What lies ahead

Documenting my life from Richmond to Shanghai
If you’ve been in Shanghai anytime in the past six months, you have probably seen the above image somewhere along the your metro line. It’s a little odd, yes, but doesn’t it make you a little curious?
I wanted to know what it was about and quickly found out (because it was posted everywhere) that it was the artwork of Bharti Kher, an Indian artist born in London. She was having a show at the Rockbund Art Museum and I thought it was worth a visit. 
Here are some images from the exhibit.

Lady With An Ermine, 2012

Virus V, is a site specific work made up of a ton of bindis…which is a symbol seen in a majority of her works in this exhibit. 


Misdemeanours, 2006

And All The While The Benevolent Slept, 2008

Bloodline, 2002
Made from 4200 red glass bangles, “symbolizing marriage, loyalty, purity and honor. The work points skywards with its exaggerated height, erecting a monument to Indian woman.”



This elephant piece was the main reason I wanted to see the exhibit. It was definitely an amazing work of art…looking more realistic than I imagined. 

The Skin Speaks A Language Not It’s Own, 2006
"An exhausted mother elephant crawls forward supine, symbolizing energy and a leviathan of nature on the verge of death. Her body is covered with bindis in the shape of sperms, almost like another skin. For Kher, skin is the equivalent of memory. In this work, two rich and characteristically Indian symbols appear- the elephant and the bindi. In India, the elephant is regarded as a symbol of nobility, wisdom, and strength, and can furthermore be easily associated with this civilization, with its immense history and glorious empires. The sperm-shaped bindis of course are satirical in meaning, fusing a male symbol with a feminine subject, thus becoming a cogent and open-ended inquiry into gender issues in that country and beyond. The sperm is also a symbol of life; on the body of the elephant, they make up another layer of skin, full of vitality, perhaps suggesting that they are aiding in the recovery of this vast creature. The tiny size of the sperms and the bulk of the elephant constitute a vivid contrast, fully manifesting the tensions int he artists imagination."



Not All Who Wonder Are Lost, 2009-2010

The Hot Wind That Blows From The West, 2011
Overall the exhibit was pretty good. Her artwork had a ton of meaning behind it, so if you’re into that sort of stuff, than this is the exhibit for you. I hate “art talk”, so if you’re like me, you could at least go to see the elephant. The exhibit is up until the end of the month.

If you’ve been in Shanghai anytime in the past six months, you have probably seen the above image somewhere along the your metro line. It’s a little odd, yes, but doesn’t it make you a little curious?

I wanted to know what it was about and quickly found out (because it was posted everywhere) that it was the artwork of Bharti Kher, an Indian artist born in London. She was having a show at the Rockbund Art Museum and I thought it was worth a visit. 

Here are some images from the exhibit.

Lady With An Ermine, 2012

Virus V, is a site specific work made up of a ton of bindis…which is a symbol seen in a majority of her works in this exhibit. 

Misdemeanours, 2006

And All The While The Benevolent Slept, 2008

Bloodline, 2002

Made from 4200 red glass bangles, “symbolizing marriage, loyalty, purity and honor. The work points skywards with its exaggerated height, erecting a monument to Indian woman.”

This elephant piece was the main reason I wanted to see the exhibit. It was definitely an amazing work of art…looking more realistic than I imagined. 

The Skin Speaks A Language Not It’s Own, 2006

"An exhausted mother elephant crawls forward supine, symbolizing energy and a leviathan of nature on the verge of death. Her body is covered with bindis in the shape of sperms, almost like another skin. For Kher, skin is the equivalent of memory. In this work, two rich and characteristically Indian symbols appear- the elephant and the bindi. In India, the elephant is regarded as a symbol of nobility, wisdom, and strength, and can furthermore be easily associated with this civilization, with its immense history and glorious empires. The sperm-shaped bindis of course are satirical in meaning, fusing a male symbol with a feminine subject, thus becoming a cogent and open-ended inquiry into gender issues in that country and beyond. The sperm is also a symbol of life; on the body of the elephant, they make up another layer of skin, full of vitality, perhaps suggesting that they are aiding in the recovery of this vast creature. The tiny size of the sperms and the bulk of the elephant constitute a vivid contrast, fully manifesting the tensions int he artists imagination."

Not All Who Wonder Are Lost, 2009-2010

The Hot Wind That Blows From The West, 2011

Overall the exhibit was pretty good. Her artwork had a ton of meaning behind it, so if you’re into that sort of stuff, than this is the exhibit for you. I hate “art talk”, so if you’re like me, you could at least go to see the elephant. The exhibit is up until the end of the month.

