post a week

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.


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: , , , , , , ,

Refraction: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week word press is looking for refraction, pictures to do with light. I snapped these this past summer and I think they captured the light in different and unusual ways.

Sun spots and colours in the grass

Sun spots, shadows and colours in the grass


Heavy rainstorm and colours captured in the street light

Heavy rainstorm and colours captured in the street light.


Sunlight captured in the dew on a spider web

One of my favourites showing detail and sunlight captured in the dew on a spider web.

Check out last week’s post for the Blood Moon Eclipse for another example of light.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So this is Christmas in Cambodia

Oh Christmas Twig,   oh Christmas Twig how beautiful are your branches… hmmm doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but that is the norm for a Christmas tree twig here in Cambodia. We did see a few trees around, small table top size, for sale at a shop for travelers. A random few large ones have been spotted too at local restaurants, but mostly they are twigs. I guess real evergreens in the jungle are a pretty rare or impossible find.

A Christmas twig with dead leaves and garland tinsel.

A Christmas twig with dead leaves and garland tinsel.

The festive twigs have mostly been spray painted white. They are then placed in pots and left as are, while others have lights added which at night does give it a Christmas tree appearance –at a distance. Others have tacky tinsel added and some even ornaments, but that is rare. We even spotted this one on Pub Street with added snow cotton balls.


Christmas dinner  in Cambodia-tacos and cocktails

Christmas dinner in Cambodia-tacos and cocktails

Lights adorn the trees and these lights across the main street sparkle in rows and rows down the entire road every few feet. They shine with the outline of Angkor Wat. It certainly is an untraditional Christmas. This is what Christmas dinner looked like: Christmas tacos, beer and cocktails. The weather was warm and employees wore Santa hats and said Merry Christmas with giggles. Either they didn’t understand why they were saying it, or laughed that we were eating tacos instead of the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. 😦  Some hotels and fancier restaurants offered Christmas dinner at a large and hefty price. I think we had better luck with cheap beer and tacos then dry expensive turkey.

The weather has been unseasonably cool and most days it has been at least comfortable. One day since we arrived (on Sunday) was hot, but lacking the dreaded humidity, so in the shade it is comfortable.

I apologize for the missing photos, for now you must use your imagination. The internet is too slow to upload

Christmas tree with snow and all ;)

Christmas tree with snow and all 😉

photos, so I will add photos once we get a faster internet connection, which may be once we get back to Shanghai. Bite my tongue… I always complain about poor internet in Shanghai. Who thought there would be something slower? Now we are back in Shanghai I have been able to add the pictures. Did they live up to your imagination?

This is what Christmas looked like in Siem Reap, Cambodia for us this year. How did you celebrate?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Culture, post a week, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

CTB Take Flight

Ho ho ho it is that time of year where many people travel. Living abroad it is the one holiday pretty well everyone is going somewhere. Many people travel back to their home countries to share the holidays with friends and relatives, while others go on beach holidays or other fun travel destinations. Each year thus far we have gone home for Christmas, but this year is different. We are going to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see the temples of Angkor Wat.

I love ancient history and Egyptian and Roman art and architecture are my favourite. I love exploring old temples, churches and reading about days long gone. It amazes me how such incredible structures could be built without modern technology. Angkor Wat promises to dazzle and awe in the same way.

Bags are almost packed and 1 more sleep before we get on a plane to one of my most anticipated locations and adventures in travel. Since we have been living in Shanghai we have had the chance to see many amazing places and meet fantastic people. From the Terracotta Warriors and Great Wall, and huts on a hillside where every cell relaxed and became tranquil, to a hustle and bustle of a busy city. My love of history has built this next destination up in my mind as the best yet and I just can’t wait.

We are gone for 10 days and I will have my iPad, so I can try to blog. I do not have a cord to download photos from my camera to the iPad, so you may have to wait for images :0)

All the best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Travel safe….

Stay tuned….

Categories: post a week, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Ready for the Holidays

I am not a poet, but I sometimes have inspiration to write and scribble a few words down. Nothing to share or post since I am not happy with the rhythm or rhyme I come up with. This week I decided to give it a go and stretch and challenge myself for Pixelventures challenge. The challenge was to post a holiday inspired photo and add some text in a short story (150 words or less) or poem.

We went to see some lovely holiday lights last night and the glow and sparkle drew me in and had me feel  the Christmas spirit. This year not going home has left me feeling like I am missing the spirit and Christmas. I haven’t been shopping for gifts and warmer temperatures and lack of Christmas in China has left me feeling like Christmas is still a long way off. The lights last night brought the awe and wonder back and inspired me to write a few words. I hope you enjoy it.


If you want to join in follow the link to find out more. Also if you want to see more of the lights check out my earlier post here.

