|From Jamie's Philippines Pics|
We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.
We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.
Thanks for checking us out!
- Mark Twain
- Maya Angelou
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ok. I found this YouTube video and it made me miss Griffey. I'm going to call some airlines tonight as well as the vet and get this thing set up about bringing him over. This video is a little Beagle 101 from the animal planet. Pretty cool! Click Here to view it.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Back to the grind at work. Our students are working on poetry and making a poetry book we'll sell at the Autumn Fair this weekend. All proceeds go to the middle school for the social fund. The students' social fund (not the teachers unfortunately).
All the news. We are still looking at where to go for our winter break. We have opened up now to just about any possibility. Let us know if you have any suggestions...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Getting around can be a pain. The cab ride back was 40 RMB or about $5.50. The bus ride there was only about 4 RMB or about 75 cents. It is not that the bus or cab is that difficult, but knowing where to go isn't as simple as Google mapping somewhere and driving there following the street signs.
I'd like to go up to this factory in Bai'an District and check out a projector. The lady sent me the address in English, but that really doesn't do me any good. I know have to figure out how to get there on a bus, then figure out where the factory is from that bus stop. None of this is online. Actually, it is; but it is all in Chinese.
I am beginning research concerning my dissertation and the first obstacle has been getting my hands on a copy of the world history curriculum of China. At the beginning of the year, Chinese teachers are handed their own paper copy. I'm hoping to get a copy of that curriculum and get it translated into English.
Not sure how much translators will cost yet. I'll let you know. I'll also need articles, chapters in books, and other periodicals translated. Seems like a pain but will be well worth it if I can produce the masterpiece dissetation I want to.
Few hours to go before our college football games. Go Vols! and Jamie says something else...
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Spirit Week continues here at QSI Shekou. Yesterday was Backwards/Clash Day. Jamie and I both participated by wearing just a mixture of clothing backwards and all messed up. It was fun. I'll try and dig up some pictures.
Today is Bling Bling Day (dress up like a rapper, gangster, or thug). We used to have Thug parties back in the day in college that were always great fun. I always participated in those and represented quite well; however, I just do not have anything like that anymore. Sad times when you don't have any clothing to make you look like a thug. Jamie is wearing my old SAE softball shirt with some of my blue jeans. She looks adorable.
Last night was college night. Great turnout. We didn't really do much but did notice that only about 3 Southern US schools were represented. It was interesting to see all of the pamphlets from universities all over the world though and the interest the students had in them.
We would love to hear from some of you either via email or comments below. I will try and dig up a message board to place on here. Jamie and I are quite active on a few of our own (mostly political) and think it might be an interesting debate. Just a thought...
Have a great evening America!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In other news, there really isn't any. Jamie and I will represent our alma maters tomorrow evening at the college fair. Not really sure what that entells other than us wear our MTSU and UGA shirts and sitting behind a table. I haven't been there in 8 years, but MTSU used to be a great place for the Recording Industry. I guess if any students here want to go into that I can direct them to MTSU.
This week is Spirit Week at QSI. Monday was Blue and Gold day and today was crazy hair day. I didn't get pictures, but just imagine Jamie's hair looking all messed up and mine being spiked up and you'll get the picture. Tomorrow is Backwards/Clash Day. I would say about 50% of the students are participating. Most just wait until they see if their friends are doing it and then they try and change their appearance. I'll update you tomorrow on the theme. I'll find some pictures somewhere that I'm sure someone has taken.
Wow. For nothing to say, I've made this a pretty long post. I'll get back to my regular brilliant posting later.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
We went straight to the bookstore and spent an insane amount on some English books, but it made Jamie happy. One of my favorite authors has a new book in a series, but the cost was just too much for me to justify. I'll wait until it comes out in paperback and only pay double the price instead of quadruple the price.
We then went to Hard Rock again for lunch. I'll have to put up the pictures, but they had it all decked out for Halloween which was pretty cool. We bought t-shirts. They told us that they were shutting down that Hard Rock because the rent was too expensive. They are moving instead to the Hard Rock in Macau. We will be going to Macau sometime soon. It is a Chinese/Portuguese island west of here. A ferry takes us directly to it. It is best known for its casinos and it is supposedly rivaling Vegas in its gaudiness. We'll see. There is an Asian Cirque du Soleil there that we'd like to see.
