Friday, July 1, 2011



Greetings from Tokyo! I had a bit of a rough time leaving China and getting here but I made it after a long day and have been having a wonderful time. I started the week off with a trip to the imperial gardens and lucky me, as I was leaving I saw the emperor and his motorcade drive by! Tokyo has great public transportation so mostly I've just been wandering around in all the districts. I have been to a few temples and shrines and even took a trip to a sento! A sento is a traditional Japanese bath: it's separated for men and women and everyone strips down, washes up and soaks in natural hot springs. I was of course the only foreigner and the youngest person by about 25 years but a few women were patient and helpful at explaining which pools I should sit in and for how long, it was very relaxing! On Thursday I completed my Disneyland resume by taking a trip to Tokyo Disneyland and it's neighboring park Disney Sea! Disney sea is pretty much my dream park with areas like the New England coast, Mediterannean shore, Ariel's underwater world and the Arabian Coast. I even got a picture with Prince Eric!!!

Earlier in the week I woke up early to see all the hussle at the world's largest fish market. I've never seen so many sea creatures (dead and alive) for sale. After marveling at tuna that were bigger than my bed I decided this is probably the best place to try some fresh sushi. So yes, I, Brianne K. Boardman ate raw seafood willingly. I choked and gagged trying to swallow it but I got one down. Yesterday I spent my evening at one of the world's largest intersections. I found a cool spot to people watch and waited for Tokyo's signature neon lights and signs to be turned on. The lights were pretty cool but because of the recent earthquake much of the city is under power restrictions so it wasn't lit up like it normally is. I had some teryaki pork for lunch and now I'm ready to head to the airport for my flight to Los Angeles. I've really had the most amazing experience living and traveling throughout Asia this past year but I'm so incredibly excited to head home and see family and friends. Time to start a new adventure!

Bi han

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Zai jian zhongguo!

Cause my bags are packed I'm ready to go....! It's time! I'm flying to Tokyo in a few hours and I'm so excited to be heading to Japan and heading home. I feel like I won't really be able to grasp my year here until I'm back home and semi adjusted again. Made a quick stop in Xi'an and Beijing, link on the bottom for pictures! Goodbye China!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zebra Music Festival and Hong Kong

This last weekend was Labor Day weekend in China. As far as I could see it's celebrated in about the same way as the U.S. No school, no work, jut some time off. So I decided to labor my way to Chengdu for the Zebra music Festival. A few of us (foreign teachers) rented tents and slept at the festival campground. I shared a tent with a local Peace Corp volunteer, Natasha. We were cozy and snuggled in her hot pink tent, ready to slumber the night away. The skies had a different plan for us. Around 4 in the morning it began to rain. This would have been no big deal if 1. We weren't using crappy Chinese tents and 2. We had remembered to put the rain fly over the tent. So at first the sprinkles were merely annoying but then it started to downpour.....straight through the mesh canopy known to the Chinese as a tent. We were drenched in seconds and I said "ok, grab your bag, find a dry tent and I"ll see you in the morning. " 1, 2, 3 go! into the eye of the storm. I ran for my friends American made tent: a 2 person North Face. Were there already two people in there? Yes, but it was dry! So the three of us sandwiched ourselves in and watched the lightning show. I didn't really sleep but I was drying off, which at that time was more comfortable than catching zzz's. Things dried off the next morning and we managed to successfully evade the security/ticket checkers and hung around for most of the day. Until the rain started again....that'll be enough camping thanks, off to a hostel! All in all we had a blast enjoying the music, the food, the company and of course the Jagermeister booth.

A few weeks ago I took a plane down south to visit Hong Kong! Hong Kong is a very metropolitan city, half Chinese/half Western. It was soooooo nice to be back in a place that actually functions. The cars do what the road signs say. People dont' honk. No one is spitting or blowing their nose on you. They have Egyptian, Irish, Mexican, French, Australian, American, Italian food....everything and anything you could want exists in Hong Kong. It's fantastic.
Mostly we did a lot of shopping and eating (I got an awesome gift for you Wendy!) But I also made a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland! It's only 5 years old, but everything at all the Disney parks always looks fresh so you couldn't really tell. The castle is very small and there aren't many rides but I could still feel the magic. There's tons to do in Hong Kong and we only made a dent so I hope I can return someday soon!

My time here in China has flown by and I'm almost at the one month countdown to head home. My classes are all going well, this week we're discussing/debating controversial statements and the right way to express your opinion. The weather is very hot and humid, but at least the sun is out. Hope all is well with you! Zai jian!

p.s. The internet has not been working well since the recent events in the Middle East so I apologize for the delay in posts!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lights! Camera! Action!

This last Monday was our first day of filming for the English text book video supplement. We woke up nice and early, packed our bags to look like tourists and took a cab into the city. We met the boss for breakfast (baozi, steamed buns with pork in the middle, and a sweet bean porridge) and then it was off to the hotel. From what we can gather from our scripts it seems like the text focuses on tourism, which is why we needed to dress like tourists and why we're filming in hotels, airports and other touristy locations. So first up was hair and make up. The Chinese like their pinks and glitter so I ended up looking a bit like Jon Benet Ramsey, but it was fun. We shot a few scenes in the lobby talking to our "tour guide" and then it was off to lunch for more filming. And here Mrs. Black had her solo debut: the room was silent, the lights were bright, the camera was rolling. I sat up tall, looked straight across the table and said in my most eloquent voice
"The soup is getting cold. Could you  help us to have it warmed up?"
BAM! Hope you brought your binoculars because I just knocked that one outta the park! hahaha my other line of the day was quite dramatic
"Help! My husband has slipped and fallen in the toilet! He's unconscious!"
That'll probably be a tear jerker ;) We wrapped up the day with the best pizza in Chongqing and headed home.

