Posts Tagged With: Everyday life

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: , , , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , , ,

Unexpected: Photo Challenge

This week’s theme from Word Press is unexpected. If you have been following this blog since the start in July 2010 you have read many stories about the unexpected events, sights and situations in Shanghai. Everything was new to us and very different from home. We often stopped and did a double take because things were so unexpected. I posted pictures and stories about different things we found unexpected like the “Chinese Family” motor bike where 2 adults and 1 or 2 kids are all on a small motor bike. No helmets, seatbelts, just hold on tight. I have also tried to get photos of the motorbikes with small trailers piled high with recycling, but can never get the camera ready fast enough. I caught a few smaller versions, but not the ones that seem miles high. They are also less common now as more road safety rules are enforced.

So how do I tempt you and interest you with something unexpected? As we are into our fourth year less and less seems to jump out at us as unexpected. Now it is all part of daily life. Such a shame since the awe and wonder of everyday street life made even the most ordinary fun. I went through the ‘archives’ and tried to find something new and unexpected that I haven’t shown you before. Something new and different and certainly not what you would expect.

Staff Parking:

When you think of staff parking, especially at a school, you think of a long paved area filled with numerous cars. Our parking area fits 3-4 cars only. On the street another 3-4 people park. Cars are expensive here and you must wait for a lottery system to get a licence plate before you can have a car. Some people wait months, maybe years for their name to be drawn so they can have the opportunity to buy a car. Getting a licence is a very long test and cars are super expensive. Other rules that restrict hours of driving or plate numbers can only drive on certain roads on alternating days are just some of the rules around cars. With pollution woes the government has stated they will restrict driving and new cars further in attempt to help with pollution levels. Now that is up for debate since really all the cars are probably not the prime cause, but I will leave that argument for another time.

Staff Parking -bikes and motor scooters

Staff Parking -bikes and motor scooters

If you have seen any photos of China you always notice many bikes and motorcycles on the road. Our staff parking consists of ‘bike’ parking. It was so hard to get a spot sometimes! Finally the school extended the parking area, so now there is room for bikes and electric scooters to all fit comfortably. The bike area is covered, so on rainy days your bike can stay dry. Many staff will opt for the bus on rainy days, so the bike is dry and protected allowing it to stay safe until a dry day.

Workout Gym:

Each compound has an area I thought was a play area until I looked closer. It is not a playground for kids, but an area to workout. That was totally unexpected. This outdoor gym held a variety of metal equipment similar to the fancy electric stuff you find at any gym, but needs only human power to operate. Best thing about this gym it is free, no membership and the lines are relatively small. As the east becomes more westernised younger locals are opting for the paid membership gyms with modern equipment and pools. The older residents seem to continue to use these workout areas on a regular basis. I was going everyday and really enjoying it. Having trees and flower gardens around you as you worked out was very peaceful. Now that the pollution levels are higher I have been using them. The weather is the one drawback to a gym outdoors.

Let's Get Physical and Work Out

Let’s Get Physical and Work Out


Back home we have a clothesline at my parent’s house where my mom still likes to hang laundry to dry clothes outside. Our house was built before the subdivision behind us and the newer homes are not allowed to have clothes lines. The reasoning was it looks too messy and draws away from property values! Crazy right? That is not the case here in China. Even apartment dwellers hang laundry out to dry. If you have a balcony there are contraptions that raise and lower so you can hang the laundry easily. If you don’t have a balcony no worries just hang it out the window! Some buildings have folding metal clothes lines while others use long poles of bamboo or metal. The best is still just a random shirt or pair of undies hanging on a coat hanger in a tree or on a pole. We went to Tianzifian a cool area of Shanghai that have lots of interesting little shops and bars. Narrow allies twist and turn in an area that has been converted into more of a tourist haven for expats and locals alike. It would be like wandering the waterfront in Toronto. Walking down one alley it was funny and much unexpected to see someone’s laundry hanging out to dry.

Laundry Day

Laundry Day


Be sure to check out Word Press for more unexpected posts. What have you seen that is unexpected? Post your link to a post, or just comment below.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, unique experiences | 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: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unexpected: Bastet’s Pixelventures

We made it back to Shanghai, China after a long flight. We left a cooler than normal Canadian summer to land into China’s hottest summer in 140 years. This was expected, although our bodies immediately reacted to the heat and humidity. Luckily the air conditioning is working well.

Our first night home and we were tired, so we turned in early after very little sleep on the plane. The flight had constant turbulence, which was not expected. It was hard to sleep with the constant bumping and rocking. The next morning we decided to head out early to beat the heat and head for our favourite place to grab breakfast. Much to our disappointment we found it was closed for renovations. We should not be surprised since turn over rates are very fast in Shanghai as things come and go. Some places close for renovations and a few weeks later open sparkling and new, others close and are new establishments.

