Optimism

Took my son to the beach last weekend

I had planned to let my son stay with us in China for a month in January but disappointed by my husband’s busy schedule at work, I decided to bring my son home after two weeks. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life — a blessing in disguise. I don’t know how I would have handled the situation if I and my 9-year-old son with ASD were stranded in China or quarantined!

As it is, we have a longer break from work which means longer time spent with my son, but my husband is all alone in our apartment back in China. I try not to worry but can’t help when I read the news or hear about what’s happening from people who are in the country.

Still I’m optimistic that there’s an end to this, and it will end soon.

I am hoping and praying for it, especially because the people I am praying for do not believe in a power stronger than they are.

So much has happened in the weeks I have not posted on my blog, some I am so eager to share but can’t find time to write as I am busy being a full-time mom. I look forward to writing again and also reading posts from blogs I follow, but right now it is so difficult to find time when I’m home and fulfilling my roles as mother, sister and aunt. As always, family comes first.

I hope you are doing well. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Darkness and Light

Zheng Chenggong, Gulangyu Museum, Xiamen

We went to Gulangyu this morning, and I was able to visit places that I had never been to before.

One of these places was the museum that one could go in for free. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular place (there were thousands of tourists outside but less than 50 people inside this 3-story museum), so it was nice to walk around and learn about the history of this tiny island.

I took a picture of this statue of General Zheng as I liked the contrast of darkness and light where it stood. It was dark coming from the left side, but there was light coming from the window to the right. I thought it was the perfect location.

As a general he probably went through many times of choosing between darkness and light.

At least that’s what I saw/thought of it. Or maybe I am just overthinking again!

What do you think?

T.

Trees and Roots

(I do not know what this tree is called, so if you do I’d be very grateful if you could drop me a line in the comments section. Thanks! 🙏🏽)

Jimei, Xiamen, China

I’ve taken photos of these trees’ roots before for the Weekly Photo Challenge. The roots then were not as big as they are now.

Have a lovely Monday! 💕

T.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

Another week of healthy eating

Celery, Cucumber and Apple Smoothie

Normally I try not to talk about my little achievements if I have not reached my ultimate goal yet. I have this superstition that it will be jinxed if I talk about it. But last week I wrote about my diet, and the weekend passed without me ruining it. So here I am writing something more about my diet.

Some vegetables I used to ignore have become interesting in my eyes, simply because I am looking for variety. Before I came to China, I seldom ate vegetables. This is true of most Filipinos. We love our lechon and meat too much. So one thing I’m truly happy about coming to China is learning to love and cook veggies. And fungi!

I had never eaten mushrooms before I came to China, but these days one of my favorite ingredients for cooking is the king oyster mushroom.

king oyster mushrooms

I use this kind of mushroom to replace meat, and I just love it! I cooked it with celery the other day, and today with eggplant.

King oyster mushrooms are abundant in China, but I have never seen this kind in my home city in the Philippines. I will surely miss this when I go home for good!

This evening I tried the cucumber, celery and apple smoothie after coming across this recipe. It’s not my favorite smoothie, but it’s good enough for variety.

I hope I can stick to my healthy diet (and silly dancing) so I’ll be strong and healthy for a busy but fun summer with my son!

Have a healthy, happy Monday!

T.

Nanputuo Temple

I have been to so many temples in China, and the most impressive ones I’ve been to are up north. After visiting so many temples over the years, I no longer have any interest in visiting another one. But as we had a guest who was in Xiamen for the first time, we took him to Nanputuo Temple.

Nanputuo was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) It was destroyed during the war around 1300s and rebuilt in the 1600s.

Many practicing Buddhists come, but there are probably more tourists.

When I first came to China I did not really think of a temple as a place of worship because most people were just taking pictures. But one Christmas at the church where I used to go, tourists came inside the church during mass and took pictures of the altar and the priest. I was at first shocked, and then angry. When I calmed down I realized the rudeness of these people were due to ignorance. They thought the mass was a show, like a concert.

Although I had never misbehaved in a temple, I became more conscious of my actions in a temple which may be misinterpreted by Buddhists.

Nanputuo can get very crowded especially during weekends, but if you visit Xiamen, it is one of those must-see places. It is right next to Xiamen University, which has a beautiful campus.

Nanputuo also has a vegetarian restaurant, which serves a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes. But if you are not vegetarian, there are countless restaurants nearby to choose from. One good thing about going to touristy places in China is you will always find some place to buy food!

