Friday, June 12, 2009


Goodbye Shanghai!!

Wow... the closing day finally comes. I literally just completed a marathon posting session. This journey turned into something I don't think Jim nor I could have ever imagined.

To begin he was here for 14 months, about 5 of which were without me. In the end I was here for a little more than 12 months, and spent 3 without him.

I say it very often, and will probably continue to do so, but I cannot believe it. It hasn't been as hard or scary as I ever imagined. I think my mom would attest to that fact from the two weeks she was here too. I've made some awesome friends and had the experiences of a lifetime.

Its funny to admit, but I am a bit hesitant about what follows: readjusting to small town life. I am essentially about to move from a mega city that has close to 20,000,000 back to a town of a little more than 2,000! A factor of 10,000!!

Jim has assured me its not that bad. I'm looking forward to the clean air I've longed to have in my lungs, the friends and family I have missed seeing grow and live their lives, and all the other sights, smells, tastes and sounds I've been away from for what seems so long. I have a feeling a lot of little things will make me very thankful and probably emotional.

One of my favorite songs on my iPod is by Josh Gracin called "I Keep Coming Back." I don't know if the song is on the radio, or if its well-known, but the lyrics in the chorus always make me remember the life I have in Texas and that is truly where I call home...

I keep coming back, Time after time,
No matter where I’m at
I can’t pretend
I’ve found something better than where I’ve been
Cause where I’m from
Is who I am
And no matter how far that I run
Yea I keep coming back

So my bags are packed (Please, Lord, let them be under 50lbs. Amen.) and I start the 24 hour travel session tomorrow.

Wish me Godspeed.

Goodbye SRC

FINALLY!! That Winkenwerder girl is posting some pictures of her complex...

The sign beside the front entrance and my building. My apartment is behind the second tree from the left - which is literally blocking my balcony.

The big pool. There is a sandy beach area for kids to play on the far side.

Different view of the big pool, although it still does not portray the size appropriately.

Views of the inside of the complex from my friend Michelle's apartment.

My building is in the far back right.

Goodbye JinFeng Lu

The road I live on and work on is JinFeng Lu, and I figured that it would be nice to put some photos up of my environment the past three months.

The intersection of JinFeng Lu & BaoLe Lu... the only light I pass through. But this isn't the busiest intersection.

These are the Chinese shops: there are restaurants, tailors, barbershops, think of it as downtown Shiner meets China - mom & pops places.

This is the 'expat section' of Jin Feng Lu: Pines Market, Rendezvous, ColdStone, Starbuck's...

Boxingcat Brewery (yep, they brew their own stuff), a local coffee shop (which supposedly has ties to the Chinese mafia), another local coffee shop, a local (legit) massage parlor...

... The monk, a few Chinese shops, a newly opened Subway restaurant, some 'other' massage parlors.

Peking Duck

Last Saturday, I joined a few friends at the Hyatt on the Bund for a dinner of Peking Duck. It's pretty neat how they are prepared, but rather than launch into a diatribe, I'm going to let the folks at Wikipedia do my dirty work:

The lighting wasn't very good (or more appropriately, I didn't change my setting on the camera correctly) but the pictures follow.

A duck being roasted in the oven.

The chef preparing the duck before it was served.

Day 2 Classes

My school runs on a rotating block schedule. There are eight periods: A through H. Periods A-D take place on Day 1 and E-H on Day 2. Easy enough. The fun starts in when you throw in the rotations... for ease of explaining, I'm going to list the days and order the lessons run in:


Then the cycle repeats. The idea behind this madness is that certain classes are not always at an advantage when it comes to test days. It also helps if you are not a morning person who stinks at math (or a different subject), you don't always have math class first thing, only 1/4 of the days you have math.

Anyways, I meant to take pictures of all my classes, but the last class for my day 1 students arrived and I didn't have my camera. So I was only able to take a picture of my day 2 classes. The other sad thing about this is I only have two classes on day 2, so I didn't get a picture of my three day 1 classes at all. :(

So here are my day 2 classes.

Period G AlgebraII/Trigonometry consisted of freshman and sophomores and was a class of 18. (One kiddon absent.) This is the maximum size of a class at SAS and is extremely large for a math class, most of which are topped out at 14.

Period H Core-PreCalculus consisted of juniors and seniors and was originally a class of 11. The two seniors had already graduated so these are just the juniors.


The night of graduation I stayed at my friend Jane's place. The next morning we went for breakfast and shopping in downtown Shanghai. Below are some pictures from our day.

We went to brunch back at the place where my first birthday party was, The Closed Door. Below is the entrance to the restaurant... there is no additional sign. Interesting, the place is owned by the same people who own Cantina Agave. They also have a few other restaurtants that are hits in Shanghai.
A picture of the tree-lined streets in the French Concession.

Another similar to above. It was a gorgeous day, but by mid-afternoon was as sweltering as South Texas.
A building that my friend Jane loves. Just thought this was a neat angle, please excuse the power cord cutting the picture diagonally.

A very clean lane (alley) in Shanghai between buildings.

Teachers Only: Post Graduation

After the graduation ceremony, there was a going away party for several departing teachers. We reserved the popular restaurant, Cantina Agave, for the whole evening. Cantina Agave has the best Mexican food in Shanghai, hands down. To give the place some credibility for all the hard-nosed-Mexican-food-snobs, let me add that this place also has two all important extensive bars: salsa and tequila; in separate locations. I did more damage to the salsa bar, than the tequila that night, but I did partake in a few margaritas. Left is a picture of me on the patio as the evening wore on. Below more pictues and descriptions follow.

My office mate, Pat, and friend Kevin talking out front. I imagine Pat making some silly tech joke and Kevin is laughing to be polite. J/K Pat. :P

How can you not love these two?? Drunk Peter and giddy Dachpian.
Sheryl was probably telling Dachpian something significant that he won't remember. I think this was before the man with the monkey came along. No, I did not drink so much to hallucinate a monkey. Just as there are people trying to turn a buck on the corner of any city in the states, the same is true in China. Apparently in this section of town, the old French Concession, men will have little monkeys they take around in hopes that drunken expats play and pay. No one pictured here (or writing this) played with the monkey, and I will not incriminate those that did.

Dachpian is sad that I'm leaving, or that his drink is empty, maybe both.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The graduation for my school was last Saturday afternoon at the Shanghai Grand Theatre. The ceremony lasted 2 hours, which isn't that bad as far as graduations go. We, the faculty, were recognized in a similar manner as college/university graduation: adorned in robes. Our robes were blue, whereas the students' were black.

I didn't get any photos of the ceremony itself, but below are some friends & me in the dressing room.

Myself, Emel & Michelle
Myself & Allan; we both teach core-precalculus and collaborate well together.

Castro & myself; I think he was delaying putting the gown on.

Celia, Myself & Emel

Dachpian... acting goofy.
Myself & Bob, a former bus buddy from when I rode the bus to work from Pudong.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

American School End of Year Party

Last Wednesday the American School had our going away party in downtown Shanghai, which was organized by our HR Department. School employees from both campuses are invited. This year was the first year the event was at The Glamour Bar, one of Shanghai's ritziest bars on the Bund.

The Bund is the old concession-era financial district on the waterfront property on the Huangpu River. In days gone by this area was known as "Wall Street of the East." Essentially the Bund is what put Shanghai on the map to become the major city it is today.

The party had lots of free alcohol, and very little food, a bad combination for teachers at the end of the year. :) Luckily for all of us the next day was the Chinese Dragonboat holiday. Below are some pics of me and friends (their respective discipline in paraenthesis) from the event.

Emel (French & Spanish teacher, one of my office mates & best buddies) and Celia (Chinese).

Me and Javier Castro (Spanish & office mate.)
Me & Emily (Math department chair)

Hannah (2nd grade)

David Dachpian (Economics & history)

Jane (Biology) & Karen (elementary ESOL)

Castro & Emel

Got Pictures??

As many may know, one of Jim's assorted hobbies is photography, and our adventure in China led him into a whole new level of the involvement.

Photo printing places abound here, as do framers. Through research and seeking recommendations from other expats, we found a printer and a framer that are in the top tiers of their traits in Shanghai. The additional bonus is that both of these services cost fractions of what they would typically run stateside.

We had several items printed and framed before Jim left and the first batch is pictured below. Jim did not get to see the results, so seeing these final products are a first for him too. Some of the items are not photos, but other art pieces we had framed.

Descriptions (left to right, in indicated row)

Top Row: Large silk scarf we bought at the Forbidden City in Beijing; two window boxes of Pudong skyline.

Middle Two Rows: Vertical Shanghai Sunset; two overhead photos of busy intersection we lived by in Pudong; (ivory mattes) two photos of interior of restaurant in Beijing; (green mattes) Chinese guards taking down the Chinese flag in downtown Shanghai & angled shot of Rachel looking at the happenings on a Beijing sidewalk; (Dark blue matte) Neat shot of Rachel at Shanghai World Finance Center - tallest building in China (aka my facebook profile pic.) (Light blue matte) old bicycles in Shanghai alley;

Bottom Row: Row of doorways & windows in Tibet; alleyway in Shanghai early one Saturday morning; 'reconstructed' terracotta soldier in Xi'an.

After Jim left, and the first shipment came in, we decided to get more...

Top Row: Large picture of Shanghai skyline, Pot on open fire in Yangshou.

Second Row: Framed Chinese Paper-cutting; Stairs to nowhere in Yangshou on Canvas

Third Row: Two Chinese paper-cuttings on mirror; Chinese Paper-cutting of Chinese woman's profile.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birthday Party #2

The week after my birthday, my friend Michelle and her family (Kevin, Maya & Cooper) had me over for dinner. It was actually a dual-celebration, for both a me and another of friend of their family. We had thai food delivered from a local restaurant and a Cold Stone ice cream cake. The entire evening was fantastic, as was the leftover Michelle sent home.
We were greeted at the decorated threshhold by our young hosts.

While dinner was prepared, mood music was played by one of our hosts.

The evening moved onto other forms of entertainment. Maya sang her award-winning Chinese song and dance, followed by a rendition of Cooper's wu-shu routine.

I'm really upset I don't get any other pictures of Maya - she is such a beautiful young girl, the spitting image of her mother.
Then we ate and had cake!! I will say that while I am not 7, I am prime, so the candle wasn't a total lie!

Kevin & Michelle have been great friends and have taken me in as a part of there family since Jim left. This was not their first show of hospitality to me, and they will be sorely missed. I hope that I can pay their generosity forward in the future and always cherish the memories they have allowed me to share with their family.