The heat was starting to rise, so we headed to another coffee shop in the plaza that was still closed, so much for being early birds. We continued through the plaza finding an open coffee shop with limited breakfast foods. Not wanting to trudge through the heat, which was becoming very oppressive, to search for another place we decided to stay here and make the best of a small snack. We were the only patrons and were quickly served coffee latte,  caramel cappuccino and 2 ham turkey croissants (don’t ask as I am still confused by this meat combination). When my coffee arrived I was surprised to see a happy smiling face… truly unexpected. John’s coffee wasn’t decorated. Coffee art is highly unusual here, but this little surprise brought a smile to my face; it was a nice welcome ‘home’.

Good Morning Sunshine :)

Good Morning Sunshine 🙂

What surprised you today?

This is my response to Bastet’s Pixelventures theme Unexpected. Be sure to follow the link to see more or find out how to join in the fun.

China is always full of surprises and unexpected adventures… this one was a happy surprise. Be sure to stay tuned because there will be more ‘unexpected‘ adventures and surprises as we head into our last year here in Shanghai.

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

Fleeting Moments: Weekly Photo Challenge

Everyday there are fleeting moments that pass us by and sometimes we are lucky enough to capture them on film. Living in Shanghai for the past 3 years there are many fleeting moments and seeing is believing. How many times have I only wished I had a camera with me, or had time to turn it on and capture the fleeting moment that just went past. I have been lucky to capture a few and here they are.

Last year a very beautiful small butterfly fluttered across our balcony. I had time to capture just one shot before it was gone again.


It always amazes me how much stuff they can balance on bikes and 3 wheel electric style trikes. They stack furniture, recyclable plastics, unwanted items, styrofoam pieces, wood all at odd angles and balanced precariously as they pedal it off. Once a large pile went passed and the fellow’s wife was nestled on the top of a pile that must have been 10 feet high off the ground. We only saw it once and I always wished I caught it on film. Last year I caught sight of a similar situation again, not as high, but just as impressive and funny to see. By the time I got the camera ready this is what I captured. After all it was a fleeting moment.


Look carefully for the lady on the top. You can just see her head and hat.

My last pic happened last year while driving to school. I have a small electric bike and I drive it the same way and the same time each day. This particular day a team of a bike riding club was across the street as I waited to cross the intersection. The group was so large that I ended up in the middle of it. I wanted to get a photo, but stopping was not an option since so many of the riders were ahead and behind me. I assumed they would stay on the main road, but they turned down the same road I take to school. I was able to safely stop in a driveway, get out the camera and take this photo as I was a part of the team for a fleeting moment. I have never seen this group again, so it was truly a fleeting moment.


“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller

What fleeting moments do you have on film? Share them at Word Press, or add the link below in the comment section.

Stay tuned… I have more time this weekend, so I have another photo challenge to post. I haven’t posted anything extra the last few weeks, so I have something in the works 🙂

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cost of Shanghai -May 28, 2013

Last year Jennifer at My Sardinian Life posted the cost of some things she purchased at the grocery store. A few others also posted on weekly purchases. Marianne has posted many times on the subject and it has been pretty interesting to compare. To see one of her shopping posts you can click here.

Yesterday I went off to the grocery store and bought a few things. I went to escape the drilling of the renovations 2 floors below me and ended up coming home with more than the original plan of the organic salad mix and flavoured coffee that I went for. As you know you should NEVER go shopping while hungry.


I decided to take my time and wander the aisles of the small shop. This shop caters to Expats and carries many Western products from Europe and The United States, all at a price. I enjoy browsing the two for 1 shelf and getting some good deals on products that we normally would avoid since the price is so inflated. I came away with 2 bags of chocolate crispy chocolate chunks for less than $3.00. I have been craving cheese Pringles that normally cost me 7-8 RMB, but here were 13! I haven’t been able to get them at my regular shop in weeks, so I splurged the extra 75 cents. Imagine my delight when I found my crunchy cheesies (OK I was hungry AND tired).  It is hard to find them here and the local brand of Cheetos is meat flavours… not so delightful, especially when you are expecting that salty cheese flavour! These are a bit expensive, but baked and gluten-free. It has also been a year since they have been in stock, so I grabbed them before they were gone again. Inside I was doing a little happy dance, since people may stare if I was dancing in the aisles 😉 Who knew such little things could bring such excitement to my day? (again did I mention I am tired and in the middle of writing report cards?).

My favourite weekend flavoured coffee, a caramel cappuccino, was next on the agenda and for 23 RMB for 10 packets it is WAY cheaper than a plain cappuccino at Star Bucks, or any other Western coffee place. A quick glance around and up and down the chocolate aisle (about 3 times) I left and went to get what I came for. First I grabbed some apple chips which are dehydrated apple and great to put in my hot oatmeal. Oatmeal here comes in plain, some purple chestnut, red gogi berry and corn flavours. Yes I did say corn… so I make my own with a little sugar, cinnamon and apple chips. Making my own is much cheaper than buying the Quaker which is shipped in from the US and is sold here for a whopping 30 or 40 RMB  a box (that is about $4.50-$6!). Next was a big container of salad mix which is mixed organic greens and some small tomatoes. The salad mix costs 10RMB ($1.50) and it is a bargain price and good quality. It will last me all week for lunch, so a super cheap meal to beat the heat. The tomatoes were 6.90 RMB, so about $1.00.

