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The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth quarter review

22 Oct

I am trying to play catch up with my blog after such a long hiatus, so the content posted in the last nine months was not up to previous standards.  That said – I was reminded by my friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia that it is not a competition and I should continue to blog for the pleasure of it.

The eleventh quarter (like the last 12 months) was one of lots of travel – I had just finished six months at my new job and was definitely in the swing of things.  Unfortunately, that meant that the time I had to blog was reduced quite dramatically – meaning that I had to cut my post schedule, but I did manage to continue, which is more than I could say for June, July and August!

Even with the reduction in posts there were some fun elements and wanted to take the time to relive a couple of my favorites.  Do you remember either of these?

  • I posted on part of our trip to Greece and taking wedding photos in front of a certain church in “Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot).”  Every time I walk into my apartment I am reminded of that wonderful trip because our “money shot” has been blown up and framed on the wall above our couch.  Believe it or not, I have even more photos from Greece that never made it onto the blog – but at least I was able to give you a sense of the wonder of that honeymoon.  I would go back again in a minute!
The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

  • Replacing things in the new year (part 2) – My saga regarding the main air conditioner in our apartment where I narrowly missed an electrical fire thanks to the circuit breaker flipping.
    Would you use this plug?

    Would you use this plug?

    We have continued to have to replace things in this apartment, but did decide to stay another year when our lease came up in September.  The price is right, the location good and the landlord very responsive.  That said – I will predict now that this is our last year in this place (but I’ve been known to be wrong before.)  The most recent change was we got a new refrigerator at the end of August which we used as part of our negotiations.  It is larger than our old one and does not frost over every other week, so both of us consider it a good trade-up.

The eleventh quarter also contained Chinese New Year – introducing the Year of the Horse and after the official holiday we did slip off for a lovely vacation, so I’ll see if I have the energy to post on that one.  Any guesses where we went?

The twelfth quarter I also managed to get a handful of posts together – though this is when my work travel really started to pick up.  I’ll be posting retroactively on some of my trips (like the Hong Kong post earlier this month) to give you a sense of where I was and what happened – so more to come, but I did want to call out this post on living in Shanghai that I posted in May:

  • Door to door service – talked about the convenience of a big city – the good and the bad.  I’ve had even more things delivered since this post – not having to carry them and getting lower prices is a strong incentive, but luckily I have not had any more visits from the police recently.

I also thought I would leave a teaser – not all my travel in the twelfth quarter was for work.  Li and I managed to slip in a trip to Bali at the end of April that was absolutely phenomenal.  Here are a couple of photos.

A temple - and beautiful blue sky

A temple – and beautiful blue sky

Exotic Indonesian fare

Exotic Indonesian fare

Finally – the thirteenth quarter when I started posting again.

My most popular post was on Taxi Roulette – trying to figure out the best way to get a taxi and get around this city.  I have downloaded a new taxi app recently and am trying it out as well.  We’ll see how the taxi situation continues to evolve here in Shanghai.  Also – as per one of the comments – I have finally seen the new gold taxis on the streets.  They look like London Black Cabs, but they are gold – and since I was in London in June, I have a pretty recent comparison.  I haven’t ridden in one yet and don’t know if they are more expensive or have any special features, so more to come.

There are a couple of posts that continue to rack up the page views – even when I wasn’t posting which I find very interesting and thought I would call them up here as well.

1) Buying a jade bangle – which I did in Hong Kong two years ago AND

2) The pineapple cake wars – my descriptions of the two main competing pineapple cakes in Taipei in the summer of 2013.

I am guessing that somehow these two posts have gotten picked up by one or more search engines and they provide a steady stream of visitors to my blog.  It was definitely strange when I came back to see that traffic had not dropped all that significantly – which could be a good thing or a bad thing!  Folks don’t tend to leave comments on those posts now though – so I really appreciate those of you who stayed with me during the hiatus and your support as I share about my jumbled life.

Now I am (kind of) up to date, so hope to be back here soon with more stories in Shanghai and looking back over the last year.

