China

The Great Wall -Boundary Post #2

This week’s theme is boundaries and as I said in the last post I feel boundaries can be physical, political or emotional. My first post showed something very political with pictures of the DMZ between North and South Korea.

In this post I want to show something that can be emotional as well as physical.

The Great Wall - a boundary physical as well as emotional

The Great Wall – a boundary physical as well as emotional

The Great Wall of China was an easy link to boundaries that are physical and even political. The wall was built to keep out the invaders from long ago. It divided the boundaries between the Chinese civilization and the Huns and Mongolians. However, for me it is also emotional as I think about our time in China. It was a place I never thought I would see in real life. I was lucky enough to visit it twice. We have many fond memories of trips and friends in China. Sometimes it feels a little emotional as we move on across boundaries. The challenges we faced while there and how it changed us crossed cultural boundaries within. I wish there was a photo to show that emotional journey, but this was the best I could do. Feelings cannot always be put into words, or displayed in a photo. It is personal about my experiences then and now, so you will just have to trust me. 😉

There are more interpretations of boundaries here.

 

 

Categories: China, History, teaching overseas, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , ,

Symbols: WP Photo Challenge

Chinese language uses symbols, not western recognisable letters and shapes, to communicate meaning in written contexts. The thickness and order in the strokes is just as important as the symbols themselves. In the new modern technological age Pin Yin has been introduced, a way to use a western letters and phonics to spell out words to make it easier for computers and smartphones to communicate. A debate has arisen if the old style character writing will slowly fade away. Chinese Characters have adapted before, as they used to be more representational of the items and words they represent.

Living in China for 5 years made it hard to communicate verbally and written was even more difficult. However, those characters will forever be a symbol to communicate and a memory for our time living in Shanghai. That chapter has just closed and a new one is on the horizon. I am still raw with emotion as we have been back about 1 week. Let me share some symbols of that journey.

My watch with the more traditional characters to symbolise numbers 1-12. In the centre is the character lǎoshī  showing ‘teacher’.

What time is it?

What time is it?

My name on a pendant written in Chinese Characters.

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant - can you read my name????

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant – can you read my name????

Simple things can hold a lot of meaning that cannot be put into words. It may mean something to a group of people, an individual or culture. Check out Word Press for more examples.

Stay tuned….

 

Categories: China, Culture, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , ,

As one door closes a new one will open: WP

How fitting this week’s photo challenge from WP is DOORS. I love taking photos of doors, but with us leaving China I decided to use the ordinary everyday doors to our apartment. Very soon we will lock the door for the last time.

As one door closes a new one will open.

This is very literal for us as we will leave in a few short days. We will leave Shanghai ‘forever’ as our expat life comes to an end. After 5 years living and working abroad it has been a mix of emotions. Leaving friends and familiar places we love is hard. Going home to family, fresh air and a slower pace also has its advantages. A few tears have been shed, but the one thing I will be sure to miss is the people. The friends I have made -good friends.

As I said in my leaving speech…

The time must come for us all to leave

now I am heading home

We spent 5 years in China

and Asia we did roam.

I taught Year 3 and Year 1

and learned a few things too.

Like Ni Hao, dizchan, itchyzhoh

er, are, san just to name a few.

My time here was well spent

busy with plans and such.

My Chinese language learning,

as you can see — not so much.            CTB 😀 2015

So my doors look at my building entrance and our apartment door that has been decorated by a previous tenant with the Chinese symbols.

Building 23 entrance

Building 23 entrance

 

apartment door

apartment door

Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Categories: Canada, China, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Muse: Shanghai Skyline

When we first arrived, a fellow teacher looked out the windows in our building facing the Lujiazui area, and admired the Shanghai skyline. With a sigh they said “One day I won’t get to see this everyday.” That really stuck with me. I made a point to daily look out the windows, outside our door, near the elevators. I saw the skyline change and grow over 5 years. At night it sparkled in colour and in day it sometimes reflected the light. I saw it with blue sky, at sunset with beautiful hues and become invisible in rain, smog and pollution. Now we are down to days and soon it will only be a memory. WordPress asked to show our muse and over the last 5 years mine has been the Shanghai skyline. I must have hundreds of pictures of it, mostly from the same vantage point. A bitter-sweet ending to our time in Shanghai; what a fitting theme. Enjoy the slide show, of 16 photos, with some of my favourite photos of my muse. A tribute to a city I have called home for the last 5 years.

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What will my new muse be? Stay tuned….

Categories: China, Photography, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , ,

Repatriation Emotions

It has been a few weeks since I posted. I have been buried in a forever growing “To Do” list. The end of the school year is coming fast, like a runaway train without any brakes. This year all the major events came at the end of the year right in the middle of assessments and report writing. Add packing and moving to quickly increase your stress level. My work is busy, to put it kindly, so I was smart and asked to extend my stay a week after school ends. I could worry about the majority of packing after all the school stuff was taken care of. Well as Murphy’s Law would have it Murphy threw a monkey wrench in those plans. Another teacher is not able to stay at their apartment and needs to move; you guessed it into ours. They wanted to physically move things at the end of May and I said NO WAY! Right in the middle of reports I couldn’t clear out our spare room and have all of our packing things spread all over the rest of the living space. At least the spare room I can avoid and close the door.

Them needing to move has been an added stress that could have been easily avoided. But remember this is China and HR and they don’t think about life and people, they think about what looks good on paper. My weekends have been spent between home and school sorting, packing, selling and giving away. Time is ticking down and I am afraid soon it will explode with jobs left undone. Outwardly I am not showing stress, but inside my body is worried. It will get done, somehow it always does. The unfortunate expense is the enjoyment of the last few weeks in exploring a city we are about to leave forever.

The sun is setting on our Shanghai life

The sun is setting on our Shanghai life

Next weekend is a 3 day holiday and for months our little group planned an outing to a nice quiet city outside of Shanghai. Spending time with friends we are about to leave, exploring and relaxing was all well needed and deserved. However, we are all feeling the stresses and it was decided to cancel the trip and go out for the day in Shanghai. Allowing time at home for those import “To Do” list jobs. Part of me was disappointed, but secretly I was relieved.

Lots of emotions are happening right now, I feel almost bi-polar. I am looking forward to home, but something is tugging on me about Shanghai. The list of reasons to come home outweigh the list to stay, but I think I will mourn the city that was my home for 5 years.

I feel like Frederick from Leo Leoni’s book where I need to soak in all the colours, words and feelings so during those lonely times I can close my eyes and feel I am still here. It saddens me that we are too busy to get out and travel around to do this, so I must settle for the little day to day experiences.

I get a lump in my throat as I think this is the last time for…. These thoughts come more and more lately. June is finally here and those months have melted away into weeks. School is only days.

Life in China has changed me. Will I fit back into life back home or will I be that one piece of the puzzle that just doesn’t work?

Categories: Canada, China, Chinese Adventures, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Broken: WP Photo Challenge

This week we are asked to show BROKEN.

Broken usually depicts something in sadness, now tossed away or a source of tears because it is not as it once was. A broken heart, a favourite toy, a bicycle with a bent rim. Often these are abandoned as we must move on.

Could broken be a source of joy?

I think it can…. as it was in this instance of the silk worms. My class was studying animals and we had the opportunity to have some silk worms. We got tiny little caterpillars which quickly became fat after constantly munching on mulberry leaves.

The last lone caterpillar

The last lone caterpillar

After a few weeks they spun elaborate cocoons and my class waited in anticipation for them to emerge.

Imagine my surprise Monday (May 18/15) when I came into the classroom to this strange noise. As I walked across the room I saw the silk worms were now moths and fluttering their wings at top speeds. Unfortunately they are too large to fly, but try as they may. Or maybe they are doing it to cool down, attract a mate or disperse the eggs?

up close and personal Note the large, furry body and feathery attenna

up close and personal
Note the large, furry body and feathery antenna

Our little cocoons were broken, much to our delight, as we experienced the life cycle right before our eyes.

The small yellow dots are eggs. Look closely for the one cocoon broken where the moth emerged.

The small yellow dots are eggs. Look closely for the one cocoon broken where the moth emerged.

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: China, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Walk of Life

It is funny what you can find walking along and taking the time to notice. I know I shared some shots of unusual street life in Shanghai, but this was different. Walking through my compound it was a beautiful day – just perfect. Something caught my eye and I looked down…

Just off the main path I spotted something a little high and dry

Just off the main path I spotted something a little high and dry

20150514_121821

Ay Ay Captain

 

When I looked closer it even had a little passenger. I wonder what the story behind this little origami boat is? How did it get there? What do you think?

Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , ,

Exchange of Scenery

I am leaving the Shanghai skyline behind for a few days in exchange for a new one; a change of scenery. I’ll post soon on the new vistas and views.

 

Stay tuned….

A view  of the glittering night sky from outside my apartment.

A view of the glittering night sky from outside my apartment.

 

 

 

 

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , ,

Shanghai Silly: Potato Chips

When I was kid I remember the strange potato chip flavours coming out. Grape seems to be the one I recall and wanted to try the most. Funny I don’t remember if I ever tried them – maybe I was to chicken. 🙂

When we first arrived in Shanghai that memory came back as we walked down the aisle of chips. I tried lime, a sweetish more like key lime pie and ice tea, a lemony flavour. They did have grape or blueberry and I assumed it was ‘normal’, but the next time we went to shop they no longer carried that flavour. This time I was going to be sure to try them and I missed out. Another time I bought Cheetos and was surprised by the unusual flavour. I can’t read Chinese, but on closer inspection I realised I bought steak Cheetos. 😦 I don’t know if it was the flavour or not what I expected, but I wasn’t a fan and never bought them again. Recently I saw another kind of cheesies had something on top that looked like cheese. Mmmm cheesies with extra cheese on top. Nope it was vanilla icing like. Bizarre.

funny chip flavours

funny chip flavours

We usually stick to our old standards now. John likes the plain Lays, which are not as salty or greasy as home. Large bags are a third the size of home, but the flavour is great. I like the cheese Pringles. We bought some at home, but again the greasier and saltier flavour are not as good.

While out shopping I decided to snap a few photos of some of the new flavours that came out recently. Maybe they were just for Chinese New Year, or will be more long-term if they are a hit. My new favourite is Thai Green Curry. They are lime and a hint of coconut…. sounds strange, but it is good. Before that I discovered chocolate and sea salt. It is sweeter than usual chips, but nice too. The chocolate is light and just enough. I tried the numb and spicy hot-pot, but it was something I would not eat again. That and the sour plum melon is too Chinese for me. It has this spice that is in many dishes here and I don’t like it. The pepper and chicken were OK, but I prefer my favs thanks.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

Chips are not too expensive; about the same price as home. The small bags run 3.80 RMB, which is around .75c Canadian and the larger bags are 5.20 RMB or $1.00. The tins are 8.00 RMB about $1.50.

What is your favourite chip flavour? Do you ever try any of the new flavours that come out?

 

Categories: China, Culture, everyday occurances, strange adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blur -WP Photo Challenge

Blur… sometimes life moves so fast it is all a blur. If you try to capture it on film you lose focus. Last week we showed ephemeral (here and here); mine was lucky shots of a quick passing moment in focus. This week we are asked to show something in a blur. It could be purposely out of focus or accidentally out of focus with cool results. Usually I deleted such photos, but surprisingly I had a few tucked away.

Of course I had to show Willow. Many photos of her in a blur because she is always moving.

Willow in a blur

Willow in a blur

 

The next photo was an accident with the camera as it wouldn’t focus and was over exposed. Kinda cool effect of a busy alley way in Tianzifang.

Blur of Shanghai

soon Shanghai will only be a blur of memories

 

Lighted Pagoda

Lighted Pagoda

Last night we went out for dinner at this interesting restaurant. We go dropped off at the wrong location, but a happy accident since the view was great. As we waited for a ride to the correct location I snapped a few pictures of the lighted pagoda across this small lake. I purposely moved the camera to create blur and this cool effect.

Shanghai skyline

Shanghai skyline

The view of the Shanghai Skyline from our apartment is beautiful. I always pause and soak it all in because one day it will be a blur of memories. The clear sky with soft colours proved difficult to focus with the changing and flashing lights creating a blur.

Shanghai Totems of recycle piled high

Shanghai Totems of recycle piled high

Since we arrived 5 years ago we were stunned by the small motorised trikes piled high with things to be recycled. We always tried to get photos of them, but they move so quickly by the time you pull out a camera or smart phone they are gone. One night my husband spotted this one gaining on us as we sped by in a taxi. It is in such a blur that the bike and man is invisible. Something I am sure he would wish for in real life because the police have started to monitor these ‘totems’ and limit their height and movements.

I have kept some photos even though they are blurry because of the subject, memory or cool effect. What do you do with your blurry photos?

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , ,