My China Round Up

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So where do I begin? This is a damn good question. I cannot believe where time has gone. A year ago, I was heading into the unknown and I have been living the “expect the unexpected” life ever since.

What can I say about my year in China? From its ups and downs, to its drunk, happy, sad times, the surprise visit from my mom, to one of the highlights of my year – going to the Great Wall of China! Sitting there in peace, it was a dream come true and I loved every minute of it!.

In life we will experience many things and China living this expat life, these things seem to happen so fast. From making fast friends who become your family, adapting to new traditions and making a home for yourself.

Life is so easy and cheap once you manage to put your blinkers on and not be too fussed by the racism if you of a darker skin tone( not something I often ignore considering where I come from). The staring, the spitting, the yelling, the full buses and bad taxis and bus drivers. Once you master the art of ignoring those things, you will fit right in. Saying Ni hao (hello) and Xiexie( thank you) will come out so naturally while the Chinese yell laowai (foreigner).

When forced to deal with so many cultural differences you are forced to gain a lot of patience and overcome many challenges. I am still deadly afraid of groups of Chinese people. I like individuals lol. Do not travel around China during any festival or national holiday, get out of the country, you will thank me later!

I have grown into the confident young woman I am today and see myself living my dream each day. I take my hat off to all teachers across the world now, having wet my fingers in the teaching pool. It’s a hard job. I thank every teacher and lecturer that has ever taught me; I now know what a hard time it is to be a teacher. If you have that passion to teach and shape minds of the young people, it can be one of the most rewarding jobs ever.

I know each child I taught may not remember me in a few years. Knowing I had a chance to help them improve in some small way, makes putting up with China and the small nuances I didn’t like, bearable.

I have tested myself in so many ways. I can now confidently say I like young kids. A few months ago I wasn’t so sure if I could do this but now the pressure is off and I am as silly as 3-year-old. I have improved as a teacher and I managed to travel. My dream was accomplished by lots of perseverance and hard work. I cannot forget all the support and love from my Chinese sisters and my South African sister, bestie and friend. Without her being with me along the way, I don’t know how I would have managed. So Stacey, if you are reading this, a thousand times Thank You!!

If you are at at a crossroads and weighing up future options…. I highly recommend that you travel and just see the world. Even if it’s for a short stay, you don’t need buckets of money and you don’t need any excuses. My advice is do it and do it now!!

Here are a few of my round up China pictures from Hangzhou where I lived, my trip to Beijing and Suzhou and bits of Shanghai when my mom came to China Town!

Peace love and Happiness

xxx

Cherry ♥

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The real reason I came to China.

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The first question you get asked when you mention you planning on moving to China… why China??? That’s probably the most asked question I got before coming here and don’t get me started when you get off the plane that’s still the FAQ of the moment. I kept feeding everyone the same line China chose me because in retrospect I didn’t have an answer that made sense well at least to me.

I ‘m a victim of asking that questions too while making small talk with every tom dick and harry foreigner you meet along the way at some point you get so bored of having the same conversations. Why China what’s your plans for after China blalblala….That I would churn out my auto reply like that annoying voice recorded prompts you hear when making that very important phone call. When all you want to do is speak to a person, not a voice recording on a machine.

For awhile I just got bored of going out and saying the same thing on repeat those questions didn’t mean anything to me anymore.  I then realised that that is all we have in common, China and that was the initial small talk to get to know someone.

When it dawned on me, it wasn’t the questions I was bored of it was the answer I was afraid of.  I met this guy in my second month here in Shanghai the first time I went.( we still friends today shocker I know lol)

He has been in China for almost3 years and has met dozens of people those that stay temporary and those a  little longer, and he said and I quote:”everyone is running away from something.”

That made me wonder is this true??? Am I running away from something…. I mean I had a great life back home nothing I needed “to so call” run away from. Then I realised I wasn’t running away from something but more like searching for answers. As if relocating to a foreign country would answer the question I so longingly needed answers too. Like what am I doing with my life ??

