teaching overseas

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: , , , , ,

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: , , , , ,

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…

 

 

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: , , , , , , ,

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.

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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

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: , , , , ,

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.

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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: , , , , , , , ,

People: Pixelventures Photo Challenge

This week’s theme over at Bastet’s Pixelventures is PEOPLE. I have snapped some interesting pics of people here in Shanghai and when travelling around Asia. The hard part was narrowing it down to the most interesting and ones you hadn’t seen before. One of my favourite pictures of PEOPLE was posted here for Juxtaposition & Surprise back in January.

Monks at Angkor Wat

Monks at Angkor Wat

This first picture was taken on our trip to Cambodia. Inside the Angkor Wat complex you will often see Monks dressed in the bright orange. I decided to post this one because they were just like the rest of us tourists smiling at the photo they had just taken with their camera. It also shows a variety of other tourists who come from all over the world to see the Angkor Wat complex.

Picnic in the Park

Picnic in the Park

 

I have posted similar pics of this before, but this one is clearer and up close. When local Chinese go to a park they often take small tents to provide cover and shade. Sometimes the grass will be covered with tents and blankets. With so many living in apartments warm spring weekends often draw out everyone and they descend on the local parks.

 

Little Red Riding Hood is that you?

Little Red Riding Hood is that you?

 

OK I really am stumped with this one. A few times I have seen younger Shanghainese walking around dressed up like in costume. I am not sure if this is part of the Japanese phenomenon of dressing like animated characters or something else. Last spring we went to Shanghai Botanical Gardens and we ran into the lone girl dressed like Little Red Riding Hood basket and all. We did a double take and said   什么 (Shénme  – WHAT???)

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These last 2 are typical sites as the older way of moving things still lives on. Small electric trike bikes or bikes with a trailer are often piled high with recycled material, small animals in crates, large bottles of water or other things to be sold. The first bike is either someone moving items, or old broken and unwanted items being collected. The second one has a pile of wood with the wife along for the ride. When we first arrived some of these piles would be well over 5 feet high. Now the police crack down on these unsafe heights.

These are my example of people. Check out Bastet’s Pixelventures for more examples.

Hit the OLDER POST button to see some examples of Letters and PEOPLE from yesterday’s post.

Stay Tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, strange adventures, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Letters & Words : Weekly Photo Challenge

I had fun searching and looking through all my photo files to come up with examples of letters. Spending nearly the last 4 years in China and having the opportunity to travel and visit many places in Asia I had to narrow it down to these.

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So stop what you are doing and sit back and enjoy the collection of letters, words and symbols.

 

This first photo is a stop sign, which I am sure you guessed. The word is TING and means STOP in Mandarin Chinese.

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The one on the right is also a stop sign that we spied in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

These letters are very different from what we are used to, but we get the meaning. Who knew the sign colour and shape would be so universal?

 

Welcoming in the New Year 2014.

Welcoming in the New Year 2014.

 

 

Pub Street is a main tourist street in Siem Reap that is loaded not only with bars, but many western style restaurants. The neon sign lights up the night as we wandered along. A New Year’s Eve banner also stretched across the street to advertise their Angkor Beer and welcome in the New Year.

 

 

 

 

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From Siem Reap, Cambodia. A small shop that made its own wine. The 3 types of letters spell out Wine Shop in the local language, English and I believe Chinese.

 

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This funny fellow drove around on his electric scooter spewing bubbles. Meanwhile heart-shaped balloons spun along wildly in the breeze. We saw him a few times and one night as luck would have it he had stopped to refill his bubble machine, so I was able to snap a pic. I wish I knew what he was saying on his signs. Any ideas?

 

Neon signs in Chinese from Honh Kong.

Neon signs in Chinese from Hong Kong.

 

More signs this time down a small side street in HoChiMin City, Vietnam.

More signs this time down a small side street in HoChiMin City, Vietnam.

 

Silly mistakes

Silly mistakes

In China they call in Chinglish, where things are misspelled or lost in translation. There are entire books on silly things like this. I pointed out the 2 mistakes I found -Hepsi Cola and Freda Orange Juice. Take a look as some of the other interesting options on this menu.

Philippines

Philippines

 

The last photo is simple and understated after some of the other interesting combinations of letters. This was a boat that took tourists from the resorts around Mindoro Island in the Philippines to another beach that has soft powdery sand. Enjoy the view.

This is my response to Word Press’ Theme for their weekly photo challenge Letters. Check out more here.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, teaching overseas, travel, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GO CANADA

What a great game last night. To be out and able to watch it live on TV with a bunch of other Canadians was pretty exciting. It was certainly edge of your seat action. Both sides played hard and Canada dumped it in first in the first period. Sweden fought back, but Price (the Canadian Goalie) had cat-like reflexes and deflected, blocked and saved. Canada scored again in the second period and then the third. There were a lot of close calls too where it just hit the post. Sweden fought harder and the last minutes seemed like it rarely came out of the Canadian end, but Canada held on.

Being in a restaurant in Shanghai we could almost imagine we were back home. Red hockey jerseys and Olympic gear was worn by 90% of the patrons. The game started and everyone was glued to the set. The place is covered in flat screen TVs and many of them had the local Chinese channel on. A few TVs had a live feed from another English-speaking country, so we could hear the commentary. It was no Hockey Night in Canada, but would do. It was funny since the games didn’t sync up and on 2 occasions the bar cheered and some of us were left wondering what??? Then 10 seconds later we saw the Canadian goal. A few people hushed the crowd and said “Don’t spoil it!”, but it just added to the excitement and energy in the room.

It was an amazing game. I was always waiting for Sweden to score…. but they didn’t. Canada had a lot of shots and misses, but got it in an incredible 3 times. In the last minute and half of the game our table started to sing Oh Canada. This was our game, and we were winning and we were proud. Our poor Aussie colleague I am sure isn’t sure what to make of all this. Soon everyone was singing along at the top of their lungs. What a moment. Didn’t matter if you were a singer or not -you joined in and sang loud. If you closed your eyes we could have been in any bar back home, but we all came together and cheered on our home country here in Shanghai. What a memory….

Great game men!

GO CANADA!!!!

CAN-A-DA  CAN-A-DA    CAN-A-DA

Did you watch the game???

I have photos from last night, but I am running off to work now. I will add pictures later, so check back tomorrow.

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