Packing My Glasses Collection

Happy New Year! It is the first day of 2015. I am off for the next 3 days and work on Sunday (love when the gov moves the weekends, makes silly sense but whatever my last time of it) and I don’t know what to get into. I decided to take packing seriously for the move from China. Lets see how long that lasts.. it is almost lunch time. I decided to pack up my glasses and then write a post about it. So far 2015 is starting to be a good year and glad to see I am not taking things too serious and stressing myself. So far so good!

Glasses Collection

One bonus of living in China eyeglasses. They can be like accessories and you can have a new pair each day for your mood and outfit! On average, I pay around $45 USD for a pair or less and they are usually made within an hour as I wait and drink tea with Summer and the guy who will check your prescription for you for free. I packed my glasses, here are my prescription eyeglasses I have collected over the years. I already packed up my sunnies so they didn’t make it in the photo (they have their own rack).  Many have names and inspirations. I have my retro 60s cat eye, my Zachary Quinto’s after watching American Horror Story Asylum, my Harry Potter’s, Red Harry Potter’s, hipster chunky, and my 1970s inspired after I watched American Hustle. Ah.. memories. The others I just liked.  I even bought them their own storage racks off Tao Bao (A cross between China Amazon/eBay)  so I can easily pick which ones I will wear and that is what makes them a collection, storage racks! Looking at my collection I think I need some more color… wonder if the eye glass market is open today! Here is the card of where I go in Shanghai, tell Summer I sent you, her English is good.

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Boston Msaeachubaets

Growing up in Massachusetts and learning to spell Massachusetts as a child was tough stuff. So I get it when in China this is how it is spelled on a t-shirt. Spelling Massachusetts is hard. Don’t know what is up with the 11 stars and who knows how many stripes but they did get Boston right. 1 out of 3 pretty good!


Boston Msaeasuets

Leaving China

I am leaving China after 4 years and some months and returning to the USA in under a month to the closest US State to China, Hawaii.

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I really don’t believe it and should probably start doing things to prepare for the move. I would like to say it is because of the holidays I am overwhelmed and too busy with that but that would be a lie. We are not traveling and here is the extent of Christmas decorating in our apartment. A Charlie Brown tree with Snoopy ornaments which are probably older than I am made out of creamers by my amazing mother in law, Estalene. I just love these and my first Xmas in China she sent them to me. They make me so happy, love!

Xmas Tree

So what am I doing? Maybe thinking about it, just reflecting on my past 4 years in China, what I am going to miss, maybe I am singing some Europe Final Countdown and dreaming of if the flight attendants to let me sing Neil Diamond’s America on the announcement system, dreaming of Target and Costco (Oahu has a Costco!), how the Internet is going to work, how I can stream TV and movies and use Pandora,  having to get a car, and how do I get money out of China?!?

Sounds like a lot, it is but the real reason for my procrastination is no matter when I do what needs to be done,  like try to cancel my cell phone service and attempt to get my deposit back, it is going to be a hassle. Do it now or wait. The headache is the same so why not enjoy my last few weeks and deal with the headaches when I must (or leave it to Todd).

I haven’t been completely useless, I did start another blog for friends, family, and my 6 followers of this blog (small but mighty!). If interested in following my readjustment back to the US and living in Hawaii come follow the adventures.  Howz It HI


4 Years & 4 months! How Did That Happen?!?


Alien Permit

I have been in China for 4 years and 4 months often wonder how did that happened? There are days it seems like yesterday and others like 40 years. There is a saying that goes like this, “In China, anything is possible. Nothing is easy”.  It is not easy. It is really hard and there are days it is really, really hard. What makes it so hard? The language, the differences in culture, working, thinking, and problem solving.  Going to the bank, all the paperwork, fapiaos, chops, and government rules and regulations. Spitting, snot rockets, public urination, overall sanitation, hygiene,  pollution, sidewalks uneven and can make you fall down, and sidewalks not for walking but for driving bikes and motorbikes. Food with heads on it, lack of lean meats, and expensive imported food when you can get what you want.  Even with all that crazy, everyday it has been a wild ride, the most exciting time in China’s history and an experience I do not regret. So here it is…

