We arrive to Ho Chi Min City after a full day of traveling! We knew what to do as far as visas, so we were able to cut off some time in the visa line! We arranged for our hostel to pick us up since it was only $15! Once we checked in we set out to find some food! We are staying in district 1 known as the ‘backpacker’ area! We roamed around until stopping at a random restaurant. Jason’s yellow curry was delicious! After dinner, we were pretty tired so decided to head back to the hostel. Today we spent the whole day exploring they city using the Lonely Planet walking tour! We started at the Ben Thanh Market. This market was huge with typical SE Asian goods: t-shirts, watches, designer bags, etc. I was looking for sunglasses and had no problem finding some! After roaming around we continued the tour. We stopped for lunch at a small French cafe! We had pâté and ratatouille! It was barely noon and I was feeling tired and the heat was getting to me! We continued on to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Then We decided to detour and head to the War Remnants Museum. When we arrived it was closed for lunch, but were able to pass the time by having a few beers at the cafe across the road. The museum is sobering to say the least. After the museum we walked to the Sheraton hotel for roof top drinks. Since you’re paying for the view the drinks were pricey and not worth it. By this time it was almost 5 and we had been walking all day. Both of us were tired! We headed back to sleep he hostel to call it a day! Tomorrow we will be taking by a day trip to the Mekong Delta.
Christmastime is in full swing in Shanghai. One of the many great things about living in a city with such a diverse expatriate population is the Christmas market scene. I have never been to an authentic Christmas market, but I am guessing that Shanghai does a pretty bang-up job. As Angela mentioned in a previous post, we had purchased our first adult Christmas tree a few weeks ago, and desperately needed some decorations for it. We decided to explore a few of the local German and French Christmas markets in Shanghai. The best one we went to with a good group of friends, right down the street from our house. There are all kinds of Christmasy things to buy, and lots of mulled wine to drink (my favorite part). We had a great time, and picked up some nice hand painted ornaments for our little tree. On the way home from one of these markets, Angela and I also completed a major Shanghai goal: we got a golden taxi. I don’t know the story with the golden taxis, so I won’t pretend to make up any explanations, but what I do know is that Shanghai has made a limited number of British looking golden taxis under the name of the ‘London Taxi Company’. There are probably thousands of these taxis in the city, but we have only seen about eight, so I am imagining that there are only 100 in the entire city, and that merely spotting one is a miracle. Well, we did even better. We rode in one! On the way home from a little Christmas shopping, we spotted one sitting a few blocks away. Letting several perfectly good cabs drive by, we sprinted to this one and got it. Here is a shot of Angela emerging from the glorious golden taxi as proof.
I can’t believe that tomorrow is the 1st day of December! Holy cow, this year has gone fast! Thanksgiving in Shanghai is always a fun time. There is never a shortage of things to do. This year we had 3, yes 3, Thanksgivings to attend! Thanksgiving 1, was actually on Thursday, at a restaurant called Captain Rooster. Boramy, Austin (friend from UNI) and the GKs all joined for an all you can eat and drink extravaganza. We love Captain Rooster, because they have amazing fried chicken and mac&cheese! There turkey wasn’t bad either! The place is pretty small and it was very busy. Since it was still in the 60s we opted to sit outside! However, by sitting outside, we got a little shorted on all the food! They menu included: Turkey, green bean casserole, turkey pot pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potato, stuffing mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and egg nog. It was a lot of food and all tasted great!
Cooking in Shanghai can be difficult. You are surrounded by restaurants, dinner dates, and then there is Sherpas, the website the delivers food right to you door! But why is cooking in Shanghai difficult? I mean even the groceries get delivered to your door.
The past few weeks I was selected to participate in a trial group for the app Sidechef. Sidechef is a step by step cooking app with loads of recipes and drinks. The app is great and easy to use, even my boyfriend was able to create some salmon burgers with it! I loved the app because it got me out of my cooking rut and gave me new recipes to pick from! So what did I make? I started with yellow curry! First of all, why have I never made curry before? This curry was so easy to make and tasted amazing! I used a pre-made curry paste to save on time and ingredients, the rest was chop and simmer! The big mistake I made was using purple potatoes! Note: Purple and Yellow do not mix well together, add shrimp and you get all kinds of strange colors! Thankfully it tasted good! I then tried and failed to make a “healthy” broccoli salad. I finely chopped broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Added mushrooms and almonds. My mistake was not measuring or following directions on the dressing. I added the juice of 1 lemon, random assortments of spices (mostly garlic pepper) And then thought it would be a good idea to add greek yogurt!