This might be a “you had to be there” moment, but I thought I’d share it anyways.

Today in class we were learning how to describe how people’s looks have changed since they got older. I showed “then and now” pictures of celebrities and we talked about their wrinkled face or how they’re blonde now and their noses look different. One picture showed a man(some guy from Entourage)  with a mustache and the students knew that word. Another picture showed George Clooney with a beard and they called that a mustache as well. (I’m assuming they didn’t know the difference because no men in China can grow facial hair so it was pointless vocabulary to learn.) Anyways, I gestured to the spot under my lip and said “This is a mustache”. I then gestured to the entire portion of my cheeks and chin and asked, “What is this?”  Bryan immediately shouts out, “A mustface!” 

Again, you probably had to be there, but I died laughing! It was a nice little pick me up at the end of the day when I wasn’t sure how I was going to stay awake for the next hour of class. I know he felt embarrassed that I was laughing, so I quickly ran over to high five his efforts. His answer is actually very logical and a smart conclusion….but definitely not the word I was looking for. 

Any time I get frustrated in the classroom, I just look back to moments like this and am reminded that it’s not all that bad. And also that these kids have done a FAR better job at learning English, than I have done with learning Chinese. Props to them.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
(Probably incredibly belated by the time I actually post this.) 
The only reason I actually remembered it was Valentine’s Day was because it was also the Lantern Festival in Shanghai. And the only reason I knew it was the Lantern Festival was because our boss sent us a long email about it at work that day. It seems like it would be a holiday that goes unnoticed in China since everyone was still on their high from Chinese New Years. (And by “on their high”, I mean still lighting off fireworks at all hours of the day and night.)
According to my bosses email, (that looked like a copy and paste from Wikipedia), Lantern Festival is the first significant feast after Spring Festival. Lanterns are put up all over the city and some people put riddles on them. Apparently guessing the answers to the riddles is “great fun” and is the highlight of the holiday. I didn’t witness any of these riddles, but there have been lanterns hanging all over the city since Christmas. 
I did witness the yuanxiao though.

These are, yet again, another type of dumpling found in China. While I’m sure they’re available all year round, they are specifically eaten on this day. They’re made of sticky rice flour and stuffed with different fillings. 

I lucked out with ones filled with sesame paste. They aren’t as bad as look…considering I took such a wonderful picture. Apparently some of my coworkers got stuck with the more savory versions and weren’t so excited about them. 

"Yuanxiao is round in shape so it is endowed with the meaning of reunion, harmony and happiness. During the night of the festival, family members sit together to taste yuanxiao and appreciate the full moon."
I didn’t see the full moon thanks to the extent of the pollution. And these weren’t eaten while sitting with family members. More so gobbled down quickly while standing during our 15 minute break in between classes. Overall though, it was nice of my boss to try to share this holiday with us. I came here to experience a new culture, so I’ll take whatever part of it I can I can get.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Probably incredibly belated by the time I actually post this.) 

The only reason I actually remembered it was Valentine’s Day was because it was also the Lantern Festival in Shanghai. And the only reason I knew it was the Lantern Festival was because our boss sent us a long email about it at work that day. It seems like it would be a holiday that goes unnoticed in China since everyone was still on their high from Chinese New Years. (And by “on their high”, I mean still lighting off fireworks at all hours of the day and night.)

According to my bosses email, (that looked like a copy and paste from Wikipedia), Lantern Festival is the first significant feast after Spring Festival. Lanterns are put up all over the city and some people put riddles on them. Apparently guessing the answers to the riddles is “great fun” and is the highlight of the holiday. I didn’t witness any of these riddles, but there have been lanterns hanging all over the city since Christmas. 

I did witness the yuanxiao though.

These are, yet again, another type of dumpling found in China. While I’m sure they’re available all year round, they are specifically eaten on this day. They’re made of sticky rice flour and stuffed with different fillings. 

I lucked out with ones filled with sesame paste. They aren’t as bad as look…considering I took such a wonderful picture. Apparently some of my coworkers got stuck with the more savory versions and weren’t so excited about them. 

"Yuanxiao is round in shape so it is endowed with the meaning of reunion, harmony and happiness. During the night of the festival, family members sit together to taste yuanxiao and appreciate the full moon."

I didn’t see the full moon thanks to the extent of the pollution. And these weren’t eaten while sitting with family members. More so gobbled down quickly while standing during our 15 minute break in between classes. Overall though, it was nice of my boss to try to share this holiday with us. I came here to experience a new culture, so I’ll take whatever part of it I can I can get.

