Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

(Touching the Dragon Gate for Prosperity)

I took a few days off from work and headed back to the province I was born in, Kunming! It was a busy few days where I didn’t get much rest and was busy from sun up to down. I was able to do a lot, met up with some connections and friends and went back to my orphanage. The night before and the whole drive going to my orphanage I was quite nervous which really surprised me.

China is such a diverse and beautiful place and I was excited to go back and explore. Yunnan has stunning nature, views and I already want to go back to spend more time hiking away from the borders of the cities.

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An Adopted Chinese American in Shanghai

You would think and Chinese in China would blend in. Think again! Not everyday, but whenever I meet new people or a stranger strikes up a conversation, it is naturally brought up that I was adopted. Despite my face as they point out, I am American and don’t speak Chinese. I wasn’t an American Born Chinese (ABC) yet I look and am Chinese. Next week I will be heading back to the province, Kunming where I was born to travel and visit my orphanage and wanted to write this post about living in China as an adult adoptee.

Everyone’s reaction has been very positive and it explains why my face is Chinese but the rest of me isn’t quite. From taxi drivers where I have explained it over a translation app, most reactions are understanding or saying something like “very good” and that “I’m lucky.” A new coworker even thought I was joking at first when I said I didn’t speak Chinese and complimented me on my English accent. Shanghai is such a metropolitan city where people from all over China come to work and live.

As the hundreds of thousands of girls adopted from China grow up, I have a feeling that more will want to live in the country they were born in. Shanghai is its own world compared to the rest of China and for me the perfect hub and home base. I will be here at least two more years and there is so much more to discover.

I love China and am looking forward to exploring more of it. It is such a diverse country rich in history and stunning landscapes. I love the contrasts between polite/direct, modern/history, tradition and so on. I am nervous but mostly excited for my trip next week! I haven’t been back since I was 10 and looking forward to it a lot. I have no idea what will happen, how I will feel or what I will learn. It’s going to be an adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you when I’m back πŸ™‚

-Kaila

24 Hours in Beijing and A Book

So I went to Beijing for 24 hours to meet Cass and have some fun before she went back to the States! I miss her already. We had the best time. Between Shanghai and Beijing, she went back to her hometown and had a profound and beautiful experience. It was great to meet her post her trip, talk about it and just have fun running around Beijing. I loved going to the wall with all the verdant and luscious greenery compared to the cold temperatures I experienced in February. Ps. I used “verdant” because it was one of classes vocabulary words. We can all expand our vocabulary!

We got to Beijing around 2, dropped our stuff at our hotel and hiked up to the park. It’s such a nice view up at the park to look down at!

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon in Beijing.

We dropped by Wangfujing Snack Street. Unfortunately half of the vendors were closed because they are doing remodeling.

My favorite snack! Duck pancakes. The street usually is crowded with scorpions, fried bugs and so much more food. Thank goodness the duck wraps weren’t on hold for the remodeling.

After this we went for manicures then attempted to go see the Olympic Birds Nest Stadium lit up at night. However, there was a huge event going on and we couldn’t get in vicinity of the Olympic Park area. Next time!

This is how you do the Great Wall with no one else crowding you. We had our hotel arrange us a driver, got up at 5:30am and drove 1.5 hours to the Mutianyu section for the opening at 7:30. This is the less crowded section and by the time we made it down at 10, there were all ready swarms of groups heading up.

I highly recommend taking the gondola up. That way you can walk downhill (mostly) on the walk to the area where you can either take the chairlift or toboggan down. Obviously I recommend the toboggan because it’s so fun! We headed back to Beijing and went straight to the Forbidden City which was 2 minutes walk away from our hotel!

We both were here together with our families in 2004 and are back together in 2019. Cass said that the two times she has been back to China has been with me! So special.

Last time I was in Beijing I didn’t have tickets to go inside the palace. They limit the daily amount of people to 80,000 and you can buy them in advance online 10 days before. We had tickets for the prior day but didn’t make it in time and fortunately were able to snag some tickets on the spot.

Best 20rmb I’ve spent! I got these two headbands for us and we became quite the attraction.

We also met some Spanish guys, traded hats around and spent the rest of the day exploring the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Beijing before I dashed off to catch my train and head back to Shanghai.

AND I also finally read the book “Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See and loved it. I couldn’t put it down and finished it on the train. SO GOOD. It gave me such perspective on Shanghai and it is a beautiful story of family, love, tragedy and immigration. Mostly it is a story about people and trying to do what’s right in the moment.

I’ve started another one of her books, “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.”

Shanghai Life Lately!

Well folks, life is back to my normal non-tour guide self. I would say it’s less busy…but it’s not, it’s just more routine than bopping around Shanghai. The next day after I sent my mom back home, my friend Josie from Germany stopped by on a layover to Australia! I showed her a quick glimpse of Shanghai and we sat around the Starbucks reserve reminiscing about our days in Malaysia. Can’t believe it’s been six years since we lived there!

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Sheryl in Shanghai Part I

Well, this is one of the first few extended moments I’ve had to sit down and do some writing on what I’ve been up to since my mom arrived last week! It’s really been a whirlwind and I give her major props for keeping up the the crazy long days and excursions I’ve planned. I met my mom at the airport, shuttled her back to my apartment and told her to pack for the next day! What a trooper. I wonder where I get my go go go attitude and lifestyle…..for those of you that don’t know me that’s a joke. I got it from my mom, the original energizer bunny.

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Beautiful Beijing Part II

This was by far my favorite part of the trip and an experience I will treasure for some time to come! It was so special! I’ve been to other parts of the Great Wall and this one was the most special. Not to mention that it was lightly snowing with ominous clouds that added to the beautiful morning. You take the cable car up the wall and can walk the section before either taking a chairlift down or as we opted, a toboggan! I really enjoyed this day so much and it’s part of what makes Beijing and China so special.

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Beautiful Beijing Part I

Happy Chinese New Year! For three days of my break, I went to Beijing with two friends and had a great time in the freezing cold! We visited all the tourist spots, had delicious food and the highlight was going to the Great Wall! I have been to different sections of the wall and this without doubt the best one so far! Loved it. This post is broken into three parts because even though I was only there for three days, a lot happened!

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The New and Latest from Shanghai

Life lately has been a lot of the same with teaching and my daily routines here. There is something so lovely about a routine! My semester is wrapping up before Chinese New Year. I will have two intensive sessions in February before the new semester starts in March. I am so proud of all my students and every single one of them has made so much progress in English and coming into their adorable personalities. Last week I was told that I am now a real chinese person because my hair is black. They are the funniest little humans. So here’s to the old, new and exciting plans for the future!

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Where Have I Been: Vietnam 2015

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β€œAdventure is worthwhile.”

– Aesop

As a break draws closer (Thanksgiving break can’t come soon enough!), I wanted to reflect on a trip that I took almost a year ago to Vietnam. I was hired as an adult adoptee mentor for a travel group that takes adoptees and their families back to their birth countries. As an adoptee myself who has gone back to China, it was a very moving experience where I learned a lot. While a large part of the trip didn’t go as I planned or expected, that’s part of life; learning to accept yourself, adapt to unexpected situations and learn from every experience.

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