Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year

Well here we are – December 31, 2014. On the verge of another wild New Year’s Eve in China. Last year we were on the way to Macau with Ken and the year before in Shanghai. Tonight it is just the two of having a curry for dinner and then working on the jigsaw puzzle I got from Shelley, Rob and the boys for Christmas. I am going to break out and have more wine tonight, though.

Terry is just finishing up her blog and we will be taking some photos tomorrow to add to it, but I want to get rid of all the remaining 2014 photos, so here goes.

Signs of China

"Appreciating the beauty of Dress with coffee" What more could one wish for?

“Appreciating the beauty of Dress with coffee” What more could one wish for? (Ed. note: Why capitalize ‘Dress’?)

And literally right across the alley from “Appreciating” is..

Want to know what Pully sells? Well just trip on over to pullpully.com. (Ed. note: I would be interested in your opinion of the website.)

Want to know what Pully On Demand sells? Well just trip on over to pullpully.com. (Ed. note: I would be interested in your opinion of the website.)

Please help me. What do you think

Please help me. What do you think “Annals Deposit Lofty” could possibly mean? Dreams China is the name of the apartment complex being built behind the fence.

Hmm. This is another sign for an apartment complex so I'm not thinking there will be a golf course there. Plus the Chinese think only REALLY rich people play golf, so I don't know who this is aimed at. (Ed. note: I was the model for the golfer on the left)

Hmm. This is another sign for an apartment complex in central Jiaxing, so I’m not thinking there will be a golf course there. Plus the Chinese think only REALLY rich people play golf, so I don’t know who this is aimed at. (Ed. note: 1. Geoff was the model for the golfer on the left. 2. Terry thinks the guy in the middle has a Gumby arm and Geoff thinks he is swinging a cricket bat.)

Terry and Friends

Terry and a Short Santa in Shanghai

Terry and a Short Santa Bear in Shanghai – She couldn’t find anything in Old Navy

Terry and Rudlolf in Shanghai

Terry and Rudlolf the Red Nosed Bear in Shanghai

Listen to ME!

Chinese Domesticity?

Chinese Domesticity?

I was in a Shanghai Starbucks killing some time before my cardio rehab appointment on Monday. First of all, this woman got on my nerves because she was in front of me at the till and was talking on her phone instead of ordering. I finally caught her eye and she moved aside so that I could order, which I did. She then hung up and wanted to put her order in and pay before me – that wasn’t/didn’t happen. Then she went and sat down with a man. I don’t know what their relationship was, but for the next fifteen minutes – right up until I left, he berated her – and in the Chinese way, not quietly. Her face for the entire time was what you see in these two pictures – except for when she just looked down. She never said a word. Now, I left at 10:15 to get to my 10:30 appointment and when I came back past the shop, from my one hour cardio at 12:20 (Ed. note: Yes I know – but this is China and 1 hour can easily be 2 hours) they were putting their coats on to leave. I wish I had been able to stay and see if she ever spoke.

Grand Mercure Shanghai Hongqiao Hotel

This is the view from the 22nd floor (Ed. note: Actually the 20th since there is no 4 or 14). At the bottom is the restaurant. I thought it might be interesting to jump and land in the buffet. Surprisingly, Terry didn’t agree. That painting/mosaic on the right goes all the way to the 28th floor (Ed. note: Actually the 25th, since there is no 4, 14 or 24).

Look down, way down

Look down, way down

For Judith

I took this picture especially for you Judith. You were amazed at how the streets are so clean – and it is all because of this woman – and thousands like her. They each have a block or two and they are constantly sweeping up the leaves and litter. Must be like painting the Sydney Bridge.

She saw me taking the picture and smiled - I know it but it is hard to see behind the mask.

She saw me taking the picture and smiled – I know it but it is hard to see behind the mask, but look closely – those eyes are twinkling.

Travelling in Jiaxing

Dad driving the kids to school - really.

Dad driving the kids to school – really.

The other morning on my way to the bus I spotted this car. The hood was stone cold at 7:10 am, so he likely had left it there – in the middle of the road all night. (Ed. note: Just ahead of it you can see the median.)

"Parking, 50 cents" - where is that line from?

“Parking, 50 cents” – where is that line from?

This bus turnaround has just been completed. Apparently, it is for one bus – the 97 which goes back and forth to the train station. Seems like a lot for one bus, but on the other hand it is where we frequently see 3, 4 or even 5 #97s lined up waiting to go. I also wonder how long before the Chinese drivers start parking their cars here. They consistently park everywhere and anywhere and . (Ed. note: See previous photo.)

