Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 5

Day 5

Due to time constraints (well, the fact that I'm stinkin' exhausted), I'm just going to give you the quick and dirty rundown of my day.

THE SUN CAME OUT!  It was phenomenal.  I saw blue sky and everything.  I'm even attaching the picture of the blue sky because I'm so happy about it.  I went outside to see it, even.  Looking from the windows wasn't enough.

There's a guy here that I used to work with, and now I remember why I don't like to spend too much time with him—the man loves to talk.  And he talks about himself a lot.  AND, I heard him tell the same story three different times, to three different people, and the details changed each time.  AND, most importantly, he tried taking credit of the training program I created.  That *really* irks me.  He even had the nerve to say that he modeled it after his Army training.  I was the only one that worked on that project.  I did.  Not him, me.  Honest, I don't even think he was in the group that proofread it at the end.

I had a chimichanga plate for dinner.  Complete with refried beans and rice and everything.  I wasn't in the mood, but Tyler and Charlie were, so I went with them.  Better than eating alone.  But heck, I'm in stinkin' CHINA.  You don't get chimichangas in China.  Even if it was kinda good.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 4

Day 4

I woke up at the normal time (5:30-ish) and was able to go back to sleep for about 2 hours.  Woke up, had fruit bread for breakfast with coffee, then chatted with leann and chris on skype.  After, called mom and gramma on skype.  Talked for a little while, then I got ready to leave the hotel room.  Started just walking—it's amazing what I see.  I want to one day bring my camera and use it as a video camera so that you can all see what I see… but I'm not sure how that will be received by the people here, ya know?  Some of them still stare at me when I'm walking down the street.

I went out with a mission this time—buy some gloves.  I just wanted cheap ones, like those one-size-fits-all walmart gloves.  I had to search for them using hand motions because no one in the shopping area near me speaks English.  It's a whole different world here.  Anyway, I ended up finding this sort of flea market/craft fair/mall type thing.  A bunch of people set up shop in this dark huge area.  There was even a second floor, but I didn't go far.  I found my gloves.  And the lady told me how much by using fingers.  They were supposed to be 15 yuan, but I didn't have any small bills but for 10 yuan, so she accepted that.  It means I spent a whole buck fifty on gloves.  They're simple and cute.  Chocolate brown, with blue argyle on the back, and they're fingerless.  I like them enough.  On the way back, they were a bunch of people sewing, sitting really close together, crammed in a small building.  There were even people outside.  I don't know if it was Chinese labor, or if they were like, fixing people's suits.

I came back to my hotel for lunch.  I need to eat something.  I got homemade noodles to go from the place we ate yesterday, cause apparently that's what they do there.  You buy noodles, and they give you noodles.  So I'm going to cook them in my kettle and see how they are.  Sort of like ramen, but way better.

I so messed them up.  Overflowed my kettle, overcooked the noodles… gah.

Did nothing after getting my gloves.  Finally turned on the tv, and found a few channels in English.  HBO, Cinemax, and there's nothing on.  Also, National Geographic.  I was on that for a lot of the day.  I just got back from the Kedi, which is like a convenience store.  Has food only.  I couldn't even buy chopsticks.  BUT, when I returned to my hotel, they found plastic forks for me.  Yay!  I also bought pringle-style chips, and I couldn't really tell what flavor they are, because it's obviously not written in English.  I think a sort of bbq.  They're good!  I also got two Ramens, Tyler called them staples.  I call them 14 cents.  Cause seriously, that's how much they cost.  I got a diet coke also.  And I only know that because I know the grey and red label.

It's all of 4:55 and I'm exhausted.  It's starting to get dark outside.  Sorry I don't have any pictures to add.  I'll hopefully have more tomorrow.

I just found ESPN!  Watching the game between Texas Tech and Baylor.

 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 3

Day 3

This one is going to be short.  It's all of 8:30pm, and I'm exhausted.

I started the day wandering by my hotel alone, going down neat alleyways into fun shops… then Simon called and we went out.  I don't remember what it was called, but it was a fun shopping area, where there aren't cars or scooters on the street, so you can go without being killed.  Fun stuff.  I bought some Suzhou candy—it looks like pepperoni, but tastes like a crunchy-ish fruit rollup.  It has so much sugar in it, I ate two and was okay, and it comes with a lot.  Simon paid for his handmade new coat, and I picked one out.  More later.  We ate lunch at a noodle place, where I had udon vegetable soup, and ate the soup with chopsticks.  I'm starting to get okay at it, as long as someone shows me a trick for the slippery foods.

