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About

"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

Other Blogs of Note

  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
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  • Surviving South Korea
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  • "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" by Niall Ferguson
  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • Autumn or fall in Korea Monday, August 29, 2005 |

    Fall has slowly and painfully come to South Korea. I say slowly, because it feels like its taken forever; painfully because there were times in Seoul that it felt worse than when I was working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Living in the third floor of a house with two small families has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages, such as the problem of hot air rising.... Right now, things have cooled significantly, and when the long-time residents of Korea tell us that "fall truly is the most beautiful season in Korea", we can actually see what they mean, and its only just begun. Murphy's Law dictates that after we've had a beautiful stretch, the weather will drop off again, and slow down our life with 100 degree Fahrenheit heat, not including humidity, but hey, I've seen what I can look forward to, and I'm beaming.
    This upcoming month is going to be strange for me. Firstly, I'm coming up on finishing up six months, and times starting to go by quickly. This past month was especially quick for me, working from 9:40 until 8:20 every MWF, and 9:40-5:20, with a two hour break in the afternoon on TTh. Now that its done, I'm grinning like a fool, because next week, when I get paid, it will be with a whole slew of overtime, something I didn't really need, but I'll take anyways. Working so many hours in a day made me appreciate my otherwise cushy schedule, working from 2:30-8:20, and 2:30-6:20 on alternate days. Sure, I work hard....Really.
    Second, one of my roommates who I've really gotten along with well is leaving to go to England to live with his girlfriend, soon to be fiance, whenever he can afford it in Britain on the pound. Usually with teaching, teachers come and go so frequently, a few each month or two, that you just don't get to know them that well, unless you go drinking with them, in which case you see a totally different side, one that doesn't rear its head when they're teaching. It will be weird to see him leave, because now I've got to find a new gym partner, and lazy morning roommate to bond with. He opened me up to the profitable world of tutoring privately, got me both jobs (one of which I've been removed from because of new government regulations - ie. The risk of deportation...), and generally has been an all-around great guy. His lasting legacy on me will be getting me addicted to the magazine, the Atlantic. Overall, I would consider myself to be mildly well-read. I've read my share of books, some not so good, some better than others. But he has got me hooked on this 10 subscription a year magazine, that's ridiculously priced at 12,000 Won, or 16 Canadian. Normally, its a modest 4.95 US, but things are different here.
    Thirdly, associated with my roommate leaving, I'm suddenly moving up to the fifth most experienced person on staff. Two other teachers who have stayed for a year and a half are also leaving. Suddenly I've got new teachers following me around, because I'm supposed to show them how to properly do things. Over here at my school, you just get into a habit of doing the same thing over and over again, that you forget why you started doing it in the first place. Nothings sounds more convincing than telling a new teacher "uh, I don't know why I do it; I've just always been doing it, and nobody has complained, so I just keep doing it..." Yup, that sounds convincing. Real convincing.....
    Well, I need to get going - for those of you who have written me e-mails, now that I go back to normal schedule on Tuesday, I'm hoping to get back to writing things, rather than using my schedule as an excuse.
    take care all, and God Bless
    Bryan

