On the Road: Yunnan

The Gao Xin school organized our trip to Yunnan province, including stops in Kunming, Lijiang, and Chuxiong.  We spent a lot of time on the bus and were more than ready to get out and stretch our legs when we arrived at the shopping district in Dali pictured below. IMG_1459

Our stay in Lijiang Ancient Town was a highlight of the trip.  This picture was taken on our first night. The students are joined by our guide and Mr. Song, our calligraphy teacher, under a canopy of hand-painted messages that people hang for luck.  IMG_1492

Morning view of Lijiang Ancient Town on our way out for the day’s activities.IMG_1511

CHEX 2013 stopping for a picture on our tour of Lijiang. IMG_1549

A break from the bus ride to get a side-of-the-road photo of the landscape.  If it isn’t obvious from Maya’s pout, it was far colder in the mountains than we expected it to be. IMG_1580

The group on their first of a few cable car rides.  IMG_1645

Pictures can’t quite capture the scenic views we enjoyed.  This is the closest I have came to getting the whole thing on film. IMG_1670

We stopped for tea and a show depicting wedding rituals of the Bai minority group on our way back to Kunming.  IMG_1733

Most of the group caused quite a stir at the Stone Forest in Kunming.  Mr. Song and I had to fight through a mess of Chinese tourists with their cameras to capture this moment on film.  I had to throw a few elbows to get to the front of the crowd and I’d do it all over again for this picture if I had to.IMG_1798

Getting Settled at the Gao Xin #1 High School

They sure do know how to send a warm welcome here in China.  On our first day of school we were greeted with a big welcome sign and tea with the school administration.IMG_3480

The work finally begins.   CHEX 2013 students, showing off their brand new uniforms, sit for the Chinese placement exam in the first few days on the Gao Xin campus.  IMG_3489

Soon after it was time for the Official Welcome Ceremony.  This picture was taken moments before the event began.  There was palpable tension in the room as we (myself included) paced corners of the room practicing our speeches.  IMG_3522

Fortunately, Will stopped by to check in on us and offer his expert advice. IMG_3520

Hosts for the event.  Xiaolan, our #1 resource at the high school, is pictured on the left.  IMG_1087

Will, one of our very own, acting as MC for the event.  IMG_1093

7/8 of CHEX 2013 waiting in line to give their individual speeches.  Pabs is not pictured as he was brave enough to volunteer as the first speaker.  They were great.  You all would have been as proud as I was if you could have been sitting in the first row beside me. IMG_1060

Big smiles from the group after the ceremony.   IMG_1111

Much-Anticipated Visit to the Terracotta Warriors

The group pauses at the 1st pit for a photo.  The picture doesn’t do justice to the experience of standing in this very spot.   We were all looking forward to this moment and it didn’t disappoint.   IMG_0932

A glimpse of the various facial features of the warriors.       IMG_0943

Our tour guide explains how the appearance of each warrior depicts their rank and position.  IMG_0962

Group shot from the back of the 1st pit. IMG_0952

Exploring Xi’an: Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The group poses on our first trip to the city’s most famous Pagoda.  (We frequent this location as it is very close to the Indian restaurant that never fails during our please-anything-but-Chinese-food moods.)IMG_0886

The students follow Kevin’s advice and try a touch for good luck. IMG_0905

Taken moments before our climb to the top.   Unfortunately, it was fairly overcast during our visit.  I didn’t get a good shot of the view.  IMG_0901