Day 77: Temples Galore 12/30/2015

Wally

Today we had a fairly interesting day. We made our way to the Jade Buddha Temple. Honestly once you’ve seen a temple in China you’ve seen em all. It might be a bit ignorant for me to say that but, I don’t feel as though each one is unique enough to make me want to go see it.

After the temple we headed over to the French Concession to see the actual house that held the first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party. It was pretty cool walking through the same hall ways as Mao and entering the very same room that held many historic meetings.

Following the Congress of the CCP we met up with my friend Eddy and just cought up on his life. We got some good traveling tips around Japan and Cambodia from him. It was nice meeting up with him.

We finally got paid today and just ran a bunch of errands and ended up home chilling out. SO EXCITE FOR TOMORROW!

Sydney

Up and out early today. I let Wally sleep and I got ready and headed to the bank to see if we got paid and pay everything else. Nope still no monies. I came back and Wally was mad that I had left. I did tell him I was leaving even though he was half asleep. We headed out and I tried a tiramisu latte from the little cafe we go too. Not the best, I always try something new and it does not work out, stick to what you like it is much better. Today we rode 3 metro lines that I have not been on yet which was pretty cool. Our first stop on today’s Sunday adventure was the Jade Buddha Temple, we followed the instructions in my book on how to get there but they did not work out, so we ducked into a Starbucks to speak to an employee (most speak English) and find out where we needed to go. The employee did not know but another customer came over and helped us. We got back on the metro and headed over there. It was a nice temple and some of the Buddhas were incredible. The one that was made of jade was carved out of a single piece of jade. So beautiful. We said a prayer for Wally’s Popo. Miss her alot. After we headed to the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party. The building is in the French Concession and we started to see all the set ups for New Year’s Eve. I am so excited!! Tomorrow is going to be fucking epic!!!!!!!!!! Pictures to come. The museum was very interesting and it is cool to see the room that this secret meeting took place in and somewhere that Mao stood. We headed to Eddys place (Wally’s friend who lives here). His place is so cute and reminds me of our old apartment. After a few hours we came back home and checked our accounts and we finally got paid! Now to grocery shop and pay our water bill. Well come to find out we missed paying our water bill at the grocery store by one day!!! UGH! Luckily our realtor is going to take care of it and tomorrow we will be paying for Feb, Mar, Apr rent so we will be taken care of and we do not have 18,000 yuan sitting in our house. Did more around the house and laid out the outfits for tomorrow since we both have to work and the minute Wally comes home we are eating and leaving to the bottle opener. There was a security guard who spoke almost perfect English who helped us with directions today, it is always surprising when I ask in Mandarin if they speak English and then they smile, say that they do and we are able to communicate perfectly. 🙂

Wally tried on his dress clothes and it looks like a little boy trying on his dad’s clothes. He is swimming in everything he owns. I cannot believe it. We were able to find a shirt that does not look to baggy and he put his vest on and it is a little better but my God my husband is shrinking away!

On a side note I had a student a few days ago who loved country music, all I kept thinking about was the Asian family in Drop Dead Gorgeous who adopted the red haired girl!! I love that movie haha

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Day 76: Sweats and naps 12/29/2015

Wally

Today was really chill. We decided to have a lazy day in and just enjoyed each others company. We watched some tv, I took a nap it was really nice. We never really had lazy days back home, we were always go go go. I think that’ll be one thing I miss about China, just having time to ourselves.

Sydney

Since we had not been paid yet we decided to stay in today because the activities we wanted to do cost money. The issue with EF is that they say you get paid at the end of the month but they do not say when, there is no exact date. So we are constantly guessing. It is awful. Wally was still pretty sick so he slept most of the day and I watched tv. We were craving dumplings so we went to a little shop on our street and I had peanut sauce dumplings. They are heavy but it was needed since it was so cold but that is all I ate all day since it weighs on you. We did our yoga and chores around the house. Side note, Wally got me this delish Chinese donut. It is basically just sweet bread but more similar to a donut then pan dulce. Either way so tastey and I will have everyone who comes out try it.

