Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Shopping Craves

I love shopping, even if it only means window shopping. I love the inspiration in the shop windows or store displays whether it's on the street or online. Every season brings a fresh new outlook to my already tired wardrobe with an influx of new colors and designs.

Living in China I haven't had the opportunity to shop the way I normally do. The markets are all poor quality knockoffs, the stores at the mall are very expensive and my body is very large in proportion to Chinese women so the clothing sizes just don't fit quite right. I can't really buy anything online. The Chinese online shops are all in Mandarin, which I can't read. Plus, if I have my family order for me back home, they have to pay a huge shipping cost to get it to me. Not to mention I have to depend on someone else to ship something to me and wait for the package to make it through customs which can take weeks or months.

Regardless, here are a few things I am craving for fall.

What's on your fall wish list?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Walmart in China

When I first learned that my apartment was going to be walking distance away from the nearest Walmart I was pretty thrilled. I mean, I was familiar with Walmart and their prices were reasonable. How could you go wrong? Plus I love shopping at grocery stores in different countries that I visit. I get a feel for the local customs and cuisine. Not to mention there are just so many products for sale that I can't find at home. 

My first few hours in China I had the experience of visiting our local SuperWalmart. And although I was expecting it to be different from back home, it was still a little overwhelming. Not to mention, on my first visit I was exhausted from a long flight and sweaty from the plane and 93+ temps in Beijing. Thankfully I had  a local teacher to guide me through my first visit, and I've been back many times since to purchase food and items for my apartment.

I was excited to see a few familiar items, although they came in unusual flavors. Look for a future post on my Oreo and Lays potato chip taste test.

The packaging is mostly in Chinese, so I need someone to show me items that I am looking for. Sometimes there is an English translation on the package, but it isn't always helpful and the translations aren't always correct

The meat and seafood section was also a bit shocking. The stores here don't prepackage meats. The meats are just out there on display in open air. I still haven't had the courage to purchase any of the raw meat for sale in the supermarkets.

Eggs and milk are found on the shelf and not in the refrigerated section in the USA. However, I have since purchased bottled milk from a refrigerator.



I've been to Walmart probably a dozen times now and I'm more acquainted with the options available. Sometimes it just takes a little getting used to.

What are your experiences grocery shopping in a foreign market?   


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Off On A Solo Adventure

I am leaving today for a two week adventure exploring the East Coast of China. In my absence I've scheduled a few posts on my experiences in China so far. While I am away I will be slow to respond to your comments, but I love hearing from you and will respond when I return. Internet connections are tenuous at best in the land of limited free wifi. 

I hope you all are enjoying the start of fall and I'll be back with more stories soon!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Photo Friday: Forbidden City

Forbidden City
Beijing, China
September 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Print Shop Now Open!

I have long been a lover of travel and photography. Writing a blog has been such a pleasure for me as it has provided me with a window to share my love for these two hobbies of mine with the world. 

Recently, I decided to open a Print Shop to share some of my favorite images from my travels. You can check them out by clicking the link in this post or on the Print Shop icon on my sidebar. I will be adding new photos regularly so stop by anytime to view the latest prints for sale. 


Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Arrival in China

Now that I've lived in China for a month now and have adapted to my new environment a bit, I thought I would share with you my first experience here. My first day in China was a bit of a culture shock. I was expecting living conditions to be poor and I knew that few people would speak English, however my reality still did not meet my extremely low expectations. When I booked my ticket, I intentionally arranged my flight to arrive in the afternoon local Beijing time. I wanted to be sure that if there were any problems there would be someone around to speak to and even if things went smoothly, I wanted time to get adjusted during the daylight hours. Thankfully my plane arrived on time and I was met at the airport by a Chinese teacher from my school who led me to the car that would take us to the university. Due to rush hour traffic around Beijing, the ride took well over the normal one hour that the drive usually takes, however, I just had to sit back and take it all in.