We had our first snow the other day! It literally flurried for about 45 minutes and then was gone, but I’ll take what I can get. I was told that it doesn’t snow in Shanghai so I was happily surprised to see a few white flakes outside of my window. Now that I know this is all that we’re going to get, I think it’s as good a time as any to start getting warmer. I’m ready for springtime and sunshine. 

We had our first snow the other day! It literally flurried for about 45 minutes and then was gone, but I’ll take what I can get. I was told that it doesn’t snow in Shanghai so I was happily surprised to see a few white flakes outside of my window. Now that I know this is all that we’re going to get, I think it’s as good a time as any to start getting warmer. I’m ready for springtime and sunshine. 

The “farmers market” by my house. This store sets up shop right after the grocery store closes. Although I have been tempted to buy some of these delicious looking veggies, I know all too well what happens day after day on that sidewalk. 

The “farmers market” by my house. This store sets up shop right after the grocery store closes. Although I have been tempted to buy some of these delicious looking veggies, I know all too well what happens day after day on that sidewalk. 

My last hour on the beach was shared with this guy. He definitely seemed to have the right idea and I dreamt of becoming him in another life (or maybe I already was in a past one). 
It took all the strength I had to leave the beach, pack my bag, and head to the airport. As for most vacations, it ended too soon, but I’ll take what I can get. 
I have a feeling I’ll be back. 

My last hour on the beach was shared with this guy. He definitely seemed to have the right idea and I dreamt of becoming him in another life (or maybe I already was in a past one). 

It took all the strength I had to leave the beach, pack my bag, and head to the airport. As for most vacations, it ended too soon, but I’ll take what I can get. 

I have a feeling I’ll be back. 

I woke up to a really cloudy day. It had been raining at night, but in the morning, it was just a little misty. It didn’t look like the best beach day, so I opted for a little exploration around town. Not wanting to spend too much money on TukTuks, I tended to go almost everywhere by foot. 

Luckily there were sights to be seen all over the place. 

Not gonna lie…I was a little annoyed when I saw this sign though. It truly is a small world. As much as  I thought I loved Shanghai, I didn’t realize how much I really needed a break from the hustle and bustle.
Even though I was happy to get away from China town for awhile, I still was craving Chinese food and almost looked at the menu in this little stall. I later had to quickly walk past a dumpling shop so I wouldn’t go in. I get enough of that at home…this week was the time to try new things.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Philippines so I was a little surprised with how many Christian/Catholic references there were around town. Even while on the beach, I heard some Christian music playing on multiple occasions. It was pretty cool and I guess it goes hand in hand with my next comment…

One of the most refreshing things about the Philippines was how friendly all the locals were. If this photo opt were to happen in SH, that lady would not have a smile on her face and she would have yelled at me and shoed me away if I didn’t buy any of her precious fruits. I wasn’t in the market for limes this day…so I took my photo and left…and wasn’t given the evil eye. I later felt bad about it and realized that that’s the type of person I should have been giving my money to in the first place…even if I didn’t need what they were selling.  

I did need all of the pineapples though and found the perfect spot to do so. If that’s not eating local, then I don’t know what is.
Luckily a couple hours (and one delicious mango/avocado smoothie) into my adventure, the skies started to clear up a bit. I heard about BaliHai, another beach on the island, so I decided to make my way there. I didn’t really know how to get there, so I jumped in a tuktuk and had them lead the way. We turned off the main road and headed down this pretty steep, winding road for awhile. It was definitely off of the beaten path and I was starting to wonder if the driver didn’t understand me correctly. I wasn’t too worried though. If all else fails, it would be a story to tell…(if I survived)
The driver dropped me off at an iron gate and told me to get out. There was no beach in sight, just a forresty looking area. Luckily someone came and opened the gate and let me in. Apparently Bali hai is a private beach, but you can pay a few pesos to enjoy this secluded gem. I handed over my cash and got a little ticket stub and was pointed in the right direction. After walking down a TON of winding stairs through the woods, you finally make it to the beach. If I thought Puka beach was secluded, then this was absolutely deserted. Well…there was one other couple there, but they were on the other side of some boulders, so I’ll still call it deserted. It was a really tiny beach, but the perfect size for what I was looking for. 

Once you make your way back up the stairs to leave, you have to walk all the way to the end of the winding road to civilization in order to find a tuk tuk to take you back to even more civilization. Along that road there were a few small stalls selling snacks, some family farms, and some run down buildings. It was sort of strange that a beautiful, private beach resort was sitting at the end of this random, run down road…where you have to dodge chickens and sleeping puppies to get there.


