Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Well wonder no more. Let me introduce to you the Christmas Card Fiasco.
I will be sending out Christmas cards from my cozy little home here in Edmonton, Canada this Christmas season. If you would like to receive a Christmas card (even if I am a complete stranger to you), I want to see how many people around the world I can send Christmas cards to.
What do you have to do? Post your mailing address in the comments or email it to me at email@example.com and you will soon have a Christmas card in the mail from me to you :)
Even for friends or people in Edmonton - if you're interested, leave your address and you'll get one too! I will be keeping track of how many countries I can send Christmas cards to on this blog...so spread the word!
Let the Christmas Card Fiasco begin!
Friday, November 25, 2005
When was the last time you stopped and looked at something closely? When was the last time you actually stopped to enjoy the moment that you are in and look around you? Today, I had a girl in my French class who was sitting behind me notice all the numbers on my shirt and proceeded to take out her cell phone and take a picture of my shirt. Was I weirded out? Of course. But it really made me think - how many of us out there stop and really look at our surroundings. Next time you're out...look for the little subtleties.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I came across it this summer while I was in China. I immediately filled it out and came across it just the other day. So I'll put my Soundtrack of Life below, but give it a shot, it's fun! Fill it out and leave it in the 'Comments' area below.
Waking up: Beautiful Day - U2
Average Day: Under The Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
First Date: What's My Age Again? - Blink 182
Falling in Love: Crash Into me - Dave Matthews Band
Love Scene: Take My Breath Away - Berlin (from the movie "Top Gun")
Fight Scene: Firestarter - Prodigy
Breaking Up: Secret Garden - Bruce Springsteen
Getting Back Together: Better Together - Jack Johnson
Secret Love: I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) by the Proclaimers
Life's Okay: One Thing - Finger Eleven
Mental Breakdown: Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit
Driving: Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
Learning a Lesson: Learning to Fly - Tom Petty
Deep Thought: Where Are You Going? - Dave Matthews Band
Flashback: Footloose - Kenny Loggins
Partying: Call on Me - Eric Prydz
Happy Dance: Jamming - Bob Marley
Regretting: How's It Going To Be - Third Eye Blind
Long Night Alone: Lightning Crashes - Live
Death Scene: Streets of Philidelphia - Bruce Springsteen
Closing Credits: One - U2
Monday, November 14, 2005
This evening, I will speak to you about something unknown to many and very familiar to some: The Toque.
Is it the name of "mon pere's" favourite band? Is it a special way of cooking your food? Is it a game played by Canadians to keep warm in the winter? No. It's none of these...and I am here today to unveil the mistery behind 'The Toque'.
The toque is a small, round, close-fitting hat that was worn back in the 12th and 13th centuries by women in France. These brimless hats made of many different materials started to become popular in France to both men and women during the 16th century.
The French Canadian voyageurs then travelled to present-day Quebec, Canada in the mid 1800's and spread the word of 'The Toque'. The first Canadian toques were warm, knitted winter hats worn in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
Toques in Canada have evolved over the past 150 years to become items of not only function, but fashion as well. Toques are sold all across Canada under many well-known brands. And ladies and gentleman...this is where I have a bone to pick.
Yesterday I was passing through American Eagle and came across their 'Wall of Toques'...and I couldn't help but chuckle seeing an American retail superpower raking in the money off of a truly French-Canadian product. The toque is not just a product to sell, but a symbol of Canada's heritage. We even have a town named after the Toque! And how dare American Eagle reap the benefits of pulling at the national-pride heartstrings of every Canadian to make a pety cent.
Alas, I am off topic and this article is quickly losing it's educational prowess :p I would like to leave you all tonight with...."Come to Canada in January to explore the land of the toque."
Thank you and Good Night.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Sergio and Jess are truly enjoying their last few minutes with the Spirit Keg before Edmonton handed it over to SFU. I love how in the background Saira looks totally discusted and Mario extremely happy. This picture explains why Sergio won the 'Most Random Delegate' award :)
* Being whisked around the lobby on a luggage cart drinking rum and coke from a coffee pot after the final banquet.
* Attending the "No Pants Party" on Saturday night at the pizza joint after leaving the club.
* Listening to random one-liners from international AIESECers while singing "I used to work in Chicago"...on the bus to the club.
* Having water guns shot at me to wake me up Sunday morning...rrr...
