Fitzness Friday__Playing in the Park...

Things are finally starting to look up...

Might just be raining panties now, as I look up from my first floor terrace.

The rain is gone and the pollution is a low 112 degrees of death.

It's a perfect day to take advantage of the clear skies and to get outside to Fuxing Park.  The main lawn is a perfect place to practice Frisbee or Soccer skills, or to go dancing with this guy...



Hope you and yours are enjoying your day, wherever you are in the world!



Romance is alive and well in Fuxing Park..

Good place to capture your special day..

The calligraphy reads, "HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!"


Wellness Wednesday__So Good That They Can't Ignore You!

Hello and Happy Wednesday!  I hope my fellow Shanghai peeps are staying dry, in the midst of these intense Huang Mei Tian, or "Plum Rains"!

A plum colored umbrella to ward off the Plum Rains!

Today's Wellness Wednesday's post is dedicated to occupational and social health.

How many of us are "eating soup with a fork"?

How many of us are trying so hard, day after day, to make an impact in our professions?  Even have gone to the extent to move across the world to pursue career growth and opportunities, only to be faced with dead ends?

Is it possible to move our focus away from finding our "passion" (ugh--one of the most clich├ęd expressions around), and focus on letting our passion follow us?

How do we work smarter, not necessarily harder, to achieve career success, but also a lifetime of fulfillment?

On my home turf in New York, it was A LOT easier to be socially confident.  As an expat, it's a precarious balance between being outgoing, humorous, warm and friendly. Sometimes things get misconstrued, other times even offensive.  Language barriers, overcoming biases, even the method of greeting (one kiss or two? or none?)  gets in the way of social confidence.

I tested my social strength at the Shanghai Bloggers Event last week, and I can say with 100% certainty that the way to stop eating soup with a fork is to COLLABORATE, COMMUNICATE, CREATE and CRITICALLY THINK!

But WOW!  I was so humbled by the many talented and creative bloggers who are collectively creating outstanding content to improve the expat experience here in Shanghai.  I met so many cool and interesting people that are eating soup with a spoon--working in smart ways to make a BIG impact.

I was especially inspired, because these "4Cs" are tools I try to teach and reinforce with my students, but as an adult, sometimes I don't have the opportunity to practice these skills myself.

Thank you to the team of Shanghai Bloggers for organizing such an amazing event, and to the sponsors and partners for your generous support of the event!  I can't wait to try some new restaurants and services here!

If you don't already have the app, what are you waiting for???  Download it via iTunes!


Where else in life are you "eating soup with a fork"?  Tell me more in the comments below!



Qibao in photos

Qibao has been on my Shanghai bucket list for some time.  As I often host couchsurfers, I always tell my visitors to go there, but this advice was solely based on my students' and colleagues' recommendations.

I finally made it out to Qibao, on line 9.  I say finally because my sense of direction is not one of my strong suits, and my meticulously planned route turned out to be one of my "long cuts".  

I took line 2 at West Nanjing Rd, switched to line 4 at Zhongshan Park (don't do this) and then switched to line 9 at Yishan Road (don't do this either).  Both of these stations are too spread out and inconveniently disorganized. 

On the way home, I got it right though, since I took line 9 to Zhaojiabang Road, switched to line 7 and got off at Jing'an Temple.  Easy peasy.

In regards to the actual visit to the watertown of Qibao, it was an interesting experience.  It reminded me of a calmer Yuyuan Garden.  For this reason, I would recommend Qibao if you are adverse to the crowds of Shanghai. 

Like Yuyan, there are many vendors, if you want to get your shoppin' on.







In contrast to Yuyan, Qibao has retained its traditional charm. 

A visit to Qibao is really like stepping back in time.


I liked the traditional architecture; I especially loved the pretty window panes and doors.  



This lady knows how to keep it real in Qibao...


I really liked seeing Shanghai move at a slower pace.  

I stopped for a yummy lunch at the restaurant closest to the entrance to the main canal area.


I also liked seeing the young children running around, side by side with the older people strolling along the canal.  


This young girl posing with her bunny rabbit was especially adorable.

I think it would be a great place to practice Mandarin, since I think I was the only foreigner in the whole place.

I wish I was able to communicate with these ladies, deep in thought and conversation while the men at their side participated in a loud auction of sorts.
Entrance to the temple of the village
Inside the temple of Qibao


The only thing that sort of ruined the tranquil experience was accidentally capturing this magical moment on camera....


Oops..

Take 1...
Take 2... much better




Until next time... Zaijian!

The Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment you might not have ever tried...but NEED to! ASAP!!

Today I want to shed some light on a great TCM treatment called "Gua Sha".

As I've come to understand, it is the ancient practice of scraping the skin to remove toxins from the body and improve circulation.  The facial version of "Gua Sha" is much more gentle than the acupuncture version, which leaves behind huge red bruises on the body.

I didn't know "Gua Sha" actually existed until my facialist, Nancy, suggested it to me.

I think she was frightened by the huge pollution bags under my eyes.  

Rightfully so, since I work outside on the sports field all day, and expose my poor sinuses to toxic pollution and allergens all year long.  Not to mention the effect of sweating all day long at work and not having enough time between classes to wash my face.  Gross, I know.

