You’re doing what? (Snap Decision)

Perhaps the most important trait to possess when considering a trip is a bit of craziness. Without it snap decisions can become bogged down by overthinking, mass lists and subject to doubt. My recommendation is to decide to purchase that cheap airfare first then work on the lists, overthinking and doubt. So much easier to eradicate the negative when in possession of a non-refundable ticket!
Which brings me to my most recent travel decision. Although I may sound like s stuck record there is reasoning behind my madness. I am returning to China. What is important to note is that it is impossible to see the country in only a few weeks. However, there are few people who can take a year off to discover just one country. Even when living in China and taking two 4-5 week long trips with my children we barely scratched the surface. A rough average indicates approximately 20-25 weeks of strictly adventure and discovery over the years I lived there and visited after I left. Of course, travelling with children is very different from going it solo. Excluding the days of departure from and to home I will have 54 days.
I came to the decision when Air China had a weekend long fare sale – Vancouver, Canada to Shanghai, China return – for a mind boggling 499.50 CAD! To put that into context, It is rare to find a ticket to Ontario for such a low price. Extremely rare. The deciding factor was no extra checked in baggage fee. I am ecstatic. Even if I hope to have only carry on. No easy feat as I will need clothing, read that as a coat and sweater, for the northern sections I plan to visit plus light clothing for far south.
As I consider my options I must consider, yes again, the National Day holiday, a Golden Week, Sep 30 – Oct 8. I already know how difficult it is to get train tickets and accommodation during that time. Therefore, I am looking at possible heading to Vietnam to do a motorcycle tour (following in the dust of my daughter) from Saigon to Hanoi, or going north to do the Beijing Loop on one of the Trans-Siberian Railway routes. Before, in between and after those trips will be visits to grottoes, villages, temples and at least one former, favourite city of mine and my children. Also where we were the chosen family of my now 15 year old cat.

Looking Back: Nov 26/11 Shanghai

This entry was from when I probably overstayed my welcome with a friend in Shanghai while waiting to fly to Taiyuan, Shanxi where I had a new teaching position. I thought it timely to include as I prepare for my upcoming trip back – again solely as a visitor. I have edited the post in an attempt to keep it more of a travel entry. Still no photos, this was so long ago that I do not have anything on my iPad. 

You Can’t go Home Again (or: Tides of Change)
I decided to walk from my friend’s at one end of Huaihai Lu to Ruijin Lu to seek out the new old town she had told me about. Along the way I could take photos, watch people, enjoy the lovely weather. Some of the changes I have really taken notice of are pregnant bellies and newborns. It is no longer just Chinese women who are showing off their pregnancies and proudly carrying their newborn. Now foreign women are doing the same. I saw two heavily pregnant women, two others with very young babies, plus another perhaps 6-7 months along with a child also. That was in the space of 4 hours!

I was also amazed at how many foreigners are riding fairly heavy duty motorcycles, as well as motor scooters. Three bikes with sidecars – three people on each. One group, yes a group, consisted of two touring bikes, the woman on one with flowing blonde hair streaming behind her; and the driver also seemed to have long hair – male though.

The biggest change though – for me, was to visit a small street I would frequent with my daughters for cong yong bing, sweet potato chips, (that is sweet potatoes, not sugared chips) and little trinkets. Back then we found some hidden gems of stores and even places for the girls to take kung fu lessons. I had not put the name of the place I should visit to the place we used to visit. Our little street, with its few hidden alleys has been discovered. 

All the quirky shops are gone – one whole side of the street was turned into a vast shopping centre, which means all the little shops on that side have vanished, along with where people lived above their shops. Now there is Tai Kang Lu: the old town. Fine, it was quite a discovery and excellent investment to open this area up for those living there to make money. It certainly draws the tourists. But the charm is gone unless you can get away from the crowds and look up – at the old brickwork, the old wood latticework, old doors and little balconies. Otherwise it is just another Yu Yuan, except nicer with more expensive stuff; or Xintiandi, but less expensive. So, I don’t know if this is progress or not. When I realized that the entrance to this maze of little alleys that twist in and around and out again was our special place I had to cover my mouth to hold back my shock. It would not have done to have this middle aged foreign lady crying at the entrance of a tourist attraction – the most likely thought would have been that I was robbed.

