Day one in Bangkok, shopping!

Today, Mark and I had a super enjoyable time getting around Bangkok. We took a ride on the BTS Bangkok Sky Train to get to the Weekend Outdoor Market.

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The temperature was in the 80’s, so it felt great not wearing a jacket.

I purchased a couple coffee, tea, or hot water mugs that were very unique looking, and made in Thailand.

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We watched this man put on a great show.

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He did such a great job with the show, that Mark and I bought a cup to drink, still not knowing exactly what it was.

http://www.littlejoanie.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Milk-Tea-Video.flv

After the first taste we knew it was milk tea. Quite delicious!

After the shopping and refreshments, a well needed massage was in order.

An outdoor massage parlor, filled the bill. I had the 30 minute neck and shoulder, while Mark enjoyed the foot massage. It was a true bargain at $5.00 each. Ohhh I love Thailand.

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The sun actually came out, so a purchase of sun glasses was next.

I found these Ray-Ban  for $6.00.

CIMG5048Jenda or Jauda (sp?) ??

Free gifts with purchase

The best part about shopping with Simon is to see what the retailers will throw in to close the deal.

We received these beautiful copper candlesticks (along with the polishing gloves), with the purchase of the light fixtures.

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Free small vacuum with the purchase of the washer and drier, along with a food dehydrator.

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Free DVD player, and clothes steamer with the purchase of a couple TV’s.

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Shopping just won’t be the same when  I get back to the US.

Mark and I are off the Bangkok Thailand for the next week. Mark to work and me to soak in the sun as suppose to be in the high 80’s.

Reflections of the past 16 months in China!

Life is changing for me in a very good way with the move to Beijing so I would like to reflect on the life I am leaving behind.

It was with some anxiety about my future when I moved to Changzhi 16 months ago, as I was leaving my children, a job that I loved, friends, and my warm cozy house. Mark and Simon did a great job getting the apartment ready for me, so when I arrived I was ready to take on the world. It only took a few weeks to realize that the life I knew, was not going to be repeated with much ease. I always thought I was kind of a “go with the flow” person, but living in a place that is totally foreign can be very difficult when you spend the majority of the day by yourself. I learned that it was okay to spend the day by myself, going for a walk every morning,  enjoying blogging on the computer, reading, taking a nap, day after day, day after day. It sounds good to most, but gets old very quickly when you have  no one to share the day with. So I learned many things about myself, that I will not miss with the move.

I won’t miss a freezing cold apartment where I had to carry hot water bottles around me all day long in order not to freeze, and that was with the heat on.  I totally despise being cold, and the thought of another cold winter could push me over the edge. Our new apartment will be much better.

I learned many things about politics from watching “Bloomberg’, and stocks from watching CNBC nightly with Mark’s co-workers. I think I learned enough for a life time so I won’t have to watch these shows anymore.

To be able to put a load of wash in the machine and not worry about checking on it every 5 minutes to see if it tipped over will be a treat.

To be able to turn on the heat, oven and micro wave at the same time and not blow the circuits.

To go into a bathroom and not smell any foreign odors.

To not have black slippers, or socks even though the floor is mopped constantly.

To  not hear the constant banging of hammers, and the constant beeping of horns day and night.

It was Laura who suggested that I get a sewing machine to help pass the time, which was a wonderful idea. I would remind myself while sewing that if I were at home I would not be sewing during the day, but trying to cram it into the evenings. I made 4 quilts so a huge accomplishment.

We joined a gym, and I learned that I really did like to swim. Thanks mom for making me take the swimming lessons over and over to finally get in the water.

I learned that I really do like eggplant, watermelon, lemon ice tea, and still do not like lots of garlic and spicy food, and not real milk.

I learned that I enjoy blogging and can do more on the computer that I ever thought I would be able to do.

I now enjoy (don’t hate) deep pressure massages.

In the last year, I have been stretched in more ways than one, and as some would say “stronger for it”. I don’t know about that, but have much stronger likes and dislikes.

I have learned,

Chaoyung park, airport 010

Whenever people would ask where I lived in China, and Beijing would be mentioned, I would say that I would be on cloud nine if I lived there.

Well here I go, I have always enjoyed my trips to Beijing, so I am ready to climb mountains with my positive attitude. Will let you know!

Moving Day

The day has arrived for me to pack all my belongings and leave Changzhi for the big city of Beijing.

The 4 packers arrived at 9:00 and went straight to work packing all of our treasures to take with us. Amazing to watch as they make a box for everything to be moved. Like our big couch, chairs, plants.

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the couch before

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part of the couch all wrapped

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A short video of the men packing. Mark and I spent an hour yesterday working on the video part of my blog, as all new and I was having problems. This worked so I  think I have it figured out. (Matt will be happy)

http://www.littlejoanie.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/moving-video.flv

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Off to seek out some new adventures in Beijing.

Duan Duan is 100 days old!

Simon came over this morning to help with the supervising of the packing for our move to Beijing. While here, I was able to get some cute photos of Duan Duan when Simon and Wendy had the big celebration for him on his 100th day.

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They were all so cute,  just couldn’t pick one, so showing all of them.

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Look at that face.

