Chinese Adventures

Ever Get the Feeling….?

Do you ever think “things happen for a reason?” Do you ever get the feeling “the universe is trying to tell me something?” Well that has been my pondering this last week.

As you know we are preparing to leave China. I have decided NOT to renew my contract. With that comes new adventure, but also new challenges. It has been an emotional time too. Top that off with a very busy school, who decided that this year we would have MORE events and place them right in the worst time… student assessment and report writing. With that I am trying to organise, give away and sell things. Pack, sort and do odds and ends with paper work for leaving. Then feeling guilty when friends ask us out. Things have been crazy.

This past week we had just finished an assessment that day when I got an email that we need to review this assessment and all the others (which thankfully were completed already). This needed to take place hopefully by Friday and this was Wednesday! I quickly marked the 5 pages of math and recorded the marks. I jumped up from the sofa and ran right into the coffee table! OUCH!!!! Ok I have stubbed my little toe and it hurts. I have broken my little toe before and it hurts. This was 10 times worse! OUCH!!!!

Turns out it is broken. Yup clean break on the third bone close to the joint. Bad place to break it, since that is the part of your foot that moves when you walk. Good news it is a clean break and a little bit further it would have been a larger bone and I would be immobile.

After I accidently kicked the coffee table I broke my toe. My toes were swollen and purple. A few days later the brusing has spread into my foot.

After I accidentally kicked the coffee table I broke my toe. My toes were swollen and purple. A few days later the bruising has spread into my foot.

Suggestion stay off my feet for 10-14 days. Ya right and use my magic wand to pack and sort my classroom? If I was returning in August I could have had someone pack it for me and worry about the stuff later. I had to go in and sort it myself and find my personal things since we are leaving. The kids have been great and like to pack, so that has helped. My hubby came in with me on the weekend and he reached up high and got all the wall displays down and packed some things too.

Wow what a year… my last year in China will be a memorable one. I am thinking this is China’s good-bye or telling me to leave 😉 Maybe it is the universe’s way to say slow down. When things are going so fast I need to stop and take my time. Hard lesson to learn, the work still needs to get done. Well this way I am forced to ask for more help. 3 more days with kids and 1 with just staff. I can do it.

Stay tuned…

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Chinese Adventures, teaching overseas | 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: , , , , , , ,

Ephemeral -Shanghai Silly

Time and life is fleeting… As Ferris Bueller said “If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile – you will miss it.”  Our time in Shanghai has become ephemeral, fleeting and lasting for a short time. Sure it has been almost 5 years, but now we are down to months. Three more months. As I reflect and look around I try to soak up those sounds, smells and sights that I want to remember. What will I see and do for the last time? What do I want to hold onto? Counting down the days is bitter-sweet. I am excited to go home and start a new adventure, but want to savour the last days here too. Enjoy it while I can.

As you know there is always things in Shanghai that you may never see anywhere else. That awe and wonder is what made the little daily things fun. It kept us sane as we would laugh and say “Now that will make a good post!”. I didn’t want to lose that feeling, but after a few years many things became normal and part of the every day. Somethings still stood out and once I finally invested in a smart phone I was able to capture more of those fleeting moments that only could be seen to believed.

What do you notice about this picture?

What do you notice about this picture?

One day I was out walking and it was a beautiful sunny day. At the light we waited for it to turn green, so we could cross. A large truck did not advance when the light changed and as we stood waiting I realised the driver had his shoes off and feet on the dash. Ok…

I thought I had seen it all, but napping at the intersection coming off a major highway? NOW I have seen it all.

I thought I had seen it all, but napping at the intersection coming off a major highway? NOW I have seen it all.

as I crossed the street I noticed in fact he was sleeping at the intersection! Now that was worthy of going back and snapping a pic. Another Shanghai Silly, ephemeral…

What is the funniest thing you have seen at an intersection?

Stay tuned… and check out WP for other interpretations.

