cocktail hour in the laundry room: BYOB for my final hours in china :-)

Sunday, July 12:  Good evening and welcome to my humble laundry room for our last cocktail hour in China!  Please, do come in and have a seat. Strangely, it isn’t too hot and miserable this July evening, so I think we’ll be comfortable enough on my screened-in “porch.”  At least here we can enjoy our magnificent view over the drab and utilitarian hotel courtyard.  It lacks charm, as does my laundry room, but hopefully one of you will step up to the plate and charm us all with your wiles and wit.

I have to apologize in advance for asking you to bring your own beverage, as I’m in the process of cleaning out my refrigerator and eating the last of my food in preparation for my imminent departure on Wednesday morning at 9:40 a.m.  I only have one Tsingtao beer remaining, and I’d be happy to offer it to you, but…. I must say, I need a beer after all I’ve been through in the last two weeks. 🙂

I’m sorry it’s been three weeks since my last cocktail hour.  (The ex-Catholic in me almost wrote, “It’s been 3 weeks since my last confession,… Father.”) 🙂  Since that cocktail hour, I’ve been super busy.  On the weekend  following our last gathering, I went to the Longji Rice Terraces one last time. They were as beautiful as they were the first time I saw them, maybe even more so, and I’ve now decided they are the top place I visited during all my travels in China this year.  Here’s a glimpse, below.  I’ll write more about them later, once I’ve returned home.  I’m hopelessly behind in my blogging.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

In the last several weeks, I had a couple of dinners with students and colleagues, I marked 73 final essays and 37 listening exams and proctored several exams.  It’s been busy, so I’ve missed you all, and I hope once I get back to the USA, I’ll have time for more leisurely chats over a glass of wine, or two.

Please, tell me all about your week.  I hope my American friends had a nice Fourth of July.  For me it was just like any other day, as I don’t know why on earth anyone in China would celebrate America’s independence.

Actually, I take back that it was like any other day.  I just remembered that on July 4th, I spent nearly 6 grueling hours marking 19 of my 73 papers.  It was the furthest thing from “independence day” imaginable. The process of marking those papers was incredibly tedious.  It took on average about half an hour per paper, as we had to check students’ in-text citations and Works Cited pages, which frankly were a complete mess.  In addition, when sentences seemed too good to be true, with perfect grammar and vocabulary normally out of my students’ realm of knowledge, I felt compelled to search online for plagiarism.  It was terribly time-consuming. Those were some of the worst 4 days of my life so far.  Thank goodness they’re now over.  My grades are in, and I’ve been officially signed off, received my travel allowance and my final pay, and am now just packing the last of my things for my trip home.

So, tell me about your summer. I hope it’s been relaxing, as summer should be.  Are you enjoying your gardens and reaping wonderful fruits from them? Have you been sipping iced tea on a porch with a sunset view?  Have you traveled anywhere interesting, and if not, are you planning to?  Have you been swimming or eating ice cream to keep cool? What flavors?  Have you seen any good movies in the theater or on TV?  Have you caught any fireflies or gone crabbing off a dock?  Have you sailed the seven seas? Have you read any steamy summer novels?  Have you basked in the sunlight?  Have you sung “hallelujah”?

I ask about the “hallelujah” because on Facebook, my dear friend Mario, who many of you may remember from Oman, posted a beautiful song by Rufus Wainwright called “Hallelujah.”  It was originally written by Leonard Cohen, but I have to say I like the Rufus version better.  Once I heard this song, I fell in love with it so much that I’ve been listening to it repeatedly.  In addition, I found a website called, and I looked up the lyrics to that song and read what different people think the lyrics mean.  I won’t rehash the comments here, but you can read them yourself if you’re interested: (Rufus Wainwright – Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)).  Oh, how I adore this song, especially these lines:

And remember when I moved in you?
The holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

The music, the lyrics: all so stunning.  That song takes my breath away.

Time waster that I can be, I then proceeded to look up meanings for many of my favorite songs, including “I & Love & You” by the Avett Brothers and “Somebody that I used to know,” sung by Gotye and Kimbra. I’ve had discussions with people about the meanings of these and other songs, and I was happy to find someone in each feed who agreed with my interpretation of these songs.  I’ve had some people tell me that when Kimbra sings the lines below, she’s referring to one of Gotye’s old girlfriends who he can’t forget, but I disagree.  I understand her to be talking about herself; by breaking up with Gotye, she’s now become the “somebody that [Gotye] used to know.”

And I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

I must apologize that I’ve digressed.  But isn’t this how a cocktail hour goes?  Any subject can come up; convolutions in conversation take you down winding paths you never imagined before. I love this about a cocktail party, or any small gathering of friends.

As for books, I’m embarrassed to admit I’m still slogging through The Sandcastle Girls.  I honestly just don’t make the time to read like I should.  That’s probably because I’ve been so addicted to the TV series Revenge and now Mistresses; sadly, those shows are taking up way too much of my down time.  I really need to have that mindless time sometimes though.  What do you do when you need time free from thinking?  I know Robin meditates; I sadly haven’t acquired that habit, at least not regularly.

In my final days here, it’s been a time of goodbyes. I said goodbye to all of my students and was very sad to do so.  I gave them my email address and invited them to come stay with me in northern Virginia any time they would like.  I know it’s unlikely that many of them will ever come to America, but if they do, I’d really love to have them.  I also asked them to keep in touch and let me know what happens in their lives. I really hope they will do so.

I taught 73 students over the entire year.  Most of the same students have been with me since September.  My 1408 class is the one I’m closest to because I taught them Writing AND Speaking & Listening.  I have an A class of 18 students and a B class of 19 students, for a total of 37.  We spent a lot of hours together over the year.  The personalities of these classes are very different; the A class is much more lively and talkative and fun-loving than the B class.  So I’ve felt especially close to them, and it was very hard to say goodbye.  Below is my entire 1408 class with all 37 students.  Usually the classes were divided into A and B groups, meaning I repeated the same lessons twice each week, but once a week, I taught one 40-minute writing class with all 37 of them together.

1408 class: all 37 students

1408 class: all 37 students

This is my wild and crazy A class.  I love them all for their outgoing personalities and their kindness. I have some real characters in this class, especially Albert, Edison, Chris, Yuki, Robin and Paul.  Spring was probably the best student I had overall. Robin and Yuki were the movers and shakers, the organizers who always arranged our parties, gatherings, KTV visits, and outings.

1408: all 37 students

1408 A: 18 students

My 1408 B class was a little more quiet and subdued.  It was only toward the end that they started to break out of their shells, especially thanks to Coco, Jocelyn and Hellen, Jack and Leo.

1408 class: 37 students:

1408 B class: 19 students

The 1407 class was really great fun too, especially the A class, which had 21 students.  The B class of 15 students was super quiet and maybe even a little boring.  I only taught them writing, so I saw them a lot less than the 1408 class.  Because I saw them less frequently and because we didn’t talk a lot in class (it was a writing class, after all), I sometimes got them mixed up, more than I would have liked!

1407 class: 36 students

1407 class: 36 students

A couple of students from the 1407A class invited me to lunch one day and I received from them a barrage of insults and compliments all at the same time.   They told me first that Colton, my partner teacher who taught reading and speaking & listening to them, said that I was a “harsh” teacher.  I said, “How would he know?  He’s never sat in on my class!”  Of course, it then hit me that he’d only know this if they told him.   But, said David, “I really like your teaching style better than Colton’s.  You make me think and you have us do more active learning.”  They also told me that they often didn’t understand what I said because I talked too fast.  I do know that I sometimes forget to slow down, as I do talk naturally fast. So I said, “Why didn’t you raise your hand and tell me to slow down?” They said, oh no, they would never do that.  As Chinese students they are taught to never question a teacher’s authority or teaching style, especially in front of other students.  I said, “Well, I hope it helped that I wrote everything on a Power Point so you could read along.”  They said, yes, that helped a lot.

On Wednesday, July 8, after I finished proctoring the reading exams, my 1408 class invited me to join them at a restaurant for a lunch they arranged. It was a lovely time.  When I finished with lunch, I rode my bicycle home and finished marking the last of the listening exams, entered all my marks onto spreadsheets and wrote up all the analyses of the marks to turn in as soon as possible.

On Thursday morning, I handed in all my exams and marks and analyses of marks, and got my checklist signed off on by all the official people.  This felt like the first huge burden lifted off me.

