Category Archives: Adventures

Blog posts about my adventures here in China

Purple Mountain 紫金山

I’m sorry I posted an empty post the other day, WordPress is blocked here these days, so I posted through mail and something went wrong. This is what I meant to post:

This year my bible study decided that once a month we will do a «social» rather than our normal discussion group, and I’ve been appointed «socials coordinator» (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?). So Monday 6 of us went climbing 紫金山 (Purple Mountain).

Purple Mountain, Nanjing

Purple Mountain is a mountain in Nanjing city. Because of all the trees it has cleaner air and bluer sky; it’s even possible to see clouds (and where the line between cloud and sky goes..). This time of year the osmanthus-trees are in bloom as well, making all of Nanjing, and especially the mountain, sweet-scented. Still, it’s when I’m in a place with clean air that I notice how unclean the city air is. And from the mountain you can see the pollution as a mist covering the city. Rosie says the pollution was worse four years ago though, so there is hope.

Here is the group as we set out. Usually Chinese mountains have stairs leading all the way to the top, and Chinese mountain-climbing usually means climbing stairs. This is also true for Purple Mountain, but Nick knew a better way to the top that involved fewer stairs and more paths.

We took a bus from where we normally meet for cell group to the mountain in the afternoon. Climbing it took a couple of hours, and then we had Chinese-style green-bean-popsicles while enjoying the view at the top before we headed back down. We followed another path going down and while we were walking the sun went down, making it more difficult to navigate. We might have been slightly lost at one point, and at that very point it was threatening to rain as well. But we prayed and the rain stopped and finally we reached civilisation again after a rather long descent.

Next we met up with some more members of the group and had dinner outside on an alley close to university. I’d say we managed to make the most out of the pleasant Nanjing autumn weather, which is important when autumn only lasts for about a month.

Here are some more pictures:

Us climbing:

At the top:

Nick and Isaac; Nick is Isaac’s new flat mate.

Us enjoying Chinese snacks..:

Doesn’t green-bean-popsicle look tasty?

At the Big Buddah on top of Purple Mountain:

Nanjing:

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Ready again 准备好了

In a few minutes I’ll be on a plane heading for Nanjing. These were the thoughts bouncing around in my head the night before I left for China a bit less than two years ago. I feel like the girl who’s getting on the train tomorrow is in some ways a completely different person. I have learned so much more than I could have imagined and my life has taken directions I never thought possible then.

This time I know where I’m going. I know my apartment, I know the city, I have friends there and I have seen my workplace. In many ways I’m prepared for another year. Of course there are situations to come that I can’t prepare for, but such situations occur whether in China or in Norway.

In a book I read this year (unfortunately I couldn’t find any name of an English translation, but the Norwegian title is Et hjerte større enn verden), Magnus Malm describes among many things our fear for the future as one of the hidden, unseen, unreachable concepts that we humans try, with out much luck, to control. Loosely translated, he writes that the future simultaneously fills us with hope and resignation, expectations and panic.

He goes on to describe how Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, repeatedly refers to “our Father, who sees the unseen” (my translation, look it up in Matthew 6) He writes “the unseen is not emptiness. Neither is it a hiding place for hostile forces waiting to attack me. Even if there are evil forces in the unseen, there is also someone stronger than them. Our Father is in the unseen.”

I like to think that God, my Father, who is love, is in the future. It takes away the feelings of resignation and panic and leaves my heart filled with hope and expectations.

I came across this quote a while ago:

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Visit from Norway 从挪威来的游客

This Easter, my dad and my brother, Tobias, came from Norway to visit me in Nanjing! We had a great week seeing some of the tourist sites in Nanjing and going to Shanghai for a day, but more importantly we got to spend a week together and I got to show them my China home. Here are some pictures:

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云南 – Yunnan

A few days after I came back to China, I went travelling. I went with three friends from school (Rosie, Anne and Matthias) to Yunnan province for more than two weeks, and it was wonderful! Yunnan is such a beautiful province, it has everything from tropical forests to valleys and high mountains. We decided to go to mountainous North-west Yunnan, to Kunming, Dali, Shaxi and Lijiang. Here‘s a map over our trip.

