Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We're up and runnin' in Kunming!

It was touch and go there for a few days but finally we are connected to the world again.

I just wanted to touch base with all of you. I'll post later more details about our first few days here. In general, Kunming is a nice spot for us. The temps are very comfortable, the traffic is manageable (compared to Shanghai), our apartment is very doable and my teaching schedule is wonderful. So all is well!

Keep those comments coming....thanks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Third and final week in Shanghai

We've had another busy week here. Our regular classes and teaching practice continued. We had a day trip on Saturday to Zhujiajiao, which is a watertown outside of Shanghai. We didn't take any pictures because we were very lame about charging up the battery....so, if you would like to see the pictures we SHOULD HAVE taken, you can visit a blog created by one of the other families in our group. Tim takes fabulous pictures and he also has a nice narration of some of the group activites from the past three weeks. Just go to www.lewisesinchina.blogspot.com - Carlos and Elena are in a few of their photos, too. It was a fun day. The best part of it was the lunch. The food was incredible - SIXTEEN dishes - some were vegetables, others were pork and chicken, various appetizers, noodles galore, river crab, etc. Absolutely delicious!

Gustavo's Chinese language skills are coming along. He does all of the ordering in restuarants for us. I use Chinese when it's really important. I guess eating doesn't rank that high with me. But, I did however get a very nice manicure using my own Chinese. Gustavo is amazed that I always can talk (in any language necessary) when it comes to getting my nails done.

We're getting quite used to Shanghai and now we are leaving. We head for Kunming on Saturday the 25th. Our contact person emailed and said that our apartment is clean and ready for us. Living in a hotel room for 3 weeks has been cozy, but we're ready to spread out a bit. We are all anxious to see our new home and to welcome cooler temperatures. I'm not sure how soon we will be able to be connected to the internet, so I will post as soon as I'm able.

Tonight we have our farewell dinner with the group. We'll say our good-bys and everyone goes to their host city tomorrow. About 5 teachers are staying in Shanghai and the remainder are spread across the country. It's reassuring to know we have a friendly face or two in about 5 cities in China. As I write this, it's 4:30pm Friday the 24th. In 23 hours we land in Kunming. Our adventure continues...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Random photos of the last two weeks - Part 5

Carlos had a vist from the tooth fairy two days in a row! Just in time because we weren't sure if the fairy knew how to convert U.S. dollars into Chinese RMB.

The guests at our good-bye party hosted by Karen and Gary. Hi everyone!

Our life reduced to 4 suitcases, 4 carry-ons and one computer. Off we go...

Random photos of the last two weeks - Part 4

Having lunch at YuYuan Gardens:

"A fork? Haven't seen one here yet. Chopsticks are the way to go!"

World famous Shanghai dumplings.

"Yummy! I want some more, please!"

Another scence from Zhabei Park.

Random photos of the last two weeks - Part 3

Scenes from the Huangpo River cruise.

Random photos of the last two weeks - Part 2

One cure for homesickness...

Zhabei Park entrance

At Zhabei Park (large park near campus)

Random photos of the last two weeks - Part 1

I'm still learning about posting pictures. Bear with me.

Naturally, Gustavo found a soccer match to join in on the campus of Shanghai University.

Yuyuan Garden scene - Shanghai.

Busy on the plane! Thanks for all the activities, Stephie and Cody!

