Posts Tagged With: teaching overseas

Canadian Blog Awards

The Award season is upon us… Academy Awards, Grammys, Golden Globes and the most coveted, in the Blogging World, the CANADIAN BLOG AWARDS.  – Jonathan Kleiman, Business Lawyer & Small Claims Court Lawyer has set up the blog awards for another exciting year. After some technical difficulties last fall it is back. The polls are up and voting has begun for the 2013 Awards. Thanks to Jonathan for hosting this for all us Canadian Bloggers from home to far away.

373634_197349717024981_378290159_qAt this point everyone nominated is in their category from sports to politics to travel/expat blogs. This is only round one. Contest closes Sat. Feb. 22 (Or Feb. 21 for those in Asia). Votes will be tallied and the top 3 will move onto round two. Last year with your help I made it onto round 2 to finish 3rd of 3. Oh well I made it into the finals.

This year will be tough competition from fellow blogging friend at My Sardinian Life. Tougher still since I checked out the other blogs and a few of them look professional. Not sure my 171 followers will be enough to compete with that. Oh well it is an honour to be nominated. If you like my blog I’d appreciate the vote. If you could pass along the link to friends and family too —that would be great. Thanks for your support. 🙂

Please follow the link here to go to the Canadian Blog awards page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page (second last category) and there you will find the Best Travel and Expat Blog. Look for me CANADIAN TRAVEL BUGS and select me by the little circle then click VOTE. That simple. Be careful though you only get 1 vote on each computer.


Stay tuned

Categories: Awards | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

GRAND: Weekly Photo Challenge

In the Grand scheme of things were are a small fish in a big sea and we should make the most out of everyday. I always work hard and try my best. My reward to myself for working hard is dreaming of Grand vacations. Seeing the world and learning about it first hand is truly a Grand experience. From majestic world class cities, to modern wonders and landmarks I want to see as much as I can. I must say I have been lucky and hit more places than the average Joe. One of the Grandest adventures and experiences of a life time was getting to see the Grand Great Wall of China. We had been living in Shanghai nearly 3 years and it was so close, yet so far away. To finally get there was surreal. Trying to take it all in was impossible. To head up a steep hillside by cable car and suddenly see it come into sight was breath taking. Straining your eyes as far as you could see was only a small fraction of the Grand architecture that snakes and winds its way across the country.

The Great Wall - How Grand.

The Great Wall – How Grand.

Big Mountains make the wall look so small as it twists, turns and balances along the ridge.

Big Mountains make the wall look so small as it twists, turns and balances along the ridge.

A small section of the Great Wall.

A small section of the Great Wall.

The Great Wall is wide, tall and long. What could be Grander than this? If you have an example tell me about it below in the comments, or head to Word Press and find out how to post your own.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, travel, 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: , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

The theme from WordPress this week is culture.

As promised here is some more pictures from Beijing from our recent trip. These were taken at the park at the Temple of Heaven. Many Chinese people get out and gather in parks or in the central courtyards of building complexes; young and old… older ladies can be seen line dancing, younger children run, play and ride bikes. It is one thing I notice about our culture vs the Chinese culture. We stay isolated in our houses watching TV while each evening music, laughter and voices float up to our building as many members of our compound gather and meet in the central courtyard. Enjoy the following pictures from Beijing of Chinese culture with games, conversation and fun…

Be sure to check out my post from earlier today with more pictures from the Temple of Heaven and local culture.

Stay tuned…

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

Hell of a Hike: Beijing – Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is another major tourist site to see while visiting Beijing after the Great Wall and Forbidden City. Many others may venture to the Summer Palace and this gem may be missed. It was my favourite place over the Forbidden City and after the Wall of course. It was not something we had planned to see and was put as a maybe if we have time. A co-worker casually mentioned it and if they had not said anything we may have overlooked this altogether.

This was our last day in Beijing after a whirlwind of 3 nights and 4 days. After all the walking, hiking, cooler temps and some pollution problems we debated about going, but decided to suck it up and head out to the Temple since it was close to the hotel and we may not get back to Beijing, so best make the most of it. After a few metro stops we exited the trains and were not sure where to go. Generally major attractions have signs posted to point you in the right direction. A few other tourists had the same issue and we followed each other around. Eventually we found ourselves on the street and a posted street map gave us the direction we needed. We found ourselves at the main gate and paid our admission. The admission was more than posted on the Travel website we read. We worried we may be getting ripped off since the woman was adamant it was 40RMB not 20 (about $6.00). Luckily we paid the higher price since it afforded us entrance into the main attractions and not just the park.

