Shots Around Hanoi: Fifth (Tet Special)

We’re in Colorado for actual Tet, but there were plenty of festive things to see out in the flower fields near Tay Ho last weekend. I finally got around to editing the photos, so here you are!



All of those are my favourites, so that you can see them in more detail. The flowers are mostly peach blossoms, which bloom this time of year. People in Hanoi buy branches or whole trees with the blossoms to put in their houses. They hang ornaments on them just like a Christmas tree. I had no idea that was a thing until this month. It’s a great festival out there in the fields, and the farmers who live in the shacks on the land get a big bonus in income just before the Lunar New Year.

I also tried out a little Lightroom black and white on these ones.


Happy Tet, Everyone!

Minhang! Minhang! Minhang!

Our adopted borough of Shanghai is the best. Screw all the rest!

We spent a great day in the Springtime sun at Jinjiang Action Park. We can see the Ferris Wheel from our balcony, and it was high time to go on it ourselves. Actually kind of terrifying, but a beautiful view on this clearest day in months.

You could even see the Oriental Pearl and the Bund!

Minhang is the best.

Late Winter Outfit


Revolution Mug

This week it’s Chinese New Year, which is like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. We’ve been enjoying warm weather for a couple days, but early in the week it was freezing cold (as is usual in Shanghai’s winter).

It’s hard to be fashionable when you are cold all the time, but I’m managing.


Outfit for work. 

It goes like this in the winter time: bra, shirt, other shirt, dress, other dress, sweater, coat, scarf. On the bottom: long underwear, tights, other tights, knee-high socks, skirt. I’ve taken to wearing colourful skirts as petticoats for extra layers. And yet, one will still be cold as the humidity means it just cuts right through it allllllll….

I did a little DIY for CNY, too. Lanterns made from Hong Bao, the lucky envelopes that people use to give gifts of money at this time of year. One I managed to do backwards, but it looks like a red sun (sorta).

It’s the Year of the Monkey, so our Christmas monkeys are in style still.

We made a Wishing Tree and wrote things we want for the new year, and made a feast of fish and cheese (much better than it sounds) for the night of the new year. Happy 2016!



Sunday Off

I haven’t had a Sunday off work in several months. My weekends are Tuesday-Wednesday. Much better than when I had a split weekend or when I was not on the same schedule as my husband.

I went to work today for a ceremony class, to say goodbye to a group I have been teaching since the very beginning. Many of the students have recently come into the class, and almost all of the old students are no longer attending. Still, Sky’s eyes lit up with recognition when I put a map up of my home state of Colorado on the board.

‘Denver….Denver?’ he said. ‘My cousin lives in Denver!’

We tried to figure out exactly which suburb his relatives are in, but it was great that he knows Colorado and has been there. He’s a smart nine-year-old, and really quite fluent in English.

After we made a bunch of professions about what we now know, can do, and will learn in future, I went home. I have a massive cold and have been annoying all my coworkers with my coughing for days now. Five more hours of teaching tomorrow. I’ll have to go in early, as I haven’t had time to plan the lesson.

It’s too cold to just lay in bed. I have our heaters on, but the temperature is not much warmer than outside. I frequently wish that I lived in a yurt and not a brick apartment these days. I checked the weather in all my many homes around the world today, and only Suwon and Colorado have us beat. In the winter in Ferrara, it was freezing cold for a couple months and there was little heat. It rained what seemed like all the time.

Nope. It’s so much colder, less heated, and rainier in Shanghai than in any city I have ever lived in. Scores rainier than London.

Frigid, hand-burningly cold laundry it is, then. And then I’m going to try to warm myself and burn this cold out by mopping the floors. Our frigid apartment should at least be clean.

i would never have known this would be shanghai’s winter

I would be lying if I said I knew Shanghai’s winter would be this hard. It’s not really all that cold in number terms, but it is probably the hardest winter I’ve ever had. The weather today was not a big deal, in most places I’ve lived. Balmy compared to some, at 6 degrees Centigrade.


Inside our house, it is probably just as cold or nearly. You see, one doesn’t put insulation into buildings in Shanghai. We don’t have central heating. Our attempts to warm the apartment are limited to a standup heater bought on Taobao (of course), and the heat lamps in our shower. When we moved into the apartment here in Minhang, I remember looking at the things and thinking how useless they must be. It had already hit 40 C in Shanghai by the time we arrived in April.

It is so cold indoors that we can only be warm by isolating ourselves in a single room, wearing huge amounts of layers, and putting on the small heater. We literally live in our ‘BYE BYE STAR’ hoodies, which I bought as a gag gift for Christmas.

I seriously underestimated Shanghai’s winter. I have a cold. This is very difficult to cure, due to the sheer cold, the pollution, and the mould indoors (not to mention the fact that there is very little to do except for drink indoors in the cold, mouldy, polluted air).


Bushy is suffering, too. 


Most nights, we barricade ourselves in the bedroom and look at ways of escaping on the Internet. 

Escape! I need escape. I’ve been such a grumpy teacher lately. I just can’t take the way that my younger students are unable to listen to anything, shove their papers in my face when finished, and throw trash everywhere in the classroom. I sometimes am tempted to tell them just how unacceptable their behaviour would be in a real-life Anglophone classroom. throwing trash on the ground, because you know that an Ayi will come clean it up for your middle-class arse? Not on my watch, Jason. Trash can, please.

I need a vacation.


At least, a particularly annoying student of mine made me these beautiful traditional Chinese New Year banners. A bit forgiven for being a jerk in class, Ryan. A bit.