My top 10 list of things that I like about living in China after 4 years & 4 months (in no order just my stream of consciousness and after being considered an Alien of course, Wonder Woman (I hear there was a blonde one before Ms.Carter), Miranda from the Devil Wears Prada (I don’t know how to take that) and just my overall celebrity status in China) :

1. Not having a car. I love not having a car, the car payment, the gas (I can’t remember the last time I pumped gas, wonder if I will remember how?), hassle of maintenance. We take public transport everywhere, primarily the metro or walk.  Taxis are a pain, traffic is really bad in Shanghai and I don’t find taxis convenient because of it. The drivers also don’t understand what I am saying although when they repeat back to me it sounds exactly the same to me. Most drivers aren’t good, they make me car sick, and you are risking your life (although I do that walking the street each day- I feel more in control walking).

Lesson: I think we will try to have 1 car when we move back to the US. Lets see how long that will last but we can try! I do miss the convenience of having a car for shopping it is nice to be able to load up more than a days worth of groceries at a time. In China, we can only buy what we can carry.

2. Changing view of the “American Dream” and consumerism. Now don’t think I am going crazy, I am still materialistic and like nice things and gadgets but maybe more selective. We have downsized. From no cars, no house to a small one bedroom one bath apartment. When I want things, I go for quality versus quantity and try to think if I really need that in my life? It is a work in progress I have good days and not so good days. It also helps we are not bombarded with ads and commercials for the latest “stuff” because we don’t watch TV here and if we did it would be in Chinese and not stuff I am interested in.  Also stuff just costs more here with the taxes. Cosmetics have something like a 100% mark up, electronics although made here not cheaper here. I don’t buy clothes in China, they don’t fit me and when I am back in the US I do get some things because it is all so darn cheap and I just can’t help myself but since China’s water and lack of good quality washing machines kills clothes (I am sure when the ayi uses dish soap in the washing machine that helps too) so buying fancy, nice things why bother when they are going to get ruined.  Whites are now yellow, blacks are like gray. It doesn’t matter because we all are wearing clothes like that so why spend the $$.  Our place is small there is no room for stuff.  We were down to 1 roll of toilet paper the other day and Todd went to the store and bought 2 rolls. Not 20 but 2. That is how it is sold because no one has space for Costco sized things. I do miss Costco…

Lesson: Let see if we can stay small and not have too many things when we move back. Again going to try but there is Costco in the US…

3. When I do shop in China I love the markets and all the different things you can get and just how it is done. Random booths, stalls, shops and carts of just stuff. Random stuff.  I also like how you go to the eyeglass market and there are floors after floors of nothing but vendors selling eyeglasses, the pearl market and stalls after stalls of pearls, the fabric market, nothing but tailors. It is so much fun and nothing has prices on it so I have learned to love to bargain. I will bargain for everything! For the most part I enjoy it, except when I am in a hurry or not in the mood which happens a lot because bargaining and the game and theatrics of it can get tiring. My favorite lines when shopping, “that price hurts my heart” and “I am not a dumb melon!”.  I can’t wait to come back to the US, need help buying a car bring me! I ready. No shame or embarrassment anymore.  Thanks China for this great life skill.

Lesson: You can bargain for anything and the worst that will happen is they will say no but they could say yes. 🙂

4. Everything is recycled and one person’s junk is another treasure or source of income. I mean everything! There are cardboard recyclers, bottles, styrofoam, folks who take apart lamps, appliances, etc.  for the parts and use all the parts it is incredible. Trash is picked through to see what can be reused, or recycled. In our complex, we have trash areas and there are folks who put trash cans more convenient than the large trash areas so they can get to the bags first. It does make me sad. The other day this older lady was so excited to see us coming with a bag and told us she will take it. I wish I had some good things in there for her. Even food is recycled. Chinese are closer to food sources than we are in the US. Nothing goes to waste- have a duck? They are going to eat the duck, its feet, tongue, liver, heart, and blood. Nothing goes to waste. I wonder if they tell their kids “there are starving children in America finish you food!”

Lesson: Keep recycling and eat less meat it is not good for the environment and probably us all.

