Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming Home

Sorry my last few days are as one post. The Chinese government decided to add blogspot to the long list of websites you can’t go on. So here is the end of my adventures in China….

My last day in Shanghai was definitely a memorable one. Kristen and I spent the morning and early afternoon in Yu Yuan and walked some of the back streets and soaked in Old Shanghai; the smell of the street food, the laundry hanging, the kids laughing and playing, and the groups of people playing mahjong. This was my last everything… my last time riding the subway, last time seeing the pearl tower, having my picture taken by strangers, crossing crazy traffic, riding a taxi, bargaining, attempting to use my Chinese, etc .

Later I headed to the fabric market to pick up my things, my favorite is the zebra dress I had made – it sounds crazy but it’s simple, a long dress that’s pretty casual and difficult to explain haha. I then hopped in a taxi and headed home. I went upstairs to try and pack, my bags could only be 50lbs each and the cost of a third bag or to ship was way more than I was willing to spend. I am still befuddled at how I managed to pack everything and make it home with only two bags. I packed and then took a half hour nap and was woken up by my phone ringing, it was ms. Evelyn. I answered and she was asking what I was wearing out to dinner tonight. We talked for about ten minutes then I asked her where she was and she told me she was home. Haha then she asked me what time I would be home and I told her I was in my room haha. We talked for another five minutes then got ready for a night out. Oh goodness I am going to miss our text and phone calls while being in the same house hahaha, and of course all of our conversations on the couch or at the table.

I decided to wear my zebra dress and headed with the boys to go pick up mr. Gary and meet ms. Evelyn, Christina, Eric, Wai Yi, and Friedburt for dinner. We finally arrived and after ordering the waiter brought a live fish in a bowl to our table. It flopped around and almost came out of the bowl; he quickly took it away and came back 20 minutes later with it on a plate…. The fish was cooked and the ENTIRE fish was on the table, eyes included, staring at you mouth open as though he was screaming. Needless to say I didn’t eat any of him. We had a few other dishes, pig’s tendon, Shanghai noodles, pork, beef, etc. We then headed out for a terrific desert at this hole in the wall chocolate place I ate at a couple of weeks ago. We had a delicious Stress-Free Chocolate Cake and a bottle of chardonnay for mr. Gary’s birthday and of course my departureJ. The boys fell asleep at the restaurant and we had to drag them to the car haha. We got home around 1:30 and I finished packing.

I stayed up the entire night; I do that before any flight I take. It is not because I am anxious or excited, it’s just something I always have and always will do. I packed and repacked just to make sure my bags were perfect and met the requirements, and I watched some movies and TV series I had bought. Some of my friends were online so I got to talk to them which was awesome too! Around 4am I had a craving for coffee so I went downstairs and made a pot and enjoyed sipping my coffee on the couch with Harry. Around 8am I took Harry for a walk and came back upstairs to find ms. Evelyn crying, she ran towards me and gave me a hug telling me she was going to miss me. My response was that we still had 5 hours together and I couldn’t start crying now haha. We laughed and sat at the table talking for awhile until mr. Gary joined us. The three of us had a wonderful conversation and then before I knew it, it was time to go!

Kristen came with us to eat at East West, my final Chinese meal with my Chinese family! I said goodbye to mr. Gary and Bryan, all three of us crying!! I got in the car and my driver took Andrew, Kristen, ms. Evelyn, and I to the airport. We arrived and stood in line for what seemed like hours, I thought I was going to run out of time despite the fact I got there 2 hours early. We came up to the desk and were told my flight was delayed 3 ½ hours. This was frustrating and relieving all at the same time, the lady had to change my connecting flight and so all worked out I guess. I was turning around when somebody called my name. It was Peter, the man who I talked to in Chicago when I was flying to Shanghai! I talked to him and his wife and they were on the same flight as me going to Shanghai. Peter’s wife headed home to Boston two weeks ago and he was now flying back on the same flight as me! This was kind of a relief, especially since I had a long time to sit in the airport. I said a tearful goodbye to Andrew, Kristen, and ms. Evelyn, and made my way through security. Got a drink and found a spot with free wireless and then talked to Peter for awhile.

Our flight boarded and the flight was long, I slept off and on and had a couple of meals. I arrived in Chicago and Peter, who was ten seats in front of me, waited for me so we could go through customs together. Our flight landed late and so Peter and I thought we were going to miss our connecting flights. We grabbed out luggage and made our way quickly through more security and to the other side of the airport taking shuttles and going through more security then split up and wished each other luck. I made my way to my gate and finally arrived with 10 minutes till I had to board. I grabbed some Smoothie King while calling my parents and texting to let people know I had landed. I touched up my makeup a bit- I don’t know why I cared how I looked… sometimes I don’t get what makes women do crazy things like this but I still do them haha!! I boarded and promptly fell fast asleep before we even took off and I woke up right as we were preparing for landing. I grabbed my bags and made my way off the plane and headed down the hall; the lights were low and all the stores were closed. I walked down the stairs and my mom was standing there ready to give me a big hug! Dad was over and had already gotten my luggage and came and gave me a hug. We made our way to the car and had a chatty ride home, attempting to catch up on the past month. I unpacked a bit when I got home and showed my parents some of the stuff I had bought, and then I carried everything upstairs and fell fast asleep.

Our plane had eyes.

15 minutes after flopping around on our table.