* Sitting on a beach in downtown Vancouver having an impromptu picnic with interns from Australia, Columbia, Argentina, Mexico et "Les Filles Francaises"
* Having a private guitar jam session with 3 other AIESECers on the Mezz. floor before heading out to the club on Saturday.
* Going out for sushi Friday afternoon with Rosy and Assem.
* Chatting with Jen Pendura (our chair) about AIESEC stuff and life in general.
At the conference I got the opportunity to facilitate the intern track (you guys kick ass!), guide a group through an AIESEC XP Simulation and hold discussion groups on my CEED in China as well as the Influence of Media on Society. I regret not taking more time to sit down with Heather and the MC and talk about more NDT initiatives, but I feel really happy with our teams current direction and activity.
The conference was extremely organized and the facility was great...hats off to the OC.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
In a very very small way, it's nice to be back and have a routine again, because I feel comfortable. But for me - being comfortable doesn't make me happy. What makes me happy is not knowing what lies ahead...and when I know it's a monday, wednesday, friday at the office - it's just not appealing.
The notorious 'Travel Bug' which we all know about and have experienced at some time or another in our lives...I think never truly goes away. When I am in Edmonton - I have the travel bug to leave the city...when I'm in another city in Canada - I'm itching to leave the country and even when I'm in another country on the other side of the world - I am never satisfied staying in the same place. That's the true beauty of the 'Travel Bug'.
Hopefully somewhere in the near future, once I am able to rustle up the funds - my two worlds of Routine and the Travel Bug will clash and the Travel Bug will prevail :)
Friday, September 09, 2005
*Returned to Edmonton from Beijing on August 9th.
*Moved into my new basement suite with a german trainee - loving it - but I'm becoming a little domesticated...haha, hanging out at Ikea and the grocery store :)
*Trying to think of new business ideas for one of my classes...any ideas?
*Attended my sister Nicole's wedding. I was one of the groomsmen and everything went spectacular! My sister was absolutely beautiful.
*Went to the Bishop family reunion following my sister's wedding and got to reconnect with many of my relatives that I haven't seen for years.
*Hoping all of the China MC is doing great back in Beijing and had an amazing time at IC. I miss you guys!
*Roadtripped with my girlfriend Jen to Washington State to watch Dave Matthews Band perform live at the Gorge. Also spent a few days relaxing at the lake.
*Returned to my bartending job at the Hotel Macdonald and started working part-time at my mom's company Managewise.
*Attended a few "Back to School" parties and dinners hosted by friends.
*Returned for my first day back to school yesterday. I'm registered in Intro French (just to brush up on everything I have forgotten), Strategic Marketing, Venture Capitalism and Entrepreunship and Managing a Workforce in Canada. I got lucky with my profs and it looks like my last semester will be a great one!
*Last movie I watched: Mysterious Skin. This is a VERY graphic movie about male child abuse and pornography. If you go to see it - you have been warned!
*Submitted my first draft of my book entry on my trip to China to the editors and am awaiting their feedback...cross your fingers!
*Book I am currently reading: The Tipping Point (about how fashion trends and epidemics get started)
*Purchased an Edmonton Oiler 5 game pack with a few friends! WOOT WOOT! I can't wait to have the hockey season back in this city.
This concludes my recollection of random thoughts and events from the past month. I am still full of random thoughts - but some of which won't even make sense if I write them out here.
Ta Ta For Now.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Hope everyone is having fun at IC!
Thank you to all of AIESEC Mainland of China. Especially to the MC Team (Leon, Pierre, Peter, Primrose, Adam, Alice, Kim, Tina, Nico and Yi). All of you have each left me with memories and I can’t say enough great things about your gratitude, friendship and hospitality.
I ask myself – is this the life of an AIESECer? Why are we always putting ourselves through these experiences - Does it make us stronger? How can I possibly move on from something that I have just devoted myself to for the past two months? Will I have similar experiences in the future? All of these questions are floating around in my head right now…and I know they are natural, but I don’t like this feeling of already missing what I have just left and fearing the unexpected future.
Have I become a different person from this experience? How have I changed? As one of the other Canadian CEEDers said, “You see how you have changed when the New You clashes with the Old Life of being back at home.”
