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mygypsysoul&itchyfeet

Being homesick for a place I've never been; Fernweh.

How I ended up in the hospital in China

Don’t worry, when at a hospital in China, they don’t always wear gloves. A thermometer was taken from a plastic Tupperware container and was put under my tongue. Not the new electronic thermometer but the glass one filled with red Mercury. Not even going to sanitize your hands? Okay.. I mean you ARE the doctor here. I thought to myself. 

  
After my temperature was taken I was asked the normal questions; such as do you drink enough hot water? Do you wear your coat at all times? Etc. after my temp was taken, and not even my ear or throat was looked at, I was sent to get my blood drawn. I walked into a big room, which resembled a waiting room, but no. This is where the deed would be done.

    
(Literally where I sat to get my blood drawn)

 I walked up to a desk where a man sat and took my seat in front of him. He was wearing a blue scrub cap, thin clear gloves, and a smile that stretched from ear to ear. I know he was itching to poke the foreigner. From the looks of the place, I’d say they’ve had 10 foreigners since opening day. I put my arm forward to rest it on a dirty cloth and turned my head the other way. I don’t mind needles, as long as I don’t have to watch. The doctor giggled and a crowd began to surround me. I heard the whispers and the giggles. Everyone was so damn happy I was sick. After I felt the rubber wrap around my upper arm, the cool wet alcohol covered cotton ball wet my forearm, I felt the quick JAB and it was over seconds later. It normally takes forever in the states for them to draw even a drop of blood from my tiny butterfly veins. He handed me a cotton ball to put on and said in Chinese to hold for 30 min. Not even a bandaid. I didn’t even get a bandaid.

    
 By this time my lymph node was throbbing, my lip is swelling, and I still can’t hear out of my ear which they neglected to look at. The nurses are cute though. Wearing little white lab coat dressed, a white or pink cap on their hair, and little white shoes. Not like the nurses and staff in America. It’s like it’s a show over here. 

The doctor came over and handed me a piece of paper, obviously all in Chinese with a bunch of high numbers on it. Crossing my fingers it’s not the price. Healthcare in China is affordable right?? I waited for my translator to get back from a breakfast run. 

  
After they got back we headed back to the doctors “office”. Aka a big room where people line up to hear their results… In front of everyone else. No private room. No whispering. 

 
I was told my lymph node is extremely swollen and infected and I should be hooked to an IV for a couple hours for the next few days. I was told to go to a different doctor to have my ear looked at. We headed to a different floor, taking on all the looks from the hospital staff and I was thrown into a room with an older gentleman Doctor. He was wearing a white lab coat and has one of those silver circle things on his forehead. Oh the technology. Him and my translator start by just talking about me but before I know it, Once he has a pump in my ear, they are literally yelling at each other. I’m a tough girl, but when you have air blasting inside your ear (which i guess is now filled with infection which has led to a broken tympanic membrane) and the doctor is yelling across the room, your eyes will fill to the brim with tears. Pain and fear. Not my favorite combination. 

  

After being told I need to have a procedure done to look further into my ear and I need to be hooked to “the drip” we are instructed to head to a different hospital. I guess I’m not going to work today. I talked on the phone to the manager of my school and she asks me if I am sure I want to have these procedures done. I ask her why not and she says because most foreigners are afraid of Chinese medicine. So that was reassuring. 

   
We entered the new hospital and are given another credit card looking thing. It’s weird how little amount of paperwork I was asked to fill out. No past history. Not even going to ask if I’m allergic to anything? Sweet. Cause I’m not. Not going to ask if I have high blood pressure or diabetes? Awesome cause I don’t. 
I sat in a chair, watching the previous patients procedure be performed of course. Before I knew it, the doctor puts a (rusty) metal funnel in the young mans ear and grabs a needle. Hell no. I’m out. I will deal with permanent deafness. The doctor put the needle in the mans ear and pulled the syringe and black and yellow goop filled the syringe. Lovely. The man of course was moaning and groaning in pain, and there I was, foreigner with fear in her eyes watching the whole thing from a few feet away. Should I reach out and grab his hand? Nope. Nope. Too soon. 

  

It was my turn for the chair and I’m nervous. Boy was I nervous. First thing I tell my translator? “No needles”. Let’s get that out in the open. After the same questions and same procedures we are sent down to the “transfusion” room for me to be put on an IV instead of the lazy American way of pills. Their words, not mine. 

  
Sitting on the drip, in a room of coughing Chinese people, on a rusty chair, sitting in chair 87, really makes you contemplate your choice to come to China. My hand is pulsing from the 3 different pokes to get the needle in. My lip is rotting off my face. I’m hungry too, by the way. All I can think about is how worry free I am right now. I’m starting to worry why am not worrying. It’s quite the process. 
After my drip was finish, I was finally able to get checked out and head home. Six hours later. Now from my understanding through terrible translation is that I have an infection in my mouth, throat, ear, and nose. So I am scheduled to head back for IV therapy for the next few days. Woooo! What an adventure. 