Bus Parking Only?

Bus Parking Only?

Okay, I am walking bag from getting train tickets today and I come across these cars parked on the street. What is so special about them? Well, if you look at the bottom right photo there is a red dot. That is where the first ones were (photo 9, bottom left). Distance to where I took this photo is about 100 yards. Photo 4 – top right is actually two photos, both Mercedes but different cars. Photo 5 – middle left, has 2 Mercedes in the background and photo 8, middle right is the Audi in the foreground. There are 14 luxury cars here: 8 Mercedes, 3 BMWs, 2 Audis and 1 Lexus. Although I wouldn’t say this is a normal sight, it isn’t unusual either.

Is Jiaxing a wealthy city?

Is Jiaxing a wealthy city?

Terry’s Pastime

Terry has just finished this 1000 piece puzzle. Good job!

Terry has just finished this 1000 piece puzzle. Good job!

The Shoe Blog

First we have a guest contributor. Becky Block, one of the new teachers on staff (Ed. note: And one of the finest young teachers I have come across in my long and semi-illustrious career) spotted these in the airport on her way back from Chengdu. Thanks Ms Block

Straight from Chengdu, home of the Pandas

Straight from Chengdu, home of the Pandas

And now, the final shoes for 2014 (Ed. note: Now actually they aren’t the last, since there are a pair in Terry’s upcoming blog, but they are already in place and if we had taken the photos earlier this week that blog would have already been posted so they really don’t count. Get it?)

From Marks and Spencer cafe. This woman didn’t look too westernish too me but they were quite the boots.

Yipee Kay Yay

Yipee Kay Yay

We are now 4 hours and 30 minutes from 2015. Terry and Geoff want to wish all of you happiness, peace and good health for this year and the many years to come. We cannot tell you how much our friends and family mean to us. Being this far away has only reinforced our feeling for you all.

Happy New Year

Please click to view

(Ed. note: From 1947, this is the only version of this song worth listening to, by the only person who could perform it properly. Although the video which goes with it isn’t what I would have chosen, it is still a good set of photos of the most beautiful woman in the world in 1947.)

Heading to Christmas

As we head to Christmas, there is the realization that our lives have settled into a kind of go to work, go to cardio rehab mundane existence. We have few stories to tell but we still get photos of life in China. For those who care, we do have a busy social calendar over the “holiday” period. Right now Terry is busy making her famous bruschetta and Geoff has made Irish CarBomb cupcakes to take to our staff Christmas dinner. Monday Mr. Xu and the admin of the big school are taking the staff and Geoff (Ed. note: Geoff has resigned his position until he is well enough to return) out to dinner, Christmas Eve we go into to Shanghai to have Christmas dinner with Shelley, Rob, Matthew and Zander our Vancouver transplant friends and then on New Years Day we are hosting dinner here for the staff. On the 8th of January we are taking everyone involved in my October experience to dinner to thank them and then it is only 3 weeks and we are off to Malaysia and the Philippines for a month! Geoff needs to rest now, just thinking of this.

And now the photos.

The Bus Driver

The Bus Driver

The Bus Driver

1. The vertical yellow protection bar is down in order to allow him quick exit in case of emergency.

2. He has the warm shin and knee pad leggings to keep him warm from the draft coming up through the floorboards.

3. The ubiquitous thermos of green tea is contained in a blue pail of what started out as hot water which is secured to the S-shaped bar with a small piece of rope.

The Flag Person

My job is hold this flag

My job is hold this flag.

We don’t know what the unemployment figure is in China but it seems that if you want a job, you can get one. This is one of the flag people who pop up at intersections from time to time. Their job is to hold the flag up when the traffic light says it is okay for pedestrians to go in that direction – kind of  back up to the sign. You can tell how much she likes her job. (Ed. note: I am very good at getting photos while people are blinking.)

The University Students

University Students

University Students

The two on the left were laughing because the one on the right had waved to Geoff on the bus and got a response. They are also typical of 99% of university students who get on at this stop, which is at the gates to Jiaxing University. Do you know what they have in common?

My First Selfie

My First Selfie

My First Sort-Of-Selfie

We hate selfies. They are stupid and inane, but this isn’t really a selfie. You know how you can feel someone watching you? The man behind me on the bus yesterday was watching me all the time – and paying particular attention whenever a picture was taken. (Ed. note: Face hidden to protect the innocent)

Terry The Shopper

Terry the Shopper

Terry the Shopper

Terry returns from Metro last week – with 6 Red, 6 White, cheese, tuna and some other stuff.. Just like a little old lady with her cart.

