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.


Leaving the ‘city’ area


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!).

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!


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.


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.

Shanghai Old Town

The best tour guide and translator is my Kiwi friend Kylie! Another great Sunday exploring.

A little visit to Fatty’s noodles in the old town…. Fatty was quite impressed with my bike and asked to have a go lol    





Next step, The Old a Shanghai Wall. The original city was a circle and as implied by the name… It had a wall around it haha. This is the only part left.   

Lol, in typical Chinese style… Anywhere is good for hanging your laundry… Even tourist attractions haha  

Back on the bikes! 









Fangbang Lu – it’s where it’s at!  

Now a little further you can see where the old down is being demolished….. As they say… If it’s old, rip it down.



Then suddenly you find yourself back to the bustling world again.  

Now back to the Old French Concession

The Almost Happy Ending

So, this blog comes with a disclaimer…. it’s too embarrassing and awkward not to share but if you don’t want to read anything that includes reference to my nipples or Vajayjay (thank you Oprah) then, this is definitely not the post for you.

This post has no pictures, so it’s also not as scary as it could be.

I’ve been suspecting for some time now that the massage place near work may offer other services, but they are friendly, so close and do a good massage – I decided no point in worrying – I mean if they want to make men happy in other rooms, who am I to judge. The reason I feel this place is dodgy is because it’s not full of angry massage ladies, they have showers in the room and it’s down the stairs into some weird smokey den…

Cut to a pleasant enough Sunday afternoon where I decide to take wander to JingAn for a bit of shopping and a massage…  Eventually I find a massage place, great! I walk up the stairs and it seems quite nice, probably going to cost me more than I usually pay but still very Chinese so it’s not like I’ve gone to a western spa place.

I tell the desk lady I want a full body oil massage, she recommends something and I say fine.

I’m told to shower… I’m a bit weirded out by this, but I mean the other place has a shower too and maybe if I got an oil massage they’d make me shower too. This place is obviously classy… yes that’s it.

As I go to lie down I notice a suspicious sign, it says something about Male Nursing… I don’t know what this is but I’m naked bar a pair of paper shorts and it’s go time.

I lay down and get a massage, it’s not bad. She even understands when I motion and say no to the famous boob massage. Ah, but then things start to get a little creepy.

She puts her hand on a boob, and leaves it there while she says ‘very beautiful’. It’s weird, but strange things have happened…. she’s probably just thinking how funny it is to see a Laowi female.

She then goes into the stomach massage, which is actually quite painful but I remember it from the Thai health retreat and it’s super good for you. I enjoy the pain knowing it’s good for me. Then hang on, did push her hand down a little lower than she should have then? Oh my, and again?

Okay okay, you’re being a prude…. just hang in there. Next thing you know she’s THERE…. and well I don’t know what you’d called it but it was the equivalent of grabbing a little kids cheek. Then I feel her perhaps going in for the kill…. Okay no way man.

I say Mei You, Mei You, Mei You (No No No) and wave my hands around and shake my head. She moves away. I think oh good, this is okay it’s just some sort of cultural misunderstanding I guess.

Then she does a little normal arm massage and suddenly she’s flicking my nipples. Hang on, what on earth do you call this. I tense up and think I thought we talked about the boob thing… although technically it was that I didn’t want them massaged…. I think ‘don’t tweak and flick my nipple please’ is beyond my mime skills. Oh dear, am I a prude….???

Okay, she’s back on the stomach.. good good. The boom she’s back THERE and wiggling a finger in my direction…

Mei You, Mei You, Mei You!

Let’s just say I’ll be careful where I go next time. lol.

What I’ve Learnt in Six Months

So I’m in Australia, tuns out I managed to fly back exactly 6 months to the day. I spent a little time reflecting on my flight home… Here’s what I came up with.

Top things I’ve learned in 6 months in Shanghai: 

1) How to properly brush my teeth (seriously I was doing it wrong which baffled me too)
2) Shit, I’m an adult
3) The beauty of living alone
4) And the beauty of a morning routine, even if it means not getting up 15 mins before I have to leave.
5) A little self indulgence is a necessary not a luxury
6) China road rules… they actually seem to make sense
7) Learning (some) patience and slowing down (when I remember)
Um, wish I’d Learnt – Chinese but hey can’t win em all.
And a few visuals…
Smog sucks, but hey got to take the good with the bad!


Buying shoes for children is not my strength, as cute as they are (I hope your boys enjoy them in a few years Tegan and Carlie)! 


I can still manage to rough it…. 


But only for a weekend MAX… I do NEED a little comfort these days too…


I lOVE health Retreats… they are life changing (breakfast seed and nut buffet – amazing).


And you can take a little bit of that back with you… even to work


Seeing some friendly faces can make a world of difference!


