Have you seen Avatar? If you haven’t, add it to your to-watch list and prepare to be inspired. If you have, get excited… because last week we got to see Pandora IN REAL LIFE. That’s right, Pandora is based on an actual place in China! Zhangjiajie National Forest Park inspired James Cameron to create the movie’s amazing world, and last week we had the chance to experience it for ourselves. This huge park was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen. Keep reading for photo overload and a few details about our trip to this magical place! 👇
Thick rolling fog, craggy outcroppings, and touches of fall foliage everywhere. As we ascended up the mountain, first gliding above it all on a tranquil cable car ride and then pushing onwards up punishingly steep stairs, it became clear that our experience at Fanjing Mountain would be the epitome of a perfect autumn Saturday. This trip, as well as September’s visit to Yaoshang, was arranged by our local education department as a way of welcoming us to the area and encouraging us to become familiar with the local culture and attractions. Over the weekend before Halloween, we visited Fanjing Mountain and a nearby Miao minority village.
For those who’ve never heard of Hangzhou before (us, until 3 weeks ago), it’s Shanghai’s next door neighbor and the capital of Zhejiang province. Shanghai is so big and important that it basically makes up its own province, but they call it a municipality. Yikes, China is confusing! Despite its obscurity in the West, Hangzhou actually boasts 9 million residents and several tourist attractions. We spent two days there visiting Tommy’s old college roommate, Bin Yang. He was a great guide, showing us the highlights and introducing bizarre and delicious new food.
For our Golden Week holiday, Tommy and I had the chance explore Hangzhou and Shanghai. I’ll share more on Hangzhou later, where we had a great time catching up with Tommy’s old roommate Bin and trying weird new foods (have you ever watched your meal die in front of you? We now have!). But for now, Shanghai! This city knocked it out of the park with its crazy skyline – sorry, Hong Kong! – and blend of new and old, East and West.
AKA, Teaching English in China. (The title is the standard response to “How are you?” that we hear multiple times a day, every day, shouted in chorus by roomfuls of Chinese students. We are trying to teach them good, okay, and so-so, but they seem really stuck on this ingrained answer!)
Between random class cancellations and our visa trip to Hong Kong, we’ve had a pretty light workload these first couple weeks. I didn’t really want to give an opinion until we’d settled into it a little more, but with another holiday coming up now seems as good a time as any. So, how is teaching? In general, we like it! The kids are adorable, the teachers are friendly, and we’re working less than half the hours we would at home.