Two fun events in our last weeks in SH

Not everything during our last few weeks in Shanghai was stress and business. Two very cool things happened before we left and I’m glad we got to do both. Well, there was one where it was only me, but it was kind of a big deal.

My student teaching seniors graduated.

Not that I didn’t think they would not graduate, I knew they would, but when you see people that you have taught celebrate such an accomplishment it’s incredibly special. Hearing the college acceptances of some of the kids, seeing them get called for honors…it’s definitely a proud moment. This might sound corny, but seeing how happy they were to see me there meant everything. It made the long months of student teaching worth it and made me look forward to celebrating more academic and personal accomplishments with future students.

Here are some snaps with just a few of them:

Most importantly, I didn’t cry.

 

The second fun event I’ll highlight here on the blog was our day at Disneyland Shanghai.

Yes, it’s open, and yes, we got to go before we left. And it was amazing!

I went to Disney World when I was 5. Cameron’s last visit to a Disney park was to Hong Kong Disneyland 10 years ago (it had recently open). He is more excited about rides (and more daring) than me. So I wasn’t sure how well I would do, but I did pretty well.

I can’t compare to other parks because a) it’s been a long time, and b) I know a lot of changes have happened over time. I have to say, the delays in finishing the park were worth it. In my personal opinion it feels a bit more kid-oriented than other parks but it’s still lots of fun.

Waiting times are insane. Some rides had a 4 hour waiting time ON SOFT OPENING, which is when we went (one of the families in Cameron’s class has a parent who works for Disney as an engineer and helped design the park, so the tickets were Cam’s class present for the end of the year). Overall though, we got to go on our favorite rides more than once, so we were happy with that.

Here are some snaps from my phone. Doesn’t it look magical?

With love and magical fantasies for all,

Ana

Last weeks in Shanghai

Hi y’all!!!!!

We, the Nomadic Gregors, lived in China for 3 years and lived to tell the tale without anything super scary happening to us (especially on the food department, haha!)

We are now in the Land of the VPN Free, more specifically in the beautiful Evergreen State, enjoying some down time (and doggies!!!) and watching all the soccer our guts can handle. It’s a beautiful thing.

Our last few weeks went in a blur, just as expected. There were some arguments, and some crying, and lots of panic during the getting rid of stuff process, but downsizing is always a good exercise. We started packing and advertising for stuff to sell around mid-May, after taking some stuff to Jeju during our look-see visit. During May and June, our apartment was a giant mess of bags, taken-apart stuff, and bubble wrap.

We did get a few nice days here and there – springs in Shanghai are rather rainy, during which – while running errands – we went to the city and got some soothing sights like this:

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The Jing’an district in Shanghai is easily one of our favorite parts of town. These are signature trees lining its streets.

The last few days were pretty much spent doing last minute packing and deliveries, saying goodbye (or see you soon!) to people, and trying to soak it all in. This is what Cameron’s classroom looked like after being all packed up. He had to pack up every year but since he wasn’t coming back this year, it became a bit more significant so I snapped this picture from a corner:

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End of an era!

At the end of the day, we made it safe, with all our bags through the airport, and despite all the I Hate China Days we both had, we left China with our spirits intact and smiles on our faces:

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PVG < ICN < SEA one last time!

Fun Activities: the Shanghai Rolex Masters

Shanghai, the big city it is, has the advantage of attracting very cool events. From sports to some of the biggest acts in the performing arts (classical, pop or otherwise), there is usually rumor of someone coming and quite a few events happening. Among the sporting events that occur in Shanghai every year there is the Shanghai Masters (men’s tennis). Pretty much the biggest names in tennis play this tournament, considered one of the last big ones of the year. It also has a pretty impressive prize for the winner (about 4 million dollars – wow!)

Since we don’t know what will be next for us in terms of living situations, if it’s an experience we have the chance to live in Shanghai and it’s a big enough deal, we’ll go (provided we can afford it – some we simply can’t). I’ve been interested in tennis since about age 6 or 7 (the glorious years of Monica Seles and Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff), so, while we knew that on opening day we were not going to see anyone big (I was quite bummed when I found out that Victor Estrella – Dominican, and ranked in the 60s worldwide – was playing on Monday. I would have brought my Dominican flag along), we still thought going to a big tournament would be a fun experience. And it was.