    Final Thoughts on China..A little belated Sunday, August 21, 2005 |

    Well, I've finally found time to finish up my thoughts on China - here they are, in complete confusical order....confusical - I like that word.
    traveling through China made me realize how poor China really is; even in the major cities or countryside villages that we traveled through, there are homeless people everywhere. Coming from Korea, where there are about half a dozen homeless people in the entire country, this was somewhat startling. In Korea, if you see someone begging, you know things are dire; but in China, it appeared that on every corner, or park bench, homeless people were fighting over their turf, making sure that no other homeless person took their share of foreigners walking through.
    Don't travel through China with travelers checks; while this may seem like a foolish idea because pickpocketers are everywhere (so the tourbooks claim) there is only one national bank, the Bank of China, that will cash them. It doesn't matter where you go, if you're city doesn't have a Bank of China (which I've heard is the case in some smaller cities) then you're screwed. However, if you carry a credit card, you can use it just like a regular debit card, and when the charges that the Bank of China levels on you for cashing the checks, you come out even. I vote for credit card.
    Don't travel through China in the summer. Plain and simple. With their heat, and lack of tree cover, its awful. Yes, the summer is hot, which for some people might be enjoyable. This heat however is not including the humidity, which makes it something short of ridiculous.
    I realized that while traveling through China, going solo, or with only one other person, is clearly the best option. People approached me because they knew I was just randomly by myself (which in China, is a rare occurrence). So if you want to go, go by yourself. And contrary to what I may have written two weeks ago, you can do China in one week if you just use Shanghai for one full day, and not the two days I spent there. And don't forget to take the Maglev train.
    Lastly, I found that while I was tiring of my time in China near the end, I was finding myself looking forward to being back in Korea, where I felt more at home than in the crowded China mainland. As I was sitting in my airplane seat, I realized that the reason I was looking forward to going back to Korea is because I really feel like this is my home. (I hope my Mom isn't reading this) Korea is slowly feeling more and more like home because I'm putting in the effort to not think of home. While that may sound rude to some, I've accepted my frustrations with my school as typical, and out of my realm of understanding. And while I may come back and change my mind on this, I really have started to see myself staying around in Korea for one more year. Previously, my plan was to work in Korea for a year, go home, see family and friends, and then go off to another country, possibly in Europe. After thinking it over, I've realize that I don't want to go through all of the two months of learning that I had to go through when I came to Korea, and if I could stay here, then I could enjoy even more of the country, and still get to travel the world, at least around South Asia. We'll see what God has in store for me. What's clearly helped has been me finding a church that I'm really feeling comfortable with (minus the one hour travel time, one way -which, by the way, makes Sarnia feel like a dream) and that I'm trying to get involved with.
    So that's sorta my post-China trip in a nutshell.
    Sorry for the long stories - I hope that some of you found it informative, if not comical, or englightning.
    ****for those of you who might have forgotten the website with pictures, here's the link, plus the password needed to access the pictures****
    http://photobucket.com/albums/v739/acanuckinkorea - password: southkorea
    cheers all