When I arrived at my new apartment the outside of the building looked daunting and the stairwell looked a bit sketchy. The apartment was about the size I was expecting, a small one bedroom with a kitchen and living area, but was really dirty and covered in dust/dirt. I found out later that they had it cleaned, but it was at the beginning of the summer and had sat empty for two months. Once I dropped my bags off and had a look around, the teacher checked to make sure things were working properly and then offered to take me down to the Walmart to buy a few necessary things. Conveniently Walmart is only a 5-8 minute walk from my apartment. He walked me through both floors of the giant store picking up things like toilet paper, dishes, and food. At this point I am sweaty from the plane ride and 93+ degree temperature, and exhausted having only slept 2 hours of the 16 hours in transit. Plus, the night before my flight I barely slept because I was doing last minute packing to be sure I didn't forget anything. 

A first look into my apartment:

All in one: Toilet, Shower, Sink and Washing Machine

My mini fridge

Living Room
 I didn't recognize any of the food there and I don't speak or read Mandarin so I chose food that I knew. I came home with bottled water, a giant bag of rice, bread, cheese slices, ham slices, a small bag of imported pasta and a bag (yes that's right a bag) of Hunt's tomato sauce. I tried the ham and cheese the next day and the ham was so awful I couldn't make it through a whole sandwich. The rice, sauce and noodles are still on my shelf waiting to be opened. After our shopping trip, we carried my bags home. He helped me get set up on the internet and then left. They told me I had wifi but I needed to hook up a cable to my computer and dial in each time I wanted to use the internet. Finally after a week, one of the other teachers helped me get a router so I don't have to do that anymore. 

At that point, all I wanted was a shower and then sleep. I went to the bathroom to take a shower and my water wasn't working. I plugged in the tank and fiddled with the buttons as much as possible, but nothing worked. I was so irritated at that point, but at least I had internet so I skyped my husband back home. About two hours later, after a long conversation back home and then settling in, I heard water pouring out of the faucet in the other room. I must've left the faucet on and when the tank had charged enough water came rushing out. I was so happy to finally get a shower! For me, feeling clean after a shower is the best thing and can totally change my mood around. After a good nights rest, everything started looking up in the morning.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival and Moon Cakes

Every day I am in China I learn so many new things about the culture and language. I've learned there are a lot of holidays and festivals that are celebrated in China that I had never heard of. Last Monday I experienced my first festival after living here a mere two weeks. 

During the mid-Autumn Festival, I had a vacation day from work and I learned that during the festival it is tradition to eat moon cakes. Moon cakes are a pastry type dessert that can be filled with a variety of things. They can also come in various sizes. The one I had was a large moon cake and was filled with nuts. During the festival, people usually celebrate by sharing a meal with family. Although some of our students live far from home and can not travel that distance in one day, so instead they spent the day with friends and in their dorm. The festival seems to revolve around family tradition, sharing a meal and moon cake together.  

I received this moon cake as a gift. Everything was packaged so well and very decorative. 

What new holidays have you experienced while visiting a different country?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer Palace, Beijing

My first trip to Beijing was fulfilling and exhausting! I wanted to see as much as possible even though I will be living here for one year. One of my first stops was to visit the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is gorgeous! It is easily my favorite tourist site in China thus far. I can see many more trips there in my future to watch the seasons change. There is so much to see and do that you can easily spend an entire day there. My guidebook said to spend 3-4 hours. I was there only 3 hours before I needed to catch my train home and it was not nearly enough! I was rushing from one place to the next to see as much as I could before I needed to leave that I could hardly take it all in. My solace is that I can return many more times in the future.

I loved the architecture and art work throughout the palace. There were so many different areas to explore. The palace offers gardens, rocks and hiking paths, a city built along the water and a lake to enjoy by boat. There are plenty of places to relax and take in the day.

Although there are a lot of tourists, the gardens offer a beautiful spot for peaceful contemplation.

Another beautiful area is the Suzhou Street Market. There are many souvenir shops set up along the water front and beautiful views as you walk along the street. You can also take a short ride by boat. 

I can't wait to return to take in more of the beauty this site has to offer!

Have you visited the Summer Palace in Beijing? What did you enjoy during your visit?