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Day 75: Booking the start of summer… 12/28/2015

Wally

Nothing really special about today. I did start a new class called “Small Stars Blue” this class is full of 3 year olds. They barely speak and understand chinese. I literally spent an hour teaching them 4 words, not even words but names of characters. An hour teaching kids 4 names of characters. Mel, Vic, Kev and Ben. Mel is a blue jay with glasses and a bookworm, Vic is a hedgehog with a green thumb joke is she’s not good at it, Kev is a frog that wears flippers and goggles everywhere and finally, Ben is a dumbass bear that constantly gets himself in trouble. I hate these characters…. 1 hour, 4 names and none of them retained any of it.

Sydney

Wally and I hung out this morning and got some KFC for lunch. We did a little more planning for my mom’s trip and discussed what we would do with our remaining vacation days. Bianca and I had a Skype date and it finally worked, video, sound the whole works!!! We got down to business, book flights, hotels and talk about the logistics of everything else. It was so nice to work on more details of the trip! This thing will be amazing. As we all joked one of our early morning flights Bianca just needs to fork over the cash and get dressed, the 3 of us will take care of everything else. HAHA Luckily she has 3 morning people who will do the heavy lifting, girl always gets off so easy ;). Just kidding I love you. There is only a few things left to do and we will have this thing done before the accountant disappears into tax season. It was nice to talk to her and Greg and talk about the trip. Greg and Wally are not allowed to talk when the girls are planning though, too distracting.

After a lovely conversation I had work and Wally and to leave. My new schedule sucks and I work 1-3 then work 6-10, I do not want a 3 hour break in the middle. Let me work and be done so I do not have to do it any longer. I worked from home today and it was nice.

I talked to my mom and we talked a little more about her trip. It will be here before we know it. They go and get their visas tomorrow so that is exciting. Bianca and Greg get on that ;).

Bianca this is for you – I had a student whose WeChat ID was HelloKittyluvr. Yes, that is right. Hello Kitty Lover.

Also, another student’s name was Dick Wang. I feel like that might be a little redundant but I did not want to point it out to him. Tomorrow is the weekend so yay more adventures. Goodnight.

Day 74:Christmas Party 12/27/2015

Wally

Woke up and dragged my ass to work. Weird thing was when I showed up at the subway there wasn’t a single soul it was actually kind of creepy, but as soon as the train arrived the usual masses came pouring out. I knew I was in for a long day because we had a Christmas party for the kids later in that day. Whatever, I “taught” my classes and did the BS party. I had “gingerbread men” cookie decoration station. You know what their gingerbread men were? Just a plain biscuit, think unsalted Ritz but not as flaky, cake frosting, M&Ms and a ton of sprinkles. I’ve come to accept that the the Chinese national mantra is “Meh. Close enough”

I also found that I have a few more admirers to add to the TAs that dote over me. One of the other teachers, Precious, threw her under the bus because as I walked by Precious yells out to me that Lucy Lu, not her actual name, thinks you’re handsome. “Oh really?!” , I replied. And Lucy turns bright red and buries her face into her hands. Thing is… I had a boy band type of affect on her. Any time I’d walk by she’d just get all giggly. At one point I had to go past her and I just politely brushed passed and touched her shoulders so she knew not to step back and when I turn around she’s almost melted into a puddle. She was also sneaking pics of me from afar, freaking weird…

I’M HOT SHIT OUT HERE. These girls be barking up the wrong tree though. WANGTOWER 4 LYFE!!!