My 1407 class invited me to a party on Thursday, July 9 at the same rental apartment where my 1408 class had a Christmas party for me earlier this year.  The party was supposed to go from 2-7, but I had an appointment to get my hair straightened and cut at 11:00. I wanted to have this process done in China because it only cost 500 yuan (~$81), whereas in the U.S. it costs about $300 for the inexpensive version!  The whole process lasted from 11-4:30, so I was late to the party.

The girls made dumplings and we played card games and chatted and took pictures. It was a fun time, but I left at about 6:30, exhausted from the whole stressful week.

While I was at the party, I got a message from LiJi, one of the Chinese administrators: “Hi Cathy, Can you come to Dean Qin’s office tomorrow 11:30 a.m.?  You’ve been awarded the SCIC Dean’s Special Honor.”  For a few brief seconds, I thought this was really wonderful, except I couldn’t think why on earth I would get such an award.  Later that evening, I was emailing back and forth with Erica, my friend and colleague, to arrange a time to meet Friday morning to help her with her spreadsheets.  By now, quite suspicious of the “special honor,” I wrote to her: “Hey there, has everyone been invited to the Dean’s office at 11:30 tomorrow?”

She wrote back: “The invitation sounded really personal & special…then I got to thinking ‘you know, i bet everyone’s had the same invitation’…haha. I was invited for 11:40 though & not 11:30.”
Later in the evening, Gavin wrote me on WeChat and I wrote back: “So what time have you been invited to meet the Dean tomorrow? 🙂 ” He wrote back: “How do you know about that?”  I said, “Because we were all invited! My time is 11:30 and Erica’s 11:40.”  He wrote back: “Haha, I feel like the sandwich filling (11:35).”

On Friday morning, I took my signed-off checklist to the people responsible for reimbursing our travel allowance, and had the money deposited into my account by that afternoon.  While there, I ran into another colleague and I asked him, “So, what time are you meeting with the Dean?” He said, “What?  I’m not meeting with the Dean.”  I said, “Oh, I thought everyone was invited!”  Oops!

On my way up to meet the Dean, I commented to LiJi, “It seems like a lot of people are getting the award.”  He said, “Yes, nine.”  Ok, so I guess it was a little special as only 36% of the teachers were getting the award.  It turned out we were chosen based on student evaluations, classroom observations by the Chinese staff, and the votes of the Chinese administration.  And, on top of that, it turned out we got a 1000 yuan bonus (~ $162)!  So I guess it was a bit of a big deal. 🙂

The Dragon's Backbone in Ping'An

The Dragon’s Backbone in Ping’An

On Saturday morning, I asked Erica if she would help me lug a bunch of my stuff to the post office.  When we got there at 10:30 with two suitcases and two bags packed with stuff, we were told that the post office was out of big boxes.  We asked if we could leave my stuff behind the counter while we went to a supermarket to find some boxes.  The lady said okay.  We went to the supermarket, found two large boxes and returned to the post office.  The post office lady then told us that we are only allowed to use the sturdy post office boxes to mail things internationally.  So why did she send us off to find boxes at the supermarket?  And why aren’t they stocking enough boxes for customers to send things home?  After all, students are graduating and leaving the campus and will be sending stuff to their homes too.  This shows the lack of foresight often so prevalent in China.

It seems we were in a Catch-22. I told the lady I needed to mail my packages today, so what should I do?  (All this time, we were actually having our conversation translated by a poor student who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!)  The lady said she would order 4 boxes (2 for me and 2 for Erica) and we should come back at 3:00.  We did that; the boxes were there (“hallelujah!”), and I sent my boxes home to Virginia by surface (1-3 months) for 791 yuan (~$127).  The whole ordeal, between getting the last of my stuff together and going twice to the post office, was exhausting and took a good chunk out of the day.

Nothing is ever easy in China.

Cheers to you all, and thanks for joining me tonight for my final cocktail hour in the laundry room.  It was really nice to visit with you again.  I may not be able to respond promptly to your comments, but I will eventually, I promise.  And I also will respond to those of you who commented on my last cocktail hour, and to whom I haven’t yet responded. Thanks for being patient.

