Yangshou 

According to lonely plant Yángshuò (阳朔) is ‘one of China’s gold-ticket draws. The once-peaceful settlement is now a collage of Chinese tour groups, bewildered Westerners…. ‘
There is no hiding the crowds here (it’s famous landscape is on the 20 RMB note) but despite this it’s still incredibly charming. It has a a feel similar to Vietnam and the climate is quite tropical. I fell in love this place, the landscape is spectacular!

Spectacular



Gotta get the money shot!


 

I have no idea what happened, I looked out my window and it was like a mob


Very tasty food

Advertisements

The Dabbling Life 

Time to get my blog on again!
This year has certainly gone fast!! It’s now less than 3 months until I say goodbye to China and only about 5 weeks until I say hello to being a lady of leisure. 

It’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited, although leaving China will also be quite sad; it’s managed to push and shove its way in and take a special place in my heart. I’ve found it such a liberating and inspiring place, but enough of the cheesy reminiscing before I’ve even left…

However, with that all said… It’s only natural that I have started kicking my butt to get out and about again. 

If I didn’t blog about it, did it really happen? I better start blogging again just in case! But I’m giving up any hope of impressing you with my fine grammar and spelling.

After the winter weather finally left (and thankfully my bad mood and thick fleece onesie) I got a second wind and have thus far enjoyed a somewhat free and easy Spring / Summer in Shanghai. 

A Summer of dabbling is perhaps an appropriate description….spending my time eating out, doing yoga, riding my bicycle around the French concession, meeting new friends, learning Reiki, dating boys, painting, eating ice cream, dancing and enjoying as much as I can fit into my days…


So here I am now. I have a month of summer left, I’m a few Kg’s heavier (trying really hard not to care about it, but my Chinese Physio said I must lose 10kg by the time I come and see her again in 4 weeks!! WTF) and feeling ready to pull back a little on the whole social butterfly thing in order explore!! I have a keen urge to start playing the piano again, but I’m temporarily putting that part of my (earlyish) midlife crisis to the side. Focus Sarah Focus.

Here are a couple of cool trips worth a mention…

European Weekend Away in Monganshan

I met a diverse bunch of awesome people camping on the Great Wall (post to follow soon) and re-connected with some old hiking buddies. After the trip we decided to do a weekend away together and the French, Spanish and Italians would all have a chance to cook for us… we ate a lot and I contributed nothing (which was quite nice I have to say).

FYI – Moganshan is a mountain top tourist region near Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.

Here are a couple of pics from the weekend (not all mine) with a great bunch of people and good old China doing its best to impress in the nature stakes yet again!

The Area

Eating, a central theme

The Guesthouse we rented

We stopped eating long enough to get our hike on

Great new friends

The local tea

Even the bus ride was fun



Luxi River Hike, Zhejiang Provence.

This place is about 7 hours’ drive from Shanghai, so quite the effort for a weekend but thankfully I have a strong ability to sleep so it wasn’t so bad.

The plan for Saturday was to hike/walk/fall/swim along the river all day long, end up a very basic camp site on the river bank, have a little bonfire party and then trek again for 1/2 the day Sunday.

All went as planned; although as part and parcel of most good adventures we faced a few challenges. 

We left Shanghai a bit late on Friday and due to some road rules, it meant we couldn’t reach the guest house. This meant we pitched out tents at a gas station / truck stop. Not the most fun I’ve had, but so be it… we had to wake up after not enough sleep and continue to the river.

The day was hot (almost 40 degrees) and with a terrible night’s sleep and early start it was a tough day. Walking along a river seems easy, but actually it’s killer on your feet and ankles, to the point where you feel they are going to snap. At times it feels like utter punishment, but the river is so refreshing and the colour of the water is incredible so you can’t help but enjoy yourself. 

At one point in the river there were a whole lot of dead fish everywhere…. We were a little concerned, but it was so hot that we still swum… hoping for the best and deciding that it wasn’t due to some river pollution issue. We found out later it wasn’t… phew. 

We got to the river camping spot and our guide promptly stripped off his attire (weirdly he wore long pants and short shirt all day…. He barely perspired) right down to just his underpants. The hilarious thing was he became our waiter; bring us home cooked Chinese food in nothing but a little pair of jocks. 

