Tag Archives: friends

China – Day 2

Tuesday morning, after our MSG filled street food breakfast, we caught a subway over to the Laoximen station. From there we walked to what I call the cricket market. I think technically it is the bird and flower market. But that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting. Surrounding by the chirping of thousands of crickets of many sizes and colors, we explored the crowded little market filled with animals, smells, bird and plants of all varieties. Tried not to cry when we saw ten or more dirty kittens crammed in a small cage, or the caged puppies. Fish, turtles, rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, crickets, grasshoppers, thousands of caged birds from small song birds to a large grey parrot, to birds that said Ni Hao (hello) as you walked by.

Cricket Market

Cricket Market

All sorts of fish

All sorts of fish

They even make pet food in the market, sell meal-worms for the birds and you can watch the shop keepers and they shove little chunks of lettuce into the hundreds of teeny cricket boxes to feed them.

Food for animals!

Food for animals!

(Back in April 2011, I did a post about this market: Bird and Flower Market – with lots more pictures!)

Later in the morning, we went to Jing’An temple, then did a lot of aimless walking about town and exploring.

Incense burning at the temple

Incense burning at the temple

A mix of old and new - this is Shanghai

A mix of old and new – this is Shanghai

Our afternoon beverage, was brought to us by Liquid Laundry, a fun new restaurant, bar and brewery opened by the owners of Boxing Cat Brewery. It definitely has a totally different feel to it that Boxing Cat, but I loved it. Fifteen craft beers on tap, including their own – brewed in house, some Boxing Cat beers and also guest taps from around the world.



We tapped that!

We tapped that!

We ran into Boxing Cat’s brew-master Mike and were able to catch up briefly with him and the fabulous beer happenings in Shanghai. If you are ever thirsty for something delicious make sure to check out both Boxing Cat Brewery and Liquid Laundry.

Brew master Michael Jordan

Brew master Michael Jordan

Post beverage, and a difficult search for a taxi, we found our way to the Xujiahui area where we met four of my former coworkers for hot pot dinner at Little Sheep. After eating our own weight in hotpot, we rolled ourselves back to the hotel and crashed.

Old co-workers - these girls are the greatest!

Old co-workers – these girls are the greatest!


China – Day 1

Our first two days in Shanghai were spent exploring the city at our leisure. Monday, we started what would become our daily tradition in Shanghai of street food and Family Mart (a Chinese convenience store) for a quick breakfast.

Kid Castle!

Kid Castle!

From our hotel, we walked towards my former apartment complex, passing by the Kid Castle Royal branch where I had taught so many Chinese kiddos. Then I showed John where I lived.Unfortunately, we did not see my actual apartment, but we went in the building and took the elevator up to the 28th floor and I reminisced.

From outside my apartment

From outside my apartment

A stone’s throw away was the very familiar Luijiabang metro stop, we hopped on for a couple stops to People’s Square.

From People’s Square, we took a quick walk all the way down East Nanjing Road, and ended up at the Bund where we marveled at the skyline of Pudong – including the new Shanghai Tower.

On the Bund

On the Bund

Then we found our way to YuYuan Garden, where we ate xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings) and roamed the alleyways with thousands of others.

Later in the afternoon, we grabbed a subway over to the Xintiandi area so I could show John my favorite watering hole.

Boxing Cat Brewery

Boxing Cat Brewery

After a delicious craft beer at Boxing Cat and struggling to get in contact with Chinese friends without working phones or internet, we managed to have a bartender make a phone call and get us an address in Chinese for a cab ride.

We had a delicious dinner with Xiaoping Ma (who I met at OHSU in Portand, when she did a fellowship there in 2009) and her girls Eva and Amy.

Old friends!

Old friends!

A Brief Return -Finally!

Three years! Wow.

Part of me says, has it really been three years? The other half of me says, it seems like a lifetime ago. But in reality, it has been just 2 weeks shy of three years since I packed my bags and returned to the US from China.

In those three years, a lot has happened – good and bad – but ultimately, I couldn’t be happier with where I have ended up. Yet, in those three years, I quit blogging (obviously) and have not once left the country. Well folks, it is time for a change…

Gotta pack my bags because I’m getting out of these United States! This time, with my new found partner in life and adventure, my fiance, John. We will be traveling to Shanghai for a very, very short 5 day visit. I want to show John the place I called home for 14 months, and also catch up with some dear friends!

