Endurance -Achieve your goals & dreams

Part of being an expat has offered us a great opportunity to travel. The world became smaller. Things that most people dream of are just around the corner, in our backyard or a short trip away. We have been lucky enough to see the Great Wall of China. My first visit was with a tour group, so the time was limited. I wished to get up these steep steps, but managed barely half way before the time forced me back. My goal, if I ever returned, was to get further. I really wanted to reach the top of those steps and the end of the restored section of the wall where some of the great monument lay crumbling from countless footsteps and hundreds of years.

This past summer we were able to return. Here is the starting point around gate 13 at the Mutianyu section of the wall. Goal in sight we started off.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall... go as far as you dare.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall… go as far as you dare.


Around gate 19 or 20 we can see the steepest section ahead.

Warning steep climb ahead

Warning steep climb ahead

The top! The day was glorious with clear blue skies and we could see further in the distance than our last trip to the wall. The wall snaked and turned over the green hills into the distance. August can be quite hot and humid, but today was reasonable. Once we started the climb I was sweating quite a lot. My legs began to shake and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. I had just recovered from a bad virus that sapped all my energy and strength and I was still not 100%. Throw in a touch of jet lag and a busy travel schedule to top it off. Later I would discover I was sick again and in 2 days time the same or similar virus returned and I was in bed. I was determined. I stopped regularly and took in the view while I rested. I drank lots of water and pushed on.

Reward... a view like this!

Reward… a view like this!

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

My endurance paid off and I made it to the top of the steps and past the final gate #23 open to tourists. We went to 24, but just couldn’t make the next steep climb on unsecured steps to #25. Maybe next time. Sometimes it is best to leave some travel dreams ‘undone’ so you have the desire to return.


We started at the star… gate13. We went right to the end of the map (left side) #24. Approx. 5km one way and hundreds of steps.

Have you ever pushed yourself even when your body and mind said “I can’t”? Tell me about it in the comment section, or join Word Press this week for their photo challenge Endurance.

Sorry I am still not into my regular routine and I post when I can. Please stay tuned…


Categories: Chinese Adventures, History, Photography, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Where’s the Beach?

Returning to Shanghai we went through Dubai this year. We have done the long lay over before and explored the city in a few hours. This year we decided to extend our stay to 3 days and get out to the sand dunes. We booked a desert safari with a company called  Desert Safari Dubai. Everything was easily arranged through email and they were very quick to respond and helpful. We did not have to pay in advance, but the driver once we were on the tour. After we had our hotel booked I gave them the name and address and they were even kind enough to call when we arrived to confirm pick up times and ensure we were still interested.

Sand drifting across the road

Sand drifting across the road

There were a few options and we decided on the night tour. We were picked up from our hotel about 4PM and stopped at one other hotel to get 3 more guests.  We drove out of the city and slowly we were surrounded by sand. The sand acted like snow as it drifted over the road and swirled,  rippled and collected in mini dunes. I wondered how did they remove larger piles that covered the road? The pattern of sand ripples reminded me of zebra stripes. The sand was a dark red-orange colour and started to stretch as far as the eye could see. Small scrubby bushes dotted the landscape in places too.  The city was out of sight and we were now surrounded by sand as far as the eye could see.



We stopped as a small shop where we could buy supplies and have a quick washroom break. Some of the 4 wheel drive

bouncing across the dunes... which way is up?

bouncing across the dunes… which way is up?

trucks started to let the air out of their tires; easier to make traction. Our driver waited until we arrived at the start of the dunes. Tires ready and all of us strapped in we set off in small groups of 2. Tires spun, we slid sideways down steep dunes and we bumped and rocked over the ridges. It was like a roller coaster ride and as my stomach lurched and I let out little yelps and screams I tried to find something to hold onto. I was in the middle and I looked up to see roll bars. I grasped those tightly, although they did make me a little uneasy thinking we could roll over. Being in the middle seat I had an unobstructed view of the ride. Going up then quickly down steep slopes made you feel funny because you couldn’t see ground beneath you. It gave me the feeling of going over a cliff. The driver kept close to the vehicle in front of us and I thought for sure we would crash at some point. Once I got into the rhythm my mind settled and I enjoyed the ride.


The sand reacted like snow as we slid and spun tires the only difference the heat and colour. After a 30 minute adventurous drive we stopped to get photos of the dunes. A large dune loomed in front of us and others quickly climbed to the top. We scrambled up and soon sank to our knees in soft sand. I was afraid to lose my shoes, so I continued the climb barefoot. The sand was warm and soft, surprisingly not too hot. We made it to the top for breathtaking views. Funny how the sun glinted off random car parts, broken pieces, and a few bumpers. I am guessing the roll bars did come in handy. The air was hot, not humid, and the winds felt like the heat that hits you when you open the oven at 400f. A nice pool or ocean would be great right about now ;) Actually the heat didn’t bother me and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable. I dressed in a thin cotton blouse and light modest shorts, so I was fine.  The sun was getting low in the sky, so we needed to continue on our journey.