5. Happy hour. I love happy hour. Shanghai  has a lot of good happy hours. Lots of BOGO offers or special priced which equals good deals. Otherwise it is expensive to enjoy a cocktail because it ridiculously priced. We also go to happy hour a lot with friends which is so nice and no one is driving because we don’t have cars so it is a super fun time.  Last time I was in MA I was like what no happy hour? I guess the state of MA doesn’t allow it. Get with it people, probably has something to do with driving… Happy hour is awesome.

Lesson: Don’t move back to MA and don’t ever drink and drive, that is just silly. Call Uber!

6. I am usually the first one to wish friends on Facebook happy birthday because of the time difference and being ahead of the US. That is really fun! Speaking of friends, I have friends from all over the world which has been great, it is like being in college, we are all here for a certain period of time, so in time people leave. We all will “graduate” from China.  It gets hard and sad. I also miss my friends at home. I don’t know if they miss me because not too many have come to visit. Get on that friends reading this because we will not be here that much longer… so I think…

Lesson: You need friends, especially ones that visit…hint, hint, hint.

7. Dumplings. I love street dumplings. Those are pretty yum. We also have a good collection of restaurants that we love (and happy hour places) and there are new restaurants coming all the time to try. Expensive but good.

Lesson: You will not die eating all street food but it is still risky and I am not sure what it is I am really eating.

8. Not having to travel with a toothbrush! All the bathroom amenities kits hotels give you is nice. I have come to not travel without toothbrushes which is a problem when I travel outside of Asia. I also like that most hotel stays also include breakfast. Depending on where you stay will depend if it is good or not… but still included, a nice gesture.

Lesson: Bring a toothbrush when traveling outside of Asia

9. Ikea. I love Ikea everywhere in the world but in China is it extra special because people actually take naps in the beds, watch their iPads on the sofa and just make a day of it. Why not? It is air conditioned, has nice things, and meatballs! Looking for a mate? Ikea is also the hook up place for the seniors, free coffee and a chance to find love. Ikea is awesome! Great place to people watch.

Lesson:  If you want to buy anything go when Ikea first opens (BTW there are 3 in Shanghai now) otherwise it is frustrating with all the folks not shopping but enjoying the day.

1o. I have seen so many things in China. Even the most creative writers and thinkers in the the world would not come up with some of the stuff I have seen. I may never be the same over some. It is the Wild Wild East. Shanghai is truly the city that doesn’t sleep. The change, the speed of change, it is incredible.  The experience has made me appreciate being an American and the USA even more.  I do look forward to returning to a life where it is just easier. Maybe not as exciting but it will be easier.

Lesson:  Things I have found annoying in the past are really not that bad. Such as I will try not to bitch about Internet being out and the service window Noon-4 and they don’t come till 4. I have learned when a service person comes within 4 days it is awesome and if he is actually the Internet guy versus some random maintenance man, wow, going to be a good day and there is a chance it may be fixed! Oh China.

Here is my other top 10 list of things I just don’t care for living in China.

My Top 10 List of Things I Still Don’t Like About Living in China:

DurianNo Fish

1. Durian it is just nasty and I don’t blame hotels, offices, and airplanes from banning it. It should be made extinct. Now if someone could ban fish in the microwave I would appreciate that as well.

2. Why are there even sidewalks? What is their purpose other than another express way for bikes and scooters. It is hard to be a pedestrian in China. It is just not safe it is a live Frogger game everyday. The side walks are also uneven, full of spit, and poop you have to watch your step and even when you do, you can fall down. I had dreams of being like the girls on Sex in the City in my power suits and high heels. Yeah, doesn’t happen. I wear my crazy faded colored clothes I had for 3 years in flats and still fall down.

3. Spitting and snot rockets I can’t stand it! It is so gross. The amazing David Sedaris said it best on a visit to China thinking it was a coffee bar. Exactly, it is what is sounds like someone making damn cappuccinos all the time. The reason why people take off their shoes in houses is because the streets are so disgusting full of spit, poop, you name it.

4. Polluted elements. The pollution, the gray, yellow haze gets old really fast. There are days you taste it. Also smoking is everywhere. Even though Shanghai has a ban on smoking in restaurants no one observes or enforces it so you go out and it is like a smoking box. Makes going out to my beloved happy hour a problem. The water. I hear the water is bad because of the old metal pipes  and thousands of dead sick pigs being disposed of in the river and who knows what else. “Organic” is getting big here but I don’t care if it says “organic”, how do you really know? I mean really? Things say Louis Vuitton as well and I know that not to be true… it cost $15. Also if it is organic, where is the water coming from? Is it being imported? Because the rain water is polluted from the air and the other water, the pipes are bad. I don’t believe it for a second. This is pretty concerning when I think about it so I must move on or I will be on the next plan home.