Did I miss any posts you would have put at the top of your list?

 

The tenth quarter review

25 Jan

Wow – ten quarters later I am still keeping it up.  This review is slightly delayed, but I wanted to take the time to call out some of my favorites from the last three months.

I was able to share many posts from our trip to Greece – and the post that got the most views was looking out at the Horizons of Chania, Crete.  Even though not as popular as Santorini, Crete really made a strong impression on me and I would go back there in an instant.

Sunset in Chania

I started my new job and made a couple of trips to Beijing which I enjoyed.  Sometimes you need something new to remind you of what’s just around the corner.

Posing with Chairman Mao - note the gray sky

Posing with Chairman Mao

Finally – my new mini-series that I kicked off with posts from my cousin Matt – the I’m ready to move to China series.  His fresh set of eyes were a favorite of readers and mine too – now I just need to convince him to come back so he can write a follow-up series!

Did I miss a post you particularly enjoyed?  Let me know!  Looking forward to the upcoming year of the horse and lots more travel in February.  Come along for the ride!

2013 in review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  I will follow with my own comments for the year, but wanted to let you all see what I have been up to.

Following site stats is one of the fun parts of blogging.  I always wonder why certain posts strike a chord – or where my readers call home.  If you click below for the full report, you can see for yourself.

Surprisingly, some of my most popular posts in 2013 were written in 2012.  Who knew that buying a jade bangle and the Kunming airport would have such staying power?

Best wishes to you all for 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The 9th quarter review

17 Oct

The last quarter has flown by – it seems like just last week I wrote my last post celebrating Zhongguo Jumble’s two year anniversary.  Even though there was only one major trip in the last quarter (our trip to Greece) – I feel like I have been all over.

The posts show that as it was in the last quarter that I published many of my travels from the previous quarter as I got caught up with such a busy summer.  Travel posts were very popular and the following especially so:

Posing over 50 floors up

Posing over 50 floors up

1) Roppongi Hills & Tokyo City View – a post on my visit to Tokyo in May and getting swallowed by a spider (not quite)

Ready to dig in!

Ready to dig in!

2) The Pineapple Cake Wars – tasting two competing pineapple cakes in Taipei, Taiwan and hearing which kind others will choose.  The food in Taiwan was so good.  I would like to go back just so I can eat.  Taiwanese sausage has now become a staple in my kitchen.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

3) And We’re Back… – the initial post on our trip to Greece with just enough of a taste to keep people coming back to see what will happen.  I’ve only had time to get through the first day so far.

There were also two posts that sparked a lot of comments based on their topics which were more philosophical –

My mandarin accent – where I thought back to how I got my mandarin accent prompted by a taxi driver in Taipei, Taiwan

The Chinese dream – looking at the propaganda campaign that the Chinese government has been pressing lately and talking about what your dreams are.  Make sure you check out the comments on this post if you haven’t before, lots of good commentary that made me think even more.

And finally – two posts that I especially liked with some great photos to share.

The pavilion perched on the river with a tall building in the background

The pavilion perched on the river with a tall building in the background

A walk in Hefei – where I saw the possibility of a beautiful park over the Mid-Autumn Festival

Hammock with feet

Without a care in the world – photos from our trip earlier this year to Michigan, the place where I can put up my hair and dance crazy circles on the lawn.

It was a wonderful quarter and I look forward to the next one.  Did I miss your favorite post?  I’m still debating about the book possibility, so maybe more to come on that front.

More changes to come, so stick around and keep reading!  I anticipate more trips and of course, more views of Shanghai.  Autumn is my favorite season.  Happy Fall!

Should Zhongguo Jumble be a book?

8 Sep

My mom has put a bug in my ear to turn Zhongguo Jumble into a book.  For my previous blog, The Shanghai Chronicle – I successfully converted the first year of it into a book and gave it to her for Mother’s Day 2012.  It was a limited edition – of one.  I also took a couple months off from work during that period.

So now, the idea is stuck in my head.