It was about dinner time when I made my way back to the white beach. There are a few open air seafood markets where you can purchase your fish on the spot and the stalls surrounding the market will cook your food to order. 

Although the seafood did look amazing and colorful and fresh, I’ve still been haunted by a few of the things I’ve seen in the China markets, so I opted to eat else where. 

All the food I had on this island was amazing. Everything was fresh and healthy and it was so refreshing to have food that seemed trustworthy and not laden with msg.

Another sunset session later and it was back to my room to end the night. Even though my vacation wasn’t over at this point, I was already starting to get depressed at the thought of leaving this magical wonderland.

I woke up to a really cloudy day. It had been raining at night, but in the morning, it was just a little misty. It didn’t look like the best beach day, so I opted for a little exploration around town. Not wanting to spend too much money on TukTuks, I tended to go almost everywhere by foot. 

Luckily there were sights to be seen all over the place. 

Not gonna lie…I was a little annoyed when I saw this sign though. It truly is a small world. As much as  I thought I loved Shanghai, I didn’t realize how much I really needed a break from the hustle and bustle.

Even though I was happy to get away from China town for awhile, I still was craving Chinese food and almost looked at the menu in this little stall. I later had to quickly walk past a dumpling shop so I wouldn’t go in. I get enough of that at home…this week was the time to try new things.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Philippines so I was a little surprised with how many Christian/Catholic references there were around town. Even while on the beach, I heard some Christian music playing on multiple occasions. It was pretty cool and I guess it goes hand in hand with my next comment…

One of the most refreshing things about the Philippines was how friendly all the locals were. If this photo opt were to happen in SH, that lady would not have a smile on her face and she would have yelled at me and shoed me away if I didn’t buy any of her precious fruits. I wasn’t in the market for limes this day…so I took my photo and left…and wasn’t given the evil eye. I later felt bad about it and realized that that’s the type of person I should have been giving my money to in the first place…even if I didn’t need what they were selling.  

I did need all of the pineapples though and found the perfect spot to do so. If that’s not eating local, then I don’t know what is.

Luckily a couple hours (and one delicious mango/avocado smoothie) into my adventure, the skies started to clear up a bit. I heard about BaliHai, another beach on the island, so I decided to make my way there. I didn’t really know how to get there, so I jumped in a tuktuk and had them lead the way. We turned off the main road and headed down this pretty steep, winding road for awhile. It was definitely off of the beaten path and I was starting to wonder if the driver didn’t understand me correctly. I wasn’t too worried though. If all else fails, it would be a story to tell…(if I survived)

The driver dropped me off at an iron gate and told me to get out. There was no beach in sight, just a forresty looking area. Luckily someone came and opened the gate and let me in. Apparently Bali hai is a private beach, but you can pay a few pesos to enjoy this secluded gem. I handed over my cash and got a little ticket stub and was pointed in the right direction. After walking down a TON of winding stairs through the woods, you finally make it to the beach. If I thought Puka beach was secluded, then this was absolutely deserted. Well…there was one other couple there, but they were on the other side of some boulders, so I’ll still call it deserted. It was a really tiny beach, but the perfect size for what I was looking for. 

Once you make your way back up the stairs to leave, you have to walk all the way to the end of the winding road to civilization in order to find a tuk tuk to take you back to even more civilization. Along that road there were a few small stalls selling snacks, some family farms, and some run down buildings. It was sort of strange that a beautiful, private beach resort was sitting at the end of this random, run down road…where you have to dodge chickens and sleeping puppies to get there.

It was about dinner time when I made my way back to the white beach. There are a few open air seafood markets where you can purchase your fish on the spot and the stalls surrounding the market will cook your food to order. 

Although the seafood did look amazing and colorful and fresh, I’ve still been haunted by a few of the things I’ve seen in the China markets, so I opted to eat else where. 

All the food I had on this island was amazing. Everything was fresh and healthy and it was so refreshing to have food that seemed trustworthy and not laden with msg.

Another sunset session later and it was back to my room to end the night. Even though my vacation wasn’t over at this point, I was already starting to get depressed at the thought of leaving this magical wonderland.

Although I would have been perfectly content staying on the beach near my hotel for the entire week, I figured since I travelled so far, I might as well explore a little more of the island. I asked Jenny, one of the amazing staff at the hotel, where I should go. She immediately said Puka Beach and, after finishing my banana pancake, made me get on the back of her friends scooter so he could take me there. 
15 minutes later….we were at another insanely beautiful beach that literally took my breathe away when I first saw the water. 

None of these pictures do this country justice, but I thought it was worth a try.

The best part about this beach, besides it’s pure beauty, is the fact that there’s NOBODY there. Yes, there were two vendors trying to sell me cocouts and puka jewelry, but other than that….there were maybe 10 people on the entire stretch of beach. 
I came to the Philippines to get away from the hustle and bustle of SH, so this beach was exactly what I wanted. If it wasn’t for the threat of a sunburn later in the day, I would have stayed much longer than I did. 
The sand here is a little courser (and the water a little rougher) than the white sand beach. If you couldn’t tell by it’s name…the beach is covered in Puka Shells, which caused it to be a little tougher on the feet. As always, I managed to make a little collection of shells and sea glass for safe keeping in the bottom of my backpack for the remainder of the trip. Even after all my summers of growing up at the beach, this was the first place I’ve ever found actual sea glass for myself. I thought it warranted a picture…

As well as this sight below. 

Another successful day in my books.

Although I would have been perfectly content staying on the beach near my hotel for the entire week, I figured since I travelled so far, I might as well explore a little more of the island. I asked Jenny, one of the amazing staff at the hotel, where I should go. She immediately said Puka Beach and, after finishing my banana pancake, made me get on the back of her friends scooter so he could take me there. 

15 minutes later….we were at another insanely beautiful beach that literally took my breathe away when I first saw the water. 

None of these pictures do this country justice, but I thought it was worth a try.

The best part about this beach, besides it’s pure beauty, is the fact that there’s NOBODY there. Yes, there were two vendors trying to sell me cocouts and puka jewelry, but other than that….there were maybe 10 people on the entire stretch of beach. 

I came to the Philippines to get away from the hustle and bustle of SH, so this beach was exactly what I wanted. If it wasn’t for the threat of a sunburn later in the day, I would have stayed much longer than I did. 

The sand here is a little courser (and the water a little rougher) than the white sand beach. If you couldn’t tell by it’s name…the beach is covered in Puka Shells, which caused it to be a little tougher on the feet. As always, I managed to make a little collection of shells and sea glass for safe keeping in the bottom of my backpack for the remainder of the trip. Even after all my summers of growing up at the beach, this was the first place I’ve ever found actual sea glass for myself. I thought it warranted a picture…

As well as this sight below. 

Another successful day in my books.

Day two called for a little exercise and exploration before I could justify laying on the beach for the rest of the day.
And by exercise, I mean a casual stroll down the beach.
Like previously mentioned, Boracay is definitely set up as a tourist destination.
(“No photos…only tips.”)
I was staying on “White beach” which is a beautiful stretch of beach that is paralleled with a long strip of restaurants, shops, markets, and vendors. I was staying at boat station 3…which is at the southern point of the beach. White beach extends from station 3 to station 1 in the north. Walking that entire distance is probably a little over 2 miles. The strip of vendors is still technically on the beach, but because it’s so well worn with visitors, it’s a really easy stroll. I didn’t have a plan for the day, but I ended up walking as far as the beach let me. 
You know you reach the end of the beach when you reach Willy’s Rock. 

I don’t know what the point of this “attraction is”, but I got to say what’s up to Mary before heading back to my neck of the woods. 

I remembered I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen at that point. I was gone longer than expected so I rushed back before getting burnt. 

A delicious coconut smoothie later and I was back to Boat Station 3 where I tended to set up shop for the majority of my days. I know it sounds like a really exhausting day, but somebody has to do it.

That was literally the extent of my day and I’m not ashamed to admit it. A walk on the beach, fresh fruit, more beach, naps on the beach, swimming in the clear water, reading on the beach, sunset on the beach, dinner on the beach…then bed. It was exactly what I was looking for in a vacation and I was stoked that it was playing out so well. 

Day two called for a little exercise and exploration before I could justify laying on the beach for the rest of the day.

And by exercise, I mean a casual stroll down the beach.

Like previously mentioned, Boracay is definitely set up as a tourist destination.

(“No photos…only tips.”)

I was staying on “White beach” which is a beautiful stretch of beach that is paralleled with a long strip of restaurants, shops, markets, and vendors. I was staying at boat station 3…which is at the southern point of the beach. White beach extends from station 3 to station 1 in the north. Walking that entire distance is probably a little over 2 miles. The strip of vendors is still technically on the beach, but because it’s so well worn with visitors, it’s a really easy stroll. I didn’t have a plan for the day, but I ended up walking as far as the beach let me. 

You know you reach the end of the beach when you reach Willy’s Rock. 

I don’t know what the point of this “attraction is”, but I got to say what’s up to Mary before heading back to my neck of the woods. 

I remembered I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen at that point. I was gone longer than expected so I rushed back before getting burnt. 

A delicious coconut smoothie later and I was back to Boat Station 3 where I tended to set up shop for the majority of my days. I know it sounds like a really exhausting day, but somebody has to do it.

That was literally the extent of my day and I’m not ashamed to admit it. A walk on the beach, fresh fruit, more beach, naps on the beach, swimming in the clear water, reading on the beach, sunset on the beach, dinner on the beach…then bed. It was exactly what I was looking for in a vacation and I was stoked that it was playing out so well. 

Boracay is beautiful and I found that out before our plane even landed.
I think anything besides China would have been considered beautiful at this point though. I’ve been eager to get out of the city for some fresh air and my last attempt (to Beijing) wasn’t much different. In fact, it felt like we were still in Shanghai, just a different neighborhood. When I found out that we were actually getting a decent amount of days off for Chinese New Year’s, I immediately booked my flights to the Philippines. It’s always been on my list of places to go and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. 
The Philippines are only about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai, but I ended up having an endless night/day of travel. Once again screwed up by military time and a flight leaving at 12:00 on the dot (is it 12 in the morning or 12 at night??), I found out that my flight left a few hours after my work day ended, not the following afternoon like I was planning for. Meaning, I had to work all day, get off at 9pm and make my way to the airport (2 hours on the metro) before the metro closed. From there, my flight ended up leaving around 1:30 in the morning. 4 hours later we would technically be in the Philippines, but only in Manila. I still had one more flight to go before reaching my dreamy island destination. Unfortunately, having been up for about 24 hours now, I had about a 5 hour layover in Manila before my flight to Boracay. Luckily it was warm outside so I just hung outside waiting for my boarding time. Of course the flight ended up being delayed, so I was there for a little longer than expected. It was hard to keep my eyes open at this point, but it had gotten to the point that it was all a blur and I forgot that I hadn’t slept. When we could finally board the plane, I managed to doze off for about 20 minutes (I can never sleep on planes), but constantly kept waking up because I didn’t want to miss any awesome views outside the window. As you can see from the picture above…it’s not too shabby out there.
So finally the plane lands in Caticlan…but we’re still not technically to Boracay yet. Once you leave the airport, you have to hire a tuktuk to take you to the jetty port, which will then take you to Boracay. Again…all of this on NO sleep. Going on about 30 hours of being awake at this point…

That being said, I was a little hesitant to get in the tricycle. Mainly because the thought of taking off my backpack and sitting down seemed like too much work at this point. But I knew it was my only option. About 10 minutes later, we made it to the jetty port and got shuffled through a few lines, paid a few pesos for a few different tickets, and then were finally corralled through a building to a sight like this below. 

The pictures don’t do the water justice by any means. It was the most insane neon blue I’ve probably ever seen and it literally made me laugh out loud with happiness. I quickly forgot about my exhausting day of travel and was just so stoked to have finally made it to paradise. About a 15 minute trip on the boat, and you finally arrive to Boracay! You then have to hire another tuktuk to take you to your hotel….but then it’s finally over and you can breathe. I quickly took back any negative thought I had the previous 30 some hours (most of which happened in the Shanghai airport before we left China).

I don’t think the hotel staff knew I wasn’t on my honeymoon, but I still appreciated the swan towels and mango welcome drink. I quickly found my bathing suit on the top of my backpack and headed out to the beach.

(View from my bed)

Luckily, the beach was only a 3 minute walk down a dirt path from my hotel, so it didn’t take long for another beautiful sight. 

I planted myself right under these palm trees to take a nap, but I ended up being so excited to be there that I couldn’t even sleep. Fresh air and sunshine were exactly what I missing in Shanghai and I couldn’t stop smiling. (I probably looked like a freak to the people around me but, haters gonna hate…)

Boracay is definitely tourist central, so you get hassled a little by the local vendors. (Massage ma’ma? Hello. Peanuts? Hello, I love you.) I wasn’t too annoyed about it though because it was all in good heart and with a friendly attitude. And really, it was a first to be offered to buy a trashcan on the beach. Not what I was expecting…but you never know what you’re gonna get. 

I stayed on the beach until sunset, which is another gorgeous site that is impossible to capture in a photo.


I walked a little farther down the beach and found a nice restaurant for dinner. Wine, fresh seafood, and mangos on a table with the view above…. why would I ever want to leave??
I did leave to go back to my hotel though because I was starting to feel the effects of my 36 hours of being awake. I was fine with an early bedtime though knowing that I would get round two of Boracay’s beauty when I woke up.

