. It was okay tasting. It was far from being the best chocolate ice cream in the world. I was the second to arrive, while the first was my classmate. We ate our ice cream and set up a game called Catan while we waited for others to arrive. This game is apparently German, but the specific set my classmate has is all in Chinese, which means the instructions and all of the card details were in details. But that was actually no problem for me because my classmate as well as all of his friends knew how to play so they shared their knowledge of the game with me. This process took about 30 minutes. The game is quite extensive and has quite a lot of components. Not my favorite game but it wasn’t horrible, and they really like it so it was completely fine by me. I drank a hot chocolate part way through the game. The game took about an hour and a half to play, which I privately was not too happy with. It was past 9:30 pm when the somebody won (not me but I was just happy it was over) and I mainly came to this game night to play majiang. So I stayed out a tiny bit later than I originally wanted and I did not get to play majiang :/ Also, my eyes did not feel good, as previously explained. I think I will return to this game night, but maybe not every Thursday.

Bible Verse of the Day:
Trust in the lord always,for the lord god is the eternal Rock.
Isaiah 26:4 NLT
Source: Bible.com

It’s getting late here, and of course my eyes feel like resting, so I suppose I should do just that. Goodnight!

高丹玉

Is a Crab a Pet?

I woke up this morning at 7:20 (I don’t have class until 1 pm today), and walked toward the window of my room to open the curtain in order to let light in. As soon as I did, I noticed that the trees in view were moving and waving at me. I noticed that there were no gray skies and I could see farther off buildings. Overnight wind has cleared the smog! Right then and there I sent a quick thank you prayer to God, including that I did not want to wear a mask for a week straight. I don’t have to now (for the time being)! The AQI for Beijing right now is 27! So low! I should really go out an exercise.

As I write this post, I gq.pico to the window, and I look down at the little park and fountain area that is within the apartment community. A lot of parents and grandparents take their little children there to play around and such. There are usually a few strollers parked on the sidewalks and the children are attempting to play in the water of the fountain. I have seen some strange stuff at this area, looking down from my 5th story room. I have seen kids pee in the water. Parents prefer to allow them to do that than take them to a bathroom or change a diaper. But today, looking down, I see a child chasing something. I look closer and I see that it is a crab. Its body is about the size of my fist, with it legs trying to escape the people’s harassment. The child is following it closely while stomping. The crab makes it to the edge of the grass, stops there, and the grandmother (I assume) approaches it, holding a 2 foot long black rope. While the crab is not facing her, she takes on of its legs to pull it closer. She ties the rope around the crab, and hands the other end to the child. He starts to walk to the fountain, which is no more than 5 feet away. The crab is dragged along the ground, somewhat roughly, and thrown into the water. It was quite a sight. I have no idea if the crab is in actual pet, or they are enjoying its company before they cook it up for dinner tonight. I have a feeling it is the latter, not the former. I know for a fact it is not originally coming from the fountain/pond area, for there is not enough food to support it and I would have seen more crabs at other times. This has been a mildly interesting way to start my day. I may ask some of my Chinese friends to see how the feel on the topics of crabs as pets or play things.

Song of the Day:
솔즤하게 M.U.P. by iKON
This is a very new KPOP group, under YG Entertainment. This song is off of their first, and currently, their only album.

I have 3 hours until class starts, so I better collect myself and prepare for the day. Talk to you all soon!

高丹玉