Thursday, June 18, 2015

Moving up in the world!

While sitting waiting on a flight in Shanghai... I ordered a watermelon juice.  This may not seem like a big deal but being able to order it correctly in a language that is very foreign to me is definitely moving in the right direction.  Even after being here for 8 months my spoken mandarin is very limited.  I joke that I can order food and get to and from the airport.  You see where my priorities are!  Ultimately I will agree that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages I have ever tried to learn,

Shanghai Disney Store

A couple of weeks ago, the world's largest Disney store opened in Shanghai at the base of the infamous Pearl tower. This is ultimately a precursor of the new Disneyland opening here in Shanghai in 2016.  Having always loved the magic of Disney... I thought this was a must see on my trip to Shanghai.

As a cast member, our discounts were limited to certain days and times due to the immense volume of visitors.  It just happened that I was there at a time that my discount was valid so we went in for a look.  I was a bit disappointed due to the fact that besides phone cases and a few keychains... most of the stuff was geared towards small children... ie dress up clothes and toys.  I ended up picking up a couple of small items as gifts and was told they have a much greater selection at Disneyland in Hong Kong which is in the plans to visit next month!

Have you ever heard of a cronut?

What do you get when you combine a donut and a crossiant?

A cronut!

I had never heard of such a thing...until we saw a poster advertising this amazing creation.  So I decided this had to be tried.  Ordered a white chocolate oreo cronut and took it back fo Laura's to share after dinner. 

It was light and flaky like a crossiant and sweet like a donut.  Oddly enough it is "from" New York.  How can I be from the same country as this and never had heard of this? What else am I not being told?

Old Shanghai Dumplings

So on this quest to accomplish 36 adventures before my 36th birthday on the 24th of July... and my love for dumplings... there was something I just had to do.

I saw listed in things to do in Shanghai this famous dumpling place that is world renowned and now I can see why!  I flew into shanghai and due to the delay and the early time I left my house... I was really hungry.  Met up with Jessica (a friend from Disney onboarding) and went to lunch at Din Tai Fung where their crab dumplings are delish as well as their wonton soup. 

It is a bit pricey but the service and the food were quite amazing!  Definitely recommend it!  It is located in the mall.

Van Gogh Alive exhibit

One of my all time favorite paintings is Van Gogh's Starry night so when a friend shared that there was a Van gogh exhibit in Shanghai... I was game! 

Now I have been to my share of museums but this was by far the best showing of an artists work and life tied together with music and quotes.

These were not the actual pieces but an exhibition that brings the pieces to life by telling Van Gogh's story.  The exhibit is set up in a tent in the park in Old line 10 in Xintiandu and it coast 110RMB to get in.  You sit on little cushions in the exhibit hall and images of his artwork are projected on the wall around you.  It has the feeling of being in the midst of these paintings as you are surrounded. 

If you are around this area ... definitely recommend this exhibit!

Playing in the rain

Went to Shanghai on tuesday morning... was delayed out of Chengdu due to weather and when we landed ... it looked like we were landing on a lake due to all the standing water.    Needless to say both days I was there it was really rainy so we tried to aim for more indoor activities but getting from point A to point B was hard to stay dry.

Unlike Uganda or Haiti... rain or shine people go about their business here so it is just a sea of umbrellas everywhere you go!

Upon return to Chengdu my flight was delayed by 4+ hours putting me back to my apartment at 5am on Thursday morning rather than just after midnight.  Thankfully the airport did provide water and crackers and that I did not have to be to work until 1:30 so I was able to get a few hours of sleep.

Shanghai Maglev

If you are ever in Shanghai... can I recommend taking the maglev from the airport.  For 40RMB or 7$  you can go to Longyeng road and a convienient metro stop in about 8 minutes instead of the hour plus metro ride or even longer cab ride due to the traffic. 

The Maglev is a high speed train that goes up to 500km/hour.  It was a first time experience and I would happily do it again.  Feeds my need for speed! 

FYI... when going that fast it is really difficult to take a clear pict of the actual speed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wenshu Monastery... by day

A few weeks ago one of our local staff treated us to a vegetarian dinner and tea tasting down in Wenshu near the monastery.  We had such a great time that we decided to go in the daylight to see it all. 

There was no entrance fee to get into the area but it is an active monastery for practicing Buddhists so if you go be respectful.  Be quiet and don't take pictures in the temples. 

We got to witness one of their ceremonies today.  Obviously it was all in Chinese but basically they went from one area to another saying their prayers I guess and burning incense in the different areas that have shrines set up for different buddhas.

Chinese street markets

Roaming the streets of Chengdu... allows for some secret treasures to be found.

A friend and I took the bus down to Wenshu Monastery (where we had the vegetarian dinner a few weeks ago) to explore in the daylight.  Outside the monastery are all of these side streets filled with little kiosks selling everything from prayer beads to childrens toys... to good luck charms and clothing. 

Seldom do I purchase anything unless I have my local learning partner with me to assist with the price, but I enjoy browsing or "window" shopping.  Today was no different... didn't buy a single item but spent a lot of time perusing the wares!

Whatcha brewing?

While roaming through the tea section at the market today... I discovered something that I thought looked interesting and that I needed to try. 

So for 10.90RMB I bought this bag of individual sachets labeled "flowers story".  With red being my favorite color... I choose this bag to try even though they had many others to choose from. 

Random guess but I think each color represents a different flower that are inside the sachets. 

So I took a packet to work this evening... dumped the sachet in my bottle and added hot water.  I think there were chrysanthemums...dried plums...rose tea... and sugar cubes in the sachet.  Once it steeped... it was quite tasty to drink. 

Just a word to the wise... when drinking a loose mixture like the above mentioned... it is really nice to have a filter or strainer on your drinking bottle!

Who comes up with these names

This is a dragon fruit.

I have no clue where the name came from or the history behind this fruit.  Oddly... I don't even know how it grows.  But I see my learning partners eating it in the treehouse quite often and they use it as a cake topping.... so I thought I needed to try it.

So for about 6 RMB.... or a little less than 1$ I picked one up at the market.  The outside is kind of soft and an interesting purplish pink.  It is easy to cut into and sweet to the taste.

I like it!  You should try it!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Positive precious moments

Yes... I realize that it is Monday in the US at the moment but it is the end of my official work it is my friday. ( I work Thursday through Monday... and my weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday.) 

I have made some decisions today after a couple of frustrating and taxing weeks at work....

1. I am going to count my blessings and look on the bright side even when things get a bit crazy...
2. Along those lines I am not going to listen to the negativity and I am going to encourage those around me to speak positive encouraging words ...
3.I am here to invest in these children and I am going to spend my time and energy loving on them and building relationships with them and their families (because people are the only thing that have eternal value!)...
4.  We are not promised tomorrow... so I am going to take every opportunity to enjoy where I currently am.

I know I am very limited to what I can say here but I want to thank those like minded friends that post encouraging messages on fb feeds or send uplifting quotes or stand in the gap for me.  You will never truly onow how much I appreciate your lovingkindness and even though you are a half a world away.... I am encouraged to have you in my life!

On a side note... my tickets to Shanghai are booked for next week and I am so looking forward to a weekend getaway and checking a couple more items off my birthday bucket list.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Walking through bamboo

Before moving to Chengdu I saw this amazing picture on Pinterest of this bamboo lined pathway in China.  Of course I pinned it thinking... that would be fun to see and walk through. 

Imagine my surprise when in some of my random wanderings lately... I discovered it just a couple of kilometers from my apartment.  Still surreal that these place do exist and they are so close to where I live!

More adventures to come soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Under the sea

Life is much better... down where its wetter... under the sea!

About a hour and a half bus ride from my apartment is a little area known as Polar Ocean World where you can spend some time with the fishies and other water loving creatures!

Braving over cast... rainy weather,.. Helen and I boarded city bus 801 to explore.  We got there just in time to see the dolphin and beluga whale show.  The excitement in the dolphin pool before they were about to go on was hilarious to watch!

We then walked around to all the other areas watching the animals play or take naps.  These creatures are magnificient and to see them up close is amazing!  I think I could sit and watch sea life... especially the turtles... swim through the water all day. Reminds me of Hawaii!

Monday, June 1, 2015

An Avenger kind of day

Working for Disney... there are definitely perks!

One is events in local shopping center where we partner with other parts of the company for the "greater good".  Today all staff were asked to go to Raffles to celebrate Children's day with Marvel and the other Disney English center... which means for a couple of hours we invite children to particpate in learning activites and songs on stage.  We also get to hang out with other foreign and local staff that work for Disney!

Another perk is providing us with attire to match the recent movies.  China only allows so many foreign movies to come in each year so when a movie is allowed in ... it is definitely marketed well!  So instead of our normal uniforms... we were able to wear jeans, tennis shoes, and our new black Avenger shirt featuring Iron Man today to the event as well as to classes this evening.  We also have a white Avengers shirt featuring Captain America.

The third perk of the day is a movie ticket to see the featured movie.  We were given a ticket to see Avengers a week or so ago so after work today a couple of our local staff graciously assisted us in finding an English showing and a nearby theatre.  (Oh the joys of living in a foreign land!)  Six of us hailed cabs and went to a 10pm showing.  Enjoyed the movie but I don't think it translated into Chinese very well.  During certain funny parts... like the reproducing Catholic rabbits comment... the only people in the whole theater laughing were the 4 foreigners...which made it even more comical!

Now it is 1am and I am officially done ...and curled up in bed posting picts of  the days adventures of trying to live intentionally in Middle Kingdom!  Tomorrow... my day off... so stay tuned for more great adventures...