5. Nail clipping and public grooming. This includes nose picking, ear cleaning,  shaving, and zit popping. All done in public, airplanes, metro, at your office desk.

6. The Great Firewall of China and the slow ass internet. It is ridiculous. Guess that is what happens when all traffic is monitored. Need to slow it down so the poor folks who are reading emails and checking what we are doing on the Internet can take it all in.

7. Flight delays. I think I have been on maybe 2 flights that have left on time in China since I have been here and I travel a lot. They are always delays and can be delayed for days. The gov owns the airspace and there are days they decide to do whatever it is that they do and there is no communication. The airlines have no idea what is going on, all they know if they can’t fly planes so you sit and wait with no info. It is awesome. I have learned to fly on the earliest flights out because no gov employee likes to get up early… go in the afternoon you will be stuck!

8. Squat toilets. If using a squat toilet isn’t enough there is also no toilet paper, soap, or paper towels that just add to the public restroom experience.

9. Fapiaos! I hate fapiaos they make no sense to me and a pain to ask for so I don’t which gets me in trouble at work when I do an expense report because they won’t accept my receipt without the damn fapiao because otherwise I could be lying. It is one of the most inefficient things I have experienced next to the bag checks at the metro stations. Those poor folks.

10. Learning Chinese. The tones they are hard for me, I am tone deaf-HA! There is one word that is pronounced 4 different ways via the tone and has 4 different meanings. When you can’t hear the difference in the tones you end up having no idea what is being said exactly and most of the time just wrong. It is not just my problem, even locals can’t understand each other which is funny. Darn complicated language.  I also have been made fun of when I speak, told I speak like a baby, I don’t make fun of you when you speak Chinglish… so why are you giving me s$^% about my Chinese? I want to be applauded for my efforts, gold star, high-five.. but no… I also swear I am saying the same thing, the exact same way but I am wrong and corrected. So I gave up! It is too hard so I stopped at  basic survival skills, shopping and ordering food and drinks. I get by.

There you have it my list of living in China for 4 years & 4 months. I still wonder how did that happen?!?




Another Reason To Carry Nail Clippers

Not only do you carry nail clippers to take care of your personal grooming needs when you are at your desk at work, on the metro, on a plane, walking down the street, in the airport lounge (Todd) all things I have seen. You also keep them handy to trim your food’s nails. A friend of mine who works at the CCTV building in Beijing (the one that looks like pants) took this when eating at the cafeteria. I am concerned he was eating chicken feet and will take that up with him later.  I have heard them called chicken paws and chicken claws. I thought it was a translation thing when going from Chinese to English. I am rethinking that.. they are really chicken claws, I think chicken talons is the better word choice. EEEEWWWW!

Bring your clippers!

Bring your clippers!

Holy Flasher Banana Batman!

I really don’t know what is up with these flasher bananas found in the grocery store with one like Batman and the other holding a knife.  I may never be able to look at bananas the same way again.

Flashing Bananas

Innovative Scooter Child Seat

I remember when Britney drove with her child on her lap and people lost their damn minds. At least she was in a SUV. In China, people, babies, pets or packages are not strapped in. I know about the packages my heater arrived to me as if it fell 3x off a scooter from the top of the Jin Mao building. Even in cabs there are no car seats. What you do is chain the chair to the scooter, not the child to the chair here is an example spotted on the sidewalk ready to go.

Scooter Child Seat

It does amaze me how when expecting a mother in China may be on bed rest the whole time, wears a special smock everyday to prevent radiation and such from computers, tvs, cell phones, to keep the unborn baby safe. I understand where this comes from having a one child policy for so long, it is precious cargo. What I don’t get is once birthed the child travels in a chained chair on a scooter. The baby is protected from harmful rays from TVs and computers yet you drive around with your once precious in a lawn chair where there are no traffic rules, just guidelines. Doesn’t make sense to me but what do I know I don’t have kids.

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