Boracay is beautiful and I found that out before our plane even landed.

I think anything besides China would have been considered beautiful at this point though. I’ve been eager to get out of the city for some fresh air and my last attempt (to Beijing) wasn’t much different. In fact, it felt like we were still in Shanghai, just a different neighborhood. When I found out that we were actually getting a decent amount of days off for Chinese New Year’s, I immediately booked my flights to the Philippines. It’s always been on my list of places to go and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. 

The Philippines are only about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai, but I ended up having an endless night/day of travel. Once again screwed up by military time and a flight leaving at 12:00 on the dot (is it 12 in the morning or 12 at night??), I found out that my flight left a few hours after my work day ended, not the following afternoon like I was planning for. Meaning, I had to work all day, get off at 9pm and make my way to the airport (2 hours on the metro) before the metro closed. From there, my flight ended up leaving around 1:30 in the morning. 4 hours later we would technically be in the Philippines, but only in Manila. I still had one more flight to go before reaching my dreamy island destination. Unfortunately, having been up for about 24 hours now, I had about a 5 hour layover in Manila before my flight to Boracay. Luckily it was warm outside so I just hung outside waiting for my boarding time. Of course the flight ended up being delayed, so I was there for a little longer than expected. It was hard to keep my eyes open at this point, but it had gotten to the point that it was all a blur and I forgot that I hadn’t slept. When we could finally board the plane, I managed to doze off for about 20 minutes (I can never sleep on planes), but constantly kept waking up because I didn’t want to miss any awesome views outside the window. As you can see from the picture above…it’s not too shabby out there.

So finally the plane lands in Caticlan…but we’re still not technically to Boracay yet. Once you leave the airport, you have to hire a tuktuk to take you to the jetty port, which will then take you to Boracay. Again…all of this on NO sleep. Going on about 30 hours of being awake at this point…

That being said, I was a little hesitant to get in the tricycle. Mainly because the thought of taking off my backpack and sitting down seemed like too much work at this point. But I knew it was my only option. About 10 minutes later, we made it to the jetty port and got shuffled through a few lines, paid a few pesos for a few different tickets, and then were finally corralled through a building to a sight like this below. 

The pictures don’t do the water justice by any means. It was the most insane neon blue I’ve probably ever seen and it literally made me laugh out loud with happiness. I quickly forgot about my exhausting day of travel and was just so stoked to have finally made it to paradise. About a 15 minute trip on the boat, and you finally arrive to Boracay! You then have to hire another tuktuk to take you to your hotel….but then it’s finally over and you can breathe. I quickly took back any negative thought I had the previous 30 some hours (most of which happened in the Shanghai airport before we left China).

I don’t think the hotel staff knew I wasn’t on my honeymoon, but I still appreciated the swan towels and mango welcome drink. I quickly found my bathing suit on the top of my backpack and headed out to the beach.

(View from my bed)

Luckily, the beach was only a 3 minute walk down a dirt path from my hotel, so it didn’t take long for another beautiful sight. 

I planted myself right under these palm trees to take a nap, but I ended up being so excited to be there that I couldn’t even sleep. Fresh air and sunshine were exactly what I missing in Shanghai and I couldn’t stop smiling. (I probably looked like a freak to the people around me but, haters gonna hate…)

Boracay is definitely tourist central, so you get hassled a little by the local vendors. (Massage ma’ma? Hello. Peanuts? Hello, I love you.) I wasn’t too annoyed about it though because it was all in good heart and with a friendly attitude. And really, it was a first to be offered to buy a trashcan on the beach. Not what I was expecting…but you never know what you’re gonna get. 

I stayed on the beach until sunset, which is another gorgeous site that is impossible to capture in a photo.

I walked a little farther down the beach and found a nice restaurant for dinner. Wine, fresh seafood, and mangos on a table with the view above…. why would I ever want to leave??

I did leave to go back to my hotel though because I was starting to feel the effects of my 36 hours of being awake. I was fine with an early bedtime though knowing that I would get round two of Boracay’s beauty when I woke up.

Moganshan is a road near M50, an artist community and cluster of galleries and studios in Shanghai. I had heard about this area for awhile but never made my way to that part of town. That never ending to-do list of mine…
There was supposedly a graffiti wall that paralleled the street and I was stoked on the idea of a dedicated wall to street art in China. This was one of those things that was always on my backburner, but I never got around to making my way there. It wasn’t until I read online that the wall was starting to be torn down that week because the owner was finishing up some construction on his property behind it. That was motivation enough to jump in the next cab out there. I was hoping at least part of the wall would still be standing by the time I got there. 
Luckily, it turns out they were only tearing down a small portion of the wall in order to get trucks in and out of the property behind it. This was the small part that went missing. 