    Shanghai, the final frontier.... Sunday, August 14, 2005 |

    After taking my flight from Xi'an to Shanghai (here's something to try to grapple; my longest flight, totaling 2 hours and 10 minutes, was also my cheapest flight, at only 175 US, while Seoul to Beijing, at only 1 hour and 35 minutes, was 550 US....I hate traveling in Asia....) I arrived in Shanghai, absolutely tired and ready for a nap. I'd tried to sleep on the plane, but surprisingly, they served me a delicious meal and had a movie on that I hadn't seen yet. This time, after struggling to find the right bus, I arrived at my last youth hostel, almost ready to just pack things up, and go back to Seoul. One of the frustrating things about trying to pack in so much sights into just over eight days, is that you're always on the go; when you're sitting down, you feel guilty because just by sitting down for ten minutes, you're effectively missing something, because it never is just ten minutes....ten turns to twenty, which turns to thirty....(you get the idea).
    I decided to start by walking along the Bund, which is Shanghai's famous boardwalk. Long ago, Shanghai was a bustling trade port; only in the past few years has it become the giant that it is known as now. The ironic thing is that all of Shanghai's expensive new houses have been built on reclaimed swamp-land. After ten years, they have shockingly discovered that their new high-rises are sinking at the same rate as Venice's famous canal houses. Even more surprising is that there is not a spot in the world where the real estate prices are higher.
    After walking up and down the Bund, which unfortunately didn't look like much at all because of the pollutions haze, I decided to walk back to my youth hostel. I opened my guide to Shanghai, and disappointingly realizing that I could have done Shanghai in about one day (instead of the two days that I allotted for Shanghai....the exact amount of time I would have needed to see the Great Wall....) Don't get me wrong, Shanghai is a nice city, if you're looking to stay there for a while. But when you've rushed through everything, I couldn't help but to be disappointed that I was ending my euphoric trip on a low note. For a second I thought about going home one day early, so I could recuperate and catch up on some sleep, but then I realized how stupid that would sound when I came home; I'm in China, and I go home to South Korea a day early? When, its quite likely that I may never come back to China for a long, long time. I decided to enjoy myself, and not worry about what I missed. I'm in China, I should have a great time. That afternoon, it rained almost as hard as the day I arrived in Beijing....so I didn't end up doing much.
    The following day, my last final day in Shanghai, I ventured off into Shanghai's well-known clothing market, known more-so for their knock-offs than their realistic merchandise. As much as its fun, its also rather frustrating - men everywhere come up to you asking if you want to buy a "real" Rolex, or DVD's, at real cut-rate prices. I wandered into the market looking for two things; a knockoff North Face Gore-Tex jacket, and a pair of zip-off pants. After a few days of being ripped off, and swindled at numerous places, I was in the mood to argue. For a good ten minutes, I haggled with a girl over my North Face Jacket. After a few minutes, it got quite humourous. You get to hear a host of reasons why they can't drop their price as low as you want it to go: reasons such as "I need to feed my family!", or "I can't make money when you pay so little!", to "You must think this is a fake...it's not! It's the real deal!!" I settled on 300Yuan, which was just as cheap as I wanted to go. I had been proved of its waterproof stature, and its proof of "real" status as a North Face jacket, I walked out of the market, a happier man than when I had walked in there.
    That afternoon, I walked off to the new area of Shanghai, called Pudong. Its also where the Shanghai Pearl Tower is located. Perhaps the best known landmark of Shanghai, after walking past it, I realized the rumours were true; it really is uglier in person than it is in pictures. That night, I walked along the Bund, and took pictures of the waterfront at night; it really is a beautiful sight, if you can see through the smog. Overall, it was probably better that I end my time in Shanghai, because it allowed me to rest, and just slow down, after running around for an entire week. Shanghai however, isn't the greatest city in the world; there's a reason that its called the "whore of the Orient", and its rather unfortunate. But if you can look past the occasional glitches in the city, its rather quite nice, especially around the waterfront areas.
    On my way to the airport, I decided to take the Maglev train to the airport. By airport terminal bus, its a one hour trip to the outskirts of the city, to the airport. But via the Maglev, its a nice 8min30 second ride, topping out at 432kmh - no joke, this train was fast. It runs every twenty minutes - ten minutes there, ten minutes back. It made me think about the future of air travel - Maglev trains are faster than airplane travel, potentially safer, and much more economical to ride. Oh well - I arrived back in Seoul on Sunday after a one hour delay at Shanghai due to the Aeroflot plane not passing its pre-flight safety check (shocking...Aeroflot having safety issues) I got back into Seoul, and got back to my apartment at 6:30pm.
    Part Five - post thoughts coming shortly....check the picture site for the last of the China trip pictures.....