We ended up later on joining a group of Chinese locals who were listening very loudly to Maria Carey… it was too tempting to ignore. 

So off 3 of us went, barely anyone out of the 3 of us speaking enough Chinese but we hung out. 

At one point our friend had a dance off to Thriller with a 50 year old Chinese guy. I impressed the group by eating a whole Chilli (which in seconds I regretted) and then we sang some Mariah whilst they filmed us. 

They wanted so bad for us to be good singers, but we were terrible… they persisted told us we were good and should sing louder in broken English/ miming. In the end I just had to communicate in the only way I knew how… belting out ‘Hero’ as loud as I could… let my scratchy off key voice explain… bedtime happened soon after.

Scenery Porn

Safe to say the first night lacked ambiance

The struggle was real

Awesome People

The Kitchen

 

Anyway that’s that for the trip and this post for that matter. Until next time.

Leshan giant Buddha 

Leshan is a little town outside Chengdu where we ate a lot of chilli and got to see an incredible state of Buddha. The statue is 71M tall and nestled on the side of a cliff overlooking the water in Sichuan province and is the largest stone buddha in the world.  It’s an easy walk/hike to get to the top and a very long long crawl down the side of the cliff to the get to the bottom.

Construction was started in 713, led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels traveling down the river. When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. After his death, however, the construction was stuck due to insufficient funding. About 70 years later, a jiedushi decided to sponsor the project and the construction was completed by Haitong’s disciples in 803. Thank you Wikipedia.

It was breathtaking – photos just don’t do it justice (at least with my skills)

img_8545

Adorable little training monks!

img_8633

What goes up must come down….

And then of course we had to eat!

Chengdu 

Chengdu was pretty much all about the Panda’s and the Giant Buddha, but we had a nice afternoon in the city.

Meals On Wheels anyone?

 

Oh hell yeah…

 

img_8875

This felt like a good idea at the time, but seriously my hip only just stopped hurting….. Old bitch haha 

Lastly we went for a nice ‘afternoon tea’ in People’s Park… I resisted the ear drum cleaning and massage that was on offer though – nasty! haha

A few more from People’s Park…

That’s it folks!

img_8843-1

Tokyo – the good shit!

Day two of Tokyo was right up my alley… No more Zara and Gap (I love you but come on I’m in Japan, gotta see some shit) this was what I came for!

Points to Sal and I for getting up at 3.30am to go the famous fish auctions… Only to arrive and find out they did it earlier for some reason… Eh, oh well take a few snaps and head back to bed! 
  

Cause things in Japan just seem funnier.

The little town of Asakusa was beautiful – clearly for tourists, but it was fun!

Poor bastard, it’s like 37 degrees


Trusty Selfie Stick at it again

Shaved iced! Yum.

Rituals are beautiful but honestly I have no idea why or what for … But I guess everyone just follows the crowd and you seem to be able to mimic the person before you… I go to so many temples and shrines these days I should learn a thing or two at some point.


     

Instructions in Japan are adorable!      

    

  


  
  
  

  
  

  


  
  

Jianguo Road

The first morning of living in my new apartment I decided that instead of worrying about unpacking I would take myself for an early morning walk up and down my street.

Marley is getting pretty good at dealing with change

This is my stairwell – just give you a feel for the building

Not my doorway, but I have a thing for doors

Hmm, cute yet unhygenic

  

Get in my belly!

The Red Book from back in the Mao Days… on how to act and behave.

Shanghai Life…. I love it!

Tianzifang Market, this place is amazing and so close!

Doesn’t look like much but at night they BBQ all these skewers and they are amazing…. I’d give the meat a miss though!

Hmmm

Shitty Chic, Here I Come

I was sitting in the front seat of a ‘moving’ van last weekend (moving to a new apartment in Shanghai) and I couldn’t help but feel amused at life in general.

The one plant I hadn’t killed (yet) rested on my lap and I continued to ponder how life will be for me without the ability to flush toilet paper.