Then we went to a place called Thousand Year Road (I think), which is like the oldest part of Suzhou.  It was neat.  There used to be a big wall surrounding the city, and there's still a portion left of it—the gate part.  I got to see that from a distance.  I think you can go closer but we didn't this time.  I got a drink that was like a Lipton green tea, but it was obviously a Chinese brand, and it was chrysanthemum tea.  It was awesome.  Then we (Simon and I) met up with Tyler who had just come in from Beijing.  We ate dinner at a hot pot place, where they cook broth at your table and you dip in things and cook them just a bit then eat them.  The chopsticks were longer at this place, so you didn't burn your hands over the steam of the broth.  Oh, I had my very first encounter with *real* China toilets.  Ken, if you're reading this, I totally thought of you and the squatty potty :-)

It was freezing by the time we left, so we grabbed a cab back to the first area that Simon and I shopped at, so he could pick up his coat.  I got measured for a coat, and am having it made.  It's a sort of mix between a pea and a trench coat, really cute, so dark grey it's nearly black, with a kind of brown lining.  It's going to have a cotton lining in the middle to make it warmer.  Oh, the outside is wool, the inside is silk, it's handmade, and it cost me about $100.  So exciting.  Then we all left home.  Well, Tyler and I rode together cause we stay in the same hotel.

The end.  I'm tired.  I'm trying to send some pictures with this one.  I hope it works.  Leann, I'm also emailing you the pictures so that if it doesn't post, you can just go ahead and add them.

 

 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 2

Day 2

Started work today.  A lot of the forms that I had to sign were written in Chinese… hmmm… I'm starting to wonder what I signed to??  I drank coffee out of a real china mug.  Like, when people get married and ask for fine china?  I drank out of that.  And it wasn't a deal at all.  Actually, it was totally cool because it had a lid to it.  Like, a little china lid that sat on top of it.  Kept my coffee warm later than normal, AND you can turn it upside down and it becomes a coaster.  I loved it.  I want to find one and bring it home for me.

I got my badges and phone and everything.  I am going to have to go back to using a Nokia-style non-qwerty keyboard phone.  Ugh.  Well, it's free, and it's communication while I'm here.  It was freezing in my office—that is, until I found out that there was a heater that just had to be turned on.

For lunch, we all go to this separate cafeteria… cause everywhere in China, the employer pays for your food.  I had bok choy, matchstick potatoes, tofu in a bean sauce, pork and green peppers, pork wrapped in tofu skin, steamed rice, and pork broth with winter melon.  Basically, not much I'd ever have ordered from a menu, but it was all delicious!  Plus, I ate with chopsticks.  All of it.  Even the rice!  Well, not the soup, obvi.  Using chopsticks could be one of the best diet tricks ever.  Now I know how all Asians are so thin (sorry for the blatant profiling).  I totally told everyone at lunch (all two other people) about how mine and Chris' first date was with Chinese and he made me eat with chopsticks.  So I credit my mad chopstick skills to my boyfriend :-)

I think there's some mountains/hills outside my window, which would be really pretty if this fog and smog ever decides to lift.

After work, I ate at a delicious Cantonese restaurant with Jim and Simon.  Simon's hilarious.  He's a Chinese guy, born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada, and went to school in North Carolina.  Speaks without any sort of accent, and speaks just enough Mandarin to get by.  So, when we went to the restaurant and they started talking to Simon in Mandarin, he turns to us and says (in a very American voice), "why do they always assume I speak Chinese?  What is it about me?"  We all laughed.  Anyway, dinner was family-style.  Think PF Chang's.  We had these shrimp/pork things wrapped in sticky tapioca dough, sweet and sour pork, sweet barbecue eggplant, pork cooked three ways (one had a sort of crusty side, and you dipped it in sugar—it was phenomenal), and steamed dough filled with pork barbecue.  Lots of food.  And it was fun to eat, cause we all just went at it with our chopsticks, grabbing things and eating them, not putting them on plates or anything.  It would have easily cost $20-30 per person if we'd had that in the US.  Here?  It was $25 total.  For all three of us.  *love*

