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The seventh quarter review

21 Apr

Hard to believe that in a few months I will hit the two year mark with Zhongguo Jumble.  The time continues to speed by, days blurring together.  I feel very lucky that I have the blog to look back at to remind myself what I was doing and where I have been.  For some reason my following has tailed off over the last month – so if you’re out there, please give me a shout out!

The seventh quarter has been a busy one – lots of travel and visitors which has meant that finding the time to blog has been a bit of a challenge.  Even with that pressure though, I remained fairly consistent and had some great comments on my posts from the last three months.

Here are three of my favorites.

  • Chinese Voicemail – Weixin – this post about this app on my phone sparked a lot of comments as well as plenty of views.  Weixin has been in the news lately as the largest mobile phone company (China Mobile) is contemplating banning it because it is free.  They claim to have lost money from text messages, especially over the Chinese New Year season.  I’m not sure how it will turn out – but for the moment I am enjoying the photo sharing.  At a training I went to recently we even made our own Weixin group where we are doing follow-up actions.

Weixin logo

  • Musk cat coffee – this post got lots of interesting reactions to the fact that this restaurant was in my office.  Musk cat coffee is coffee that has gone through the digestive track of an animal that is based in Indonesia.  A couple of months after the store has opened, it seems to be doing a brisk business, but I don’t know of anyone who has tried their specialty.
And what exactly is a musk cat?

And what exactly is a musk cat?

  • My adventures in Cambodia – I have posted on the first three days of our adventures in Cambodia and all of these posts have gotten great feedback.  Continue to be patient with me as I go through the last two days of photos.  More great shots to come!  The entry that received the most feedback was the one I did on Angkor Wat – the most famous temple in Siem Reap.
View from the very top of Angkor Wat - think 1000 years ago how high this was - even taller than the tallest trees

View from the very top of Angkor Wat – think 1000 years ago how high this was – even taller than the tallest trees

I’ve got more travel and some great adventures coming up in the next quarter, so keep tuned.  Your comments inspire me to keep sharing about my daily adventures and occasional travels.

Did I miss one of your favorite posts?  If so – let me know which should have been at the top of my list.

Gone fishing

17 Mar

Per the title of this post, I am not at home.  Visitors and trips have taken the driver’s seat to posting itself.  Rest assured I will return in a week with more of my trip to Cambodia and other adventures.

When you need to take a break, where do you go?

The sixth quarter update

15 Jan

Zhongguo Jumble has been in existence just over a year and a half now.  Even though I recently published my 2012 Year in Review post, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out some of my favorite posts from the last quarter.

What to write next?  Who knows?

My own favorites?  What to write next? Who knows?

I’d characterize last quarter as being the “quarter of comments.”  I got lots and lots of great feedback from readers and in my opinion that feedback made the posts themselves better and more thought provoking.  I also realized that people feel connected to me and my family and friends via the photos and stories that I publish.  That has been a powerful learning and motivation as well.

Posts that generated a discussion through the comments last quarter were:

Sweet treats and Christmas wishes – this was a post where I noticed the globalization in my local bread store with Christmas specials of different types of bread.

TCKs – putting people into boxes – here I talked about TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and how difficult it can be to grow up in a different culture than your parents.  This was a thought provoking post about slang and language and how it can change.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Shanghai – my first ever Thanksgiving dinner (as hostess) was a resounding success and my readers enjoyed it as well.

In addition I participated in a couple of photo challenges, though fewer than the previous quarter.  The post that was “liked” the most was a photo taken by a good friend during my first Chinese New Year in Shanghai about being foreign.

If you missed any of the above posts, I suggest that you check them out.  Or if I missed one of your favorite posts, please leave me a comment about which post you enjoyed the most.

Over the last 18 months I have published over 230 posts.  Sometimes I get questions from my family as to where I come up with ideas for my posts and whether I ever feel I will run out of ideas.  Ideas come from all kinds of places – some are from blogs or topics posted by others, sometimes it is something crazy that happens at work, or something a colleague or friend says.

To answer the second question – “Yes!  I often feel that I will run out of ideas.”  The last quarter especially has been a tough one.  I didn’t travel at all for work and it felt like my life was getting predictable.  I can’t be sure where the next post will come from, but I do know at least that living in Shanghai isn’t boring as long as  I keep my eyes (and ears and nose) open.

Keep tuned in for 2013 and beyond.

How do you keep your motivation on a long term project?

2012 in review

3 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  As I have just returned to China after wonderful Christmas holidays, it may take me a few days to get my act together, so please enjoy this summary.

Thank you for your support, comments and likes over the past year!  Keep posted for 2013!!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cabin fever

8 Nov

I have been in Shanghai continuously since my trip to Korea at the beginning of September almost two months ago and I have a serious case of cabin fever.

We had debated traveling over the October holiday but with my apartment move and then getting sick, it was just too much at the time.  Personal traveling right now is tough with Li’s work schedule as his business travel schedule is intense.  My business travel has been cut back [cost control before the end of the year]. And now I’m antsy.

It’s not to say that the last two months haven’t been busy and I have a trip back to the US planned for Christmas so in theory I shouldn’t feel like this.  I’ve channeled it into lots of fun things – meetings with friends, more yoga classes (I finally learned how to say “Downward Facing Dog” the other day! 下犬式), concerts, Notre Dame events, trying out my new oven.  But the last couple of weeks the feeling just keeps coming back.

Maybe go to Xiamen for a weekend?  How about I fly to Hong Kong?  Buy tickets to Singapore?  I went to dinner with an acquaintance last week and she was going to Moganshan and I thought about asking her if I could go too – even though it was a group of German expats and I don’t speak German.  I’m even considering just going by myself off for a bit.

I’m trying to take this feeling as a positive note.  Last year I was burned out – the idea of extra travel made me want to dive under the covers and turn off the light (but even so I did go to Shenzhen and Kunming/Dali with Li in November of 2011).  The fact that I have enough energy to be antsy means that I am doing better in balancing my life and work.

Where should I fly?

So – where do you think I should go?  Any travel recommendations?  I’m looking for a two to three day trip that I can fit in between now and Christmas.  I even have Air China and China Eastern miles that I could use to get my tickets.  All suggestions are welcome.

The fifth quarter update

16 Oct

The last quarter has been an exciting one from a blogging perspective – I pushed through some personal goals including over 300 clicks in one day and over 1500 clicks for a month (August)!  Even more than that though are the comments and stories that I hear from all of my readers.  Next week I’ll have made it to my 200th post.  Thank you for giving me the support and confidence to keep going on this journey.

Over the last quarter I also started participating in different weekly themes and challenges which have been very warmly received.  I feel like I am connecting to the greater blogging community and I even volunteered for a guest post on a popular blog – Third Eye Mom – and it was accepted for the author’s  (Nicole) Feature Friday series which just came out on last Friday, October 12th.

Personally I wasn’t sitting around much.  I had trips to Singapore, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Korea as well as moving office space, finding and moving to a new apartment, celebrating my birthday, lots of Notre Dame alumni events and luckily a nice vacation (staycation) for October holidays to decompress.  Fall is my favorite season in Shanghai and I continue to enjoy each day – especially the blue sky days.

View from my old apartment

View from my old apartment -2

Below is a look back of some of the highlights over the last quarter.

Travel Themes – Travel themes are put forward each week by Ailsa of Where’s my Backpack and they are a spark of inspiration for posting ideas and lead to beautiful photos.  I don’t have the time or patience to find perfect photos each week, but when I have – it’s been incredible.

Travel Theme – Leading Lines was the first time I participated and the photo of the moon over Lake Huron remains one of my favorite shots of all time.

Moon over Lake Huron

Travel Theme – Signs was another contribution and it merited the most comments on a post that I had this month.  So much so that I posted a follow-up to the theme several weeks later.  If you didn’t comment so far – please click this link and let me know which sign is your personal favorite.

Most popular – the post which received the most clicks that I wrote this month was my post on Buying a jade bangle in Hong Kong.  I guess there must be many others looking to do the same thing.  An update – the bruise on my hand from getting it off the first day did heal, but each time I put it on I soap up my hand and the bracelet to ensure that does not happen again.  I think it is the cleanest piece of jewelry I own!

Weekly photo challenge – I participated in a couple of the WordPress challenges as well and the post with the most feedback was on the topic – Solitary.  The combination of beautiful photos from my travels (and my office) struck a chord with readers.  What is solitary for you?

Travel post – I’ve posted on several different aspects of my visit to South Korea and my post on the Seoul Tower and the displays of locks there was my personal favorite over the last month.  Gotta love a dust bin with sweet words on it!

Changing Shanghai – I noted several different conflicts that I expect will continue as Shanghai continues to urbanize.  Two to call out here include – when I ran into my office cleaning lady washing her hair in the sink – in Two Different Worlds and when I snapped photos of the abandonment of buildings near a very popular street I live on in Urban Shanghai.  These posts make me think and hopefully remember a specific point in time in this changing city.

Which was your favorite over the last quarter?  If I missed it – let me know which post and why.  Happy fall and hope to hear from you soon.

Happy Birthday to me!

23 Sep

Happy Birthday to me!

At the time that this post will be published I will be cheering for my alma mater (Notre Dame) at an ungodly early hour (due to the time difference) in the annual rivalry against the University of Michigan. My family is a divided family – Notre Dame vs. Michigan where the taunting and heckling come out every year.

I remember once my grandmother called my father (different sides of the rivalry) and heckled him after Michigan won.  I’m lucky to be able to see the game this year.  After the game I plan on spending the afternoon at a spa.  Even though I am not yet fully unpacked, some “me” time will be the perfect antidote to a busy schedule.

Perhaps my birthday luck will lead the Irish to a victory?  I hope so.

The fourth quarter update

15 Jul

A year ago I wrote my first post for Zhongguo Jumble – time certainly goes quickly!  I’ve had around 5700 page views in that time and been blessed with lots of comments and friends following my experiences. I’ve stuck to a pretty strict posting schedule of three times a week and used my blog to notice some things that may have slipped past me before.