This weekend we'll be heading to Chengdu (capital of Sichuan and land of the pandas) to film a few more scenes. This weekend is also the Qingming festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day; a time to remember and honor your ancestors. I"ll be honoring mine by enjoying some beer and watching the NCAA tournament at Hooters when we have time off from filming. Hoot hoot!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The lilting of Mrs. Black

The recent events in Japan have truly been a disaster and it's hard to not think about my now neighboring country frequently. The only crisis here in China has been a lack of salt. Chinese shoppers have been clearing out salt in the supermarkets so quickly that the government has limited how much salt a person can buy. Of course I run out of salt during this time and have to elbow my way through the salt mob at the grocery store. But this is one of those times when being a waigouren, foreigner, has its advantages. As soon as the salt attendant saw I was a tall blonde, I was gently handed my ration of salt. Nuclear scare from Japan is the cause of all this salt hoarding. The Chinese believe that the iodine added to the salt will prevent the thyroid glands from absorbing radioactive iodine. The government has issued statements of China's safety from any sort of nuclear side effects but there still isn't any salt on the shelves.

During my lessons this week I briefly discussed St. Patrick's day and some of the day's traditions. As a listening exercise I played a Chieftains song and had my students fill in missing lyrics. It was a fun exercise and I enjoyed explaining about traditional celtic instruments and the art of lilting!

I have been asked, along with some of the other foreign teachers, to be a part of an educational video. A school in Chongqing is making a video supplement to an English text book and they needed foreigners to act out dialogues. We don't know exactly what we'll be doing besides showing up at touristy areas of Chongqing and Chengdu and acting our part! So don't be surprised when you see me nominated for the Academy Awards next year for my role as Mrs. Black in the Instructional English Video!!! ;)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bowling Bonanza

Ni hao!

I started teaching again this week, I teach two classes on Tuesday, one on Wednesday and two on Thursday, so yes you could say I have a pretty strenuous life. Having a four day weekend is stressful! hahaha My students this semester are pretty smart so I'm gonna have to up my lesson plans, which is fine because it'll just be more interesting for me :) Let's see yesterday we went into Chongqing and after many bus and taxi rides and confusing directions we finally found a bowling alley. Well it's more like 6 lanes in the middle of a mall, right next to an ice skating rink, pretty crazy! A note on Chinese bowling skills....even though there are illustrated instructions in the alley demonstrating the proper technique of bowling, the Chinese have found their own methods for hurling a ball into 10 pins. I can't quite describe it but if you can imagine a praying mantus having a seizure while periodically striking a pose for an invisible photographer and then suddenly tossing the ball down the lane as if it had caught fire, then you have the Chinese in our neighboring lane. But it was really fun, I even broke 100 for 2 of my games hahah. I'm sure we'll be headed back that direction sometime soon :D

The sun is out! It's probably in the 60's now and it feels fantastic. If the temperatures stay up I'll be able to go swimming in a week or two! Not much else is new here, hope all is well back home!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back in Beibei

Let's see where were we...

For the rest of my time in India I didn't do much sightseeing as most of my days were spent travelling in a car. But soon enough it was time to fly and off to Malaysia we went! After a groggy red-eye flight to Kuala Lumpur, we managed to find a bus to take us to Singapore right away. So as Jack is going through customs on the Singapore side, he realizes his visa expired yesterday. Woops. So we're sent back to Malaysia and have to wait for the Singapore consulate to open to renew his visa. This could have been a very quick process but because of the Chinese New Year everything is closed. So I decide to head to Singapore on my own and wait for Jack to try get his visa. Singapore is this incredibly clean, nice, new tropical island. It's story goes something like this:

Once upon a time the handsome, bold West traveled a great distance and met the beautiful exoic East. They quickly fell in love and soon had a child which they named Singapore. Singapore grew up learning many languages and was taught to never jay-walk, spit or even chew gum! Nowadays Singapore slings back with his pet merlion and welcomes friends from every corner of the globe. I love Singapore. While I was there I toured the neighbourhoods (little india, chinatown, arab street and the colonial area) and also made a visit to the zoo and national museum. On the morning of the 7th I woke up at 5:30 am and grabbed a spot at a cool microbrewery to watch the Packers beat the Steelers in the Superbowl!!! I was surrounded by Green Bay fans also enjoying lagers for breakfast. Twas glorious. Jack didn't end up getting a visa so I departed the lion city and made my way to Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is very laid back so it was the perfect place to go at the end of our trip. We met up with two other teachers from Beibei and toured the city, making sure to catch the awesome view from the skybridge of the Petronas towers! We had an exciting day at an amusment park and then it was time to go home. It was a little strange walking into my apartment here in Beibei and having it feel like home, but it does. So I'm all settled in here again eagerly awaiting the return of the other teachers from their travels. I'll start teaching at the beginning of next week and am looking forward to heading back to the chalkboard.

I sent a lot of you post cards from India but I'm afraid you'll never get them :( I think I used the wrong stamp and I doubt they'll ever leave the country, but know that I was thinking of you!
Here's a link to the pictures of my trip!