cocktail hour in the laundry room: an apartment restaurant & an outing to liangfengjiang national forest park

Sunday, May 17:  It’s Sunday evening again, time for cocktail hour in my humble laundry room. I’m so glad you could drop by! 🙂  Five o’clock is wine o’clock, so please, come in and have a seat in my comfortable Wal-Mart chair while I pour us some chilled Merlot.  I know we’re not supposed to chill red wine, but if I hadn’t put it in the refrigerator, it would be toasty. Warm red wine isn’t very pleasant, not at all.  I used to do this in Oman as well; it seems I’m always living in hot climates and have to refrigerate my wine.

“She wished it were evening now, wished for the great relief of the calendar inking itself out, of day done and night coming, of ice cubes knocking about in a glass beneath the whisky spilling in, that fine brown affirmation of need.” 
― Michelle LatiolaisWidow: Stories

I won’t bore you with a picture of the laundry room this time, but I can tell you that my lavender flowered sheet is still hanging right where it was last week.  The sheet dried during the week, but I never got around to taking it down. The weather got moist, so the sheet is now damp again.  I guess I’ll need to leave it up a while longer until it dries out.

I know I haven’t yet responded to all your comments from my last week’s cocktail hour, but I will, I promise.  Hopefully tonight, after we’ve shared a glass or two of wine. Or the cocktail of your choice.

“The writer is a mysterious figure, wandering lonely as a cloud, fired by inspiration, or perhaps a cocktail or two.” ~ Sara Sheridan

So, how was your week?  Did you get outdoors for some springtime walks?  Did you hear a new song you liked, or did you watch a good movie or read a good book?  Did you eat anything interesting?  Did you make a new friend, or lose an old one?  Did you have a special shared moment with someone, or did you have a falling out with someone?  Did you explore a new place or have a crazy adventure?  Did you sing in the shower or in the car?  Did you get any exercise?  Were you stressed out by work or did you have a relaxing week?

I was happy to get so many responses to my last cocktail hour.  I really wish we could all get together in one place, all of us bloggers, and have a real cocktail hour.  I think we’d have a grand time; I know we’d share a lot of laughter and stories.  I’ve met a few of you in person: Jo, Marianne, and Annette; I really do hope to meet the rest of you one day.

“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”  ~ Luis Bunuel 

I was a bit curious about some comments I received.  I know I talked a little about my depression last week, but I guess I should clear the air.  I do get depressed from time to time, but I wouldn’t say it’s a constant state of mind.  I’m not crazy about daily life in China mainly because I don’t have one good friend (and I’m normally a “one good friend” kind of girl), but I still have plenty to do and my depression and frustration come and go like dandelion fluff in the wind.  So, I’d like to assure you that you needn’t worry about me.  I’ll be fine.  One thing I’ve always been is a survivor.

I was especially intrigued by Vee’s comment; she guessed I was depressed because my photos looked so dark.   I guess some photographers do that; maybe the best photographers purposely take pictures that reflect their moods. I thought about the pictures I took recently, and the only ones that stick in my mind are the ones in Hong Kong, looking out over Victoria Harbour.  I love those pictures; I think they are some of my best. I felt really lucky to have been there with that fabulous moody late afternoon light and those dramatic dark clouds hanging over the skyline.  I do wonder, do most of you go out taking photos hoping to reflect your state of mind?  Maybe I should be more aware of that.

I had some interesting things happen this week. I met with a fellow novelist, Paul, for dinner.  We are reading each other’s novels and it was time to report back to each other our thoughts about the other’s work.  Paul was very encouraging and told me he can’t believe I’ve been sitting on my novel for over 10 years.  He said he can’t imagine an agent or publisher wouldn’t pick it up.  I was happy to hear that from him, and I don’t think he was just being nice.  I also think he’s an excellent writer; his book is clever and fascinating, especially as it’s somewhat autobiographical and I recognize some of the characters. 🙂

I finished up my midterm marks and handed them in on Friday.  That was a relief.

On Friday night, I met one of my students, a very stylish and cute girl named Azura, for dinner.  She planned the whole evening.  Online, she reserved a table for two, and a meal for four (!), at an “Asian restaurant.”  She wasn’t sure how to find it, so we wandered around behind the NanBai Supermarket looking for an “E” building.  Then we got on an elevator in what looked like an apartment building rather than a commercial building.  On the 11th floor, we walked down a narrow hallway and Azura knocked on door. There was no sign whatsoever indicating it was a restaurant.  A woman in an apron answered the door and invited us in.  Her living room was set up like a very cozy restaurant.  The walls were painted green and she had little decorative knickknacks everywhere: potted plants, stuffed animals, vintage dresses, old guitars.

Azura in the

Azura in the “apartment restaurant”

The woman got busy in the kitchen, cooking up a set meal in big wok.  Azura grabbed some bowls, spoons and chopsticks from a table.  She also grabbed us two kumquat drinks served in clear plastic bags (sort of like Capri Suns in the USA).

kumquat drinks and Azura

kumquat drinks and Azura

She told me we’re allowed to have four of these altogether, since she ordered a meal for four.  When she told me she ordered a meal for four, she said, “I hope you’re hungry!”  I wasn’t that hungry and would never eat that much food, but I tried my best since she went to such effort.

the apartment restaurant

the apartment restaurant

the view out the window of the apartment restaurant

the view out the window of the apartment restaurant

a shelf of knick-knacks in the restaurant

a shelf of knick-knacks in the restaurant

The woman served up pineapple rice, clams with pineapple, fresh fish (head and all) with cilantro and tomatoes, cabbage and potato soup, and pork ribs wrapped in aluminum foil.  We talked about Azura’s dream to get into fashion design and the two boyfriends she once had in high school (“It wasn’t a very good thing,” she told me.)  She’s a Year 1 student, so I sometimes had trouble understanding her, and vice versa, but we only had to resort to our online dictionaries a coupe of times.

After dinner, I tried to pay the bill of 88 yuan (about $14), but she would have none of that.  She wanted to split the bill, so I gave her 44 yuan.  As she prepared to pay the proprietor the money, the woman requested that she please pay online for the meal!  How strange.  Azura had the cash right there, but maybe she just wanted the money to go directly into her bank.

Later, I put up a picture on Instagram explaining this situation, and my friend Dai from Nepal mentioned he read somewhere that “apartment restaurants” are all the rage in China!  I’ve been here for 8 1/2 months, and I’ve never heard of them before now!

We planned next to get a manicure, so we walked down a long street in the pouring rain under Azura’s umbrella because I had left my umbrella at home.  Azura got a manicure, but I ended up getting a pedicure and manicure, my first in China; I’ve never been able to find a salon before now!  After our treat, it was still storming, so I bought an emergency umbrella for 25 yuan, even though I already had one at home.  We leapt and splashed over puddles on the way home, but shortly after I bought the umbrella, it stopped raining. Wouldn’t you know?

It’s getting awfully hot out here in the laundry room now, so why don’t we move inside?  My apartment is rather dreary, but at least we can be cool in the air conditioning.  Can I get you another drink?

On Saturday, I helped a colleague, Erica, sort out her spread sheets for her grades, and then we had some dinner together after.  When I came back home, I watched an episode of Homeland, Season 4, Episode 8.  I couldn’t stand not knowing what would happen next, so I watched episodes 9 and 10, one right after the other without a break. I also saw the season finale of Scandal, which seemed to have been wrapped up very nicely.  Does that mean there are no more scheduled seasons for Scandal?

I also got involved this week in an Irish detective show with Gillian Anderson called The Fall.  I watched all five episodes of Series 1, but I can’t seem to get Series 2, so I’m very frustrated as I can’t find out what happens next!!

Today, I decided to explore a place a colleague, Gavin, had recommended to me some time ago: Liangfengjiang National Forest Park.  Approved by the Ministry of Forestry in September of 1992, the park was one of the earliest national parks in Guangxi. In 2003, it was regarded as one of Nanning’s top scenic spots.