Hopefully we can meet in a nicer spot once I’m back home in Virginia. 🙂

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi University, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, laundry room cocktail hour, Nanning, Sino-Canadian International College (SCIC), Teaching English as a Second Language, Travel | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

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48 thoughts on “cocktail hour in the laundry room: BYOB for my final hours in china :-)

  1. Finally!! I was craving another laundry room visit! I will really miss them!! Just visited Pudong with you, the hazy evening shots made me very nostalgic for Tokyo! I took a teaching job on the 44th floor of a high rise just to watch the neon lights come on at night. For some reason, I found the bright red neon lights in that hazy azure blue haze mesmerizing, almost spiritual when I could enjoy the view by myself.

    The crowd shots are also reminiscent of Tokyo unfortunately, something like you, I absolutely do not miss.

    Before I start to read the above post, I will make myself a coffee as it is too early even for a non-alcoholic beer, my new drink of choice.

    Wishing you a very safe and speedy trip home and hope to chat with you on the phone once you are settled back home. My turn to call!


    • Sorry it took me so long to write another laundry room cocktail hour, Mona Lisa. I’ve just been so busy, but now it seems I have all the time in the world. Funny how that goes! I’m glad you enjoyed my Pudong nighttime shots and they brought back memories of Tokyo. Isn’t that nice when pictures take you back to happy times in your life? I bet you did find those views mesmerizing and even spiritual.

      I’m sure Tokyo is as crowded as Shanghai and other places in China. I will not miss that about China, that’s for sure!

      Cheers to you with your non-alcoholic beer! Hope to chat with you before long. I won’t be back in Washington until the 23rd as I’ll be visiting my sister Stephanie in LA for a week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got a bit misty-eyed when you wrote about your final good-byes to your students. That is always the hardest part about leaving a foreign posting, the students and of course, the few colleagues you got close to. Sadly, the friendships you were so sure would survive yet another departure often don’t, and those you did not expect to stay in contact, often are the ones who work hard to stay in your life.

    I am so glad I still enjoy facebook contact with my colleagues from Tokyo almost 25 years ago, and with a few from Oman, though again, the ones I felt were special had no problem never getting in touch with me again no matter how many emails I sent asking how they are doing. But that is the ESL game, now over for me, of living and working with people in exotic places, people you would never in a million years ever have the chance to cross paths with, good or bad.

    I am glad you got all your packing and marking and last-minute visiting done, as I know how hard that can be on your body and nerves, rushing around to get all the signatures and good-byes done on time. As someone who marks exams for a living now (well, if I pass my probation in three weeks’ it will be), I can sympathize, but thank God I don’t mark writing!!

    Cannot wait to hear from you whenever you and your poor tummy have had a chance once you are safely home again, cooling your feet in the Atlantic Ocean once again, eating food which does not force you to always be aware of the nearest washroom, aka fully recovered from yet another exhausting but exciting year abroad.

    Safe trip!!!!


    • I got a little teary-eyed myself to leave my students, Mona Lisa, especially the 1408A class, to whom I felt really connected. It is sad to leave the couple of true friends I made here, basically Erica and Gavin. Other than the students and those two, I won’t miss much else. You’re right in that when you live abroad, you inevitably lose contact with people who you thought you were close to. That’s to be expected. I guess you know who your good friends are by how much effort they make, but you can still know that those friendships did matter while you were there, and they sustained you at least for a while.

      I’m so glad to have that marking done, and the packing as well. I had lunch with Erica today and dinner with Gavin last night, so I don’t expect I’ll say goodbye to anyone else as I leave at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow. I’m pretty much ready now and just waiting for the time to pass.

      Luckily you don’t have to mark writing exams in your new job. You know how much I hate that!! I really have to get out of this line of work! I can’t wait till my stomach problems are resolved either, and I have an appointment already set up with a gastroenterologist a week after I return home. Hope to talk to you upon my return and thanks for the good wishes! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • You really nailed it!! I had not considered it in this way, that while you are there, certain people do sustain you, even if the friendships do not necessary survive your departure or theirs. This does not make them any less meaningful, you are so right. It is always interesting and at times sad to see who makes the effort once you have gone. I was hurt by those who did not, but energized by those who did, and based on your comments, I realize there is no crime being committed because people move on without you sometimes. As always I find insight in every single post you write.



