Chopsticks and Travel Shoes

Hi, I'm glad you stopped by.

My name is Lizbeth. Grab a panda and join me as I leave Las Vegas in pursuit of adventure in China's tea houses, classrooms, dirt roads, and industrial cities. I shoot with a Nikon D3100 and am sharing my journey through it's lens.

Share with me, talk to me, ask me: Feel free to leave any questions or thoughts in the ask box below.

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Photography by Lizbeth Arias is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


My last night in Beijing was marked by memories of tranquility, exploration, great food, and friendly people. After days of climbing walls and exploring palaces, I was left with one night to finish souvenir shopping and take in as much of China before my departure. I decided to spend the day alone for the most part, avoiding staying in and eating Western food with fellow travelers. It was a fantastic day from sunrise to sundown. 

After having a good cup of coffee, I ventured over to the 798 art district with the resident director of my program. I spent hours in the company of peaceful but colorful streets and inspring art. I returned and relaxed in my hotel room before heading out to find dinner. I headed over to a little home-style Chinese food restaurant adjacent to the hotel and asked the waitress for some noodles. I’m so glad I did, because those were some of the best noodles I’ve ever had. Splendidly cooked and paired with meat sauce and thinly sliced vegetables. Perfection.

I walked down 前门路 and spent another couple hours rummaging through a variety of shops in search of worthy souvenirs. It offered me the opportunity to engage with Beijing locals and observe the city after dark. One of my last stops was at a famous tea store which my resident director had recommended earlier that day. 

I walked in just to peruse, and ended up engaged in tea conversation with one of the assistants. I decided to buy some Jasmine, oolong, and black tea and my new friend offered to give me a taste test before I bought them. We sat and chatted at the tea table for a while. I told her I was ready to purchase a few items, but instead she brewed more water, bought me cookies, and asked if I would like to stay and chat with her because she really enjoyed talking to me. 

I think that was the perfect end to Beijing. Basically a private tea ceremony with a friendly local, being able to actually converse in Mandarin for 40 minutes. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mandarin State of Mind

Let me start by saying, that as I look at the calendar, there is no way it seems like I’ve been traveling through China for only a week and a day.  My senses have been completely inundated with new stimuli from every corner.  I feel like I’ve been experiencing China for weeks upon weeks.  I’m embracing new spices and tastes, unique and particular scents, the feel of new textures, the sight of architecture I’ve only previously seen on film, and the sounds of bustling people all around me.  On top of taking in what I can from what China has to offer, I have been meeting and getting to know a variety of new students, instructors, and friends which I’ve had the opportunity to encounter thus far.  There are so many inspiring, hard working, adventurous, and brilliant minds here who I am fortunately spending quite a bit of time with.  I wish I could do them justice by simply describing their character, but just believe me when I say that these men and women are filled with curiosity, compassion, drive, and an inalienable desire to travel and explore the world.  

So far I’ve spent a few days in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Xitang.  I’ve explored Buddhist Temples, attended a Chinese tea service, had the most amazing food, been to a couple bars, walked on glass so far from the ground my legs were shaking, ridden an indoor roller coaster, been to a McDonalds in the French Concession of a Chinese town and ate their curly fries, and finally… arrived to Chengdu and settled into my dorm.  

I love my room. I expected to a have a tiny room similar to the residence halls of Liverpool, but that indeed is not the case.  I have a TV, a couch, a queen size bed, my own water cooler and heater, a desk, and my own bathroom.  I’ve gone on a couple shopping trips already to buy bath towels, rugs, pillows, air freshener, an electric blanket, and a few other things to make it a little more like home. I’ll likely take a video of the room and the view and show it to you soon.  

My first day of classes was yesterday.  I’m taking intermediate Chinese (three semesters worth in just one), Government and Politics in China, Modern Culture and Society in China, Chinese conversation, and a Sichuan cooking class.  Each class is three hours long, which seems pretty rough but I hope it isn’t too bad.  I am desperate to improve my Chinese.  I’ve been hearing it so much that random words and phrases pop into my head throughout the day. I can’t always assign meaning to them since I’m so rusty, but I love that I have people to help me understand and handle the language.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There is so much to tell you that there is no way I can possibly do it in one sitting. In the coming days, I hope to cover:

  • Traffic, Traffic policing (and lack there of), the way in which pedestrians have no right of way. 
  • THE FOOD, the most amazing food I’ve EVER had.  
  • City cleanliness, pollution, trash, toddlers who relieve themselves on sidewalks, in shopping areas, and the way in which this is normal practice.
  • Cultural norms and expectations. 
  • Local stores, international and American commercial presence.
  • Scams, pick pocketing, safety
  • Dating and relationships in China.

Take care, All. I’m gonna go study!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions/ 常见问题

With just a couple nights left before my departure from LAS, I felt it appropriate to answer some questions I’ve received pertaining to this trip as well as some tidbits about this blog. Family, friends, and fellow travel bloggers which have stumbled upon this page, I give you: The FAQs.

1.  Will you be on Facebook while in China?
No. As I’ve gotten this question more times than expected, I will gladly address it. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Dropbox, and a plethora of popular news websites are blocked in China.  In addition to many websites, there are a number of words and phrases that are censored and restricted in the mainland. Websites containing such information are blocked. 

2. Where are you going exactly?
Chengdu, Sichuan, China.  I’ll be studying at The Southwest University for Nationalities .

3. Why China?
To learn Mandarin Chinese!  What better to learn than the most spoken language in the world!  It is deemed a critical language by the US Government which I’m sure will help in future job seeking efforts. Also, two of my biggest goals are to be trilingual and to travel the world. I’m excited to experience some of what this ancient culture has to offer.  

4. Can I send you a letter?
Yes, please!  And thanks to the few who have asked!  My international mailing address can be found under “contact” to the left.  I’d be so delighted to have something to pick up from the mail!

5. Will you send me a postcard?
I’d love to! Drop your mailing address in the “Ask Me Anything” box to the left. Even if you think I already have it, I might not have it with me.

A few tid-bits about this site:

  • Don’t have a Tumblr but want to leave a comment on a post?  I’ve enabled DISQUS  which means you can click on the timestamp of a post, scroll to the bottom, and respond however you want!
  • Have any traveling tips, websites, information, or anything else you’d like to share?  Drop it in the submit box the left and I’ll publish it.
  • If I can successfully access this site from Chengdu (cross your fingers), this blog will be main point of communication with those at home.  You can expect a couple updates a week in the form of photos, videos, and writings in addition to anything I re-blog from fellow travel blogs.

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you.  I hope you’re well and on the bounds of an adventure!