Right now I am in Guilin waiting on a train back to Chengdu. I have decided to take it pretty easy for the next three weeks before I head back to Beijing for the start of the new semester. I leave for Chengdu in a few days and then plan on going to Xi'An, Tianjin and then finally Beijing. In Beijing I am meeting up with the other Americans in my language program for the upcoming semester and then we will all take a train over to Harbin.
My traveling companion, Andrew, left Guilin a few days ago to go to Hainan where he will spend the Chinese New Year. I decided not to go because it sounded like it would be a expensive and I also wanted to travel on my own for a change. Now my goal is to spend my days studying Chinese and talking to people I come across in my hostel and throughout the cities that I visit.
For example, today has been a good day so far. I woke up late, took a long hot shower, ordered a western breakfast the hostel and hung out in the lobby for awhile reading my Chinese book. I had planned on taking a walk along the Li River in the afternoon but two Chinese students from Shanghai were also hanging out in the lobby. They came and sat with me and we spent the next several hours talking, mostly Chinese but they also spoke some English as well. These girls were very interesting, they are both currently studying French and want to travel there with their school in two years. But they told me they have to be selected to go and the selections are based on how good their French is in two years. So if they study and work hard they will have a chance to go abroad, if not, they wont.
Im going to walk around the city square this evening and eat some Guilin rice noodles at this really cheap place that I found. Some locals also told me about a local bar that is popular for young people so tonight I plan on checking that out. One of the cool things about being a foreigner in China and having an OK grasp of the language is that it is not too hard to meet other Chinese people. If you can speak a little Chinese they really want to talk to you and are really excited. Im already pretty good and the general first encounter conversation with Chinese people (like where I am from, whats my major, why I am in China) etc., and working on having more in depth conversations. That is still a work in progress but will improve with time and hard work.
Im getting hungry so Im going to grab some of those noodles I mentioned. Thanks for all of you who read this thing, especially you who leave me some comments. I really appreciate it.