Gavin had told me to take bus 707, changing to bus 301.  I had forgotten the details, but I got on bus 707 and was on it for a long time.  I showed a girl on the bus the Chinese name of the park and she pointed out that I needed to get off in 8 stops to get on bus 301.  Before I got to that stop, a Chinese woman with blonde hair asked me “Spreek jig Duits?”  I said, “You speak German?”  She said, “Yes, no English!” She motioned that I should follow her off the bus at the next stop, and she put me on the phone with a friend “from America.”  I couldn’t hear the woman on the phone because the bus was so noisy.  The blonde Chinese woman kept motioning for me to get off the bus with her, so I did.  I regretted it.  She wanted me to come to a friend’s house for lunch, but I just wanted to go to the park, so I told her I couldn’t. This meant I had to wait a long time for the next 707 bus.  Some other men came up while we were at the bus stop and tried to help as well. They told me the blonde woman wanted me to have lunch with her and her friend.  Of course I hadn’t understood at first, otherwise I would have never gotten off the bus! Here are the whole lot of them.  They were a really helpful bunch!

I then got on bus 15, following their advice, and I got off at what I thought was the right stop.  However, the bus sign said nothing about the #301. So I got on the 707 again, and then I knew I’d gone one stop too far because the Chinese characters didn’t match.  So I got on the bus going the opposite direction, and got off again at the same spot, where someone convinced me to wait for the 301 even though the sign said nothing about the 301.  Finally the 301 came, and I was on it, packed in with people, standing room only.  I finally made it to the park about 1 1/2 hours after I started out!

And what a disappointment it was!!  I could kill Gavin for having recommended it to me.  He had told me it was a nice park in which to take a walk.  Maybe he’s just been in China too long.  It was the shabbiest, most unkempt place I’ve been in Nanning.

The paths were muddy and rutted, the arbors were untended, and the river was murky.  There was the hugest, tackiest picnic area imaginable, with stinky garbage everywhere.  There were people running around flying kites, and there were arcade games where you could throw darts at balloons.  There were miserable-looking ponies to ride.

Now I can cross that place off my list and stop wasting time thinking about it.  How could any Westerner have recommended it as a nice place?   I kept walking around hoping there would be something good to see.  There wasn’t!  Plus I got eaten alive by mosquitos.  The only saving grace was finding some ice cream for sale: I bought a vanilla flavor with chocolate on the outside and banana on the inside.  I think I will stop venturing around Nanning.  There really is nothing to do in this town!

Overall it was a good week, but I did have a sort of falling out with someone.  At least I think I did, although I have no idea why.  Basically we have both been ignoring each other for the last two weeks.  I don’t know what’s going on, but when I feel ignored, I withdraw, and then that probably has a domino effect and makes the other person withdraw more.  So now I feel our friendship is out in the hinterlands, never to be restored.  How does this happen?  I know I can be ultra-sensitive, and I often take things as slights that aren’t meant to be.  Mike tells me that all the time, anyway, and he knows me more than anyone.  Why do I have to be this way?  Is anyone else like this, or is it just me?  I know that I often sabotage my friendships, and I don’t know why I feel the need to do this.  I do know I don’t like feeling hurt or angry, and sometimes by pushing people away, I can avoid those painful feelings. I’m also never the kind of person to run after people, or to beg a person to be my friend.  I just accept it; if someone doesn’t want to be in my company, then I back off and give them space.  Lots of it.

Oh well, at least I have plans to be away the next three weekends.  I’m heading on a work retreat next weekend.  The following weekend, my colleague Erica and I are going to Yangshuo if she can get a day off from her Sunday job.  The weekend after that, I’m supposed to go to Beihai to meet a lady I met in Xi’an.  She’s Finnish and works for a Finnish company there.  So that will get me through the first weekend in June.  Thank goodness!

