Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Round Two!

So last year I started this blog with really good intentions...a place to post pictures and document my move to Shanghai.  It started out great!  And then I got distracted/bored/lazy.  

For me, the best time to make new goals isn't on January first, but at the start of a new school year.  With one year of teaching under my belt, I'm inspired to take the time to make a few improvements.  Along with cooking more at home, establishing a solid workout routine, and being more creative in my teaching, I'd like to keep up with this blog!  At the very least, I hope to chronicle the trips that I take outside of Shanghai.  I've got a few already planned for this year, including...


Beijing!  I definitely need to see the Great Wall before I leave China.

South Korea in October.  This is Busan in the south east, but I'll also be in Seoul and in the beautiful mountains in the interior of the country.

 Indonesia in December for a whole three weeks!  This is Borobudur, the world's largest Buddhist temple.  The plan is to fly into Jakarta and travel east by train, bus, and boat.

Harbin in January for the annual Ice and Snow Festival.  Harbin is in the very north of China, close to Russia.  I'll need to go shopping for some super warm clothes!

Stay posted!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apartment Tour!

I haven't posted any pictures of my little studio yet, so I thought it was about time!  I'm up on the 12th floor and I love the view, even if it is mostly of construction.  I'm in a really convenient part of town, about a 30 minute subway ride from school (which is kind of on the outskirts of the city) but also very close to the French Concession, where most of the neat restaurants, shops, and bars are.  It's taken me awhile to make it feel like home, but it's getting there now!

 The little window seat next to my bed is my favorite part of the apartment.  I bought a rug to cozy it up a bit, and made the big throw pillows with some Ikea fabric.  I love to sit and watch what's going on below.  I brought the things on the wall from home.

The little balcony isn't much to look at, and it gets really dusty because of all the construction.  It's nice to be able to step outside and check the weather though!  The two prints on the wall are from St. John two summers ago.

 Opposite my bed is the TV and counter.  I bought the two "vintage" looking prints from a store in Tianzifang.

 The desk, where my new sewing machine lives!

 My kitchen is pretty tiny, but it does the job.  I do miss having an oven though, and I can't wait to bake Christmas cookies in a real one!  The huge hood is for all the steam generated from a wok, even though I haven't bought one yet.  The kitchen is also separated from the rest of the apartment by glass windows for the same reason.

I wouldn't have even posted a picture of the bathroom, but I had to point out my bite-sized washing machine.  I can only fit about two pairs of jeans in at a time, so doing laundry is an all-day thing!  I don't have a dryer either, so everything gets hung on a giant drying rack.

This is what I see when I walk in after school.  It's bright, relaxing, and just the right size.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Here are a few snapshots from the last couple of weeks.  I can't believe I only have a month left until I head home for the holidays!  Lots to do before then though.  I'll have my first international Thanksgiving on Thursday with lots of other teachers, and I'm working on planning my trip to Thailand in February for the Chinese New Year.  I'm thinking about flying into Bangkok, spending a night or two there, and then heading down to Ko Samui for some beach time.  Has anyone been to Thailand before?  Any suggestions?

Slowly learning to cook!  Still haven't found the perfect soy sauce-to-noodles ratio yet though...

 Delicious street food in front of the fabric market.

 Friday morning Muslim food market that we visited during October holiday.  I wish we had more Fridays off...the food was amazing!

 At the Muslim food market again.

 These wicker chair carts are all over the place, and I snapped a picture on a recent walk.  I never see these chairs in any restaurants or stores though.  Where do they end up!?

 Jewelry vendors in front of the fabric market.

 Mmm spices.

Birthday cards from a few of my students!

 Yummy jasmine tea that blossoms in your mug.

A crowded Saturday in Tianzifang.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Oops, I guess it's been awhile!  How did October fly by so fast?  It's my favorite month, and it's been the busiest thus far.  In October I:

  • Took a 3-day trip to Nanjing
  • Met with other music teachers for a day in Wuxi
  • Celebrated my birthday with friends
  • Visited the fabric market at least four times
  • Bought a sewing machine
  • Started a school choir and an after-school Rhythm Club
  • Dressed up for Halloween twice!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Nanjing during first week of October.  It's a national holiday, so it was definitely not the best time to's the biggest time of year for tourism in China, and every place we visited was super crowded.  It was worth it though, and I had a great time!