After dinner in this mall, we headed underground, where Wal-Mart awaited us.  No kidding.  It was stinkin' awesome.  I went for a bowl and spoon to have my oatmeal in the morning, and some instant coffee.  We had a fun time going through the food section.  There is a whole aisle that had on the sign just sugar, salt, and MSG.  No joke.  There was another whole section that had soy sauce.  There was a whole other section that had ramen-style noodles.  Then, we got to the fresher foods.  They had chickens.  Whole chickens without feathers, on ice, in the middle of the store.  Down a bit, they had dried, salted chickens.  Whole, and hanging by their necks, in the middle of the store.  They had tanks, like stores have lobster in, but they had catfish and other fish, and hairy crabs (because their claws are covered in fur), and clams.  On the "dead-and-over-ice" section, they had barracuda, sting rays and squid.  In one tank, they had soft-shell turtles that they were putting on ice (live ones).  I bought bread.  It's like a braided bread, but in the braid it has jams and fruits.  Looks like it'll be good for breakfast.  So, of my purchases, the china bowl was $1, the spoon and loaf of bread were 50 cents each, and the coffee was $8.  I'm a little upset by the coffee, but since I feel like I saved a dollar on the bowl and three on the bread, I'm okay with it.  There was a Starbucks also, but I didn't go in.  Apparently, Starbucks are everywhere, so I can get Chris' gift at another time!

Now, I'm getting ready for bed.  Unfortunately, I'm also getting a second wind.  I just drank some hot cocoa and I think that helped, actually.  I'm going to crack open a good book and lay with it in bed.  Hopefully be asleep by midnight.  They said the jetlag would hit me today and tonight hardest.  It sure is so far.  I just wanted to sleep in the office starting around 3 (mom, don't worry—I didn't).  Yep, feels like the cocoa is kicking in.  Time to take a melatonin and head to bed.  Adios, amigos.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 1 in China

Day 1

Got a window seat on my first  flight.  Fell asleep relatively easily, and woke up as we are flying over the Rockies.  Beautiful.  No idea what time it is either where I am, or in San Fran—my watch is already set to Suzhou, so it's 10:45pm there.  I want to sleep more—to be on China time, and because I'm plumb tired.  But I don't want to sleep because I woke in the middle of a Harry Potter movie being shown on my flight, and as much as I never watch them before this, it's sort of… intriguing.  I suppose.  Well, can't hear it because I can't get to my headphones with the seat in front of me reclined all the way *sigh* oh well, I will probably pull out a game on my iphone to play for now.  I can always charge it in San Fran.

Either I'm more tired than I think, or the air up here makes my phone to be on steroids—cause I can't beat the computer in a game of Farkle to save my life.  Crap-pola.

I switched to Sway (an awesome game)—now it's even cooler because I realized that the character I chose *totally* resembles Chuck Norris.  I so wanted to make sound effects while playing it.  You know, "pachoo, pachoo, kapow, hi-ya!!" Yeah, you totally understand.

As soon as I locked the bathroom door, we hit some turbulence.  Uncool.

Gah.  I'm now 3.5 hours into the second part of my trip.  Which means?  I'm starting a whole 'nother day of travel.  It's 7:30am China time on 11/26.  Again, I'm clueless with what that means for Dallas or Pittsburgh times.  All I know is, I've got ten hours to go.  Forgive my lack of enthusiasm at this point.  It recently hit me that, when I get off this plane, I'm in China for five weeks.  I'm a bit homesick already.  On an up note, the guy in the seat next to me is super nice.  Very polite and says I'm going to fall in love with Suzhou.  Now, unrelated, why the eff are we flying up to Alaska instead of over Hawaii?  I need a physics major, or a meteorologist to answer that one.  All I know is, based on the map of our progress that I can watch, we are just south of Anchorage.  Seems a tad out of the way is all I'm sayin'.

Seven hours left per the map in front of me.  I just pulled out my Underwater World color and sticker book.  Mom, the guy next to me works for GE, not WuXi, I checked :-)  Anyways, I'm fairly certain that he's all kinds of jealous of me right now.  He was watching me color lots, so I even offered him a blank sheet.  He declined.  Likely because he doesn't know how to be this cool on a flight.  Erica, I chose the picture of moray eels and totally thought of you.  Not because you're all moray-like, but cause of eel, your initials… you get it.

6.5 hours left.  We are getting a snakc.  Guess what it is?  Ramen.  Serious.  Like cup of noodle, but it's really Chinese.  I'm so excited.  They even gave chopsticks to eat it with.  Yep, I'll be using the spork that is also included :-)  *Clarification—it wasn't ramen.  It was "Japanese-Chinese food", and "slightly different" from Chinese noodles.  Per the kind gentleman to my right*

The map also shows outside air temp.  I'm near Siberia, just crossed the Bering Sea.  Any guesses to the temp out there?  Anyone?  Okay.  -54 Celsius.  Thanks to my convertbot app (um, I mean my mad AALAS training?), that is -65.2 Fahrenheit.  Holy schnikes.