Cheers to you all, and I hope to see you again next week! Have a wonderful week with lots of happiness and love.  Sending hugs your way. 🙂

Categories: Asia, China, Chinese food, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, laundry room cocktail hour, Liangfengjiang National Forest Park, NanBai Supermarket, Nanning | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “cocktail hour in the laundry room: an apartment restaurant & an outing to liangfengjiang national forest park

  1. I would love a glass of Merlot, chilled or not, thank you. Have you tried Malbec? It’s my favorite, but Merlot is what I have most often, as it’s more readily available.
    It’s been a quiet week, cloudy and chilly with some rain, so I’ve mostly just hunkered down inside, reading and playing silly iPad games. I just finished a book that was quite intriguing, One Lane Bridge – it certainly held my attention. I don’t remember the authors name. It did clear and warm up a bit late afternoon yesterday, so I borrowed a friend’s lawn tractor and mowed the lawn. My tractor needs a belt replaced. This has been the year for things breaking down so far.
    Oh my, it’s getting late and I really must go. I enjoyed the wine and your company, thank you.


    • Thanks for joining, Carol. Here we go, Merlot it is. I have tried Malbec and I like it a lot, but I haven’t seen any in my neck of the woods. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it when I go back to Wal-Mart.

      Your week sounds much like mine: cloudy and rainy, though not chilly at all; instead it’s quite warm and close. So, I too am hunkered down inside. I’m glad you liked your book; I’m doing a search on Goodreads for it even as we speak. Oh, I see, One Lane Bridge: A Novel by Don Reid. I put it on my list. It sounds interesting!

      I bet when the rain cleared, you were happy to get out and mow the lawn; anything to get out of the house after being trapped inside, right? I hope you can get your tractor’s belt replaced soon. I’m sorry about it being “the year for things breaking down!”

      Thanks so much for coming by to share a glass of wine, Carol. Have a good week! xxx


  2. So was the polka-dotted-blond-Chinese-woman trying to scam you with the nice offer of lunch and your bank account as dessert? ;.)


    • I had similar thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wondered briefly about that myself, Vivian, especially after you told me about the tea scammers! I doubt it though, especially here in Nanning. By the way, I had two tea scam attempts made on me when I was in Shanghai, and I thought of you. Haven’t had time to write about that trip yet!


    • I don’t think so, Vivian, but you never know. I did have several young people try the tea scam on me in Shanghai. Thanks to your post about it, I was on guard and managed to walk away quite quickly!!


  3. Would love to hear more about your novel, too!


    • Ok, Vivian, for better or worse, here’s a draft of a query letter for my novel. I haven’t finalized it yet, but you can get an idea what it’s about:

      In the autumn of 2002, while a sniper picks off people in the Washington area, suicide hotline counselor Lucie, increasingly suspicious of her Egyptian husband Ahmed and his Muslim roots, gravitates toward her old boyfriend Ian, threatening her marriage, her husband’s sanity, and her own life.

      Told from alternating viewpoints of four adults in a tense time leading to the sniper’s arrest and war with Iraq, the story begins when Ian, a 39-year-old stockbroker with a dormant love of astronomy, returns to Washington after his parents’ accidental death. His ex-girlfriend Lucie, who he abandoned seventeen years before, and his parents’ dog Cassie, are his last remaining ties to his dead parents. Ian’s grief compels him to cling to both. When Audrey, a sleep clinic receptionist on a spiritual quest, absconds with Cassie, Ian’s anxiety draws him closer to Lucie. Meanwhile, Ahmed, a landscape architect who wants desperately to assimilate into American culture, feels threatened by Ian but is too macho to let on his insecurities. He reads a medical encyclopedia to improve his English and to be vigilant against an unknown disease he believes will kill him for his participation in his sister’s honor killing. A hypochondriac, he sees every ailment as the symptom of a larger disease that will destroy him for his unforgiveable sin.

      THE SCATTERING DREAMS OF STARS is a 107,000 word literary fiction novel.


