Friday, December 18, 2015

Photo Friday: Tianjin

Tianjin, China
November 2014

Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Friday: Mississippi River

Mississippi River
Marquette, Iowa
July 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Photo Friday: Bali

 Bali, Indonesia
July 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Reads: China Rich Girlfriend

If you're looking for a fun story, check out China Rich Girlfriend! I read Crazy Rich Asians last summer and I was excited to find the sequel while browsing at a bookstore in Hong Kong in August. Kevin Kwan is an excellent storyteller and portrays life in China in a way I've never seen before. While most Asians do not live such lavish lifestyles as those depicted in the book, there are many cultural aspects he shares that are very real. I particularly enjoyed reading this during my stay in China as I could relate to much of it. 

The story picks up about two years after Crazy Rich Asians leaves off. Rachel and Nick are about to get married and Rachel is in search of her birth father. Nick's family is less than thrilled about the union and scandal ensues. Rachel and Nick travel through mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore as Kwan draws the reader into the lifestyles of the obscenely rich in a hilarious way.

If you're looking for a relaxing read to unwind from the holiday craziness, be sure to check this out. And don't miss Crazy Rich Asians as well!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Photo Friday: Pingyao

Pingyao, China
October 24, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Reads: Fashion House

By: Megan Hess

I discovered this book while I was on vacation in Hong Kong. I thought it was the cutest book and I was compelled to purchase it because of the playful style. It's a combination fashion and interior design book featuring styles from a handful of fashion icons. The book is primarily categorized by color. It's more of a mini coffee table book than anything else, but I enjoy flipping through the pages and planning how to incorporate concepts in my own home.  

*This page uses Amazon Affiliate links

Friday, July 31, 2015

Photo Friday: Mississippi River

Mississippi River
Marquette, Iowa
July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Great Wall

The last week of May I finally made it to the Great Wall! I've tried to get there all year, but any chance I had to travel, I traveled in other cities around China rather than visiting sites near my home. We had a culture week at the university and took the students on a field trip to climb the wall. Although it was only May, we've had summer weather for quite some time now. The day of our visit was nearly 100 degrees. It was really hot, especially climbing all of those steps, but worth it!

There are many sections of the Great Wall around northern China that are restored for tourists. We visited the Mutianyu section. It is a little further away from Beijing, so it doesn't get as much traffic as the Badaling gate. Without a crowd of tourists, this section was more enjoyable to walk. Once I got away from the main entry points to the wall, I had a lot of it to myself. 

There are two entry points to the wall. One of them is by cable car (highly recommended) or you can climb the 1,000+ steps to the top. I walked up the stairs and it was really hot considering the temperature that day. Next time I visit this section I'll definitely pay extra for the sky lift.  

The wall was built over the mountains so it isn't flat. It curves up and down across the landscape and can be quite a workout to cross. I was so excited to finally experience it that I practically ran from one end to the other.

After crossing the wall, I didn't feel like walking all the way back down again. There are two other options to get down, the sky-lift and the toboggan run. I elected the toboggan. It took less than 5 minutes to make it down to the bottom and was a lot more fun than climbing down 1,000+ steps!

Have you visited the Great Wall? Which section did you see?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Photo Friday: Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot, Bali
July 5, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Photo Friday: Tianjin

Tianjin, China
November 2014

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Reads: Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet

By: Jamie Ford

Set in Seattle during WWII, Ford details the life of a young Chinese-American school boy as he witnesses the Japanese interment through a relationship with one of his classmates. This historical fiction novel is told through two different time periods: the 1940s and 1980s. The focus is on Henry, a Chinese American boy living in Seattle around the time of the Japanese interment. He develops a relationship with Keiko, a Japanese American girl who is eventually sent to one of the internment camps. Along with the relationship that develops between Henry and Keiko, Ford details the relationships Henry has with an up and coming jazz musician, his parents, his classmates and later his own son. Weaved into the story is a description of the jazz music scene in Seattle, race relations and the effects of the Japanese internment camps during the war.   

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.

*This was a gift from Wendy at A Day In The Life, through the Chaotic Goddess Book Swap.

**This post contains Amazon Affiliate links

Friday, July 10, 2015

Photo Friday: Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
June 28, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Photo Friday: Yongqing County, China

Yongqing County, China
June 3, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Photo Friday: Baitasi Temple

Baitasi Temple
Yongqing County, China
June 3, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Photo Friday: Great Wall

The Great Wall, Mutianyu
Beijing, China
May 26, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

6+ Months In China

It has now been more than six months of living in China for me. I had every intention of posting sooner about where I'm at with my life here, but I could never quite find the right words.

When I first decided to move to China, I was in the midst of my divorce, I graduated months before with my masters degree and I was searching for a job. I was also craving adventure and travel; two things that had been sorely missing from my life. My plan was to move to China and teach ESL for a year while I figured out what I wanted to do next. I was in a great position because I had nothing tying me down and I could do absolutely anything I wanted. This was equally terrifying though because my life had completely up-ended and I had no idea what it was that I wanted anymore. I had no long term goals or even a solid career choice to work towards. I thought that over the next year, I would figure it all out. Then I would return to the states in pursuit of the dream career I came up with once the dust had settled. 