Life is an adventure…a learning experience…a rollercoaster ride…a story book…and I am loving every moment of it.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Guilin is an amazing city. Take all of the best shops, bars, cafes, stores and restaurants of Beijing - toss in a little local flavour – squish them all into one small city, mix in a whole bunch of limestone mountains, a few lakes and a river and you’ve got Guilin. Instead of having the mosquitoes buzzing around - it’s butterflies…instead of having apartment buildings towering over the skyline – it’s mountains…instead of having everyone rushing to get somewhere or just creating chaos on the streets – people live a peaceful life, not running, not rushing, just enjoying everyday as it comes. This is a city flooded with tourist groups, while solo backpackers often head to a town south of Guilin called Yangshou.
I have woken up each morning asking myself, ‘So what would I like to do today?’…maybe climb a mountain…maybe visit another town…maybe ride a bike…today, as it is my last day in Guilin and I have already seen all of the big sites – I have opted for relaxing on a patio J.
To recap this trip, I have climbed two peaks in the city (Die Cai and Solitary Beauty) to watch the sunset two consecutive nights…floated down the Li River on a river cruise boat from Guilin to Yangshou…discovered life outside of the touristy area by exploring the back streets of Guilin at night…explored the Reed Flute Caves where inside huge limestone mountains are natural stalagmites and stalactites that have formed over thousands of years…ordered various odd snacks from street vendors around the city (my favourite being Red Nose Noodles)…attended a tea and local delicacy tasting (my favourite of which is rose pedals! Soooo yummy!)…met various random backpackers from the UK, Germany and France.
Sitting here on this patio and enjoying the people passing by (and regular ‘laowai’ stares) and thinking that I will be back in Beijing tonight is sad, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the ‘Big City’. This will be my last weekend in Beijing and I really have mixed feelings right now. Extremely excited to get home and catch up with everyone, but knowing that I already miss this country doesn’t bode well for an easy departure.
Special Note: I would like to send my thanks out to the Edmonton Oilers, who I hear have just gotten ahold of Peca and Pronger. Nice additions to the team J
Newest Additions to the DVD Collection: Season Four of 24, Season One of Lost, Monster, Europe Trip, The Aviator, Spiderman 2, Fight Club, Spanglish, Ghandi and The Gods Must Be Crazy.
14!!! Count them all if you want proof! Don't forget about the girl riding the bike...you can't see her (How is the poor girl supposed to know where to stear the bicycle?!?)
Peter is a genius! He was looking through my travel book on Beijing and discovered an acrobatics show that they hold every night at the Chaoyang Theatre. Ok, I’m sure you’re all thinking that this is a pretty touristy thing right? Haha, well – you’re right.
Peter, Pierre and myself went to the show and bought the cheapest tickets possible…and to our surprise, we ended up with second row-centre stage seats! We were pleasantly surprised. The show last about an hour and a half and was full of crazy and bizarre stunts only seen in shows like Cirque de Soleil. It reminded me a lot of a low budget Cirque de Soleil show, but the talent of the performers was just as good – if not better…and the stunts were different and unique from what I had seen before.
Although it was touristy, I am so glad we went – it was such a great idea!
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Manchester United vs. Beijing Hyundai: On Tuesday I went with Nick (Australia), Sally (England) and Kim (US) to a soccer match at Workers Stadium. I pulled up to the stadium in a 1.2 cab and was absolutely surrounded by people outside the stadium holding China flags, yelling and screaming cheers, blowing horns and noisemakers...it was madness. After realizing the group meeting point was inside the gates and I didn't have a ticket, I met a couple random guys from Hong Kong and Minnesota, borrowed their cell phone to message Nick and only realize I had the wrong number. So what did I do? I didn't freak out...I bought a beer and chatted with them! After scrounging up the courage to walk through a line of 20 soldiers checking tickets (without mine of course)...I made it through easily to the other side because there were so many people rushing to get inside. The game was fantastic! My first ever official soccer match. ManU won 3-nil. The best part had to have been the ride home when Nick and I took a bicycle rickshaw all the way from the stadium to Guo Mao. It was so much fun! It definitely reminded me though never to be stupid enough to ride a bicycle on the streets of Beijing...it's chaos!
Dinner with a Reporter: China Daily was interested in writing a few articles on AIESEC, so we all went out to dinner last night to a Sichuan restaurant with a reporter who has already written two articles on returned SN's from China. She is looking to write a few more columns and a double page spread on the experiences of AIESECers coming and going from China. It was really interesting to sit around the table and just listen to all of the experiences of the other AIESECers on the MC team...so diverse! We went our seperate ways at the end of dinner, but it looks like AIESEC will definitely be in the news again here sometime soon.
Latino: Last night the whole MC team ventured out to do some salsa dancing. Yes...Salsa dancing in Beijing. You would have been amazed to see how talented the dancers were! They had a live band playing real latin music with the congos and maracas. They had a performer (professional salsa dancer) dance a couple songs on the dancefloor - he was amazing! Throughout one song, I think he switched up girls about 10 times - just spinning them all off the dancefloor and grabbing another one. I have to give the entire MC team a round of applause because none of them knew how to Salsa dance and they were willing to give it a try on the dancefloor. This definitely sparked my interest again though to take some more salsa dance lessons when I return to Edmonton.
My Plans: Put yourself in my shoes. You have 12 days left in a country that is so far from home and incredibly different than any other country you have experienced before...what do you do? Well - I have opted for the 'One Last Big Trip' option. I am heading to one of the most beautiful cities in China - Guilin. I depart Monday morning and return late Thursday night. Since Guilin is in southern China in the Guangxi province, I have opted for the 3 hour flight instead of the 30 hour train ride. I have a gracious AIESEC PKU member who is originally from Guilin that is helping me arrange my accomodations. Look forward to some AMAZING pictures!
Zia Jian - Signing off...
Newest Additions to the DVD Collection: Fantastic Four, Cold Mountain, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Shrek 2, War of the Worlds, The Forgotten, Fahrenheit 9/11, Enemy at the Gates, Along Came Polly and The Motorcycle Diaries.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Yesterday I visited Tiantan - the Temple of Heaven. I have come to the realization that with only two weeks left, I have to venture out on my own more often. So that's what I did.
Imagine, in the center of a city with 14 million people - that I was able to find a place where I could look all around me and just see tall trees and grass. There was not a person in sight. The sun shining down on me. This feeling of 'Individual Serenity' is something I have really been missing. The moment this feeling came over me, I felt rejuvinated and absolutely overjoyed. I had to spin around a few times in the trees to make sure that there really weren't other people around - and sure enough - I was on my own.
I returned back to the flat about 3 hours later having experienced so much; watching old local women play jianzi better than the young hackeysackers back home, learning the basics of chinese chess after watching a group of local men play a couple matches, seeing with my own two eyes - the temple where the emperors of two dynasties used to pray for good harvest, watching locals yell to their friends down the Echo Wall and seeing young kids playing games under the canopies of hundreds of trees in full bloom.
Had I not just gotten up and gone to Tiantan - I would have missed all of this...and with only 2 weeks left - I can't let any more opportunities pass me by.
Lots more adventures to come!
Saturday, July 23, 2005
This picture didn't turn out too well, but this is us enjoying a foot massage as a 'Post-Conference De-Stressor'. Ok, so now the challenge is to guess whose are whose! Your choices are Pierre, Peter, Leon, Nico, myself and Primrose. So what is your guess???
Shopping at Ya Show Market: One of the hidden Laowai (foreigner) highlights of Beijing...a six storey building selling anything and everything your heart desires - all for 'Cheapa-Cheapa!' Apart from the vendors haggling you as you walk by their stalls, this market is loaded with fake brand name clothing, silk products galore and selling everything from hockey jerseys to swimsuits. Needless to say, I didn't try my bargaining skills yet - but that will definitely be a place I pay another visit to before I head home.
Ice Skating at Guo Mao: So what are the odds of ice skating in Beijing? Apparently really good!!! There are various shopping malls throughout the city that have ice rinks inside them. So Pierre, Nico, Leon, Peter and I ventured to give it a try (a round of applause to Pierre for ice skating for the first time!). A couple things really caught my attention while skating: 1) The majority of men here wear figure skates and are much better figure skaters than hockey players. 2) None of our skates had been sharpened in the past couple years, but that only made it more exciting! Finally, 3) there were lots of young girls out figure skating with their coaches...and they were amazing!!! Much much more skilled than the young figure skaters I see back home.
Playing Games at the Arcade: So imagine me walking into a huge arcade full of shooting and fighting games with enough money to play one game. I put my 4 quay into this crazy shooting game and about 10 minutes later and having passed 2 levels - I had a crowd of about 6 or 7 Chinese guys my age watching me play. No pressure right - haha...so of course, right after realizing I had all of these people watching me, an enemy jumps in front of me in the game - shoots me - and it was game over. Haha - oh well, it was great fun while it lasted!!!
