Yunan food, monkeys and Nike Festival of Sports

Joy and I out in Puxi.
 Some man on the street with his pet monkey.  I love animals but that monkey scared me!

The crew from year one... 
 Lost Heaven Yunan Restaurant on the Bund in Puxi with volleyball camp coaches from the States. 

 Then off to the Apartment to dance, with a pit stop at the rum bar.
 This little cat was hiding outside my apartment door for six hours!  My dog was not pleased.

 Eventually the little guy left.  I think he belonged to my neighbor on the 9th or 10th floor.
 My dog guarding the door, knowing that the cat is directly on the other side!

 Me in the atrium of the airport.
 Puxi from the view at the pool in the JW Tomorrow Square Marriot.
 The Lighthouse on the Bund in Puxi-- TICT DJs here are awesome!! 
Probably the best music in Shanghai.

 Approximately 1,200 students all gathered for our opening all-school assembly.  
It's always impressive to see them all gathered together. 
 Me posing in front of the Jets booth at the Nike Festival of Sports this past weekend in Puxi at the Shanghai Stadium.  Nike had many sports on display to raise awareness of different fitness and sport activities Chinese citizens can participate in.  Lebron James, LaDainian Tomlinson and a few Chinese Olympic athletes came to the event as well.
 I wish I knew their names, but the signage and MC introductions were in Chinese.

Expensive food, a cute car and animal stories....

Just a few random pictures and stories from the past two days of life here in Jinqiao....

I have a love/hate relationship with Pic Fresh market.  It's conveniently located right next to my apartment building (love).  I have access to food regardless of rain, snow, sleet, shine or typhoon (love).  It's nice and organized, with just enough items to do a pretty complete supermarket run, without bright yellow signs screaming out special prices and people running me over with shopping carts, as in the case of Carrefour (love).  There are American, European, Australian products (love).  

The prices?  HATE.

My American food craving got the best of me!  

Lox, guacamole, whole-wheat bread, veggie chili, cheese and tortilla chips set me back 290.60rmb (plus .30rmb for the plastic shopping bag-I use them for garbage).

$45.70!!!! OR, worse yet, 36€!!! If all bought all of this in Eroski, it would have cost 6€.  Even if I splurged, and bought these same six items in Mercadona, I probably would have spent 8€.

AND.. to add further insult to injury, the guacamole and whole wheat bread were not even good! The guacamole has a cream cheese base (eww) and the bread was stale and had no flavor.    

In all fairness, I always feel ripped off like this when I shop in Whole Foods.  Case in point; one time I spent $50 on waffles, strawberries, bread and milk.  HOW??? I do not know.  At least the quality of their products is always consistently excellent, and extremely healthy without chemicals, preservatives, etc (at least that's the justification of their outrageous prices).  I guess I'll always be a Trader Joe's shopper! 

In any event, I consoled my food angst with a strong cup of café con leche, and felt better instantly.  I am so happy with the little mustache man.  My Bialetti kettle was the smartest purchase I made all summer in Europe.  I bought it in my family's town of Padula, for only 9€!  Take that Starbucks/Coffee Beanery/Costa Coffee!  No more 45rmb cups of coffee for this gal (equivalent to $7.10- just for a  medium size!).

In other news, I stopped short when I saw this Mini Cooper...

Possibly the cutest one I've ever seen.  I posed next to one last summer when I was in San Francisco:

I like this one much better with the stock wheels and the white trim around the wheel well and on the hood of the car.  SO CUTE!! If I ever get a car again, I want a Mini!

If you've ever read any of my other blog posts, you may notice that I am a dog lover.  In particular, my heart is filled with joy when I am with my dog Dior.  He is now referred to as Didi, so I sound less pretentious (LOL!) and coincidentally, Didi means little brother in Chinese, which is kind of suiting for him.  Although he is my dog-son, and not my dog-brother.

I digress.

It makes me so happy to see him playing with kids.  It makes me even happier when people are not afraid to pet him and try to play with him, as in America and Europe.  Here, my poor dog is so lonely!  Many Chinese people in my apartment complex are terrified of him.  Some have gone to the extreme of trying to kick him.  Others just walk quickly on the other side of the path, and advert eye contact.  The management of the apartment complex have gone so far to put up a ridiculous sign in the elevators to remind residents of polite dog ownership etiquette.  

It is really hilarious:

I know he's super intimidating...

but c'mon he's not a pitbull!  

If anything, the Chinese reaction to my dog makes me feel even more sorry for dogs who are misunderstood (like pitbulls, rottweilers, etc) and for their owners who strive to overcome stereotypes of certain breeds.

Today, D tried to make friends with two kittens outside of the East West Chinese restaurant.  There are always stray cats hanging around.  I know he HATES cats, but I wasn't sure how he would react with kittens.  He was trying to come closer, and I put my hand out to pet the kittens, and they hissed like wild tigers at me! WOW! not exactly the reaction I was expecting from cutesy little kittens. D went bananas and started to bark at them, so we high-tailed it out of there!  At least he's a good watch dog against cats!  I'm not sure about anything else.

