93 million miles…

Another week has been and gone and I somehow woke up at ten to three on Tuesday morning and couldn’t been back to sleep. Once it reached four o’clock I decided to do something more productive with my time than lie in the dark. Thus I watched the tv series Community online whilst writing characters and their definitions neatly into another notebook. (having messy characters is hell…)

Eric happened to be awake too so we went for breakfast at eight and I was starving! I’ve never had breakfast here before so I was intrigued to see if it is good or any different from lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served really early here, it opens at half past six and is closed around half past eight! On the UK campus breakfast would be open until ten. Crazy chinese lifestyle…. I ended up just having two savoury pancakes. One has a thin layer of meat in it and the other was just a thin pancake. They were quite tasty. However Eric had some rice and a large deep friend looking dumpling that didn’t live up to his expectations… I don’t think I’ll be jumping out of bed to rush for breakfast in the future…

I do really enjoy being here and I definitely am back to living the life of halls again. Especially tonight because there is a flat somewhere on my floor or near mine that has their speakers volume on maximum… And they are singing… Wait, shouting with a tune more like… I am off to visit a national park just outside of Ningbo with Luis. (Let me quickly introduce you, Luis is another from Notts, he studies German and Chinese. Oh! I forgot I haven’t written on here for aaages… The rest of the Notts lot joined us when we returned after the New Year break. There are four of them: Becky, Antonia, Hayden and Luis. I think they’re settling in well despite having a few chaotic days at the beginning of sorting out internet and making this place feel more like home.) As the other girls are in Xi’an this weekend, we decided that we’d do something closer to home. According to Eric and Lisa, it’s meant to be quite a fantastic place!

TianTong National Park
TianTong National Park

And we were not disappointed! The Tiantong Temple and National Park were great! I didn’t sleep too well last night so I was ready by half past nine even though we weren’t to leave until ten. When I left my apartment I noticed that there was a red inflatable arch set up in the ‘Roller Skate Square’ which is a gap between some of the buildings along the campus high street. As I neared it I noticed there was a crowd creating a circle in a middle with people running about within it. It turned out to be a game of ‘Name Tag’. There were three teams with five members that each had their colour bib on with numbers attached with velcro to their back. The aim of the game was to be the last team standing and to do this you had to basically attack the other teams’ members to rip their number off! I was so mesmerised I almost didn’t notice Michael calling my name as I walked straight past them! After chatting to him for a bit I headed to meet Luis so we could head off on our adventure..

Lisa and Eric had given us directions to get the right buses to the park yet it took us an hour to do what they did in twenty minutes! Eventually we found the right bus stop and after ten minutes the 165 bus appeared. We had to change buses to the 162 but after an hour and a half we happily arrived near the park. I started getting a little excited the minute I saw a tall pagoda standing out amongst the hill filled landscape.IMG_3314

Once we were off the bus we walked in the direction of the pagoda. The main path up to the various things to see there are many stalls selling the exact same Chinese tourist bits. I was surprised none of the vendors tried to entice us to buy anything by throwing cheap prices at us as we walked past. We reached an open space that was filled with more stalls filled with food. There were many roasted potatoes and sweetcorn which I wasn’t keen to eat so I

bought some glutinous rice cakes which are rectangular and have the texture of gnocchi. Luis bought some tofu that was boiled in a flavoured broth. He was still hungry so he decided to buy an ice cream. I thought the ice cream would be really cheap (around 60p) because the cornetto I had in Hangzhou was six yuan (70p) and it was yummy! However Luis was a little fuming because he spent fifteen yuan (£1.50) for a magnum half it’s usual size! I found it quite funny. 😀

We walked over and up a tall staircase to the pagoda which was interesting but unfortunately we weren’t able to go inside. There were men re-paving the space around it which meant that tourists couldn’t reach it. None the less we snapped a few pictures and carried on towards the temple. The scenery was beautiful. There was a little pond in which many terrapins were sat on a plank of wood that was elevated just above the water level enjoying the warm sunny weather! Some people had to look twice to realise they weren’t a statue.

The Buddhist Tiantong Temple was beautifully decorated with bold colours and gold. There were two large and very scary looking statues on each side representing the god kings of the north, east, south and west. Many people were burning incense and kowtowing to the statue of the buddha. It was intriguing to watch. (I unfortunately don’t have any photos of these really large buddhas because I didn’t want to disrespect their faith.)


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At this point we had only been there two hours and were wondering how the others had managed to spend five hours here the previous weekend. I had forgotten that Eric had mentioned there was a mountain that you could climb but we managed to find the entrance and ticket booth and off we went. And it was a hell of a climb. Especially for someone who is very unfit and has not done any form of exercise let alone a lot of walking in the past two months! At the beginning Luis even said to me, “Are you alright? You’re breathing pretty heavily.” I reassured him I was tip top and we carried on upwards. There were quite a lot of caves and views back over the valley to stop at on the way up. Each time I was amazed by the view. Eventually after a really long hour we arrived at the summit. The last few steps were worst than step climbers in a gym but it was worth it! We sat for a while in the shade snacking on some M&Ms talking about where we want to travel after exams then headed back down. We were able to go down a different way which was basically a long stone stepped staircase most of the way down the mountain. It was awesome.

We reached the bottom just after four o’clock and headed back to the bus feeling rather starving. On our way home we went to Sunday Plaza to have a good meal there before walking back to campus. It was yummy! Luis ended up ordering a whole plate of meat and another of stir fried rice, and I had meat with leeks!! Leeks! They were so amazing. I’ve missed them. They made me think of my parents’ roast dinners back home! Definitely putting leeks on my mum’s shopping list for when I get back…

I ended the evening at 5am. So I should say morning really. Michael was having a flat party so we headed up there around eleven and I ended up going out to a club called Ever with them! The music was SO much better than Nova. I managed to meet a guy who spoke spanish which was awesome! I kept almost speaking in chinese though….

We went to McDonalds then got in taxis home.. 🙂

And of course my lovely father makes me cry a little the next morning when he sends me a message dedicating a meaningful song to me!

“Sometimes it may seem dark but the absence of the light is the necessary part.”

I’m off to enjoy a bright sunny day here, hope everyone is well!

Big love. ❤