You basically get a ticket for the day and you can go watch as many games as you want. We watched two or so – it was a school night, give us a break. The tennis complex is very nice – but wayyyyy out there! Probably a good hour and a half from our home, with two cab rides and a train ride with a transfer. A bit much. Schedule is posted outside and you can decide which games you want to watch. I was surprised to see so many small children – there always seem to be a lot of small children everywhere in China; I sometimes don’t understand the talk about this country having a population problem. However, I have to say it was all civilized and no one was being gross or distracting with their cell phones or selfie sticks.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day in Shanghai, perfect for sitting outside and watching the game. It was a bit sunny at first, which made our jackets unnecessary, but quite enjoyable. By the end of the day, air quality wasn’t very good, so the sunset was quite taking. You can see it, along with some court pictures, below.


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The Year of China Travels Part 1: Qingdao

Hi all!!!! We’re back!!!!! This is Ana transmitting from my desk because I have a prep period. Haha!

The life of a teaching couple is tiring!!!! We’re both out of the house early, we work in opposite sides of Shanghai, we are at school for long hours, well, that’s the job! Understandably, by the time we get home it’s workouts, dinner, relax, sleep. But in a way, we spend more time together because we don’t see each other as much during the day since I’m working so late.

This year we are focusing our travels inside China. China is a very big country and we do not expect to see all of it in the break periods we have, but we do want to see some of it. For our first holiday this year, we headed northeast to see Qingdao, capital of the Shangdong province and former German concession. As a result of the latter, Qingdao is the beer capital of China sort of – it is home to the Tsingtao brewery, probably the best known Chinese beer overseas. Tsingtao has been a-brewin’ away since 1903 – pretty impressive!

Our goals for this trip were simple and not ambitious at all: we wanted to rest and relax, see the Tsingtao brewery, and be by the water – oh yes, Qingdao is by the ocean so there are a few beaches! This is where the sailing competitions for the 2008 Olympics took place, so there is a marina, and a place to take sailing lessons, rent boats and so forth.

Chinese behavior on the beach is rather interesting: they definitely don’t go to the beach the way we do. Most people had their clothes on – not a lot of swimsuits, and definitely no bikinis -although I would say Chinese women are a bit more modest in their clothing choices. People mostly sit and hang out – no kiosks or waterfront restaurants/bars, you just sit on a rental chair and that’s it. There were some people in the water but not many. We were surprised at how clean the beach was. Maybe because it was a national holiday? It was also not crowded at all despite it being a nice day. It was still interesting.

Here are some phone snaps from the trip. Enjoy!

With love, breweries, and boardwalks,

The Gregors

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Chinese New Year – Hong Kong!

So this past Chinese New Year (the Year of the Ram…because goats and sheep are lame), Ana and I went and spent a week in the wonderful city of Hong Kong. ┬áHong Kong is my favorite city in the world. It takes all the crappy bits of mainland China and strips them away, leaving only the best parts. It is also a very English friendly city (compared to mainland) and it is, to me anyways, an almost perfect combination of Seattle (so much greenery), New York (buildings and shops tucked into more buildings and shops) and San Francisco (it’s on the bay and is quite hilly), though it has some of their down sides as well, expensive matchbox apartments.Hong Kong is neon signs and luxury cars. It is a 20 minute bus ride from 7 million people to lush trees and hills, full of hiking. It is down-to-earth delicious street food and upscale fine dining. Hong Kong has Disneyland and is an archipelago of hundreds of islands. It is efficiency stacked on top of efficiency. Hong Kong is truly a magical city.

It is, unlike its mainland Chinese counterparts, a mish-mash of cultures and people. Everything about Hong Kong screams international and its denizens are quite proud of that, and if you’ve caught the news in the last year, not so keen on their mainland counterparts.

While in Hong Kong, Ana and I enjoyed delicious foods, both street food and otherwise, and were able to enjoy beautiful weather in the middle of February. We ventured out to Stanley, where we were amongst greenery and sat at a pub by the water and enjoyed some drinks. We saw the Chinese New Year parade in Kowloon (crowded…). We enjoyed views from the Peak walked amongst the animals in Hong Kong’s Zoological Gardens. We also took a trip to Macau where we ate absolutely delicious foods, walked throughout the city and didn’t gamble (because it makes Vegas look like a back alley casino no one has been to in years) and had an absolutely amazing week!

Enjoy the pics!

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