We joked this was the only place you could find Jesus in China - a billboard for the World Expo heehee
Creepy add in the metro...

I’ve been home a couple of days now and am still trying to get used to it all. I switched back to the time zone pretty much right away – no jetlag. I have had a bit of an English overload and the lack of people is a bit weird. I love the really blue skies and the fact I can drive again. As much as I love being home I feel like part of me is still in China with my new friends and the family I fell in love with.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, I had such a great experience in China and I hope that you were able to capture a small taste of all that I did.

Zai Jain, Goodnight,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And so it Began...

Ate a wonderful homemade scone for breakfast this morning along with a delicious cup of coffee. I’ve been taking my vitamins lately and I seem to have more energy and I think I am officially almost better haha. I hopped in the car with ms. Evelyn and I headed for the fabric market once again. A few final touchups are being done and I am picking them up tomorrow. I was walking out and well… haha I ran across a cute zebra fabric I loved... well… I am getting another dress made. But I got yet another great deal on it; I love how cheap everything is here!! It will be ready tomorrow as well so after Yu Yuan I will pick them up.

Ms. Evelyn and I went out to lunch at Element Fresh and had wonderful food and smoothies. We picked up Kristen afterwards and headed to a grocery store to buy a few things before heading to the subway. On the way we discovered it was my driver’s birthday! We had to sing him happy birthday with a few cha-cha-chas added in haha. I think he turned red out of embarrassment for us! Hahaa He dropped Kristen and I off at the subway and took ms. Evelyn home. A week ago I saw this green purse I loved but decided not to buy…. Well I can’t find it anymore. I bought a couple of things, some wallets, and two tea sets. I got some great deals!! I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t find this purse and after a couple of hours I was worn out. I decided to go into one last store… I walked in and didn’t see anything I liked, the lady came and said which brand?? By then I was like whatever… she said Coach? D&G? Prada? I was like sure let me see. I was thinking she would pull out her suitcase or take me into the hidden room. Well she opened a bookshelf and took me into another room and locked the door behind me. She pushed me into a corner and opened another two doors! She told me to follow her, and I did haha. There were so many purses…. I can’t even describe it to you! I picked my two favorites and she said 1800 RMB each but that she would give me a deal and it would only cost 2500 RMB. After going back and forth for about 10 minutes, and to the point I thought she was never going to let me out, I got both purses for 300 RMB. I was so happy haha! Success AND I love the bags I got more than the green one from earlier this week.

Kristen and I went back to her house and hung out for a bit and had some amazing sweet and sour chicken that Lee made. We hopped on our bikes and headed to a cheap DVD friend of hers. With our amazing biking in China skills we definitely must have some Asian in our blood haha! I bought a ton of DVDs, including a complete collection of Disney movies! Haha call me crazy but some of those classics are amazing! I also bought the first 4 seasons of The Office for my brother, Josh. I also bought about 15 other movies. We rode our bikes home and I walked back to my compound with all my things.

So earlier today I had the start of my goodbyes. Lee was my first, she is such a sweet woman and there is something about her that whenever around her you feel instantly at home. She gave me a sweet letter and a teddy bear wearing a China t-shirt. Oh and I can’t forget the Chinese Halls! I have been sick and couldn’t find my halls or halls here but she found them! I am going to miss her, but she has a house in Tennessee so I will be making a trip there sometime in the future to visit her when she is in the US! I shed a few tears especially knowing this was just the beginning. I will be home in two days and I feel like I just got here. I have a busy day tomorrow, Yu Yuan with Kristen, the fabric market and then dinner or going to Shift to say goodbye to people. Night.

I'm going to miss my Chinese phone and those who text me on it!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The sunrise in Jin Qiao today was at 4:30…. God seriously must be laughing right now. I couldn’t sleep tonight, that brain of mine doesn’t know when to shut off apparently. Just when I’m finally settling down – around 4am- I am about to drift off into sleep and BAM the sun shoots up. Mind you I do have curtains but I can’t fall asleep now.

Well I went shopping today and now the people know my name and know what I want haha. I went into one and they were all excited I was back, is this bad sign haha. They took me back into the back room and pulled out a suitcase full of the good stuff haha. Suddenly one of them switched the lights of and they were all whispering in Chinese, I could only understand a bit of it and they were trying to hide the bags. I understood enough to know that the police were coming and that we had to be quiet. Luckily the police passed by and we didn’t have any issues! I spent the afternoon and part of the evening buying bags and being rushed into backrooms. I’ve become a pro at bargaining and can get them down about 75% from their original price. They all know now that I want it cheap but good stuff and that I know what I want haha.

I took the subway to Lujiazui to go to Super Brand Mall. I am not a big mall person or even a big shopper – despite my last few posts haha- but I can appreciate this 10 story mall filled with every store and every item imaginable. I was heading out exit two when this little hunched over, creepy looking, 4 foot man, looked like he was making a b-line for me! This was the first time I have felt a bit nervous while living here. We managed to get lost in the crowd and up the stairs and outside so it was all good haha. I was walking down the streets and realized how much I am going to miss it here… living here has taught me so much and I hate to leave. I must say I am excited to see my friends and family but I am also wondering how life in America will be after I’ve adjusted to living here. Well back to my mall experience… I had seen a dress I liked earlier this week but didn’t have time to try it on so I went to try it on and ended up not liking it haha. So I made my way back to the subway hopped on and headed home.