Anne in the pagoda

It was truly a holiday of moments! Moments at pagodas halfway up mountains, moments at markets, moments eating brunch in coffee shops, moments walking up mountains off the path, moments playing card with the guest-house owner and his daughter, moments climbing along a small waterfall, moments on buses, moments reading The Little Prince out loud, moments reading in a sun-trap outside our rooms in a guest-house in a village surrounded by mountains and fields with donkeys on them, moments eating real Italian food in a restaurant with red-and-white-checkered table cloth, moments cycling to a village with a Korean friend we met the day before, moments eating Tibetan food while sitting on the floor,moments eating Norwegian waffles in a bakery run by an Indian, moments going up a mountain on horse back, moments in the sun and the fresh air, under an unfailingly blue sky.

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杭州 • Hangzhou

As mentioned, Isaac and I went to Hangzhou for a couple of days last week. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang province and is one of the “seven ancient capitals of China“.  It is famous for its long history and beautiful scenery.

Most famous is the West Lake with its traditional Chinese boats, surrounded by mountains, forests and pagodas. A large part of the lakes surroundings has gardens and green spots ranging from tropical and wild-looking forest areas to beautiful, paved tourist spots.

We rented bikes and biked halfway around the lake. It is possible to rent bikes at a very low cost; you pay a deposit of 300 yuan and get a card. When you had the card back you get most of your money back. I paid 30 yuan for two days. This card can be used at bike stations all around the city. When you use the card it unlocks a bike and this bike can be returned at any bike station. Very convenient!

We had a great time and I have a feeling this was not the last time I visited this beautiful city. We had planed to stay for only one night, but as we arrived late Wednesday night, we decided to stay one more night so that we could have an evening in Hangzhou. This was a good decision, cause how ever beautiful Hangzhou is by day, it can not compete with the way West Lake looks at night, when there are fewer people and the lights are on. Here are some more pictures from Hangzhou:

I’d like to end this post with a story about how God provides for His children:

We took a train from Nanjing to Hangzhou, and when this train reached Shanghai (after 4 hours – this was a slow train), a lot of people started getting off the train and  me and Isaac were convinced that we had reached the final destination of the train; Hangzhou. So we got off.

It took us a while to realize that we were not in Hangzhou. I was surprised that the Shanghai Metro went to Hangzhou, and the train station was bigger, busier and newer then I had expected. It was also very strange that they had named their train station Shanghai South Station…

Finally it started to sink in: we were in Shanghai. We had no idea how it had happened cause we didn’t think our train went by Shanghai. But that was where we had ended up.  It was about 7 pm by now, and getting a train ticket to one of the most popular cities in this part of China in the middle of a national holiday seemed unlikely. But we went to the ticket office, and this is where God enters this story. There were tickets that evening and we only had to wait about an hour. They were, naturally, no-seat tickets, but that’s always an adventure.

So we arrived Hangzhou at about midnight. We had booked a room at Hangzhou International Youth Hostel and I had written down the name and address of the hostel in characters and pinyin, so we assumed the rest of our journey would go smoothly. But it turned out our taxi-driver had no idea where this hostel was, and the address did not help. So we told him to let us off when we got to the right street, thinking “it shouldn’t be too hard to find, we’ll walk the rest of the way”.

Well, we were wrong. After walking around for about an hour, carrying our bags, all we wanted was a place to sleep. Even the benches looked comfortable. As a last attempt to find the hostel, we walked up to a gate leading into a street that we thought might lead us the right way. We asked, in stuttering, tired Chinese, the guard at the gate whether this was the right place, showing him my note with the address. It was not.

