Spring Break 2014: Bangkok and Cambodia

For our last break of the year, we traveled to Bangkok and Cambodia.  It was our 2nd time in Bangkok but our first actually spending time in the city.   The main reason we were in Bangkok was for a work-related conference.  The conference was nice and it was fun to travel with our friends/co-workers.  The conference was held at the Shangri-La hotel and was conveniently a short walk from our hotel.  After a late arrival (4 am) we attended the one and only music related event of the conference!  Our first night in Bangkok we had a conference sponsored cocktail hour by the pool!   Free wine and beer and delicious food made for a great start to vacation!  Later, we ventured to a roof top bar (made famous from Hangover 2) for views of the city.  The drinks were pricey but the views and company were nice.


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A Week in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Angela and I recently embarked on a three week exotic holiday vacation with our good Canadian friend named Kat. I think it is safe to say we are a little spoiled. I had my week full of concerts right before Christmas vacation, and then was rewarded with three weeks off. On Saturday morning, December 21st, we woke up at 5 in the morning so that we might catch our 9:00 AM flight to Chiangmai, Thailand. We arrived at the Pudong airport with plenty of time to get through security. I was a little surprised at how much easier it was to get through the security in Shanghai than in Chicago when we left for China. I started to take off my shoes and belt when the security guard laughed and said “ok, ok”. We all made it on to our flight with no problems. I found it a little depressing how sunny it was outside once we rose above the cloud of pollution that rests over Shanghai. Below is a graphic picture of the wall where it abruptly ends.


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Concerts and Holiday Party!

We’ve done it!  We’ve survived our 1st semester of international teaching!  *Side-note: Jason still has 2 concerts this week*  Otherwise we’re done!   I had my concerts last week on Tuesday and Thursday and they were a huge hit!  Parents, teachers, and administrators loved them!  Besides the fact that we’re awesome, my co-worker and I think that our concerts went so well because we both come from being band directors and know how to run things!  The kids were also really cute! It did make for a long week.  Monday and Tuesday were spent rehearsing 2nd and 3rd graders with a full dress rehearsal and concert on Tuesday night.  Wednesday and Thursday we did the same thing all over again with 4th and 5th grade.  I also received 2 huge flower arrangements.  The packaging is a little crazy!

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Thanksgiving Part 1

Jason and I had our first Thanksgiving abroad and unlike our family members back home, we had to work!   It actually wasn’t too bad since we knew that Friday would be a professional development day!  We started our week with a Tuesday night Sushi date!  Even though it was only Tuesday, it was great to get out of our neighborhood and eat some delicious sushi!  On our way home we stopped at a new Mexican restaurant to get Corona-ritas!  Let’s just say, it was the perfect night cap!

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Fall in Shanghai


Angela and I have both spent the past week teaching music and playing in the pit for our school musical. This weekend was the performance, so the week prior was what many musical enthusiasts refer to as ‘tech week’. We had to be present at rehearsal every day from 4pm to 8pm. That made for quite a long week. I played trombone, so my job was relatively easy. Angela played piano for the musical, which is the most important job, and likely the most difficult. She did a great job. The best part was the very beginning; Angela played three chimes to begin the overture. She misplaced her fingers, and played a rather hip alteration of a chord. That was my favorite part of the show. Here she is wearing a wig and playing the piano.


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A night on the town

The past month has been a very hectic month for the two Iowans abroad. Our school hosted a huge music festival called Dynamix. This was a strange event to me, and stressful. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically the festival only involves our own students, but guest conductors and workshop directors came in to work with the students. In previous years, the past band director was in charge, but now the company has broken off and ran the event privately. Since all of our students are involved, I felt personally responsible for preparing every single student on the music. I was a little frustrated by how our music program was hijacked for the first term, but I am relieved that we are now free to plan our own program.

Angela and I decided to go on a fancy date this week. I decided to surprise her by picking a fancy restaurant. A few other teachers recommended a place called Hai by Goga at our last teacher meeting. I did a little research and found that it was located in the French Concession. The restaurant is located on the 7th floor of a hotel tucked away behind a block of restaurants in the heart of the expat French Concession. We found our way up, and discovered a pleasant little restaurant with windows on all sides and a great view of the city. Continue reading

Rain storm

Another week in Shanghai has ended!  Everything this week was pretty normal…I think!  Jason started playing in a community jazz band and had a rehearsal for that on Tuesday night!  I stayed in and researched info about our trip to Thailand!  On Wednesday we had Taco night!  It was yummy!  I was able to find all the ingredients (a little expensive) but it was delicious! I even splurged on some Tostitos Hint of Lime Chips!  YUM!  I even made homemade salsa!  It felt great to cook again!  And the tacos were delicious!  On Thursday night, Jason had back to school night for the high school, so I decided to go out for some drinks with my co-worker Sean and his bride to be Tiffany!  We went to the Shanghai Brewery!  They have a decent happy hour, delicious nachos and yummy thin crust pizza!  It was a fun night out! Continue reading

The first major bummer.

Sorry for the delay of postings! It has been a hard week, but it is looking up in a big way. Last week around Thursday I came down with a little stomach bug and fever. I felt worse and worse and had a pretty sick weekend! I always feel homesick when I am sick, so the weekend was a little rough. On Sunday, I decided to ride my bicycle to our Fantasy Football draft in the French Concession. I was still feeling pretty sick, but still had a nice time completing the draft. However, when I came out of the bar, my bicycle had been stolen! We were in a popular area, around 1 in the afternoon and the bike was directly out in front of the building. I was really surprised, and also sad. It was a nice giant bike, and a little expensive. I learned my lesson, so behold the upgrade:


This cost me $60. This one won’t hurt so bad when it is stolen. Now I am greatly looking forward to a weekend of not being sick!


Angela here and sorry I’ve been MIA!  Not much new happening here but things are going great!  I’ve been waking up very early to go swimming at school.  It’s nice to drag myself out of bed and jump, bike to school, and jump in cold water….no really it’s fun!  Tonight Jason and I are meeting up with a friend of his from high school!  It’s crazy how small the world is.  This week, I told myself I’d be better about cooking at home which turns out has been a failure!  Monday and Wednesday we had plans!  Tuesday we had leftovers—Wait I ate the leftovers, Jason had PB&J!  That leaves me tomorrow.  It’s so different cooking here.  Going to the grocery store is a chore and then after all that work you have to cook….but thankfully I can have my groceries delivered! That’s right!    I haven’t gotten to that point yet but I’m thinking it will be worth it!

Below are a few pictures from my phone!  China win:  having convenient Gum packets!  China fail:  Said gum comes in a green package (I think mint)  turns out it’s flower-ish!  Oh well!

Monday Fun-day.

We celebrated our second Monday of the year by going to our friend Joel’s apartment to watch a movie. We watched Ghost Busters. This past Friday, we had a school happy hour that a lot of staff attended. We stayed there a long time, and then went to our Canadian friend Cat’s house to have a low-key night. Saturday we went out to dinner via bicycle in the French Concession to a place called Abbey Road, based off of the Beatles album. It was a very fun adventure. 




On Sunday Angela and I got foot massages! We went to separate places. Both of us had awesome foot massages, but my place was much more expensive! All for now.