Sydney

Did a lot of chores around the house before I left for work and today is the last day of my current schedule tomorrow starts the suckfest that is the new scheduling. Headed into work and it still gets me when I am in the metro that I can see end to end even though there are a lot of people because everyone is so short. BUT I did see a girl in flights that was at least 6’4″ if not taller it was crazy. Work was so boring and I had so many no shows. It was easy then I left at dinner to come home and work. It was a bit chilly today and the wind was crazy, you could feel it pushing you and moving you quicker when you walked. I talked to my dad for awhile and I miss my dad. That is ok, I will get his food soon enough. Working from home was great except all the yelling of my neighbors and what sounds like doors being ripped off the hinges. Wally came home pretty late from his party then we headed to bed. New Years Eve is coming up and I am so excited for our tickets to the bottle opener.

Wally brought me home flowers from work that are balloons. They were so cute!!! See below. So loved!!

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Day 73: Living in the Future 12/26/2015

Wally

It was kind of weird seeing everyone on social media celebrating Christmas a day late. Everyone’s day looked so amazing. Tad bit jealous, but at work we got into the spirit of things. The name of the large asian that you see in the picture is Holiday. Cool dude and perfect to play asian santa. Instead of presents he passed out adderall and Mao’s Little Red Book!

It’s funny cause they’re asian and Mao’s Little Red Book was distributed to everyone and their mother during the Cultural Revolution and is one of the most printed books in history. Adderall is a prescribed drug given to those who suffer from ADD, however when ingested by normal functioning individuals it gives them tunnel vision focus on the task at hand. So, because of that it is a popular study aid amongst asians and collegiate students. Now you can fully appreciate the humor that was just presented to you.

The day itself went by pretty quickly actually. I did see something interesting on the way home on the subway. I saw a couple sharing some chicken wings, but they were eating them with thin plastic gloves on so as to not get any oil and grease on their hands. Don’t know if it’s ludicrous or genius. You be the judge.

Sydney

Merry Christmas to everyone back home!! I hope everyone enjoyed their day of celebrating! :). Wally left early for school and I actually went into the office today. I guess alot of people worked from home yesterday then everyone that worked at the office went out together. No thank you. I like being at home and all of the people that went out I would not socialize with. Nothing to exciting today. I had an asthma attack when I tried to run to the metro because it was so cold and I could not catch my breath but no worries. I am fine. Worked from home after dinner and it was nice. I had a student request a custom lesson and they wanted to talk about western traditions for Christmas. That was the best lesson of the day.

Merry Christmas to all of you back home! XOXOX

Day 72: Christmas! 12/25/2015

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Wally

Well today was Christmas it’s pretty cool that we got to celebrate it before ALL of our friends and well not ALL of our family cause I got a couple out here somewhere, but yeah. Woke up this morning from a text from Clint he had gotten Sydney and I an awesome ornament to celebrate our first year of Christmas. It was a nice way to wake up, it really was like waking up to a present. Sydney and I spoke with my father for a bit last night and just caught up and wished him a Merry Christmas. We also talked to the Hightower/McGranahan clan, it definitely made us homesick to see everyone doing Christmas eve stuff and knowing that we’re missing out.

I know I said this to some of you guys via Skype, but for the rest of the Hightower/McGranahan’s I just want to say that when I married Sydney I didn’t just marry her, but I also married into your family. You guys being who you are made my decision to want to spend the rest of my life with her that much easier. Thank you for always making me feel included and one of the family. All your small gestures go a long way and they never went unnoticed or appreciated. I love you all and we can’t wait to see you guys again.

Sydney

Talked to my dad and Ash this morning and dad was making twice baked potatoes!!! So delish. I need them in my life haha. We spoke with them for awhile wished them a Merry Christmas then talked to my grandparents and fam at my mom’s. We talked about their upcoming trip and things to remember and what to do when they land. Wally and I had a pretty lazy Christmas, we did walk to the coffee shop and get a cup just to do something and watched some more Star Wars.

My dad picked up an ornament for us since Wally had asked because we are not there. It is so beautiful and is the world and says world traveler first Christmas! It is perfect for us and I cannot wait until next year to hang it in our home.