      • Wow! What a story, Cat! I’m intrigued! It will be awesome to spread your final product. (BTW, many agents/publishers want novels around 80,000 words or less.)
        Also, I am membership director on the all-volunteer board of a local non-profit writer’s group called EPIC Group Writers. I publish a short bi-weekly newsletter which includes info from other writers with tips, etc. and you can sign up to be on the mailing list (free) if interested at In the newsletter, you’ll see links to publications asking for submissions, too.
        Once a month, I lead a Travel Writers group, which is a lot of fun. We not only talk and write about our travels but also now publish them in a local online newspaper. I find having people critique my work is very helpful, too. In EPIC’s new Family History writing sessions, it is helping me gain another perspective on my novel which you asked about. It is about my family living in China and will be marketed as historical fiction.
        If you’d like, you can also reach me directly at We writers need to stick together!


      • Thanks, Vivian, for your encouraging words. I know about the word count. I already cut the book down from 150,000 words to 107,000 and I might be able to get it below 100,000 (my goal), but it’s unlikely I’ll get it to 80,000. If no one will take it, I guess I’ll have to go the self-publishing route. Thanks, Vivian, for your email. I’ll send you an email so we can be in contact. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I totally understand. I have a friend who self published a 150,000 tome but he doesn’t want to cut it back. However, since he isn’t Tolstoy, selling copies has been pretty slow. Many of his friends bought one or were given one for free as a thank you for being interviewed (myself included). Frankly I loved spending one summer reading it in my deck, but mostly because it had a lot to do with an era I lived through, people I knew, and a community where we lived in So. Oregon during the early 70s. Good historical background on the Sixties, too. With that said, if he had paid a professional editor, I think his book would have the potential to be successful, since he is a very good writer. I’m in the process of doing some chopping, too. My synopsis is too long!
        Look forward to hearing from you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Cathy for mentioning me in dispatches! Glad the depression is only transitory. Perhaps I should explain about the photos. I can’t for the life of me think which ones and when, but I am fairly certain it was neither ones from Hong Kong or Myanmar. You normally take a lot of care, both with the composition and the editing and I enjoy looking at them. I noticed though that some were not up to your usual standard that’s all, and some looked almost underdeveloped, at least they did on my computer. I put two and two together and came up with something like 17 that’s all!

    Would love to meet up with you one day. I am actually in the States in October visiting my daughter who lives in California, but I’m travelling with a friend via Iceland, and we are going to motor down the Pacific coast to meet up with a friend of hers so the holiday is all spoken for. One day maybe.

    Enjoy your cocktail hour.


    • Thanks for your clarification, Vee. I still don’t know which photos you mean, but anyway, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I take photos with my iPhone just because it’s all I have with me and I want to document something. I’m never happy with those photos, but I use the pictures in the interest of telling a story. Who knows. Maybe that’s what you saw??

      It would be great to meet you one day. October is a great time to visit the states, but sadly you’ll be on the opposite coast as me, since I live on the east coast. It sounds you’ll be very busy anyway. Lucky you, going to Iceland. I would LOVE to go there. Mike and I had planned to go there last summer before I left for China, but we couldn’t plan it because his mother was very ill and in hospice, and then she passed away. It was impossible to do. It’s still on our list though.

      Thanks, every night is a cocktail hour for me!! At least one glass of wine or a beer to top off my day! 🙂


  5. Gosh you do pack a lot into your week don’t you? I’ll have a glass of Merlot with you though I might let it warm up a bit so I can taste the flavours, and you really need to take that sheet down or it will start to grow mould 😉 The OH is super sensitive too, when we first got together it used to puzzle me why just about anything I said sent him into a sulk until I learned why. I have also learned to keep my mouth shut. Perhaps you could just nod your head in acknowledgement and smile next time you see this person? Or invite him/her to your cocktail hour?


    • Jude, I do try to pack a lot into my weeks. I really can’t stand to sit around doing absolutely nothing. I wish I could learn to do that!! Don’t worry about the chilled Merlot; after about 5 minutes in the laundry room, it will warm up because it’s so hot now. I did finally take the sheet down; luckily I got it down before the mold set in!

      My friend and I had a talk and everything seems okay between us now. It was just a matter of him being oblivious and me reading his obliviousness into him wanting to shake me off! Oh relationships; always so difficult, at least for me. 🙂


  6. Cheers and hugs to you, too! I agree with Heyjude. You really do fill up your week! Mine has not been nearly as interesting. Naps and illness sum it up. My fever broke finally a little while ago, so hopefully I’m on the mend.

    I’m that way about giving people space, too. I figure if they want to hang out with me, they’ll let me know. Sometimes that doesn’t work out well as the other person feels I’m ignoring them (when the whole time I thought they were ignoring me!). Relationships baffle me at times. It’s hard to know, from one friend to the next, the best approach.


    • Thanks, Robin! Yes, my week is packed with stuff, including work, which is not at all fun! How I wish I didn’t have to work, but then I’d be antsy for something to do!
      I’m glad to know someone else responds to being ignored the same way I do. I figure if the person doesn’t want to be around me, then I’m certainly not going to push myself on them. I’ve never been one to chase people or push people, and that’s unlikely to change at my age!! Relationships are difficult, that’s for sure. I enjoy most my oldest friends who I know like the back of my hand. Some people I just don’t feel I know enough, and thus I can’t understand them. 🙂


  7. A big hug back to you also!

    The apartment meal is an interesting concept. I don’t think I’d like it myself, but you’re there for adventure and you’re getting plenty of it. As for the person who’s been avoiding you, hopefully the two of you will get the air cleared and move on.

    That park really was unkempt. Sheesh. You should have had lunch with that other woman instead and had a different adventure for the day!


    P.S. Don’t worry about being behind on responding to comments. If you don’t have time, just skip it for a post or two. No one will be bothered as we’ve done it from time to time.


    • Thanks for the hug, Nancy! I was really surprised by this apartment restaurant. I probably would have preferred a regular restaurant, but it was certainly different and a Chinese experience I hadn’t had before. I hope the air will clear between this person and me, but I’m afraid I’m unlikely to be the one to make the overture. I didn’t quite know about having lunch with that woman, especially because of the language barrier. And though I didn’t suspect her of being a scammer, you never know. Apparently lots of scams happen in China, but they’re well known in Shanghai or Beijing.
      That park was really a disappointment. What I should have done was just stayed home in my nice air-conditioned apartment and edited my Myanmar pictures!!
      I will get to those comments, slowly but surely. They really meant a lot to me, so I really do want to respond thoughtfully. It will take time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never seen a Chinese lady with blonde hair, is it common?


    • I wouldn’t say it’s common, Gilly, but lots of Chinese women do dye their hair various shades of red or purple, and sometimes even blonde.


  9. I will take a cold glass of tempranillo, please! I brought some for us in case you could not get it in Nanning.

    I kind of like the overgrown park, but not the state of those poor horses, no water, unable to move. Why do the Chinese celebrate animals with such reverence in their art, but treat them so badly in real life? So upsetting, but minus the garbage, I think I prefer the unkempt greenery. In Japan, it was awful that every single blade of grass had to be controlled and forced into the sterile view of arranged beauty the Japanese seem to prefer. I had a small garden where I lived, and was devastated when the owner had it “landscaped” and took all its charming freedom to grow as it wanted to, away.

    That blonde woman was not very nice to trick you like that. I would never be able to handle that as calmly as you seem to.

    And anyone who does not value your friendship and you as the amazing woman you are, well it is their major loss!!!! Just ignore them and move on. Your own company is far preferable on its own, to sharing time with people who do not deserve to be your friend.

    Your number one fan (also eagerly awaiting that novel of yours!!)



    • Oh, yes, I figured you’d like some tempranillo, Mona Lisa. I remember sharing glasses of that with you in Oman. We did have some fun times and good laughs together there, didn’t we?
      As far as the mistreatment of animals, I wouldn’t say it’s just the Chinese. Wait till you read my last Myanmar post! Anyone is capable of it. I do hate to see it myself, and in the Myanmar case, I just got angrier and angrier until I just couldn’t take it any more.
      I know what you mean about a park that’s too sterile and too controlled, but I do like parks to be kept clean, without stinky garbage thrown everywhere. If you saw it, I really don’t think you’d enjoy it at all. I went earlier this year to the Guangxi Medicinal Plant Garden and though it was disheveled too, it had a lot of charms to it. This was not at all charming in any way.

      I don’t think the blonde Chinese woman was trying to trick me. There was just the language barrier and I thought she was telling me one thing when she was telling me another. I thought it was all quite funny and took it in stride as part of my adventure of the day!
      I would have been sad to lose this friendship as it is one of the few I have here. Luckily, we were able to clear the air yesterday and I feel much better about things. It was just a misunderstanding of expectations, as is usually the case with rifts between people. Thanks, Mona Lisa, for always being my strong supporter, but I am far from perfect, as you know, and I have a lot of growing up to do myself sometimes. Thanks for all your encouragement, as always. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for the invitation – I’d like a glass of Merlot please. 🙂 The apartment restaurant is slightly odd, but the view is great! I was wondering if your friend Gavin, had been to the recommended park recently – maybe it used to be lovely. It certainly looks anything but lovely now.


    • A glass of Merlot coming right up, Elaine. That apartment restaurant was slightly odd, but it was an experience, and I really value anything that’s a true experience of the culture in China today! I talked to Gavin yesterday about that park. He said it was really nice when he went there in 2004!!! I guess no one has tended it in nearly 11 years. 🙂


  11. G’day can I join in? I’m easy to please any wine you have available will do me!!! 🙂 I was intrigued about the apartment restaurant, and what a lovely young woman Azura looks, so kind to organize every thing. The food looked good. Was the price the same as a regular restaurant? I love how you are so open and willing to go with the flow. I would just about have given up trying to find bus 301. What a disappointment the park was and I felt so sorry for those poor ponies, but they did look in good condition. Interesting to hear you are writing a novel I would imagine you would have plenty of back ground material with all your adventures.
    I’ve been gardening most of this week, weather is perfect, overcast a bit of rain and not cold. Cheers to you my blogging buddy till the next get together….


    • Pauline, I would love to have you join in! I’ll pour you a glass of Merlot since that’s the bottle that’s open right now. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. I know it’s hot here, but if we get too warm, we’ll just move inside. 🙂
      Azura was really sweet to organize that dinner. The food was good but I wouldn’t say it was fabulous. I’ve had better, in other words. The price of the meal was actually quite low for all the food we got! It was a huge amount of food!

      As far as that trip to the park, I should have given up early on, but I kept reminding myself I was out for an adventure, and an adventure it was! I knew I could always get home somehow, by taxi or by the kindness of strangers, so I wasn’t worried. I just kept moving forward and hoping for the best. I felt bad for those ponies and the general dishevelment of that park. It’s too bad it isn’t better maintained.
      As for my novel, I finished the first draft over 10 years ago; I did a revision about 2 years ago, and then revised it again in the months before I came to China. I still haven’t sent it out to a soul yet though! I’m going to do that for sure when I get home. Actually, the novel is not at all autobiographical, and doesn’t include any of my adventures, but I would like to write that book someday as well.
      I’m glad you’ve been able to do some gardening this week, and that you’ve had perfect weather for it. Cheers to you until our next cocktail hour!! 🙂


  12. Cathy:
    I’ll just have a beer — Heineken preferred, but after that a Budweiser. If you don’t have either of those brands, it doesn’t matter; just about anything wet will do.
    Anyway, I’m posting one of the offers I keep getting for KSA.
    This one is just for females.
    (Why am I trying to get you to teach in Saudi? Even I don’t know.)
    Please note with the 10% year end bonus the salary adds up to $66,703, w/no taxes, they pay for the apartment, work transport + the 2 tickets a year etc.
    It’s better than what we (at least what I) made in Oman.
    And it’s a brand new campus.

    You must admit it’s nice to have options….

    Part of the Colleges of Excellence programme in Saudi Arabia.
    We are looking for experienced lecturing staff to inspire and engage in the delivery of high quality teaching. It is expected that the post holders will contribute to course design, development and review of the English Language programmes. Contracts will be a minimum of 12 months although there is the opportunity for these contracts to be extended.
    Centrally placed between Qatief and Dammam, our newly built state of the art female college will attract students from the three metropolitan areas of Qatief, Dammam and Al Khobar.
    The college has been created to provide the optimum environment for students to learn the essential skills and gain the knowledge to build a successful career. With ultra modern facilities including a full 500 seater cinema with Dolby surround sound, learning labs, IT suites, cafe and Mosque, our Qatief college is designed to enable students to get the most from their time with us, both in terms of their learning experience and personal development.
    Position requirements:
    BA Degree from a recognised university in English Language or Literature, TESOL, CELTA, Applied Linguistics, or education with an English teaching major – Masters degree in the above is desirable
    TEFL teaching qualification at CELTA level or above
    Minimum 3 years teaching experience in the post-secondary, technical, or vocational sector
    Applicants must hold an IELTS 7.5 Certificate if English is not their native tongue.
    In return you will receive:
    Salary of £33k + 10% bonus TAX FREE
    Full furnished accommodation
    Transport allowance + free transport to and from work
    Health care
    Annual return flight allowance
    Annual retention bonus (equivalent of 1 months salary)
    35 days annual leave
    Salary: £35,000.00 /year


    • Thanks Ernie, for dropping by my cocktail hour! I’m happy to serve you up a cold beer! We need it in this weather!

      Thanks for sending this job information. It sounds really good. I don’t know why you’re trying to get me to go to Saudi Arabia either, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. I’m already committed to going home for the fall semester; I’m planning to take the CELTA course in Washington. After that I’ll have another good credential. I see these people would like the CELTA too. All I have is an online 120-hour TEFL certificate. I also want to be with the family through the holidays. I may be looking in the fall for something that opens up in the spring semester. We’ll see what will happen. Right now, for that spring semester, I’m thinking of one semester with Westgate in Japan. Who knows, though. I don’t want to apply now for anything, because I don’t want to start any job until after Christmas. Thanks for keeping me posted though. Feel free to send me links to any other jobs you hear of by message on Facebook. What will you be doing this fall?


  13. Well, I was working as a substitute teacher in the local district, but that’s over as of today. Not much glory, but plenty of work. I was a “preferred sub” (ugh!) which means you are on one particular school’s list to work every day. I was making the higher salary, which was $140 for a 7 hour day because I have a teacher’s certificate. That’s not much to some people, but after the divorce I went to work in saudi and I paid off my condo completely, so all I have as bills now is the condo fee, which is $375 a month and I really don’t have any additional bills other than electric and paying back my credit card. That is if I went crazy with my credit card, which I did this month because of buying airline tickets.
    Anyway, I can live pretty comfortably on the substitute salary, but of course, what this means is I am a substitute teacher….
    Anyway, as fare as summer goes, I started working a couple years ago for Associated Reporters Abroad so I’m going overseas in about 2 weeks for about 10 days working for them on a spec basis.
    If this works out like before, I should make enough to get back as salary about 1/3 of what the trip costs me.
    Yes, that makes it a money loser, but it’s interesting and slightly addictive to go to places where there’s upheaval and unrest and spend a little time.
    Plus, I justify the expense to myself by thinking the articles can help me get more teaching jobs.
    I really don’t know if that’s true to be honest, but that’s what I tell people when the inevitable question of “Why did you go THERE anyway?” comes up.


    • That Associated Reporters Abroad sounds interesting, Ernie, but too bad it’s a money loser. At least it satisfies your wanderlust a bit, right? As far as the substitute teaching job, it’s not something I could do; I can’t stand the idea of teaching in American public schools in any capacity. Been there, done that. I don’t know how long I’ll last in Virginia, but at least I”m taking the CELTA in the fall, and then I can think about what to do next. Good thing you paid off your condo. That’s a very big deal!! 🙂


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