KAKA

Terry also shopped at this store in Shanghai the other day – something lost in translation?

Kaka

KAKA

The Taxi Stand

The Taxi Stand

The Taxi Stand – the three to the left of the railing are gypsies.

Until this year, getting a taxi at the Jiaxing Railroad Station was an experience. First, as you walk up the ramp from the platform there would be anywhere from 5 to 15 gypsy taxi drivers waiting to grab you. Then when you got to where the “official” stand was, they were lined up but you had to more or less go to them. If there were no cars in front of them, they would either wait for you to get to them or drive past you to where the old head of the line was. Sometimes you would tell them where you wanted to go and they would say no. Or you would get in the car and then they would try to pick up another fare that was on the way. If that worked, they would charge both of you the full fare.

When we came back, however they had solved that. Now they have railings that you line up between and wait as the taxi pulls up to you. Very civilized. This, however, has not stopped the gypsy cabbies  who aren’t so civilized and while you are lined up, will try and talk you out of going officially and going with them instead.

The Phone Call

The Phone Call

The Phone Call

(Ed. note: You know you are not supposed to use all caps in an email as it indicates you are yelling? Well…)

THIS WOMAN SAT NEXT TO ME ON THE TRAIN TO SHANGHAI THE OTHER DAY. SHE WAS ON SPEAKER AND YAMMERING BACK AND FORTH FOR 15-20 MINUTES. SHE COULD NOT BE SHAMED INTO MAKING IT A TAD MORE PRIVATE.

The Bear Bouquet

Aren't you the sweetest

Aren’t you the sweetest

There are actually 12 bears in this bouquet that he gave to his waiting girlfriend as we arrived in Shanghai. How sweet.

First Class

1st Class

1st Class

The train home the other day was full in second class ($6.50) so Geoff bought a 1st class ticket ($10). The ticket said row 2 seat B which was next to the guy. He figured, what the heck and sat down alone in the single seat on the right (no one else in the car). Attendant was on him in a flash asking for his ticket and then told him to sit in the seat behind for the 27 minute trip to the first stop. “Why?” “Different price” Ahh China.

Tickets Please

Tickets Please

Tickets Please

We have talked about the Chinese and the lining up or not as the case may be. At the train station, 15 minutes before the train gets in, the sign turns to green indicating that soon they will open the turnstile and allow you on to the platform. Everyone then immediately gets up and rushes to the gate, so that they can wait another three minutes before the guards actually open the gates and then so they can stand outside on the very windy cold platform for another 7 minutes before the train arrives and they can push their way on in order to get to their reserved seating. We usually wait until 5 minutes before the departure time and stroll out. Never even been close to missing it. (Ed. note: Aren’t I smart?)

The Recycling Truck

Recycling Truck

The Recycling Truck

All those bags hanging off his truck contain recyclables. Don’t know how big his collection area is but there are 4 – 5 million people around here. Draw your own conclusions.

No Tag Day

No Tag Day

No Tag Day

No tag day for Jay – he’s advertising condos in Jiaxing.  (Ed. note: How many people in Jiaxing or even China do you think ever watched the Tonight Show?)

Shanghai Lifestyle

Shanghai Lifestyle

Shanghai Lifestyle

And if you don’t want a condo in Jay’s complex, you can get a Shanghai Lifestyle condo right here in Jiaxing. Now I don’t know why if you wanted that, you just wouldn’t buy in Shanghai and we’re not exactly sure what the Shanghai Lifestyle is, but there you go.

England

Read

After Read In England Again Building

Or, perhaps you wish to live in the England complex, where “After Read In England Again Building” is the advertising slogan.

Expressway Traffic Police

Expressway Traffic Police

Expressway Traffic Police

The Jiaxing Expressway Traffic Police Office is, to the best of our knowledge, after looking at google maps and other research sites, at least 15 minutes from the nearest expressway. Secondly in all the driving we have done with the school driver, we have never actually seen a police car on the expressway. Begs the questions “Are they too far away?” or  “Do they really exist?”

Shanghai Starbucks

Shanghai Starbucks

Shanghai Starbucks

Does this look like your local Starbucks? Looks like ours except for the guy who just finished trimming his fingernails and letting them drop to the floor between his feet. (Ed. note: Are you kidding me? No way he picked them up when he left!)

Dear John

Is it Jere? Is it Kirk?

Is it Jere? Is it Kirk?

Who remembers Dear John with Judd Hirsch from 1988 – 1992? Well, if Jay Leno can hawk condos, why not get Jere Burns (aka Kirk on the show) to hawk whatever this guy is hawking?

Deserted?

Deserted?

Deserted?

How often do you see a deserted forklift on a street corner at 7:45 am? There was no one around and nowhere that it looked like it belonged.

Fender Bender

Fender Bender

Fender Bender

So apparently the car hit the motorcycle and it left parts strewn down the highway as it slid along. (See yellow circle on left). The drivers (Ed. note: I assume they were the drivers) were standing yelling at each other and gesticulating violently while the traffic police (Ed. note: Oh, so they DO exist) stood by watching them. What a hoot.

Take a Picture, Get a Picture

Take a Picture, Get a Picture

Take a Picture, Get a Picture

This guy with the cool hair was busy snapping away with his phone taking picture after picture of the blond woman in front of him in line. When he turned around to say something to his friends, he saw a white guy looking at him and was thoroughly embarrassed. In fact, he actually hung his head for a bit.

Houcaller

Houcaller

Houcaller

Houcaller has just opened a second restaurant in the mall. We went last night for dinner. For 168RMB  ($30) we each got:

  1. a trip to the fruit salad bar
  2. a glass of sweet cold tea
  3. a bowl of not quite edible corn soup
  4. 4 pieces of a sweet breadlike substance which Terry described as a waste of calories
  5. 4 pieces of deep fried breaded fish, about the size of my baby finger
  6. a steak (cooked to order) with a surprisingly good peppercorn sauce and a choice of two of spaghetti, fusilli pasta, corn, fried egg or mashed potatoes. (Ed. note: Although we were among the first diners of the evening, they were out of mashed potatoes. Go figure.)
  7. A glass of wine

We also got one scoop of ice cream in tapioca with a garnish of a Ripples Potato Chip to share. Now we each ordered corn – none showed up. Geoff got an egg instead and Terry got pasta. Terry’s peppercorn sauce didn’t come. And the wine. Well that is the size of the glass of wine we each had and it came, well you can see it didn’t come early. Dr. Joey would be proud of the Houcaller.

Aaron

Aaron

Aaron

This is Aaron, our next door neighbour. He is about 20 months old and in September he started NOT screaming and running away whenever he saw me. He calls Terry 奶奶 which is pronounced Nǎinai and means Grandma and calls Geoff 爷爷 which is pronounced Yéyé, and means Grandpa. He is just adorable. We am going to miss watching him grow up when we leave.

Sleep Attire

Terry Left, Geoff Right

Terry Left and Middle, Geoff Right

Many of you have sent emails asking what we wear to sleep in in Jiaxing. Well, on the left is Terry’s standard attire: her housecoat, and long underwear top and bottom, fingerless gloves, fuzzy socks. Geoff’s is on the green hanger on the right. Both of us sleep quite comfortably all night in our complete outfits under the sheet, heavy duvet and quilt. (Ed. note: We do however turn off the heater which has been trying to heat the room up to about 15º when we turn out the light.)

The Shoe Blog

I want to thank this young woman for this photo. It is hard to look at Chinese women and guess their age, but I am going with early 20s with her. Certainly that was the age of the two guys she was with. What is special about these boots? Well, if you look closely – or not – you will see that her legs are – lets say slender. She was constantly falling behind her friends because those boots were just too darn big and would slide down to maybe 3 inches below her knee and she would have to stop, pull them up and run to catch up – by which time the boots slid down again, the friends moved on, and the cycle would start all over again. Wait for her? Not a chance. (Ed. note: Chinese men do not wait, open doors, help put coats on or any other western idea of common courtesy.)

These Boots Are Made For Pullin'

These Boots Are Made For Pullin’

Next up – Our Christmas Card to You!

 

 

A Picture is Worth…

According to Yahoo Answers, about 4 pages in a paperback novel. Since there hasn’t been enough going on around here to base a novel – or even a novella on, we present fourteen photos for you morning coffee enjoyment. If you think any of them could lead you to to write the next great Canadian novel, feel free.

(Ed. note: Before I let you go, Terry wants to thank the ten people who have sent Christmas photos so far. Hopefully she can get a lot more of your photos before the 15th. Please. tdwatt@qq.com or geoffwatt@qq.com)

Start Them Young

These first two are of a couple of girls at the mall. Sunday afternoon it was about 7º out so of course what do you do with the kids? You take them to the mall, outside of course, where someone has set up about 10 large easels and supplied pencils and paper as well as photographs for the kids to copy – freehand. The kids seemed to range from about 7 to 14 or 15. All 10 easels were in continuous use.

So focused

So focused

So they're only geometric shapes. Who cares..

So they’re only geometric shapes. Who cares..

Damned Republicans Lied …Again!

In the 1928 Presidential election, the Republican Party promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. The lied. Remember 1929?

You just can't trust the Republicans

This is a backyard on my walk. The chickens have their little walled off walkway while the rest of the yard is for growing vegetables. Very creative – and a good use of those old bamboo sticks you have lying around.

Hey Let’s Build Something Here

About a five minute walk from our front door was this large open space. At least it was open until they decided to build this monolithic building. It is big – but then, they never do anything small in China. Know what it is? Guess. Come on guess. Did you guess an International Kindergarten? If you did, you’re right. Wouldn’t want a small cozy environment for the kiddies first time away from Grandma.

Should be open by September

Should be open by September

Delicious Food

You might want to use a different adjective to describe this dish, but in China the only one that counts is delicious. After I finished this beef and red chillies dish, I was asked, of course, “Was it delicious?”

These are the left over chillies - there was almost as much beef.

These are the left over chillies – there was almost as much beef.

Krabi Thai

Terry had her inspection this week so we were out to dinner to Krabi twice with staff and visitor. The hostess managed to get her Santa hat to flow in the wind both nights!

How does she do that?

How does she do that – and…

Cool? Maybe not even in China.

…why does he do this? Cool Hair? Maybe not even in China.

And Speaking of Hair

Also on Sunday we made it to Starbucks. Not only was it chilly, it was fairly windy as well. Guess who used a can or two of hairspray. Terry says it is supposed to look like a heart, Geoff says she didn’t want to wear a motorcycle helmet!

I am so cool...

I am so cool…

Window Display

The Chinese don’t always use window space to their best marketing advantage. This toilet paper display took up 80% of the display window. The photo below is about 50% of the display.

And who wouldn't want to use Goon toilet paper

Who wouldn’t want to use Goon toilet paper? Apparently the kid on the left.

I checked VERY carefully - that is a G and not a C - but would it matter?

I checked VERY carefully – that is a G and not a C – but would it matter?

And a Little More TP

This delivery truck pulls to a stop just ahead of me. The swamper jumps out of the cab, climbs up on top, unties a couple of ropes and starts pushing. Effective, if no orderly.

One would hope this isn't the standard unloading practice.

One would hope this isn’t the standard unloading practice.

What is a Picture Worth?

1000 pieces of world famous art. 5 Puzzles down and 1 to go.

We now own a Renoir

We now own a Renoir for only 60rmb – $11.00

In The Market

This an advertisement for a new development in Jiaxing. You can buy now and pay nothing for 3 years. It advertises homes starting at 800 sq. metres – that is 8611 sq. feet or you can rent entire buildings of 3500 sq. metres or 37 263 sq. feet. The name of the complex is Wealthy Wisdom. I can make absolutely NO connection behind the “woman” and the product. If you can, please let me in on it. And if you want me to look for a new home for you in Wealthy Wisdom, I’d be happy to do that too. (Ed. note: Terry asked Daisy to interpret this for me “Yes, very large homes or could rent a whole building for business–3 years, no rent!  No people either maybe”)

Wealthy Wisdom indeed

Wealthy Wisdom indeed

Cool Transportation

Terry has taken to riding a community bike back and forth to school on the dry days – and I think we have only had about 3 wet days since getting back from Italy. She is becoming fit as a fiddle.

A Fresh Faced Terry

A Fresh Faced Terry

The Shoe Blog

I am losing my touch, I think. This was almost the best I could do this week. But they are kind of cute.

Complete with Snow Treads

Complete with Snow Treads

However, I was prowling around Taobao and there was a link to “High Heel Shoes”. Does that tell you something about the importance of heels in China. There were 10 pages like this – with 40 shoes on each page. You do the math. Why do Chinese women have so many shoes? Look at the prices.

Shoes Galore

Shoes Galore – My favourite are the “Fish head shoes sandals sexy black for only $8.79” (Ed. note: Shown in Silver and Red)

 

 

Not A Post – A Plea

Hi all. This is not actually a post but a plea. I want to put together a presentation of how we celebrate Christmas in Canada for the kids at school. However, all of our Christmas photos are at home. Thus, I turn to you – our Jiaxing Express fans. Could you please email me a copy of your favourite Christmas photo. It could be Christmas morning, Christmas dinner, frolicking in the snow or whatever. If it is an actual photo, just take a picture of it with your phone and email it from there. My only criterion is if you could get it to me before the 15th so that I have time to create the presentation and that it be an actual photo of you and/or your family rather than one of an anonymous web family.

I thank you, the kids thank you and Santa thanks you.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas