Pandas <3

Since Chengdu is known worldwide for its` pandas, we couldn`t leave the city without a glance of the cuties! The Giant pandas are only found in three of Chinas many provinces, and Sichuan is one of them. Chengdu, which is the capital city of Sichuan has the biggest facilities.
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center was founded in 1987 with only 6 Giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. Now the Panda Base is a non-profit research and breeding base for more than 60 Giant pandas and other rare animals such as the lesser pandas (Small red pandas)!
I must say I was a bit skeptic towards the thought of going to the Panda Base, as I`ve heard horror stories about Chinese Zoo`s. But this was far from what I feared. The Panda base covers a big area of 92 acres (372310.790 m²), and includes the adult panda ground, panda kinder garden, a research lab, museum and a panda kitchen (where they have their own chef making food for their tailor-made diet.) The baby pandas stays in the kinder garden until they are 3 years old, then they`re moved to the adult panda ground. I was really amazed by the pandas’ surroundings! It was so well done, with climbing racks, small caves and lots of trees and bushes to hide in!
Panda`s are known for being lazy so there was no surprise to us, finding the first panda sleeping. But it didn`t put a stop on our excitement. It was so cute!! 🙂
As we went to the Panda base quite early in the morning, we got to experience the breakfast feeding, including bamboo branches. I could watch them eat for hours, such amazing fluffy creatures. They are so lazy they lye on their backs eating. They collect the leaves on one side of their mouth to eat them bite-by-bite.

We were also lucky enough to see the baby pandas! They were insanely cute, and I couldn`t stop thinking about how I could kidnap one and bring it with me home!!! The fact that it`s a bear didn`t occur to me there and than, I just wanted to hug it.

Check out some photos of the cute, lazy creatures HERE!

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New Years celebrations!

In western countries we follow the Georgian Calendar and New Years Eve is a celebration of the first day of the next year. In western traditions we get together with friends and family, have a good dinner, watch the fireworks at midnight, then celebrate for the rest of the night. For the Chinese, this day is more or less celebrated like they celebrate Christmas; a big dinner with family and friends, either ‘hot pot’ or a bbq party. There is now illegal with fireworks in the big cities, so if you want to see fireworks you need to go a bit outside town. Everyone can buy fireworks and you often see fireworks days before and after New Years Eve!

China, on the other hand, follows the Lunar calendar and therefore the dates for the New Year varies each year. Their New Years are celebrated as a long festival, from 7-15 days. It seams to me that food is a huge part of the celebration and the different food symbolize different things. This year it will start on the 30th of January. On this day they have to eat fish; this is because fish in Chinese is ‘yu’ and also has the meaning of saving money and food. The more fish you eat the more money you save!! This is apparently also the day to eat dumplings (even though they eat dumplings at any time throughout the year)! After the dinner they watch the first fireworks. Until midnight everyone watch CCTV’s big New Years show on TV. And again, at midnight there are more fireworks and firecrackers! The kids will also get the ‘lucky money’, which is a red envelope with about 100-200 Yuan. On the 1st of February you are not suppose to clean! Neither your house nor your body and hair!!! This because it’s a fresh start and everything is new!? On this day, they also wear a new coat (preferably red, of course!). And apart from the big dinner, they eat ‘Tang yuan’- sweet, soft balls!! 2nd is the noodle day, where everyone eat noodles for breakfast.
-During the whole festival they stay with their family and have big dinners every day. For most of the meals throughout the festival, they eat smoked meat! But this meat is somewhat special. They prepare it at least a month in advance, and hang it outside to dry. You see all kinds of meat hanging around on the most creative and original places! I found it a bit disgusting at first, but I’ve seen it everyday for over a month now so it doesn’t bother me anymore!! They make smoked pigs head, pigs tale, baby pigs, pigs feet, whole ducks, chicken, chicken feet etc. The most common one is the sausage! They are everywhere! When they prepare the meat for serving, they boil it and cut it into pieces. It’s usually served with different vegetables and rice! The dry smoked meat is an old tradition from when meat for dinner was a privileged. They therefor celebrated with lots of meat for New Years and then stored the rest to only eat meat once a month! When preserving it this way, the meat can store for more than half a year!
Finally, on the 15th of February, which they call the second New Years, they round it all up by eating ‘Tang Yuan’ for dinner (the sweet, round balls)! Since it is round, it symbolizes the family sticking together.
Throughout the New Years Festival, they also put up posters on each side and above their entrance to wish good luck! It’s called ‘Dui lian’.