I should add that I have no idea what the name was of the guy driving me. I met him hanging out the front of IKEA one day when he drove me home and made my bookcase. Names are not so important to me these days anyway, or words in general for that matter.

We arrived at my new place and the moving guy seemed quite stressed. As you might expect, I then felt a little stressed myself, but soon decided I was pretty helpless to fix anything anyway.

I met a lovely old lady who I said ‘ nihao’ to when i entered my lane house. We gestured to each other that I live upstairs and she is downstairs. At this point I felt annoyed at myself for stopping my Chinese over the last few months. I told her my name, but I can’t remember shit anymore, I may as well have just arrived. At least living here has the potential to give me some renewed motivation to learn.

The apartment rental guy was there with a helper waiting for me. I never said when I was coming so I don’t know how long they had hung around but either way he and his guy expected to help me move.

I was a bit like ‘hmm, what’s going on’ but soon changed to my tune to ‘oh fuck it its sweet stop wondering’. Next thing I know, I’ve left all my shit with this random helper guy on the sidewalk (I’m told he’s putting it in my apartment). Then the real estate guy, the driver and I all pile into the van for the second trip.

By the third trip the real estate has gone and the moving guy freaked out again. I couldn’t get hold of anyone though. Ignorance is not always bliss. I could tell it was because of all my shit – it was a lot, it surprised me too. I am told later that he said to my colleague ‘how does an expat have so much stuff’. Judgy judgy, if I want 3 gravy boats I’ll have 3 gravy boats. Haha!

Eventually (by eventually I mean a few minutes but it felt like forever) it was all sorted. As suspected I had more stuff than he expected and he needed to leave soon. We moved almost everything I had left at super speed. Some stuff got smashed and dented and some stuff was just too hard, so I’d worry about that another day I guess.

A few hours later, it was finally just me in my new pad and I was so happy to be where I was, despite the huge fucking mess around me.

IMG_6535

Leaving the ‘city’ area

IMG_6537

My new home, the French Concession

I went to buy some milk and was blown away by all the great stuff near me… I moved across the city for the quaint feeling of an old apartment and the relaxed vibe of the French Concession (i.e. Pretty tree-lined streets) so I expected it to be good, but I was still excited.  Just outside my entrance I found some local (but not too local) clothes shops, random antique shops, and even a nice local Chinese supermarket (this mean good stuff but at good prices as they are not selling horrifically priced imported goods).

I also found some nice western restaurants, tasty looking hole in the wall Chinese restaurants and a cool market. All that in a 10 minute walk.

So much to explore (and unpack!).

Tokyo Baby

Japan came up like a whirlwind… I had done a few excited Pinterest ‘pins’ when I booked a few months ago but that’s about it. Luckily Sal was prepared.

I packed my bags, left a couple pouches of cat food out for the Ayie and said goodbye to Loz… Tokyo here we come!

It’s been a few months since the trip – I had taken so many photos and been wowed by so much that it became a little overwhelming!

I did however take a few simple reflections back to China with me after the trip… Here they are.

1. Embrace the ‘girly’ from time to time, even if it feels a little cheesy 

2. It doesn’t hurt to be a little (a lot) more enthusiastic, it’s contagious 

3. Buy some 3/4 callots stat! Um, maybe in a Western country though (cue seams splitting… haha okay not quite, but you get me..)

4. Beautiful materials and brushes make life better, get in on that 

5. Drink more green tea (for fuck’s sake woman, you work for a tea company and live in China)

6. Time to ditch all the old make up and buy some fresh stuff… It will feel good! (Goodbye eyeshadow from high school)

🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎❤️🎎

Day one of Tokyo was a great big shop!I was exhausted by the time we left and could barely carry my bags but it was fun and it can only be good for growing bingo arms.

The highlight of my day was meeting Lena Dunham from Girls…. I’m a big fan of girls and just read her book ‘Not that kinda girl’ . Good spotting Sal.

I went and said hello and talked at her with verbal diarrhoea. She was nice and totally cool. I was a nerdy. I wish I had asked her something cool but hey I had something for Instagram lol

  Cute oragami at the airport currency change counter (and for free) – bravo Japan, you’re living up to my expectations already.  Kimono robes on the bed… oh hell yes!  Cause things in Japan are just funnier!  Best stationary shop ever and a surprise bit of star spotting.


