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.”

Showing Off Shanghai

The Olson twins have taken Shanghai these last few days! Okay so we aren’t actually twins, but I just had my friend from the states come visit and was determined to show her Shanghai’s best. We have known each other since we were wee little things, grew up in the same neighborhood in Denver and went back to China with our families in 2004! It was so much fun to have her in town and she is off for the next few days traveling before we meet in Beijing next week for more Olson twin fun. The best part about having visitors is that you get to see where you live through fresh eyes. There is no rest for the wicked and everyday she pretty much fell asleep within minutes of the head hitting the pillow. I like to keep my friends busy and on the go go go!

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Twas’ The Night Before Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year in Shanghai feels like Christmas back in the States. The spirit is in the air with decorations everywhere, little pig souvenirs and gold charms being sold in all the little shops. Chinese New Year is THE holiday of the year in China where almost the entire country has time off and goes back to their hometowns to visit family and celebrate. Shanghai is about to be a ghost town and the kids are officially all on their holidays either traveling outside of China or within. I officially kicked off the holidays by going to the famous Yuyuan Gardens with two friends to look at the beautiful lights, eat some yummy food and soak in the holiday spirit.

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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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Nadine .L

People come in and out of lives and I am so thankful that Nadine and I both serendipitously both ended back in China. We first met in Malaysia six years ago when we were both living there for a year. We shared our challenges living in a new country, laughed at the funny cultural idiosyncrasies and ate all the food. Six years later and not much has changed! Nadine is finishing an internship in Kunshan which is a city only a train ride away from Shanghai. We have shared several weekends together running around Shanghai, ordering food from the comfort of my apartment and exchanging hilarious stickers on WeChat. My mom always encouraged me to be friends with redheads so there you go mom! Nadine is a German beauty who has traveled the world and is finishing her undergraduate studies in business before pursuing her masters. The other weekend I sat down with her and interviewed her about all the adventures she has had and all those to come.

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I’ve Got (Holiday) Spirit, How About You?

Happy Holidays! Did Thanksgiving even happen? The Christmas spirit is here and thriving in Shanghai through excessively decorated malls, bright lights and consumerism. The holidays can often be a tough time for everyone no matter who they are or where they are in the world. Ive been doing lots of fun things to celebrate including going to a German Christmas market with the girls, decorating gingerbread houses with coworkers at my apartment and happily accepting the chocolate presents my students are giving me. Shanghai is very festive this time of the year and I am loving it!

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A Canadian in Shanghai: Interview with Andranik .A

One quality that I really appreciate in a person is the ability to unapolagetically be yourself. And that is exactly what and who Andranik is. I first met Andranik four months ago when I moved to Shanghai and he is a colleague and someone I am happy to now call a friend. Besides fully and always being himself, he is a great conversationalist, gym enthusiast and can give the blue steel look just as good as any model. We love exchanging stories about our very fabulous and hilarious students throughout the day and searching for the best salad places in Shanghai in our off time. I asked if he would want me to take some professional and fun photos for him and we turned it into a morning of laughs, lunch and of course good lighting. After our photo shoot around Shanghai, we sat down over salads and rice bowls and talked life and all things Andranik.

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Happy Thanksgiving From Shanghai!

Happy Thanksgiving from Shanghai! Life lately has been a lot of fun, very busy writing midterm reports and of course funny because what is life without humor. A few days ago I was at a museum with a friend and sat down only to be bombarded by Australian high school students who after learning that I was American proceeded to interrogate me about the news. “What do you think of Donald Trump and gun control” was the first thing out of their mouth. Nice to meet you guys too! It was actually a very interesting conversation. They were on a six week trip, spending two weeks in China and then the other four in Israel as they went to a Jewish prep school in Australia.

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Connections and Connecting in Shanghai

“The quality of our lives depend on the quality of our relationships.” -Esther Perel

Lately I have been focusing on the different relationships in my lives including with myself, friends, family, colleagues, students and the new people I meet everyday in Shanghai. Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who is most known for writing about intimate relationships in her best selling novels, TED talk and podcast that I have started listening to. She is so in-tune with relationship dynamics and I continue to listen to her podcast which is groundbreaking in its approach and look into different relationships and the complex elements that life brings.

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Book Review: Carry On, Warrior

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“Life is Brutiful.”

I am not sure how I stumbled across the brilliant human that is Glennon Doyle Melton, however I know that my life has changed because of the words of this wise and wonderful woman. I know that I first watched her TED talk titled “Lessons from the Mental Hospital” and absolutely loved it. She is honest, real, hilarious and is one of those people you know that the world is better because of. She talks about being honest, leaving our shame at the door and how sharing our secrets and stories to the world is what possibly may change it forever. She is perhaps known best for starting her blog, momestary, which turned into a book Carry On, Warrior and it’s sequel that is on my list, Love Warrior. #IWantToBeGlennonWhenIGrowUp

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