Buffet at North Bay in Jimei

If you ever find yourself hungry in Jimei, try the buffet at Cafe Realm at North Bay Hotel. (No, this is not a paid ad. I wish it were. Maybe I should ask? Lol.)

This weekend I was fortunate to have had Saturday lunch and Sunday dinner at North Bay. It made me smile when the guy who prepares the sashimi recognized me, said “Hello!” and spoke to me in English. He knows I love salmon!

The buffet includes a soup selection, and seafoods, barbecue/steak, rice and pasta, fruits, Chinese, Japanese and western dishes, ice cream (local and Haagen Dazs) and what I love best — the pastry selection! All you can eat cheesecake and many other sinfully delicious cakes!

They also offer a variety of fruit drinks, coffee, milk, soda, Budweiser. In the evening they serve wine as well.

North Bay Hotel, Jimei, Xiamen

Lunch: 11:30 – 2:00 P.M.

Dinner: 5:30 – 9:00 P.M.

Price: 26-28 USD

Now, I hope North Bay sees this and rewards me! 😉

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

I’ve been in Guangzhou several times, and each time I had a wonderful time, partly because of my friend who’s always good company and partly because I like Guangzhou for its size and the seeming vivacity of the people. (It seems there are more young people in GZ than in Xiamen.)

When I was here in 2010, the Baiyun International Airport was already in operation, but there were not as many shops as there are now. I remember thinking back then it was like a mall. Today, in some areas, you can forget you’re in an airport.

There are places for mothers and their babies. There’s also a play area for bigger kids.

One other thing that I like about this airport is the announcement in both Chinese and English is much clearer than in other airports (in Xiamen, for instance. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Xiamen, but at the airport you have to listen very carefully to understand their announcements in English!)

The only thing that disappoints me is at 5:30 in the morning I couldn’t find an open shop that serves coffee!

I need my coffee!!!

Still, I look forward to coming back to GZ. 😊

Have a beautiful Friday!

P.S.

At 6:00 AM, Mickey D opened. The staff spoke English! And best of all I got me coffee!

Something to warm the heart on a cold, rainy day

It’s a cold and rainy day, and my apartment has become too quiet for me, so I decided to bring my work to the McDonald’s in the mall across the street from our university.

A few minutes after I sat down, a young woman with a baby sat a few tables across from mine. She was having a difficult time watching the baby, making sure he won’t fall down from the chair as she tried to get something from the baby bag. Another young woman at the next table looked like she wanted to help, but as most Chinese do, she probably did not want to seem like intruding.

When their food came, the young mother (she has to be the mother) became busy with arranging the food on the tray and just for a few seconds perhaps, forgot what the baby was up to. And it turned out the baby had reached for the cup of milk tea and spilled the whole thing. The young mother panicked a little as she called for the crew. Two McD staff calmly came over and even smiled at the mother, cleaned the mess, and one of them later brought her another cup of milk tea.

Before they left, the young mother apologized to the staff and the same man who had helped her earlier just smiled (I couldn’t hear what he said) and also said something to the baby.

Why am I writing about this? Obviously because this is something I don’t often see, especially here in Jimei where workers often look so unhappy and unhelpful.

So, I am grateful to the staff of McDonald’s in Jimei Wanda for making this cold and rainy Jimei day feel warm.

Have a beautiful Tuesday!💕

T.

A Quiet Walk on Lantern Festival

After 6 busy weeks in the Philippines, I am back in very quiet Jimei. Blissfully quiet for now, except for the occasional firecrackers in the distance, as the students are not back from their holiday yet.

Though I miss my son already, I am thankful for the quiet walk I had this afternoon, something that I did not have a chance to do back home.

Every now and then I need to be alone with my thoughts, and today I got the chance.

Here’s what the campus looks like for now.

No basketball games

The cafeteria is closed

Happy Lantern Festival!🎉🏮

T.

Change, Challenges, Moving On

Jimei sky on a winter noon

Introverted, routine-oriented people like me get disoriented when something not part of the routine takes place. The occasional lunch with co-workers is always a task, even though they are nice people, simply because it’s not part of my daily routine, and I always make an effort to be an interesting or even just a lively person (I personally find it rude when a person joins you for a meal and looks miserable. I’d rather that person refuse to join me for a meal than be with me looking unhappy. Hence, my effort at being an interesting/lively rather than boring companion.)

This disorientation is magnified when bigger events occur in my life, like when some 16 years ago, my then-boyfriend left the country (and me!) and all of a sudden, I was left to make plans for the day for only myself. “What will I do with this much time all to myself?” I went to work moving about like a zombie for months!