Instead, the answers I seek wasn’t as clear as I thought It would be. Through my almost one year away from home, I learned so much about myself but have I learnt what I want to do with my life NO THE ANSWER IS STILL NO.

So on my quest to figure this thing called my life out and what I am meant to do with it is still pretty much exactly the same as a year ago. Only this time;  I did find my answer just not in the form I expected it oh how life throughs you curve balls.

My answer is it’s ok not to know or not to have a clear idea.  For the first time in my life, I’m ok with not knowing what my future has in store for me. Don’t get me wrong don’t let the fact that you don’t know stop you from having goals and doing things that you love to do. It’s very rare that people have things figured out even if they look like they do most of the time they don’t, but that doesn’t change who they are, they still good people. You don’t need a career to define who you are, or money in the bank or even to have travelled the world to define who you are. You need to be happy, learn who you, trust God and depend on him with every belief in your soul and the journey you will take will be a story worth telling.

My point is everyone is always searching for things to define them, but the true answer is you need to know yourself. You are capable of doing so much more than we think.

We always our number one critic, and I want to change that and become my number one fan.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Travel Diary – Sanya Hainan

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Like they say rather late than never… Let me dive right in with no further ado.

In December Stacey and I decided to head on down to Sanya the Chinese Hawaii as they like to call it. Us being Cape Town girls where December time is all about beaching, cocktails and festive season madness, being trapped in winter where it’s more freezing than we ever experienced in our lives was not ideal.

So off to warmer pastures we went.  We arrived on New Years Eve; it was so nice to pack lite, ditch the coats and thermals for a few days in the sun. We arrived, and we didn’t expect Thailand or anything, but we got a beach town run by Chinese and Russians so wired.

We stayed in a crappy hotel but it was cheap ( you get what you pay for in China.) we explored the area surrounding our hotel the downtown area with the locals. Even though our hotel wasn’t  anything fancy it was cool to get, that real Chinese beach town feel with the locals.

For NYE, we headed down to the bar street on a motorcycle taxi Picture this: driver Stacey and me all on one motorcycle… when in Sanya lol Weaving through traffic and hoping we were not  going to die before seeing the new year….fun times indeed.

The bar street was filled with clubs and bars and people everywhere. Everything was jam packed with people. We found a bar with live music which wasn’t too crowded sat at the bar and reminisced about our mad 2013 NYE in Thailand. Another island but a lot  calmer. We bar hopped to a few places but everything was too full so we couldn’t enjoy ourselves. Hopped on another motorcycle taxi back to our crack den of a hotel ( ok it wasn’t that bad lol) Found a street food vendor next door and sat on wooden benches eating noodles and drinking beers just embracing the moment filled with Chinese people it was the highlight of the evening one we will never forget.

The next day we headed to the beach and lounged around for the day it was a good day in the sun. Ate some really good seafood at the food market.

Day 3 we were real Chinese went to Yoda rainforest with a Chinese tour group the entire tour was in Chinese lol. Luckily we had a lady that stayed at our hotel from Singapore, who manged to translate the important bits for us. The rainforest was beautiful, and we did the longest zip line in Asia.

Day 4 was my Birthday we woke up and decided to ditch the crazy Hotel and head to Yalong bay the resort or part of the island and live in Luxury for the day and one night before heading back to the cold. The resort we stayed in Cactus by Gloria was a so beautiful, pool, loungers and hammocks around the pool area along with a private beach. Unfortunately Stacey was ill too much sun, so I explored the beach watched the sunset, and the hotel surprised me with a birthday cake. After a good nights rest in the softest hotel bed, it was time to head out of paradise and back to reality. Happy New Year and Happy Birthdays aside.

It was time to face the new year head on.

More travel posts coming soon!!

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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A Chinese Christmas

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Being an expat and living in China of all country’s being away from home is always hard but especially hard over the holiday season. It was my second Christmas away from home and never gets easier. At least this Christmas trumps last years by an extremely large margin we actually had a semi decent Christmas lunch compared to last year’s shopping trip and random dinner in Bangkok.

Christmas Eve Stacey and I decided to have a girly day get our nails toes and hair done get random last minute bits and bobs and go to church. Yes, you read right go to Church in China. After a long day of pampering, shopping and sushi eating we went on a scavenger hunt to find a church. We were determined to try at least. After walking a few blocks and hoping, we were in the right street to get to the church on time. We literally saw a bright light and a cross on a building indicating church on the horizon.

We hurriedly rushed over a busy street excited because we had made it only to get to a beautifully lit up Church with many people rushing in to get seated. Only to find out that the service was in Chinese. We were disappointed and tried to ask people if they had any idea if there was going to be an English service anytime soon. One lady with limited English told us about another church down the road a Catholic cathedral. We rushed down the street and found it, but it was all in Chinese too. There were tons of people hovering around taking pictures in true Chinese style.

We then spoke to a guy who said there would be an English service in 30 minutes, so we waited around watching all these Chinese people keep coming. It was very refreshing to see so many Chinese people are Christian. Even though I could not understand what they were saying just being in the presence of fellow worshipers was enough having that moment was enough it was amazing to see. The English service did not come and we hung around for a few more minutes before deciding to leave.

We then headed home wrapped gifts and went to a Christmas party hosted by our colleagues. It was nice to be around so many people going through the same thing as us and having a family away from home made it easier.
On Christmas day our school hosted all of us at the Shangri La Hotel it was an awesome lunch, doesn’t beat home but it was better than nothing that’s for sure. After lunch, we all decided to take a walk around the Lake it was absolutely beautiful and great because I have not seen that side of the lake before.

We then went to a restaurant bar place called Eudora and chilled there for the rest of the afternoon chatting to other teachers from the other schools having a few drinks and feeling very merry. It was good day filled with laughs missing home skype calls and making new friends. Defiantly a Christmas away from Home not to be forgotten.

I hope you all had great family time over Christmas and enjoying some down time. As I write this, I am packing and so excited to be making my way to some warmer pastures. We leave tomorrow for Sanya in Hainan a beautiful Island on in the South of China.We will be spending a few days there, and I get to spend my Birthday in some sun before coming back to the cold.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and may 2015 be ten times better than 2014!!! My motto for 2014 was Make it happen, and I sure did. Every year I try to have a motto to live by for the year and not knowing what 2015 has in store for me I thought of Expect the Unexpected was rather fitting for my New Year Motto.

Have a blessed safe time and I will fill you all in on NEW Years Adventures as soon as I get back from my trip.

Happy New Year

Cherry ♥

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Tis the Season to be Jolly!

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Wow, another Christmas away from home. I remember last year I was on my way to Thailand getting ready for a trip that completely changed my life. If I had known that, that trip would have had the snowball effect of events that it has had for me this year I am not sure I would have believed it.

I am here in China been for almost four months now and still going strong. Life has been good to me since I started to let go of the negative thoughts and start living in the moment. I finally feel settled in with School teaching life. We took a short trip Shanghai earlier this month, and it was just what the doctor ordered. I needed to remind myself why I was in China to live out my passion for travel meeting new people and just enjoying life and learning from others.

With Christmas on our doorstep, it’s strange to be away from home but we have had so many festivities to keep us busy that it has made it easier to be away.

We hosted our Christmas Party last Sunday, and it was so much fun for the kids. We even did a Nativity play, and I was a wise man. Who would have thought I would be singing Christmas carols to kids and dancing on a stage and performing a nativity play in China. (This is my life now.)

I am happy right now the friends I have made so far are awesome the long conversations of intellectual nothingness at times have been well fascinating and fun. The crazy nights out and the random slang we pick up all adding to my Chinese experience.