First look at China....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hola a todos!!, Buenos dias!, buenas tardes!! o buenas noches!!. Bien continuando con nuestra aventura en China, todos nos encontramos muy bien y después de una semana ya estamos adaptados al clima, a las comidas y al horario de dormir. En cuanto al idioma lo estamos aprendiendo muy bien todos los días, Carlos y Elena lo hablan tan natural como los chinos.Ahora estamos en la Ciudad de Shanghai y el 25 de Agosto estaremos volando a la ciudad de Kunming en donde vamos a permanecer por un año o dos, dependiendo si nos adaptamos o no al cambio cultural,clima,idioma,ect.Bueno Shanghai es una ciudad como es conocida en el mundo como la Metrópolis financiera de china, pues hay bastantes puestos de ventas en cada calle que camines, y encontrarás de todo. En cuanto a dónde comer, pues hay muchos restaurantes también, pero si quieres ordenar algo pues debes estar preparado en cómo ordenar y qué ordenar para tomar de desayuno, almuerzar o cenar.
Después de una semana hemos visitados 5 restaurantes y un Mc'donald, lo de Mc'donald lo visitamos un domingo por la tarde, pues la verdad que salimos a caminar al parque cerca del hotel y Elena vee una gran M y nos dice en Inglés y luego en español Look, look a Mc'donald mami, papi,Carlos!!!, Mira, mira un Mc'donald mami, papi, Carlos!!!.Después de haber visitado el parque fue irresistible de ir al Mc'donald, una vez allí Carlos y Elena jugaron en los juegos de trepar y deslizarse, allí ellos conocieron una amiga China de 6 años que hablaba perfecto Inglés.La mayoría de las persona sabe un poquito de Inglés especialmente en los lugares públicos, restaurantes, ect.
En cuanto a mí (G), pues estoy muy felíz, pues Carlos y Elena ya estan adaptados en su horario de sueño, porque en los primeros días despertaban a las 3am y pedian algo de comer, pues comian y luego jugabamos Elena corría, Carlos jugaba con sus trenes y luego a la cama. Bueno también encontré una hermosa cancha de FUTBOL,MI PASION, afortunadamente puso mis zapatos de fútbol y la pelota quedó en el garage en Jackson, porque no tenía espacio en las maletas ni desinflada y decidimos de comprar una aca, el primer día una profesora pregunta quién juega al fútbol y fuí el primero en levantar la mano, luego el otro día a las 6:50am estábamos listos para la "pichanga" aca en çhina en una cancha de pasto sintética, hermosa, con graderías y todo, fué muy divertido, ahora mas adaptado el domingo pasado conocí u grupo de chino que juegan al fútbol todos los domingos y me invitaron a jugar por ellos, dos de ellos conocen a Marcelo Salas e Ivan"BAM, BAM" Zamorano, porque yo llevaba la camiseta de Salas número "11", me abrazaron y por supuesto yo estaba y estoy muy orgulloso de ser CHILENO.
Bueno de Ann , ella es una extraordinaria mujer y esposa, ella esta cada dia mejor en el idioma y es muy dedicada y meticulosa en todo, lleva las cuentas y me apoya en las clases de Inglés, es una gran maestra, también cuida mucho los niños. Ella ha disfrutado mucho las visitas y las comidas, una de sus favoritas comidas, la china.

Shanghai Week Two

As I write this, the kids are busily eating their nightly treat of ice cream. We usually go for dinner around 6 pm, then stroll through campus to the student store to buy a nice cold treat. Today, we had a chicken and rice dish, and not noodles. We just had to figure out how to order it! But noodle dishes are certainly more predominant than rice dishes. The weather last week was very warm and humid. It seemed to have cooled down a few degrees with some breezes this week. There is usually a daily rain shower lasting about ten minutes around noon and it has been raining overnight as well.

This past Saturday, we visited the Yuyuan Gardens (where everything under the sun is sold) and on Tuesday night went to see an acrobat show. It was very entertaining. The kids , especially, were in awe of the performers. Thursday night we take a Huangpu River cruise. I'll be posting pictures SOON! It's hard to believe that in just 10 days we will be leaving Shanghai for Kunming. I'm glad we are able to spend this time here. To my surprize, for being such a huge city, it is relatively clean and quiet. But the sheer number of people and the massive skyscrapers covering every square inch, is mind-boggling. The traffic is constant, but not loud. Cars share the road with trucks, buses, bikes, scooters of every type, men walking with carts and pedestrians. Shangai is a lot like New York (with the money to match) combined with some aspects of a rural society.

A couple of days ago I had a killer headache and thought it might be coffee withdrawal related. One can get coffee here (at Starbucks, McD's, some small shops that sell it, etc), but I wanted to experience going without. Don't ask my why, but I did. In the 30+ years that I've been drinking the stuff, I probably missed a morning or two, but not 10 days straight. G. brought his Nescafe Clásico with him (I can't stand the stuff) and he continues to have his daily coffee at 3 pm. Well, I said enough is enough, walked to McD's for coffee and my headache was gone! And was it ever good and was the best dollar I spent so far!