      • Thanks, Mona Lisa. I feel sad sometimes too that the people who did sustain us while we were abroad don’t keep up with us. I wish I could be around some of those people again, but who knows if our paths will cross in the future. Those bonds made overseas are really special though, as only the people you met in that environment can fully understand and appreciate the shared experience there. I will always hold those people close to my heart. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. And I know how much you must miss Mario. It was a very hard decision for me to stop my friendship with Warwick a few weeks ago. I realized I was writing him every day, long messages, always asking him about stuff, sharing stuff, helping him with job leads, etc., and in response I would get a few lines of text, never anything more and never any questions about me or my life. Granted I shared a lot, but when I stopped writing, he never responded or asked “why”. !!! I deleted over 1000 messages, realizing I cared more about him than he cared about me or himself. I did get mad at him for constantly supporting all these families he says are his “daughter” and his “grandkids” , etc., both in Oz and in Vietnam, when he is so miserable in Saudi and has not got one dime saves, yet these people were demanding he pay $1000 each for the kids’ school fees, in the same message he says he is totally broke. The man is generous to a fault, he certainly bailed me out a number of times, but I always ALWAYS paid him back first when I got paid. These people just know a good thing when they see one. When Irena visited him in VN she saw how the family there took advantage of him making him pay for everythign but he is convinced they help him in return with a bit of translation in VN or by giving him a place to stay in Oz even though he paid rent while there. So that was that. I realize I cannot miss what never was. He never cared that much about me and it is not like I had romantic feelings for him. For Warwick? He was like a gay friend who is not gay. Only gay men are more attentive to their female friends as people. Warwick I know did not care that much about me as a friend hence never asking me about how I am doing despite daily exchanges.

        I do hear from Linda Sue and Irena, and online I fb with Elma and Abraham from SA, and Patrick I do hope to visit if he ever comes home to Niagara FAlls as I can take a casino bus there for $15 dollars return most days for a few hours’ visit as the casino is right in town.

        But it is not the same. I have no friends here in Canada at all, even the girl whom I used to go to the pub with, the ESL teacher, whom I contacted every Friday to say whether or now I wanted to go to the pub never once contacted me when I stopped sending that text message every Friday morning. Clearly she does not miss my company esp as every time we did meet, she always brought other people along whom I did not know and had already started drinking about 3 hours before I finished work every Friday. Oh well. Like I said, I “KonMari’d” a few people out of my life for not bringing me any joy.



      • I’m surprised to hear you cut off your friendship with Warwick, but I can certainly understand if he didn’t give you much in return as far as asking about you and caring about your life. Relationships need to be a two-way street or they’re just not satisfying. About generous people (Mike is one); there is no end to their giving, but I think it also makes them feel needed and even a little superior. I tell Mike that when you keep bailing people out it gives the message that you don’t believe they can do things on their own; even though the people may appreciate the help on one level, they also begin to feel entitled and even somewhat resentful. That’s so funny that you describe Warwick as a “gay friend who is not gay.” Totally unavailable in any romantic way, and really in any way at all.

        I’m glad you do keep in touch with Linda Sue, Irena, and Patrick (I don’t know the others you mention). I hope you will be able to visit Patrick. What are they all doing now?

        I’m sorry you don’t have any friends in Canada. I know the feeling. I’m always the one who has to invite people out, and they never invite me in return. Mike is my one steady companion, so at least I have him. Even my kids don’t want to spend time with me. I say I’m staying here to keep Adam on track, but I’m really staying here to keep Mike on track from being too generous with Adam. I want him to take a hard line with him, and if I’m not here to do that, Adam will be running roughshod all over him. Our renovation is proceeding slowly and I just spent a LOT of time studying for the Real Estate licensing exam, which it turns out I don’t want to do after all! What a waste of time and energy. I should be writing a blog post about that soon. 🙂

        About the ESL teacher who you always invited out and who always brought other people along — I used to know someone like that and I found it really annoying as I often didn’t like the person she brought along and it ruined the whole encounter. It’s so rude to do that without asking the person who invited you! Relationships with people are often not easy, are they? xxx


  3. Hi Kat. So your time is almost here. I can’t believe it’s come so quickly. It’s been a hell of an experience one way or another. I wish you a good flight back home, Kat, and I’ll be talking to you again soon.