So here's to the comforts of America/NY... where you can eat junk food, rent a Mini cooper and go to the dog park, all for less than I paid at Pic Fresh.

Adiós Mallorca!!

Summer 2012 has come and gone... 

I had a great time this summer studying with TCNJ Mallorca's Global Graduate Program.  It was wonderful to network and meet international educators from around the world, and I am excited for future prospects.  My course load was pretty intense, and it took extra willpower to maintain focus, considering the hot summer heat and appeal of the beach just a few minutes away from campus.  I took Intro to Administration, School Law and School Finance.  I will post some materials and other reflections this weekend.  After three classes in just twenty five days, I was happy to take a deep breath and relax.  Then I realized though-AHH!-I go back to Shanghai in six days!!! It was a real bittersweet moment to come to grips with reality.  At least I left with a 3.8 GPA :)

That all being said, here are some highlights of my time spent in Mallorca:

Downtown Palma, old city.  Lots of cute boutiques and standard Spanish fashion brands (Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Blanco, Mango, etc).  Wonderful restaurant district in Santa Catalina and Calle de Fabrica.

                                                                I like street signs.  :)

                                            Cala Mayor, main tourist beach outside of school.

Apart from the sun and surf, the most beautiful part about the Mediterranean region of the world are these flowers.  Please enlighten me, should you know the name of them!

                                                         View from Paseo Maritimo.

                                 Really beautiful view from my classmate's apartment/rooftop deck.

                       Surprise, surprise. I found traditional Mallorquin dancers performing in the street.

                 On the snorkeling trip/Catamaran boat.  Too bad we didn't see any fish.

Catedral de Mallorca.  The oldest, biggest and arguably the most beautiful, church on the island.  It was built between 1229-1436.  It is absolutely gorgeous during the day or at night. There are concerts in front of the large fountain (not pictured) every week.

A cove on the southeastern side of the island.


                               City of Palma, Plaza Mayor--looks exactly like anytown, España. :)

Chasing the sunset/trying to catch the sun kiss the horizon at Portals Nous.  I was not successful throughout my whole summer vacay! :/  Good thing I finally saw the sunset in Ibiza at Mint in Sant Antoni.

Posing at the restaurant we ate at called Mood Beach.  
It was absolutely gorgeous, great food and service too!

                             The view from the road while I walked to the beach in Illetas everyday.

Porto Pollença-another of the 250+ beautiful beaches to visit on the island.  

An amazing sunset.  
Gosh I never get sick of the warmth and sensuality the sunset brings to a beautiful Spanish summer.

BACK TO REALITY.....................

I arrived to Shanghai to start the 2012-13 school year on Monday afternoon. 

Work started Tuesday morning-hello jet lag!  We had HR review new health insurance information and other policy/procedure updates, then it was off to IKEA to help new teachers buy things to help them settle into their new apartments.  Wednesday and Thursday we had a typhoon! so there was no school.  Today, Friday, my colleagues and I in middle school PE attempted to unpack our new equipment and organize it in our storage closet.  However, we encountered two hiccups-one, there was water flooding in from the typhoon and two, shelves that we requested had not been installed, so we couldn't get much done.  We also had an unpleasant run in with a ginormous roach!! eek!! but my vice principal came to the rescue on that one! Such great leadership, huh? :)

It's now Friday night here in Shanghai, and I think I'm going to cry.... REALLY? Rain all next week too?!  I moved back to the wrong city! :/ My sinuses are killing me from the pollution-the humidity just traps all of the dirty air and it's so hard to breathe outside.  I thought maybe I was just being overly dramatic and sensitive to the air quality, just coming back from Spain.  I decided to follow the Shanghai US Embassy twitter feed which updates the air quality readings every hour.

The US Embassy has been reporting particle counts (PM 2.5) converted into air quality index score-AQI between 70-110 and claimed the air was safe this past week for everyone but "People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children. These groups should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion".

I believe their sources of reporting to be more accurate than the Chinese gov't, who claim "normal" or "moderate" while the foreign gov'ts are issuing warnings.  In fact, the PRC has been warning foreign embassies to stop reporting the particle counts.  For a very long time, PRC faced international criticism for not reporting the PM 2.5 values-which is the most dangerous and lethal particle, as it can directly enter your lungs or bloodstream.

Either way, both PRC and US gov't reports are under reporting and minimizing the truth.  The World Health Organization (W.H.O.)-another US gov't agency-recommends that air with particle counts of less than 20 micro grams/cubic metre of air of particles between 2.5-10 microns in size and less than 10 micro grams/cubic metre of air for particles less than 2.5 microns in size is safe for human health.

Regardless of scores/numbers/ratings, my lungs feel like they are going to collapse here whether I am walking or riding my bike outside.  I hope this gross weather clears up before school starts because I honestly don't want to breathe this pollution in.  I miss running, swimming and breathing in clean, sunny Mallorca.