I have been a very regular poster on Zhongguo Jumble since I began in July of 2011 – at this point I’m well over 300 posts and lots and lots of different topics.  If each post had its own page that would be over 300 pages.  I’m overwhelmed.

I’ve started thinking about possible ways to attack it  and thus far have come up with the below:

  1. Publish in a serial format – a small book quarter by quarter
  2. Separate posts on China from my travel posts
  3. Do a Shanghai only book
  4. Try a photo book and highlight some of the beautiful pictures
  5. Do things on a calendar year basis
  6. Try to split by topic or category

I’m really not sure which makes the most sense.  So – I am going to you, my readers, to see if you have any ideas.  I need your help.

Please complete the poll below to see what makes the most sense to you.

For my email readers, please make sure you click through to the blog post to vote.  Your votes count too!

After I get your feedback I’ll let you know my decision.  If I do make it real I would assume I will use Blurb again.  Blurb has the ability to “slurp” the blog posts into a basic framework and I was very satisfied with the quality of the printing last time.  However, if anyone has used another set of software I would be interested in knowing about it as well.

Have you ever thought about making your blog a book?  What considerations should I take?  If I did publish one – would any of you be interested in a copy?

Let me know!

Labor day

1 Sep

China celebrates labor day with most of the rest of the world on May 1st.  The US, however, celebrates the first Monday of September.  It is not a holiday here, but in honor of the US holiday I looked through the photos of our trip to the US earlier this year.

Many people travel over the Labor Day holiday.  They can travel by car, train or plane.

I actually prefer road trips, but seem to have been on a lot of planes recently.

I actually prefer road trips, but seem to have been on a lot of planes recently.

It means that you should take a rest from the ordinary.

Blue skies and the Capitol Building

Blue skies and the Capitol Building

Maybe it is going to a new place and seeing something new

Grinning in DC before the reflecting pool

Grinning in DC before the reflecting pool

or something old.

A look back at important history

A look back at important history

It could mean taking a walk –

Great day for a walk - anyone recognize the folks crossing the street with me?

Great day for a walk – anyone recognize the folks crossing the street with me?

and seeing what is around (birdwatching anyone?).

An eagle watching over Union Station in Washington DC

An eagle watching over Union Station in Washington DC

Or eating a cupcake –

Yummy cupcakes from our wedding reception!

Yummy cupcakes from our wedding reception!

Or just putting your feet up on the job.

Taking a break.

Taking a break.

If you’re in the US, how are you celebrating your labor day?  If not, what would you do if given a day off?

Awards!

15 Aug

I have been the very lucky recipient of several recognitions over the last few months.  Unfortunately, until now I haven’t been able to reciprocate due to my crazy schedule.

My friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia (mostly) nominated me for the Liebster Award.  This is the second time I have received that award, so I will not reply to the requirements again, but I wanted to thank Carissa for the shout out and really amusing posts regarding her adventures.

liebster-award

Mona at monahoward.com nominated me for the Wonderful Team Member Award.

Wonderful team member award - bringing sunshine to others!

Wonderful team member award – bringing sunshine to others!

Many moons ago, Mona was actually responsible for my very first award – the Versatile Blogger.  Getting a double nomination from her and knowing that she has been one of my loyal readers for almost these two years is a great feeling.  The Wonderful Team Member Award I hadn’t heard of previously and I find it pretty interesting.  The rules are below:

1.The Nominee of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.
2.The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little.
3.The Nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during 7 days.

Since I like to break the rules on awards, I will note some of the readers I most appreciate and a couple of new blogs, below.

The readers that have been with me the longest and continue to post comments and likes are those that I am happy to have “on my team.”  These include some special folks who don’t actually have blogs of their own –

– My good friend Valerie who commented at the beginning when I wasn’t sure anyone was reading along – and

– My parents (even though they don’t comment publicly, they often send me notes and call me regarding my blog content)

Then there are some other loyal blog followers whom I would like to thank – their blogs are also great!

Third Eye Mom who always has an interesting point of view

Expat Lingo – who posts on Hong Kong and the zaniness of life in Asia

Polly – who I have recently started following who teaches English in Russia – we bonded over shared stories of whether to wear slippers in the house!