Stay tuned…


Categories: Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tourist in Your Own Town: Holidays #2

Last spring I started to post on Tourist in Your Own Town and encouraged others to join in. A few months ago as a suggestion to make it more regular I started to set a theme as a monthly challenge, which I will post the first weekend of each new month. The month of December I posted on Holidays and asked you to share what celebrations look like where you live. I posted a unique crystal christmas tree at  a local hotel here in Shanghai. Last night we went out and around to see some lights along Century Avenue. A few weeks ago the twinkling bright blue and white lights caught my attention and I knew I needed to get up close. Around the JingMao Tower, World Financial Tower (or Bottle Opener as it is referred to here), and Shanghai Tower, which is still under construction, we captured these lights.

View from Above

View from Above

Today at the Kerry Parkside in Pudong I spotted this Polar Express display. A super huge mountain of ‘snow’ and train. Each season they seem to out-do themselves with some sort of seasonal splendor.

It is not too late to join in the challenge. Here are the details if you want to share a post and be a Tourist in Your Own Town.

All Aboard

All Aboard

The rules ;)

  • post a picture(s) for this month’s theme: HOLIDAYS
  • link to my post Holidays: Tourist in Your Own Town (or this one #2)
  • add a link to your post in the comment section below (so others can find you too ;) )
  • add the tag TOURIST IN YOUR OWN TOWN to your post
  • use TOURIST IN YOUR OWN TOWN in the title of your post
  • have fun clicking examples of the holidays

Next weekend we are off to Cambodia for Christmas, so stayed tuned for more adventures and travels around Asia.

Categories: Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Shanghai Shrouded in Smog

Shanghai has never had much of an issue with smog in the nearly 4 years we have been here. Yes there are a few random days where the air quality has not been great, but until last year we hadn’t really experienced how bad it could be. Read about that here. Beijing has a reputation for bad air. It is explained since Beijing is in more of a valley bad air gets trapped, along with dust from the deserts to the west. Luckily Shanghai’s geography has worked to its benefit. Being along a river delta and close to the sea winds blow away much of the bad air.  With the bad smog last winter and this past week the poorer than normal quality has been blamed on stagnant air, little wind, weather patterns and factories or farmers with excessive burning raising levels to new all time highs. This is according to many news agencies using Reuters as its source.

Shanghai Skyline Dec 6, 2013. Where did it go?

Shanghai Skyline Dec 6, 2013. Where did it go?

All I know is what I can read, see, smell, feel and taste and it was bad this past week. For the most part we have had warmer than usual temperatures until early November. When many people start to put on the heat and days are dark longer the levels typically rise. Much of China’s hydro and electricity comes from coal fired plants. Since Shanghai is more of a temperate climate with lows not getting much below freezing, although the dampness and chill factor make it feel much colder, houses are not centrally heated. We have a large unit on the wall of the main rooms of the house that are for heating and cooling. They run on electricity. When the colder temperatures arrive the pollution level takes a jump.

For the past 2-3 weeks the levels have hovered around 150 for the PM 2.5 levels. The 2.5 levels are the particle size and they are the nasty ones that can get into the lungs and therefore travel to other parts of the body. They can cause the most harm with long term exposure over months or years. Additionally, it is based on 24 hour exposure hoping a few minutes or hours are not as health threating. When levels are over 200 we do not allow the children out for recess, even the shorter 20 minute breaks. The World Health Organisation states levels over 20 are not acceptable. This September and August Shanghai levels ranged in the 20-50 range. Once the levels rose higher, over 150, I noticed daily headaches that I can’t seem to get rid of. If I am outside for longer periods I often get a nosebleed. Last year I had numerous sinus infections and twice had laryngitis. The doctor said the pollution was causing irritations in my body and I needed to take precautions and drink lots of water. I started to wear a little mask on bad air days. At work we have air purifiers that run non stop. All this helps keep us as safe as we can.

This past week things changed and levels soared, as you may have seen on the news. Levels went from 200-250 early in the week to 300+. Headaches and itchy or watery eyes seemed the norm, masks were the new fashion accessory and must have. Some schools decided to close, while others continued to keep children inside and cancel any outdoor sports. Local schools had to be told they also needed to keep children indoors this week. International schools started putting this policy in place last year when air quality diminished, but local schools had not.  By Friday all time records were broken and early Friday morning levels reached 590 according to the website I check. By 6AM levels were at 508. It looked dusky out and the sun was not more than an orange smudge that you could look at without squinting. The smell in the aire was acrid and smokey which caused my nose to tingle. My lips felt numb and my eyes wanted me to rub them nonstop. My mouth felt funny like my tongue was gross and I had forgotten to brush my teeth. I had yest another headache. At work we closed and sealed as much as we could and kept the air cleaners going at full speed. This didn’t even seem to help as eventually the bad air creeped into any quickly opened door or crack. Things looked hazy inside hallways, like you forgot to clean your glasses and they were smudged. Inside the classrooms it was better, but I turned the air cleaner on full just in case. Levels went back up to the mid 500’s and action needed to be taken.