  
 

Couch surfing attempt #1//Wuxi 

Here I sit. Outside of the coach station in Wuxi. Hearing the honking. Listening to the taxi and can drivers yell at other passengers who have just gotten off their long bus rides, offering to take them to their choice destination. Watching the hustle and bustle of this city. Everyone has a shopping bag. They love to shop. Watching the beggars bow down to their scribbled card board sign displaying their retched situations that had put them there. Seeing the light from the billboards glow on the grime covered sidewalks. My boot is halfway missing. My toe sticks out of the side. My sock is covered in brown. My jacket tied around my waist has holes in the pockets and a slit by the shoulder. I’m really rough on stuff. My back is weary from carrying my backpack around all day sight seeing. My stomach growling with hunger, but I better save my 20 yuan I have on me for emergency use. My hair is tangled at the ends from walking through painting and construction. Here I sit in Wuxi, tear filled eyes, not wanting to go home to America.   

  
This weekend was an adventure to call the least. I finally decided to expand my couch surfing profile and crash on someone’s couch for my favorite price. Free. I arrived in Wuxi Saturday morning very low on money. Money becomes very short two days before payday. But, I only have a few weeks left in China and my itchy feet needed some traveling. I had organized to stay with a gentleman for that night and he was to show me around town the few days I was here. I regret to say when I called him after my bus had pulled into Wuxi I had woken him from his slumber. I told him not to worry, I don’t mind walking around for a while by myself and just seeing what the area had to offer. I mean this was supposed to be a solo trip for me. So solo I went. I stepped off the bus, bundled up in a scarf, heavy winter jacket, and gloves to discover the morning was beautiful. The sun was shining through the blue skies. BLUE SKIES!! I wrapped my jacket around my waist and headed for the subway station so I could at least be in the general area of my couchsurfers apartment. I love navigating the subway. This is something I will miss once I get back home. After emerging myself from the subway steps I walked around in search of wifi so I could find my roommate Elsa, who was also in Wuxi this weekend with friends, and give her her passport which she had accidentally left in our apartment. 
After coming across the hail marry of free wifi, Starbucks, I realized if she didn’t have wifi on her end either we were out of luck. So I sent my snapchats, did a quick video call with a friend back home, and headed my merry way towards a pagoda I could see in the distance. 

  
I came upon old architecture, canals, and street vendors galore. I walked around for a while until I received the “ok” to head to my couchsurfers humble abode. 

  
He told me to take a taxi to the given address, but my wallet and heart said no. I enjoy public buses. I enjoy the prices. And I enjoy the search to find out which ones to take. Challenge accepted. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to take bus 767 13 stops and I would be walking distance from my destination. I’m getting really good at it. Google maps and Waygo helps too. 

  
After meeting up with my newly made friend he took me out to lunch and we enjoyed new friend chatter over beef noodle soup. Conversation comes so easily between fellow travelers. 

  
After discussing our plans for the day over coffee we hopped on bus 36 and took it to the very end. A long yet doable ride. We were heading for Lihu lake. One of the many free things to do in Wuxi. 

  
We finally arrived at our destination, got off the bus, and walked along the gorgeous lake. 

  
Even though all the flowers which were in bloom merely weeks ago, they were all dead and brown. I find this even more beautiful. Fall is beautiful. There can be such beauty in death if you choose to see it. 

  
We took lots of pictures, came across a giant pig/dragon statue, and enjoyed being a little ways away from the busy city. Once it began to get dark, we decided it would be best we headed back before it would become to dark to see. Back on bus 36 we hopped and headed back towards the Nanchan district. 

  
  
Once again, the time had arrived to refuel our energy with delicious food. We chose Korean for dinner and enjoyed kimchi, fried beef, seaweed, and Robbin eggs. Because of my new friends exhaustion from the night before, we decided to just enjoy a quick happy hour at one of his favorite bars. We played a few rounds of pool and I discovered I’m horrible at pool. Okay, I didn’t discover this, because I already knew this. 

  
I sat eating sunflower seeds, drinking Asahi, and watched the other pool sharks steal the spotlight. I’m either really bad at pool or they were very good. Probably a little of both. I enjoyed conversations of travel, religions, and future adventures with my newly found friend. It became pretty late and we decided to call it a night. Because it was a last minute trip and I was the first couchsurfer for my new friend to host in his new apartment, there was no blanket for me to sleep with. This I was fine with because there was a heater in my room, I had my jacket, a book I grabbed off of his coffee table, and a nice pillow. I stayed up a few more hours reading “Tuesday’s with Morrie” and shivering yet so thankful for the chance to make new friends and discover a new city. 