My First Foot Massage: So is sit down in this super plush chair and sheepishly take my shoes and socks off wondering why the heck I am getting myself a foot massage...next thing I know, my feet are in a warm tub of water and I was in heaven. The process is then followed by having an attendant prop your feet up onto a pillow, while they begin to apply massage oil to your feet. Then they massage your feet for 30 minutes straight...30 minutes! After finishing each foot, they will wrap the foot with a towel and work on your legs. This whole thing cost $5 - for 30 minutes! We all left feeling like a million bucks...and the next time someone offers me a foot massage - I won't think twice! Haha.
Rain, Rain and More Rain: So after two weeks of hot and humid weather - the rain has hit Beijing! As I sit here right now in the flat updating my blog, I look outside and the street corners are flooding (this city is not built to last heavy rains)...the odd biker rides down the street while everyone including the security guards to our community are armed with umbrellas. The temperature is about 23 degrees - definitely the coolest weather I have experienced yet and I feel like I want to put pants and a jacket on. Hopefully this rain will only last for today and tomorrow I'll get to go do some sight-seeing!
Eating Candied Grapes from a Street Vendor at Wangfujing: I have discovered the ultimate mecca of street vendor stalls! I visited Wangfujing street while shopping for some new CD's at Oriental Plaza and while walking around outside - came across a hutong loaded with food vendors selling everything from barbequed lamb skewers to sparrow on a stick (I promise the next time I go there, I will take my camera!). I came across one of the best sweets I have ever had - green grapes covered in caramel candy on a foot long skewer! Absolutely delicious! I found a spot to sit and enjoyed the view: 5pm on a Friday afternoon...People rushing to get home from work...couples meeting up at streetside cafes for some Tsingdao Beer...Chinese Tour guides winding their way through hordes of people with their group of Chinese tourists while describing buildings on their megaphones. Life was passing me by and I just sat there and enjoyed the moment. I couldn't think of a better way to end off a fabulous week!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
So imagine having an ex-Czech MC member bring the infamous Topalky to China. Yes, that's right - we had Dragonboat Races on the 2nd night of the conference. I chaired the races and - from what I can remember - got really drunk. (To start the race off, the chair has to chug a cup and yell 'HO' - then the race begins)...so after the first round, quarter final, semi final and final - I drank ALOT of beer!
This is probably the biggest difference from conferences in Canada. Room parties here are great, but they involve much less drinking, but alot more dares! I had a flashback from Junior High when I saw delegates punishing each other by kissing someone on the cheek (something delegates in Canada would gladly do after having a few drinks in them). Needless to say, I had a great time in the room parties and learnt some great new complex games to play (and I didn't wake up every morning with a terrible hangover).
One of the nights we had a Global Village party! The Canada booth was decked out with ice wine, crown and coke, maple syrup cookies, canadian pins, pictures of Canada, an Edmonton ppt running on my laptop with Arrogant Worms and other Canadian Bands playing in the background.
The MC Men posing for the camera. From left to right it is Adam, Nico, Leon, myself, Peter and Pierre. This was the first ever 'Official Dinner' held in AIESEC MoC and it went over great! We presented awards for the Best LC and most improved LC as well as some fun awards. I explained to the delegates in a speech that the reason we have an Official Dinner is to celebrate success.
I have just returned from chairing the longest conference in AIESEC China's history - 6 days! For the first time AIESEC China had an Official Dinner, first time they've ever had Dragonboat Races at a conference and a first time experience for so many other things.
For me, this experience was invaluable. Completely and incredibly invaluable. I would not have traded this opportunity for anything! For Chairing a 6 day conference, I really had to tap into my memory of old AIESEC roll calls to do in Plenary which included everything from 'Baby Shark', to 'Bohemian Rhapsody', to 'Rum Sum Sum'...but the delegates loved learning all of these new roll calls!
There were too many special moments to recall in this blog entry, but it is such an amazing feeling to leave a conference feeling satisfied and knowing that I have had a strong affect on motivating and changing the career path of future AIESECers...
I would like to end this entry with a huge thank you to Leon (MCP of China) for giving me this opportunity and to the delegates of the July National Conference - Thank You.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
We were just missing Primrose (who has now arrived safetly to Beijing) and Yi (the national support team Information Systems pro). As you can see we were all a little tired - it was the 5th straight hour of our meeting!!! Hopefully it all pays off this weekend :)
What do I feel? Excited, anxious, unexpecting....I think I will begin to feel much better once I get the general feel for the energy level and atmosphere from the delegates. I still don't know what to expect and so much of my energy feeds off of the energy of the delegates. After having one bad experience with delivering a session with an extremely low energy level - I hope that it is a little different this time around.