Well, life doesn't always go the way we plan. After I returned to school following the Spring Festival holiday in February, I still had no idea what I wanted to do next. I've spent the last few months trying to discover my career passion. I truly had nothing pulling me in any direction or even something compelling me to move home, move somewhere else or stay in China. Finally I decided that I needed to cut myself some slack. There is no rule that I need to have my life all figured out in one year. I was placing unrealistic expectations on myself and the only thing it was doing was creating anxiety for me.  So what if I still don't know which direction my life is headed. I'll get there eventually and I can still enjoy life day by day, picking up new experiences as I go.

Ultimately, I decided to renew my contract with the school I am currently teaching at. I solely based the decision on the fact that I have a job here, an apartment here, and I've started to make my life here. At least that is something. If I moved again, I'd be starting all over at the beginning having to secure a job, apartment, and meeting all new people. At this point, I'm not ready to start from scratch all over again. I realized that I haven't taken a lot of photos over the past few months, which tells me that I am growing accustomed to my environment and I feel at home. The weirdness of China has started to grow on me and feels almost normal. 

Recently, I discovered that I like teaching ESL but I don't love it. It's okay for now as a job, but I won't make it a career. I'm gaining valuable experience that will transfer to other fields though, so I'm taking it for the experience that it is. I do love living abroad and I dread the thought of returning to a job in the USA with only two weeks of vacation a year. I love having so many exciting places to explore close to my home. I also discovered that what's been missing in my past jobs is respect. I never felt challenged or appreciated for my skills and abilities. I know that I'm capable of so much more than I've been given credit for. I want to feel like I am contributing something to a great goal rather than just pushing papers and punching a time clock. This is something I'll keep in mind as I seek the perfect career field for me. 

Over the next year, I hope to continue my path to self discovery. Little by little I imagine I will put the pieces of my life back together again and find a career that really drives my passion. My friends tell me that I'm in the middle of some romantic comedy. I just haven't found my happy ending yet. Someday, all the pieces will fall into place and everything will make sense. For now, I'm still in Act I struggling to find myself. As hard as that is, it's still a part of the story.     

What drives you to stay where you are or move on to something new?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Photo Friday: Cow Street Mosque

Cow Street Mosque
Beijing, China
April 25, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Photo Friday: Hanging Temple

Hanging Temple
Datong, China
 April 5, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Photo Friday: Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes
Datong, China
April 4, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Photo Friday: Village in Cambodia

Village in Cambodia
January 30, 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Reads: Pretty In Ink

By: Lindsey Palmer

The setting for this book is a magazine agency in New York City. The author starts each chapter off with a new character describing the scene from their point of view. I would classify this as chic-lit. The plot revolves around a magazine named 'Hers' and the upheaval that occurs when a new editor-in-chief arrives on staff. None of the characters are really likeable but I would bet there are many real life accuracies in their self indulgent personalities. It was difficult for me to get through the entire book based on the negative personalities, although the characters are most likely accurately portrayed in their cattiness and insecurity.

The story follows a similar theme to other books I've read in this genre on the publishing field. I just personally would rather read something else as I can't tolerate people like this in real life I don't want to read about them either. However, I did like the way she ended the book. It felt like it came around full circle and was about to start a fresh and positive chapter for the characters.  

*Note: I received a free digital copy for my honest review
**This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Reads: Seriously...I'm Kidding

By: Ellen Degeneres

I have been a fan of Ellen's talk show for years. I love her positive attitude, kindness towards others, and that she loves to dance. This book is a quick read, full of short little chapters with the same sense of humor she is known for. It is so full of her personality that I heard her voice in my head as I read along through the entire book. If you enjoy her talk show, you'll enjoy this book as well!  

*This book was a gift from Wendy at A Day In The Life through the Chaotic Goddess Book Swap. 

**This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links

Friday, April 24, 2015

Photo Friday: Cambodia Floating Village

Floating Village, Cambodia
 January 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Black Pointe Estate

With summer approaching and plans in progress for my return to the states, I'm reminded of my visit to the Black Pointe Estate in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin last year. Although I grew up in Wisconsin and I am a fan of historic homes,it was my first visit to the estate. Run by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the tour includes a boat ride across the lake with an informative captain, a tour of the grounds and interior of the estate. The area is protected so visitors arrive via boat as the original owners did more than a hundred years ago to visit their summer home. Unique compared to other historic homes, the contents on display are original to the owner.         

The tour begins on a boat that you board behind The Riviera. As the boat leisurely cruises along the lake to the estate, you'll learn a bit of history of the city and homes along the water front. After the boat docks, you'll climb the steps to the estate and enjoy an informative tour of the home and grounds from a knowledgeable guide.

I visited the estate in late summer so the flowers and trees were all in bloom. At the end of the tour, you'll board the same boat for a ride along the opposite side of the lake as you return to town. I had a great tour and a beautiful day to spend outdoors in Lake Geneva. If you're in the city I recommend that you check it out for a little bit of local history. 

How do you enjoy the local history in your home town or when you travel?