Lady of the Cakes – who reminds me of my year in Spain

Sarah in Guangzhou – who is no longer in Guangzhou but continues to follow along and comment on my adventures.

No pressure to reciprocate or send the award out, but thank you for making me want to continue to blog!

I would also like to send a shout out to my readers in New Zealand.  Over the last few days I have had a huge uptake in readership.  When looking at the stats it appears that somehow, someone in New Zealand has found my blog and been reading it very closely.  I like to imagine it is the former tenants of my current apartment who were Kiwis.  However, since I never met them and have no idea who they are, I would guess it is some other New Zealander – but, thank you, whomever you are!

Finally, recently – Sherri at A View from my Summerhouse nominated me for The Inner Peace Award.  It is an award with no requirements – something pretty cool.  I like the idea that my blog can spread inner peace.  I post on lots of things – some peaceful, some not.  Take it for what you want!

inner-peace-award

And that’s this awards edition.  Please check out some of the wonderful individuals who have nominated me or who have followed me for the last two years.  Let’s hope I’m in it for another two!

The architecture of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

11 Aug

One late afternoon (after watching the storm roll in and out) during my visit to Taiwan, I continued to explore Taipei.  My last stop before heading back to the apartment was Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

The complex consists of two very traditional Chinese buildings – one a performing arts center and the other a museum, which flank a large gate leading into a colossal square.  It feels a little like the Forbidden City with the scale, meaning that the architecture is not set to a human dimension but is intended to awe.  At the end of the square is the memorial to Chiang Kai-shek.

By the large gate were a group of people protesting something but I wasn’t in the mood to poke around.  It could have been people wanting to rejoin with China, or propaganda for Chinese tourists who make their way there – I don’t know.  But the group wasn’t that large – less than 50 and so I continued forward.

The entrance gate

The entrance gate

The first thing I noticed was that square was full of children – I know Taiwan’s birth rate is declining, but you wouldn’t guess that from the number of kids running and playing and splashing through the puddles left over from the downpour.  Families walked and talked and snapped an occasional picture, enjoying the breeze and cooler temperatures from earlier in the day.

Music floated through the air from a concert going on – I am guessing they had opened the back doors to get a cool breeze and it was as if I had a soundtrack as I steadily approached the highest point to take a picture of the statue of Chiang Kai-shek.   Some of the music was traditional Chinese and another piece sounded like a John Phillips Sousa march – an eclectic mix to move me forward.

One of the great halls - with traditional tile roof

One of the great halls – with traditional tile roof

Looking down from the highest point I was able to view where I had come and enjoy the view.  No high rise apartment buildings crowded the square – the gardens below laid out a patchwork quilt of patterns only visible from above.

Chiang Kai-shek flanked by the Taiwanese flag

Chiang Kai-shek flanked by the Taiwanese flag

Looking back from the top of the monument

Looking back from the top of the monument

I didn’t study the history before I visited Taiwan – different websites had different points of view as to the version of events that were emphasized in different places.  As I stood there I wondered about the people who built the square and their intended purpose.  I thought about what they would think about the current state of relations between Taiwan and China.  Then, I stopped.  For that afternoon, for me – the architecture and feeling of awe was enough.

Viewing the gardens

Viewing the gardens

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This post was inspired by Where’s My Backpack’s Travel Theme – Architecture.  If you’d like to see how others visualize the theme please click the link.

Architecture can influence our emotions and rally us around an idea or a concept.  The cathedrals of Europe, the temples of India, the pyramids of Egypt, the great wall of China – all were created by people who were searching for a bigger purpose.  They were representing things greater than a single individual.  What architecture do you enjoy the most? Where have you had that “sense of awe” recently?

Summer slippers

2 Jun
Our new summer footwear

Our new summer footwear

One of the changes that I have noticed in myself since I moved to China is in regards to my footwear.  Growing up, I was never a slipper person – I ran around barefoot in the summer and in socks during the winter.

