Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It is all about family, friends and food; it is non-religious; there are no presents to stress over; and it is always on a Thursday, so usually you have a 4 day weekend! Sadly, living in Asia makes it hard to celebrate because I am far from family and friends, we don’t have any days off and it is difficult to get and cook a turkey!
This year though, a local import store was selling 10 pound frozen turkeys and our oven was big enough for the bird! We ordered one and asked some friends to come over for a Thanksgiving meal. They all made something as well and it was a wonderful day! Now all we need to do is finish all the leftover turkey. More turkey, more problems. 🙂
For Chinese National Day holiday, we went to visit our friend, Tina, who used to work with us at school. She is now back living in her hometown of Taiyuan. It is the capital city of Shanxi Province, and we met her to do some traveling around the province as well.
We flew from Guangzhou to Taiyuan. The flight was about three hours but from door to door it almost took six hours. We stayed at various hotels during our trip and ate at various restaurants. We visited two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Wutaishan and Datong. Shanxi has one of oldest histories in China. It contains many of oldest temples mixed with Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. Jinju (Shanxi opera) is also the origin of the Peking opera. Although we knew a bit of Chinese history, it was surely a great opportunity to witness first hand some historical sites. We also experienced a lot of good food. Shanxi people love to eat noodles. There are many different types of noodles you can choose from. Local people say “when you get off a bus, you eat noodles, and when you get on a bus, you eat dumping.” Yes, we had amazingly delicious noodles and dumpling homemade by Tina’s mother.
Both of us enjoyed the trip, but what we really enjoyed the most was spending time with our friend and seeing where she lives. She is not only a good friend of ours but also a great translator and guide, helping us learn during our trip. Thanks to our lovely friend, Tina!
When I speak to people, they often have the opinion that living in China is bad or rough. While this might be true in some places in China, this is not the case for us. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful community in southern China, with clean air! As a matter of fact, our apartment is significantly nicer than the apartment we had in Melbourne, Australia. We like it so much that we made this video comparing how far we’ve come from our old apartment in Melbourne to our new one in China. We feel that we are “Movin’ on up!”
Their overseas adventure started in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not only a great place to shop but also to experience great food. Since Hong Kong is a good walking place, we walked a lot and saw many interesting things. We also went to Macau, which is closer to where we live. Macau is also a great place to experience delicious food. We really loved the egg tarts! The main part of their visit was to see where we live, Zhuhai. We enjoyed Cantonese food as well as very local food in Zhuhai. It was great to see three different places through their eyes and experience new things together. We even all put together a closet with no instructions! It was great to hang out and show them where we live.
We just came back from the Year 5 & Year 6 school trip to Yangshuo. Yangshuo is located two hours drive from the Guiling City centre in Guangxi Province, China. Guiling City is located one hour flight from Zhuhai City where we live. Yangshuo is one of the most popular destinations for both domestic and foreign travelers. Its krast mountains are very attractive and have been drawn by many painters. If you ever seen any Chinese paintings, you have certainly seen the scenery of Yangshuo.
We stayed one night in Guiling city and five nights in Yangshuo. We did outdoor activities including Chinese cooking and boat riding in Li River. We enjoyed biking the most! Unfortunately the weather was not the greatest and we had mostly rainy days. The guide told us that usually April to October is the best time to visit. However, due to the late winter, this time was not a great and is still a wet season. We had great tour guides that helped us in many ways. This place is one of must-to-visit places in China.
Over this Chinese New Year holiday, Chiz and I went to Hong Kong to meet up with her friend John. We did some touristy things like go to the Peak, haggle at the Ladies Market, and ride the cable cars to the Big Buddha. We also scouted out good spots to watch the parade, which was not so great, and the fireworks, which were amazing!!! It was nice seeing John and nice to learn a bit more about Hong Kong!
This year, we decided to have a snow Christmas in Harbin. However, it turned out to be an ice Christmas. The city of Harbin was icy and we only got to see snow falling down for a few hours during our stay.
Harbin is the largest city in the northeastern part of China. It has a strong Russian influence and was also occupied by Japan during the Second World War. Harbin is a city with dark yet important history to visit once in a lifetime. We experienced many things that will definitely stay with us as a tale to talk about in the future.
One of main purposes for us to visit Harbin was to see Ice and Snow Festival. The whole city turns into winter wonderland filled with Lego-blocked ice buildings with snow sculptures all around. Since the temperature of Harbin stays well below freezing (-20 degrees to -30 degrees Celsius) the sculptures are in no danger of melting. Of course, we knew it officially starts in January 2014. Yet, there are supposed to be many events starting around the 20th of Dec. 2013. So, we took a two hour bus from Tangjia to Shenzhen, stayed one night in Shenzhen, took a four hour flight to Harbin, took another an hour bus from Harbin airport to Harbin railway station, and finally took a 20 minute tuk-tuk from Harbin railway station to our hotel. It was quite a trip but the cold and crisp air (and people spitting) kept us awake the whole journey.
We had a day off this past Friday, so Chiz and I decided to explore our gigantic neighboring city of Guangzhou.
Guangzhou is the third largest Chinese city, so you can imagine how big it is! Besides the smog filling the air, it is actually quite a beautiful city with an incredible new public transportation system and friendly people. It is also an amazing place to go shopping, since much of the world’s items are produced in factories not far from the city. We joined a few other teachers on the trip, one of whom lived in Guangzhou for years, so she was able to take us to some great restaurants and show us around the city.
We did lots of good eating and shopping! A couple of days were not enough to see the city though, so we will definitely be back to explore again!
We have been really busy getting settled in our new home and starting our new jobs. So busy in fact, that we have not had much time to blog or post picts about our new home. This past week though was a national holiday in China, so we had some time off. We decided to use that time to go and explore, but also to relax.
We traveled to Hainan Island, often referred to as China’s Hawaii. We decided to stay in an area called Sanya, which was really nice! Our hotel was quite big and had many different pools for us to relax around. The ocean was quite clean and nice as well, but not exactly as nice as other beaches in places like Thailand or the Caribbean. There is another area of the island that is supposed to be the most beautiful area, but it is also the most expensive and exclusive area. Maybe next time!
Sadly, the beginning of our trip coincided with a typhoon swinging through the area. It didn’t even bring much rain though, and just gave us some time to explore the town as opposed to the pool and beaches. It was a great little trip and since it is only an hour flight away, not a bad place to escape to again in the future!
After visiting New Jersey, we took a NJ train to New York City. Billy’s friends, Patrick and Karen, were kind enough to let us stay at their apartment in Chelsea and treated us so well. Their lovely dogs, Ellie and Buster, also entertained us day and night. It was also a great to see other friends who came out of their way to see us. It was a very short time but we really appreciate the time we spent together. Although Chiz has been to NYC before, she had not been to Brooklyn so this was a good opportunity for her. Bobby and Gabrielle took us for an amazing tour of Brooklyn including Billy’s old neighborhood, Coney Island and the Promenade. It was also good to meet their beautiful daughter, Isabelle. Lastly, we got to see Billy’s Uncle Michael and Aunt Leona. They were not only nice enough to store our luggage while we were visiting New Jersey and NYC, but were also nice enough to take us to the airport. Before heading to the airport, we had breakfast together at a ‘traditional’ dinner where we enjoyed our last supper in USA! It was a great trip! Check out the pictures below: