Da Fu Sha Mountain: The Story of Two Hikers

Recently I got a recommendation about a hiking trail near our apartments. The mountain is called Da Fu Sha and apparently its a favorite destination of the locals. My source told me that you walk the steps up the mountain, and then walk the trail at the top to see a really nice view of the city. Nathan and I were all about that because we've been missing some of the trails back home and who wouldn't love a scenic view of Guangzhou? 

So this weekend we started up up up up up these very steep stairs for our hike.

At the top of the steps there was a wall and a guard who looked at our Clifford IDs before we were allowed in. 


Past the wall, this is the trail that went back down the hill we had just climbed. . . ! 

The paved steps were a little odd to me for a hiking trail but I was glad to be surrounded by trees instead of buildings. We kept walking down down down down down. 


 At the bottom of our trail, I was shocked to see that our path opened up into a paved walkway where people were jogging and riding bikes. . . Our view was not an overlook of Guangzhou, but of some little ponds. 

Further up the walkway was this beautiful little rose garden. It was so unexpected... and things got more surprising from there. 

Because a little ways further was an area housing pigs, monkeys, goats, and ducks.



. . . . . WHAT? ? ? 



The trail kept going. . . Everywhere we looked there were other walkways branching off our main path and down every walkway was an unexpected surprise. 

Like this apple orchard!


Continuing our walk, we finally came upon a map and discovered that where we had entered the park (looking for a nice hike and a scenic view) was actually only a tiny corner of a much larger. . . city?


For several hours we walked around Da Fu Sha Park and only saw about a fourth of it.

There's so much more that we have to go back and explore. I'll have to bring a legitimate camera next time - I had no idea how under qualified my iPhone would be for our little hike up the mountain! 

Keep singing and walking and exploring, 

- Victoria 



Victoria Goes to the Market

China is one of the greatest places to get fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables all year round. As I mentioned before they view refrigeration quite a bit differently than we do in the States. We are very grateful to have a refrigerator in our apartment. It measures about five feet tall by about two feet wide - fairly small by American standards. It's common for people here to go to the market daily to keep enough food for their families. Because of the small food storage space, plus the fact that we want to take advantage of the fresh local food avalable to us, I have found that we go to the market what seems to be an astounding number of times for just the two of us!

So off iI went to the market, with iPhone in hand to snap some pictures for you all. 

By the way, here's our breakfast: notice the food options on the menu. . . You just point and hope for the best!!

Step 1: Get on the elevator.

Funny thing here: notice that there are no multiples of four on the elevator buttons. That's because the Chinese word for "four" sounds eerily similar to the word "death". Thus, no fours anywhere if they can help it. For instance, our apartment building is #5, but we're the fourth building in the row. . . 

Step 2: Walk to the bus stop.

This is a pretty little road I walk down. . . . . 

to get to the bus stop where I take the #1 bus (obviously).

Step 3: Cross the street.

Yes, this deserves its own step. Crossing a street in China is much easier said than done. Notice that there's no stoplight, no crossing guard, and basically. . . . NO RULES! Real life frogger. But I made it. 

Step 4: The Dry Market!

This is the dry market. People come here to get dry foods - noodles, chips, rice, sauces; they also carry some beauty and hygiene things as well as household items like pots and pans. It’s basically the target of Clifford Estates.

They even have Chinese Oreos (which I got for 6 yuan. . . a little less than a dollar).

Step 5: The Wet Market!

This is the wet market. It’s where things get a little more intense. There are lots of vendors here selling things like fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, duck, crabs, chicken, pork, mushrooms, rice. . . You get the idea. There’s nothing quite like the hearing squeal of a chicken while a satisfied customer looks on, grinning about dinner later. Clifford Estates is not a touristy place at all and I was trying not to look tooooo Western by taking pictures of everything. But here are some snapshots.

The Fruit and Vegetable, Eggs section

Aaaaand the scary meat section


Step 6: Cross the street again and find the bus stop. 

(Admittedly this is the part where I got a little lost.)  But I finally found the bus stop! And live to go the the market another day. 



Enjoy your favorite foods (and maybe some new ones) today. :)

 - Victoria 

Guangzhou, China - Week 1


Nathan and I have successfully wrapped up our first week in Guangzhou, China. We're living in a place called Clifford Estates - a "gated community" of about 300,000 people. We'll be here two short months teaching music and experiencing all the Chinese culture that we can.

This is what our week has looked like. . . 

Getting there is half the fun. . .

Our Apartment

Clifford School

The Clifford School is made up of two programs that basically split the school in half: the International and the bilingual programs. The international program is where I teach. It is made up of mostly Chinese students (though there are students from all over the world as well) and it is taught all in English. The bilingual school is (as far as I know) made up of all Chinese students. Its classes are taught in both Chinese and English. 

I am in the International Program teaching elementary music and middle school choir while their regular teacher is on maternity leave. During any breaks I have I am also teaching high school band and high school choir. 

Here is the school. . . 

Around Clifford Estates

China is a fascinating mix of two cultures. Sometimes you walk outside and feel as though you're in some advanced society in the future. Sometimes you walk outside and feel as though you're in a third-world country. The mix of those two worlds is everywhere here. 

Around Guangzhou

There is a LOT to do and see in the city. Here are just a few pictures of what we have seen so far. 

Make sure you scroll through to the meat market. You don't want to miss that. 

That's it for this week!
Within the next few days we're hoping to travel to a nearby village and see the country. 

Maybe I'll even find some Chinese folk songs to learn while we're there. 

Stay tuned and keep singing, 

- Victoria

6 Things No One Ever Told You About China

Hello family, friends, and music makers.

It’s day two for us here in the Clifford Community in Guangzhou, China. We're about to head out on another adventure but I thought I'd drop in while I have wifi in our apartment lobby and share with you very very quickly. . .

6 Things No One Ever Told You About China

  1.  They don’t refrigerate eggs here! And they don’t refrigerate milk until it’s been opened. It makes for some interesting smells around town for sure. Apparently people are reluctant to pay the high price for electricity, so they go without refrigerators as much as possible.
  2. Drinks are not served with meals. There is always tea served in small 4 oz. porcelain cups with no handles (don’t try to drink it at first – you’ll burn your fingertips off).  But no water or coke is available.
  3. The traffic here is one giant game of chicken. I’ve been trying to figure out traffic rules and so far it seems like whoever is gutsy enough to not back down is the one who gets to turn or cross first. Everything is a road – parking lots, medians. . . There are also more mopeds here than I've ever seen in my life.
  4. That game of chicken applies to pedestrian sidewalks as well. If you're the biggest and the bravest you get to keep your path on the sidewalk. If you're smaller and less assertive (me) you're the one who gets out of everyone's way. 
  5. Despite popular belief, there really isn't a lot of rice over here. They don't bring it out with the food but apparently they will bring it out at the end of the meal if you're still hungry.
  6. If you're like me, you've heard a lot that places like China have been Westernized significantly. I had also been told that they teach English in all the schools over here and that basically everyone under the age of 25 speaks pretty fluent English. . . That has not been true for us. Maybe one out of every ten people speak some broken English. As an educator it makes me very pleased to teach in a country that has been able to preserve their culture more than I was lead to believe. As a traveler. . . it makes it more difficult to ask for bottled water.  :)

Enjoy the last of your evening as we start our morning. 

Keep singing, and traveling and learning, 

- Victoria