Lastly, when in Rome (And yes that’s a Poncho for my whole bicycle)

IMG_2591 IMG_2590

Tourist in my ‘Own’ City

So those of  you who know me well, know that I can talk about and look at pretty stuff all day long, but I really struggle when it comes to more cultured activities – museums, art galleries blah blah blah. I wish I had the intellect to appreciate these for more than a nano section, but I don’t. haha. NEXT.

However when I get a message from a friend on a sunny sunday morning to go check out Red Town in Shanghai, I jump to attention and think hell yes, let’s play tourist in Shanghai. It’s a bit of a sculpture park with galleries and cafe’s etc… Plus, she promised home-made soup and that’s quite the treat to have someone invite you over for food in Shanghai (It was delicious by the way).

Look at me being all intellectual …. Yep, I’m someone who looks at Art on a Sunday rather than laying in bed with a hangover (and yes I am judging everyone who is hung over on this fine Sunday haha)

1 2 3 4 5 6

Next was a bit of a photography session and stroll around the streets.

Shanghai can be so beautiful if you stop to look.

10 11 12 13 14 15

And to top off a great day I met a friend for Tapas and Red Wine…


That’s Sunday Perfection to me!


So Like Jerry Springer, I’ll leave you with my final thoughts…. Go stroll around somewhere different in your neighbourhood and admire the beauty and jam up your Instagram feed with the PRETTY! x

The Lows of January 2015

Oh yeah, I have a blog post sitting drafts… I know it’s Feb but I’m not going to adjust this to the past tense… Here it is;

Wow, has January been like the longest month ever… Maybe it’s just me, but I think January is the least shiny month in shanghai so far.

This blog comes with a disclaimer of not having a great purpose and story line for that matter… It’s a vent. So here I go.

January 2015. It started off with a bang… Brilliant New Years, hopes and dreams…

I went from marvelling at how pretty the dark rainy weather was…

How much fun it was to see random stuff like meat that’s just hanging out by the register in a box

But I’m afraid smog was looming….

So, I may have started the ball rolling by joining my running friends for a Monday 7km along the river when the the pollution reading was directly saying it was unhealthy, so of course I screenshot and send the air pollution reading and made a stupid comment via viber like ‘perfect weather for a jog’ and off I went…

Karma it’s a bitch.

So, Tuesday I feel pretty lethargic and have a weird ear thing going on (I later find out that apparently pollution causes ear trouble in children, chesty coughs and general unwellness thankfully work allow Google so I can diagnose myself with complete certainty and not have to deal with figuring out where a doctor can be found) but decide to drag myself to a dinner after work and decide to suck it up, I mean I’ve never had Korean BBQ and this may be my only chance…

Come Wednesday and I’m feeling shit not to mention pissed off that my vpn isn’t working and I’m left all alone (who will be there for me when I’m bored or lonely if I don’t have Facebook, Instagram or Google… How will I diagnose this illness I feel coming on?).

I leave work early and feel quite guilty, I convince myself that yes I am sick and it’s in the best interest that I go home. I try the pharmacy, I motion and use English words that of course they cannot understand… They get overwhelmed and shut down (this Happens a lot) and just say no in Chinese over and over. It’s gonna take a lot of effort to win the ladies over again and especially without google working to translate for me. My heart isn’t in it…. I’ll go au natural. Marley is stoked to have bedtime come so early, we go to sleep…

The thing is I sleep all afternoon, all night, pretty much all day, then all night and then finally wake up Friday morning. First I must try to figure out if it’s Thursday night or Friday morning, my phone is flat and I don’t actually know its friday morning for a while, but once I finally work it out I decide it’s time to go to work and be better… I scowl at my emails from Facebook saying I have notifications waiting… Screw you guys!

Of course, Marley promptly reminds me when it’s breakfast and dinner time for him.

Wow, this story is super exciting I bet you wish I had more like this… Anyway, I marvel at my strength, I’ve dealt with suffering away without getting all sooky lala and shit… Go me.

I treat myself to a massage, of which my regular massage lady that speaks English, asks how I’m not cold when I feel cold to touch, I say I think I have bad circulation… She smiles and says cheerfully, maybe it’s because of all your fat… I agree delightfully, oh yes it must be that.

Anyway, cut to Friday evening and I’m sitting on a bus on my way to a hiking trip… I know I know, but I paid already and i made up my mind that I wasn’t going to be sick anymore.

I manage to sit right next to the bus heater, which I think definitely made me feel worse. I chat as much as I can without seeming like a weirdo or anti social psycho to the sweet and painfully young and optimisitc looking Dutch boy sitting next to me. We bond briefly over some chinese brandy… I hope it will knock me out. I drift off, but am painfully aware of my stomach pains are looming.. We arrive at 2am and scurry off to real beds.

