Thursday, September 20, 2012

Always interesting ...never dull!

     So, the weekend was fantastic! Mark and I headed out around 10:30am on Saturday (after we both hit the gym!). We went out on the new subway. The first stop attempt was a bit off. We went a bit too far and ended up past old town/ downtown. That was Mark's pick for the stop. We headed back onto the subway and I picked the next stop. SCORE! It's the right one! We walked over to Walking Street and decide to just amble around. We see a new Costa coffee that has opened, and decide to stop and have a coffee.
     We walked around a bit, and headed over to PingJiangLu Street. I just love that street. It's old, and real China; with some hokey tourist things thrown in! is where I tried to insert photos...can you say EPIC FAIL? I don't know how to get photos to post. I will have to play around and see how I can do it. Sorry, at this point, Facebook will have to suffice for photos right now. We walked the whole fact I logged almost 9 miles according to my Fitbit. It was a great day and the weather was awesome too! It was actually sunny with a blue sky. That does not happen often here so when it does, I like to get out and bask in it! :) We were back at the apartment by late afternoon and dinner was at Jack's Home a restaurant about a mile or so from the apartment.
     Sunday was a rest and relax day. Mark made me pancake for breakfast. YUMMY!  It was weird not having homework, reading, or a paper to write for school! I would usually spend the first half of a Sunday finishing up school work. Not anymore!  WOOT! My time is mine! We watched Mad Men season 5. We had left over Indian for dinner (I
had ordered in earlier in the week when Mark was away). There was plenty left over for our ritual Sunday night dinner! :) It was yummy. After dinner, we walked over to Mark's music teacher's apartment to give him a book of sheet music he wanted to borrow. We then stopped off at Starbucks for a coffee and sat outside and people watched and relaxed. It was a very enjoyable weekend.  

    Monday is here and Mark has to fly to Beijing this AM. He has to leave about a half an hour earlier than usual. He is leaving at 6:45am instead of 7:15am. I am walking over to the gym because I will get dropped off before the gym opens if I go with Mark and Mr. Shen. So I bid him goodbye, and off he goes. I head to the gym around 7:00. I get back and do a few chores. Mark then calls to inform me the administrative assistant booked him on the wrong flight!  She had booked him to go somewhere in the opposite direction! So, no Beijing trip for him. By the time he can get on another flight, the meeting he is supposed to attend will be over. So, he is swinging by the apartment to pick up his computer/attache bag for work, he is going to head into the office. Perfect...I can hop a ride to the coffee meet up at Starbucks! I have to meet up with M.K. to go to the Renaissance Hotel to put my name on the Treasurer books for the EAS funds. I forgot to mention, at the Meet and Greet coffee the Tuesday after I arrived, I told a few folks that I would be willing to help with the EAS (Expatriates Association of Suzhou) now that I have completed school. Well, that's all it took! There has been an opening for a while for a co-treasurer and I was voted in by the board the very next day! So, I now am on the board as a co-treasurer. I like the other co-treasurer so i think we will work very well together.
      I made dinner at home, and we just relaxed the rest of the evening. Mark has conference calls and I finish up some laundry. 
     Tuesday is mahjong day and poker night! I went to the gym in the am. I weighed myself this AM and I have lost 6.5 lbs. the last two weeks! YEAH!!! My clothes are feeling looser as well. Continuing my quest for health and fitness is paying off! :) I came home from the gym, did a few chores around the apartment, made lunch, and then it's off to mahjong. I had a good time at mahjong and walked home from there. These are the times I really miss my good friend Val. We used to walk together there and back, and usually played mahjong together. I am looking forward to seeing her in December when we are in England for Christmas.
     In the evening, Mark is coming home later than usual because of a team conference call being held at the office. He got home around 7:20PM and we head over to Ollie's for burger night and so I can stay and play poker. My poker game has been sucky to say the least since I got back. Not my poker league, my playing! I think I am in a bit of a poker slump! It's not been good. I hope it turns around soon.
   The real crazy thing that happened on the way home. I always get a taxi home. It's not a problem because they are lined up outside the Li Gong Di area on the street waiting for customers. I only live about 2.0-2.5 miles away from Ollie's so it takes all of 5 minutes to get home for 10Yuan (about $1.50). What I didn't expect was my taxi driver to get into a screaming match with another driver on the road!! I must first say, the driver I had was in need of lessons! We drove like a crazy man, too fast, on the wrong side of the road, and hit the brakes WAY TOO HARD! So...I was just hoping and praying to get home in one piece. Thank goodness it was after 11:00PM when the streets of Suzhou are pretty much deserted...except around the corner from the entrance to my apartment where the taxi driver precedes to cut-off and nearly side swipe another vehicle! Well the traffic light was red at the intersection, and the driver of the other vehicle started yelling out his window at my taxi driver. So I am directly in the line of fire of the screaming match, Oh...and I am in the front seat! I sit in the front  a lot, because it is easier to hand them the card with an address on it and to pay. Then, the driver of the other vehicle gets out of his car! OH I start saying "stop, just go, stop yelling, etc..." but of course they are both yelling and screaming extremely loud, like I am not even there! Finally I decide I will end this; so, I roll up the window of the taxi and yell at the taxi driver ZHI ZOU (Straight ahead!) and off we went. Oh my, road rage is a universal condition I have unfortunately discovered! It's extremely uncommon here...because if it wasn't, people would be having screamimg matches in the middle of the streets and intersections all the time! Drivers don't follow the lines on the road, let alone traffic laws! Traffic is just plain NUTS here! I am utterly amazed that there are not more traffic accidents then what I have seen.  Oh, the wonders of living in China. That was enough excitement for a Tuesday night! I arrived back at the apartment to tell my tale to my husband, who just smirked and said " You obviously have acclimated to living here if you didn't freak out or get out of the taxi and walk the rest of the way!" The funny thing is....he's right! :)




Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday, September 14,2012

Well, Mark is back from South Africa.  We had a lazy start to the day this morning. Mark arrived late (after 1:00am), so he gave himself a break and went into work at 11:30. He still had a 8:30am conference call that he did from home! My husband works WAY TOO HARD!
  I had a pretty uneventful day. I did not go to the gym...I have a horrible blister and area on the back of my left heel that is raw from my shoe rubbing. I don't know why... I have been wearing the same shoes I had worn at home to work out in. It's annoying to say the least! I have other athletic shoes..but they all seem to irritate that sensitive area. I hope taking a break today helps it to heal.
   We are going to head down to old town via the new subway (metro) line tomorrow after we head to the gym in the AM. I hope to take some photos, enjoy the surroundings, and just enjoy the day with my husband.  
  Check this out... . It is a great overview of the city of Suzhou. I hope to post some pics and antecdotes from the weekend. Have a wonderful weekend...I hope to!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mid-week, September 12, 2012

   I finally awoke AFTER the sunrise today! It probably helped that I went to bed after midnight. I went and played poker last night, I got home around 11:00, skyped Mark, and put some laundry away. I forced myself  to stay up later to try and get my body adjusted to this crazy time change! It hasn't been going well. With Mark out of town, it was way too easy for me to fall asleep WAY TOO EARLY...thus; waking up WAY TOO EARLY! Hopefully, that cycle will be broken.
   This week has been fairly busy so far. I went to Monday AM coffee over at Starbucks by the new Metro line. I finally got to see Susanna my friend from Finland.  I had lunch with a lady who had arrived in late July while I was back in the US. It was nice to sit and visit and get to know a new friend. It's been a bit weird feeling like a "newbie' all over again. There are many new faces and I just need to jump in and get to know more of the ladies. I  joined the EAS board. That is the Expatriates Association of Suzhou. I am co-treasurer along with another one of the ladies I already know. I had not been involved with the board previously because of my obligations with Grad school. I figured I should get a bit more involved and give back now that I have the extra time to devote to it. So, the opening was for a that's where I was placed. I am meeting with M.K. on Thursday to go over roles and responsibilities of this position.
   The gym schedule is going well. I did have an issue with my new shoes causing a  really ugly blister on the back of my right foot. I am hoping it heal quickly and it stops bothering me. I am taking a break from the gym today, and will ride my exercise bike, and do the rowing machine. I want to be able to go to the gym the rest of the week. Mark will be home late that is what has been going on in my life on the other side of the globe. I am laying low today and going to organize my closet...h it m
needs it!
  Till next time.....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Start of the week-end...September 8, 2012