 

 

Categories: China, Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , ,

Happy New Year -2015

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe Christmas has come and gone and we are already into 2015. Christmas this year we decided to go home and managed to keep it a secret. My parents were shocked and super surprised. Christmas was lots of good food and New Years Eve was more of the same. New years Day we were on a crowded flight back to Shanghai.

2015 will bring lots of changes, new things and last times… we decided not renew our work contract. We hope to see some new things and places as we embark on the last 6 months living abroad in Shanghai. There will also be many last times to savor and enjoy as we say good-bye to our adopted home.

DSC00858

This image is fitting as it is moving forward and looking back… our time of transition. As we ponder our time here and hold onto wonderful adventures and memories and move forward to our next chapter of unknowns. Let another adventure begin!

What are your plans for 2015?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shanghai Sillies: Pack & Go

When we first arrived in Shanghai, nearly 5 years ago, we would stop and stare gob-smacked at these men on bikes piled high with all kinds of materials from wood, to plastic containers to Styrofoam. Our guess is they recycle it. What do you think they could be using all that Styrofoam for? Still it quite a sight with the balancing act they must have to perform to get it from A to B.

I never managed to catch the tallest piles on film (or digital media for you <30’s) then they became quite rare. A local person told me the police had started to crack down on such packing. Slowly over the last few months they started to pop up again.

Wide load

Wide load

 

This poor fellow pulled over to the side of a busy road as a passer-by helped tuck something back into place. The pause gave me enough time to get the camera ready to snap a few pics.

 

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

 

Have you see anything silly lately?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, strange adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Twinkle: Weekly Photo Challenge

Its been awhile since I have participated. Not so long ago there wasn’t a week that would go by where I posted something. Now as I try to get back into the swing of things I searched the archives for a little twinkle, sparkle and light.

twinkle twinkle little star?

twinkle twinkle little star?

I avoided the obvious with the twinkling fairy lights of Christmas and came up with a bigger bang, if you will.

One of the colourful designs

One of the colourful designs

China has spoiled me on fireworks forever. Done. Finished. Nothing can compare…. EVER! The fireworks here are bright, fancy, intricate designs and patterns like you have never experienced. Shows are not a mere minutes long, but the longest I have seen was over an hour! During the October holiday 3 such shows will light up the night sky. All this right from our balcony and away from the crowds. The typical bangers and balls of light mingle and mix with happy faces, stars, Saturn and flower designs. Light rains down in a continuous fashion with only seconds and minutes in between the next oooohhhhh….. awwwwww….. The best I saw, and boy do I wish I had this on film, was a red accordion style design that poured down from the sky like an elephant trunk reaching down do get a drink. It was unbelievable and I thought I imagined it until someone else confirmed it was real. That was our first year here and each year I hope to witness it again, but no such luck 😦 Maybe one day…

Thanks WP for this week’s theme.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , ,

Our Latest Adventure -Medical Care in China

Don’t take your health for granted… it can change so quickly. This is something you hear often, but until you experience it I don’t think you will really understand. I know I didn’t. Over the last few months I have had colds, viruses and aches and pains. They were all easily explained away. Symptoms were confused with various aliments and even though doctors today know more than ever, it can still be a guessing game as they try to match symptoms. Trying to put into words how you are feeling is hard and are you really doing yourself justice? Searching out things on the internet to try to explain symptoms may only confuse the issue.

Let me take a step back. I have been feeling poorly as I said for months. Thinking it was busy work, a cold, and a tummy bug. Each time though I felt like I never fully recovered. Eventually the pain, that was always a discomfort, became worse. Finally it got pretty bad and kept me awake. Now I was listening to my body and made an appointment to see a doctor. After an ultra sound and tests they discovered a kidney stone. Painful and fit the symptoms I had. After a month the stone hadn’t moved and I sometimes had a fever, but blood work wasn’t showing infection. Sometimes I had such bad pain and was rushed to the doctor, which happened on two occasions. Pain killers didn’t help and symptoms would roller coaster from constant to extreme levels of pain.