  
After I had woken up, gotten ready, and read a little more of this new book I couldn’t seem to put down, we decided we needed coffee and food. We headed to KFC for decently priced and roasted coffee and has Chow Fein for brunch. This was when me and my host exchanged hugs and thank yous and headed our separate ways. 

  
I decided that I would spend my day exploring Huishan Ancient Town. Well, the free parts of it. Today was always a decently beautiful day, no coat needed. I navigated my way to the old town full of other exploring tourists and met up with my roommate and her friends. My phone had just ran out of minutes so I was lucky enough to borrow a Chinese womens phone and call them so I knew which party of the Anceint Town they were in. We walked around for a while, stopping in souvenir shops, stepping over archways, and breathing in the “ancient” air. 

   

 Once it had become early afternoon we decided we better head to the bus station and buy our tickets back home. Finding the coach station seemed very hard for me and my roommate Elsa. We couldn’t find it for over an hour. We found the metro station. We found the train station. We found the city express way. But no coach station. We stopped in KFC for icecream and to recoup ourselves and then finally decided to ask for help. After a few people had pointed us in different directions we came across the couch ticket booth. I was in front of Elsa in line. Once I had purchased my ticket we quickly discovered I had just bought the last ticket back to taizhou for the night and it didn’t leave for another 2 hours. 
So now Elsa left to find a train ticket to Zhenjiang and then hopefully a bus back to taizhou. She is phone less, nervous, and maybe a little panicked, but she can do it. I trust in her fate. It was a scene from a movie; me going up one escalator watching her go down another waving and yelling out farewells and good lucks. 

  
So here I sit, waiting for my bus to arrive so I can head home to Taizhou, wishing I could travel forever. Wishing I didn’t have to have a BS to become a traveling esl teacher. Wishing I could have just a few more moments with My beloved China.  

   

Where the hell is Hayley?

Due to a broken MacBook charger and limited resources I’ve been unable to blog for a while. Believe me, it’s been really rough. I have a need to blog, write, and express what I’m doing. So what have I been up to? 

 
These are my chicken wrap people btw. His smile lights up my world. 

Halloween in China was a success. I spent the morning putting on vampire makeup and scaring the living hell out of my level one 4 year olds. I went to my kindergarten to help set up for the carnival later that evening. Because I am treated like a goddess at my school, every time I tried to help I was brought a chair and told to “rest”. Do I really look as exhausted as I feel? 

 
The kids arrived dressed in costumes. Some in multiple costumes such as a pumpkin hulk, a Spider-Man transformer, or a princess with a pirate sword. Can’t choose what to wear? Wear them both I guess. After spending a little time at not only one kindergarten but both of mine, I headed to Wanda plaza to watch the other expats dance and sing on a stage in front of the many parents who pay big bucks for their children to enroll in English lessons.

     

  After Halloween had come and gone, I’ve been spending my free time teaching demos and extra English Lessons so I can have traveling money in November and December. I spend my non teaching time with the other expats who I have become really close with. We either drink at Allen’s, play pool, eat good food, or play COD. I love and cherish the friends I have made here. They are genuine friends whom I hope I keep in contact with for future travels. 

  
  

 I’ve tried and failed miserably at cooking fresh noodles. Boiled or grilled , both times ended up in the bottom of the waste bin. I promise I can cook in America! Don’t believe me? I’ll prove you wrong.     

I’ve held adorable dogs in bars, fit three people and a pup on an ebike at 5 in the morning for a McDonald’s breakfast run, and spent a whole night staying up talking dreams and life with my dear friend Zac from Australia.

 
  


  I’ve started a novel, been addicted to milk tea and Chinese cigarettes, eaten large amounts of sunflower seeds and witnessed an intense bar fight.  

 I’ve been on long sketchy runs, taken shots lit on fire, and even took a hip hop class where I was shown up by the six year old in the room. I guess the years in ballroom dance class never attributed to my pop and lock skills.      
   
I’ve eaten many oranges when I start to get the sniffles, began coloring in adult coloring books, and spend my lunch break in my beloved nook smoking Chinese cigarettes, drinking hot tea, wrapped up in a blanket enjoying the peace away from a busy classroom.    

I’ve been teaching like a mad women. I’ve become so much closer to my kids. I had my students one day take home a piece of paper which they were supposed to draw themselves and write their English names. One of my favorite students, Tiger, drew himself naked. Another one of my favorites, Jason, either received help from his parents or needs to be shipped off to the school of arts. Pretty good for a six year old. I’ve spent my evenings teaching night classes, laughing with my older students as I teach them the word goober. I’ve told stories of back home, and my future plans for travel and they just nod and pretend that they understand. Too cute.   

 
        
 
Safe to say I’ve been busy, so busy I didn’t discover I could post blogs via my phone. Whoops. 

    
 So to my regular followers who have asked why I haven’t been posting, I sincerely apologize. And believe me, it’s been hard on this end too not being able to share with you my adventures. 😉 xo  

 

That one time I went to a strangers house and she lit me on fire.

Being a young caucasian female in a country such as China has it’s many perks. For one, I often receive free food. I’ll go to a local fruit stand to get tangerines for the morning, and the kind gentleman will smile at me and refuse to take my money. My bread guy has given me free bread a few times. I often receive free meatballs from the elderly gentleman downstairs as well. Point of the story, people do enjoy offering me free services.

An average day consists of people snapping pictures of me, people trying their best to communicate with me, and strangers adding me on WeChat. WeChat is the “social media” texting service that many people use here in China. It’s a great way for all the expats to communicate and stay in touch as well as talk to the locals. The app is great in many ways but my favorite is it translates for you. So, I often find myself having endless conversations with strangers over WeChat. Even if we never meet again.

The other day while I was grabbing a quick snack from a food cart after school, a young women walked up to me and tried asking me many questions in a language I don’t speak much of. (hint hint It’s Chinese). After laughing at ourselves for trying, she took out her phone and opened the app WeChat. We swapped information, she handed me a purple business card with fancy gold lettering and we parted ways. Last night she messaged me and asked me if I was interested in trying out Chinese Alternative Medicine. I told her I was tight on money and of course, she insisted it was free and it only took 2 hours. Was she going to poke my body with many pins and needles? Was she going to smoke marijuana with me for a few hours? Was I going to get kidnapped and sold into a sex slavery ring? I had not the slightest clue. So of course, I went anyways. (#YOLO)

I insisted my roommate come with me so I wouldn’t feel totally uncomfortable and we walked towards the apartment entrance where this kind lady had told me to meet her. She met us with another young lady wearing high heels, a tight pencil skirt, and a blazer. What the hell had I gotten ourselves into. Safe to say, I was a lot more calm than my roommate Elsa was. lol It’s okay girl, you’re the reason I’m probably still alive here in China.

We ended up walking into this lady’s apartment and into a back room where 3 massage beds stood. Okay, this isn’t as sketchy as I was imagining. They brought us two glasses of hot water to drink and told us to take off our shoes, relax, and read the big poster on the wall. Which was in Chinese. I used my helpful Waygo app to decipher some of the Chinese characters and called it good. From what we could understand, to be able to have this “therapy” done to us, we couldn’t be pregnant, have kidney problems, heart disease, etc. So we figured we were in the clear and were ready for takeoff.

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We were asked to remove our tops and bras and did as instructed. Luckily for Elsa, I went first and she was able to watch me and calm her nerves. As I lay down topless on the massage bed, my Chinese women swiftly pulled down my britches and left me bare assed and wondering what the hell was going on. I am literally laughing out loud at this point and telling Elsa that if she feels uncomfortable about this, she didn’t have to participate as well. After the giggles had subsided, I was covered in HOT towels. This feels amazing by the way. The next step started to worry me a little. She started pouring some liquid over the towels that were covering me from the top of my head, to the end of my booty. Next she grabbed a lighter and poof, I was in flames. “Yup. Hayley you’re on fire. You are literally on fire”, I can hear Elsa say from nearby. Don’t worry, it’s painless.

(Ignore the bad quality video. It is a video of a video on a phone. Only way we could get it)

The next few hours consisted of being doused in lighter fluid, set alit, and then being covered in another wet towel to put out the flame. Distinguish and repeat. After the towel puts out the flame, she presses down and lets the heat soak through. By the end of the hour, the floor beneath me was puddled in my sweat. Holy freaking hot. After an hour or so of sweating, flames, and smoke she removed all of the towels and rubbed me down in hot oil. She then continued by smacking me around vigorously. This was the weirdest part of it all. Of course Elsa started giggling and asking what the sound was since she couldn’t see because she was now covered in wet towels and was being lit up like a christmas tree.

After the smacking around, we were wrapped in saran wrap and left for dead. Okay, so we were left to relax. We lay on our backs discussing the badassery that had just occurred and drifted off to sleep. Before we knew it, the lights had flashed back on and it was past 10 o’clock at night. Whoops! The lovely ladies wrapped us in their jackets and walked us all the way back to our apartment.

I mean I could have easily been kidnapped, cut open and be one kidney short. I could have been conned into one of China’s famous scams and been out a couple thousand RMB. Instead my wallet is full, my back is relaxed, and my “Guess What I Did in China” list has lengthened just a little bit more.

I’m taking a butcher knife and cutting off my feet.

The French Concession.

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Did we find it? I’m not 100 percent sure if we did or did not. We did a lot of walking this day, a lot of asking strangers to point us in the direction of these famous streets, and a lot of walking. If I didn’t mention that earlier. What I do know, is I found somehere that served me pasta. Oh my. I hadn’t had pasta in months, and it was heaven on my palate. We tried going into the Shanghai Library but quickly discovered that you needed a library card to enter to see the books. Who would have known?

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After roaming the long trees filled streets of what we thought (which could be true) was The French Concession, we headed to a local hair salon where Kaylee got a cute, pricey, haircut. But was it worth it, YES! While Kaylee got her haircut, I was occupied by searching smartshanghai.com for places with a happy hour while stuffing my face with Chinese candy.

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We then decided to head to Shanghai’s Old Town. A place that seemed pretty updated and upbeat for being an “old town”. Buildings were lit up like christmas trees all around us. To the right, to the left, and as it seemed forever beyond us, the buildings were lighting up these dark, garbaged filled streets.

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Still, we pushed our way through the other tourists until we came across the grand prize. Huxinting Tea House.

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A place where Queen Elizabeth II has sipped on hot tea herself. A place where a zig zag bridge takes you across waters to reach this glowing pagoda that is risen out of the water resting on stilts. Oh how she was glowing that night. We scrambled through the gated line, over the zig zag bridge, and snapped a few pictures whilst we could. 22031634899_388f1fc4dd_o

After walking around this area for a while, being lured into the shops for 10 RMB scarves, we called it a night and headed back to our hostel. We had another big day of exploring ahead of us.

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China is awesome. If I haven’t mentioned that before. I can barely run a brush through my hair, go makeup less, and wear a simple t-shirt and yoga pants, yet still be considered beautiful by most around me. I’m sure I scare off some of the Chinese men. This really helps when you want to just wake up, take a shower, throw your hair in a braid and get going on the day. So that we did. (I sport a braid quite often). We awoke and were out the door a few minutes later. Today was the day which we would explore Pudong by light!

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The weather looked a little testy, but we figured we would be on safe ground and left our umbrella at home. HA! What idiots we can be sometimes.Once we had gotten off the subway and were walking down Nanjing Road, it began to rain. And i mean really rain. We decided we would be fine, a little rain never hurt us. A few minutes later, we took out our sopping wet money, and bought 10 RMB umbrellas.

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Whilst walking down Nanjing road we came across something I never thought would make me so happy. M&M world. Oh the smell of chocolate seemed to fill the streets. How long since I’ve gone without chocolate? Too damn long. We explored around a little, i tested to see what my aura said about my M&M color, and continued on our exploration.

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Ankle deep in water, we walked down the bund towards the ferry. This was just after I had read the book “Lost on Planet China” by J. Maarten Troost. I swear by this book. Skip out on Fodor’s and Lonely Planet and just simply read this book… I remember a chapter he had written which mentioned SARS can be found in some of the water in China. Great. I am wearing my beloved Tevas and walking through sewage, polluted, and somewhat stagnant water. It’s fine. My feet have probably come across some of the nastiest dirtiest streets in this world. Poor Tevas. We took the ferry again over the river and into downtown Pudong.10686799_10206736083093655_6544733356787403954_n

We headed towards the tall buildings in hope to find the Jin Mao tower. I had read online somewhere that they allow you to go up into their lobby on the 56th floor and look out among the city, for free.. FOR FREE. I WAS IN. We snuck our way into the hotel, pretending to be interested in a nights stay, and headed up the elevator. We quickly realized we were high up in the sky when we felt as if we were on a boat. Swaying back and forth, back and forth. It was quite a weird feeling. I can’t put a word on it. Oh wait, yes i can. Nausea. That’s the feeling.

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We snapped some monumental shots through the fog and rain and decided our stomachs and heads were churning like butter. Back down to the ground we headed. After exploring around Pudong for a while, I realized I loved the city. I love the constant honking which fades into background noise. If I ever settle somewhere, it will be a city. A place where there is always something to do at night. A place where constant entertainment lies in the streets. A place where I will never be overcome with boredom. A big trash filled, noisy, busy, beautiful city like Shanghai.

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Why my marriage failed

I would have never imagined being divorced by 19 years old. Hell, I never imagined I would have been married at 18. I will add one thing, I don’t regret it. I don’t regret anything that has happened in my life. Maybe I’m just naive, or maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I’m a strong believer in fate. Whatever happens will happen. Good or bad, everything is just a lesson to learn about yourself. I wish nothing but happiness for the both of us.

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I know many think I ran away to China. “Early life crisis”?. Maybe I did. But I never thought once that i’d be leaving my problems and past behind me. I am well aware they follow you, even to crazy planet called China. I have learned so much since my divorce. I learned my love for travel. I always knew I wanted to see all the parts of the world, but now its actually starting to happen. Now, China. Next, hopefully Prague or somewhere in Ireland.

I have rediscovered my love for literature. Being in the relationship that I was in, I didn’t read as often because it wasn’t one of his interests and I felt that we had to have EVERYTHING in common for us to be happy together. Please, don’t ever give up a passion to please someone. It isn’t worth it. Luckily for me, my books were still waiting for me when I came back for them open heartedly. I am currently on a mission to read all the “classics”. I find so much pleasure in nose diving right into a book for 5 hours, sipping coffee or tea.

After discovering the marriage weight I had added, I discovered I sort of have a thing for some cardio. I find pleasure in busting out a quick workout throughout my day. Something I would have never imagined years ago. I love hiking. LOVE IT. I want to walk all over the earth. Wander all over the grounds of the castles in Germany, hike Machu Picchu with ease, and climb to the natural thermal baths in Budapest. I mean I already conquered The Great Wall of China.

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I’ve rediscovered the appreciation for friends and  my family. I have never grown so close to my amazing father. Ask anyone in Rexburg, my dad is the best. Thee absolute greatest. He has such an influence on me now. Oh how I wish I would have listened to him all the many times I didn’t. It’s as if he knew what he was talking about. He has been and always will be my biggest supporter and I could never show him or tell him in words what he means to me. He held me while I cried when I showed up at his doorstep, car packed full with all my belongings as I told him my marriage was over. He woke me up at the butt crack of dawn every morning to ride a four wheeler with him through a muddy field as the sun was rising to move pipe, always finding ways to make me laugh. He took me on countless “drives” were we both cried sharing our regrets and our dreams and hopes for the future. My dad is my favorite person.

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Ive learned friends come and go. Oh how they come and go, but that doesn’t mean that they meant anything less to me. Friends who I have lost touch with, I might just run into them in the future and we will share more countless laughs. Some of the friends that I’ve met this past year, are some of the most genuine, funny, caring people I have ever met. My dear CSI, church, and Dutch Family. You know who you are.

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I’ve found my appreciation and NEED for coffee. Late nights studying, working at Dutch Bros, and long train rides have made me learn I would be nothing if it weren’t for my favorite roasted beans. Not only do I love coffee, I love coffee shops. Ugh, guys. I love coffee shops. Little cute places thrown together on a whim, surrounded by book shelves, charging laptops, and people all with a universal love for coffee. I can’t wait to travel the world discovering these cafes and capturing the moments I spend in them.

I’ve never been big for the whole “american dream” thing. The family with kids and a white picket fence. I mean just kids in general wasn’t something I planned on. This was a problem in my marriage. I’ve discovered that I want to find someone on the same page as me. Or at least in the same chapter. Someone who wants to travel with me. Who wants my head to rest on their shoulder on a 14 hour flight no layovers. Someone who wants to meet people from all over the world in a broken down hostel in the middle of a new country. Someone who wants to travel beyond a map’s edges, holding my hand the whole way. Someone who will wake up with me in the middle of the nights during one of my freakouts and hop in the car and drive without a destination set. I have discovered that it will be well worth the wait, the horrible awkward dates, the one night stands, and the long lonely quiet nights, to find someone who’s soul matches with mine.

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I am not running away from my problems. I am trying to better myself, discover myself, and find what I truly want on my own in a place where I am most vulnerable. A place where I can be alone in the quiet of a bustling city to collect my thoughts and ponder on things I want. A place where I can be humbled and so grateful for what I already have in my life. A place where I can give everything I have to my amazing kids. Maybe these are the kids that I never wanted. A place where I can become excited everyday for what adventures await before me. There are many reasons why my marriage failed. There are many reasons that I ended up where I am now. Sitting in my little apartment in China, surrounded by so much love, coughing my lungs out from a nasty cold, drinking hot tea at midnight, writing this blog. All for a reason.

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ShangFREAKINGhai 上海 pt. 1 The Bund//Pudong

Oh. My. Lord.

Never did I ever imagine myself partying it up in the biggest most vital city in China. Shanghai has by far been my favorite city that I have visited thus far. So much to do, so little time. I spent 4 days here and that still wasn’t enough to explore all that this city has to offer! Luckily I had my companion Kaylee to keep up with me 🙂

One thing that I absolutely love about Shanghai is it’s amazing, well organized, and readable (to me) subway system. Their metro is AMAZING.

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Im always down for some cheap public transportation. Taxis are great, but end up being on the pricier end compared to the metro and public buses. Most blog posts and I read often state the stop on the metro to take and this makes it very easy for me. I mean I rode a bus for 3 hours, a train for 45 minutes, then a public bus to the metro station, then walked from the metro to my hostel without much help. God I China’d so good. I can CHINA SO HARD!

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When I got of the long bus ride, I took a big breath of smog filled air and boy did it taste good. I’ve always loved and wanted to live in a big city. I’m just cutout for it I guess. Our first day in Shanghai called for a lot of walking. Once off the metro, we walked through peoples park to see many elderly folk sitting with umbrellas with signs on them. What could this be?

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After later research we discovered they were advertising for their children. What? Yes they were advertising their children to be married. Like online dating, mixed with blind dating, mixed with speed dating. Except the actual people up for grabs aren’t there. Too crazy! Shanghai’s famous Marriage Market. On some of the signs were listed measurements like 165 cm, now what that is I’m not sure. ha We continued through People’s Park, through the little roller coasters, people selling small animals in cages, street food, gorgeous gardens and made our way to what we thought was towards The Bund.


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At this point the city had started to GLOW! The sun was setting and the lights were radiating through the air. Oh how I love the neon. We walked down Nanjing road (in the wrong direction) for a good half hour. We came across a bell tower which gave an amazingly creepy vibe. 21935945098_b18b2b0eb7_oSuch in the spirit of October. After exploring this street and noticing we hadn’t come across The Bund yet, we asked a few people in Chinglish which direction we should head. They pointed in the way that we had come. PERFECT. No big deal right? Other than our feet ached and we wanted to see the city floating on water so badly.

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Oh how brave we are for attempting to take a public bus in Shanghai, on Nanjing road, in the middle of Golden Week. We navigated the buses and head the right direction on Nanjing road. We realized we were getting closer to the bund when we noticed the plenty more people on this side of the road. Holy smokes people. I have never seen so many people in one place at once. This is just a quick shot from off the bus.

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Now we were here. The famous Nanjing Road. Policemen were out monitoring the walking on the sidewalks and keeping all the hundred thousand people in line. Who knew what Golden Week had to offer other than millions of people heading towards the Bund that night. After ducking, dodging, and pushing our way down Nanjing Road (IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION) We began to see what we had been searching so hard to find.

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The Bund. Shanghai’s Waitan. Give or take a few accents and tones.

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The bund was packed full that night ladies and gents. But oh how I fell in love. Separated by water, Pudong lies on the other side. The new Shanghai. The pearl tower. Shanghai’s trade center. The new architecture. (Oh to see Ted Mosby’s face). 

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On our side we could see the old architecture, still lit up, still showing all the history. Turn left and you see the rising skyscrapers reaching high for the smog and pollution filled sky. Ugh, I love this city.

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After avoiding most of the people who were riskily hanging their phones off the side of the railing to get a good picture and snagging ours, we headed for the ferry. We wanted to get closer to the lights. Closer to the chaos of Pudong. 2 RMB later, we boarded the boat and were off. Crowded shoulder to shoulder, waves crashing against our boat, smelling the steam from the engine, I was content and in bliss. No wonder Mc’Dreamy loved ferry boats.

Once off the ferry, I began to crane my neck to the sky! Billowing skyscrapers above me leaned into the dark night lit up like a christmas tree. Shanghai has some of the tallest buildings in the world, and there I was, right at their feet. After walking around for just a little, our minds became weary and our necks became sore. We decided to find a metro station and head back to our hostel for the night.

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What do you know, we came across Shanghai’s famous Pearl Circle. One of the most famous roundabouts in the world! Gorgeous lit up, flags all around, elevated sidewalks. Man I’d love to see BYUI students try this one on for size. They can barley handle the small one in Rexburg!

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We hopped on the metro and made our way back to our great hostel, The Rock&Wood. (Great service and a lovely place to stay by the way).

All in all, My first night in Shanghai was quite amazing. Shanghai currently has my heart.

The Small Things

China is great, don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but I think people make quick assumptions of her. I love my city, the people I am surrounded by, my students, and my apartment. But the reasons I love china maybe aren’t the reasons you may think. Yeah the big lights, Karaoke, and food is amazing! But I fall in love with China’s imperfections. With her little flaws. Her little details that often go unnoticed.

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I love my bread guy. Every day after class around 4:10, I walk home to my apartment. I cross little bridges and scurry down little dirt trails between buildings until I reach my favorite food cart vendor. The bread man. We communicate through body language, he encourages me to buy more, and we laugh because half the time we aren’t sure whats going on. I go there so often he waves me down to come by when he sees me walking that way. He lets me reach into his money box to grab my correct change and often reheats the bread for me if it isn’t immediately straight from the oven. Though I can never remember his name, he always welcomes me with a smile and a 2 RMB chunk of bread with sugar coating in the middle. I love my bread guy.

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I love China’s tactics. They way they do things would blow your mind. They reuse, reduce, and use methods that normally aren’t practiced. Instead of barbed wire fencing, shards of glass are held with cement to the top of walls to keep critters out. Barbed wire is quite the eye sore. Shattered glass atop the walls of streets glistening in the moonlight, each chunk a different shape, a new color changes each step you get closer to it, thats something i can look at every night on my way home from reading. I love China’s use of something often thrown away, into something you take a double take at.

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I love my Maggie’s. I can’t really claim it as my own because it was shown to me by a Taizhou expat, but i still love this place non the less. I find myself at Maggie’s a couple times a week, snuggled up on the couch, a good book in my hand, and a cup of piping hot tea of coffee next to me. Not every night in china is filled with craziness. Its often nice to relax in an environment you feel comfortable in. Maggie’s is a cafe hidden in the second floor of an old brick building. Maggie herself is a Taizhou native who speaks decent english and enjoys the company while she types who knows what on her laptop. The big room is sectioned off into little rooms by bookshelves and couches. Some of the books here are in English from other travelers. Want a book? You can take any you please as long as you replace it with a book of your own. Like a switcheroo sort of thing. I have spent many hours tracing the bindings of books, looking for which novel i shall take back home with me when i leave little Taizhou. I love my little cafe.21093653824_eede66df58_o

I love the little girl who followed me home one night from dinner. While I was walking around the night food market, I felt as if i has someone following me. Indeed I did. It was a little girl, probably around 11 or 12 and she seemed very interested in me. I tried asking her name, her age, what she was doing. But her only answers were smiles and giggles. She ended up walking me all the way back to my apartment and insisted coming in. Of course I let her in and she walked around very curious, laughed at my western toilet, and stumbled upon a pen. She continued out my front door and wrote a little message on my door. After a little bit of awkward silence when i asked her if she wanted me to walk her back to the night market, she left alone. I love this little girl who followed me home and the cute message she left on my front door.21323780845_b21816a1b6_o

I love that there aren’t any drying machines. I love that there isn’t a dishwasher in my apartment. I love that I have to mop the floor almost every day because of the dust blown in from the windows. The constant honking at me as i almost get ran over by an E-bike. I love that I wake up often in the middle of the night in a night sweat because my A/C stopped working. I love that a plate full of live crawdads is brought to my table when I thought i ordered Chicken Soup. I love that people stare as a trip my big feet over the uneven sidewalk. I love that when i am dehydrated, eating something spicy, and i am on the brink of choking, they bring me HOT water. I love that i pay 12$ a month for a VPN so I can blog. I love the struggle that China is bringing me. I love the humility that I am learning. I love the satisfaction in knowing that I am going to be okay if not everything works out as planned and I end up walking home 30 minutes in the pouring rain. I love the struggle.

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Never take for granted the little things. Stop and smell the roses. Notice what little things truly put a genuine smile on your face and be thankful for those little details. Life is so much happier and easier when you do.

All alone is my favorite place to be.

One thing that I have discovered that I am quite fond of is exploring. Not just the regular exploring that you are probably assuming. I don’t very often turn to google, Fodor’s, or The Lonely Planet series and search for places which are commonly found. I prefer to hop on a random bus, ride until something looks interesting and hop off. Walking around and exploring this city is one of the things that keeps me sane. I walk around until either my feet are sole, my stomach begins to rumble, or my knee gives out too much. At that point I either maneuver my way towards the direction of “home”, or hail a taxi for a cheap ride home. China is my first encounter with taxis. They are very convent but often times foreigners can get ripped off if they don’t know the secrets. Hail down a taxi with a confident wave. Always make sure they put the meter down and watch to make sure they are charging you the right amount per kilometer. Oh, and hold on for dear life because taxi drivers are the craziest, loudest, fastest, and most dangerous drivers you will encounter in China.

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There is something that soothes me walking around, especially at night. Granted my grandmother would be terrified if she knew I walked around late at night, being of the female gender, in a country like China, all by myself. But that is one thing I love about China. I walk around feeling safe. Unlike America, men aren’t constantly cat calling me, I don’t feel scared when a stranger stares with interested eyes, and I don’t hold tight to my purse when I walk through a crowd. Maybe I trust too much. But there is something about the city of Taizhou where I feel safe all alone.

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I love walking around at night because I love all the lights. All the family owned restaurants servings hot noodles all day long with their neon lights glowing, asking me to stop by and grab  bite to eat. All the hotels with name and characters which I can not read pleading for me to check in and have a rest. All the little and big shops begging me to have a look around and try on jewelry and clothing that not even I, “the rich american”, can afford. Call me cheesy and cliche, but god I love the twinkling lights. The stretch up to the sky reaching to compete with the stars. They reflect and dance on the water. The trace bridges. They outline windows. They light up the dance floor in a night club. The reflect off the drinks in everyones hand. The light up a bar when I finally have the courage to go up and sing.They honk at me half the time.

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I walk around not with my headphones in listening to music, but with nothing but the noise of China playing in the back ground. I know i might look quite ridiculous with a smile from ear to ear, saying “nihao” to everyone I pass by, and sweat stains from the boiling, humid heat.21100241390_756c5d602f_o21100465388_4689fa23d4_o21262093396_f524f2ec9d_o

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I love walking around this city, cranking my neck left, right, up and down, to look at everything and ask “What’s the story?”. Even back home I always asked myself, “I wonder where he is going?”, “Whats his family like?”, and “I wonder what happened here”. I want to know why buildings have fallen. I want to know about the old lady who sells sliced cantaloupe for a living. I wonder quite often if this meat is okay to eat. How long has it been sitting out? Is that a van that gives tattoos?

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I have such interest in finding out WHATS THE STORY.

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