I’m sorry it has been a while since my last post, the whole IES crew just got back from a 12 day backpacking trip in Yunnan, which is a province South West of Beijing. We (the IES bloggers) were asked to write about what we loved in honor of Valentine’s Day, and although I missed that cut off due to our incredibly busy return, I was looking back at my photos from the trip and realized that what I loved most about our study abroad in Beijing is the people. The students and resident assistants and teachers are what make up this program. Without them, my pictures would be uneventful; would tell no story. My own memories would be dull, and certainly 7 hour bus rides would be as well. Everyone here at IES Beijing hit it off right away, and that doesn’t exclude the homestay students living with Chinese families. This Yunnan trip brought us together and gave us memories that I’m sure we will be talking about for the remaining three months we have together.
Now I’m sure you’re all wondering about this huge trip we went on. Let me tell you, this was the most incredible and exhausting vacation… er… mobile learning trip that I have ever been on. We started the trip landing in Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province. We stayed in our first of many hostels before moving on to many other locations in Yunnan, both main city areas and rural farms. The next place we stayed at was Old Boat, which turned out to be a really awesome (and yet really cold) tree house-esque art gallery. Then after one night, we moved on to Dali. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the bike trip around Dali, in which we had the incredible opportunity to take bikes and ride around part of the enormous lake that Dali surrounds. The sights we saw were beyond words- the blue of the sky, the snowcapped mountains, and the cold water of the lake all created this incredibly atmosphere that I will keep as a closely guarded memory all of my life. We had time to go shopping in Dali’s old town for a few nights before getting back on the bus to see other parts of Yunnan. We had the chance to go visit a temple in a mountain where wild monkeys took up residence and enjoyed the presence of tourists, mostly because we had food, I imagine. While it was nerve wracking to be on the monkeys’ home turf, it was also an opportunity most of us will not come across twice. And thus begins our mountain hiking trip, down into ShaXi, a rural Chinese farm village for two nights, all the way out to Tiger Leaping Gorge, the highlight of the trip. After hiking up to our hostel for the next night with nothing but our day packs, some of us opted on another hike further up the mountain to a ridge where we could see the entire gorge from beginning to end. We ended the trip with an optional excursion to Yunnan’s Stone Forest, where we met up with IES Kunming students and exchanged wechats and taking plenty of great pictures with our new friends.
Finally after a huge trip, we are all home safe and sound in Beijing, writing our remaining journals, putting finishing touches on our presentations and printing out our essays. Living in a big city, I am so glad that I have been able to see this side of China; the rural communities and small farm villages are as much a part of China as Beijing itself. This trip just proved how many incredibly sights there are to see and explore in this incredibly huge country.
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<p>My name is Claire Vodicka and I travel to learn language and culture and grow as a person. I currently speak English, Spanish and Chinese, with a little bit of Italian on the side. I love to take pictures, especially of people; capturing their true emotions in the moment. I'm just enjoying my time in college and documenting every opportunity I have been blessed with.</p>