I'm excited though and instead of being 'reserved' and sitting back and waiting to feel the energy - I need to provide it!!! I'm going to go in with all guns firing - dancing and cheering my ass off and hopefully it gets a good response :)
Wish me luck!
P.S. To all Canadians - I am going to have the SWEETEST global village booth! I've got maple cookies, peanut brittle, canadian pins, a map, flag, montreal canadians jersey, my Canadian top hat, a book on all the provinces and territories and yours truly will be providing line dancing lessons every 10 minutes to those interested :)
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Would you like to revitalize your hair? Would you like to give your hair a new refreshing smell? Well - then you should try the BEER SHAMPOO I found at the grocery store today! As it says on the bottom of the bottle, this is a 'nutrition enhancing formulation'.
What classifies as 'nutrition enhancing'? Are they good nutrients? What kind of beer would they use? Tsingdao, Beijing or maybe a classy international beer like Heineken or Corona?
You'd definitely get a good lather going that's for sure!
I've got a good list going already, but I'm looking for any and all ideas - please comment!
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
As I sit here on a mid-Thursday afternoon, half way through my CEED exchange here in China...I reflect...
'Nightswimming' by REM has just finished playing on my laptop and it makes me think about how my life here in Beijing has finally become comfortable.
At night, when I feel I need to get out and do something, I go down to the gym a few blocks away and go swimming. At 10pm there aren't very many people and I am lucky to get a swimming lane all to myself. I swim my 1 km. and leave the pool feeling refreshed. I have now gotten into a rythm with my swimming that really represents my time here so far in China - when I first started swimming, my breathing was way off and each lap was difficult...and now, as the laps become easier and easier, my days here in Beijing become better and better.
I am enjoying my surroundings more, not just observing anymore, but actually enjoying them. Instead of judging the way of life here - I am beginning to live it.
On Tuesday afternoon as I was walking home from the bus stop by myself after an AIESEC presentation at the Tsinghua Science Park, I caught myself smiling. Not just a regular smile, but a purely happy and genuine smile - I am happy. I consider myself lucky. I feel comfortable. This is home...for now.
I have one month left. Holy crap - time has flown. I would not trade any of this past month for anything, but there is still so much more I have to experience. So much more I need to see. So much more I need to do. How do I do it all? I'm shaping my China experience into the experience that I would like to have - and that is to absorb every bit of chinese culture as I can in a very short amount of time. Two months is not enough. I wish I could stay longer.
Jack Johnson is just starting up on my laptop...and I am smiling.
Monday, July 04, 2005
This weekend, Kim, the VP Outgoing Exchange for AIESEC China and I took a 12 hour train ride Friday night from Beijing to Shanghai. Upon arrival on Saturday morning, we took the subway and went directly to one of the two SJTU campuses in Shanghai for a facilitators preparation meeting for a Culture Shock presentation we were running on Sunday.
After the meeting, we all went out for some sichuan food - mmm - and I got to have boiling fish for the first time! This is a dish, where fish is boiled in oil and peppers. The entire dish is then brought to the table and the peppers are then scooped out by the server. Talk about spicy! (But soooo yummy!)
On Saturday, we also went to Yuyuan Garden which was built during the Ming dynasty in the mid 1500's. There are many large padoga styled building that have loads of little silk stores and touristy shops all around. It really was beautiful - apart from the fact that it really seemed targetted at tourists as all of the street vendors spoke english and there were the usual Starbucks, McDonalds and Hagen Daaz inside the garden. David was a great guide and bought me a map of Shanghai as well as explained alot of the history and meaning behind the buildings we passed.
That evening we went to dinner with a group of AIESECers at a Thai restaurant called Banana Leaf (excellent food with live music and dance). Around the table was a variety of people (trainees, past and current - LCP, MCVP, MCP and AI members as well)...and we discussed everything from the history of Nomadlife to international travels. Of course - as typical AIESECers, we realized that we had alot of common friends in other places throughout the world.