      It's way too early on Saturday morning! I have been up since 3:45am after falling asleep around 9:00pm. This jetlag is kicking my a$$!
      Mark left VERY early yesterday morning for a week in South Africa. I am once again...on my own in China. I am gong to go to the gym in a is not open till 8:00am on the weekends. I will also do some organizing and rearranging of my belongings since arriving and unpacking. I will be busy doing that over the weekend.
      I went to Shanghai yesterday with a few of the expat ladies via the high speed train. We went to the fabric market and did a bit of shopping. I like going to Shanghai via the train and being able to use the metro system to get around the city. We had a mad dash to catch our train home! You have to purchase your tickets in advance to secure a seat. We had purchased out tickets the day before and knew we needed to be back in Suzhou before 5:00pm. We were scheduled to be on the 4:11 train and barely made it with 3 minutes to spare! It was a mad dash through the train station I'll tell you...but we made it!    Crisis averted.
      I hope to go to Monday morning coffee and then after that, venture onto the new metro line in Suzhou. So far, one line is open an I haven't checked it out yet; as it opened in April when I was back home in the US. I am looking forward to the adventure and heading downtown for some leisurely walking and checking things out. I hope the weather cooperates with my plans.
      Time to go and start the day...  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This is NOT America...My first gym experience in China

So...I began my day early because of the jetlag....I arose at 5:00am. Not too bad for day 2 of arriving back. I checked email, checked Facebook, wrote emails, and made a "to-do" list for the day. I still have plenty of organizing to do with my things from my arrival on Monday evening.
 I had a great first day back on Tuesday. It was fun and filled with plenty to do. Went to Powerhouse Gym to sign up for membership. That was done then it was off to the monthly "Meet and Greet" coffee at the Renaissance Hotel from 10a-12p. Some of the ladies who play Mahjong are going to lunch so we went to Hot Chic for lunch. It's really good Chinese-Taiwanese food. Then we went to play Mahjong. I had SO much fun! Played at a table with ladies from the U.K, Holland, and Germany. We were laughing so hard sometimes ...we were crying! Lots of fun and I just think it's hilarious that we can all be so different but find the humor in so much as expats and our life experiences here in China.
  The one thing that did make me a bit sad...walking home solo, in the rain; and realizing my really good "gal-pal" has left for good back to the U.K. While I was home, she received the news that her husband's company was sending him back to the U.K. in June. So, I didn't even get to give her a proper goodbye! Hopefully, I will see her in December over the Christmas holiday when Mark and I go to England to spend Christmas with his family. That is the plan and I certainly hope it works out! I miss her terribly! While you do make friends here, there is usually one that you have the BFF bond with and it makes it difficult when one has to leave. It's the nature of the beast with this lifestyle...but it still SUCKS!
   So yesterday, Wednesday September 5th I am getting up early with Mark, putting the work out clothes on and getting dropped off at the gym via Mr. Shen before he takes Mark to work. This is going to be my Mon-Fri game plan. I had received a telephone call from a fitness trainer from Powerhouse the night before telling me she would meet me in the AM for a "fitness test." Hmmm...ok, I know this is going to be different, but I'm pretty sure interesting if not amusing! Always have to look on the bright side of things while I residing here or it could be brutal. So, I meet "Momo" in the locker room while changing my shoes. She says to follow her and off I go. We go into a little room where there is a few workout items, charts on the wall explaining BMI, Blood pressure readings that are considered high or normal, weight charts, etc. She has me step on the scale, AFTER she gets on to check her weight. She explains to me in her best broken English that she wants to make sure that it is accurate. you think 1-2 kilograms off is going to be a big difference on my frame? LOL!  So, I get on the scale and it  is plain to see that I easily weigh DOUBLE what she weighs! She is only 5 feet tall and just a little petitie thing...but really? here comes the tape measure.  As she is measuring me, she is also poking and squeezing areas of my body informing me of how "fat and soft" I am! Really? Well, thanks for the bulletin Momo, maybe thats why I am at the gym? She then goes on to explain (in her very broken, sometimes hard to understand) English that I need to exercise EVERY DAY and eat right! She then tells me she can give me a diet to follow. thanks (insert images of fresh fish and tofu here! YUCK to both! ) I politely decine her offer and I then explain to her that I am an Registered Nurse and I do know what and how to eat. She seems a bit surprised by this news. So to really throw her for a loop I explain that I have lost close to 27 kilograms. Her eyes bug out as I explain to her that yes I am fat...but I was REALLY much fatter before! :)
     Now, I must explain that I love the Chinese people and their culture. They just have NO filter and to them, telling someone "the truth" (in my case, that I am too soft and fat) is not's simply the truth. So, while I am smiling and almost giggling to myself, I realize that had I not had the opportunity to come here to live among a vastly different culture; I would be offended and my feelings even might be a bit hurt. So, I explain to Momo that I understand the importance of eating right and exercising, I am also going to work very hard to get in better physical shape and condition. She seems pleased with this news and informs me we will be meeting again in three months to check my progress. I go to the treadmill in the non-air-conditioned gym to start my workout. I am smiling as I realize my "fat/soft' body WILL improve as long as I continue on my quest to a healthier me. Momo will be very happy with me in three will I!        