I was scared I’d miss it for nothing, but I’m still happy I went. The wall turned out to be much longer than I expected and it was cool to see some color in the city. 


As always, there were a couple of Asians taking about 4087739 selfies of themselves in front of this piece. It took everything I had to not ask to take pictures with them. (I’m now regretting that decision.)






There were even a few artists painting pieces when we were there. It makes me wonder what their laws are here about graffiti. I can imagine it’s strictly prohibited in public, but this wall is obviously a different situation. 


At the end of the wall, we stumbled across a dude I haven’t seen in awhile….

We got to Moganshan right before sunset, so by the time we walked the wall, most of the galleries were just about to close. I’ll definitely have to make a second trip over there to see what other artists are up to inside. 

Moganshan is a road near M50, an artist community and cluster of galleries and studios in Shanghai. I had heard about this area for awhile but never made my way to that part of town. That never ending to-do list of mine…

There was supposedly a graffiti wall that paralleled the street and I was stoked on the idea of a dedicated wall to street art in China. This was one of those things that was always on my backburner, but I never got around to making my way there. It wasn’t until I read online that the wall was starting to be torn down that week because the owner was finishing up some construction on his property behind it. That was motivation enough to jump in the next cab out there. I was hoping at least part of the wall would still be standing by the time I got there. 

Luckily, it turns out they were only tearing down a small portion of the wall in order to get trucks in and out of the property behind it. This was the small part that went missing. 

I was scared I’d miss it for nothing, but I’m still happy I went. The wall turned out to be much longer than I expected and it was cool to see some color in the city. 

As always, there were a couple of Asians taking about 4087739 selfies of themselves in front of this piece. It took everything I had to not ask to take pictures with them. (I’m now regretting that decision.)

There were even a few artists painting pieces when we were there. It makes me wonder what their laws are here about graffiti. I can imagine it’s strictly prohibited in public, but this wall is obviously a different situation. 

At the end of the wall, we stumbled across a dude I haven’t seen in awhile….

We got to Moganshan right before sunset, so by the time we walked the wall, most of the galleries were just about to close. I’ll definitely have to make a second trip over there to see what other artists are up to inside. 

My remaining days at work have felt like a lifetime. I was never too passionate about teaching English, but now the class periods seem to last forever. (Our classes are two hours long each, so technically they DO last forever, but you know what I mean.) Because I’ve lost pretty much all interest in these classes, I’ve resorted to trying to have as much fun as possible during those hours. 
And by fun, I mean drawing on the hiteboard while the kids do their book work. I was technically teaching through my drawings, so you can’t hate on it too much…but I did enjoy my 3 minutes to myself when I pretended I was still an art teacher. 
This class was right before our New Year’s Holiday so I only had four students in the class. It was the perfect number of students to draw portraits of each one to explain a grammar concept (and a selfie of myself in the bottom right corner.)
While my kids weren’t too stoked on my version of their faces, it ended up being a lot of fun. I was so proud of my artistry that I needed to document the original subjects (one left early before class was over). 

By then, I really didn’t feel like teaching anymore, so we continued to take pictures of ourselves to pass the time.

I will say the class a success when Oscar walked out of class saying, “Class was really funny today.”
While that might not sound like the best compliment ever…it was said in perfect English, which is proof that I’m still being a good teacher!

My remaining days at work have felt like a lifetime. I was never too passionate about teaching English, but now the class periods seem to last forever. (Our classes are two hours long each, so technically they DO last forever, but you know what I mean.) Because I’ve lost pretty much all interest in these classes, I’ve resorted to trying to have as much fun as possible during those hours. 

And by fun, I mean drawing on the hiteboard while the kids do their book work. I was technically teaching through my drawings, so you can’t hate on it too much…but I did enjoy my 3 minutes to myself when I pretended I was still an art teacher. 

This class was right before our New Year’s Holiday so I only had four students in the class. It was the perfect number of students to draw portraits of each one to explain a grammar concept (and a selfie of myself in the bottom right corner.)

While my kids weren’t too stoked on my version of their faces, it ended up being a lot of fun. I was so proud of my artistry that I needed to document the original subjects (one left early before class was over). 

By then, I really didn’t feel like teaching anymore, so we continued to take pictures of ourselves to pass the time.

I will say the class a success when Oscar walked out of class saying, “Class was really funny today.”

While that might not sound like the best compliment ever…it was said in perfect English, which is proof that I’m still being a good teacher!