Few things, then this is probably my last section for the night.  We flew over Japan not too long ago.  I ;think there's only another two hours or so left in the flight (yay!).  I stood while we passed it and watched it out one of the windows in the back of the plane.  Just now, it sounded like someone was playing with their flight attendant call button.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Then someone came running down the aisle, yelling something in Chinese.  The flight attendants ran back, following the man back to his seat, then there was an announcement: "Is there a doctor on the plane?  We have an emergency.  Please identify yourself if you are a doctor."  Seriously, I thought this only happened in movies.  Crazy.  I have no idea what happened.  One, they are like 10 rows in front of me, and two, I don't speak Mandarin (B, sorry—didn't make it to the "medical emergency" section yet it appears).  Alright.  I'm out for now.  Before I post this, I *might* add something about tonight's Thanksgiving Dinner.  But, I imagine you're as tired of reading this as I am of typing.  Well, I'm not tired of it, cause I've done it in sections over 20 hours.  But still, I can imagine you're tired of it.

Thanksgiving Dinner: I met some people.  I ate some dinner.  The end.  Okay, slight elaboration?  The food was pretty amazing.  And some were nothing I'd had before.  Like, I don't think there was bread in that stuffing.  Not sure what it was, but it was yummy.  And there was this bread.  A dense, low bread, like a brownie texture, but it had meat in it.  Little chunks of meat.  It was good, too.  It took us 1.5 hours to get from Shanghai to Suzhou, so you can imagine I'm tired.  Didn't go to sleep til midnight.  Now it's 7am and I'm typing this last sentence right before I go to get ready for the day.


Monday, November 23, 2009

weekend with my bff

Yay! Leann came to visit this weekend!
We had such a great time. She arrived Friday, and we wasted no time getting into our shopping mode. First, we went to DSW. This was my first time (can you believe it??), and when we entered, we felt like we'd died and gone to shoe heaven. could have easily spent a few hours in here.

I bought a pair of black shoes that sort of look like flats, with a cute little bow-- but they're about 1½ wedge. *love* them! I can wear them with black dress pants, or with bright pink socks and jeans. AND... they. fit. perfectly. I'm so happy. Don't even have to wear them in or anything.

After DSW, we went to New Moon. It was phenomenal. I'm not giving a synopsis or anything, cause there's approximately a bajillion websites that you can find it on. All I'm sayin' is, Jacob is one *hot* 17-year old. Also, Leann and I are dirty old women. And we're okay with that.

Saturday, we had a super busy day. Started at Town East mall to get my glasses adjusted, in preparation for my trip. Then we went to Northpark mall. I'd never been to the south side of it, just to the north side. The north side has normal stores, like Macy's and Brookstone (I got a converter set for electric outlets in China), Eddie Bauer, you get it. The south side, Oscar de la renta, Burberry, Tiffany's, and as you see...

Louis Vuitton... and some CRAZY art (?), if you can call it that. These guys were moving, looked like they were going to bring down the hatchet on us. Sorta scary.

Then, we went to Souper Salad for lunch (one of my faves), Half Price Books (got some phenomenal deals), and a thrift store (Leann got a great-looking, cheap winter coat that will accommodate her growing pregnant-belly).

Dinner was Chris' idea-- Cantina Laredo up in Addison. It was sooo good. Leann and I both got chicken and spinach enchiladas that were topped with cotijo cheese and sauteed veggies. *sigh* they were so amazing. I want more. now.

Leann's baby is the size of an avocado now, and they can make guacamole right at your table, so we took a picture of two avocados. Hahahaha...

She left (boo) Sunday morning, Chris and I went to church, then i did laundry, napped a bit, cooked an awesome chicken-rice bake, then started packing. I'm packing two suitcases, only partially full though. It's going good so far. i need to do some rearranging on the left one, I know... I'll work on that tonight. Also, I haven't packed one jacket that I want to bring, or my scarves, or jewelry, or toiletries... but there will be plenty of room. I promise.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Countdown has begun...

2
TWO days until Leann visits
2
TWO days until Chris' birthday
7
SEVEN days until I'm flying to China
8
EIGHT days until I land in China
8
EIGHT days until Thanksgiving
10
TEN days until a free Thanksgiving dinner in China
37
THIRTY SEVEN days until Christmas
43
FORTY THREE days until I leave China
42
FORTY TWO days until I'm back in the US (weird, I know)
43
FORTY THREE days until New Year's Eve
60
SIXTY days until my birthday

Sweet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Headache...

... I got one.