I had to work and some of my students wished me a Merry Christmas which was so sweet. Luckily the day went by fasted and I worked from home. 🙂

The US Embassy released a statement to foreigners that there have been threats made so be aware and cautious. Wally and I are safe and are being even more careful than we already have been. Don’t worry.

It was a pretty boring Christmas for us but perfect that we had each other. I want to wish everyone back home a very Merry Christmas and am so excited to host our Christmas party next year. I love you all and to my family I know it’s weird that Wally and I are not home but we love you and will see you soon.

Merry Christmas. Love, The Wangs

Day 71: Christmas Eve 12/24/2015

Wally

Gotta say it’s a bit depressing celebrating Christmas out here with no friends or family. There are no presents under the tree for us to open tomorrow, there aren’t any presents for us to give and there isn’t any family for us to visit. That being said, I do have Sydney and she is my family now and her love is the greatest gift of all.

I know what some of my friends will  be thinking after reading this. So here’s some self deprecation.

Anyways Merry Christmas everyone.

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Sydney

As Wally said it is weird that it is Christmas Eve and I am not bouncing off the walls waiting to open presents that I have already guessed (I have a gift of knowing exactly what is in each box. It drives Wally crazy). Anyways tomorrow is Christmas and I miss home a little. It is crazy to think that 2016 is a week away and it feels like we just got to China even though it has been over 2 months.

I spoke a little with Bianca today and we did some planning. Our little spreadsheet looks so good right now and I am just getting more and more excited. I had today off and unfortunately Wally had to go to work so I stayed home and relaxed.

Christmas Eve dinner consisted of salami, brie, butter, French bread, and coke, oh and a salad. It was perfect for us. Wally brought home some cookies that he got as a gift and they were pretty good and a nice way to cap off dinner. Not your traditional Christmas Eve but it was unconventional like our whole relationship has been. I have my family and for our first Christmas as a married couple I would not have it any other way. It is another memory that we will look back on and laugh.

I am lucky to be spending Christmas on a crazy adventure with Wally.

To everyone back home Merry Christmas Eve and I hope Santa brings you lots of presents tonight. XO

Day 70: A lazy Sunday afternoon 12/23/2015

Wally

Spent a nice lazy Sunday in. Kept up with the Hightower tradition of reading Night Before Christmas and Polar Express via Skype. Pretty cool how technology has allowed us to continue without skipping a beat. We stayed in today and caught up on Star Wars. We managed to finish Episode I, II and III. Gotta say watching it again you do realize just how garbage it was. Too much talk about politics and too little on the characters in my opinion and Hayden Christensen CANNOT act. All in all a great way to spend the day with my wife.

Sydney

Today, we were celebrating Christmas with my dad and Ash. We Skyped and read our Christmas stories. I actually found the exact night before Christmas story that we have online and since it was my turn to read it, was able to read it while my sister turned the pages. It was definitely different but still a lot of fun. Ash read The Polar Express and this year dad got Wally a stocking! Officially a part of the family! It was nice to be included in the Christmas celebrations even though we are on the other side of the world. Wally and watched Star Wars Episode 2, 3, 4 today. Only 2 more to go and then soon the new one will be out here. My mom and Ralph Skyped us and told us about their trip and I am glad my mom had so much fun skiing. It sounded like a great trip. Katie showed us the adorable cookies she made and I wanted to reach my hand though the screen and grab one. MMMM cookies. We talked to them for awhile then finished watching our movies.

Here is the thing in Shanghai, they give you dollar coins all the time. Not just oh cool I got 1 random dollar coin that I will never use. Nope they will hand you 5/10 dollars in the coins. So we got dinner and went shopping and paid in all coins. It was great and no one seems to care. It is not as if you were back home and people stare at you, here it is excepted. Anyways we came home ate and hung out. It was a very lazy day and much needed. We are going to have a busy week next week and it was cool to lay in bed and watch movies all day. We managed to get ourselves up to do our yoga then shower and head to bed.

