Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hiking Scenic Hills

I love all the hilly and mountain paths that are available for exploration in China.  The city planning or park upkeep is immaculate and the best park about a place like this is there is hardly ever another hiker on the trail.  We did happen upon a group of 5 randomly but I hardly doubt that more than a handful of people walk through on average daily.  These trails will keep for probably another two decades before it needs to be repaired but the fact is it's there for everyone to enjoy.

It's common to see iconic bamboo groves and forget that a city is less than a mile away. There are somethings that are definitely appreciated and well preserved.  I didn't see it on this trail but I've seen older generation come through and pick wild herbs and plants and it reminds me of when I lived in Hawaii where I would see old tutu's teaching the next generation about harvesting wild plants.  It's nice to see something familiar here as well.

One of the things that I appreciate about China is the ability to live in a small city (it's referred to as a small town by the locals but with the population of 3-4 million), and still get away from it all.  I don't live in a huge city by all means, but even in a place like Shanghai, I can still fine greenery and beautiful parks.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bumrungrad International Hospital

Many of you may have hear about how Thailand is famous for their medical services and tourism.

Well, I am in the process of seeing what it's all about.

I've heard for years that Thailand is the place to go for extensive dental work, world class surgical operations and other medical needs.  I had never needed to make us of their services because I have a very reliable dentist back in my hometown that I've been going to regularly since I was a kid.  Now that I live out of the country, I might as well see what it's all about.
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Upon walking into the first main building of Bumrungrad International Hospital, the open lobby is open and rather fancy like one would expect from a first class hotel.

As a new patient, I was directed to go to the second building to register as a new patient.  The second building is even more impressive.

Heck they even have a Starbucks:

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and a McDonald's:

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and a food court:

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Getting back to why I am here...

I remember when I was sixteen and my employer came to Thailand to get dental work and one or two root canals done.  She raved about how amazing the experience was and how cheap it all was.

Here, I am getting a cleaning done on my teeth but needed x-rays done so, the grand total was roughly 4,500 baht (at this moment roughly $131.00 USD).  You can check to see what the actual exchange rate is for USD but since I have no insurance in the US I am pretty sure this would be a whole lot more expensive than what it is now.

I also have to get a filling in a day or two so I know it will cost me about the same amount as today if not slightly more.

I am thoroughly impressed with Bumrungrad and would definitely come back for yearly visits when I am in town visiting friends.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Crucial Step for Accepting a New Home: Travel

I've talked about how it's important to get to know your new home and to keep active.

After about 6 months of really getting to know your new home, I think another crucial step to feeling at home is to leave it for a bit.

Go Travel.

I don't mean go to a place that feels even more like home than your current one but go somewhere new and enjoy being on vacation from your new home.  It doesn't have to be an expensive trip and it doesn't have to be far, but leave your current domicile for a few days and give yourself a break.

I recently moved to China and have done stay-cations within a two hour vicinity of our home for a short period of time.  Usually, two days is enough of a get away to feel good about coming back to your home but going on vacation for an extended stay, I think really helps you realize where your home is.

We are spending 21 days in Vietnam and going through the motions of readjusting to this new country, language and culture.  Granted, there are more English speakers here than in China but it's still a very foreign place for us compared to the home that we've had for six months.  Six months is not long by far, but it's long enough to have a connection to a place.

While we're having fun exploring and checking out new sites but even that gets exhausting after a while.  Once you start slowing down with your traveling and if you get sick, you realize you're tired.

At that point you just want to go home and then you realize you think of your new home as that go to place you can't wait to return to.

It may be something simple like, 'I want to sleep in my own bed', or 'I can't wait to go home and eat at my favorite chicken stall' and let's not forget, "I just want to plop down in front of my TV and play some video games, cuz I'm pooped!'.

You start to realize that you've made a comfortable place for yourself to return to and want to go back to your new home or HOME because that's what you've made it into for the past six months.

Sometimes it takes leaving home to realize that you definitely miss your own space and comforts.

Food for thought.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Almost a Decade Later in Saigon

It's been almost a decade since I was last in Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon.  It felt like a homecoming of sorts being back in a place that I hold dearly in my heart during my early 20's.

I've come to realize that city's change and grow just like the people and it's quite possibly very smug of me to say I grew along with it but both the city and I are definitely not the same entities we once were almost a decade ago.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Gettin' Some Pearls

Apparently you can get pearls in my town if you're willing to shuck the oysters yourself.  It's not expensive and the haul is worth the time.  

If you look foreign, this is what your crowd will likely look like if you do this in our area in Shaoxing.

It takes a bit of time to feel around within each shell for the jewel but it's definitely worth it once you start to see the different varieties you can collect.

The owner will help you out and she's really fast.

All in all it may take about 20 minutes at most for about three oysters.  The pearls are far from perfect, but you can still enjoy the process and have a fun souvenir or gift for others.

Visiting Old Town Shaoxing...Again

This ancient city of 2500 years is just twenty minutes from my home and nestled in the middle of Shaoxing proper.  It's a quaint gem in a small, yet busy city full of many sites and shops and homes.

Though this area is a UNESCO world heritage site for the Grand Canal, many residents still live in their original structures, unmodified and without many modern conveniences.  Many cook with charcoal and even heat their homes with firewood, with the exception of a few new technological advances - i.e. the electric motorbike.

Shops in the middle of this ancient city also have a very unique charm, most products made by hand and run by families.

Life here is also slow and laid back.  Many people that live here don't have to worry about the world outside of their own city.

I realize I take many thing for granted when I walk through this city.  Especially at a scene like this where I will see someone drawing their own water for a nearby well.

I also realize that I absolutely miss the seasons.  Living in Hawai`i has made me accustomed to seeing spring and summer but living here in China has reminded my why Autumn is my favorite season!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

In Lieu of Donald Trump's Victory

I am shocked and dismayed as many Americans are about the results of 2016's Elections.

Donld Trump is now the President elect for the United States.

I was so sad and dismayed by the news that I took to drinking last night...a lot just to numb my confusion and broken heart.

It warmed my up on this cold evening in China, but really my hopes and passion for what would have been a promising four years if Hillary Clinton was elected has be frozen and shattered.

I may sound dramatic, but a lot of the social changes that I had hoped to come out of the the next four years are not only in peril, but now may never really come to fruition.

With Trump in the oval office, he will now have the opportunity to elect two very conservative justices, tipping the balanced numbers to be in favor of conservative candidates.

This means that gay marriage will be in peril, woman's rights to her own body and choice will come under harsher regulations, minorities will be further scrutinized and so many more things.

I mourned for the eventuality of losing the great strides that we've accomplished during these past two terms and also the chance of seeing a long cherished dream of seeing a woman president and almost cried a few times thinking about how we just may start moving backwards.

I've always admired Hillary Clinton and like any candidate, she isn't perfect but I would have backed her wholeheartedly.

Maybe I'm being a bit pessimistic but only time can tell what changes will come.  I won't be there to see any of it first hand but hearing the news thousands of miles away was just as painful as though I were there.  I can just imagine how sad I'll be to hear about the reversal or problems that our country will face over the next four years.

All I can say is that I  just watched the concession speech and I cried knowing that we as a nation lost an opportunity for so many people out there still fighting for basic right and equality. She gave an eloquent speech still asking everyone to fight for all the rights and people whose voices will be drown amongst shouts of hatred and fear of progressive change.