Hard to believe a 10 day trip would be progressively unforgettable considering the experience of day one with students at the international school. Discovery (we had James) is outstanding at planning and accommodating all group needs, within reason. Furthermore, they do a great job of finding local guides that mirror their standards of international standards despite the location. Not once did we feel nervous or out of place. The entire experience is unforgettable and maybe even life changing, will have to wait and see. Discovery has my full recommendation! Outstanding! Thank you James for this amazing experience.
I have a whole new outlook on China after seeing it for myself. I loved Shaolin especially. It reminded me of Healdsburg, CA with its small-town feel and was one of the most beautiful areas I have seen. The people are super friendly and welcoming and are always willing to set some time aside to start a conversation. I got to practice my mandarin skills with Amy and Hallie when we ran around talking to the local children. They were always willing to hear our unclear questions that probably didn’t make sense. I will definitely never forget this experience and I hope to come back and talk to them again, hopefully with a little more confidence. – Alex
When I first got onto the bus to go to China I thought 10 days were going to be too much. But now looking back, I don’t want to leave. It felt like those days just rushed by and now, here I am packing my bags. I think it went by so fast because we were having loads of fun with every step we took. I loved going to Shaolin. I felt it was the most similar to America and made me feel more at home. There were blue skies, grassy hills, and friendly people. Everywhere we went, the Kung Fu students smiled and waved in a warm greeting. It seemed as if there were more ancient stories and places, like the Shaolin Temple where the monks live. I had a wonderful time interacting with the locals and I’m anxious to visit China again. -Hallie
After being in China for ten days I have gotten use to the food and the culture. Knowing that we are going back to the U.S. in two days makes me a little upset. I have come to love the family style meals and the friendly personality of the locals in Shaolin. I am already planning on coming back to Shaolin because I know that I am going to miss it. After being in China for ten days I have realized that I nneed more time to see the other wonders and excitements that are hiding, waiting for me to find them. -Amy
The China trip is awesome so far. we are riding on a bullet train right now. We visited the Shaolin Temple and ate breakfast with monks. Tomorrow is our last day. We are headed to Beijing, where we will shop in the silk market, then go back to our hotel. My favorite part of the trip is when we went to Beanstalk International Bilingual School to see our pen-pal.
China has the latest technology and transportation is one of them. Riding the Bullet Train is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has great views.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the train ride. The train went about 300 kilometers an hour! It was smooth, with barely any bumps. To add to the comfort, the train had way more leg room than the plane. The view of the lush country side was amazing. – Conor Brown
My favorite part of China was the food, it was yummy. I liked the entire trip. -Dylan
I liked the food too. It was very good. -Brennan
My favorite part of China was when we performed the songs to the Kung Fu students. I liked that part because the students clapped for us so enthusiastically and loudly even though we didn’t do that well. -Jackson
I haven’t posted in awhile, my last post got cut short because I was attempting to type it up on the bus, but then I got car sick, so I stopped and took a nap because it was a long drive. Anyway, continuing from where I left off, on our way back from our nightmare walk, we ran into a turtle who had already layer her eggs, so we got to see her go back into the ocean. We got back to our small rooms that had three people assigned to them, at eleven, which was early for our group because we were assigned to go from eight to twelve. I slept for about four or five hours before the howler monkeys decided to have an hour long argument at five in the morning right outside our little cabins. Everyone was talking in the morning about how they lost about an hour or two of sleep in the morning because of this, and I felt bad for the group who was on the twelve to four in the morning shift, they didn’t even get to sleep but if for one hour or so once they got back. In the morning, we got packed and ready to go, had breakfast, and then got on a small boat to sail off to a small village to experience their culture.
We saw many animals along the way including various birds, otters, and two caiman. We watched one of the locals cut open a coconut to make coconut candy for all of us, which consisted of sugar, milk, and coconut. We listened to a lecture about a group of young people’s movement to stop turtle poaching, which had been a consistent and normal practice of their parents and ancestor’s lives. While they are very successful at preserving the turtles on their beach, there a still those in the village who disagree with their ideas and find it okay to kill the turtles for their meat. After the lecture, we ate dinner in one of the villager’s houses and also made necklaces. After lunch, we went to a little market where the local people made various things out of materials such as garbage bags, and plastic bottles. There were also many kinds of jewelry, even necklaces made of cow bone. After our adventures there, we got back on the boat and went to our new hotel, we had dinner and then went to a lecture about bats. I, and most of the group found it very interesting and loved it. The woman who gave the lecture took us out to show us how they catch bats. They stretch out a net that is like a spider’s web in touch and look, which the bats then get caught in. After she showed us, we went back inside and she showed us two live bats who were only a few inches long. They were very soft and their wings were like rubber. After we were finished there, we went back to the hotel to sleep.