    Xi'an, or in English, shee-anne. (yup, its long) Wednesday, August 10, 2005 |

    I arrived in Xi'an with the Poles in tow, sporting a very sore back, but happy that, after a night of heavy rainfall, Xi'an was considerably dry, along with considerable humidity. As we arrived out of the train station, we were (as has always been the case up to now) bombarded with people yelling in English, or some form of English if we wanted a taxi driver. I followed the Poles lead, and their less-than-glamorous approach of turning around in circles with the heavy backpack, and "accidentally" hitting the obnoxious taxi drivers out of the way. It seems rude, and looking back now, it probably was. But you have to realize how aggressive they are at trying to pursue you; they'll walk in front of you, showing you all sorts of pamphlets, to try and get you to go to this or that hotel (where presumably they make a commission for each soul they trap inside their hotel). Our hostel had already bought bus tickets, and stuck us on a bus that was already considerably packed. So the Poles and I made quite the five-some on this bus, where the people kept on getting hit, this time purely accidental by our backpacks. It was a no-win situation, and for once, we were hoping that we could have taken a cab, and arrived in half the time, with air-conditioning to boot. Twenty minutes later, we got off luckily at the right spot, and arrived at our "authentic" Chinese youth hostel, barely changed since the original construction of the house with a lot of rooms. The only difference was the change in decor, which was of a nice post-communism style of bland colours, but of more importance, an individual air-conditioner, controlled independently; a blessing.
    In my room, I met up with a British boy of the same age who just so happened to be traveling for the past five months all over the world. (....And I thought my five months of teaching seemed rough....). I also met up with another Spaniard who was just traveling anywhere he felt like going (he had been traveling for two months) and a Chinese boy who had English as his primary language, and knew Chinese about as well as I know French; barely enough to communicate. They were all wonderful guys, and they were a lot of fun to hang out with.
    We spent my first full day deciding to visit the Terracotta Warriors, and the Muslim Mosque located in Xi'an. We stopped on the way to see the mausoleum (sp?) of the Dynasty leader who commissioned the Terracotta warriors to be constructed. It was somewhat shocking to read that 770,000 workers toiled for 37 years to construct his mausoleum, which appeared from the outset to be a massive mound of dirt, with Pomegranate trees planted all over. The worst part was that after they were done, they were all murdered, so as to not reveal any secrets of what he buried underneath the mound of dirt. Rather disturbing, but seeming typical of China back during the different dynasty's.
    We continued along to our main stop, the Terracotta warriors. Words cannot describe how powerful it feels just to see the massive scope of work and effort that it took to construct each individual warrior. Each warrior has a different body - from their face down to the details on their hair. Its incredible; the belief is that the workers on the warriors crafted each warrior after the men who were building them, as a lasting memory to their achievement. As I walked through, I couldn't help but wonder in amazement just the scope of time it would take to complete something of this scale. Even the ruler's mausoleum took 770,000 men to complete - my hometown encompasses 70,000 on a day where the hospital is busy in the maternity ward....But 770,000 men forces you to stop and think.
    On the way back, we decided to take a wretched mini-bus tour bus back to the train station where we caught our city bus in the morning. Mini-buses have an awful record of spending more time at the stops in between the major tourist attractions than at the attractions themselves; they call them rest-breaks, but you can't stay on the mini-bus; go out and stretch..... In our naivete, we figured that they wouldn't stop at places for the ride home - they only make money bringing people to the exhibit, the ride home is free if you pay for the tour the mini-bus company. We were wrong. If the bus driver and his wretched helper didn't try to pick up every single person walking down the road; we didn't stop for 'rests" it just took twice as long. I really got to see the dirty side of Xi'an, compliments of the sweaty bus helper and the rookie mini-bus driver. We found out after we left that they work on commission for picking up people for the ride home, and not on the way to the exhibit.
    Last on my stop for the day was the Xi'an Muslim Mosque, which was amazing. For a city of 6.5 million, to have over 75,000 Muslims just in one city is testament to their staying power. Centuries ago, Xi'an was a major trading hub in China - their proximity to the start of the Silk road made them the obvious choice. So the Muslims in their major trading partners sent over Muslims to learn Chinese -the Muslims stayed, and erected one of the fewer than five Mosques of its size in all of China. It was beautiful to see the cross between Chinese and Muslim architecture. And even though we "accidentally" wandered outside of the regular tourist zones, they were more than willing to show us anything when they realized that it was only two people, and not over ten-twenty whity's traveling and talking loudly in English....
    In the end, I barely made it to the airport in time, no thanks to another mini-bus that took me to the airport (either the mini-bus at 25 Yuan, or the taxi at 140Yuan....Remember people that I'm Dutch....That should explain all) I will post more pictures to the site shortly from my time in Xi'an - after Xi'an, only Shanghai remains....The last leg on my journey through China -

    coming soon, pt.4...i think...