We had a simple Chinese dinner and I had a cup of tea. Bryan practiced his trumpet and is actually pretty good! I lay on the couch for awhile listening to ms. Evelyn play the piano and sing, while I caught up on e-mail. Mr. Gary and I discussed how I was going to get all my stuff back to the US haha. For an international flight to pay for a 3rd bag is $200! How ridiculous! I am going to ship some of my stuff back which will still be expensive but will be cheaper than $200 and the chance of it being searched is slimmer.

Today I am going to the fabric market again to pick up my dresses that were getting fixed and to pick up the shorts I got made. Hopefully all will fit well and look good. Kristen and I are going to a movie place to buy movies tonight, and I think I’ll get a massage as well. Maybe some more shopping to go along with all of that, though on Friday Kristen and I are going to Yu Yuan so maybe I will wait till then.

I will be needing a few extra cups of coffee this morning. oh goodness! I will be home in 3 days!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Start of Shopping

Oh how wonderful it felt to be in my own bed last night with the AC on. I was up late trying to catch up on my blog but when I finally fell asleep I slept like a baby haha. After waking up, enjoying a cup of coffee, and getting ready I headed downstairs to meet my driver. He took me to pick up Kristen and we headed to the bank, Starbucks, and the visa place so Kristen could extend her travel visa. The air was heavy with humidity and the sky was a light grey as we drove to Puxi to meet Ms. Evelyn. We went to the Blue Frog for lunch and then went to her cousin’s jewelry shop and purchased a few items. Shopped around and bought a few things. I got some great deals and some awesome sunglasses! Off to the fabric market after that…

I was a bit nervous about my green dress – One of the first one’s I had made that had to be fixed. I tried it on and the straps were crooked and there were some other issues. I wasn’t happy and the guy was being so rude! He and ms. Evelyn got in a bit of a yelling argument because he didn’t want to fix his poor work. His boss came over reluctantly after ms. Evelyn told him multiple times that he needed to get involved. We finally got our point across and hopefully the dress will be how it is supposed to be on Thursday. Off to the next stall, I was feeling a bit discouraged haha. This one needed a few minor adjustments but otherwise is good; it will be ready Thursday as well so I guess I’m happy haha. I decided to get some shorts made as well; I love how cheap everything is here!! They will be ready Thursday as well so hopefully that will all work out well.

We grabbed a drink and a snack and our driver took us home. Tomorrow is another day of shopping and so that will be fun. I started packing tonight…. I can’t believe I will be coming home in a couple of days. I still have so much to do!!! I must head to bed. Goodnight!


Monday, May 11, 2009

A Smiling Face

I guess she decided last minute to spend the night at a friend’s house, so I had the apartment to myself last night. I woke up and got all my things together and called Lily to see where she was at and ask if I should wait or go ahead and get a taxi. She said she would be home in 20 minutes so I decided to wait so I could thank her one last time and say goodbye.

I got into the taxi and headed to the airport, my ticket was all in Chinese and I had no clue where to go! I had to ask a couple of people before I figured out where to go. I got my ticket and checked my back, then was asked to open my bag so they could go through it… ugh. They thought a pair of tennis shoes and a bottle of shampoo and conditioner look suspicious apparently. Oh well minor bump in the road. I headed in the direction of my gate and sat in one of the few available seats for about 10 minutes till we could board. We took a short bus out to the plane and boarded the flight. I was exhausted, didn’t get much sleep at all this weekend, it took about half an hour to finally take off then I attempted to sleep. I was unsuccessful and before I knew it lunch was being served. It was noodles, shrimp, bread, and fruit –what a meal for coach!! The last twenty minutes of the flight the guy sitting next to me became quiet chatty. He spoke English and was very nice, he didn’t seem to understand why I was in Shanghai and why I only visited Beijing for two days but he wanted to talk a lot. Next thing I knew we had landed and we were getting off and headed for baggage claim.

I must say I felt comforted knowing that my driver would be waiting for me on the other side, a familiar face, somebody I knew haha. I grabbed my bag and walked through and there he was a big smile on his face and he was waving haha. He came and took my bag from me and we walked to the car. It’s about a 45 minute drive home and I took a nice nap in the back. We arrived home and I was greeted by a very happy Harry and then ms. Evelyn. I told ms. Evelyn all about my weekend then attempted to take another nap, I’m still feeling under the weather. A slew of text messages kept me awake and so I decided to go sit in the massage chair and catch up on e-mail. Bryan, Ms. Evelyn, and I found ourselves in a candy fight haha, don’t know how it started but I became the target and had no shield and they had an entire desk as cover. Oh goodness haha! We had a wonderful steak dinner – my favorite! – and though I planned on going to bed early that obviously did not work out. I’m finally caught up on my blog and am headed to bed.

Tomorrow I am going out to lunch with Kristen and ms. Evelyn in Puxi. We are going shopping afterwards then to the fabric market to pick up a couple dresses we had made and I am going to get some shorts made. Night.


The Great Wall of China

Sunday:My room was brighter than usual this morning and my alarm had not yet gone off. I grabbed my phone to check the time and see why the alarm didn’t go off only to realize my phone had died! I ran out of the room in a panic, thinking I had over slept and that I might have missed valuable time at the wall. I went to go look at the clock and saw Lily – a sign that it was before 7:30am, because that is when she leaves for classes on Sunday. I was so relieved to find out I still had an hour to get ready for the day haha. Lily left for class and I ate breakfast and waited for Teresa to come. She ran the buzzer and I answered the phone in Chinese…. It totally threw her off and she was really confused haha, I hadn’t told her I knew any Chinese. I headed downstairs and out the door, we had a driver today and he had the longest fingernails!