We must have looked very lost and tired, cause he asked us if we wanted to sleep. We sighted and nodded, and he took up his phone and called some hotel for us. It was a bit more expensive than we had planned, but it was a place to sleep so we gladly accepted and he said he would take us there. So we walked for a couple of blocks to this hotel. But they did not take foreigners. So this god-sent Chinese door-guard took us to another hotel and when they gave us an even higher price, he took us to yet another two hotels. But they were both full.

All the while he was smiling more than most Chinese I’ve met and he kept telling the people working at the hotels that they should help us and give us young, lost foreigners a good price. We ended up going back to the one hotel that would take us. The door-guard made sure they gave us the same price they had said earlier and then he left, smiling and waving at us. If there are angels here on earth, he must have been one!

God also provided us with the chance to stay another day, a wonderful youth hostel to stay at the next night and train tickets home even though the train station was packed. God is truly a providing God!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34

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苏州 • Suzhou

I went to Suzhou with my French friend Lise yesterday! We have a few days off from school this week for the Mid-Autumn Festival so we decided to go to the city refered to “Venice of the East” or “a reflection of heaven”. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we did not pay to see any of Suzhou’s famous gardens. But we still found things much worth seeing and we had fun. Here are some pictures from yesterday:

Before we were about to head home, we stopped by an ATM so I could withdraw money. As we were leaving the ATM, I managed to forget to take my bank card. So as we were walking away, a Chinese man came running after us and I got to experience once again how helpful Chinese people are to us “foreign guests”. When we came back to the ATM, it had swallowed my card. So, after calling the bank a few times, talking both in Chinese (with the help of the helpful Chinese man) and in English, I still didn’t know what to do to get my card back. Remember, this was Mid-Autumn Eve and that’s a time for family dinners, not for helping foreigners who’ve lost their bank cards.

After a while a security guard came by on a routine check of the ATM. He called the bank for me and as an important man he naturally got his way. After another 15 minutes of waiting, a bank man came and gave me my card. I’m so thankful that I got my card back and that we had enough time to catch the train. God surly answered my prayers and made this a funny story rather than a nightmare. And I’m sure we gave a few Chinese walking by the ATM a good story confirming that laowai are crazy, as they saw the two of us sitting inside the ATM laughing at them staring at us.

pimp myspace - Gickr

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The time we snuck in to the World Handball Championship to watch Norway play in the bronze final

This weekend there has been a lot of Norwegians here in Nanjing, or hometown away from home. Why? Because Nanjing hosted the finals of the World Handball Championship, and Norway was playing. We didn’t win in the semi-finals, but Sunday Norway played against Spain in the bronze final. Tasha and I decided to go.

We go into the city almost every Sunday for church anyway, so at 16:00 we were at the subway headed for the Olympic Stadion. When we got there, we found the arena with people waiting in a line outside it and followed the stream of Chinese people into the building. We didn’t have tickets and the plan was to buy them at the entrance.

So we followed the steam into the building, through the safety control (where they gathered all lighters..), up a flight of stairs and suddenly we found ourselves at the entrance of the tribunes. Nobody had asked for and no-one had showed any tickets… So we went into the stadion and sat down at some free seats. The place was far from full, but there was quite a lot of Norwegians.

We were a bit late so the match had started when we arrived and Norway was in the lead. This lead was kept throughout the match, so it wasn’t a very exciting… Still Tasha and I had a lot of fun where we were seated, surrounded by half-enthusiastic Chinese. We were clapping and cheering along with the Norwegian fans sitting closer to the field and I like to think that we made the event much more entertaining for those sitting in the seats around us. Some even turned around and gave us two pairs of clapper balloons and several wanted to take pictures with the crazy “laowai” (meaning foreigners).

Norway won the game and we were happy. After, we ate Chinese snacks (chicken meat on a stick) on our way home. It was a good feeling to simply take a bus home, as opposed to all the other Norwegians there.

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