Tomorrow is (American) Thanksgiving, and as I prepped roast chicken and green bean casserole for a feast we’ll be sharing with the other foreign teachers I reflected on our many blessings. Tommy and I are so grateful for this chance to explore the world a little bit more, and for all of our friends and family who have showed us continual love and support even while we’re halfway across the globe. We’re thankful for the new friends we have met here, and for the new opportunities waiting for us after China (even though we don’t know what they are yet!). And we’re so happy that we’re growing in grace and experiencing all of these things together. So in the spirit of the holiday, here is one little piece of the year that we are thankful for, our trip to the big and beautiful Beijing!
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.