My Final Entry.

Well this is it. My final entry in what’s been a long running, although somewhat recently neglected, journey through my life.

Next week I’m getting married and what will no doubt be the the start of the finest period of my life. I guess this blog has always been about looking for happiness and being able to share it with family, friends, and strangers (many of you who have now become friends). It’s give me the upmost joy having written about my travels and experiences, and it also is a constant reminder of the awesomeness of my life over the past 10 or so years.

Having someone significant in my life takes the need away to share with others, simply because I now share everything special with this person. I really don’t feel the need anymore to write about it in a public forum because I can talk non-stop to someone about it at home every single day. That’s pretty cool, yeah?

The idea of giving up this blog 2 years ago would have seemed drastic, it was as much a part of my life as going to work everyday, or drinking coffee in morning. I don’t want to say it was addictive, but it certainly had an attraction that I enjoyed coming back to. The fact that I’ve only posted a dozen or so times this year shows that I clearly don’t have the desire or motivation to post. When it starts becoming a chore you know it’s time to stop.

And thus here we are.

Thanks to everyone for an amazing ride. Putting up with my un-proofread posts. The high’s and low’s of life. The wonderful places I’ve been. The even more wonderful people I’ve met (and those I’d prefer not to have met).

Thanks to all those who have commented in the past. It always was great to read your comments and I’ll continue to keep reading your blogs (those I can from China anyway!).

Take care.

David

Silly ATM.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

That’s the only way I can sum up the last Tuesday night as I left my bank card in the ATM.

It seems like a silly enough thing to do, but trust me, it happens a lot in China, especially to us foreigners.

It’s not because we’re not as smart as our Chinese counterparts (or maybe it is), but it’s because Chinese ATM’s are just plain crappy. The biggest problem with Chinese ATM’s is that they give you the money before they give you the card, the opposite to what it is in Australia and most other countries (or at least ones I’ve been in where I have use ATM’s).

It’s too easy to take your money and then walk away. Hell, I did it ever since I received my first bank card in Australia, and it really seems that it makes the most sense to get your money last.

So, after waiting close to an hour at the bank, I now have to pick up my new bank card, with new bank number, in one weeks time.

Crazy.

Lots of rain…

If you’ve been paying attention to World News, you’d have seen that Beijing suffered it’s worst flooding in over 60 years. The official number dead is 37, but that number should be closer to 100 or more, though new sources are reluctant to give high numbers.

Having walked home through downpour last Sunday, knees up to water, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. My umbrella was rendered useless in the space of 10 minutes but did protect me a little from the cold wind blasting through the area. The rain itself wasn’t the heaviest I’ve ever seen (Perth takes the cake there), but the relentlessness of the downpour, which lasted close to a full day, dumped massive amounts of water on the city.

Cars were well and truly flooded, roads turned into little rivers, and the areas surrounding Beijing with the poorest drainage were flooded the worst. So much so that this is where most of the loss of life occured.

The morning after you couldn’t even tell it had flooded. The water was completely gone except for a few patches here and there.

Quite remarkable.

Sad news.

On a bit of a sad note today, you may recall last year that Em and I bought a couple of turtles, Dippy and Cookie. They were quite sick for a long time but we managed to get them back to health and they have been doing so well over the past few months.

Unfortunately they both came down with lung infections over the last week, and despite antibiotics from the vet’s, Dippy died Saturday night. Cookie, who is battling the illness at the moment, is still touch and go and it’ll be a small miracle if she can get through it.

We decided to place Dippy in a pot and plant a nice all year plant in it. Finding somewhere to bury a turtle in Beijing isn’t easy, and at least this way Dippy will live on through the plant, in at least a material sense.

Millie, our rabbit daughter also was quite sick a couple of weeks ago due to a stomach complaint. After several checks with the vet, she made a good recover and seems to have more energy than usual.

I have no doubts that our recent trip to Australia placed more stress on our pets than I expected. Whenever we go somewhere and leave the pets with anyone it’s a taxing process for them, regardless of how well people look after them (and they did an amazing job!). It really makes me think that going abroad and leaving them isn’t the best idea.

Anyway, let’s hope Cookie pulls through. Will keep you up to date.

I’m a very busy bee!

You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the last couple of months? Had you just assumed I had given up on my site? Had I disappeared somewhere deep and dark in China?

The truth is, I’ve been darn busy. Not just your normal run of the mill busy, but really busy.

One of the things we’ve had to deal with at work has been a huge teacher shortage. With an unprecedented number of teachers deciding to leave at the one time (that’s another issue) it’s meant that I’ve been forced out of my nice, new, cosy office and back into the classroom full time. That doesn’t mean all my administration work disappears, oh no, it meant that I had to find other times to complete them, usually early in the morning, or late at night stuck in the office.

It’s been draining and thoroughly exhausting.

Thankfully we have new teachers and from this weekend I’ll be only in the classroom once, for my regular Sunday morning class. I couldn’t be happier as I can catch up and focus my attention on other areas of my job that have been neglected badly for the past 5 or 6 months.

July also represents the start of summer academy. This means additional classes on weekday morning and only 1 day off a week. The bonus being regular weekday classes are cancelled this week and next, and then 2 Saturdays and 2 Sundays over the next 4 weeks. I think it’s a fairly good compromise and a 6 week summer academy sure beats the 8 week ones I’m used to.

For all you long time readers, and there’s a few who I hope still check in on me once and a while, you may remember my old mate and flatmate Mike, whom I worked and lived with in Korea when I first went over. The exciting news is that he’s coming to Beijing to work next week. It’ll be awesome to be able to work with him again, because he’s such a great teacher and I know he’s going to fit in very well.

It’s also fantastic to know I’ll actually have a mate here in Beijing that I can speak ‘Aussie’ with and that will actually understand me (the other Aussie left his school last week, leaving me the only one).

Other than that, it’s been a busy last few days, but things are getting settled again and life can start resuming as per normal. The wedding plans are going along well, but still a lot needs to be done. Poor Em has had to carry most of the work herself, with me being unable to converse in Chinese regarding wedding plans. I have no doubt that it’ll all come together, and with the extra time I’ll have available, I’ll try help Em out a little more than I have been.

I also hope to be a little more ‘here’. But no promises.

Stop cutting your damn nails!

Over the past week I’ve noticed something that seems to have gone viral here in Beijing. It’s something that’s not uncommon, but I only now seem to be seeing it everywhere I walk.

Nail clipping.

Seriously, what possesses people to cut their nails in public?

Last week, outside the Science and Technology museum, I sit outside to catch my breath after a long slug around the complex (it’s big) when some 40-something husband and wife sit opposite us and start taking out their nail clippers and cutting their nails. When I say nails, I don’t just mean finger nails, but also toes, too.

I must have seen this at least 20 times in the past week, I kid you not, and haven’t seen this intensity of nail clipping in Beijing before.

When you really think of the life of a finger or toe nail, the last thing you want is to have random people’s discarded nails flying around the place. It’s just dirty.

I really do like Beijing, but I’m glad to be getting a few weeks away from it soon.

Cooking on the run.

I don’t often get the opportunity to cook much these days, but when I do I like to make sure I’m spending my time cooking something nice. After a terribly long day in meetings yesterday, I found myself walking home from the subway early in the evening with the feeling that I could devour something a lot larger than myself. Despite feeling drained, I had a sudden urge to cook something because I really felt like some home cooked grub.

There’s a relatively new supermarket that has just opened not too far from my place, on the way to and from the subway, that I’ve always wanted to check out. With the opportunity yesterday to do so, I discovered that is mainly a foreign goods supermarket filled with some very nice products, most of which were well out of my budget.

I did find a few things and decided to cook not one, but many dishes for last night’s dinner. It’s not unusual in Korea for me to cook many dishes for a meal, to be consumed with fresh steamed rice. It’s the Korean way to fill the table with as much banchan (반찬) as possible and I often find myself these days’ trying to figure out where I got the time and energy to make so many dishes most nights when I lived in Korea, seeing as I finished at 9 o’clock every night.

So below are a few of the dishes I put together.

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From left to right: spicy tofy knots, coleslaw salad, hot spicy chicken sausages, honey soy chicken, eggs with mayonnaise yolks, curried chicken and egg, fermented tofu, and steamed rice.

Of course a lot of things I didn’t make from scratch, like the sausages, but they are easy to cook and don’t take up too much time. For the above, about 30 minutes all up. Even now, it still surprises me how fast I can work in the kitchen when I want to.

And of course Em was over the moon to have a long over due banchan dinner!

Moving on…

I really haven’t been writing much here over the past 6 months or so for many different reasons. I guess the biggest factor is that I rarely have the time to sit down and write about what’s going on in my world, and the world around me.

I don’t feel the need to write as I once used to. The feeling that I wanted to write something every day has long since left and I doubt it’ll ever come back with the same ferocity it once had.

And really, what’s there to write about?

Starting from the top let me go into a bit more detail. Since being placed in charged of my own school, a lot of my focus and energy is squarely aimed at it. It’s not easy having to manage 10 teachers, as well as keeping an eye on the sales and administration team. This whole ‘management’ thing isn’t as easy as I thought it would be and it’s taking longer to work through certain things than I anticipated.

It also doesn’t help when I’m short staffed, spending a little too much of my time in the classroom rather than the office, getting through the piles of administrative work that awaits me. I can’t tell you how much time it requires to prepare, conduct, and process tasks such as teacher observations, appraisals, schedules, parent communications… the list goes on and on.

And they’re just my weekly tasks; you can dump my list of personal work projects on top of all that.

For the most part I’m working a 9:30 – 8:00 day, solid. It sounds a lot, but the days seem to always go too quickly for me. When I have my two days off (which usually requires some work during them) I really enjoy spending that time with Em or doing absolutely nothing. There’s no shame in the later. 

As mentioned above, the itch to write has certainly diminished over time. In many ways it goes hand-in-hand with having little time for anything away from work so Em and I rarely travel these days due to both our work commitments. Time together at home is precious and there’s nothing else we’d rather do together.

I never feel the urge to write anything on the blog, unless it’s for my family, and even then it’s a bit of a stretch using the blog when a phone call is so much easier.

Finally, there isn’t a great deal to write about these days. I’m set in my ways and life, dare I say it, is starting to quiet down a little. People don’t want to see a post about my adventure walking to work, or the latest episode of China Supermarket Travels. It’s really just not that interesting.

The big new, of course, is that I am soon to be married. October this year to be exact. Just a small ceremony for family and friends here in Beijing.

It begins a whole new chapter of my life, which in turns closes another chapter. I tend to think that this blog falls somewhere in the previous chapter category and would best be left behind. I’m not sentimental about closing off my blog, but it’s coming up to that expiry date where it doesn’t give me what I want any more.

For the past 15 years (at least) this blog has connected me with some amazing people and allowed me to share myself to a bigger audience than I thought possible (believe it or not, I used to get close to 500 people a day visiting here!). Not that I ever thought more than family and friends would read it, but I was flattered that so many other people thought it was worth the read in the first place.

That’s long enough, I think, so it’s time to think about moving on.

In fact my last post I plan to be the day before my wedding. I couldn’t think of a better time to wrap the whole show up then on the verge of one of, if not the biggest, moments in my life so far. Besides, I have to admit, Em is an excellent sounding board for all my thoughts and opinions and, unlike my blog, will always give me some response (sure, ‘That’s nice sweetie’ is still a response).

From now until the wedding I’ll try post some interesting things about what I’m doing, but it wouldn’t be the same volume as before (look above for all the reasons why not).

It’ll also be nice to reconnect with some older blogs I used to connect with all the time, but more about that at a later stage.

So there you have it. In a way it’s sad to end something that’s been so significant in my life, but it’s even more special knowing that I no longer require it to be there.

6 months and counting.

Instagram Fun.

I’m kind of all over Instagram at the moment, so if you would like to follow some of my photos (well… there’s only two there at the moment) my user name is dehere or just try my email (dehere(at)iinet.net.au).

And yes, I do need to post a lot more, just so busy with life. Everything is sweet. :)

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Delicious Chinese Food.

20120405aI don’t even know where to start with this one… so I’m just going to let the story read for itself.

Chinese police have seized more than 3,200 tons of a new type of "gutter oil" made from decomposing animal fat and internal organs, said the Ministry of Public Security.

Previously, the phrase "gutter oil" referred to the reprocessing of used oil and even restaurant leftovers, which were then resold as cooking oil.

However, the new strain is made from meat that was past its sell-by date and of low quality, and even rotten animal fat and internal organs, according to the statement.

Thankfully this is not happening in Beijing, but after the gongbao chicken I had over the weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was! That’s not to say living in Beijing is going to mean clean food. Far too many times I’ve walked past restaurants and had the misfortune of looking inside their kitchens. Not always a pretty sight. And you would expect people to be fuming over reports like this, wouldn’t you?

Hotpot devotee Fan Jing, a 27-year-old Chongqing resident, said she was not surprised by the case, and added that she will choose more expensive restaurants in future to minimize the risk.

"I can’t live without hotpot, even though I know many restaurants use gutter oil," she said.

Fair dinkum, that just ain’t right.

Can’t wait to get back to Australia and have some some real grub (but you know… not real grubs)…