I am looking forward to Christmas this year Christmas Eve I am trying to find a church for a Christmas service as I do really miss going to Church. Then we have Christmas party with other teachers and on Christmas Day our school has paid for a Christmas lunch for us at a fancy Hotel, so we get to experience a real Christmas after all.
I received the best Christmas/ Birthday present ever my Moma Bear aka my Mom is coming to visit me early next month. I cannot contain my excitement. Cannot wait to show her this crazy world called China.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and may this time be spent with your family and loved ones and show some love to all those around you. I will leave you all with some of my festive pictures from our Christmas party the other night.
Have an awesome festive season, and I say this all the time and I will try my best to post regularly.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Off to the Amusement Park we Go!

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Last week a group of teachers local and foreign decided to go the Hangzhou amusement park. Waking up early and heading out on an adventure was just what I needed as I sill feel like such a foreigner in this city.

The journey took us a bus ride in peak time, and a train ride later taking us about an hour to get to the area where the amusement park is.We then had to navigate ourselves to the actual park. Walking to the bus stop, a women convinced us to go with her, she had a van and would take us for the same price of as a bus. We all agreed and got lead to a dodgy looking van like we were about to get Kidnapped Lol Jokes aside we arrived alive…

With very little idea of what to expect we were all excited to get in and see what this place was all about.Since its October and the month of Halloween, the park was decorated in a Halloween theme. They had actors dressed like zombies scaring people and doing random flash mobs from time to time.

The first ride we went on was the Rollercoaster it’s not very big and its very quick. It was fun, but you move around a lot and can be very painful. The rides in the park are very mediocre. Nothing too crazy and even our Rangtanga Junction back home in Cape Town can beat this place, but it was fun to see and experience and be out with friends.

One thing that’s for sure is Chinese People get scared so quickly.There is a haunted house in the park, but it’s a dark house with a few rooms you walk around in with a few scary props here and there. It was so silly not scary at all, and our Chinese friends that were with us were so scared it was crazy a real good laugh.

If you have been to any other amusement park, you will really laugh at this one it is very lame. I enjoyed being out and having to see it and go on all the rides reminded me of being kid again.

I would say this place is to be enjoyed in a group so you can maximize your fun, but I wouldn’t recommend going if you alone. It was a fun day out and especially working the way we do in the week when it comes to down time we need to let our hair down and have some fun.

So overall I enjoyed the day out but will give Hangzhou Paradise a 4/10 based on rides and entertainment value.

Let me know the best amusement park you have ever been too in the comments. Hope you all are well and welcome to all my new subscribers Thank you for joining my adventures in China and who knows where else I may end up….

Peace love and Happiness

 

Cherry ♥

 

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Travel Diary -Shanghai the Chinese NYC

 

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Luckily for us we arrived In China around the right time to cash in on the National Holidays we got five days off. ( screaming inside thank you lord) So we had decided to make the most of these days as we don’t know when we would get a holiday again for a very long time. Since Shanghai is an hour away it only made sense for us to go and explore.

We took the bullet train from Hangzhou that took an hour and 10 minutes it was better than flying. The legroom was amazing, and the seats go far back that you feel like you can sleep comfortably. Minus a family who were up and down next to me the journey to Shanghai was a smooth one. A highly recommended experience.

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Using the metro/subway system to get around is very simple we navigated our way to our hotel using nothing but trains, and our hotel was 5 minute walk from the station. We stayed at a place called the Ibis Hotel. It wasn’t anything too fancy, but it was cheap and perfect for us.
That evening we decided to get dressed up and go to Nanjing road this road is the popular road we were told about.

We didn’t realise how popular until we got there it felt like a street carnival so many people it was crazy. So many shops I could not count. We found a Market area that sold cool things and you can literally barter your goods for next to nothing. Spent way too much money way too quickly.

We walked the entire strip about 5 km of hundreds of people millions of shops and bright lights. It was intense but loved it. Eventually, our feet ached from walking, and the crowds got annoying and all we wanted was good food and drink in a vibey place. Not knowing where to go was tough because all the bars are scattered around the city. Eventually, it got very late, and we could not deal with it anymore walking so we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

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Now being a tourist in a city like this I warn you to be smart because Taxi drivers will rob you with cab fare. One Taxi driver wanted to charge us 100RMB to take us about 3 km. After arguing and joking with him because, we knew it was a ludicrous amount he then told us he will take us for less and wanted to put us into a van that wasn’t his…. Laughing we walked quickly away. (we have all seen the movie taken right.)

The next day we went shopping at the market place again got some good deals and random items. Then met up with a friend of mine from Cape Town, who is also teaching in Shanghai. It was so awesome to see her and listen to how China has been treating her. The best thing about meeting other people is knowing that we are going through the same thing. We met her housemate Zee an Indian Muslim Scottish guy lol, needless to say; his accent didn’t match his look at all. He was cool we went to this hand pulled noodle bar with them for lunch it was so good and so cheap.

They live near a beautiful park called Zhongshan Park, and we wandered the park for a while meandering along the paths watching people having fun. So many people were out enjoying the sun flying kites, picnicking on the grass music going, people singing and dancing it was a feast for the eyes. I could imagine myself living in this city and running away from hustle and bustle in this park a little secret garden in the midst of the madness.

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That evening we met up with two work colleagues who came to Shanghai. We met for dinner and wanted to do some night tour of the Pearl Tower and river cruise. When we arrived, it had closed, so we decided to do it the next day. We found the worst place for food ever some Chinese diner place near the Pearl. So with setback after another it looked like the night was off to a bumpy start followed by another scavenger hunt for a bar that took about two trains and it felt like an hour of walking. Eventually, we made it to the bar, and they had decent western food, and the prices were ok. (Light at the end of the tunnel.) In China, we have come to realise in order to remain sane we need celebrate small victories every time.

The next day we headed out again the beauty of the metro is it makes it so easy to travel around without spending an exorbitant amount on Taxi fare.Trying to explain to a taxi driver where we were going when we weren’t sure ourselves could have been an expensive setback.
We went to see Jing’an Temple a temple in the middle of the city. It was so strange to have this beautiful ancient temple in the middle of high skyscrapers and shops. It felt very odd I guess this what China means by new meets old lol. We then spent the afternoon at Century Park bigger than Zhongshan Park and in my opinion not has beautiful. It was once again buzzing with people. I have never seen so many people in a park cycling, picnicking, and just having fun. We even managed to catch a few weddings too. We walked around had Ice-cream enjoyed the sun while people watching.

Then we headed off to the Pearl Tower along with the rest of China. After being disappointed the night before, we got there earlier not knowing that the rest of China had the same idea. When we got to the front to buy tickets, we got hit with the sad news of a 3-4 hour wait because they were so busy. So we left feeling defeated by Shanghai what more could go wrong seriously.

We left on what felt like search 500 for a bar with a vibe awesome food and people. Everyone told us about this place called Paris and we were determined to find it since it was our last night in this city. We got off the metro and started walking, and we found a bar café that looked amazing Unas Pizza I think it was called it was a breath of fresh air. Since we concluded the Chinese food in Shanghai is bad, or atleast the places we had tried was bad. This place was awesome reminded me of a bar restaurant I would have gone to back home. The food was awesome the burger I had tasted real, and the price was right.

After dinner and feeling sleepy they quest to find Paris continued. We then took the last train before they closed at 11pm got off at a place that seemed like the dodgy part of town. Now not knowing which direction to walk we then got a taxi that dropped us off and to our surprise our wild goose chase for a place called Paris was actually called Perry’s. When we realised this, we all just burst out laughing, and we were determined to have a good night. Thank you Perry’s for not disappointing. I will recommend this place its cheap buzzing full of foreigners and locals. The music is good it is just a great party without being too fancy just what Stacey and I were looking for to end our trip on a good note. We met so many interesting people from all over the world.

So after setback after setback and not giving up on Shanghai you are a city that will never be forgotten. Even after spending way too much money, walking way too far and dealing with far too many people, it is not a place for the faint hearted.Shanghai is one beautiful city with an unmistakably unique skyline and a vibe I cannot put into words this city can suck you in. (Fyi if you plan to visit do not go over the national holiday there are just too many people to enjoy the touristy things.) Shanghai we will be back….

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥.

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