Day two of Tokyo was right up my alley…
No more Zara and Gap (I love you but come on I’m in Japan, gotta see some shit this was what I came for!).

Points to Sal and I for getting up at 3.30am to go the famous fish auctions… Only to arrive and find out they did it earlier for some reason… Oh well we took a few snaps (below) and headed back to bed (almost $100 on taxis later)! 

      
  

The little town of Asakusa (below) was beautiful – clearly for tourists, but guess what I was a tourist and this is what I wanted to see!

       Poor bastard, it was like 37 degrees          

These temple/shrine rituals are beautiful but honestly I have no idea why or what they are all about. I guess everyone just follows the crowd and you seem to be able to mimic the person before you… I go to so many temples and shrines these days I should learn a thing or two about them at some point.

    
    
         Instructions in Japan are adorable!                                              Later we headed out to Shibuya             

Time goes on 

Wow times goes fast, here I am back in Melbourne one year later. Well at least I was when I started writing this post…. but now it’s a few weeks later…

So much has changed and yet so little. Omg, how fucking deep am I right!

1357941082241_new_banner-700x465

Imagine me like this… thinking very deeply.

So, blogging is back on…. Yep, I’m back – cue a roaring cheer… Hmm well maybe not, but I think the cleanliness of my apartment, the regularly of my blog posts and state of my eyebrows is the true relefection of how chaotic my life is. And so here I am about to smash out a million and one blog posts… Cause let’s face it if I didn’t blog it, it didn’t happen.

Please all rest assured, I waxed my eyebrows and they are back on track.

Okay, so now I will prepare to finish my Hangzhou and Japan blogs (of course I purchased a mac book air in Tokyo to help with my blogging motivation… So far it’s not worked out but I still have faith in this brilliant plan)!

But I’m off track… I was blogging about it’s been a year since i left to go live in China… blah blah blah. I used to really love reading the Sunday paper’s, I miss this a lot… especially teamed with Julie, her garden, her yummy muesli and the furry family.

Okay, in the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that I hate the paper part but boy do I love the supplements!!! So,  I enjoyed my one sunday in Melbourne and allowed the ‘unbiast’ world of Australian media to clue me back in and see what I’ve been missing this last year.

Here is what I learnt.

Avocado toast – apparently it is not cool anymore…. What on earth? I mean, I thought it was just tasty and healthy… well screw you cool police, it’s gonna stay cool in Shanghai.

YUCCIE – what? I didn’t even know what this meant but I felt I should know this.. I read the article and I’m like whatever I don’t do all this crap…. Then i realise, oh hang on, I’m old now and so far removed from this next ‘generation’ and I am now the group judging the next generation. Do you remember Mrs Mangle from Neighbours, totally going to be me one day…. I can feel it coming.

IMG_5739

When did i become old?

Okay everything i needed to say is said (which is kind of nothing), so I’m done…. I’m off to do a scuba dive in Koh Tao! Yay.

Just a little more Wuhan baby

Final post on Wuhan I promise! For a city that is not really a huge tourist destination, I sure did take a lot of photos and want to share them all!

I think spending a day just quietly exploring a city in China that isn’t so overwhelming and huge is just really calming and enjoyable.

My first destination was the Yellow Crane Tower.

I was totally happy by the fact I could order a ticket in Chinese. Woo, it really is the small things! Haha.

Yep, packed the trusty selfie stick… Well, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do when she doesn’t have a partner 😉

  
  

The walk up was peaceful and potentially my favorite part. I was super excited and ready for my money shot of the tower.

In construction!!! Of course it is, right!! Oh well, I got over it soon enough and then missioned on forward, finding a path amongst the swarms of local Chinese tourists.

I considered stealing one of the beautiful pictures off Pinterest that had lured me here… but decided to keep it real.

Cool shit… Yeah.  

Stupidly it never clicked for me that the yellow crane tower was actually about a yellow crane…

Luckily for me i could still see some amazing views from the top!

  
  

So, all in all Wuhan… You’re alright. Thanks for the one night stand x