The next day we set off for La Selva, which is a preserved past of the rainforest in which tours are held through the small paths made through the rainforest. It is also a major place for researchers to go and …well, research. They also have student programs and other volunteer programs. We were all split up into groups of about eight or nine with a guide for each. We went through the rainforest and saw various kinds of animals ranging from leaf cutter ants and a lizard eating a frog (which I will show a picture of when I return home), to a sloth with her child and a pack of four wild boar walking alongside us in the rainforest. After we finished our walk, we all got back on the bus and went to the next place, which was a wildlife conservation and rehabilitation center (I’m not sure what the name of it was even though it was my favorite part of the trip so far). When we got there we had lunch and then were split into groups of odds and evens (We have numbers and surprisingly I am twelve, an even number). Both groups were taken by a guide around to visit al of the animals there. Most of these animals were kept as pets by people who didn’t know what to do with them when they finally grew up… Yeah smart right? First we saw a wild boar named Perla, who has to stay at the facility for all of her life, her mother was killed by poachers and she was rescued by the workers at the facility. We saw two other boars who were also rescued but not in the same situation as her. After Perla, we saw a small monkey (the species starts with a P but I can’t remember what it is), who was found by a boy who gave him to the center to take care of. They left his cage open many times after he recovered from falling from a tree and being abandoned by his family, but he kept returning to the boy who rescued him, so now the center has to keep him. They stopped leaving his cage open because his two brothers actually came to his cage and attacked him through the bars. It was a sad story, but he is in a safer situation now that the workers know what is going on. We continued on to see macaws, parrots, smaller parrots, two small monkeys that we got to hold (there are pictures), spider monkeys (we got to hold Jessica, one of the monkey’s hand), and a boa constrictor. At the end of our tour, we all ate a termite from a nest of termites in a cocoa bean tree, and then we got to see the difference between good coffee and bad coffee. Good coffee (ground), when put in water, sits at the top, bad coffee sinks to the bottom because of all of the trash that is incorporated into the mix (actual trash). No one go to Starbucks anymore! We also tried a sweet water that some Costa Ricans drink in the morning like coffee, that is a brown sugar mix in hot water. After our day, we went to our new hotel in La Fortuna, met the volcanologist that is involved in the next day who gave us a lecture, and went to dinner at a restaurant in La Fortuna. Just because you’ll want to know, I had a potato broccoli cheese soup, eggplant and chicken in marinara sauce, and some sort of brownie dessert.
Yesterday, we went our to Mt. Arenal without volcanologist friend who taught us about volcanos, obviously, but also showed us how to collect data in the field as a volcanologist, which has many similarities to any other science field work. We also went up to one of the pyro clastic flows that came down from the volcano about fourth years ago or so, and talked about revegetation. We also had a great view of below. After Mt. Arenal, we drove to a self sufficient farm, which is completely self sufficient, we ate lunch there and then had a tour, in groups of odds and evens again. It was so amazing how self sufficient the farm was, we saw many things such as their hydroelectric power source, cows, compost, waste usage, plants, pigs, and various plants. There were also two golden retriever puppies and their mom, they were all so adorable. After we finished the tour, we were split up into different groups and take by a guide up the side of the mountain. We dug around in the ground under the leaves to find microorganisms, or white patches in the ground. We hit the jackpot immediately and found a ton of it in one spot, one of the students also found a large stick bug which I also have pictures of. We went back down to a small facility and put some of the material into a bucket, and compressed it with a large wooden block on a stick. We continued to add more until the bucket was mostly full. We mixed water and molasses in another bucket and then poured it into the bucket with the microorganisms, leaves, sticks, etc. after we finished we added the mixture into a bin full of it, and concluded our day at the farm. We went back to the hotel and I fell asleep right away.
Today, now that I’m finally caught up on blogging, we went rappelling in the morning after we ate breakfast at the hotel. It was so much fun, and the only hard part was the beginning when I was waiting in line awaiting my doom, and I was at the back of the line. The first rappel was about 165 feet down, with a waterfall. It was actually pretty easy to rappel down the wall and I didn’t get soaked by the waterfall like some other people. The employees with us tried to drag us through the water too. The second rappel was shorter, and the following ones were smaller compared to the one before it, except on this second one, I got dragged through the waterfall and got completely soaked. It was so much fun today, and after we finished we had lunch there and then drove back to the hotel and relaxed. I took a nap and did some laundry, I then started blogging this for all of you who are concerned and read this. I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged in a few days, but it has been difficult to find the time to blog, since most of the time ends up being when we get back and are able to sleep, and I usually fall asleep right away. Right now we are at a restaurant and will be zip lining tomorrow. I hope Lily is doing alright, and I’m sure Kona is doing fine. I will see some of you on Tuesday.
P. S. If anything looks weird I blame the iPad for auto correcting everything I type.