ripples in the sand

ripples in the sand

A short drive brought us to a camp. The camp was where we would have our dinner and activities. The time was short so we had to decide quickly which ones to do before the food would be served. We could do quads and sandboarding for an extra charge, camel ride, henna tattoo or just relax and have a drink at the bar. We decided on the camel ride and henna tattoos. The quad ride was just a small circular circuit without dunes, so it didn’t seem as fun. The camel also went in a small circle, but with the amount of guests it made sense to do something easy so everyone could have a chance. Our camel was quite happy, but Anita’s quickly got annoyed with John and growled at him as he tried to pet it. Lucky he had a cover on his mouth, or I am sure John would have been wearing the dreaded camel spit! The ride itself was uneventful, although scary when the camel needs to kneel for you to get off. It was well worth it because how often do you get the chance to ride a camel? As we got the henna done dinner was served. Dancers entertained the crowds with traditional belly dancing and another style with men spinning.

Where's the Beach?

Where’s the Beach?


Dinner included soft drinks coffee and water, all that you could drink. The food was delicious with a variety of salads, meats and vegetables. It was very filling and you could return for more. The chicken and chicken kabob was great, although I passed on the lamb and fish. Once the dancing was complete it was time to return to our vehicle and back to the city. Again we had a quick stop to reinflate the tires and quickly rinse off some of the sand from the vehicles. The hour drive back to the city went fast and we were dropped back at our hotel. This was a memorable trip and I am so glad we had the opportunity. It was so much fun. I just can’t seem to express how much we all enjoyed it in words.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn't easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn’t easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

After a short break I am back posting this week, but I am not sure if I will keep to my usual weekly posting schedule. It has also been hard to get on-line daily to respond or check out your posts. I must leave the house at 6:50 AM every day which leaves me a mere 10 minutes online, as opposed to last year when I was picked up later and had 30 minutes. I haven’t been energetic enough to get up any earlier, so I apologise for being ‘lazy’ .

Check out WP for more adventure posts

Stay tuned…

Categories: travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

A short break

Hello everyone. Here we are back in Shanghai and I am back at work. Things have been extra busy and a new schedule has me leaving the house earlier than ever before. As I get back into routine and into a work schedule I decided to take a short break from blogging. I no longer have the time to get on daily to read or respond to blogs. Feeling tired and being so busy it is difficult to be creative and to write well. I want to share our time in Dubai and a month has passed and I still haven’t had the chance to get to that. The words that usually flow are blocked as my head swims with so much; information overload.

When things settle down and I can get myself into a routine I will be back. I thought it best I share so you didn’t think I forgot about you all. I appreciate your visits, our chats and time together, so I know I will be back. It may be a week, or longer… that I cannot say. I decided I rather take a break and do something well than do it just for the sake of doing it, or stress myself to just get it done.I want to be proud of what I share, after all you deserve my best.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

See you soon… stay tuned

- CTB :D

Categories: everyday occurances | Tags: , , , | 20 Comments

Feeling Frayed: Weekly Photo Challenge

A teacher’s worst nightmare came true this week with rain on the first day of school. Not just a light drizzle, but a heavy downpour that made the day dull and dark. Meeting a new class and having to spend all day with them indoors left me a little frazzled and frayed. Don’t get me wrong I love teaching, but when 7.5 hours straight is with 5 year olds all talking at once you can get a little tired and frayed around the edges.

Heavy rain storm - July 2014 Fonthill, ON

Heavy rain storm – July 2014 Fonthill, ON

It could be a result of my nerves getting a little frazzled with the weather. At home the last week of our holiday was filled with cooler temps and lots of heavy rain. When we returned to China the first week was typical with hot humid temps with sunny blue skies. That was short lived and unseasonable cool temps and heavy rains rolled in. We had 5 days of steady rain which, wears on your nerves and makes you a little frayed.

What has left you feeling frayed?

Check out Word Press and the photo challenge this week frayed.

With a new work schedule I have not been able to get onto WP as much as I would like, so I apologise if I do not respond quickly. Whenever I get a chance I will.

Stay tuned.



Categories: Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , | 28 Comments

Horizons and Silhouettes: Weekly Photo Challenge

Occasionally I take photos of my shadow, so I can be in it ;) I am always the one behind the lens and that is often a way I can include myself. I think silhouettes and shadows are interesting especially with sunsets.

This week’s theme for Word Press is silhouette and I wanted to show off the Shanghai skyline and this attempt to be creative and different with the long tall grasses at home.

Shanghai Skyline Sunset -May 2014

Shanghai Skyline Sunset -May 2014


Where’s My Backpack is asking for horizons and this silhouetted skyline fits in perfectly. If you look carefully you can see the Shanghai Tower slowly getting taller as it nears its full height.


Check out the links to see more photos or to participate in the challenge.


  Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Photography, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Texture: Weekly Photo Challenge

Waking up early just as the sun was rising the grass and everything was covered in dew and a light mist. I was taking in the beauty of a quiet morning when something caught my eye.