We are going to eat some fondue tonight with some friends from school. We are hoping that it is as good as the fondue at home. I have my doubts, but hopefully it won't be too bad. I'll let you know. Much more hits on the sight yesterday, so my stern warning from the other day must have paid off. That or people must be REALLY bored. Either way, it is fine with me.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
We went so I could do some preliminary research concerning my dissertation topic. Although I did not meet with any social studies teachers, the Chinese teachers I did meet provided me with some excellent information about general education in China and their school. When we arrived, the secondary students were out of the field in nice little rows performing exercises. We then went to eat at a REAL Chinese restaurant where we share 8 or so dishes ranging from pig toes (delicious!) to some quite spicy lamb. The entire meal for 7 adults was 150 RMB or about $22. Amazing!
A little bit about Chinese cuisine. Americans will find it quite intimidating and perhaps strange. We begin by "washing" our prepackaged dishes in hot tea. Apparently, you do so if the dishes weren't prepacked, but we did it anyway to cleanse them. There is a custom where you serve others before you serve yourself initially. Also, it is more family style dining. Several large dishes are brought out individually, and everyone sits around a rotating turn table and picks out their choice of food. We tried a little bit of everything. Of course, everything is eaten with chopsticks and in China, silverware in not really an option.
Afterwards, we were able to sit and discuss with the Chinese teachers (2 of which actually taught English) concerning the educational system in China and their teaching strategies and curriculum. It was enlightening, and I learned more in 2 hours talking with them than I would have 5 hours reading about this stuff. We were able to go into a classroom where the students where having evening classes. I could go on and on concerning the comparisons of Chinese and U.S. schools, but I'll save that for my dissertation.
In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions. Comment below or email me. Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Busy week for us at school this week as grade reports were due. We have to write "narratives" for each student we teach in an academic class. These narratives are about a half page long and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the student. I think it is a good idea and wonder how it would go over in the U.S. Actually, I know how it would go over with the teachers, and it wouldn't be pretty. Most teachers in the U.S. simply have too many students. Elementary teachers could perhaps write them.
We are making preparations now for our winter break. We get 3 weeks from December 12 to January 4th off from school. Most teachers do not go back to North America because of the cost of the plane tickets. We've decided to travel somewhere. Jamie wants to go to the beach at least for a week, so we are looking at Thailand, Malaysia, and perhaps Bali, Indonesia. We'll probably spend a couple of weeks somewhere or 2 places and a week in China. Should be a great break wherever we go.
Looking forward to the last presidential debate on Wednesday night. We'll tape it and watch it on Thursday afternoon or evening.
All the news for now. Haven't heard from several people lately and the hits are down on the our blog. Had only 15 hits yesterday and only 9 or so a few days ago.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The banking incident turned out to be ok, at least for now. We went by yesterday and they explained that their ATM showed no extra money. We'll continue to check our account, but I actually feel OK about this for now.
I've spent about every waking minute worry about my dissertation topic. I've changed my mind about 3 times in the past 2 weeks. After discussing this with my mentor last night for almost an hour, I think I am going to pursue a qualitative study comparing the teaching strategies of world history teachers in China and the United States. I know, I know - world changing stuff and soon to be a best seller. Of course, all of this could change in the next 2 weeks, and I'm back to the drawing board.
Regular week here at QSI Shekou Middle School. We have "Spirit Week" next week which is similar to Homecoming in the states, because each day we dress up as something different. We'll see how many international students dress up for "Bling Bling Day." I'll bring along my camera and take some pictures. Might be a hoot!
Jamie and I are both engulfed in the Presidential Election coverage. Having taught AP U.S. Government last year, we've been politics junkies for the last 2 years now. Such is either really healthy or really dangerous for our lives. We honestly cannot believe the ignorance and downright stupidity that some people have. Actually, we can believe it because it is so apparent.
On a bright note, the market jumped over 900 points today; but so did the price of a barrel of oil. What one hand giveth, the other taketh away. Sounds like McCain's health plan.