Now. For those of you thinking this story may end like the scene in the movie bridemaids, it’s not like that so don’t get excited. This is not food poisoning.

We set off hiking at least not too early, I’m not terrible so think I maybe okay. Off we go, and wow it only takes 5 minutes to realise that yes I do feel like crap… The hike is challenging for everyone (except 2 people cause there is always 1 or 2 over achievers in every group – it’s just the way life is), I feel weak but I can’t stand the thought of eating anything and I feel sick and faint. I ponder how many Chinese tourists will photograph me if I decide to puke politely to the side of narrow path…

We are staying at the top of the mountain, so I have no choice but to put my earphones in and will myself to hike up stairs for most of the day… Why on earth did I pack so much…

Eventually I am enticed by a mountain side cucumber and then just when I well and truly think I will run out of steam I have some mandarins and then some mango… I get there.

I go straight to bed like a broken person and wish the world away. 12 hours later, we hike again. Luckily I packed a jarrah mint hot chocolate to pepp me up…

I’m a bit better although still not ready to stomach the delicious trail Mix I made and the hike is half a day and much easier… I channel Taylor swift and shake it off…

Ah… Home sweet home, with an untouched bag of trail mix.

I drag my arse to work Monday, coughing now like an old sailor and I start again… Come Saturday afternoon and I’ll be chillin next to Kirsty’s pool… Shake it off…

My vpn still isn’t working, I hear rumours that China has stopped them all… What does this mean for me!! Can I really live not knowing everything, even the painfully boring yet alluring updates Facebook. I can’t think about it right now, it’s too painful… Oh and did I mention I ran out of Twinings Assam Bold, my stash at home and work is tapped out now!! Shit just got serious…

Weirdly I find myself working late, so I grab a massage at the suspicious place across the road. When the lady in a tight black Lycra dress finishes walking on me, I walk myself home slowly and decide my dinner tonight can just be Special K. I look up at the sky and can’t see a single star but glance at the tiny florist and decide if Shanghai gives you smog then you should buy some tulips..

The shop lady smiles like the Cheshire Cat as she painfully over charges me (okay, so $5 too much is painful for me) for bright orange tulips, but I don’t care… I stroll home reminded it’s Australia Day so I have a card to open from dayna, plus I check the mail and well hello a little package from Tegan.

As I write this post on a smoggy Tuesday morning, I feel much better – perhaps the tulips worked a treat 🙂


This is all I have to say haha IMG_1273 Nah, i’m being overdramatic don’t worry…  although when we were told to go find some brekkie here I was a little worried I would be undernourished… IMG_1503 Smiling for the camera… prentending to not be that ‘weird’ person.. IMG_1504 Shake it Off! IMG_1533 Okay, it’s time to force something down… nothing like a mountain side cucumber (okay I just took my first photo, maybe there is hope for me…)! IMG_1505 Usually going down stairs is exciting, but knowing we’re half way… we’re only just going to have to go up some more on the other side! Very cool view and quite scary to walk down steps so steep! IMG_1511 Yep, here we go… Up IMG_1514 Hmm, maybe the cucumber helped! IMG_1528 Okay, yes worst part over… keep slogging on! IMG_1531 And at least I’m not one of these poor guys! IMG_1532 Well, I made it to the top! Thankfully I could go and sleep right up the top… oh wait, we need to check out sunset first…. argh. IMG_1527 Day 2, feeling good after so much sleep. Off we trek… IMG_1550 We Plan a good trek but not so bad today (yay) and then a gondola ride… now that’s much better! IMG_1542 Home time.. but a quick stop for food in the town… IMG_1547 At least others took pretty pictures whilst I was summing all my will just to keep moving…. IMG_1549 IMG_1551 IMG_1553 IMG_1554 IMG_1525

Christmas Shanghai Style

Not celebrated by the Chinese but Christmas still comes to Shanghai!

A friend took this picture but I had to share as it sums things up so perfectly!

A fun little trip to buy a Christmas Tree at the Plant and Flower Market/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/aed/70877506/files/2014/12/img_0598.jpg

I plan it out wonderfully…. (Christmas that is…). And I realise, Pinterest fuels my grand plans quite a bit!

I will buy a cheesy Xmas jumper and marvel at how ironic I am.

I will make gingerbread or christmas cupcakes and take into work.

I will decorate my Pavlova so it looks like a Christmas Reef.

I will start the day early, so I can do Yoga and Meditate.

I will enjoy breakfast of fresh cherries and strawberries with a cup of Twinings Christmas Tea.

I will slowly open my presents.

I will play with Marley and his new toys.

I will tart myself up a bit… in my Sunday bests so to speak.

I will brush my hair and do something with it.

I will clean the house-top to bottom before I go to work, that way I can relax when I come home and prepare for my guests.

I will…….