    Apologies for the Length....But here's Pt.2 Saturday, August 06, 2005 |

    After fumbling around in my seat for over five minutes, trying to make myself comfortable, I noticed that there was this teenager sitting across from me who was trying to look at me, without making it obvious. So, I decided to stare back at him, to try and make him feel uncomfortable; it seems rude, but it works the best.
    As it turns out, he spoke English, and quite well. He couldn't understand me as well as I would have liked, (he's studying German in Berlin, so he actually knew German as well). It definitely made the six hour ride much better than just looking out the window. As we started to talk more, more people started to look over at our six-seat spot, because they heard people speaking English. Half-way through the ride, the conductor came by, and for some reason, my ticket had fallen from my pocket into the seat-cushion. Luckily, my Chinese friend intervened for me, and explained to the conductor that I did have my ticket; eventually she left, confident that a foreigner wouldn't have tried to sneak onto a train in China.
    The startling thing about the train ride was the striking difference between big-city Beijing and the rest of the country. Once you leave the city, its a completely different world. Just recently, the average income rose over the 1000 Yuan mark, which was big news (1000 Yuan is equivalent to 700 Can) The only problem was that it highlighted how much the upper-class was making compared to the lower class, which hadn't changed. The wealthy are getting wealthier, and the poorer were still the same. Taking the train through China was an eye-opener; once you leave the city, all you can see are incredibly poor hacienda-style houses, who survive on subsistence-living, feeding themselves with whatever they produce. For many of these communities, wells are still used as their primary water source, they have no plumbing, and their houses are made of mud-style housing, with corrugated steel as their roof. For myself, I could remember reading articles about how China is an up-and-coming nation, ready to become the next major world player. I couldn't help but think how far China is from becoming a developed nation. There will always be striking differences, but this was much more than I was expecting.
    Doing things in my typical style, I had no accommodations booked in Datong, where I was heading. Greg, my new Chinese friend, actually lived in Datong, and he let me know right away that for a city of over 2 million, tourism was clearly a struggling industry. Greg was able to book me accommodations before I even got into Datong, which was an answer to prayer after finding out that there was only a few hotels.
    On the way to the hotel, Greg introduced me to two Japanese girls who were in China studying Chinese, but were on their summer vacation touring the country. We were all staying at the same hotel, so we walked together there, go our rooms, and I settled in for the night. I was thinking and trying to figure out what I was going to do tomorrow, when the two Japanese girls knocked on my door, and after ten minutes of struggled English, invited me to join them on their tour the following day. They had hired a taxi to take them around to the Yungang Caves, and the Hanging Monastery. They had agreed on the price for the whole day, so we could spend as much time as we wanted.
    Both the Yungang Caves and the Hanging Monastery were amazing - the Yungang Caves were dug in 400AD or so, and the amazing thing is that all of the stone carvings were done by hand - before they were dug, it was a flat wall of stone. The Hanging Monastery is still used, and we were allowed to walk nearly anywhere we wanted, without being allowed to interrupt private rooms. I had a great time with both Naomi and Yoshino, and they were clearly an answer to prayer, because without them, I would have been lost as to how to go about visiting both sites.
    After visiting both sites, I had one hour, before catching what I was told was going to be a sixteen hour train ride. My ticket was previously a standing-only seat on the train, which was somewhat stressing me out. After praying about it, I went back to the Chinese National tour agency, and after agreeing to pay at 40Yuan commission, he was able to secure me a hard-sleeper berth, which was the simplest form of bed on the train ride (which was an amazing answer to prayer, because somebody had just turned in an extra ticket before the tour agency worker had asked the ticket worker if there were any extra sleeper seats.
    After picking up necessary toiletries (bathrooms in China do not carry toilet paper, or soap, or anything else but the squatter toilet/whole in the ground) I met up with some Polish backpackers (who, answer to prayer) were actually on the bunk next to mine, and they knew English fluently. The ride turned out to be 18 hours after numerous delays on the track. I was blessed to have a girl of five (who also knew English, at least enough for me to communicate with. There was also a man, who upon hearing English, came over and sat, just to practice his English. Two hours into the ride, he hands me the phone, and asks if I'm willing to talk to his sister on the phone. I said sure, and for twenty minutes, I talk to his 24 year old sister, who's just elated to be talking, for the first time in her life, to a native English speaker. She was so excited, I had to ask her to repeat herself consistently, because she was just talking so excitedly that I didn't understand her. Upon complimenting her, she couldn't stop saying "thank-you, thank you", because she was just so happy to talk to a native English speaker. But that's China - appearing ignorant to foreigners, but when you get to talk to the real Chinese people, you find a country that's just craving to learn English. On both train rides, people would crowd around, just to hear English being spoken; whenever they didn't understand, they'd all ask each other, and they would talk around, until they all understood. And then they'd practice saying it in English, with me helping them with pronunciation.
    In the end of my time in Datong, I was a little disappointed. I was planning on trying to see the Great Wall in Datong; the un-restored part of the Great Wall. In the end, my Chinese tour guide did not understand what I was talking about, so I wasn't able to see the Great Wall at all. To go to China and NOT see the Great Wall seems like a massive oversight; Mao himself is quoted as saying "No man is a man until he has climbed the Great Wall". I would have to disagree with Mao - the time I spent on both train rides, including my time in Datong, made me realize how happy I was to be traveling alone and meeting real Chinese people; not the side of China that you see when you travel with a tour group.
    Coming soon - Pt.3 of 5 -
    again, apologies for the length - but just as I tried to complete China in just eight days,(which I discovered can't be done...) there is no space to tell all of the stories that I encountered while traveling in China- I could fill a book with all the blessings and experiences I encountered; And my trip was only half done.....check my pictures site for more pictures of Datong, etc.