When my mother died, I felt so vulnerable whenever I remembered (actually, I still do) that I no longer have a “prayer warrior.” In the past whenever I had a problem, I would just pick up the phone and call my mother long-distance and ask her to pray for me. I know it sounds so immature for a grown woman to be depending on her mother so much, but that was all I depended on my mother for. I never asked her for anything else after graduating from university. Just prayers. Still, when she died, I was at a loss not having anyone to call to ask for prayers. I mean I could have called my sisters or some of my friends, but with my mother I was assured that her prayers were most fervent because she was praying for her youngest daughter, the only one to leave her side to work in another country.

When introverted, routine-oriented people like me are put in a new situation, we tend to have an extremely difficult time adapting to change. We may seem to look like we are coping well with the change, but deep inside, the challenge is overwhelming. Yet, we survive and I think our introversion has much to do with it. As introverts, we rely on very few people, but more important and this is most helpful, we rely on ourselves the most. Slowly we learn to start a new routine, and we recover in due time.

And we move on. In due time.

May you find the courage to adapt to change, face challenges and move on.

Happy New Year! Happy New Life!💕🎉

WPC: My favorite place

Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

Jimei, Xiamen, China

Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines

… any quiet place near a body of water, where I can sit and watch the sky and its reflection on the water, and feel the breeze on my skin and perhaps hear the happy singing of the birds.

It doesn’t matter which country. I can have a favorite place anywhere.

Favorite Place

Daily Prompt: Varnish

The over 200-year old trees on Gulangyu that were uprooted by Super typhoon Meranti were turned into works of art by Chinese artists. This trunk has been varnished and inscribed with Chinese characters that mean “remember” and its synonyms. It is also fitted with several speakers that play recordings of local people talking about their memories of the island.

Have a lovely weekend! 💕

T.

Daily Prompt: Varnish

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

I spent the whole day today on Gulangyu (Gulang Islet) and was able to visit the church that my husband and I used to go to every Sunday more than a couple of years ago, before we had our baby.

The church was locked when we arrived (as is usually the case when it’s not Sunday and there’s no mass), but the priest’s assistant opened it for us. (The young couple in the photo were just getting their wedding pictures taken outside the church but didn’t have a ceremony inside. )

Gulangyu was very crowded and noisy, but inside the church, it was quite serene.

Christ the King Church, Gulangyu, Xiamen

Weekly Photo Challenge
Serene

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

I’ve been living in Jimei for over a decade, and this place is just a 10-minute walk from my old apartment, but I’ve only been to this place twice. It’s not my in my usual route when I go walking. Yesterday though I decided to show my friend this place, and we loved it. It was 17 degrees C, cloudy and breezy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

Daily Prompt: Honk

It’s early morning,

Hardly anything is astir

Save for a couple of cars

And the birds overhead

Singing a happy tune.

I say a prayer of thanks

For this time of quiet

Before it is broken

By the loud honking

Of trucks and buses

That rouse the city

From its much needed sleep.

Daily Prompt: Honk

Weekend Trip: Quanzhou

Hubby and I went to Quanzhou to visit a friend whose work place is close to the oldest mosque  in China (Qingjing Mosque was built in 1009) that has since become a museum. We also went to West Lake Park and walked around a little bit.

Hope you like the photos.

Have a lovely weekend!

mmexport1510397231111

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397221318

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397212173

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397201566

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397280876

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397288109

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397272192

Qingjing Mosuqe, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397265354

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397257822

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397249586

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397240964

Tomb covers, Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

To be elastic is to be flexible, tolerant, resilient, to easily recover from depression or exhaustion.   

To be elastic should be everyone’s goal. 

I easily get angry, but I also easily get over the anger which sometimes annoys me because I think people shouldn’t just be allowed to readily forget the hurt they caused you. But that’s me. 

I also get depressed so easily, but let me walk around a quiet park and give me solitude and let me have a good cry, then I’ll be fine. 

Fuzhou Normal University

Jimei University

I like to think I’m “elastic,” but my husband doesn’t think so. He always tells me I’m stubborn, and maybe he’s right. But there’s one thing I’m 100% certain of — that both us have some “elasticity” within us or we wouldn’t still be happily married after 11 years! 

Have a lovely weekend! 💕
T. 

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian (-less)

img_6441-1img_6449-1img_6436-1img_6442-1img_6437-1

This week’s photo challenge is to interpret “pedestrian.” I’m choosing to interpret the noun form of this word in that the bridge, the road, the sidewalk, and the campus are devoid of pedestrians.