Then I wake up Christmas morning, on the couch, in my clothes, Marley staring me in the face and that familiar and nasty dry mouth feeling… Yep, seems I am a little hung!

I will buy a cheesy Xmas jumper at lunchtime. No way I am walking anywhere today.

I will make gingerbread or Christmas cupcakes and take into work. WTF.

I will decorate my Pavlova so it looks like a reef. I forgot to buy some Kiwis.

I will start the day early, so I can do Yoga and Meditate. No Fucking Way.

I will enjoy breakfast of fresh cherries and strawberries with a cup of Twinings Christmas Tea. Screw it, today is Starbucks Latte and Jumbo Scone day.

I will slowly open my presents. I am running late for work.. .later.

I will play with Marley and his new toys. Get out-of-the-way Marley, here eat this.

I will tart myself up a bit… in my Sunday bests so to speak. No Fucking Way.

I will brush my hair and do something with it. I will brush my teeth.

I will clean the house top to bottom before I go to work, that way i can relax when I come home and prepare for my guests. I will do it later on, I will get stressed and flustered whilst preparing for guests.

However, it took a bit of self punishment to realise I was doing exactly what the Indian Mentor in Thailand said I do… Bouncing back and forth between my extremes!

Idealist Sarah vs. Bad Ass Sarah

…. Bad Ass always wins in the end haha, but time to experiment with a new approach… today I’m not admitting defeat and so this means making a Gin and Tonic with the bag of lemons I gave myself!

So… I decided, I hadn’t ruined Christmas, it can wait till Lunch time…

Christmas waiting for me patiently as I rush off to work.

I mentally crossed a lot of things off my list…

Make Cupcakes. Gone

Yoga. Gone

Meditation. Gone

Then I added a few things:

Eat Tuna Salad for Christmas lunch because that’s what you feel like. Done

Give Red Envelopes with money to a few people. Done. Cash is King after all.


So, I went home at lunch, I tidied the place (translation, chucked out rubbish, stick things in my spare room and pretending the kitchen wasn’t full of dishes), I made myself a Christmas Tea (Twinings of course!). I pumped my new and cringe worthy favourite power song (Shake it Off – Taylor Swift), sat on a cushion and opened my presents.

By the way, thanks for Mum sending me the best gifts, she knows me very well! Marley enjoyed his gifts too.

I then proceeded to open the gifts for myself. Now this might sound a little kooky… but I decided on my retreat that it would be fun to buy myself a Christmas present and wrap it up (that’s not the kooky part… hang on) but I decided to take it a step further because I was feeling idealistic…. I purchased 3 Gifts….

    • One to make the past (young) me happy
    • One to make the present me happy
    • One to make the future me happy


And, whilst it’s almost embarrassing to say that I actually did this cheesy exercise, it was brilliant… I think I’m going to keep it going. Don’t judge me… I promise I still shave my armpits…. haha

And, I will end with a Joke I am stealing…

Q: Who is never hungry at Xmas?

A: The Turkey – he’s always stuffed.

Found the perfect tree… although i realise my choice of footwear could use some work…

My little Christmas








Eh, I’ve done stuff… Did it really happen if I didn’t blog about it?

So, lost my phone… Lost my photos… I kayaked somewhere, travelled somewhere else and well I thought of super awesome stuff to blog about…

But it’s gone…. Now I am letting go and moving forward!

Here are some randoms that made me happy, nothing special nothing amazing… Just stuff 🙂

Only took 2 months to buy sheets and a doona cover… What a luxury


Hot Cross Buns in November – don’t ask why, just stuff your face!


I’m just not that into you…

So, it’s been nearly 2 months and well the sparkle is starting wear off the whole do as much as you can, with anyone and at anytime mantra I embraced on arrival.

I guess I’m just a bit tired and well I wanna do exercise, eat right and I actually have real work to do at work now…. So, I’m starting to feel picky.

The hard thing is finding the right balance between welcoming and being open to new people and experience vs. sticking to people you have an instant connection with. So, how ‘nice’ do I be… I’d ideally go for always nice but I have a job and a cat to worry about too so it’s not always practical.

Especially the people I think of a potato chips… I like you, but I’m just not that into you…

I don’t really need them in my life, but sometimes they are in my presence and in the right mood I’m like screw it ‘eat the chips’. When I’m at parties and positioned near the bowl of chips I tend to go to town on them and enjoy them a lot….. But do I ever go to the shop or consider going to the shop to get some…. Nope.

So, what I’m saying is I like rice cakes, the really thin ones and I’ll make the effort to go to the international supermarket and pay twice the real price for them, but chips I’m just not sure how to manage you just yet…. Suggestions welcome from those of with a healthy sense of boundaries haha.

P.s. However, the cucumber flavour chips I ate when hungover here are the bomb!