When I moved to China over five years ago, that all started to change.  Not having central heat meant that in the winter the floors were icy and there is no carpeting to warm your feet in the morning.  Plus, when anyone comes into your apartment, they start to ask if they need to take off your shoes.  All of the apartments I have lived in here have had a special shoe rack, drawer or cupboard right by the door which facilitates the practice as well.  Hotels (even the economy ones) give you a free pair of slippers to change into in the room.  It’s not a bad practice.

So, I’ve started to adapt.  I have purchased winter slippers and summer slippers.  I know that summer slippers should be open toed and have a bamboo or plastic interior, while winter slippers are more for warmth and ankle coverage is the ideal.  When I had my big Thanksgiving party last year, I counted to make sure that I had enough slippers for all guests.  I like the fact that my shoes are by the door – it’s convenient and keeps the house cleaner, especially during Shanghai’s rainy season.

My cleaning lady is convinced that not wearing slippers can cause illness – if I have guests who do not wear slippers she asks me if they are feeling ok.  It’s one of those strange differences between foreigners and Chinese people in her mind.

Expat Lingo (a blog that I follow regularly), recently did a post on just this fact – what is normal can change easily between cultures.  I had been thinking about writing about my slipper habit and that post pushed me over the edge.  To see her comic representation of “eastern” vs. “western” please click here.

What type of family are you?  Shoes on or shoes off?  Shoes off are you barefoot or slippers?  From my own experience, I find it is possible to change from one to the other – have you experienced such a shift?  What do you think of our new summer footwear at the beginning of this post?

Art Shanghai 2013

7 May

At the end of April I got a note from a friend asking if I’d like to go see the Art Shanghai exhibition near Hongqiao Park as she had a couple of free tickets.  I hadn’t seen her for over a month, so we booked a sunny Sunday morning and met up right when the exhibits were supposed to open.

I’ve never gone to an art exhibition in Shanghai before and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.

A windy day at Art Shanghai

A windy day at Art Shanghai

There were several tents with different focuses including glass blowing and more traditional painting.   We went into the glass blowing tent first and there were several interesting works of art that made me look a little closer.

Glass within glass - substantial yet delicate

Glass within glass – substantial yet delicate

The color of this piece caught my eye

The color of this piece caught my eye

With the paintings and photography exhibits I liked this set below.

A set of pictures or photos that combined east and west

A set of photos that combined east and west

Another painter we liked and were discussing his work between the two of us.  We were looking around and all of a sudden I thought I saw a man that looked like the artist and started pointing at him to my friend.  All of a sudden he came over to us and started asking us about whether we liked his paintings and which aspects we enjoyed the most.  It was a unique experience for me to speak with an artist like that.  He was French (according to his accent and the bio which was posted on the wall that my friend helped translate).

A walk through the forest in spring

A walk through the forest in spring

The artist himself!

The artist himself!

In general the fair wasn’t crowded which was rare for anything in Shanghai.  I think the temperature may have had something to do with it because although it was sunny, it was pretty cold and being outside not so great.

There was also a street with lots of little booths that screamed “craft fair.”  For a city as large as Shanghai it made me smile because I think the craft fairs that happen at our summer house in Michigan each summer are larger than this one.  However, I haven’t seen something like this in Shanghai before, so I’m sure if I wait a couple of years it will be a huge event.  We got in at the ground floor.

As we walked around, I realized I had been to this park before on one of my walking tours through Shanghai last year through Hongqiao Park.  The statues and scenery looked familiar – after five years I’m finally re-crossing paths from before.  It’s such a large city that there is much more to explore but that was a comforting feeling that I may actually be fitting in here.

Hongqiao bridge - though looking a little yellow at this point! (Hong means red in Mandarin, qiao means bridge)

Hongqiao bridge – though looking a little yellow at this point! (Hong means red in Mandarin, qiao means bridge)

Have you ever visited a place unknowingly for a second time?  It seems to happen more and more these days – especially as I never bother to learn the name of restaurants that I visit here.  Share your stories!

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