I want to say thanks to everyone that has been reading the blog. It has been fun writing it and makes being here a little easier. I hope everyone is as entertained as we are. XO

 

Day 69: Our Christmas Dinner 12/22/2015

Wally

We woke up this morning and just lounged around a bit and watched some shows. I ended up taking a nap a few hours later due to the fact I slept like shit. Syd spent her time planning our trip to Thailand. I must say I am a spoiled bitch when it comes to traveling. Syd and I have a deal. She’s the planner and I’m the pack mule. I’m perfectly happy with that arrangement. I cannot navigate travel sites and the airport like she does. It’s like magic! Whenever we are at an airport checking in or getting our rental car everything runs so smoothly. It just feels so weird. Like you’re going to just give me the keys to the car? I don’t remember paying for it, but obviously Syd had that all covered.

We had Katie over for a nice Christmas dinner. We had spaghetti, salad, bread and wine. It was nice to be able to have a “white” meal. She was sweet enough to bring us some small Christmas gifts. I got a dart board, looks like we won’t be getting out deposit back and Syd got an air freshener. It was a pleasant meal with good conversations.

Once Katie left we went ahead with our yoga. We’re doing a 30 day challenge and we’re on day 8. It’s really cool to make small mental notes on the small changes that occur with your body. We’ve noticed more flexibility and less tension in our shoulders. Just gotta keep up with it.

Sydney

A pretty lazy morning and early afternoon. Wally napped while I took care of some Thailand stuff. It is so fun looking at everything and trying to map out the trip, what we will see, what will the place be like, and what adventures will we have. Katie said she was on her way over so I started cooking. The pasta wasted the best but it was pasta and bread so I cannot complain too much. I was very happy with everything. Katie made some snickerdoodles and it was so tasty! She also brought us some Santa hats which was so festive and made our little get together that much better. Not my dad’s but they will have to do until my mom comes out and she will be bringing 2 bags of cookies from my dad, 1 with snickerdoodles and 1 with chocolate chip!! Yum yum!! We had Christmas music on and a fireplace on the tv just like our Christmas parties back home. She brought some gifts and it was so nice of her :). We talked about New Year’s and got a little plan going. Wally and I walked her to the metro and stopped at a new wine bar/cafe that just opened. I am excited to try it in the next couple of weeks. A perfect little date night. We did our nightly yoga and then headed off to bed. Wally is getting so skinny. None of his clothes fit anymore. It was a lovely day and a perfect way to have a little Christmas celebration.

Day 68: I GOT THE POWER! 12/21/2015

Wally

Woke up this morning to no electricity… We had a skype date set up for Bianca. So we walked over to the Starbucks and got Syd’s laptop set up. Only thing was they required you to input your cell phone number to get a code. Guess what? We left our brick phones at home… So I drag my ass back to our apartment a few blocks down and get our phones. I walk back get Syd the code and we get logged on. Yay Bianca is on! boooo…. We can’t hear her. Syd bats her big beautiful eyes at me and off I go back to our apartment to fetch some headphones.

We chat with Bianca and game plan our trip to Thailand and just catch up. We joked that she has us TRAINED to notice anything Hello Kitty. We’ll be walking around and literally through our peripherals we see her now. Freaking red bow and cute little body. After Bianca we caught up with Erin for a bit, that girl is getting all growed up now! Talking about college and working. Gotta say I’m proud of the little sister I never had. Making big girl decisions now.

Following our skype dates we headed over to the French Concession. Per wikipedia;

The Shanghai French Concession (French: Concession française de Changhaï; Chinese: 上海法租界; pinyin:Shànghǎi Fǎ Zūjiè) was a foreign concession in Shanghai, China from 1849 until 1943, which progressively expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The concession came to an end in 1943 when the Vichy French government signed it over to the pro-Japanese puppet government in Nanking. For much of the 20th century, the area covered by the former French Concession remained the premier residential and retail district of Shanghai, and was also one of the centres of Catholicism in China. Despite re-development over the last few decades, the area retains a distinct character, and is a popular tourist destination.

