Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Typical Week for us in Tianjin 2018

For the last three years (201520162017), we've done a snapshot of what life is like at that time in a little video. We initially did it at the end of January because there's nothing going on then, so it was something to do. So here's this year's video!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Snow and Ice Festival in Harbin, China

This weekend we went with some friends to Harbin, China to see the annual snow ice festival. It was as cold as it was beautiful. The high on Saturday, which was the day we were exploring was 0F (that's -18C for the rest of the world). That was the high temperature. Taking pictures was a challenge and there were a few times I thought my toes were in imminent danger. I wasn't sure I'd make it back with all of them, but I did.

Charolette and me. I really had to get my smize game down this weekend

reindeer in a forest

snow sculpture competition

The caption for this one is that this is a woman who is ready to get married

After a few hours at the snow festival, we returned to the hotel to warm up and eat. In the evening, we went back out to see the ice festival. Jim took most of the pictures because I was too cold to take my hands out of my gloves. These buildings and bridges and slides are all made with ice bricks that are made from water from the river in Harbin.

There were places around where you could warm up and get snacks or hot drinks
waiting in the line for the ice slide
ice slide

Our group, minus Jim who took this picture

It was a very quick trip, but honestly I could not have gone outside another day. I'm a big baby. It was something that we'll never forget and I think I can say with confidence that it was really a once in a lifetime experience. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Fancy new library in Tianjin

I first saw this story on CNN and it has also been on all. kinds. of. sites. I live in Tianjin! I should go! This library is in a section of Tianjin called Binhai, which is far to the east of downtown Tianjin, near the coast. They have built a new cultural center, which is where the library is, and there will also be a performing arts center as well as a campus of Julliard in 2019.

I'm often surprised at how huge Tianjin is. It is huge. I am also often surprised at how confident I am getting around considering I can barely communicate in Chinese. Jim's brother, Mike, has been in town (!) and we decided that would be a good time to go visit this new library. Jim, unfortunately, has Influenza A (I mean, the thinking in October was something like the flu shot only covers like 10% of the flu, so let's not get it and now we know. We definitely should have gotten it).

The flu shot could have prevented this
The girls and Mike and I got into a taxi for a 45ish minute ride to the library, but for us it took 70 minutes until we arrived the the wrong library, because I had put in the wrong address into the taxi app, Didi. Whoops. On the map below, our house is represented by the butterfly, the wrong library is where the green monster is and the new library is where the yellow pokemon is. For your own reference, the actual, correct address is: 天津市滨海新区中心商务区旭升路347号

 Either way, it's a long drive.

Finally, we had arrived. The taxi driver was happy his ridiculous foreign goose-chase was over and we were excited to finally get to see this new library.
Inside the cultural center

Entrance to the library from the cultural center

Main room of the library

Giant glowing orb in the center

When I read about it in CNN I just skimmed the article and didn't get to the last sentence: "Most of the shelves in the atrium are plastered with images of book spines instead of actual books. Visitors have to head to the more traditional sections of the library for the real thing". I had heard from a local that the top shelves had fake books on them, which I thought would make sense but there weren't even fake books. It was just wallpaper.

not books

The actual design of the library itself is very cool, I just was surprised they didn't use the space differently. There are books there, but they are in rooms off of the pretty main lobby with the glowing orb. We went to the 4th floor to see the English books.

The 4th floor has one room with English books. We struggled to crack the code of how they were organized as fiction was mixed in with nonfiction, but we know this for sure-whoever did the ordering loves Nora Roberts. There were shelves and shelves of Nora Roberts books.

All by Nora Roberts

Also by Nora Roberts

Studying for the LSAT? Take a break and read a book that was made into a romantic comedy!
 Overall, it was interesting and I'm glad I saw it in person. I don't think I will go again until a few more things have opened up in Binhai, which should be soon. It looks like it's slated to have lots of cultural gems and restaurants opening soon.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

After exploring the temples of Angkor, we headed for a week at the beach. We took a very short flight to the coastal town of Sihanoukville and then took a boat to the very small island of Koh Rong Samloem. This beach is really spectacular. We got to our hotel in the evening and everything was pretty perfect.

The first couple of days, the beach at our resort couldn't have been better. There were no waves, the water was clear and shallow for a long way out. December is during the windy season, so when the beach at our hotel became very windy, we took a short walk across the island (about 1km) to Lazy Beach. It was quiet and clean and beautiful. There was a restaurant there that overlooked the beach and had giant hanging swings and hammocks. We would swim and eat and relax again and again for a week:


Friday, December 15, 2017

Siem Reap, Cambodia

In 2002, Jim and I got married and we took our honeymoon in Southeast Asia. I was only concerned about going to a beach, but Jim had bigger (better) plans including visiting Siem Reap. When we first visited the temples in Siem Reap, I was totally amazed. I had never seen anything like it and was fascinated by the history, the art and that you could just roam in and out and up and through the temples.

Jim in 2002

It has been a dream of mine to come back here with the kids. We waited until they were old enough and here we are. We spent 3 days exploring the same temples and, to our surprise, not much has changed.

We were worried about crowds, but they were about the same. There were a lot of people at Angkor Wat, but only at the entrance, then the people disbursed and things were mostly quiet again. The beauty, the history the details were all just as interesting as they were when I first saw them.

In addition to the temples, we had time to fit in a cooking class and have dinner with the Sautel's who, for the second year in a row, vacationed at the same place as us at Christmas. We also had dessert with our Chinese tutor Christina, who was also here on vacation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

We hosted Thanksgiving again this year!  Last year we had a limited guest list due to a lack of space and we had chickens due to lack of knowing where to get a turkey but this year we invited everyone who works at our school and had TWO turkeys.

We are lucky enough to have friends who would not only let us use their oven to cook the second turkey, but they did all the work-they even carved it when they brought it over. And this was their very first Thanksgiving! 

lots of shoes in our very full house

We had a photobooth!

Once again, we had a potluck style Thanksgiving. It's really the best way because everyone can focus on that one thing they're good at, so all the food is excellent. We had all the staples plus kung pao chicken, egg rolls, tomato soup, Danish coconut cake and a variety of other amazing dishes.

Food! (unrelated-putting a sofa in the kitchen is one
of the best decorating decisions I've ever made)

Felicity's tomato soup was the first thing to go!

more food!

Jim's plate

After we ate, everyone just hung out. Kids upstairs, everyone else downstairs. It was really relaxing and fun to watch football and talk, just as Thanksgiving should be.

football games all day.

Each year, Katie in SF sends me a Fall care package (i.e. Thanksgiving themed socks, stickers, thanksgiving napkins, Trader Joe's pumpkin spice coffee, etc.) and this year there were place cards too. We had more guests than place cards so before people came over, I had the kids write something on each card and spread them throughout the house. Here's just a sample of what they're grateful for at this time:

The party was just what we had hoped it would be, we wish Thanksgiving was more than once a year.