Soon after we entered the gate we noticed older local residents playing games and chatting in the sun. A small pavilion had wall to wall people playing shuttle cox (small weighted feathers that must be kept in motion; like hacky sacks that were popular few years back), cards, majong, badminton and dancing. Some ladies were knitting and making crafts which they offered for sale to the passing tourists. The energy and happiness filled the space. No one blinked an eye as a few tourists stopped to snap photos, although a few modest people would turn away or cover their faces.

From there we saw these men playing this hoop game. They would catch the hoop around their necks. As we took pause to watch they gave one to John to throw. After a bad first throw he quickly caught on. They returned the hoops and John was a natural and caught each of them! They were very impressed and clapped and smiled.

Our next stop was the Hall of Good Harvests. A proud grandma and small boy followed me up the steps and he kept saying HI and then mimicked me taking photos. He laughed and would do it again and babbled to me in Chinese. Inside the main building was quite impressive. The detail and colours were dazzling on the round 3 tier building. Inside the detail was just as impressive. This building was used to pray for good weather and good harvests. Animals would also be used for sacrifice and models of where they were held was also part of the display.

Hall of Good Harvests

Hall of Good Harvests


Next we moved on to the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Similar style as the Hall of Good Harvest, but only 1 tier and smaller in circumference. The tablets used for worship are housed here. Also an echo wall was said to be within the circular walls, although we did not find it, or get it to work for us.


Last stop before we left was the Circular Mound Altar. It reminded me of a 3 tier wedding cake with its white stone and ornate decorations and carvings. The beauty held its tortured past as this was where the animal sacrifices would take place here each winter solstice.

View from the Circular Mound

View from the Circular Mound

The Temple of Heaven was my one of my favourite places partly because of the beautiful and peaceful gardens, but also the fewer tourists and more locals doing what they do everyday. It was a glimpse into their lives, culture and traditions. Gone were the pushing and rude crowds all vying for position to get a picture and take a look. Despite its history a calm and peaceful atmosphere surrounded us. Watching the locals play games and be so welcoming and friendly by inviting to join in was priceless.

Be sure to read some of my previous posts on Beijing… which was a whirlwind trip where we fit in a lot in a short time; a real hell of a hike!

Want to see more pictures of the local flair? Stay tuned later as I post on Word Press’ theme Culture…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, post a week, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Snow Shanghai Style

This week it snowed in Shanghai! Snow is a rare occurrence with our location about comparable to the latitude of Texas in the United States. Winters are usually mild, but feel colder due to the high humidity which translates into dampness that chills you to the bone! The first year I was here we had 2 small snowfalls one in December and the other January. Last year during Chinese New Year it was a biting cold with snow flurries, but nothing on the ground. This winter was cold and came a bit earlier than usual. I expected snow, but I never saw any. In early January just before we all returned to work there was snow, but I can’t speak of amounts since I missed it. The day we returned to work it did snow, and a few flurries filled the air and mere skiff covered the ground. It was short lived though.

Have you ever seen snow on a palm tree before?

Have you ever seen snow on a palm tree before?

While I was away on Chinese New Year holiday this year  it snowed again. Most of us were long gone to other holiday destinations, but a few teachers who stayed behind said it was a good amount for Shanghai and it left 2 maybe 3 cm of the white stuff on the ground. This week it snowed with another 2-4 cm of slushy white snow covering the ground. Reports were saying snow was in the forecast, but because it is so rare it is one of those “seeing is believing” things. I awoke very early Tuesday morning thanks to jet lag and peeked out the window. Everything was wet and it appeared it had rained. In the distance the highway, which is usually visible on clear days, was blurry. I thought there was something on the window or my glasses. When I moved I knew it wasn’t me, but something outside. It must be snow! Sure enough it started to move towards me and the usual landmarks slowly became blotted out. In the street lamps I could see the heavy wet stuff coming down hard. My first thought… snow day???

The slightest snow often causes delays and school or bus cancellations, but no phone calls. School was still on. I kept

Wet Slushy Snow Covering the Flowers

Wet Slushy Snow Covering the Flowers

watching as the snow started to cover cars and trees. Deciding not to take my electric scooter I went to catch our staff bus. It was a slushy, slippery mess outside. The flakes were big and fluffy though and it looked beautiful falling down, like feathers in the sky. I snapped a few shots, but my memory card beeped at me to announce it was full. Oh no of all days! The children were super excited about the snow, but we had indoor recess due to how wet it was. No one here comes dressed for snow, so no boots never mind  a snow suit in sight, so we had to enjoy the snow through the windows. By 10 AM the snow had stopped and by noon it was only a memory as most of it was all melted. The children were excited if they found a small pile of slush clinging to existence a little longer than the rest.

What was the weather like where you were this week?

Stay tuned for more 🙂


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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

As you know my husband and I live in Shanghai, China. Before we came I worried about the language, culture shock and all things foreign. It was on the other side of the world from where home was and all that is familiar. To our surprise Shanghai is very modern, many western people  live here, and western items and cultures have a place here. Since this is our 3rd year here less and less is foreign and more everyday life. There are always a few things that still catch our eye and make us say ‘shaw-ma’? (what?) and do a double take. When I thought about this post I wondered what could I show you that was different from what I have talked about before and something that was still a little new to me. What could be rare and maybe not in other places in the world, or made it (or was common) to North America?

I decided to show you Hot Pot. What is that you ask? Well it is a way of cooking and eating… a very social and communal way to eat a meal. I was first introduced to it last spring and I was hooked. A large pot of broth is brought to the table and there are many flavours to choose from like your standard beef and chicken broth, but also more unusual like mushroom and fruit. Once you pick your simmering broth you pick what you would like to eat… the choices include a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles. The water comes to a boil and you place your thinly sliced items in the pot until they are cooked. A selection of sauces, spices and oils are spread out in a smorgesbourg bar style fashion. You pick the ones you like and after your food cooks you add it to the small bowl of sauce and eat it. The food cooks within in minutes. Large plates come to the table so everyone can share and cook what they want. Some hot-pot places do individual pots, but most hold 1 large communal table pot for everyone to use.

individual hot-pot and all the trimmings

As us westerners are still getting the hang of chopsticks slippery food often falls back in or gets lost. Fishing around for it with two thin sticks cause some giggles and fun as everyone may dive in and help you find your missing morsels. A few weeks ago one of the coordinators from school hosted a hot-pot and invited everyone from work to go since this is a rarity and unknown in so many other places. This particular restaurant in Shanghai has been voted number one. Its popularity is easy to see as the waiting area was crammed with people and a line up was out the door. Thank goodness we had a reservation.  To entertain the waiting crowds origami, games, shoe polishers and manicures await to help you pass the time. I even think there was massages available! Can you imagine going to your local restaurant and instead of having a few drinks at the bar you were pampered as you passed the time?

Hong Kong Style Hot Pot with ‘chimney’ in the centre

Amazing… some foreign things do not have to be strange or bizarre, but amazing and getting out of our home countries and experiencing things make life more interesting and exciting. What foreign custom would you like to adopt?

One last plug for the Canadian Blog Awards… they close Nov. 1st. I would appreciate your vote for best expat/travel blog… you can do that here. Thanks and figers crossed I move onto round 2!

If you would like to participate in this weeks photo challenge or see more things foreign check out WordPress.

Stay tuned… there is always more!

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flat Stanley : Seoul Man

This week was National Holiday in China and we had a weeks holiday. After getting some work completed and reports done we booked a short trip to Seoul, Korea. As I explained in my last post , my class was doing the Flat Stanley Project where each child would take a paper cut out of Flat Stanley with them on their vacation. I of course also participate. My class enjoys hearing about our adventures as much as sharing their own. Many excited 7 year olds left with Flat Stanley and  a journal tucked away safely in their backpacks, so they could embark on their own personal adventure. Their imaginations soared with ideas of what they would encounter and pretend to be a part of a story.

Thanks to Henricus for the idea for the title as our adventure began in Seoul.

Traditional Palace Grounds

My best score for a photo had to be getting Flat Stanley into a photo shoot with a woman in traditional garb. A photographer was taking photos of a woman and with motions and asking we had the woman hold Flat Stanley and quickly took a few photos. I snapped a few pictures and didn’t even notice that the photographer also started to get into it until Henricus pointed it out! How funny would it be if Flat Stanley ended up in a Korean ad campaign or magazine?

Posing for Pictures

Weaseling his way into a Photo Shoot!












I also had a picture of him taken with the military inside the DMZ. They posed for the photos, but with security warnings inside the DMZ I don’t think I should post the photo. Could it cause issues?  Regardless I am sure the Koreans think we Canadians are a little nutty! I don’t have children with me, nor look in my teens where I could get away with this stuff. I am sure I caused a few giggles and raised some questions around the dinner table that night!

Stay Tuned for more…

Visiting the DMZ

Flat Stanley at the “Underground River”

Categories: post a week, strange adventures, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flat Stanley Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m leaving on a Jet Plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again…

Well it is that time again. Flat Stanley is leaving Shanghai and heading to numerous parts around the world. Flat Stanley is a primary school novel and in it he goes to visit a friend in California via the postal system thanks to his convenient ‘flatness’. A fellow Canadian came up with the idea to do the Flat Stanley Project with his students. He took the novel by Jeff Brown and got his kids mailing the little guy to friends and family all over the country and world. It encouraged their reading and got them excited about it. In other adaptions, children take their own personal Flat Stanley and write a journal about his adventures.

World wide Stanley has been to most places in the US and Canada. He also has met the president of the USA and was on American Idol! With my Year 3 class 2 years ago I planned the unit and each student in Year 3 (as well as the other 3 classes in the school and some of our EAL classes) took their own Stanley and wrote about what they did on holiday. It was a great success and it really improved the kid’s writing. We also shared the journals and photos in class, made it into a class book and even did an assembly with him! Last year we repeated the project and I went to Xi’an with him. Other teachers, visiting Xi’an, spotted the “celebrity” and came over to ask about where we were from. You can read about that adventure here.  This year is no exception and in a few hours Flat Stanley, John and I along with another teaching couple from school will be heading to Seoul, South Korea for some more adventures!

This was a last-minute booking since the school just returned our passports Wednesday of this week! Yesterday was spent finishing report cards, which are due right after the holiday. All that work out-of-the-way we are ready for a short get-away and adventure.

Stay tuned for more adventures… with Flat Stanley too!

Update: Someone has added extra links to this post! The only links I have included are for the Flat Stanley Project and my post from last year. If anyone knows how to avoid this or remove the links please comment below. Thanks.

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

Weekly Challenges (combined): Happiness & Secret Places

I am running out of weekend and I still want to post the weekly photo challenges for this week. I have been doing Ailsa’s weekly challenge and now Island Traveller (a blog I follow) has started one too. I am sorry I am cheating a bit, or just trying to multi-task and do more than 1 thing at a time 😉 Teaching and the end of the year are TOO busy… kids (and teachers) are wanting to wind down, but the work is not finished just yet.

Ailsa had a very cool challenge this week please check it out! I now want to head to NYC and find this ‘secret place’ in plain view. The theme is “Secret Places” and she links things to travel. Island Traveller at This Man’s Journey has started a new challenge with a changing theme about the Weekly Image of Life and this week the theme is Happiness. To save time and post for both I thought about how I could link the two and came up with this:

From some windows at school and my hallway at the apartment I get this view of Shanghai and I think Wow how lucky am I to be here and have such an experience. A girl from a small town where everyone wanted to ‘get out’ I never thought I would go far afield. Sure I wanted to travel, but didn’t feel the need to escape the small town that was clean, quiet, safe and friendly. It makes me happy to see how far I have come, to do the job  I love, travel and have incredible opportunities. That makes me happy. The other day I was up to neck in work and I happened upon this view and I stopped… went and grabbed the camera and took the time to recharge and enjoy and slow down. Watching the clouds and the sun rays peek out made me happy and wow what a view!

Shanghai Skyline from work

Now my secret is out… when feeling stressed I stop, look out the window and watch the world go by. From the back stairwell at school I can escape a minute and recharge; this is my secret place where I can find solitude and happiness.

Each night I look out towards the Pearl Tower as I step off the elevator. When the sky is clear the view is fantastic night or day. It has been smoggy lately and I was happy to see a wonderful sunset yesterday. This is my secret place that always makes me smile and happy.

Want to join in or see more check out these links for other entries 🙂 You don’t have to be a pro to join in!

Stay tuned for more from CTB next week…

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