My room for 8 days

My room for 8 days

The doctors I had never gave up, explained it away or thought I was ‘silly’. Instead there was some wait and see and more tests to keep searching. Finally when my doctor wasn’t available a different doctor decided to send me for another CT scan. Where I described the pain wasn’t where the kidney stone was, so he thought we should look into it. Maybe there was another? After this scan something else was discovered… a cyst. Now my blood work showed high levels of infection, so I was given 3 antibiotic treatments over 2 days. I felt better. I could walk without a limp and some of my energy came back. It was short-lived. Sunday night the pain returned… Monday another trip to the doctor. My fever was now high and the doctor was concerned for me to stay at home in case of incident. I had 45 minutes to go home, pack a bag and call my parents. They would pick me up in a car and drive me to hospital. The doctor came with us to get it all sorted along with one of the ladies from the office. I was admitted into a nice large private room with a bed for John.

View out of my hospital room

View out of my hospital room

Two more days of antibiotic treatment and no improvement this time. Finally the pain got worse and the last resort had to be done… surgery. Within 30 minutes I was prepped and being wheeled through the hospital. I was scared. I never had an overnight stay in hospital before never mind surgery. John came with me and kissed me at the door where he was directed to a waiting area. The hospital didn’t look so fancy, but the operating room was pretty high-tech. I thought I was inside a space ship! The head doctor was there and she held my hand and told me not to worry. Seconds after that I was out and woke as things were finished; hours later. I was told everything went well and I was OK. A few minutes later I was wheeled back to my room. We always joke the Chinese are bad drivers and the same goes for wheel chairs and beds. Every bump and nick along the wall sent me moaning in pain. Getting back into bed was excruciating.

20141201_123120

Nurse’s station… getting ready for Christmas even though it was a Chinese hospital.

 

The next few days are a blur of sleep, pain, emotions and more IV medicine. I had at least 7 in one vein alone… so many total we lost count. I later learned that it was in fact was not a cyst, but a 4cm tumour that had adhered to 5 different things/organs and became infected. The pain and difficultly to walk was now explained. The pain was now gone, but 6 small incisions still hurt. Soon I was up walking around. First only short trips to the bathroom and then around the room. Next I had enough energy to walk the halls.

All this took place over my birthday. Many people say what a terrible way to spend it, but I think I really got a great gift. My health.

Worst thing about any hospital stay -the food! It all smelled funny and no fish apparently doesn't include shrimp! After the operation smells made me nauseous. The food did not help my situation.

Worst thing about any hospital stay -the food! It all smelled funny and no fish apparently doesn’t include shrimp! After the operation smells made me nauseous. The food did not help my situation.

 

People from work, the doctors, the nurses, ladies from the doctor’s office and especially John made it special. I felt so blessed from the texts, visits and emails. People brought us treats, flowers and offered anything we needed. It really made this entire experience so much easier having such great support, care and love around. I cannot express how much I appreciated all the help. I dedicate this post to them. I will be forever grateful.

After nearly 5 years in China I think this will be the most memorable adventure and the hardest to forget.

As I get back on my feet and slowly return to work I will be back to write more on a regular schedule. Thanks for being patient already… and as always for staying tuned 🙂

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures | Tags: , , , , ,

You Get What You Pay For -medical in Shanghai

We all wish we never see the inside of a hospital. It means terrible things in most instances. That of course is even truer when traveling or working abroad; a scarier thought. As you know recently I have been sick. I have seen the inside of the hospital numerous times over the last few weeks. In Canada our insurance is covered. Doctor and hospital visits are free, something that our high taxes affords us. In China my work luckily pays for my insurance and I never had to use it for much more than a small cold or sinus infection. This year ultra sounds, CT scans and blood tests have become part of the norm. Each time I pay a small fee for the tests, but wait times are minutes, hours or days at max. At home long wait lists can stretch time lines into weeks or months. Results are just as fast within the hour at times.

 

My hospital bed

My hospital bed

Recent tests and another CT scan discovered a small cyst or tumor that is the result of my pain and poor health. The kidney stone was the obvious diagnosis, but the fever and other side effects it prompted them to keep searching. Quick reactions almost lead me to a hospital stay and operation on Monday. I wasn’t prepared for that and wanted my western doctor to review everything to make an informed decision, so we somehow got them to release me. I however turned into a pin cushion with 6 needles in 24 hours. A strong antibiotic was administered through IV. The pain has reduced so hopefully this will lead to recovery and not an operation.

 

My hospital room looked more like a hotel. The treatment that I received was of great care. With the tests I had Friday the hospital had limited English and they sent one of the girls to come with us to translate. She asked if I had a way to the hospital 45 minutes to 1 hour from home and when I told her I would take the metro she arranged to have a car and driver pick us up. He waited to take me home, but when they thought I may be admitted they sent him home. She has sat with me to keep me company and talk with me when I was alone, as my husband was in Canada when I first started this process. She puts in long hours and is always available through texts and calls. The doctor stopped in on his way home to check on me and make sure everything was going well. I also have their personal mobile numbers and have been encouraged to call if needed. Being so far away from home I have been very lucky to have such support and care. It certainly has made this process so much easier.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shanghai Sillies

After nearly 5 years in Shanghai not much surprises us anymore. I think we have seen it all. The only thing that has changed is my bravery 😉 I used to do double takes and stare in disbelief at odd occurrences. Stories were shared about sites we have seen and I am sure a few people thought I was making things up. Well since it is our last year I decided to go for it -there are some things where a picture is worth it. They after all are not shy about snapping our photo even when you clearly say no in English or Chinese, so why not join in the snap happy fun? They are just asking for it with these Shanghai Sillies.

Saturday we went to Old Navy near Jing’an Temple for some great sales. After I was leaving the clearly marked change area we saw a shirtless man trying on sweaters (jumpers) in the main area of the store right in front of the change rooms. Why waste time going into a little room with mirrors when you can try them on while you shop?

I walked away, but decided I HAD to get a photo of this. Really I am not hiding behind this rack, but it was the best vantage point without being too obvious. Christmas season is sneaking up on us and sometimes tempers flare with the stress of getting the last ‘must have’ item on the shelf. Have you seen any crazy shopping sillies? Share them in the comments below, or maybe it is worth a picture and a post.

Is this my colour?

Is this my colour?

Personal Update – you may have noticed lately I haven’t been blogging regularly, virtual visiting or even responding to comments in my usual quick fashion. Some of you know I had not been feeling well and was down with a virus in the summer, then the start up of work was busy and then a tummy bug wore me down. This all hit one after the other. Well it seems it has been more than all that. I had to be rushed off to hospital a few weeks ago with severe pain. The first thought was my appendix, but turns out it is kidney stones. The pain is pretty incredible at times and goes from uncomfortable to so intense you think you may pass out. I am also suffering from fatigue. I can go to bed as early as 7PM. Sometimes I sleep through til morning where other times I am up with pain in the middle of the night. I am still being monitored by a doctor because they want to be sure there is not another underlying medical condition. Whenever I have free time I no longer blog due to the tiredness or discomfort of sitting. My free time is now spent napping. I blog when I can and most posts are quick and easy. Once I am back to myself and full of energy I hope my words and ideas will begin to flow easily again. I miss the blogging world and being active in it, but it is not forgotten. -CTB Nov. 16/14

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, everyday occurances, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , ,

Descent -Photo Challenge

Looking down; a new perspective to see where you have come from… a descent…

The sun setting in Niagara region over the escarpment.

A beautiful golden sunset

A beautiful golden sunset

A plane ride home and anticipating the decent back on Canadian soil. The view was amazing with clouds, landscape and a little sparkle from a lake.

What a view

What a view

The most intense decent, but welcomed after a long climb up hundreds of stairs on the Great Wall on the Mutian Yu section.

IMG_8078

A long way down. What is worse the climb up or keeping your tired, shaking legs steady and in balance back down?

 

The steep climb where we just came down

The steep climb where we just came down

 

This is the challenge set by Word Press this week.

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: Canada, Chinese Adventures, Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,