We have a really nice group with us. There are about 20 adults and 7 kids. About a third of the group are recent college grads, another third of older (45+) singles and 3 couples with children. The kids' ages range from 3 - 11. All the families are sending their kids to Chinese schools in September and are taking the wait-and-see attitude of continuing on in China for an additional year.

Please leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

First week down with NO coffee

and we are doing fine. It has been a busy week! We are finally over jet lag and feel semi-normal again. Our days have been filled with classes and activities. So now, Saturday morning, we finally have a break. We have been trying the dozens of noodle shops around campus and each one is more tastier and a better deal than the last! I've also been running to the supermarket everyday for snacks and every time I go in, I find another amazing something that is eaten here. It's been a guessing game buying products that have a picture, Chinese writing and maybe an English word. So far, we have liked everything.

On Friday, we visited the high school that our group will be presenting some English lessons during the next two weeks. A gorgeous facility! The students are 15-16 years old and are eager to work with us. For many, this will be the first time they will have an opportunity to speak English with a native speaker.

This afternoon we are going on a tour and I'll report on it later. Accessing blogs is a hit and miss deal here. I'll post when and IF I can!

Monday, August 6, 2007

In Shanghai

The flight to Shanghai was nearly 14 hours long, but it was a rather pleasant flight, despite of all the previous hassles. A very nice Chinese family (mom, dad, 2 young boys) sat directly in front of us and a nice couple and a single Chinese lady were behind us. E. of course, made friends fast! A lot of people were taking her picture! Sunday, August 5, at noon, we finally landed at the Pudong airport. They're were 4 other people from our group on this flight and the CCC rep was there to pick us up.

We arrived at Shanghai University a bit tired (by then it was nearly 3 o'clock - AM for us, PM local time) and checked into the University hotel. It's a very nice modern building, clean, simple rooms, with a refrigerator and a thermos of hot water for tea. Our first night/day was bit rough. C. was sick with tummy trouble and E. was over-tired and whiney. All of us maybe "slept" for a total of two hours. We got ready to prepare for Monday's (or is it Tuesday??) activities. G. and I have Mandarin/TESOL classes in the AM, and in the PM there are "survival" outings the first week. For weeks 2 and 3 there will be an afternoon teaching practicum. The CCC arranged daycare for the 8 kids who are here with the program, so that's where C. and E. will spend their M-F days. Day one went fine for them.

So far, so good! Shanghai is quite an ugly, grey, polluted city, but the surburban area we are in is very nice. The food is delicious! We're able to eat a very good size meal for about the equivalent of $1.25 per person - and Shanghai is supposed to be an expensive city. So, maybe it's really possible (as we've beeen told) that one can get a decent meal in Kunming for $0.25!

That's our adventure so far. I'll try to post more often. Now that we are settled in the hotel and finally hooked up, I'll post again and hopefully include a few photos.

Getting to Shanghai - Part 1

I'm finally able to post after 5 busy, bewildering days for us. Here's a recap. After spending two nights at the airport hotel and one very long day of the final shutdown of the condo, we were ready to begin our China adventure. We checked in for the flight to Chicago and was able to send our bags straight through to Shanghai. Two of the four bags were a few pounds over the weight limit so we had to readjust the contents to fit in the carry-on bag. So of course, G. gets singled out for the inspection (he ALWAYS gets pegged - and they say they don't racial profile - ha!). So naturally, we "lost" a couple of our previous checked bagged items during that search. Arrived in Chicago without a problem, boarded the plane bound for Shanghai and... SAT, for four hours! Since 4 hours had passed, the airline had to dismiss the flight crew (they couldn't go over their allotted hours), gave us a hotel and meal vouchers and let us loose. Thankfully, I had the good sense of packing a set of clothes for each of us in the carry-on. We enjoyed a nice meal and yet another hotel night. We got up in the morning to start over again. So of course, we had to get through security again. Something went on at O'Hare the day before concerning cheese, so security was hyper-viligant. Again, G. gets singled out and we "lost" more items from the carry-on! Finally, a day later and a few pounds of luggage lighter, we boarded the flight to Shanghai.