A recent photo of my new travel partner and me!

Then we will be heading to Malaysia (a new destination for us both) where we will soak up the warm weather while exploring Kuala Lumpur, Sandakan, Sabah, Langkawi and more!

I am worse than a child the night before Christmas, 4 days out from the trip I was already unable to fall asleep at night because I was anxiously and excitedly going over logistics in my head. I find it humorous that I’m not even stressing about Malaysia – I know NOTHING about getting around Malaysia! I have never even been there. Yet, I’m stressing about China, where I lived!

It is going to be a vacation of a lifetime and that is why I am putting this blog post out there. This is me announcing to the world, that I will not let the trip of a lifetime come and go without documenting our adventures. I love writing and I miss it. It irks me that I have completely given up on writing. I cannot let that happen in the next month. I want to have something to look back on (other than just photos) to relive the stories and memories of our trip.

Now, I am not just holding myself accountable. The word is out – don’t let me slack! I am using this blog as a platform as a) it already exists and has an audience, or did at one time b) it is really the only available platform I have and c) I’m revisiting China – and my Life in China – so the posts should be at least remotely relevant.

Top 11 in 2011

2011 was a crazy and adventurous year for me.  11 days into 2011, I embarked on a journey which not only inspired this blog, but has changed my life.  On January 11, 2011, I said good-bye to family and friends and left for a year (or more) in Shanghai.  As my first year in China and 2011 come to an end, I want to reflect on some of the memories I have from the last year of my life (in China).

Of course, I will include links to my blogs which originally recorded these memories in case you missed them.

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

After taking off from the States, before arriving at my destination for the year, I spent five days in beautiful Hong Kong.  Traveling alone is never easy, but I had a couple motives for being there.  First, to get my visa for China.  I left on a plane to Asia before actually having my Chinese visa needed to enter the country.  Secondly,  I managed to time my trip and my move to China to coincide with my friend Irene’s wedding in Hong Kong.

Sightseeing on my own!

When I walked off the plane in Hong Kong, alone, in a city and country I didn’t know, where they spoke a language I didn’t know, with two huge suitcases full of everything I thought I needed for a year abroad, I remember having this thought, “What the expletive did I just get myself into?”

The LONG cable car ride!

2. Chinese New Year (another post) –

Shortly after arriving in China and starting my job teaching at Kid Castle, I had 11 days off of work for the Chinese New Year holiday.  It was a difficult time as the few people I had met in Shanghai had left town, and I was in a strange place by myself with nothing to do.  But it gave me the chance to explore my new home, write lots of blogs and experience what Shanghai had to offer.  And, naturally, gaze in wonder and delight at the millions, or billions of fireworks lit off around Shanghai for the occasion.  The most remarkable fireworks I have ever seen, and they went on for hours and hours, and days and days…

Fireworks below my bedroom window!

3. Day trips & Exploring –

Whether exploring Shanghai on my own, going to Suzhou with friends or Hangzhou with my mom & Matt, I’ve had a lot of fun seeing China through little day trips and outings to explore my city and the surrounding areas.


Sitting on a bus with my friend Roger, counting the minutes until our train leaves, wondering if the bus driver will ever pull into the Suzhou train station he is circling, then running as fast as we can through the station only to miss our train was one of the most hilarious moments I can remember this year.  The hilarity was only magnified  as Roger captured the whole event on video on his iphone.

Finding greenery, nature and the cherry blossoms of spring in a park in Shanghai, outside the hustle and bustle of the center of the city with Adam, Yumi and friends from their school.


Wandering around the beautiful, ancient water town of Zhujiajiao with my mom and Matt, negotiating with a rickshaw driver to get us into the center of town, finding amazing hole in the wall restaurants, taking loads of pictures, buying souvenirs and people watching.

4. Food and Beer

I once heard that there are over 45,000 restaurants in Shanghai.  I believe it.  And there are probably two new ones opening, and one closing down just about every day.  You can get a meal for under a dollar in Shanghai, or you can pay over $100 (USD) per person.  I have eaten street food (which doesn’t even count as a restaurant) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I bought breakfast for three for under $2. I have paid about $8 for a cup of coffee, not espresso, nothing fancy just a boring cup of bad coffee.  I have paid over $12 for a glass of wine and $10 for a beer.