Comparrison of the same view of the Shanghai skyline. The second (on right side)taken before a bad rainstorm a few weeks ago where pollution levels were reasonable. The other, on the left, was taken Dec. 6th, 2013 when levels were mid 200’s. I zoomed in closer trying to catch an outline of the tallest buildings, but they are invisible in this pic. This photo doesn’t even show the all time high reached Friday Dec 5th where we could barely see the plaza just beyond the hotel on the left side of the one photo. When levels are high it feels like you are in a fog and you strain to see things you know are there, but no longer can see.

According to the Shanghai Daily Newspaper on Friday the Government halted construction, pulled up to 30% of government vehicles off the road and asked factories to reduce or stop production to help. During bad level days fireworks are also banned. By Saturday levels returned to the 200’s after the short-term fix. Earlier today, Sunday, levels were finally under 200. A thick fog moved in overnight as temperatures went from seasonal low teens to 18-20c.  The levels are now back over 200 possibly as result of the earlier fog trapping in more bad air. Part of my regular daily routine has become checking the pollution websites as much as I check the weather. Let’s hope soon this will pass and Shanghai can again breathe easy.

Stay tuned…

Categories: post a week | Tags: , , , , , ,

Light: Weekly Photo Challenge

In response to this week’s challenge LIGHT set by Word Press. They mention we usually stray away from a light source in photos, but as we enter a season of light and days are shorter look for an interesting light source and post them for this week’s theme. Here are my examples. Enjoy!

The sun trying to escape the clouds.

The sun trying to escape the clouds.


While waiting for a taxi near my school I couldn’t resist this interesting shot of the sun peeking through some clouds that were rolling in. Being so close to the sea we have a lot of cloudy days. The sun illuminated the edge of the clouds and it peeked out of other places. It was truly magical.





Around Hallowe’en the trees were lit up in a local park where a lot of kite flyers go to fly their huge kites. I couldn’t resist taking a shot as the lights changed colour and gave the trees an eerie look.






I have been waiting for a reason to post this photo for a while. It was a happy accident. I was trying to take a photo of the unique lamp shade when the wind kept blowing some pesky leaves into my shot. I noticed the outline of the leaf glowing in the street lamp and decided this was more interesting.

Be sure to check out Word Press to join in.

Stay tuned… a new Tourist in Your Own Town photo challenge will be up soon.

Categories: Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

What a View -Pixelventures

What do you see when you look out your window everyday? That is the question posed by Bastet’s Pixelventures photo challenge this week.

This is the view today on a rainy Sunday from our balcony. Our balcony is glass, so it always provides us with a view of the outdoors. We are lucky since we have wide open space between buildings, so we can see some trees, if we look down. From 14 floors up we can see other apartments in the distance and the larger Kerry Parkside, which is a shopping mall, hotel and houses some great restaurants.

rainy day

rainy day

I was disappointed that our apartment doesn’t have this view from inside. I understand now that we look in to a quieter inside green space as opposed to have this great view of the Shanghai skyline. This side faces a noisy, busy street with honking cars and traffic. Soon as we step off the elevator I always take a peek and enjoy the view. As I wait for the elevator I look out and admire the ever-changing skyline. This photo was taken the other morning as I waited for the elevator. Rain was forecast for later that day and the dark skyline behind the buildings while bright dazzling sunshine was still in the east made for a great contrast of colours and seemed to bring the skyline to life. This was a rare view and I was glad I had my camera and a few minutes to snap a quick pic before the elevator arrived.

Calm before the Storm

Calm before the Storm

Stay tuned…

Categories: everyday occurances, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Connections: Photo Challenge

Ailsa over at Where’s My Backpack has some amazing photo examples of connections. She is showing how 2 things are connected. I mistook the challenge for companions, but I think my examples still fit the theme. What do you think?

My Companion in Life

My Companion in Life

The above photo is a shadow pic of me and hubby with a maple tree 🙂 He is my life connection and companion. The maple tree is a nice connection to my Canadian heritage too 😉


This is the one and only Willow. My furry companion. It was a year ago this past week that we brought home the little ball of fur that warmed her way into our hearts. She is about 17 months now. I took this photo yesterday as she cuddled on my lap. Saturday is her cuddle day and Sunday she likes me to play chase with her. Willow is quite funny and very smart! Last week we were playing chase and I threw her mouse. She jumped and spun around in the air, only to fall into the laundry basket that was close by. I was doing the laundry and I don’t think she was expecting the basket to be there. She won’t fall for that again. She has a good memory too and will find a toy you have tucked away. Some how Willow knows right where it is. She keeps us laughing and loves attention.

Show your examples of connections or go here to see more.

Stay tuned…

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, post a week, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,