It’s a beautiful slice of heaven. It really feels like you’re away from the shithole of Shanghai. The architecture is predominantly French, English and German influenced. The shops there cater to the western customer base. The scenery fits a small french village of a Disney movie. We walked around and ended up in a maze of shops. Not like the cheap market place. Instead, these were all cute boutiques and vendors each peddling something as unique as the last. There was definitely a nice charm to this area. We meandered around there for a couple of hours and made our way to the wet market.

The wet market is an outdoor farmers market with produce and meat. They call it a wet market because in order to keep the place clean and pest free they’re constantly hosing the floors and produce. It was really nice to see so much fresh produce and fine cuts of meat instead of the hacked up butchered fish guts and veggies strewn about with no regard to appearance and cleanliness.

We also ended up in a house where prominent members of the Chinese Communist Party use to meet and hold important meetings. I don’t know enough of Chinese history to appreciate the significance of us being in the building, but it was cool to think that we’re walking the same halls and entering the same rooms as Mao Zedong.

We stopped by a cute little tea shop and got some afternoon tea. Here’s something that blew our minds. We’re two Americans enjoying afternoon British tea in the French Concession in Shanghai. Pretty cool if you ask me.

We made our way back home only to find that the electricity was still out… I went back out to ask our neighbors when it would be back and no one seemed to know. I saw some men working on the powerlines and within 5-10 min of me standing around and gawking at them the power was back. Thank god… A night without power in cold ass Shanghai would have sucked!

Also today’s air quality sucked this morning. It did clear up though throughout the day.

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Sydney

SO I woke Wally up because our power was out and had already spend 20 minutes looking around trying to find a breaker but I could not find anything. Wally got up and lucky the neighbor across from us was brushing her teeth in the sink and Wally was able to ask. Apparently our block was the section of the city they shut down to save energy. GREAT!! So we get up and get ready and head to Starbucks to speak with the lovely Bianca Rae. It was a nice convo and we started to plan more of the trip and set up a doc where we can add stuff. OMG I am so excited I miss all my friends. Kylie is meeting us in Thailand so I will be super stoked when we are on our way there and will be able to see her. It was a great convo and I am glad I was finally able to Skype her. After Bianca we talked to Erin, she wanted to thank us for the post card. My littlest sister is not so little anymore. We chatted for awhile then Wally and I headed to the American marts to compare prices of food to see what is the cheapest for our Italian dinner for tomorrow. I asked a woman in a store in Chinese if she spoke English and she said no but why since my Chinese is so good. EEEE my Chinese is getting better!! We caught a taxi and headed to our 90 minute walk to the French Concession. It was quite beautiful and it was so much better than the other walk in the book. We ended up down some really fun alley ways and saw stuff that we would not have see if we had not done this walk. ALso, I had Chinese Churros and I think they might give Disneyland churros a run for their money. OMG! So amazing! Wally and I stumbled upon a store that has the Manolo shoes I wanted from Sex in the City for our wedding!! He says since they are so cheap here I can get them later. I am so stoked. We also found a metro stop that does not exist on any of the metro stops in our apps or the usual maps we look at in the stations, spooky!! A phantom metro stop. Well we realized we did not want to change lines so me with my awesome directional skills got us up another couple of lines by walking about 1/2 mile and we caught a line that goes straight home. We picked up the rest of the groceries we need for tomorrow for dinner and came home to still no power. Finally it came back on and we have a heater, internet and  a VPN again. A really good start to vacation and I look forward to the rest of the week.

PS Below is a picture of Karine.

*This is Wally btw* SHE’S GOT SERIAL KILLER EYES RIGHT?!?!

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