Which I was in a way – another memory stripped away. Perhaps why remaining in Shanghai, as much as I loved it before, is not a good idea. You can go home, but it will never be the same.

Next day I braved Yu Yuan – just as crazy as ever. Crowds dreadful, forgot this was a Saturday. I did not stay long after doing a quick check for silver bells. Headed for the foreign haven of Xintiandi. Still expensive, still clean, still full of lots and lots of restaurants that should meet anyone’s tastes. Simply Thai is still there, looking as calming and relaxing as ever. I wonder if it is the atmosphere or just how we expect all things Thai to be. 
I did not stay long there either. Thank goodness for all those new subway lines – took the number 10 each time. After two days of exploring and lots of walking I am utterly exhausted.

My best adventure was going shopping for some ingredients to make tomato sauce. I cheated a bit, bought tomato paste, canned black olives and feta cheese at the store friend goes to. But I did buy small tomatoes, bananas and oranges at one of the local markets nearby and two types of cong you bing. So, I feel as though I accomplished something. I even returned the adapter I do not need and got my money back!

Home cooking – not always easy in China. 

Looking back: time flies 

The following is an entry from 2014, I was in the throes of preparing for a trip across Canada. I have not yet figured out how to share the photos. As some may have noted, my writing style and planning have not much changed. 

Clock is ticking, pages on the calendar are fading – one month and we are off on our mother/daughters adventure! I believe nearly everyone I know thinks I am crazy, so that is still unchanged, and most of them think this is a brilliant plan. We shall see.

Item to add to our emergency list – Benadryl for Daughter 2.

Item to add to our main list – an emergency kit. Did I mention it is a month away?

In the next month I need to learn how to use this silly blog for silly photos with silly captions along with just regular photo posts. How else will I be able to show St. Louis de Ha! Ha! without a caption? It screams caption. A bit ahead of myself though, we haven’t even left the island.
Budget – I plan to do as I hope to do in China next year – a set figure per day to see if it is possible to live within those means. Nothing outrageously difficult, this is not a camping trip but it is also not a luxury trip. So, 45 days = $4500.00 to cover everything for me. This should be manageable as I will be sharing a room, gas and a coffee card with two of my intrepid daughters. They are also in the crazy category so all should go well.
Countdown Day One – talk about lists. Go for a walk.
Photo in memory of my mother. (Sorry, photo did not join the text)


An adept mental climber, I crawled through the morass of of single parenthood, climbing over the obstacles naysayers lay in my path. I climbed the many stairs, real or imagined, of upper academics to view what else is out there. I then took to inviting our future movers and shakers to climb aboard the train of adventure – I became a preschool teacher in China. Talk about climbing an overloaded ladder of culture! As time moved on I climbed down for a while, sometimes we have to stop climbing in order to really take in the landscape of our lives. My teaching days are done unless a moment finds me facing a child who has climbed into my heart during my travels. Climbing for me is over, I am taking my time to walk and enjoy the smoother paths of excursion and descent.

<a href=””>Climbing</a&gt;

Cranky Kitty

This is Mozzy. He plays a major factor in my decisions of where, and for how long, to travel. This photo is of him in a wary stance as well as his usual cranky expression that always seems to come through in photos. He is deservedly cranky after a week of daily trips to the vet where he valiantly fought a battle each and every day with the techs and one or two vets. When I took the photo he had been warily watching me whenever I approached the bedroom or came too close to the bed. I did tell him I was not planning to scoop him up to be thrust into the carrier – not until Monday. 

Meanwhile, I am rejigging plans for travel. New York might be off, not so much the money side of things. The daughter I am taking with me is beginning a new nursing position that will include lots of extra training on new equipment. She already has clinic experience, but this will be teaching individuals how to use equipment at home. So, we will most likely put things on hold. 

Which is fine. There is a major seat sale, ends Sunday, from Vancouver to Shanghai through Air China. At this fare I could probably add in Thailand and Cambodia. I am vying for a two week ecotour 60th birthday present that includes working with elephants and children – not at the same time! These decisions bring me back to my cranky kitty, he might be even crankier. 

<a href=””>Cranky</a&gt;