I feel like I should start this blog post with an apology. After all, I am sure each and every one of you reading this has not been able to let this issue go. I am sure you have all been wondering for weeks where exactly I have been, and when I thought would be a good time to finish the set of posts about the trip I took almost two months ago. And although I know you probably did neither of those things, and I really should only be apologizing to my parents and my older sister, I feel like I still owe some people an explanation. And I have a really good one. Explanation, I mean. Not really an excuse, but definitely something to account for my lack of posts lately.
From the moment I set out to write this blog post I knew I would have trouble putting it all down in writing. Not because it was so hard to describe, but really because those last few days had become sort of a haze, blurred memories that I could not just sit down and write about. I had to do some brainstorming, ask my friends about what they remembered, and try to tie it all together in a somewhat coherent block of writing. And I did it. After a few days I finally had my first draft, which meant I only had to read it over, fix a few typos, an change the wording of some sentences.
Needless to say, things did not go as planned. The day I was planning to finish and post the blog happened to be a terrible day in the life of Paulina Romero (yes, I just referred to myself in first person; deal with it). One second everything was fine, the next my world came crashing down. And by my world I mean my computer. It froze for a few seconds, so I restarted it as I had done plenty of times before. This time, however, my computer did not turn back on. No, this time a gray screen came up, and then a folder with a question mark at its center started flashing.
I did everything I could think of. I turned it off and back on again and turned it on while pressing an infinite combination of keys, but nothing was working. So, that same day I went to the Apple Store in Wangfujing, a very popular street in China. The Geniuses were really nice, and helped me right away, but there was nothing they could do for me. My hard drive was dead, blank. Nothing was saved. Nothing. That's right, I lost absolutely everything I had saved in my computer over the last year. All my essays, all my files, all my pictures. Every single picture I had taken since the beginning of time.
God, I felt so stupid. All I could do was buy a new hard drive, though. Well, that and cry, which I did. My mind could not absorb the fact that I had not backed up any of the important things (meaning my pictures) I had saved in my laptop. Eventually, I got over it, sort of. Within a few days I ordered the hard drive, and this time I got smart and learned from my mistake. In addition to the hard drive, I bought an external drive to save everything that I would hate to lose if, knock on wood, such thing should ever happen again.
Anyway, back to my explanation. With all those pictures I lost, I also lost the blog post I had put so much effort into and with it my resolution to finish writing about my trip. So, instead of rewriting a 4+ page paper about Hangzhou and Suzhou, I will just give you the highlights of the last days, as well as the pictures, which I had (thankfully) already uploaded to the server. Expect a blog post about Chinese school within a week from today. Enjoy.
We took a bus to Hangzhou from Huangshan, which was much more enjoyable than our last one, not because it was actually better, but due to the much lower expectations. We stayed in Hangzhou for a full day during which we went to the West Lake and the island within the lake, Lingyin Temple, and the Former Residence of Hu Xueyan—an important merchandiser during the Qing Dynasty. At the residence we played a short and terrible, yet still fun, game of hide-and-seek. Why terrible, you ask? Well, I am not the greatest seeker. It was still a nice pop of color in the otherwise uneventful day. The real high point, however, did not come until later. The tour agency had booked a bus with capacity to fit 42 people for our small group of ten. This left a lot of space open, and a very long aisle. During the ride back to the hotel most of us danced to old and new songs alike, laughed, and had an amazing time.
We took a train to Suzhou. Because it is best known for its gardens, our tour guide had many, many garden visits on the schedule.We went to the Humble Administrators Garden, the Lingering Garden, and the Grand Canal, which we cruised by motor boat. Eventually, all gardens began to look the same. Not only that, but we spent maybe too much time at each place. For that reason, we ended up not going to the last garden. It did not make much of a difference, however, because the hotel we were staying at was true to its name (Garden Hotel) and so was a garden itself.
These last few days might not have been memorable, but we had many good times. Perhaps the real reason why I did not like it as much as the previous stops is because it was tainted by thoughts of school, which began the day after our arrival back to Beijing. We were all nervous to start at a new school in a new country. In fact, most of us spent the train ride back to Beijing writing our little “speeches” which we had to give at a ceremony in front of the entire school on our first day.
P.S. Sorry for the random placement of all the pictures. It was hard to distribute them since the pictures are all about two measly paragraphs.