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I loved this one.

4Look at those cute slippers.

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Simon  lost 14 kilos over the last few months, so will show the old Simon and then the new one. I think fatherhood agrees with him.

Simon's birthday email

All your hard work has paid off.

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My dear friend Susan is expecting a baby soon

When I first came to China 5 years ago, I lived at the mine in the guest house with Mark.

Susan was the first friend there and made my life meaningful. She arranged volunteer teaching at the local school, and would leave her job everyday to walk me up the hill to the school. Some evenings when Mark would work late we would walk on the stone walls that surrounded the peanut farms. I enjoyed her company immensely and will always remember her kindness when I was so far from home and family.

Susan got married last year, but unfortunately Mark and I were out of town, so we missed the wedding.

She came to visit yesterday so a very exciting day to meet her husband, and see her looking so cute pregnant. She is due in a couple weeks, so started her 6 month maternity leave to relax a little before the baby comes.

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Susan (5 years ago) along with Mary. You have seen me with Mary’s little “Gua Gua”

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I wish Susan the best and will let all of you know when she receives her bundle of joy!

My last morning walk around Changzhi!

This morning I slept in a little and then decided to go for my last morning walk around Changzhi. The packers come on Monday and I will fly to Beijing on Tuesday morning with Simon as Mark leaves on Monday.

The sun was trying to peek thru the haze, and it is actually warmer here than in Beijing.

cute sign on building under construction next door

Last walk

This man has been setting up his bird cages every morning the last few weeks. I assume he is trying to sell them. The birds look like the common bird you see flying around.

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walking the dogs, by bike

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in the last year, many more garbage receptacles have been placed on the sdiewalks

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many people now fish at the local park where I walk

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first time I have seen a boy walking a dog

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on many mornings I see people walking backwards in the park (easy to take a picture)

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look at that tiny face peeking out of the blanket

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a grand opening of some business

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delivering tomatoes

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how about some vegetables

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I have walked past this rider for the last few weeks. In the back square containers are water and fish floating around.

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more fresh veggies

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snack corner, always at least 6 carts selling just about everything

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look at that fresh produce on one of the carts

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always old and new, the donkeys along with the new high speed buses

last walk 16What will I miss from my morning adventures? I will miss the donkeys.

The cold weather has arrived!

October is perhaps the most glorious month in Beijing, but now we are nearing the end of the month.  Most Beijiners will say there are only two seasons in the capital- the smoggy, sweltering summer and the dry, bitterly cold winter.

I have enjoyed many walks in the last few weeks when the temperature is cool, but not yet cold, the leaves on the tree-lined streets turn flaming yellow and the skies are often clear blue with white clouds.

The markets around the city are bursting with fall produce. Juicy persimmons, pears and apples beckon from stalls or the back of carts and you can buy bags of them for next to nothing.

October is the perfect month for Beijiners to wheel out their bikes and go for a recreational spin around town. It is not too smoggy and sweaty like in the summer, and no frozen toes and stinging wind biting your face in the winter.

October 2009 in Xian

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But, the last few days and have been a big reminder that winter is coming as the temperature has dropped and the heavier coats have come out of the closet. You need to put on the heavy coats as the heat only comes on in 3 weeks, November 15th. I visited Mark’s office this afternoon and many people were walking around with big scarves and coats on, which is depressing to think they will have to do this for weeks.

There have been many articles in the newspaper recently addressing the issue of when the heat should be turned on. I understand  they have made changes this year, so if it is around freezing for 3 days in a row they will turn the heat on all over the city. I for one am ready for some heat. Thankfully our hotel has been comfortable and when we checked out or new apartment is was also warm, thanks to good windows and better construction. Maybe I can look forward to not freezing  my bones this winter and actually enjoy the season.

Winter in Changzhi

best of sun

More pictures of the apartment

Many people in China, who can afford it, have live in help. So this apartment actually has two kitchens, one for us and one for help. So I get to work in two.

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kitchen and dining area

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small  patio off office

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master bedroom

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front lobby

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I go back to Beijing tomorrow with Mark and Simon to look for curtains, and light fixtures. Will let you know what we find.

Joan finds the apartment of her dreams

After looking for over a month, Mark signed on the dotted line yesterday to rent this apartment for a year.

We looked at many in the area, and were feeling some what discouraged, and then  found this gem with the help of one of Mark’s colleagues.

This picture was taken from the Marriott where we are staying. Our apartment is on the right with the four arched inside courtyards.

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It is on the 14th floor but since the Chinese are  superstitious, they call the 13th floor 12a, and ours on the 14th  is called 12b.

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The apartment complex is called Ocean Honored Chateau, and only a five minute walk  from Mark’s office.

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My favorite part is the patio and courtyard which can be viewed by the double doors on the left of the kitchen counter.

email apartment in Beijing, front hall, double doors for outside patio

The courtyard can be assessed by four floors.

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Voila, look at the view, and the peaceful serenity that I can enjoy daily.

email apartment in Beijing, patio, looking from kitchen door

It is brand new, and still needs curtains and light fixtures, so I will be busy over the next few weeks shopping with Simon. We hope to move in the beginning of November.

Life is Good :)