DSC03735Today I didn’t buy any meat, so my total purchases were low. Temperatures started to rise yesterday and the humidity levels are stifling already. Lots of rain is forecasted, so the humidity will only get higher. When this kind of heat comes along I can’t eat, so I avoid rich and heavy foods and go for the cool crunchy salads which are much more refreshing. Sometimes I add nuts or chicken, but I already had some at home, so no need to buy more. The total came to 160.60 RMB which is about $24-$25 Canadian.


What are the prices like in your neighbourhood?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, everyday occurances, post a week | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Escape… in a busy hectic job and with demanding schedule and chattering children all day how do I escape and turn off?

By reading a good book. Being transported into someone else’s words and world helps me forget about the daily stresses and escape for a short time. Currently I am reading Anne of Green Gables, a Canadian classic on my iPad.


Coffee… lazy weekend mornings on our balcony with a view of an amazing city is a good way to escape, relax, chat and dream about our future endeavors. Plans are made, shared and dreams are born over good coffee and conversation. Other times just the quiet of the city as it is coming awake, the sun rising and the cool breezes in the trees regenerate the soul and get me ready for a busy day ahead.


My favourite escape is the beach. The sound of the waves, warm breezes and in my sight the endless vision of turquoise blue is what I day-dream about on cold damp days and in hectic times. Knowing there is no schedule, place to be or endless paper work to catch up on allows me to truly relax and just be. The beach always is my ideal place to escape.

How do you like to escape? Share your ideas in the comment section below, or post your own! See Word Press for more examples, ideas and details.

Stay tuned… and don’t forget to be a “tourist in your own town”. Link back to my post or see it here.

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

Pussy Willow Tails

There is always so much I want to write and post about, but due to time to think, edit and compile photos I am taking the easy way out again this week. BUT I thought it would be a good idea to give you an update on our little furry addition to our family. If you recall last November we introduced Willow a little exotic short hair kitten. Exotic short hairs are a cross between Persians (hence the squishy face) and the American Short hair(playful & active personality). They are also called the lazy man’s Persians since they are low shed and need no brushing. Well I found that part true until the last month when I have found strands and tufts of fur everywhere!

Please NO Photos

Please NO Photos

Willow was a quiet little kitten who was so shy and laid in my arms for a few hours as we debated, bargained and discussed getting her. After a day or two in her new home she got over her shyness and became quite the personality. She is funny and quirky. Willow is pretty active and runs around for hours chasing her toy mice and flinging them in the air. Being very busy with work I spend most time at home on the computer or marking. She quickly adapted and now brings her toys to me and I throw them to which she will fetch and return until she tires. Yes a dog cat who plays fetch.

Willow is also a climber and part monkey. Shelves, tables, clothes drying rack… all fair game. Living in an apartment is not exactly made for a climbing cat. I would love to get her one of those massive crazy cat ‘trees’, but how would I get that in a suitcase back to Canada? She will just have to wait until we go home.

For a young kitten she is clever. She knows when I am in search of her lost toys and will come to help. One day I laid the toys our on a chair as I found them, but 2 were still unaccounted for. When I returned that night only 1 missing toy. I thought I must have been mistaken and it was there all along. No one else was home, so what else could it be? Well the next morning all the toys were laid out on the chair. I am NOT making this up! A cat that cleans up their toys!

Wasn't Me

Wasn’t Me

Well sometimes…

She is naughty, it goes hand in hand with being clever! She knows she isn’t suppose to scratch the furniture and soon as I look over she pretends to do something else. Willow has gotten on tables and sneaks about until I catch her and then she runs to hide. She sometimes talks back when I look at her doing something wrong. She will meow like “what?” Cat with attitude… must be in her teenage phase 😉

She is cute as a button though and you can’t stay mad for long. She is light and dark grey with tabby markings. On each side she has a bullseye, circle shape. Her fur also has a beige tinge, so she looks pinkish. Those eyes are priceless with an orange/brown hue. They freak out my brother though. He thinks they look like snake eyes. She loves pillows and will burrow behind them to sleep; her own kitty cat cave. The quirkiest thing is her love of maple granola bars! I was eating one and a crumb fell on the floor and she gobbled it up. She now knows the sound of the wrapper and will bug until she gets some. She doesn’t bother me for other foods, just oatmeal granola whether it oatmeal cereal or granola bars. Should make her transition back to Canada easier 😉

Willow is growing and is no longer able to fit in the crook of 1 arm. I really noticed her growth after I went to Canada for 2 weeks over Chinese New Year. She is 9 months old and almost full grown. She is great company and keeps me entertained. John has been away the last few months and will return shortly. I am sure he will be surprised at her size.

Lazy Days in the Cozy Cat Cave

Lazy Days in the Cozy Cat Cave

Do you have any pets? What is something interesting or funny they do?

Stay tuned…

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