It took about an hour to get to the Great Wall of China. The mountains formed, and then there she was, beautiful, huge, and picturesque. We drove around until we got to the Badaling section of the wall. Teresa and I got out and made our way to the entrance of the wall, I was speechless. You can see pictures, you can hear about the wall, but being there in person is something totally indescribable! Excitement filled me with each step closer to the wall; I decided to go up the left side first. We started the climb and it was not easy, the steps are not straight, the paths are not even, but the view…. The view is just wow haha…. And the thought about the whole wall being built without machines is crazy! To think men in heavy armor rode horses up and down this wall. How with blood, sweat and a few tears I’m sure ;) they carried cannons, ammunition, food, and more, up these stairs and these walls. Just imagine how difficult it would be to climb any of these mountains to begin with, and then add the difficulties of building a giant wall on it! Ok thank you for being patient through my musings haha I am done for now.

I walked the entire Badaling section open to tourists. The left side was tough but fun and I was ready to conquer the rest of the section. The wall isn’t connected in tiny circles so if you go in one direction to get back and go the other way you have to turn around and walk all the way back. Coming back towards the right side I was taking a video of the wall and some very good looking Australian college boys asked if I wanted them to take my picture for me, they promised not to run off with my camera haha. Hmmm how could I resist haha! I know which country I am visiting next!

Some parts of the wall you literally had to hold on with both hands just so you don’t fall. Some of the steps were up 90 degrees; some hills literally should have been slides. I was tempted to sit on my butt and go down a couple of them but I had seen a few kids peeing so I passed on that one haaha. Even on the Great Wall I had people asking to take their picture with me or sneaking shots. Teresa found this quiet amusing, I took a few shots with people and other times just said no haha. In the end I don’t know how many miles we walked, I think somewhere around 10 miles, but not positive. I was sore, burnt, and exhausted! Teresa said she has been to the wall over a hundred times and this was only her second time doing the whole Badaling section! It took as about 4 or 5 hours total, so not too bad but we were beat!

Next was the Ming Tombs… we went down the long pathway with the stone animals, creatures, and soldiers. It was so beautiful, right as I took my third picture at the tombs my camera died! I guess taking over 450 pictures at the wall and about 4 videos was too much for my camera to handle. I was tired and not feeling well so I did a quick run through of the tomb. It was so interesting how this was the only tomb allowed to be opened, and how much time and effort is put into building these tombs. It was five or six stories underground and had walls and floors of marble. The only tomb to be excavated is the Wanli Emperor’s; it’s called the Ding Ling Tomb, or the Tomb of Stability. By excavating the tomb it revealed not only an intact tomb with the bodies of the emperor and his two empresses along with silk, and other expensive items but it filled a gap in the minds of scientists and scholars about what the tombs contained. After a quick tour we headed back to Lily’s house where I was going to pack my things for my flight tomorrow. Teresa and her roommate, Cindy, were picking me up around 7 to take me out to dinner.

We got back and I showered and started packing. I couldn’t find some of my clothes. Lily’s i-ee has been going through my bags and taking out laundry and washing it… some of which I hadn’t worn yet. I told her I was going home on Monday and would do my laundry then and not to take it but she kept taking it. This frustrated me a bit; I have a big bubble as most of you know, and this definitely burst it. What took me to complete humiliation was when I came home later that night and found a pair of my underwear hanging in the window with some of my other clothes!!! I was mortified haha, not only had she gone through my bags AGAIN, but she had taken out clothes, some of which were clean, and washed and hung them in the window!!! AFTER I told her not to hahahaha! Oh my goodness, I laugh at it now but I was just speechless, I guess she was just trying to be a good i-ee? Oh well, part of the whole experience I guess haha.

Well Teresa and Cindy picked me up and we went for Peking Duck. It was very good, some of the side dishes I didn’t ask what they were and am a little nervous to know what they were. One of the dishes was soup and in my bowl was the ducks neck and what appeared to be some organs. It was an experience, another thing to add to the crazy food list haha.

I have a flight tomorrow morning which should be interesting. Coming here my driver showed me where to go and helped me check in. I am taking a taxi there and will have to figure the rest out on my own. I have enjoyed my stay with Lily, I wish I had more time to get to know her but I’m sure we will meet again sometime.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Start of the Touring!

Well this weekend has been a whirlwind; I apologize for not posting sooner.

Saturday: Well though I difficulty sleeping last night I did finally fall asleep around 3am. After getting ready and grabbing a bite to eat I headed downstairs to meet my tour guide, Teresa.

First we headed out to the Temple of Heaven. Teresa filled me in on all the facts on worshiping heaven and all the signs of luck. We passed people doing aerobics on the lawn, and groups of people playing games. One man tried to teach me how to throw these sticks back and forth in the air – I think I scared them because I would get them going then lose one and try and catch it, aka people had to watch out haha. I’m no flaming baton thrower like my mom’s business partner, ms. Elizabeth!

Next was Tiananmen Square, the security was very heavy due to the protest/massacre in 1989. There is a building where somebody famous is buried in a crystal tomb. I’m can’t recall his name but people stand in line for hours every day to give him an offering of money. Tiananmen Square is basically what its name is, it’s a large plaza named after the Gate of Heavenly Peace, and it’s just a big open area. We also visited Dashila, a really old walking street; it’s being renovated so a lot of the shops are no longer there right now. A trolley runs through it that you can ride so you can see it all and look at the existing shops.

After that we headed to the Forbidden City, its huge! I learned how the more animals/creatures on the corner of each of the building’s roofs stood for the importance of the building or the residents. These animals/creatures are sort of gods and represent different things. The Forbidden City is the imperial palace and has close to a thousand buildings which consist of close to nine-thousand rooms. Nine is considered to be the highest number, and one of China’s many lucky numbers haha. On all the gates there are nine knobs by nine knobs and people believe if you rub them when you pass you will have good luck.

We had a quick lunch at a local restaurant and headed on our way to the Summer Palace.

The Summer Palace is beautiful, a vast lake, trees, rocks, flowers. It currently holds the world’s longest corridor, having a total length of 782 meters and having over 14,000 hand-painted pictures. The corridor was build so the mother of the emperor could go on a walk without worry of the weather. We then climbed up a small mountain and went to the Buddhist Temple. As you know I believe in God, not Buddha, so this was a bit uncomfortable for me. One wall of the temple was covered in little Buddha statues; inside one Buddha sat on either side of the big one. I went in and right back out, but I snuck a picture on the way in/out – don’t think you are allowed to do that. We walked back down and headed home. I am still trying to process all that I saw, it all happened so quickly!


P.S. The Great Wall and Ming Tombs coming soon :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shanghai to Beijing

Today is ms. Evelyn’s birthday. She was in the shower when I left for the community center but I saw her when I came back a little later. I gave her a few gifts mom and I had picked out before coming and then was off to Concordia again. Today was my last day promoting the paintball event that goes on tomorrow. I sat at my table and watched some of the kids play basketball outside and talked to the people who walked by. It amazes me when I see this elementary, middle, and high school expat kids attending school in Shanghai. I think living in their shoes for a day would be fascinating. I have to say I have had the privilege to travel near and far and have plenty of stories to tell from each of my trips but seriously these kids LIVE here… the girl from Wisconsin, the boy from Texas, the kid from Tennessee, Washington, Mississippi, and so on. That may bore you but I find it interesting haha.

It was an extremely hot day today, I walked from Concordia to Carrefour and was ordering a frappuccino and a wrap when Kristen came over and said hi. We ended up going upstairs and chatting for an hour before walking back the community center together. I talked to Ron for a sec after giving him the signup sheets. I then bought a coke and headed home to finish packing. Ms. Evelyn gave me a small suitcase to use and so I threw in all the stuff I thought I would need and was ready to go. Ms. Evelyn’s parents were coming in at 2:30 and so she couldn’t come with me to the airport. My driver took me and was kind enough to show me where to go and to help me with my bags; he is such a nice guy! I was walking through security and going down the halls looking for my gate and thinking: Oh goodness what was I thinking, China and me seem to do solo a lot and I don’t like that…. I don’t know these people I am staying with, I wish a friend was with me, and I still feel sick and want to be in my comfy bed at home hearing the boys play drums and guitar downstairs!

I got on my flight and the man next to me was a bit nerve-racking… he kept sitting there with a weird look on his face pounding his knuckles together and then rubbing the back of his neck till I thought it ought to be bleeding!! Some odd man in 53L was not sitting in his correct seat and when asked to move by a woman he got up looked around and sat in the next available free seat… hmmm WEIRD! Throughout the flight he did odd things that made me a bit nervous but hey I’m still alive so it’s all good haha. I was feeling sick to begin with and fell asleep before the plane took off, woke up after about 40 minutes and had a cup of jasmine tea. I made notes of where all the people I heard speaking English so I knew who to ask a question if I had any. We landed and I got off the plane onto the tarmac, there were busses and I just got on one! I had a couple of people ask me if it was the right one and if I was from Beijing or Shanghai… haha little did they know haha! So I guess that’s a good thing that people think I live here because I am obviously doing something right, or looking like I know what I’m doing!

Our bus stopped and I followed the Chinese people to the baggage claim because there were about 15 different ones that ALL looked the same with no English. I soon realized I hadn’t looked at the bag ms. Evelyn gave me and didn’t really remember if it had a tag on it!!! Whoops! Guess I was a bit pre-occupied. I remembered something green and I found one with a green tag with Gary Sun written on it, haha so I was good! I made my way out into a sea of Asians looking for Cameron and a piece of A4 paper with my name on it. I didn’t see her or the paper… I called her and she said she was 20 minutes away!!! Well I looked around and found something familiar – a Starbucks! The taste, the smell, the environment! It was like I was back in Pudong, or even back in Charlotte. I ordered another cold drink, I felt like I stepped into a sauna when I landed. It felt so good going down my throat, I sat there and waited, trying to comprehend the fact that I had made it here and was starting a slew of new adventures. Cameron arrived and we hopped in her car and headed for Lily’s house. I thought the pollution in Shanghai was bad, the sky here is gray; I can feel the thickness of the air as I breathe it in.