These photos were taken yesterday on the campus of Fuzhou Normal University in Fuzhou, China. This city is an hour-and-a-half by fast train away from Xiamen and is the capital of Fujian Province.

Even though it was cloudy, hubby and I had a nice walk with my cousin (who teaches at a neighboring uni.)

Have a wonderful Thursday!

 

T.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian 

Daily Post: Disastrous 


This is the trunk of one of the many mango tress that line the roads of our campus. It seems this mango tree is dying even though its leaves are still very green.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the disastrous super typhoon that struck the city last year, or that this tree is very old. 


I took this photo a week before I left Xiamen. Perhaps by the time I get back weeks from now, this tree shall have been replaced by a healthier-looking one. Like everything in China, old stuff can easily be replaced. Even trees. 
Daily Prompt: Disastrous 

Images of a Jimei Evening

This year Xiamen hosts the 9th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit from September 3 to 5. The city has been preparing for the summit for some time, and this is the reason the whole city, not only Xiamen island, but its district on the mainland as well, has seen so many changes — all to make Xiamen more attractive. 

Right after super typhoon Meranti struck Xiamen last year, Jimei looked so dark at night viewed from the plane. It was such a sad sight 

But these days, Jimei is all lit up, and I enjoy walking around the campus in the early evening when the lights are on. 


Have a lovely weekend!💕
T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge 


This new bridge  over Yinjiang Road is an overpass for pedestrians. It’s not as yet operational as the workers have not finished painting. It’s just one of the many things to see in China. Here, there’s construction going on everywhere you go. 


Jimei Bridge, completed in  2008, has a total length of 10 km. It connects Xiamen Island to the mainland at Jimei District. 

This is one of my favorite photos and also the one that received the most likes in this blog so far. I took this photo as the plane from the Philippines was about to land. I left home to come to my second home. And this bridge will get me there. 
T. 💕
Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

Changes, Transitions and the Passing of Time

JMU at 6A.M.

Yesterday I went out for a walk at about 5:15 in the morning. These days sunrise is usually around 5:30. As most of the students have already left for the summer, the campus was blissfully quiet when I walked around.

Jimei at 6:30 P.M.

In the evening, I went out again after spending the whole day working on the computer. This time I went out of the campus. I took a picture of this new bridge that will replace the rickety temporary one that they put up after closing the old underpass, which I kind of miss because of the memory I have of the people who were always there during my first year here: the friendly fruit lady, and the old man who played the erhu, the melody of which echoed around the walls of the underpass and even above ground.

Jimei at 7:15 P.M.

Getting back to the campus, I walked towards the west side. I  took a photo of these new apartment buildings situated in what I used to think was a swamp. A taxi driver whom I’ve known for as long as I’ve been here once told us that they used to take a boat from their home on the southern part of the district to this place where these buildings are now.

For me, Jimei  has changed so much in just over a decade. For the quinquagenarians and older, even more so.

Everything changes. Everyone changes. 

All one can do is move on.

Have a lovely weekend!💕
T.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Jimei Bridge, Xiamen


This photo was taken last month as our plane was landing at Gaoqi Airport, Xiamen. 

For the  last two years, I’ve been flying home every month, which means at least four flights a month. So I feel something like a transient in the two cities I call home. They are both home, yet when I am in either place, it seems I’m only there as a guest. 

I am hopeful that this year, I will cease feeling like a transient and have more stability in my life. I hope my whole family can be together in one safe place. 🙏🏻
T. 💕

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

De-stressing after socializing 

As an introvert and a creature of habit, I get stressed when my routine gets thrown off especially by socializing with people with whom I’m not really keen on socializing. A friend asked why I meet with such people when I don’t like doing so. The answer is simple: because as a member of society, I have to.

I have a very small circle of people I get in regular contact with, and I usually initiate the communication. So when I have to meet with people outside that circle and put on some kind of a role, where I make “polite” conversation, I get exhausted after such an “event.” It IS like an event.

You may say, ” You don’t have to pretend! Just be yourself.” Now, if being myself is looking unhappy while having a meal with people, is that a good thing? You may also say, “Nobody is forcing you to hang out with these people.” Well, I am forcing myself to hang out with these people because I do not want them to think there is something wrong with them that I do not want to spend time with them! This is really true — it’s NOT them; it’s ME! Just because I do not find them interesting or like listening to them does not mean they are bad people. They are not, so I do not want to hurt their feelings. Besides, what I feel about them is not a rational judgment of them as a person. What I feel does not really determine who or what they are, but it says so much about who and what I am. Hence, I socialize and suffer afterwards.