OK. That was more than a couple of things, but I'm sure you will agree that is was the most informative things you've ever read. Have a great evening!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I went to a local electronics store to check into buying a TV. I found one I liked and thought it was a decent deal. The guy at the electronics store spoke "a little" English. First, I couldn't use a credit card which would have solved all of my problems. I told him that I needed to go get some money at the ATM. They also needed to know my address so they could deliver it. It took 7 Chinese men standing around looking at the English translation of my address before they finally gave up. They said I could just wait until it is delivered to the store and take it home in a cab. This was fine with me, but I still needed money.
So off I went to the ATM accompanied with one of their workers. I tried taking out some RMB, but the ATM didn't dispense the money. I wasn't leaving that bank until I had some answers. The receipt showed that money was debited. One hour later and several phone calls later, they told me I'd have to come back on Monday when the manager was there. I took all of the appropriate paperwork and receipts and now I'm just praying that I'll see that money. There is a slight chance that the money never left my account.
Despite this, I went to another ATM and tried to get some money to buy my TV. I could only take out so much and it only have me half of what I needed. So, after all of that, I still have no TV. No big deal I guess other than the frustration of 2.5 hours for nothing.
Not sure what will happen. We may be out that money, but I'm hoping not. We'll see.
In other news, check out what this couple decided to do for their divorce settlement in Cambodia. Talk about a House Divided.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Korean Kids Singing Rocky Top!!!
The UT vs. Georgia game is the weekend and Jamie and I will be up watching it at 3:30 am here. Today at work I am wearing my Orange polo UT shirt and Jamie is wearing her Georgia retro t-shirt. Since there are so few people from the south who work here, no one will even notice the fact that this game is this weekend or the fact we dressed up for it. Funny because both of us would be hounded back home for it.
If UT wins, I plan on teaching my Reading class "Rocky Top" on Monday!
Someone email Jamie and tell her to post about the food in Cambodia. My hounding has not worked and I'm sure she's tired of hearing it.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
We also went to Phnom Bakheng which was a mountain temple. It had the best views of the area. You can see from the pictures how flat Cambodia is. After our visit here, we went back into the town of Siem Reap and visited the Angkor Museum, which proclaims to be one of the most modern museums in all of Asia. I doubt this very seriously but it was a good museum. Some of the items were out of place and the audio tour wasn't really all that good. We enjoyed it nonetheless. No pictures here because they would not let us. Go figure.
When we arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday afternoon, we went straight to the Royal Palace. The short slideshow is below. Honestly, we were just tired, but we are glad we went. The Silver Pagoda above houses the Emerald Buddha and is quite famous actually. If you look at the doorway, Seymore is going in. He took off his shoes, so don't worry. There were so many more pictures to have been taken here, but we actually left early and called it a night.
Sorry for the delay, but this week has been slammed. Glad I got them uploaded though. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
We are settling in once again at school after our break. Ton of stuff going on here at QSI Shekou in the next few weeks. In 2 weeks we'll have Spirit Week (like Homecoming in the States). On November 1, we'll have Autumn Fair which is basically a Halloween Fair. Both actually sound like a lot of fun. The quintile ends October 16th, so we are trying to end our Units in classes and wrap up grading.
Remember, we can't give anything less than an A or B to a student, so we have to reteach anything the student or student doesn't get. So far, my classes have about 2 or 3 on average that I have to reteach each assessment. They usually marginally pass it the 2nd time. Some do very well with this additional teaching.
That is about it for now. Still waiting on Jamie to give us a report about the food in Cambodia, so stay tuned for that.
We are catching up watching our shows by watching recordings from Slingbox DVR or by our downloads from ITunes. Technology is great.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Since the last ferry had already taken off, we were stuck in Hong Kong not really knowing what to do. We were able to meet up with a nice Australian gentleman who also needed to get to Shekou. We shared a cab with him which was the fastest way to get home. It was actually a bit cheaper for us too, so it worked out.
I think Jamie is going to make a post about the food later on today perhaps. I'll get the photos from the last days up soon. We finally arrived home at 12:10 am on Monday morning. We woke at 5:30 for school. Tired and weary, but we are here at school with bells on just beaming about our trip.
Check back for more pictures and Jamie's food update...
Saturday, October 4, 2008
We really wanted to go up in the hot air balloon and tried to wait out the rain, but it just didn't happen. We ate at a very Khmer restaurant. I think they served dog at this one due to the numerous dogs that were in the restaurant.
After the rain, we decided to end our Angkor Wat travels by seeing the one last temple, Phnom Bangkeng. It was where we supposed to see the sunsets, but we went during the day. The views from this mountain temple were amazing and we were able to see just as much as if we went in the balloon.
We told our tuk tuk driver to take us to one last spot, the Angkor National Museum. This has been labeled as the most modern museum in all of Asia, although we are not sure. It was nice and even had an audio tour to accompany it, but it didn't blow us away. We highly recommend anyone going to Cambodia to go here before going to Angkor because they tell you what many of the carving, sculptures, bas-reliefs, lintels, and structures mean.
That pretty much ended our day on Friday as we decided to relax and hang out at the hotel the rest of the afternoon/evening and rest up.
Saturday was by far the worst day of the trip. We had to be downstairs in front of the hotel at 6:30 am to catch our back to Phnom Penh. We woke up at 6:05 because our alarm didn't go off. We rushed and were still able to make it down there on time. We waited and waited and our transport didn't pick us up until 7:10, so no breakfast.
The other bus we came to Siem Reap on was an air conditioned bus that even provided us food. Not this one! No air con, no restroom (no big deal), and no food. It stopped twice to allow passengers to use the restroom and get drinks. Plus, it took it an hour longer to get back to Phnom Penh. We weren't very happy. To end this awful morning, our tuk tuk driver who took us to our guest house tried to charge us double the standard rate. I was fed up with everything and argued with him for a while before finally laying down my price on his tuk tuk and telling him that this was all he was getting.
We decided to go to Phnom Penh's royal palace, but we only stayed for a little while. Honestly, we were toured out and we hadn't eaten all day. Instead of going to out to eat, we just ate at our guesthouse and called it an early night at 6:00 pm.
I'll upload pictures of the last 2 temples, the land mine museum, and the Royal Palace when we return to China on Sunday evening.
This has been an amazing trip. Riding outside the city, you see the real Cambodia. Many times, we had what Jamie called "prosperity guilty." There were numerous children who would run up to any tourist selling their trinkets for just $1. I bought 10 postcards for $1 from some kid and several bottles of water and coke from others. Cambodia is still picking up the pieces after the Vietnam War and thier own civil war. The currency exchange rate is 4000 riel to $1 USD which is why they simply use the $1 USD as their currency for foreigners.
An unforgettable experience! We hope you've enjoyed the blog and the pictures. For anyone reading this and going to Cambodia soon, let us know because we can now fill you in on the do's and don'ts of Cambodia.
Gotta go catch a plane...
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Jamie and I hired a tuk tuk for all day today to tour the temples. We saw probably saw about as much as yesterday but in half of the time. It was another day of temples. I will upload photos at the bottom and label them as “Angkor Temples 2” and” Angkor Jamie.” Once again, these temples may all seem the same to you as a picture viewer, but they all have their own unique mystic about them. The tuk tuk was the way to go today as we had more land to cover between the temples. It also gave our rearends a rest from the bicycles. Call us sissies, but these weren’t exactly Schwinn, Mongoose, or Trek bikes.
After lunch, the weather was too cloudy with a chance of rain for us to do a hot air ballon ride, so we decided to go to this “water village” about which we had heard. It has a specific name which I cannot remember nor pronounce, but it is basically a group of Cambodian and Vietanmese natives who live on floating houses on Tonle Sap lake. During the rainy season, their houses float inland and into the rivers as can be seen in the pictures below in albums “Cambodian Water Village” and “Angkor Jamie.” During the dry season, their float their houses into the main body of Tonle Sap. These little houses are basically stick shelters floating on bamboo. There is a school where the children go and you can see the pictures of it. We jumped off our guide boat and even bought the kids some pencils and took pictures with the teacher. Our next journey was to their fish and crocodile market. We weren’t able to see inside their homes, but you can get a sense of what it is like. It was overall an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.
Dinner tonight was in downtown Siem Reap at a family Khmer restaurant. I had a “family soup” and Jamie had a Khmer curry dish of some sort.
Tomorrow will be another adventure as we will travel way outside the city to go some temples that are not seen by too many people. Our tuk tuk driver is taking us there tomorrow too and we’ll also be able to stop by the Landmine Museum. We’ll probably finish our trip here at Angkor Wat with a hot air balloon ride overlooking Angkor and sunset sitting at one of the temples.
Another long post and there is so much more to tell. The pictures are pretty much in order of our day. It is 9:00 pm here and I doubt I will get them uploaded tonight, but will try to do so tomorrow. Our goal is to have them labeled within a week. We’ve put them in order, so labeling shouldn’t be too much of a problem once we have the time.
I want to thank the people who have joined to be followers and those who continue to follow. We are doing this to share with our family and friends our experiences living in China and traveling around Asia. We can only hope that you will get a sense of it through our descriptions and pictures.
Keep checking back…
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Unbelievable. This word simply describes the day that Jamie and I have had. We can honestly say that it is one of the best days of our lives. Angkor Wat Archeological Area is phenomenal. I will let the pictures tell the story. I lost count because I have deleted some, but I think my count was about 300 or so today. I honestly tried to hit the highlights only. It just happened that there were 300 of them or so.
We wanted to start our day early, so we woke up around 6:15 and was out the door by 7:15 after eating breakfast. We found this itinerary online for a 3 day trip inside Angkor and decided to follow it since we were not exactly sure what we were getting into. We decided to bike our way through today. Because our rearends were sore from the previous day, we only biked the 6 km or so to the South Gate of Angkor Thom and decided to go on foot from there. Of everyone that was in the park today, Jamie and I were probably the only ones on foot. Everyone else was biking or most were taking a tuk tuk. We decided to walk. And walk we did. The walls of Angkor Thom measure 3 km on each side, so from any outside gate was a 1.5 km walk to the center. We walked and climbed all over the temples. I could tell you about them, but I'm not sure anyone cares to read. Most of what we saw can be seen in the pictures, but the experience is perhaps one you can only appreciate if you actually walk the grounds. It is truly majestic and certainly something that cannot be found anywhere in North America.
After we saw the sites of Angkor Thom, we walked out of the Victory gate to the east and toured some more temples outside the walls. The most notable is that of Ta Phrom, which has been purposefully left unrestored for the most part. Here, the giant trees grow from the walls and dominate the temples. The pictures here will simply amaze you.
After walking in the heat, rain, steam, and humidity of southeast Asia, were were absolutely beat. We hired a tuk tuk driver to take us back the 6 km or so to the South Gate so we could retrieve our bicycles. We found a nice little cafe in Angkor to eat lunch and rest finally at 2:30. A full day already but we decided to go ahead and tour Angkor Wat.
People who come to Cambodia usually do so for Angkor Wat. It is the temple that is best known. It is truly spectacular, but there is so much more to see here. We have 2 more full days of touring. I have posted plenty of pictures of Ankor Wat and Angkor Thom. I will attempt to label them for not only your sake but ours. We have a little travel book that identifies all of these, but since I took these, I want to know which ones are which. Some may look alike to you, but I assure you, each temple has its own characteristic.
Unlike any archeological site in North America, you can actually still climb the temple walls and staircases in most parts. You could not to the tallest tower of Angkor Wat unfortunately, but you could just about anywhere else. Jamie found ourselves two of only 10 people who were climbing some areas. Signs are posted to climb at your own risk, but the risk is minimal if you pay attention and be careful.
Monkeys, wild yet extremely tame because they see tourist daily, are found in the park. The are entertaining and at one point I found myself surrounded by 10 of them after I bought some small bananas from a smal girl. She said "monkeys like bananas." It was fun, and I was able to get some pretty cool pictures of them. They would grab the bananas right out of your hand.
We decided not to stay for sunset this evening and instead biked hard back to our hotel. We were filthy due to the rain, sweat, dirt, sand, sweat, insects, sweat, sunscreen, sweat, and (did I mention sweat). We ate at a nice little restaurant just around the corner and now I'm going to attempt to upload these pictures for you.
I'm going to go ahead and upload the ones from Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. They are all from those areas and we'll put labels on them later. I'll also add another slideshow entitled Angkor Temples, which I'll also add labels to later. In Angkor Temples, you'll see Ta Phrom which will truly be a treat.
We hope you enjoy. Please comment or shoot me an email and let me know what you think. Seymore was there will us, so you'll see him pop up in the photos every now and then. He's quite the climber and all of the Japanese tourist thought he was great. When we told him his name, they just smiled, but laughed when we said he wanted to "See More."