    Pictures location Wednesday, August 03, 2005 |

    I've posted the new pictures, only from Beijing (so far). Make sure to click on the appropriate folder, as I've recently organized the pictures into different folders. (so if you're looking for China, click on "China".....
    cheers

    Post China, Pt.1 Tuesday, August 02, 2005 |

    I was originally thinking about posting one massive letter about my whole China trip, but that would prove too wordy, and time consuming for all of you; besides, I'm trying to cut down on how much I'm writing. So I've decided to break up my whole trip into three parts, basically Beijing (pt.1), Datong and Xi'an (pt.2), and Shanghai (pt.3). This will allow me to post different visits in different spots, and allow you to see the whole trip, just not all at once. And I'll try to be as simple as possible.
    I flew into Beijing on Saturday morning, and arrived in a city in the midst of a torrential downpour. I didn't have a rain jacket, only a rapidly discovered broken umbrella, which was able to keep me dry, but not my backpack. My directions to the youth hostel I was staying at proved to be one the complete opposite end of town, so it was almost six by the time I arrived at my lodging. I ate dinner, and it rained for the rest of the night; not exactly how I was hoping to start trip. Sunday came around, and I went out exploring. By 10am, it was well over 35 C, and I was completely dehydrated. After the cool rain, the day proved to be incredibly hot, and the sun never let up. And being typically male, I didn't bring sunscreen lotion, so I got a little tan. I spent the morning at the forbidden palace, or what I thought was the forbidden palace. I walked all over the place, sorta got lost, only to discover when I was leaving that I had missed the door to the actual forbidden palace, which effectively made me really frustrated. I gave up and decided to leave it for Monday's full day; I had had enough of the squirrelish entry way to the palace, and thought I'd try something else.
    I decided to try my luck at the train station, and buy my ticket for Monday afternoon. Now, normally, the train station is incredibly over-crowded, with a complete frenzy of people always buying tickets, with nobody knowing English. In Beijing, I was lucky enough to find the foreigners ticket office, buy my ticket from an English speaker, and found out I was leaving Monday at what I thought was 3:45.....
    I headed off to the Temple of Heaven, which is basically a massive park located in Beijing, with one massive temple in the middle, built for one of the dynasties to pray to the heavens for a good harvest. The unfortunate thing was that nobody really told me at the ticket gate that the whole temple of good harvest, the biggest and most amazing temple in Beijing, was closed for repairs until the first week of august....So I paid for price for all entry, to find out that I paid triple than was necessary....
    (on a side note about China. As was the case almost everywhere but at the youth hostels where I stayed, I quickly learned in Beijing that either 1) the people cannot count their money, because I'm always being shortchanged on my money due back to me.... Or 2) they were sincerely trying to rip me off, and charge me extra so they could pocket the difference.... I quickly learned that it was the latter 90% of the time...)
    my afternoon was spent trying to cool down in my air-conditioned dorm room at the youth hostel. I went out again at night to a night market, tried to get into a Peking Duck restaurant (to find a waiting line of over 2 hours...) I bought some Chinese dumplings (got ripped off.... And fell for it....) and walked around, and took some night pictures of Beijing....
    On Monday, I spent my morning getting lost in the Summer Palace, an absolutely beautiful park with a massive man-made pond that took 500,000 Chinese working over 20 years to dig.
    I spent the early afternoon taking the bus back, to make my train for, again, what I thought was 3:35. So I eat a late lunch, and decide to walk to the train station....Only to find out, at approximately 2:49, that my train actually was leaving at 3:02, and I wasn't even inside the train station. The only explanation was that God prompted me to double check my ticket, because I was having a great stroll (you'll see the hand of God coming up more in my trip....Not only did He make my trip amazing, but He truly was with me every step of the way...There's no doubt)
    I made my train with four minutes to spare, kicked an old lady (via the train conductor) out of my seat, and sat down for what proved to be an amazing eye-opening train ride from Beijing to Datong......
    p.s. check my pic's site for update pictures from Beijing.....

    Pt.2 coming soon........