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I'm bacccckkkk....Tuesday, September 4th.

Hello Family and Friends...

          I am back in China. I had a "nice" (insert sarcasm here) surprise at the airport. Apparently, the baggage policy has changed. I had three pieces of luggage but was only allowed two. Really? I am going to the other side of the world and I just get two pieces of luggage? Being a Gold frequent flyer member does NOT appear to be doing me any good either! There is a $200.00 charge for the third bag! SERIOUSLY??? The very nice ticket agent (he really was VERY nice) tells me to take the smaller bag as a carry on. I tell him I already have my carry on so he says..."that can be your personal item" Okay...I am carrying a purse as my personal item. He then informs me to look around, "do you see how many people don't follow the rules?" Michele (a.k.a the "rule breaker") decides to carry the smaller bag on to the plane. I do a quick check to see if there are any liquids in the bag. I find one hair spray and that appears to be all. I put that into one of the bags getting checked...Off I go to security.
        I am amazed there are virtually NO lies or waiting anywhere. The airport is not busy AT ALL. So through security I go..and then I hear the dreaded yell "BAG CHECK" Great, not what I want or need to hear at this point. So...the bad that was SUPPOSED to be check is pulled and gone through. I missed one of the hair spray bottles (no biggie) and the toner /developer for my hair when I go to the salon! OH NO! Not that! Yep...24oz bottle....GONE! I am then offered that I could check it....hmmmm...lets see pay $200.00 to get my $3.89 toner/developer to China? I think not! I will contact the lovely lady who does my hair and I am sure she will drop it off at my house. Mark can bring it back with him at the end of the month when he heads back to the States for a meeting. Problem averted...for now.
      The flight was uneventful, comfortable even! No one sitting in the middle seat. We landed early and my wonderful husband was waiting for me. Mr. Shen (the driver) was there too. It was good to see him as well. Now, for the 2 hour car ride to Suzhou to the apartment. I sleep on and off during the car ride because trying to sleep on the plane was not successful because the man behind me couldn't stop kicking my seat! ANNOYING! We stopped off at Heidi's (a local restaurant) for some soup and to split an entree. It hits the spot and then off to the apartment. I unpack two of the three suitcases. It is now after 10PM and it is bedtime! Off to sleep, I have a big day tomorrow!
       I awoke this am at 4:00am! Hello jet lag! I attempted to stay in bed and try to sleep, but to no avail. I am out of bed, I finished unpacking (what I could) I can't wake Mark to put things away in the bedroom and master bath. I will wait till he gets up to finish putting those things away.  Now it's time to hit the shower and start this <sigh> rainy day! Till next time...Ciao!