 We got to the train station around 7AM and it was already packed.

 Happy to be on the train!

A glimpse of another bullet train out the window.

 Bulletin board inside our hostel, the Travelers' Soul Inn.

 Inside ZhongHua Gate, part of the giant wall that runs around the entire city.

Walking down the other side of the gate, overlooking the city.

 Flags outside the Confucius Temple to celebrate his 2563rd birthday!

 Incense inside the temple

 Confucius, the birthday boy!

With my travel buddy inside the temple.

 The first night there we had the most delicious (and cheapest!) meal.  The things in the wooden bowls are called xiaolongbao, and they're soft soup dumplings.  We also had spicy noodles, some kind of pork, and gyoza (fried dumplings) all for about $5 per person.  

 On our second day we trekked up to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum in the Purple Mountains around Nanjing.  It would have been a much nicer walk if it weren't so packed, but the view from the top was still pretty amazing...

 The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall was sad, but really well-done.  I found myself getting frustrated with people pushing and talking inside.  I thought it was really disrespectful and it would have been much more powerful if they had limited the people allowed in at once.  Still, it made me want to read more on the history of Nanjing.  This statue marked the end of the Hall.

 On the last day, we visited Jinghai Temple and Tianfei Palace, which are both on the same hill in the middle of the city.  These spots were a lot less busy, which was a nice change from the rest of the trip!

 The most satisfying bell I have ever rung.

Looking across the city from the top of Tianfei Palace.

Hanging out in Xuanwu Lake before catching the train back home.

I would highly recommend visiting Nanjing, but maybe not during the October holiday.  Next year I'll be looking for a destination out of the country!  Thailand, maybe?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shanghai Fabric Market

I can't believe that in the almost two months that I've been living in Shanghai, I haven't visited the fabric market!  I trekked down there (line 4, Nanpu Bridge) on Saturday to see what it was all about.  If I had a sewing machine I would've gone nuts over the bolts and bolts of every fabric imaginable, but I was mostly interested in having some clothes made.

I didn't take many pictures inside because some of the shop owners get weird and defensive when you try.  I wandered through the three floors of clothing shops for about two hours feeling fabrics, looking at samples, and haggling.  Most of the stores have books with sample pictures to look at, and some have clothes that you can try on.  I ended up ordering two loose, open-front jersey knit cardigans from store #210, and a black jersey skirt from #341.  Both of the shop owners that I worked with quickly took my measurements and were great about noting any changes that I wanted.  I think most of the shop owners speak English, which is helpful.  We'll see if I'm as impressed with the stores when I go to pick up my clothes next week!

Clothing samples in store #210

After exploring the fabric market, we wandered outside and headed north on Lujiabang Lu, just to explore.  I thought this area was so much more interesting than the fabric market itself.  

All of the buildings were really run down, but the neighborhood was so busy and vibrant.  It seemed to be an extension of the fabric market, with tailor shops and fabric warehouses, but there were plenty of other types of stores along the same street.

I was so tempted to buy fabric at this store, but I wouldn't know where to begin.  I don't think that any of the shop owners spoke English, as we were the only foreigners in the area.  I'll need to brush up on my Chinese sewing terms!

Unfortunately, it seems like this whole neighborhood will be torn down soon to make room for more high rises like the ones in the background above.  It's these kinds of places that are the most interesting to visit though, because you really get a feel for the city.  I guess I'll need to go back soon to stock up on buttons and zippers!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm not THIS adventurous...

I had a very nice dinner with friends the other night at an authentic neighborhood Chinese restaurant, but we weren't brave enough to try the "Ribs and Pupa."  Some other highlights were "Homemade Small Intestines," "Sauce Skeleton," "Embalm Sauce Family," and "Spicy Meat Blasting Heart Care."  

Oh, and "Crispy Donkey."   


Sunday, September 16, 2012


From Yuyuan Gardens a few weeks ago

Things that I dislike about Shanghai:

-Insane drivers that pay no attention to pedestrians
-Men spit all of the time

Things that I love about Shanghai:

-Watching Tai Chi groups on my walk to school
-Fruit vendors on the street
-The amazing mix of food from all over the world
-Bookstore street, sewing street, antique street...
-My adorable school
-Exploring on the weekends
-The Rummery
-Public transportation
-The gorgeous parks that randomly pop up in the middle of the city