I quickly snapped away at the 4 or 5 different spider webs trying hard to focus on the delicate threads and dew that clung to each strand. A few minutes later as the sun rose higher in the sky the magic was lost and the spider webs became invisible once more.


Check out word press and their weekly photo challenge for more examples or to post a link of your own texture post.

If you missed it, yesterday I posted a brief summary of travels over this past week at Tip Toe Travels and as always stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

Tip Toe Travels

Oh if my feet could talk the stories they would tell. For the last week we have been on a whirlwind tour of the globe travelling half way around the world from Toronto, Canada to China with some stops in between. July 30th we left Canada and flew Toronto to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We had 2 nights and 3 days in Dubai. From there we flew to Shanghai and after 2 nights here we travelled north to Beijing to see the Great Wall. After 2 nights and 3 days we returned to Shanghai where we have settled with some much needed rest.

Why would we do such an intense schedule with such great distances you may wonder…. well a friend from home made the return journey with us and we had to make the most of her time. We tried to fit in as much as we could before my return to work. After planes, trains and automobiles, desert, rock, mountains and sidewalk not to mention little sleep and numerous time zones we managed to fight off jet lag and see a lot in a short period of time.

The following post will be a brief summary of events and at a later date I will write more .

Canada – soft green grass to tickle my toes as we prepared to leave for the airport.

Canadian Feet -EH?

Canadian Feet -EH?

30,000+ feet up – on the plane somewhere between Canada and Dubai.

High above the clouds

High above the clouds

Dubai – in Dubai we did a desert safari. Sand as far as you can see….

in the dunes

in the dunes

China – the Great Wall. Last trip we did a tour and didn’t get to hike as far as I would have liked. This time we hiked from Tower 14 to 24… almost to 25. That is a lot of steps.

a little rest on the stairs before the big hike to the top

a little rest on the stairs before the big hike to the top

Click Clack -tired toes resting on the train back to Shanghai.

speeding from Beijng to Shanghai at 300KM/hr

speeding from Beijing to Shanghai at 300KM/hr

 What have your feet been up to lately?

Stay tuned for more…



Categories: Chinese Adventures, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Willow Wednesday #6

This will be the last Willow Wednesday (maybe) for the summer. We are back in Shanghai (except few days in Beijing) and our little furry baby will be home soon. YEA! I hope she doesn’t give us the cold shoulder. After a few minutes to check the place out and be sure her world is in order I am sure she will become my shadow.


WTP???? What the Position?

Love how cats can sleep anywhere, anytime, any way


Related posts:


Do you have pets?     How do they behave when you come home?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Pets | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer: Tourist in Your Town

It has been about 1 year since I first posted the Tourist in Your Own Town series. I started it as a random challenge whenever something struck my fancy. A fellow blogger suggested I do it at a regular interval to increase results and participants. It then became a monthly challenge. After a few more challenges with only a few participants I considered stopping the challenges. After lots of comments and encouragement from the blogging world to keep going I decided to give it more time, but still I have had less than positive results. Good intentions are appreciated, but it makes me think my idea is just not something that interests enough readers.

Summer Rain

Summer Rain

The first few challenges had a few regular followers join in and I made a few new friends a long the way with new bloggers stopping by. Since those first months fewer and fewer people have joined and I am lucky to have had one or two bloggers join in. July was the worst results with no one until just recently Chava61 found my blog and did a great post.

A portable beaver tail truck! Just for you Bastet!

A portable beaver tail truck! Just for you Bastet!

With mixed feelings I have decided to retire the monthly challenge. A challenge needs work, time and leg work getting out there to tempt you all with great ideas and dropping by to nudge, hint and persuade you to participate. With a busy work schedule where I work 10-14 hours a day and 4-8 hours on weekends I cannot devote the time to a blog and photo challenge that I would like. So August will be the final challenge. For the final prompt I would like to tempt you with images of summer. Maybe it was a picnic in the park, trip to the cottage, a beautiful sunset or garden. No matter show something summery where you live. Link back here and use Tourist in Your Town in the title and as a tag.   Rainbow20140705_080227

Fun at the pool

Fun at the pool

Funny that I wrote this before last week’s “summer lovin” theme set by word press, but since I am doing a scheduled post because I will be travelling half-way round the world on the usual posting date. Why not send us a link to that post? Thanks to all my followers and participants over the past year. Stay tuned… not for more challenges, but more adventures in Shanghai and around Asia as we enter our final year.   Sunset20140705_085609

Categories: Photography, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Willow Wednesday #5

Our short summer is almost over. Today we are heading to the airport, so thanks to a scheduling feature I am able to bring you Willow Wednesday #5.


Hee Hee... that was funny.

Hee Hee… that was funny.

Last week a lot of you liked Willow’s curiosity pose. Lavendar Ladi said it made her giggle. I found this pic where Willow also looks like she is giggling.


Related posts:

Willow Wednesday
Willow Wednesday #2
Willow Wednesday #3
Willow Wednesday #4
What funny things have made you laugh out loud lately? Was it a funny joke? Something you saw? A pet or other animal being silly? Tell us in the comment section below.

Stay tuned….


Categories: Pets | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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