This amazing night was topped off by a visit to the Bund, where David, Peter and I took a walk along the promenade...and I would safetly estimate it was 36 degrees at 10pm with 45% humidity (ie. It was hot!) Although it was just a quick stopover, the bay and skyline of the downtown buildings is definitely a mental picture I will hold with me forever.
The next day, Peter, David and I were up bright and off to SJTU for the Preparation Seesion. This for me was a bit of a culture shock - as the SN's didn't arrive on time and we started 45 minutes late and it was like pulling teeth to get a response to questions asked. It was definitely something I just took with a stride and dealt with in the best way possible. The session was overall successful, but with the feedback we recieved - there are lots of changes that need to be made from the session to make it more interactive and to allow more time for experience sharing.
We were right off to the train station after that and 12 hours later we arrived back in Beijing.
There is a strong rivalry between the people in Shanghai and Beijing. (A conflict that probably started back in the late 70's and early 80's when Shanghai began to undergo extreme economi changes and developed itself much faster than Beijing. Now though, Beijing is trying to catch up to Shanghai in terms of city development...but I can forsee this being a long process). This is a rivalry that will continue for decades to come.
There are half as many vehicles in Shanghai as in Beijing (and they follow the driving laws!)
Many more international people live in Shanghai, as it is such a large international business hub within China.
There is a subtle European touch to some areas of downtown Shanghai - especially in the nouveau-riche areas.
Shopping in Shanghai is incredible! The amount of stores, shopping centres and street vendors is incredible...selling everything from silk fabrics to mp3 players to cosmetics.
Many people from outside of China have the misconception that China is a developing country - and in some aspects it still is, but Shanghai is light years ahead of many other cities around the world.
Tomorrow afternoon Leon and I will be presenting AIESEC to the companies at the Tsinghua Science Park in hope of raising some Traineeship Partners. Wish us luck!
Thursday, June 30, 2005
I hope you all have big plans back home and have loads of fun. I am interested to hear though what Canadians abroad are doing on a day like today? Are you celebrating or are you letting it pass by like any other regular day?
I feel that this is the one day of the year where we should feel proud to show our heritage and share our Canadian culture with others. This morning I woke up and made breakfast for my flatmates: Pancakes with maple syrup (and peanut butter - which was surprisingly good) and chopped up fruit. Although I was a little limited with materials (ie. No Canadian Bacon), the meal turned out really well! Then I'll be on the train tonight to Shanghai for chairing an AIESEC Training Session for students going abroad for the Alcatel exchanges in France.
Did You Know...
Mike Myers, Michael J. Fox, Jim Carey and the Tragically Hip are Canadian...
Basketball, the 24 time zone divisions, Hockey and Apple Pie were invented by Canadians...
And the reason the Whitehouse is white - is thanks to the Canadians as well :)
So my question to you - my fellow Canadians abroad (and for that matter, anyone abroad), what do you do to celebrate your country's national holiday while living in another country?
Monday, June 27, 2005
I stayed up all night on Friday because our power meter had run out (so we didn’t have any electricity) and so the AC didn’t work. Around 5:30am, I drove to the meeting point where the minibus was going to pick us all up. On my way there, I asked myself ‘What are you doing?!?…..Are you crazy – you’re going to Inner Mongolia?!?’ And then it hit me – when else am I going to have the opportunity to take such an adventure!!!
As I arrived at the pick-up spot, I was introduced by one AIESEC alumni from India (now living in Beijing) to 10 people from France, 1 girl from Korea and 2 guys from India. So there were going to be 14 of us in total on the trip! We all packed into the little minibus and took off. We all dozed on and off the whole way there to catch up on our sleep, but some sights on the way out there included: Approximately 700 construction workers, countless mountains covered with lush green plants, numerous farmers fields growing everything from rice to watermelon and so much more.
We finally arrived at the gates to the town and were greeted by about 20 smiling locals (one of which was our host, so she jumped onto the bus and directed us out to her place). Of course, the whole way out we bargained down the price and got it to 10 quay for the night (yes - $1.50!!!) We finally pulled up to a modest little house in a village of about 10 houses. There was a bathroom, a kitchen (where our hosts cooked our meals) and 6 bedrooms. There was also a henhouse where they kept all the chickens, a pen for some sheep and huge piles of hay everywhere!