Since our visa runs out by the end of January, we’re celebrating the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong! I think it’ll be wild, and I can’t wait to celebrate and join the festivities! I’ll post photos from Honk Kong later. For now, check out pictures from our pre-drink pary on the 30th (including quiz and cake!), and photos on the smoked meat they eat during the Spring Festival! See PHOTOS here!

*Thanks to Doris for giving me the information on their New Years celebration!!*

Christmas in China!

Since Christmas is a Christian holiday and not many Chinese people are Christian, you don’t see many signs of Christmas in China! Usually, Christmas in China is celebrated as a festival where family and friends get together. On Christmas Eve, the whole family celebrates with a big dinner (in Sichuan that dinner is Hot Pot (huo guo) -a social meal where you have a big bowl/pot of boiling, spicy oil in the middle of the table. In the bowl you put raw vegetables and meat and wait for it to cook.) After the dinner they will go to KTV (karaoke) or to the pub. On the 25th it’s time for shopping!

Fun fact: In Sichuan, around Christmas, the young generation used to gather at ‘Tian Fu Square’ in town to hit each other with an inflatable hammer. As the game was more or less just to hit random people, those not playing got really angry, and it often ended with a big fight. Because of the crowd of people the cars couldn’t get through either and 2-3 years ago he tradition was abandoned.

You don’t see much Christmas decorations around, and most families don’t decorate like we do. But the little decorations I saw made me feel a tiny bit at home! What I really missed was the food, my family and the snow. My lovely mom sent us some Christmas porridge, Norwegian chocolate, a Santa hat and various snacks. In the morning on Christmas Day we put on our Santa hats, made porridge and watched ‘How The Grinch stole Christmas’! We also got to try different Chinese homemade cookies and snacks, as two of Kyrill’s students came over with presents in the morning. They loved the Norwegian porridge!
In the evening, we met up with a few of the other western teachers in Chengdu from the same program. We had booked a table in one of Chengdu’s finest hotels. The 160 Yuan (150 kr/15 Pounds) ticket included; a goodie bag with hats, whistles and other fun stuff, and the dinner. The Christmas dinner was a buffet with everything you could imagine; cheese plate (which was my favourite), fresh bread (with crust!!), fresh salad, roast turkey and ham (with sauce), sushi/sashimi, fresh beef and vegetables, Chinese dishes, bbq sticks and much more. Oh yeah, and the dessert was heavenly!! That was the best meal I’ve had in a looong time ☺ I think I served myself at least 5 portions! I was so full, I could barely move!!
Since drinks were included, some of us stayed there a bit longer for pre-drinks! I taught them a drinking game, which kept us entertained for several hours! After the dinner, we went to Jellyfish Bar. It’s one of the western clubs in Chengdu, so the place was packed with white people dressed up for Christmas! Even though it couldn’t compare to a white Christmas at home with my family,
it was still a great night and a different experience ☺ Check out some of the PHOTOS!

Christmas show in Zhuojin;
On Christmas Eve the kids had prepared a show for us in the morning. They all wore Santa hats and performed everything from reading poems to the role-play of ‘Snow White and the seven dwarfs’! They were so cute, and it really got me into the Christmas spirit.
Thank you kids ☺

Christmas cards;
I got so many Christmas cards from my kids, I’ve got more cards in a week than I’ve ever received in my life!!! I counted over 70 cards! The cards are so sweet, not only because of the drawings but the ‘EngRish’ is gold ☺ One of the boys even gave me a calligraphy picture with a poem he had written by himself, it’s awesome. That’s going on the wall when I get home ☺

I just have to type up some of the wonderful cards I’ve got;

1. Silje, happy chissmas to you. Miss Gong tell my: you are go out. We are sad. You can didn’t out! I want saw you. (She gave me a silver necklace with the card!!)
2. Meiry Christmas and Happy Now Year!
3. Dear Silje. Merry Christmas! I will miss you! Hope you will be happy! Tel:… Best wishes! Yours Sun Yu Yao
4. Silje: Merry Christmas. I love you! Thank you.
5. Silje: She came from American Silje! Happy merry new year merry shristmas. Suzanna
6. Christmas is come soon! In Christmas, we will be happy! This Christmas will be well than last! Merry Christmas Silje. From Linda
7. Dear Silje: Happy New Year and Merry Christmas! Being Happy all year around! From Juliy
8. Dear Silje. Hello, I am Amy. Do you like China. I like China very much. Do you think China is beautiful? I think. I am a nice girl, my English is good, so I think, we will be a good friend. Good bye, and merry chirtmas for you, wellcome to China the second time. Buy! ☺ From Amy
9. Dear Silje: Merry Christmas! When is you come? We isn’t want you go out, we want you at school, we like you. From Alex
10. Dear Silje: Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year! Thank you for your teaching! ☺ I will miss you! Welcome to Chengdu again! Your friend Li Peilin -I love you!
11. Merry Christmas Silje. China student give to you!
12. I love you! You are a good teacher. Merry Christmas ☺
13. Hello. Silje we wish you a merry Christmas, wishing you a white Christmas. Dont forget to hang up the sock! Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas this holiday season.
14. Happy Christmas coming. We are very like to listen your class. But’ we will very sad you will go home. Maybe we can’t look you next year. But we want to say. Merry Christmas. From Lucy
15. Induced teacher: I wish you a Merry Christmas! This is a warm Christmas and happy Christmas. Teacher, while you are in a foreijn land, but you are not alone, because, there are our best wishes-one beautiful greeting cards, is a symbol of gratitude you for all of us, we all like you! Guo Jing Yuan.
16. Silje I like you teach we. Happy Christmas day! ☺ Bruce
17. To Silje, Merry Christmas! You teach we English. Thank you, Silje! From: Cherry
18. Dear Silje. Happy Christmas. I must to remember you so I give you one present! Like this card. From Lily.
19. Happy English today! Happy Eglish today! English today are go! Sanke you glie my mmley good dook! Yo-yo and Grace -(Translation; Happy English today! Happy Eglish today! English today are good! Thank you Silje my ??? good luck!)

How cute is that!? The EngRish makes it even 10 times sweeter! I’m quite surprised they all manage to spell my name right though..!! ☺ -See photos from the Christmas show and some of the Christmas cards HERE!

Halloween!

I know I should have posted this earlier, but I thought it’s better late than never!
I remember Halloween as quite a big deal in England when I was a student. We went crazy with costumes and had kids doing ‘trick or treat’ on us, but here in China or at least in Chengdu, you can’t really tell when it’s Halloween.
Karina and I looked all over town, only to find that there are no Halloween costumes being sold anywhere. The previous years, we’ve had to be creative making the costumes ourselves, and this year didn’t seem to be an exception!
As Kyrill wanted to dress up as a mummy, I thought I could be his mummy partner! Bandage is easy to find, so we went to the pharmacy and bought all the bandage they had! They looked quite surprised as we walked out with a bag full of bandage! Ok, now we only needed some white stuff to cover our face with! We found some white eye shadow. Not the best make-up, but it worked ☺
We had a short pre-drink party at our place with our American neighbors, before we headed out to Hemp House – a club in town, arranging Halloween party for the occasion. I was quite surprised to see all the different costumes – even a few Chinese people were dressed up. It was a good night and I got a lot of good feedback for my ‘mummy-dress’, but oh my god what a ***** to take off! I think I had 200 safety pins holding the dress together!!

Check out some of the costumes -PHOTOS!

The Beauty of China <3

I’ve been living in China for almost 5 months now, and there are things here that you would never find back home. This list highlights just some of these things;

1. You’ve been living in the same neighborhood for over 4 months, but you still get 100 eyes watching you on your way to the bus stop.
2. You find yourself having to listen to a Chinese guy talking throughout the whole bus ride because you incidentally said ‘Ni hao’ to him on the bus stop. (Ni hao = hello in Chinese)
3. You find people sleeping everywhere! And taking a nap on your desk at work is totally normal.
4. You have the kids in school occupying your desk to do their homework. Sometimes you even get up to 8-10 of them at the same time!
5. As there are too many people compare to the amount of jobs, you find people having totally useless jobs such as pressing the button for you in the elevator or collecting leaves (they literally wait under the tree, just to pick up the leaves as they fall!!)
6. It’s totally normal to walk around in town in your pyjamas and slippers. You even find dressed up girls in their slippers! (I think it’s the new trend!!)
7. All the youngest kids have trousers with an open crack in the back instead of diapers, so they can do their business whenever and wherever they like. It’s totally normal if a kid squats down in front of you in the street doing his thing. (I do feel sorry for them tho, now when it’s only a few degrees above 0, their tiny butts must be cold!)
8. Babies are often just tied to their mothers back or put in a basket they carry as a backpack. You rarely see babies in buggies here!
9. You do anything not having to go to a public toilet. And if you do, you often find peoples business in piles waiting for you to flush it down. I guess because the one before you couldn’t be bothered to do it himself!
10. You have people stalking you, not knowing if they have bad intentions, or just want to look at you because you’re foreign!!
11. You have the kids in school asking you why your eyes are so big, and why I dyed my hair white!
12. The guys at the hairdresser take photos of you with their mobile phones, as you are the first foreign customer they’ve had.
13. You wonder if the word ‘overweight’ even exists in China.
14. The main public transport is rickshaws (tree wheels)!
15. You live in a country where there is no English, but EngRish!
16. There is a couple of words Chinese people struggle with in English; words with an ‘a’ sound at the end: pig=pig-a, good=good-a, look=look-a! The word ‘usually’ is apparently also a bitch to pronounce: yuyually, or smoothly= smusly.
17. This is a place where words like ‘in advance’, ‘prepared’, ‘timing’ and ‘cuing’ don’t exist.
18. Crossing the road is like life ‘frogger’! (And pedestrian crossings are just decorations and green light doesn’t mean you can cross over!)
19. You have learned that there is a solution to everything! Say, if you desperately need to use your computer but your battery has run out. You bring your computer to the nearest streetlight and just plug it in! You can even use the bush as a desk!!
20. There is no limit to what you can and can’t carry on your back. These guys are hardcore!

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When you think you might have been here for too long;

1. You start enjoying the loud kid next door playing piano, just because he’s playing a new tune. -Not the one he has been playing everyday the last four months.
2. You catch yourself staring if you see another white person, not being your flat mates.
3. You think noodles and vegetables for dinner everyday is actually not that bad.
4. You no longer run over to a guy hacking up, thinking he’s dying. You know he’s only clearing his throat, spitting it out in front of you. (It’s especially flattering when a beautiful girl or an old woman does it!! :P)
5. You feel clumsy eating with knife and fork, using two hands!!!
6. Your no. 1 wish for Christmas is a block of cheese.
7. You bargain over 2 Yuan (less then 2 kr)! It’s the principle!
8. You no longer fare the deadly rickshaw journey to the supermarket. And you have started counting how many close accidents you had compared to last journey you took.
9. You can’t find anything strange about people transporting whole pigs, 200 dead chickens (strapped on), a couple of dogs, the whole family or a couple of chairs and a table on their scooters.
10. You have forgotten what an oven is!
11. You have forgotten what a clean t-shirt smells like!
12. Not having a computer for almost two months is not the end of the world!
13. You drink hot water with nothing in it, and think it’s quite nice!
14. You’ve made sure you know how to say ‘just a little’ (yi dianr) to the woman behind the counter in the canteen, so you don’t get more chicken feet and tofu then necessary.
15. You feel uncomfortable in a pub where the majority are white people.
16. You’re actually enjoying a burger at McDonald’s, and honestly think it was a very nice meal.
17. You find yourself smiling more then usually one day. This because you can see the sky for once!
18. You think you know a sentence just because you understand a couple of the characters.
19. You no longer turn when you see dogs with pink or orange neon colored ears and tales!
20. You thought being a teacher, teaching over 500 kids a week would put the idea of ever having kids off. Where you instead find you wish you could bring them all home with you to Norway! 🙂

Check out the PHOTOS!

Activity days with the kids in Zhuojin!