It's a sucky way to spend the day at work. And since I've been working with my light off lately, I can't shut off my light to help now. I just wasted about an hour shoe-shopping on DSW.com-- just window shopping, really. Gonna do the real thing when Leann is here. I'm stoked.

Okay. I'm going to lay my head down a bit, then get back to work for a while. Want to clean off my desk before I go for the weekend. Not to worry, I have 3 hours before I leave still.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm a super girlfriend.

This morning, my boyfriend straight-up told me I was going to be lonely in China. NOT what I needed to hear.

In retaliation, I put $10 gas in his car, and bought him a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I write poetry, doncha know?

Hello all. I wrote a poem, and I'm going to share it with you now. Well, I haven't written it yet. I'm going to write it as i type it. Cause I'm that good.

I've got a lot going on right now,
I don't even have time to take a bow!

My best friend is coming to visit
In 9 short days we'll eat some Triscuits.

Well, maybe not, cause I don't like them,
So how about we watch New Moon instead?
(editor's note: I just realized that line doesn't rhyme. sorry.)

Something else happens only 5 days later
(That's 14 from now, you non-counting hater).

I'm going to China, all by myself
I'm going to miss watching Elf :-(

Speaking Chinese? I should really learn how.
Well, I've got down "hello"-- it's nǐ hǎo.

I'm a little bit nervous and can honestly say
That I'm already a tired for the traveling day.

How many people get something like this?
I'm super lucky, and I give a great kiss.

My super boyfriend will watch my doggies
Because he's that good (and I let him do laundry).

I will miss everyone... well, some
And maybe I'll bring back some Chinese gum.

Just kidding, I'll miss everyone lots and lots,
Even more than I'll miss Sonic tater tots.

Wait-- I only like Sonic onion rings,
And burgers, and coneys, and other things.

But I apologize, for I digress,
All this thought of China makes me a nervous mess.

Monday, November 9, 2009

China. Fo' reals, yo.

Okay. It's all falling into place quite nicely.

Do you know there are 20 million people that live in Shanghai?

I had a talk with the people from the lab in China last night. It went, shall I say, phenomenal?

Shanghai-- just the city-- is bigger than the whole of DFW Metroplex.

They loved me. So much that they are bringing me to China *very* soon.

I hear it's freezing in Shanghai in December.

Yep. I'm going there in December. For the entire month. THE ENTIRE MONTH. Woah. Seriously.

I'm spending Christmas in China.

So, I have paperwork from them that I have to take to the embassy in Houston to apply for my "Multiple Entry Business Visa".

It costs $130 friggin' dollars to get a visa. Ouch.

I was super nervous to talk to my boss about this. Because, well, I didn't know if he would support me, and without his support this would either not happen, or be very difficult.

I wanted to throw up before I talked to him.

He was so excited for me! He says it's a wonderful opportunity, and is talking to our admin to get information about the logistics of it ASAP, since they want me there in, oh, THREE WEEKS.

I'm extremely nervous, and excited, and distracted. I cannot concentrate on anything work-related today, as I just keep searching for things about Shanghai. Doesn't help when my mom and boyfriend are doing the same. They keep sending me websites with pictures or information or whatever.

I came into work with a really bad headache. Now I still have a headache, but it's just in a different place. Earlier it was in the center of my forehead, now it's behind my ears. Well, that was just my side note. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christmas is *still* coming

I just now-- just this second-- figured out what I'm going to make for my aunt and uncle for Christmas! Thanks to the Long Thread link posted on The Seam Rippers, there was an article for kids' placemats. Well, that got me thinking how George and Toni are always searching their house for placemats, so I'm going to make my own for them. Plus they're in the process of painting the inside of their house to those warm colors, golds and brick red, so they need something to match. I'm so excited! I found these instructions for making placemats, and it seems so super easy. I'm excited to do another handmade item for someone. They're much more special gifts when they're made by hand, don't you think?

On a side note, my boyfriend is my hero today. He let it slip that he had a long conversation with my mom last night about Christmas gifts. Mom didn't tell me they talked, but Chris told me today. He's one of the worst secret-keepers, but he gets a pass for having the initiative to talk to my mom about my Christmas gift :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

This weekend...

... was beee-you-tea-ful.

... I ate chocolate chip pancakes-- twice.

... I spent time at *two* thrift stores with Boyfriend.

... I took my doggies out for a car ride and to get lots of treats.

... I bought a cute ceramic owl for Leann.

... I forgot to turn on my porch light and got NO trick-or-treaters.

... I spent an hour picking pecans to fill a duffel bag.

... I did not take a nap.

... I watched the crappiest horror movie ever.

... I had red wine and frozen pizza.