October was a whirlwind month for Jason and I. Thankfully we came back from October break rested and ready for the busy month ahead. For me, October was the month I started my masters program. The program is offered though SUNY (Southern University of New York). The classes are on campus at SCIS and online. The on campus classes are given over 2 weekends, which means 15 straight days at school. Thankfully, my first class was low stress and and quick to get through!
For Jason, October was the month of the SCIS Music Festival. Jason had been working very hard to prepare for this event. The festival showcases all of the middle school muisc ensembles: guitar, percussion, choir, band, and orchestra. For band, Jason invited retired Iowa band directors Jim Fritz and Leon Kuehner to guest direct the bands. Jim, Leon and Leon’s wife Linda arrived to Shanghai the weekend before the festival. On Saturday we went out to eat at Di Shui Dong for some good “Chinese” food! Afterwords, they wanted to see the city so we took them to Captain’s Bar on the Bund.
On September 26, 2014 Angela and I embarked on what I believe was one of the best vacations ever had by any human being ever. We spent the day filling young children’s’ minds with useful facts about music and life, and once the clock struck quitting time we immediately changed into our beach outfits and sprinted from the confines of our place of work. We cleverly had a driver waiting for us outside in a mini-van, ready to take us to the Pudong International Airport. Angela and I were to travel to Koh Lanta, an island off of the west coast of Thailand.
We were traveling with the lower school dance instructor, a Spanish woman named Laura. She was traveling to Bangkok to meet her boyfriend, and we had to travel through Bangkok to get to Krabi, which was the nearest airport to Koh Lanta. Our flight path stopped first in Hong Kong, and then in Bangkok. We were delayed terribly in Shanghai, and we fairly certain that we would miss our connecting flight. Luckily, there were so many of us on that flight that Hong Kong delayed the flight to Bangkok. We were personally escorted through the airport and a slightly faster than comfortable speed, and immediately boarded our next flight at approximately 10:00 PM. The rest of the passengers who were already onboard and waiting seemed really glad that the plane was held for us. We arrived in Bangkok around midnight. Angela had booked a hotel at the Amari Aiport Hotel (which is a fantastic place to stay) which is near the other airport, about an hours drive from our port of entry. We had planned to take the free shuttle, but we had arrived too late. Angela loves the unrestricted internet of Thailand so much that I had to wait for her to purchase a sim card and data plan for her phone in the Bangkok airport, before I was allowed to go to bed. We took a cab to our hotel.
Early the next morning, we woke up and walked across the skybridge to the Don Mueang International Airport. We had a great flight to the Krabi airport, where a van was waiting to transport us to our hotel on Koh Lanta. The route to Koh Lanta takes about three hours by van, and includes two ferry rides. We had to wait a long time for the second ferry. I slept most of the way, because I was still tired by our late arrival and early departure.
We arrived back in Shanghai at the end of July, with my dad and brother following shortly after. They had planned a trip to China for three weeks, one of which we had left for summer vacation. My father Dennis and brother Eric arrived on July 31 and stayed with us until August 17.
Our final week at home is finally here. It’s crazy how fast 1 month goes! Nevertheless, Jason and I have been very busy with our time in the states.
The 4th of July weekend was spent in Northeast Iowa, visiting friends and our old stomping grounds! I do feel that Northeast Iowa may be the most beautiful part of the state! We were all lucky enough to stay at our old roommates house! The house provided us all a place to relax and hang out, which made our short time together more fun! We spent time in Decorah playing disc golf, enjoying the local brew (Toppling Goliath) and food! Even though it was a quick trip it was so great to see our friends!
We have started our summer break back in the USA! Our flight from Shanghai was a little rough and we ended departing 1.5 hours late and then at a standstill in Chicago. After some running in the airport we made our flight to Minneapolis and ended up getting in around 11:00…we were supposed to land at 8! A few of my cousins who were staying near by even stayed and waited with my parents! We had a 2hr drive to get to Lake Osakis and didn’t get to bed until 3 am…so needless to say it was a long day!
We have arrived to our last month of our first year abroad! We have been keeping busy with work and the city! Two weeks ago I danced in the school dance production and it was amazing! The performance was about the environment and the students and teachers did a great job. It was so fun to dance with my fellow teachers and our dance was a hit!