A walk around Zhuojin;
A couple of fridays back, we took the youngest kids out for different activities. One Friday, we went on a long walk around the area of Zhuojin to learn about the society they live in and how to protect the environment etc. It took us 2-3 hours to see the area, which was really just a small neighborhood. A 5-10 minute walk normally, but with 90 kids with tiny feet it took a lot longer. The sun was shining and it was a really nice walk, so I didn’t really mind. After the long walk, we went to a park further down the road. The kids had brought tons of crisps and candy to snack on for lunch, and the staff was going to get food provided there. But to my big disappointment, the food we got included bones of chicken with a tiny bit of meat/skin on it, stretched chicken legs in a strange oil and of course, chicken feet (including nails as usual). I tasted some of it, but as it’s all bones and nails, I gave up in the end! -even though Chinese people, miraculously, seam to get something eatable out of it!! Luckily the kids were more then happy to give me some of their food. They ran up to me with chocolate, crisps, cookies, candy and strange Chinese sweets (which is just dried, spicy meat!), so I got full in the end anyway 🙂 It was a great day, but I was so tired when I got home. Usually you have them sitting by their desks and it’s only 30 of them at the time, but now they were 90 kids running around, screaming!!! 😛

As I’ve had some problems uploading photos to my blog, I’ll refer to a link where you can see the photos..Sorry about that!!

These are some of the photos from the trip. The kids are all grade 1 (5-6 years old). Check it out; PHOTOS!

Sports day with the parents;

The other Friday we took the kids out, was ‘Sports day’. Like they had in Vanke School, this day is for all the parents to join their kids with different activities. First, the kids had prepared a show for us ,including some singing and dancing, all dressed up with Mickey Mouse ears and wings. Later, there were different games set up, where the kids and the parents had to work together in teams, competing against the other classes. It was a lot of fun to watch.

See some of the photos here; PHOTOS!

The photo shoot!

As I mentioned in my blog earlier, I’ve been modeling for a furniture company; Fusen-Noble House! It’s a 5 star price-winnng furniture mall, where you’ll find all the biggest and most experience brands. It’s apparently the biggest and the best furniture mall in the south-west of China. It’s like IKEA, but for rich people!!
I heard about the job through my colleague and good friend Doris, who told me they were looking for a model for their next advert. As Doris’ boyfriend is working for the company, we took some photos there and then and sent them to him to judge!! As I’m not a model nor has any experience within modeling, I thought I had no chance of getting that job. But to my surprise, a week after I got the message that they had chosen me!! I couldn’t really decide if I was happy or not, but I think I was just really nervous. Anyway, I had taken upon myself the challenge, so the only problem now was to find clothes I could wear for the photo shoot. As I’ve been here for only 5 months and they needed me to wear elegant evening dresses, I couldn’t find anything close to that in my wardrobe. But to my surprise, even though I know Chinese people are very kind and generous, two of the teachers in my school (who I’ve never even spoken to before) were more than happy to lend me their dresses. Fantastic! And they fit me perfectly. I even got a wig from Doris I could wear!!!
The photo shoot was sat to the coming Saturday afternoon, and I feared the mall to be crowded with nosy Chinese people. But as it is such a big mall, we didn’t attract that much attention! We were only interrupted by the people working there, wanting to take photos with me with their phones!! Great.. 🙂
It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it was a really fun experience 🙂
I felt like a princess for a day!!!



The photos was used for an advert a week later in ‘Chengdu Commercial Newspaper’.
I found some fun facts on this newspaper;
It was first published in 1994. The volume of circulation is 650 000 per day. Its main content includes; important news/ internal/ international/ sports/ entertainment/ society/ finance and economics/ house property/ cars/ traveling/ health/ fashion +.
It’s the best newspaper in the west of China, with a reading rate of 1 575 000 readers per day!!

The pictures takes up quite a dominant space in the newspaper, and I was a bit shocked by the size of them. And seeing yourself in a Chinese newspaper is not something you’ll experience every day!! On the day it was published, I ran down to the nearest shop and bought all the newspapers he had left! I showed him the picture, and he got very exited, showing it to the other people in the shop 🙂

Here are some of the photos from the photo shoot. They are not photoshop’d or finally cropped yet!





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