Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Other resourceful things I have been up to...

I label this resourceful as I do think you tend to be more resourceful here than at home...if you want certain things, you can't just go to Target and be done. You definitely have to keep your eyes open and look for options, and I am finding in many cases, they are there!

I have a new friend here, ni de pengyou. (my friend) Its a guy that on Saturdays, sets up his "shop" on the sidewalk about 2 blocks away from our house. there are always people selling things - toys, umbrellas, jewelry, movies, purses, junk, and more junk..but this guy...he is my friend. He sells MAGAZINES! yes, you read that right. I don't quite know where they come from? I don't ask...I just buy. you never know what he may have and sometimes there isnt much, but typically I can find something. Last week was a good haul: Vogue, Allure, Travel and Leisure and Redbook. I can get them for about $3usd, they are new, current issues and all wrapped in plastic. Honestly, they must come from some of the local stores that sell foreign magazines, but maybe they are stolen? or the stores figure they won't be able to sell them as they charge between $8 and $15 usd per magazine? I dont really care, I just am glad I can pick up a few to have for the week, as I take them to whatever kids activity to have something to flip through, or when I am in the car for longer than 20 min or so...something to do. Anyway, he is a nice guy, doesnt speak much english at all, but he loves to tell me his is my friend and he give me best friend price, only for me. of course.

Step away from the Kindle....

For Mother's day, I got a Kindle. If you don't know what a Kindle can check it out here...I could take a picture and post, but then I know I would never get this updated!

I had resisted this purchase, analyzing it last year before we moved overseas. I just couldn't get my head around not holding a real book..but a little computerized like screen. Practicality won out though, as here it is really hard to find books....there are a few stores with english books but they are normally really weak on selection and really expensive. Example might be a Danielle Steel book from 2 years ago for about $35USD! No, I dont think so!

So, I gave in. You can't use it quite as intended - it has a wireless option you can use in the states that you can even shop for books via your kindle, linked direct to Amazon, and do instant downloads. That doesnt work overseas, but it is quite easy to look on, order, download to your laptop and then use the usb to transfer - it takes less than a minute so quite fast. So the good news is, I have read 4 books in the last 2 wks...the bad news is I now love to browse amazon so I can see what other books I need to buy! They run about $9.99 each, which isnt SUPER $, but I would feel better if it was say....$6.99 each? something about it being $10 makes me I get this or not? Psychological, I guess. ARE YOU READING THIS AMAZON? 6.99??? good price point! Anyway, I highly recommend it if you think you will be unable to acccess books for some reason, or if you have a lot of travel - how nice to download a few books and take this on the place vs lugging a bunch of heavy books!

Oh..and do I like it better than a real book? not sure. I kind of miss holding the book, its still a little strange, but for my purposes, I think it was a good purchase!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

All dressed up and nowhere to go...

these costumes were quite popular in yangshuo...we thought they looked Russian but no, I guess not. Connor was a sport, as always....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Last weekend we flew to southern china to a town called Yangshuo. They are known for their beautiful rivers and karst mountains. It was really very pretty - and the weather was great the whole time. We stayed at a mountain retreat right on the river, and it was very relaxing. It is still China - bathrooms were sketchy - our hotel and one other place we went had toilets - rest were squats - ugh. Other than that though was good! We did some hiking up a mountain called moon hill, went through the dragon caves, had 2 foot massages (the second was requested by the kids!!), did 2 boat rides down the river, saw the banyan tree - this HUGE tree that is hundreds of years old and went to a cooking school where we made our own chinese dinner that was super fun. They took us first to the market, where we didnt buy our things but they did earlier in the day...honestly it almost made you lose your appetite, but I went with the fact the school caters to westerners, the owner is australian, and I dont think they would be successful and in business if they were serving bad food! There were some nasty things in the market though! We also got a lot of attention - the kids especially - people stopping to take pics, watch us, etc.

We left Friday am, at least Delaney and I did, with another family. E and C flew out later as C had a field trip to the shanghai financial center, a ferry and to bargain at yu yuan gardens as part of his economics assignment he was doing at school. Logistically all went well, though we have now tested our international health insurance - SOS 2 times in the past week. Not sure how they respond in a true emergency, hopefully quicker than the 2 times we have called! C had been complaining of a stomach ache for a couple days but then seemed better, till Friday when it was hurting worse than ever. Sat he started out with a lot of pain but still wanting to go and do everything with his friends. He climbed the moon hill - about 2000 steps with a terrible stomach ache which is the point I decided to call SOS to figure out - if we had to see a dr, where would we go???

Worst case scenario was appendicitis, best case, well, that he just needed to go to the bathroom! while climbing the mountain I was able to call SOS from my cell - for a very low rate and had totally clear reception. Was able to talk to the dr who said - well yes it could be appendicitis but also could not be too. I think I see a future career opp for me - I could have fielded that call perfectly! They then said they would contact someone in beijing or hong kong and get further direction on where to go if we needed 6 hours...yes 6! hours...they called me from Hong Kong to tell me they really didnt recommend any of the hospitals in the area...but if I had to is a choice. Definitely didnt leave me feeling too good about things but by that time C was feeling a bit better and we just kept an eye on him. He continued to have some intermittent pain but mostly felt ok by the time we came home. Well, till today when he woke in the night to severe upset stomach. So, not sure what he had, but I do think he will be better soon. Just one think to keep in our minds around here - I dont stress too much about it in Shanghai but medical treatments and good facilities are not the norm is a really lagging industry and has not caught up with the population nor today's level of skill you would find in US.

Here are a few pics for your enjoyment! The view from the retreat:

View from lake to retreat:

I will have to post the rest of the pictures separately as I am getting some strange error messages...Stay tuned and will add them as I am able!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday Strawberry Picking....

Sunday we went out to a strawberry farm and got the most beautiful berries you have ever seen. YuWei had brought a box to Delaney for her birthday and we wanted to go back for more. He said you could pick your own, so we went with some friends and got a bunch! Next week I plan to give Yu Wei the money and let him just go pick them up for us!!
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lulu's Spring Walk

Last week the preschoolers went on a walk to look for signs of spring. We rode the buses to a small pocket amidst skyscrapers and apartments to a chinese park, with temples, ponds, wtih fish, ducks, swans, flowers, etc. It was so surprising to find it there, in the middle of town. We had a picnic lunch and of course there was a playground. They had a great time.