Shanghai has amazing cuisine from all over China.  If, right now, you are sitting in the US thinking to yourself “I don’t like Chinese food”, you have never been to China.  Chinese food could be anything!  There are so many different amazing, delectable, weird and perhaps disgusting foods that originate from all over China.  I love Chinese food, there is so much variety in Chinese food.  The girl who never could tolerate spicy food in the first 28 years of her life picked a Sichuan restaurant for her 29th birthday dinner, and ordered bullfrog!

Pomegranate flowers

Craving something different?  Shanghai is an international city, the choices of cuisine are endless.  I have eaten French, German, Greek, Korean, Jamaican, Mexican, American, Nepali, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, Taiwanese and Turkish food in Shanghai.

I love to eat, I love good food and I love good drinks.  So many great memories are formed over delicious food and beverages.


I have my favorites, I have my go-to comfort food locations, I have the locations that are convenient for quick meals while I’m working, but there are so many more places to explore and try!

5. Qingdao

For the Dragon Boat Festival in June, I was able to get out of the big city of Shanghai for a couple days and visit  the little town of Qingdao (population 8.7 million) with a couple of my friends and co-workers.  It was a great time, despite dreary wet weather, to see another part of this huge country, hang out with friends, and enjoy the beer capital of China.

Yes, this is China - Not Europe. Qingdao!

We explored the town of Qingdao, got a ride from a stranger in a downpour and thunderstorm when there were no taxis to be found, ate Shandong cuisine, drank beer from a plastic bag, explored the famous Laoshan (Lao Mountain or 崂山) and did some shopping.

Fun on the beach in Qingdao

6. Familiar Faces –

Moving halfway across the world by yourself is nerve-wracking, even for the bravest and most adventurous souls. While I have met many people in Shanghai and made many friends, it was a great pleasure to have some familiar faces in Shanghai with me for most of my first year in China.

Adam and Yumi Bray were here the longest.  Adam and Yumi both graduated from Portland State’s Master’s of International Management program with me in 2010.   They actually met in the program and afterwards got married and moved to Shanghai to study Chinese.  While we were never close during the MIM program we became great friends while living in Shanghai.  I loved going shopping and getting massages with Yumi, and when Adam was around there was always beer to drink and trouble to cause.  Unfortunately, (for me) Adam and Yumi moved back to the States just before Christmas, but they will always be a part of my 2011 memories.

Salman was also in the MIM program with us.  He came over on the same program as Adam and Yumi to learn Chinese. After about 5 months in Shanghai, Salman moved to Beijing to pursue employment opportunities there.  I miss the laughter that always comes with hanging out with Salman, but I know he isn’t too far away.  I will always remember seeing him walking towards me on Wangfujing in the middle of Beijing and telling my mom, amidst thousands of Asian faces, “He is the one right there, with the dark hair!” when my mom, May and I met up with him in September for some delicious hot pot.

Junyi is originally from Beijing, and moved back to Beijing this past year (also after graduating from the MIM with Adam, Yumi, Salman and me).  Being in a different part of the country didn’t keep him for coming down and visiting us in Shanghai, from calling me at 2am or from being a familiar face for me in China.  He showed us around Beijing, and always provides fun, excitement and laughter.

The 5 MIMers eating Sichuan food and drinking beer for my birthday in Shanghai!

I was so happy to have my early birthday dinner in Shanghai with four of my friends from grad school!

7. My Sister’s Wedding

The biggest event of the year! And it wasn’t in China.  The end of June, I flew back to Portland, Oregon to spend two rushed, busy, crazy weeks with family and friends.  Birthdays, the fourth of July, a bachelorette party and the most amazing wedding I have ever attended.  On July 9th, 2011, my big sister married the man of her dreams.

A happy bride and groom

Gorgeous girls!

Not only was the setting beautiful, the decorations beautiful, the bride beautiful and the wedding party looking pretty hot, but it was an awesome time with spent with family and new extended family, friends and loved ones.

8. Mommy!

Another highlight of my year, was having my mom and her husband Matt come visit me in China for about 12 days.  It was really a dream come true for all of us.  My mom and Matt had both long dreamed of someday visiting China, my mom of course also has always wanted to come visit me in the places I have gone.  It was my dream to have family come see my life here, show them around and introduce them to the things and places which are part of my everyday life that I have grown to love.

Nothing was as exciting as the moment my mom and Matt appeared in the subway station by my house, me waiting anxiously to greet them! (Excuse my blurry cell phone pic)

It was an action-packed vacation!  No rest for the jet-lagged! On their first day of travel they journeyed by private car, plane, high speed train, subway, public bus, taxi and foot.

On their first full day in China, I had them out of bed and on the road before 7am, I don’t think I stopped going until after they were back in the States!  Hangzhou, Shanghai, Zhujiajiao, a bullet train to Beijing and the Great Wall.  Villages, cities, temples, gardens, historical sites, modern China, food, beer, coffee and probably a zillion photographs between the three of us shutterbugs.

My mom and me at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Two of my greatest weeks in China were spent with my mom, showing her around and discovering new places with her.  Now, she just needs to come back so we can do it again!

Climbing the Great Wall

9. Taiwan

Another National holiday, another week off work, another chance to see the world!  In October, I escaped the millions of Chinese traveling for National Day and landed in Taiwan.  Whether or not Taiwan is in fact the same country as China, I will let you debate on your own.  But I happen to know they do not celebrate or recognize October 1st, the date of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, I found it the perfect opportunity to go visit friends and be shown around the beautiful island of Taiwan.

Sun Moon Lake

Five days in not enough to see all Taiwan has to offer, and it certainly isn’t enough to eat all the food they have to offer (although I tried…) Despite being a quick trip, I was able to enjoy a relaxing vacation in Taiwan.  I saw bits of Taipei (even though the weather tried to keep me from it), I had dinner with more MIM alumni living in Taiwan, I visited Taichung (the home town of my friend May who I was traveling with), I explored the village and surrounding area of Houli by bike, I saw my co-worker and friend Osteen’s home town of Caotun, the beautiful Sun Moon Lake and the town of Jiji, famous for being rocked by a horrific earthquake in 1999.

10. New Friends –

I have met so many wonderful people in Shanghai.  Chinese and foreigners like me.  Some grew up here, some came for a short time, some came for a long time, some have come and gone in the year that I have been here.  I have gotten to know amazing co-workers at Kid Castle, like my Chinese colleagues who always make me laugh, and the other foreign teachers who are each on their own adventure in a place so different from their homes.

Some co-workers and me at Qiandao Lake

May and me on the Bund

I have created amazing friendships and a church family through both of the churches I have attended in Shanghai, Shanghai Community Fellowship and Abundant Grace International Fellowship.  They have been my support and my lifeline in 2011 and I know I have found some lifelong friends in them.

I stumbled upon the perfect apartment on smartshanghai.com and in doing so found a great friend and roommate who I have lived with for the past 11 months.

All my new friends in Shanghai have given me wonderful memories of 2011!

11. My Kids

I came to China with a job, a job to teach Chinese kids English.  I had never taught before in my life, I had been around kids, worked with kids, dealt with kids, but never had to control a classroom of 20 children that didn’t understand my language.  My students have been a huge part of my life for the past year.  They have made me smile and laugh, they have made me angry and frustrated, they have made me cry and they have made my day.

How can you not love this face? He is also about the sweetest most loving boy in the world.

There are students who I only taught for a short time, subbing for another teacher, there are students who I have taught all year.  There are students I will greatly miss when I’m not longer teaching them, and students that I honestly probably won’t remember.

Brian, Howard, Gland, James, Jerry, Henry, Judie, Amy, Alina, Maxine and Lisa!

I have students who run across the school screaming my name to give me a hug every time they see me.  They can be delightful, they can be little spoiled brats, they can test my patience like nothing else, they can cause me to lose my voice.  Some of them I don’t think have ever retained or learned a word I told them, others are so smart they blow me away each day.

My year was full of memories at work with all my little Chinese students and my fantastic co-workers who made my job worthwhile.

I hope 2012 brings more memories and fantastic adventures in China and where ever life may take me.  Happy New Year!  I wish the best for you and your families this year as well!

A Busy, Blog-less November

I realize I have been completely slacking on blogging recently.  In fact, I think this may be the longest I have gone without posting since I moved to Shanghai over 10 months ago!  I decided to write up a quick (or maybe not so quick) post to let all my faithful readers (Hi Mom, Hi Dad!) know that I am: a) still alive b) still busy enjoying life in Shanghai and c) just lacking inspiration or motivation to write/be creative.

The last post was about a trip that happened a month ago!  Wow… time flies.  So here are some highlights of my November.

First of all, I have been attending a Saturday evening church service since mid-August or so.  It is in Pudong (across the river, the part of town where I formerly never went), but it is worth the trek to be able to attend a church service.  Before finding out about AGIF’s (Abundant Grace International Fellowship) Saturday evening service, I wasn’t attending church regularly as I work all day Saturday and Sunday.  Of course, the fact that Saturday night features amazing worship with a very talented team, great sermons from down-t0-earth, relate-able speakers and is the home of many newly developed friendships, helps motivate me to go after my long Saturdays at work.

I have also become part of the ‘Core Team’ at Grace Extended (AGIF’s Saturday night service is called Grace Extended), the core team consists of some of the people who had the idea and the initiative to start up a Saturday evening service and others who are willing to serve to make it possible.  Grace Extended is less than a year old and this past Saturday night we had a record 259 attendees.  So my Tuesday nights are now spent with the Grace Extended team in fellowship, bible study and planning of Saturday services.

(Check out www.adventconspiracy.org to learn about what we are focusing on this Advent season.)

Because of Grace Extended and my new found friendships there, I learned about and was inspired to attend GLS, the Global Leadership Summit on November 10th and 11th.  GLS is an annual two-day leadership training event which was started by the Willow Creek Association.  As stated on the GLS website: The Global Leadership Summit is a two day event featuring world class speakers, along with live worship, music, and drama created especially for leaders. With state-of-the-art video and huge projection screens, the Global Leadership Summit brings together the hearts and minds of tens of thousands in an amazing, Spirit-filled way.

GLS is held at locations all over the world, in 70 countries actually.  Shanghai is lucky enough to host the conference and I was blessed to be able to take two days off of work to attend.  It was an incredibly motivating, educational and inspiring two days of speakers such as Wess Stafford (President of Compassion International), Steven Furtick (Elevation Church), Michelle Rhee (Founder of Studentfirst.org), Cory Booker (Mayor of Newark, NJ) to name a few.

GLS also featured awesome worship with the worship team from Grace Extended who was accompanied by Jodi King and her band.  Jodi King is an up and coming artist from Canada who is incredibly gifted.  I got the chance to hang out with Jodi and her band a bit before they took off for the Philippines on tour. They are a pretty awesome & fun group, doing what they can to spread the love of Christ with their musical talents. (Check out Jodi’s music on her website: www.jodiking.com.)

Another something-something I was apart of in November actually was a by-product of my blog!  Not only did I have my busiest day/week/month EVER after being featured on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed, but even before that my blog got a little recognition from a filmmaker in New York. I was quite astonished when I saw the comment from Ruth on my post Beijing – A love/hate asking for my help on a film she is working on.

Ruth, Director/Producer at Horns and Tails Productions, was headed to China and wanted to do some filming here for two of her projects, one on street sweepers and one on how emotions, specifically tears, are expressed and perceived in different cultures.  Since I live in Shanghai and she was going to be in the city, she asked me to gather together some Chinese people who were willing to be interviewed about their emotions, how they are expressed, the last time they cried, etc.

My co-worker, Emma, brought her 7 month old daughter along for the interview. Yo-yo produced some genuine Chinese tears for the film.

I met Ruth at the place where she was staying, just two subway stops away from me in Tianzifang, and spent about 6 hours with her discussing emotions and tears.  It was quite interesting, and that afternoon/evening she interviewed and filmed 9 people (including me).  Seven Chinese, and two Americans.  It was a really fun, new and totally different experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product when it comes together.

The following week, I had two visitors!  One expected, and one not so much.  My good friend David, from grad school, has been living in Shenzhen, China (down south near Hong Kong) since May; however, I hadn’t seen him since I left the states last January.  David is working for EF (English First) and had to come to Shanghai for a week of training.  Of course he was very busy working all week, but he arrived Sunday evening, so we were able to grab some dinner and drinks Sunday before his work began.

I prove to David that China does have good beer at Boxing Cat Brewery!

The next morning, I was on a break between Chinese classes, when my phone rang.  When my friend Roger, who used to work at Kid Castle but moved back to London in June, was on the other line, I didn’t seem to grasp the fact that he was calling from a Chinese number.  I was shocked enough to hear from him, but I had received a call from London in the past and thought he was just catching up.  When I asked what he was up to, he responded by saying, “I’m in front of the H&M on Huaihai Lu.” (Huaihai Lu is in Shanghai, not London…)  This is about the time that I probably shocked a few dozen people in the vicinity as I proceeded to scream in excitement, exuberance and disbelief.  Needless to say, I was very happy to hang out in Shanghai with Roger for a Monday afternoon.  Unfortunately, he was also only here for a week and equally busy.

Rog and I chow down on Chinese food at some hole in the wall. The interesting dish of the day: Carmelized Eggplant. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

I was very thankful to get to hang out with two very good friends who were both visiting Shanghai that week, though.  The day before Thanksgiving, my boys in town and I went out to a late evening meal, hot pot, chocolates Roger brought me from England and lots of laughter.

My Thanksgiving day in China was somewhat uneventful, I worked in the evening and ate pepperoni pizza from Papa Johns with a cheap Chinese beer for dinner at 10:30pm.  Not really the holiday I am accustom to when in the states.

Thanksgiving Dinner

So that is (in a rather large nutshell) the recap of my November, other than the things mentioned above, I spent my time at work, school and pondering (aka stressing over) the question of my life, “What to I want to do with my life?”  My year contract at Kid Castle ends on January 18th, 2012 and with that my visa expires.  I’ve been questioning “what to do” since about May of this year when this time comes, and as of today, I honestly can’t tell you what I will be doing.  The planner Julia has no plans…

And a little Chinglish for your day, remember to parch your hands after washing them.

Shanghai Ink

Everyday is an adventure in Shanghai, but yesterday a few girls decided to go on an adventure I had yet to experience in a foreign country.  I believe the idea started with Cat, another American teaching at Kid Castle in Shanghai.  She wanted to get some ink for her birthday which is coming up soon.  Lindsay, a Canadian teaching at Kid Castle who also happens to have a birthday in the next couple weeks, decided to join her.

A friend of Lindsay had a large tattoo done in Shanghai, and the work was fantastic.  He recommended the place to Lindsay and Cat with only one warning – they don’t speak any English.  Small details, when you want to discuss artwork that will permanently be placed on your body, right?

So Lindsay recruited Mandy, a Taiwanese co-worker, to help with the translation and scheduling. My co-worker and friend from Taiwan, May and I heard about the girls plan and decided to join.  As did two other friends, one more American and another Taiwanese.

So yesterday was tattoo day.  I met Lindsay at the subway and we made our way over to meet May, Penny and Mandy around 3pm at the tattoo parlor.  Cat and Tara joined shortly thereafter.  On the way, Lindsay still was undecided as to exactly what she wanted but had some ideas – and with the help of a computer would be able to show her best idea to the artist.

It was slow going when we first got there, us girls all sitting around in the smoke filled lobby area of the tattoo parlor, looking through books of pictures, discussing ideas, and trying to get a grasp on price range.  There were 2 Chinese men there when we got there, but when Lindsay started talking specifically about the tattoo she wanted we were informed she would have to wait for the “tattoo master” because of the level of detail in her tattoo.  The artist who was there would not be doing hers, and the other man there at the time was an “intern” and doesn’t do any of the work.  (I referred to him as the air freshener – as he sat around chain smoking for a good portion of the time we were downstairs.)  Lindsay inquired as to when the tattoo master would be back, another day?  Another week?  Oh no, he will be here in 10 minutes!  Wonderful!

Once the ideas were formed, the price negotiations began.  They were a bit steeper than we imagined at first, but with 3 girls there all wanting tattoos the Chinese speakers managed to negotiate the prices down a bit.  Once Cat came and let them know she wanted to get 2 tattoos, the prices were dropped a bit again.

Probably an hour and a half after Lindsay and I arrived at the tattoo parlor, the designs were decided on, the prices were dropped one final time, and the 4 girls were ready to get their tattoos.  Cat was getting INI tattooed on the inside of her finger and a Chinese symbol 凰 (huáng or phoenix) tattooed on her back – the price 600 rmb ($93) for two small tattoos.  May decided to get a blue and black star tattooed behind her ear – the price 500 rmb ($78).  Mandy, who was the only one who had never gotten a tattoo before, decided on a small angel (fairy?) on her back with BTS2010 written under it for 700 rmb ($110).  Lindsay’s was the biggest, most detailed and was the only one done by the tattoo master, it is a picture from the cover of her favorite book (which apparently I need to read) A Fine Balance.  It actually took just about as long to prepare and do Lindsay’s tattoo as it did for the other artist to do the 4 small tattoos on the other 3 girls.  The final price for Lindsay – 2300 rmb ($360).

The smoke filled lobby was bothering a couple of us and we were craving coffee, so Cat, Tara and I set off to grab some coffee for everyone while the artists got started on Lindsay and May. We had been at the tattoo parlor for probably a good two hours, and we were finally going to move upstairs and get the show on the road!

It was a nice place, clean and respectable, the guys were obviously very talented and it had come recommended.  Although there was some discussion and debate; all of the girls were ready to have their tattoos done at this place.  The language barrier was tough, and Lindsay, especially, spent a lot of time discussing via Mandy as translator the specifics and details of her tattoo.  The colors, the size, the precise location and position, the price, the details of the shading… When we first walked in she was wary as to whether or not she would be able to clearly illustrate what she wanted, but I think we were all confident with the artist’s ability when he started and only more so when he finished his work.

As for me, I watched and took pictures.  It was definitely a fun time – even if I didn’t get any ink of my own.  Around 8pm we were finished, paid and hungry so 6 out of the 7 of us went out for dinner and drinks to celebrate our freshly tattooed friends!

Here are just some of the shots I took:

Price, designs and waiting.... the long process before the ink!

Discussions we don't understand

Browsing for ideas

The peanut gallery! Anxious to watch and photograph the start of Lindsay's tattoo.

Does she look excited?

Apparently behind the ear hurts...

May is the first one finished! I left the sepia theme to show the beautiful blue!

The first-timer is a bit nervous!

Here she goes! First ink.

Mandy is the second one done!

An artist capturing his work

Lindsay watches intently as her process begins

Coffee & Tattoos

She is done and happy!

A perfect replica

It was Cat's idea - but she is the last to begin

Tattoo #1 - done!

On to number two...

Who smiles while getting a tattoo? Our dear Cat does!

The last of the five tattoos is done!

My freshly inked girls and the non-English speaking hard working artists

If you are in Shanghai and in need of some tattoos, I would recommend checking this place out.  Their website is www.sh-tk.com, they are located at 654 Yan’an Xi Lu near Jiangsu Lu (延安西路654号near 江苏路).

Food, Friends, Farewells I

Sometimes it is amazing how things just come together.

Old Friends, Lekker Eten, See You Again!

When I was 16, I lived in the Netherlands for a year as an exchange student. It was certainly a year that changed my life.  For almost 8 months, I lived with the Hasper family.  After the Haspers picked me up in Amsterdam and drove me to the town of Emmen when I spent the year, one of the very first people I met, and became good friends with, was my host sister’s friend Debora.  Debora was a great friend, and I had seen her a couple times since on trips to visit the Netherlands. but it has been about 10 years.

This, however, is 2011 and we live in a social media world. Debora and I are now friends on Facebook. We have been for a year or two I think.  I see her posts from time to time, she sees mine.  Once I knew she was in Canada – but the closest she got to me was Alberta – which is still a bit of a ways from Oregon.  A couple months ago, Debora mentioned that she might come on a trip to China.

Well, she did!  Her and a friend from college went on a tour of China with a group of others from the Netherlands.  In two weeks, they visited around 6 cities, it was a frantic trip around China from what I heard.  In the two weeks, they spent less than two days in Shanghai.  On one of those days, they were given a rare afternoon/evening free from preplanned activities.  It happened to be this past Tuesday.  My day off!

After ten years, I met Debora on the front steps of a hotel, me a bit frazzled from getting stuck in a downpour between the subway station and our meeting place, and Debora exhausted from two weeks of travel but looking splendid. She introduced me to her college friend and another friend they had made on the tour and from 1:30pm until 9pm, I played tour guide for 3 dutch woman in Shanghai.

Debora, Lysbert and me in Tianzifang - older and wiser

We shopped, I impressed them with my hardcore bargaining skills, I practiced my Dutch listening comprehension skills, I brought them on a bit of a wild goose chase down West Nanjing Road, we had drinks and then, because the thought of Chinese food no longer appealed to them, I brought them to the best place in town for good western food.  (Yes, I am quite the regular at Boxing Cat Brewery).  And of course, we caught up on the last 10 years of our lives and promised not to let 10 more go by before seeing each other again.

Debora and I showing off the nachos and the belgian tripel threat at BCB. FANTASTIC!

She is now back in the Netherlands, safe and sound after a journey around the world.  I’m thrilled that an American girl who met a Dutch girl in the Netherlands just about 13 years ago was able to run into her again in the streets of Shanghai, China.

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