I'm actually embarrassed to post this picture because I look TERRIBLE in the "before" (and what's up with the duck lips, I don't know), but WOW! the ugly "before" picture only further emphasizes how amazing "Gua Sha" is, as you can see in the "after".  

The good, the bad and the ugly (in reverse order).
Beyond the cosmetic improvement of using "Gua Sha" treatment (good-bye black raccoon eyes!), I physically feel less weight under my eyes, I feel less weight in my eyelids, and even in my eyebrows, I feel a lift.

The treatment itself is a strange feeling, but not painful.  It was a bit awkward as Nancy's jade rocks pressed on my eye bones and literally crunched along the length of them.  I asked her why the rocks made the crunching noise, and she said because my sinuses were so blocked.  

Sheesh.

If you are still confused about the harmful effects of pollution on your body, I invite you to get a "Gua Sha" treatment!  Those jade rocks will literally rock your world!  

The best part of all, being that this is Shanghai, you don't have to leave your house to get your dose of "Gua Sha".  Nancy will come to your house and give you this amazing treatment for the very affordable price of 30¥.  



As you can see in her price list, Nancy also does other beauty treatments like manicures and pedicures in home, but since she comes alone, it's not the fastest service in the world. If you're in a rush, you're probably better off going to Helen's Nail Spa, where two ladies will work at the same time to give you a manicure/pedicure.  I can't speak for her other services either, like waxing, but I presume she's pretty gentle (well as gentle as waxing can be!).  

Nancy has taken good care of me throughout the past four years and besides being really professional and talented at what she does, she has a young daughter to support, so I'm happy to support her small business as best I can.

Cheers to a great weekend ahead....

and to "Gua Sha"!

24 hours in Singapore

If you haven't been to Singapore yet, you should definitely find a way to get there!

The quieter side of Singapore, in a local alleyway.

I have to say, I love all things "bueno, bonito y barato" (good, pretty and cheap), especially while traveling.  Well, Singapore was "bueno y bonito" but not so "barato".  It really took a lot of effort to find cheap things to do, food to eat and places to stay. 

Taxis are also really EXPENSIVE!  Like NYC taxi expensive!

Despite how expensive it was, I really loved the clean blue sky, friendly people, and interesting mix of Indian, Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cultures.  I think it's a really live-able city, and I could imagine myself living there.
Abundant green space!
Here's a run down of what we were able to accomplish in a weekend trip to Singapore:



Saturday:

Maxwell road food center to eat supposedly the world's BEST and CLEANEST street food.

Hong Lim market in their Chinatown to sample some Indian roti prata and Chinese teochew porridge.

Bueno, bonito y barato!!


The Baba house has a FREE tour.. yes, FREE, to discover Peranakan history.  We found the Baba house by accident.  In the neighborhood, we walked along the main road to follow the labyrinth of colorful, old colonial buildings.


We stopped to admire a bright blue house and realized this most beautiful and best preserved house was actually the Baba House.


"Colorfully kitsch" Hindu temple Sri Mariamman.  This was a really cool place to explore, but pretty tiny in comparison to other temples I've visited in Asia.




"Kopi ice" sweet iced coffee is a very cheap and delicious way to quench your thirst in the hot Singapore heat.


Celebrating our anniversary in our beautiful suite
We were excited to wine and dine on the town and saw "Pollen" pop up on many expat websites and magazines.  "Pollen" is supposedly a Mediterranean-themed restaurant.  This place was definitely a dinner to remember, but not necessarily for a good reason.  We spent an outrageous amount of money to eat a prix fixe meal that consisted of portions no bigger than a bottle cap and their signature dish, "asparagus foam".


Yes, you read that right.  We were served actual foam; I'm assuming the foam that rose to the top of the pot when they boiled the asparagus.  It was such an awkward dinner experience; we thought we must have been part of a joke on a hidden camera show.  So sadly, because of this, I cannot recommend the restaurant "Pollen".

However bad the food was at Pollen, the view was priceless.
After dinner, we gave the credit card a rest and went to the free and funky "Gardens by the Bay" light show.  Pretty trippy.  Then we walked around the Marina bay waterfront at night and checked out the famous Merlion sculpture.


No romantic date is complete without a ride on a psychedelic scooter!
Too bad we couldn't drive this Ferrari on our date!
Sunday:

We stayed at the W hotel in Sentosa Island, and enjoyed a decadent brunch buffet.  We stayed in the "Away" room, which came with a plunge pool in our suite.  In one word, it was AMAZING!






After breakfast, we rented bicycles from the hotel and explored Sentosa Island.  

There's so much to do and see there!









In the afternoon, we checked out of the hotel, and spent happy hour at their bar, trying a traditional "Singapore Sling", and enjoying the facilities of the W for as long as we could.






We headed back to the airport in the evening to enjoy the beautiful (and free) butterfly garden at the airport, free wifi and massage chairs in the VIP lounge.  It's worth noting that this airport also has a movie theatre to kill time while you wait for your flight.

I recommend Singapore with two thumbs up!

Hope you have a HAPPY Monday wherever you are in our beautiful world!

Until next time....

PEACE OUT!