So what do I do to de-stress after socializing? I go to a place where I don’t know anybody and nobody knows me. And then I go dark.

Earlier today I visited a park I had not been to in 10 years, and right now I’m writing this as I’m having coffee at a McDonald’s I had not been to in at least 5 years. It’s a busy place, but nobody’s talking to me, and I’m at peace.

Is it age that makes me get easily exhausted after socializing and disoriented after a change in routine? Or am I no different from my son?

Here are some photos I took at the park.

Hope you have a relaxing weekend!
T.


Zhong Shan Park, Xiamen 

Weekly Photo Challenge: DANGER!

The sign says: Boardwalk is broken-down and needs to be repaired. Do not use.

But in the evening, young people (call them adventurous or foolish) still walk or sit on this decrepit boarded path.


When you’re young, you tend to think you’re invincible. You  tend to ignore danger.

But when you’re no longer young, you can’t afford to ignore it.

Have a lovely week!
T.

WPC: The Road Taken (The Caves of Guilin, China)

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

When I went to Guilin in 2009,  it was the first time I ever got inside a high-tech,  beautifully lit cave. I say high-tech because it had an elevator inside. The only cave I’d been to in my country was extremely dark and had thousands of bats inside!

So when I was told we were going inside a cave, I was expecting bats.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see it was wonderfully lit for people to see the beauty of the stalagmites (I don’t know why I don’t have pictures of those) and stalactites.

These photos are almost ten years old, but hey, I can still use them. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

T.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAguilin2SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Road Taken 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds


I’m back on WordPress after over a month of silence! 

The reason for the silence was I spent all my time and energy making sure my son had a fun birthday and a memorable holiday with us, his parents, in China — his home for 5 years. 

E. is on the spectrum and less than six months ago, his OT reported he has low muscle tone. Although the biggest problem is on his fine motor skills,  he still can’t throw a ball that far nor kick a ball hard. My husband bought him two bikes, one in the Philippines where E. goes to school now, and one for here when he is on vacation. He had not really learned to pedal before coming here in January, and when my husband saw him ride his bike for the first time, he thought it would take E. at least six months to really learn. 

But I took E. biking everyday while my husband was at work. And when weekend came and he saw E. riding his bike effortlessly, there was such a proud and  happy look on my husband’s face that made me wish I had taken a photo of it. It was just priceless. 

My husband has always been pessimistic and believes it will take our son forever to learn anything. In a way it is good because he works hard and always thinks of ways to help E. I am the exact opposite.  I always believe E. is capable of learning, and I get frustrated easily when he doesn’t learn things quickly. But whether slowly or quickly, what he does learn always makes us as happy as if we’ve won lottery. Lol. Yeah. We are that easy to please. 

E. learned how to ride a bike during this winter break. Against all odds. (Weekly Photo Challenge)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient 

A super typhoon struck the city three months ago, knocking down many of the trees and uprooting a few others. On my way to the apartment from the airport, I noticed a huge change in the city from what it was before I left and the typhoon hit (yes, I missed one of the biggest events in the city’s history!) It was so dark and fellled trees were everywhere one week after the typhoon.  And  later, I learned that in some areas people had no water nor electricity for over a week. 

Thankfully, the local government did a great job of organizing the clean up and restoration of electric and water services, and the citizens themselves went out of their way to help others and clean up their respective areas. 

For several weeks after that, I did not hear chirping birds from my balcony. But now they are back. The trees that had remained standing after the typhoon have grown new leaves — a beautiful green. 

This city and its people have bounced back from the ravages of Meranti. They are as resilient as its trees. 

I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and happy 2017. And should the storms of life come you way this year, I hope you will be resilient enough to bounce back and be stronger. 

Happy New Year!!!
T.

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: RESILIENT 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic 

I know science can explain this, but it was the first time I saw the sky like this and I thought it was magical. I took these photos a few weeks ago from my balcony. It was a little after 6 in the morning. (I sent a copy to a friend right away, and he asked if it was photoshopped. This has not been photoshopped. )

My husband said the Chinese call it 火烧云 which literally means “fire burn cloud” or burning clouds. It surely looks like that. 

Magical. 


May you have a magical weekend. 🙂 

T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror


Like I’ve mentioned many times in my previous posts, I like morning walks when it’s quiet and there’s a cool breeze blowing. It was on such a morning that I took this picture of the campus lake. I like how the old administration building and the trees in its foreground are mirrored on the lake.  

I look forward to starting my early morning walks again. 

Enjoy your weekend! 

T.