Immediately after getting unpacked, we had lunch and bargained for a price to ride horses for 75 quay for the entire day. Then all of the locals from the other houses seemed to rush over as fast as they could with their horse – so this resulted in everyone yelling at us to choose their horse to ride. I got extremely lucky! I ended up with probably the best horse in the group – as it was obedient…and fast J We rode through open fields and over rolling hills, visited villages and rode through streams – it was amazing! The end result after 4 hours of riding was an incredible experience, but a REALLY sorry butt!
After we returned to our place, we decided that we would buy a lamb and have a huge feast! We purchased an entire lamb for 400 quay ($65 Canadian) and they ended up doing the whole process of killing, skinning and gutting the lamb right in front of us, then putting it on the BBQ – directly onto our plates. It was definitely something that at first made my stomach a little queasy, (you can see the pictures of the whole process on my pictures website, but I warn you that they are VERY VERY gross – Vegetarians DO NOT ENTER), but the lamb was delicious! We also had noodle dishes, pork and peppers, green onion cakes, slivered potatoes, egg pancakes and sugared tomatoes. Then our hosts cleaned up all of the dishes, pulled out two gigantic speakers, started pumping some crazy old-school English techno music and brought out the beers! They set up a huge fire for us right in front of the house and we all started playing drinking games (Whiz – Bing – Bong!!!) around the fire. Next thing we knew, fireworks were exploding in the sky over the hills and the music pumped on…
5am the next morning….”Cooooooock-a-doodle-do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”…..(you should have seen the look on my face!) Waking up at 5am definitely what I was planning, but I rolled around until 6am, then got myself up for a morning hike. I climbed by myself up a nearby hill and had an amazing view of the entire village (and nearby villages).
After returning to our place, most of us decided to go on a big hike, so we took a 4 hour journey up into the hills – through villages – passing local farmers, pigs and horses….and SNAKES! Yes, that’s right, we even came across a couple snakes on our climb.
We returned back to our place, had one last great meal and then departed for Beijing. On the way back, we came up to a roadblock…we were about the third vehicle in line. There was a crane and ambulance blocking the road in both directions. We all got out to see what was going on and realized that someone had driven off of the road (mountain on one side – 20 foot drop on the other side). The crane pulled a jeep out of the ditch. It’s top was completely crushed. The crane laid the crumpled vehicle down on the street and immediately the paramedics pulled a dead body out of the vehicle, bagged it and took off for the nearest town. I stood there feeling completely numb…I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. By this time there were about 40 people looking on. At this time, locals and tourists forgot about the places they had to go or getting out their camera to take pictures…everyone just stood there looking on – praying for the families of the victim and looking on in complete shock. This put a bit of a sour note on the end of the trip, but the trip itself was still an incredible experience and I loved every moment of staying with our hosts, horseback riding through fields and partying around a campfire.
Inner Mongolia and the people I went with will definitely stay with me wherever I go.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Have you always wondered what a Value Meal at McDonalds in China looks like? Now you know! The portion size is about half of what it is in Canada and the toys are multicolored Lance Armstrong wristbands that have the McDonalds arches with sayings like 'Soar', 'No Fear' and 'One-on-One' on them.
The employee uniforms here are hilarious! They are huge baggy rapper jeans that have the McDonalds Arches stitched in on both back pockets. They all wear yellow plaid shirts and black ball caps with runners. You can also see that this worker is wearing all 6 multicolored wristbands - HOW COOL!!! Hehe. Makes me wonder if this uniform is an attempt to create a North American image of how people dress in Canada and the US? If so, it's not very accurate.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
3 Lonely Planet Books
60 Photographs on my Digital Camera
40 Laps at the Swimming Pool
2 Really Cheap Bus Rides
…and finally, 3 Great Flatmates…
Mix in a handful of culture shock with a pinch of embarrassing moments, then let it bake in the sun at 38 degrees celsius and you will have a regular day of my life in Beijing!
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Now - in my opinion, this can be considered a mountain. I think that if you are on top of the hill and are looking down to the bottom and can barely make out the town at the base of the hill - it is safe to call it a 'mountain' :)
Long story short - 4 hours later and 7 exhausted people, we made it safetly down to the bottom. (Of course not after Leon and I had a push-up contest at the top of the 'mountain' to decide who would be doing the dishes back in the flat once we returned to Beijing.) Again - long story short - Leon did the dishes last night :p
What an amazing feeling it is though to be at the top of a 'mountain' that I thought I would be unable to climb, leaning up against the railing with all of my friends at the top and looking down at the distant town below.
That was an ultimate feeling of accomplishment.