We finally arrived and climbed to the fifth floor. She has a nice apartment but I must say I have been spoiled by living in one of the top three most prestigious compounds in Shanghai. Lily wasn’t due home for another hour but her i-ee made us dinner. It was interesting and Cameron didn’t like it, neither did I for the most part so I filled up on rice. Lily arrived halfway through and I am looking forward to getting to know her better. We finished eating and did a few other things. Cameron left to go home and Lily went to bed – which I was a bit grateful for because I am tired and I wanted to get ready for bed. I have an early morning tomorrow, my itinerary is listed below.

1. Temple of Heaven
2. A visit to the Tian'anmen Square .
3. Forbidden City
***Quick lunch break.***
4. Summer Palace


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Catching Up

I charged the battery on my bike all last night so I could ride it today. Had some teddy grams and apple and headed to the community center to meet Ron and Allie. I got all the information about paintball and headed to Concordia, one of the American schools here. Set my table up and sat throughout the lunches trying to get kids to sign up…. You would think a bunch of middle school boys would jump at this inexpensive opportunity…. I only got a couple kids to sign up. I think we have 20 total right now but seriously?!

On my way back to the community center I decided to take a detour to Starbucks. One of the nice things about Starbucks, aside from their coffee, is their smell. All Starbucks whether you are in North Carolina, Pudong, or any of the other places I have been they all smell the same. You open up the shop door and the deep, strong smell of fresh coffee envelopes you. I got my coffee and made my way upstairs to sit and look out the window. It was like I was back home again, the taste, the smell, even the look. The only difference is that if the only seat available is one at somebody else’s table, here in China you could sit there without a weird look or having the other person leave. I thoroughly enjoyed my drink and then hopped on my bike and headed back the community center. On the way back my bike decided to die on me so I had to pedal the rest of the way.

After a short nap I woke up with a sore throat, ate a quick dinner, and headed over to Lee’s house. Lee, Kristen, Natalie, Adrienne, and I all went out for desert at “The Kitchen,” a nice place next to the water. We had a wonderful time and ate delicious deserts! Sadly Adrienne is the first to leave and so this was a kind of farewell to her as well. We said our goodbyes and all headed home after a fantastic evening. On a side note I have to say that I have never felt more comfortable being a woman and walking around somewhere. Even back home in my own backyard or in Charlotte I don’t usually feel safe. Here I have no problem walking around our compound late at night or being with a group of girls downtown, I feel and am, safe. Don’t worry I am still cautious J haha.

Anyways I got home and had a very sore throat, attempted to go to sleep and my throat got worse. I went through my bags looking for some of the Halls I brought but they are missing. I noticed once I got here that some of my stuff is missing… I know they went through my bags at the airport but I’m missing a few t-shirts, Tylenol PM, Halls, and a few other things – A bit odd! By about 2am I had a fever and my whole body ached. I went downstairs and made some tea and looked for anything to take. Without luck I came back upstairs and attempted to sleep. I was up all night and then had to help out at one of the schools so I headed off to SCIS with Ron. We were there for a couple of hours then headed home. I got home and came to lie down, Ms. Evelyn wanted to take me to the doctor because I didn’t look well and I was burning up but I told her to give it another day or two. I took some Chinese remedy stuff and some more Dayquill and went to bed. I slept the rest of the day and Ms. Evelyn kept checking on me, I have the best Chinese mom ever! I slept until about 1am got up managed to eat something and drink a bit, and then fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until this morning.

Today my driver took me to SAS which is actually the school Andrew and Bryan attend. I met up with Ron and we found a table, he had a meeting to go to so I sought out kids to come play paintball. To my surprise Andrew and Bryan both said hello to me and came and talked to me!! I thought with them being in 5th and 8th grade they might be embarrassed to have me talk to them… but nope! Even their friends who I knew said hi to me! SAS is about a 45 minute drive from our house so my driver waited for me to bring me back. Ron came with us and we stopped at Johnny Moos for lunch – I had an amazing cheeseburger. My driver dropped Ron off at the community center then took me home.

I dragged myself up the 5 flights of stairs up to our house and got some more meds. Ms. Evelyn and I then headed out to the fabric market to pick up our dresses. Hahaha what an experience!!! We went to the one making the summer dress first. Well he held up a sheet and told me to try it on haha. So I slipped off my shirt and pulled the dress over, only to find out it only covers half my chest and one strap is crooked. For the record this was a new guy we were trying and will NOT go back to. He dropped the sheet to see and he was like “Its ok its ok, and started trying to move it around.” One thing here is if you don’t like it they try to tell you its ok. Hahaha even if it obviously is not ok! By now an audience has formed as this guy is trying to make it fit. I couldn’t stop laughing, good thing I’m never going to see these people again hahaaha. Then ms. Evelyn tried her dress on…. Well it looked great but she wanted a thing or two changed so she went to take it off and couldn’t get it off! I had to help her and between the two of us and all our giggling we finally got it off. She told him she wanted the zipper longer and he told her she shouldn’t rush to get her clothes off hahahaha. I’m sorry but sometimes you can’t take forever to take your clothes off. So we left laughing, our dresses supposedly will be fixed and ready tomorrow. I was a little weary to go to the second place… We got there and they handed us our dresses and shoved us behind in an actual curtain dressing room and we tried our dresses on. They both fit perfectly!!! I love mine so much, now I just need some cute heels and accessories to go with it. As we were leaving a fabric caught my eye and I had to get a dress made out of it! I explained what I wanted and showed them a couple of the already made dresses and how I wanted this of this one and that of that one and this like that and so on haha. I got measured and it will be ready Tuesday when I get back from Beijing. I convinced ms. Evelyn to get another dress made as well.

We headed to Super Brand Mall, 10 stories of everything imaginable, to look for shoes. I found a few pairs I liked but nothing in my size and nothing I absolutely loved. Ms. Evelyn bought a cute pair that will look darling with her dress. We are now home and I need a lot of rest and some more meds haha. What a day!

Well apparently I seem like a local now! At SAS today one of Bryan’s friends asked him if is mom was white haha. And at the fabric market today a couple of white people asked me if I lived here and how long I had lived here. The guards at the community center all smile and ask me how I’m doing when I ride my bike in and out. I love it!

I am feeling much better today; I think the worst is over with. I have little to no fever today and have been taking lots of Dayquill and I have some sort of eardrops that I have been putting in my ears which started hurting, and Advil for my head. I will be fine and hopefully ok for my flight to Beijing tomorrow.

Oh and I got good news the other day. JJ has been matched with an autistic boy in Tampa FL. He will be his companion dog and go everywhere with him and assist him in many ways. JJ must notice the signs that the boy is being over-stimulated and guide him into a calmer setting. Sometimes pressure is needed to calm the boy so JJ will learn when to lie down on the boy or press up against him to calm him. I don’t know about the boy JJ has been matched with but some autistic children are known to bolt, so he may be used to keep him from running away as well. Sometimes people who are autistic have difficulties figuring out which sounds are important, whether it be a fire alarm, a piano, or a cricket, so it’s JJ’s job to alert this boy of important sounds and get him to focus on what he is telling him. I’m very proud of my little boy and am so glad he is changing this family’s life. It really makes it all worth it, and when I am down in Florida in a couple of months I might get to see him and meet the family, if they are willing.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Lee, Kristen, and Adrienne, picked me up around nine and we were on our way to the orphanage. We were on the bridge to Puxi when Lee’s driver slammed on the breaks and we all braced ourselves- we don’t wear seatbelts here remember- and hit into the truck in front of us. The driver jumped out of the car and he and the other driver agreed to drive off the bridge and discuss the situation. We all put on seatbelts and drove off the bridge trying to figure out what happened. We came to a stop and the Eric said “I get you taxi.” We got out of the car and Lee's car was a bit bumped up. Nobody was hurt, so it's all good. Lee was pretty shaken about it all but I think she is ok now. We got in a taxi and were a bit sensitive to all the fast stops and stuff. I am actually a bit surprised this is the first time I’ve been in the car when something like this has happened, with all the taxis I ride in and their driving we have come close more than a handful of times per trip!

We made it to the orphanage in one piece and headed up three flights of stairs to one of the rooms. It did not smell good and the ladies working there didn’t seem to have much love or patience for the kids. It was a sad sight, and I wanted to take them all home with me – what made it worse is that this is one of the better orphanages, some they don’t let foreigners in. The kids were precious and it broke my heart to see so many of them rocking back and forth with anxiety, some even hitting themselves. We had the opportunity to name some of them and we got to play and hold them as well as feed them lunch. Some of the names were, Rosey, Heather, Tom, Eddie, Emma, and Audrey. I don’t even know what to say about this experience other than I can add it to my “unforgettable moments” list.

Kristen, Adrienne, Suz, and her friend and I went out to lunch afterwards. We had an American waitress!!! Haha who knew something like this would excite all of us. We walked around Watsons afterwards – a CVS – and I couldn’t help but laugh at the “Skin bleach” become whiter creams, the beer shampoo, and the packaged chickens feet.

I got home and ms. Evelyn and I headed out to look at new houses. The first one was disgusting – mom it needed your staging skills! The landlord was living in it and we walked in and the place stunk. There were dirty walls, clothes everywhere, dirty socks, unmade beds, trash everywhere. ICK. We headed to the next house both unpleased and the lady couldn’t get the door open. They have keyless doors here and they take a 4 digit number and the lady kept trying 6 numbers. She then left us there for about 20 minutes while she tried to find another code. In the end we couldn’t get in and so we went home. I took a nap and then we had a wonderful dinner.

Andrew wanted to dye his hair dirty blonde so I took him to the store and we got the lightest color we could find. Not many let me tell you the best we could find was a ginger brown color : (. We bought it and got some mango drinks and headed home. I dyed his hair and his mom didn’t want it too light so she made him wash it out after 15 minutes. It would have been better had we of left it in longer but it looks gingery. I hope the color is better in the morning. I will probably dye it back to black for him before I come back to the States. It was quite the experience and we had a lot of fun!


Another busy day tomorrow so goodnight.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Century Park

Well today I was supposed to help out with the middle school kids but turned out 180 was canceled today. So Andrew and I took a taxi to Century Park and explored before meeting up with his parents later. We decided to head first to go feed the pigeons, it took us about 30 minutes to find the place where they were – I swear the signs we would pass kept telling us a different direction to go! We finally arrived and I asked for two bags of feed, then I handed the lady 2 rmb and was getting out another 2 and she gave me this look like “Oh my why would you want two bags of feed!!!” I wish I had my camera out, the face was priceless! I handed a bag to Andrew and I think she understood. We fed the birds and chatted then made our way to a carnival section. Along the way we passed a guy fishing and decided to watch him for a little bit. He had a net full of fish but never caught anything while we watched. After that we decided on bumper cars. Let me tell you Chinese bumper cars is intense!!! Every time I was hit I felt like I was in an actual car wreck haha. No seatbelts and little bumpers and high speeds. This gave an American bumper car place a run for its money! I was zooming and crashing into people, I have a huge bruise on my knee as proof that this should have been called Extreme Bumper Cars. I had to post a picture of the rules which number one was : Dunkards and people with sickness or psychopaths are not allowed to play this game. Whoops don’t know how I got on – in America psychopaths are allowed on rides haha. After that and another ride which I swear I almost died on we headed to find I taxi. We were waiting for one to drive by when some guards were eyeing me and then asked Andrew in Chinese who I was to him – haha – Andrew told them I was his sister and they look pleased and thoroughly confused! Right then we hopped in a taxi and were off – what an adventure!

We went out to dinner later and then picked up a movie from the store. I managed to lose my phone or maybe it was stolen, I don’t know, at Century Park so I had to go get a new one. I needed some “fresh” air, or really just toxic cool air, so I took my motorbike to Carrefour to get a new phone. It was about 9 at night I had a black jacket and black sweats on and had the light on my bike on. I’m driving down the road signing and just for the record - I don’t look at the Chinese funny when they sing on their bikes! They give me the oddest looks to begin with and singing just brought out more looks of befuddlement! Anyways I’m riding along and am going through an intersection trying not to get run over, I passed somebody quite quickly and recognized her, and then I heard somebody call my name! Seriously I am in Pudong and somebody is calling my name as I zoom by, and I am wearing all black in the dark night!?!! Haha I think it was Matt, the guy whose bday party I went to, still not quite sure, I will have to ask him next time I see him. But I couldn't turn around to say hi because I was already in the middle of the intersection.

Came home and watched a movie with the family and finally got around to doing some laundry :). Tomorrow I am off to the orphanage and then the rest of this week I am shopping and helping recruit middle school kids for paintball. Night.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Downs and Ups

Well I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. My brain seemed to go into overdrive and keep me up until about 4am. I finally fell asleep and slept till about 11, and then checked my e-mail. Sad news was waiting for me in my inbox…. JJ the guide dog I raised has been career changed and is perusing a career in law enforcement. He apparently became food aggressive at the kennel; this came as a shocker and was a bit frustrating to say the least. I realize not every dog is meant to become a guide and that only %60 of SEGD’s pups become them, but it’s still disappointing. If he makes it in law enforcement he will do great, I’m happy if he is happy and it doesn’t take much for Lil J to be happy : ) .

After showering and taking my time to get ready for the day I headed downstairs to do some more e-mail and get some coffee. Friends and part of the band were at our house playing away in the family room. I grabbed a scone and brewed a pot of coffee and opened my laptop and sat enjoying the music and singing. We had some really good Thai food from Simply Thai, for a late lunch. We all got ready and packed into our car and drove to Matt’s surprise birthday party.

Matt is the youth’s drummer and he is leaving in July to go to Taiwan for college. It was a wonderful party, and so many people got up and spoke, he has really changed so many lives in his 18 years of living. I wish I had more time to get to know him! It made me really look at my life and think about how I am affecting others, about where I am going, and about what I want to do. After the party Andrew and his friends were showing me how to pass a rugby ball, this is not easy my friends! Haha. We played keep away throwing the ball rugby style hahaha. It was a lot of fun and I was worn out by the time we headed home! I had my camera with me but realized halfway through the night that I left my memory card at home in my laptop… whoops!

Ron asked for my help tomorrow at 180 with the youth so that should be fun. Well I am going to attempt to sleep, good night!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Today was May holiday, aka Labor Day. Ms. Evelyn and I headed to Puxi to one of the fabric markets and walked around. I swear there was every piece of fabric and material imaginable and then some. I had in my mind that I wanted a black cocktail dress and a summer dress to start. If I was happy with what they made I would go back and get more stuff custom made. We walked around and talked about the design and style I wanted, and of course bargained. They both should be done on the 7th, I can’t wait, and they are going to look amazing! Ms. Evelyn ended up getting two dresses made as well, guess it’s contagious!

We headed home and took Bryan to a birthday party then went out to go purse shopping! I was given the address of a hidden place and so we hopped in a taxi and went to the location. Walked down an alley and down a set of stairs, a man asked us what we wanted and we told him. Very suspicious he asked how we had come to find them, and we told him through a friend. A lady came out and then they walked us down a dark hallway with many doors and no lights, you could hear the water dripping and there was some horrible stench. The man looked at us again and unlocked a door and flipped on a light. Inside were bags, sunglasses, belts, watches and more! Some were fakes others had fallen off of trucks or were stolen apparently. We didn’t buy anything in the end but laugh the whole way back at the experience. After that we headed to a local purse place and I bought a couple handbags and Ms. Evelyn bought one. I must say we make an AMAZING bargaining team!!!

Came home absolutely exhausted and had about a half hour of downtime before heading out to dinner. Bryan and Andrew are spending the night at their friends’ houses. I spent the evening helping Ms. Evelyn with a PowerPoint presentation she was working on and am now getting some rest before heading out to shop again tomorrow!

Oh and can’t forget, I passed this bathroom and had to take a picture. Here is what the sign said outside: Women 0.5 RMB, Men free, elderly and children free. night!