The last quarter has been a very busy time – lots of travel including Tengchong, Hong Kong, multiple places in the US and my trip to Mt. Tai.

I’d like to call out a few posts from the last quarter.  If you missed them the first time around, please check them out and also let me know if I missed your favorite.

The most popular posts that I had last quarter were:

1) Exploring Shanghai – Red Town Sculpture Garden – This was one of my walking tours in the Shanghai area of a really interesting part of town.  It was a beautiful spring day and I’d highly recommend it if you’re in Shanghai – though you may want to wait until it cools down.

2) Layover at Kunming Airport – Before I went to Tengchong I had a long layover in Kunming.  This post keeps popping up as a search term for my blog and so I’m guessing that lots of other folks also have had a long layover there as well.

3) The Bund At and After Sunset – These beautiful photos taken by my friend David capture Shanghai from truly a special angle.  They are well worth a second look.  I’ve put one of them here again to inspire all of you to visit Shanghai.

The post that merited the most comments over the last quarter was my post about the gala dinner that I attended in Hong Kong. That dinner was a look at a side of China that on the mainland I don’t see very often and it was a global affair with folks from lots of different countries all enjoying the evening.

I also had two recent posts that were more serious and thought provoking than my typical travel posts.  I posted on manners in China, wondering about respect for others and I also posted about my friend who had a second baby (a little sister) in the shadow of the one child policy.

Which post was your favorite?  Did I miss one that you especially liked?  Let me know, your feedback will help Zhongguo Jumble move into its second year.  Thanks again for your support.

The third quarter review

17 Apr

Nine months ago when I started Zhongguo Jumble, I wasn’t thinking about where the blog may be in the next nine months.  I was hoping that I could commit to something other than my job by focusing on the positive and strange events that happen each day and hopefully share the experiences with my friends and family.  It was a trip with my coworkers in June of 2011 that served as inspiration for my first post – Playing in the Clouds – and since then I have published over 115 posts – slightly more than three a week.  The third quarter saw a large uptick in readership, especially in March, where I doubled my previous monthly high views, with over 3500 clicks to date.

By far the most popular post of the last quarter was my entry on Helmet Diving in Boracay, which showed photos of our helmet dive from our trip to the Philippines over Chinese New Year.  Close behind was the post that I did about Butterflies at the Airport in Singapore which was picked up by “My apple menu – Singapore”‘s data feed.  On Easter I had well over 60 people click the link and get directed to Zhongguo Jumble.  I find it ironic that my top two posts are not about China, but posts that I did about “The Monkey King – Sun Wu Kong” inspired by the new Journey to the West miniseries shown on Chinese TV and a discussion about Evolving Shanghai that was triggered by my friend Erica’s visit where I tried to look at the Shanghai I’ve lived in for over four years with fresh eyes, also did very well over the last quarter.  Aside from these very popular posts, I have a few favorites to remember as well.

1) Photography – Boracay Final Photos – the final post I did from our Boracay trip contains the photos that I just had to include after culling through over a thousand shots.  The effortless way they transport me back when I look at them makes me smile every time.  Actually – all of my Philippines posts seemed to connect with folks and I believe they also introduced some new readers to the blog.  For more photos and our experiences you can click “Philippines” in the topics on the right side.

2) Comments – I did a post on the renovations in my local shopping center and trying to find peanut butter.  This post really struck a chord with my readers and is my most commented post to date.  It reminds me that sometimes it is the small things that can transport you back home.

3) Singapore travels – My business trips to Singapore turned into several posts on Singapore as well as business travel in general.  For specifics you can click “business travel” or “Singapore” from the topics on the right side of the page.

4) Chinese New Year – I did several posts on the year of the dragon, capped off by my favorite documenting the fireworks in my apartment complex on Chinese New Year’s Eve.  Three months into the year of the dragon – things are looking good!

Thank you for your continued support and send an early birthday shout out to my sister, Anne.  Happy birthday!

Did I miss your favorite from the last several months?  If so – let me know!

Time warp

22 Jan

Due to a serious cold,  I recently headed home after lunch one afternoon so that I could take some extra rest.  It was a bright sunny day and everyone was enjoying the springlike weather.  There was bedding airing on the street corners and the ubiquitous clean laundry hanging from windows.  As I sneezed my way towards my apartment I noticed that I was the youngest person by far on the street.  It seemed like everyone was over 60 years old, walking along, playing cards or mah jong or sitting in the sun on little tiny chairs. 

In front of the corner convenience store there was a row of half a dozen very senior citizens, eyes closed in chairs that a three year old would be comfortable in.  The contrast between the modernity of the local “Family Mart” which isn’t even 6 months old and the creased, knowledgeable faces relaxing in the sun twisted my sense of time.  The elders relaxing in the sun looked as though they had seen everything – and given the history of China over the last 7o to 80 years, that could be a fair statement.

And so, as I made my way home, the day and pressure and stress fell away, absorbed into the sunshine and time warp on that street corner.

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