    • Hi Dai, Yes, I’ve about 18 hours left till my departure. I can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly myself! It has been a hell of an experience!! Thanks for your good wishes for my travels, and I look forward to having more time to catch up with you. 🙂


  4. I’m so glad you managed to fit in one more cocktail hour before you leave China. It is lovely to sit and relax for a little while and catch up on the week’s news – maybe you will continue them when you get home? For my BYOB I have brought some chilled Pinot Grigiot because I had a little left over from lunch with a friend earlier in the week – there’s enough for two glasses, so please help yourself if you would like some. The photos of the rice fields look wonderful and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them when you have the time. The marking you had to do sounds dreadful – but at least it is over now. Oh, and many congratulations on your award!
    My week has been interesting, and entertaining. On Friday night the school staff had a lovely barbeque with lots of laughs (as well as tasty food, of course) then yesterday I was at a daytime party helping a friend to celebrate a special birthday and wedding anniversary – it was a wonderful occasion.
    I hope your next few days go well and that your travel plans go smoothly. 🙂


    • Thanks for joining in my last cocktail hour in China, Elaine. I would like to continue them once I get home, but definitely in a nicer place than my laundry room! Thanks for bringing the Pinot Grigio; I’ll definitely partake of that with you. Cheers!

      I can’t wait to post about the rice terraces; I still have so much to catch up on as I’m trying to do them in order of when I experienced them, diary-style. I still have to finish writing about Shanghai, then Yangshuo, then Beihai, and finally the rice terraces! Oh so much to do. And I still haven’t finished writing about my time in Myanmar!

      Thanks so much for the congrats on the award. I’m glad to have received it, even if more than a third of the other teachers also received one.

      I’m glad you enjoyed your barbecue with the school staff and your daytime birthday/wedding anniversary party. Sounds like a fun time all around.

      I hope all goes smoothly in my travels tomorrow too! I have three flights to L.A. so I hope all connections go smoothly. xxx 🙂


  5. Hey, at least you got your shipping costs covered with your special award money. Congratulations, by the way! Always bittersweet to leave where you’ve created special relationships (the students seem so very young), but soon you’ll be on your journey home. See you soon…


    • That’s what I thought, Annette. I’m always happy to get any amount of money, especially when I’m not expecting it! It certainly is bittersweet to leave my students behind. It was really a pleasure to have them in my classes. They do seem very young, don’t they, but believe it or not, they’re 18-20 years old! Yes, I’ll see you at your retreat. I look forward to it. Mike mailed the check yesterday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Hallelujah” is one of my favorite songs, any version of it (I think even Bon Jovi has done it). I love Leonard Cohen’s poetry, too.

    I enjoyed the photos of you with your student. Fun stuff. The “dragon’s backbone” really does look like a dragon’s backbone. What a cool looking place! All those terraces are amazing.

    As for me, my summer has been filled with all kinds of activities, some good, some not so good. The heat and humidity are, as usual, sucking the life out of me, but the occasional cooler (mid 80’s instead of upper 90’s) days are refreshing. I’m going to spend this afternoon in the pool, staring up at the sky. It’s too hot to do anything else.

    Have a safe trip back!


    • I’m glad someone else likes “Hallelujah” as much as I do, Robin. I’d love to hear the Bon Jovi version and I’ll have to remember to look it up when I return home. Thanks! It was fun to take pictures with all my students and now I can remember them for all time! As for the dragon’s backbone, it really does look like one and is quite amazing.

      I understand about the heat and humidity sucking the life out of you; you and I share our intense dislike of those two weather conditions! I hope you enjoyed your day in the pool, staring up at the sky. That sounds very inviting and just what I’d like to be doing right now!! I’m glad you’ve had some good activities this summer, but I’m sorry for the bad ones. Hopefully, it’ll get cooler sooner rather than later this year. 🙂


  7. I’m exhausted just reading about your busy time. Have a good journey home Cathy 🙂


  8. You pack more into a week than most people do in a year! Safe travels home Cathy, I’m sure your stomach will be glad to be rid of the oily food which caused it so much trouble! I had to chuckle at the thought of you sending stuff home, you don’t travel light do you! As for Hallelujah, I really can’t believe you hadn’t come across that song before. I love the Leonard Cohen version, (well tbh I have always had a soft spot for him since the days of ‘Suzanne’ //And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China,//) but I also like Jeff Buckley’s version.


    • Well, it had been three weeks since I last wrote my cocktail hour post, so all those activities were spread out over 3 weeks, Jude. I think I would have keeled over in pure exhaustion if I had done all that activity in one week! I can’t wait to get home and have a big cheese platter and salad and to escape the oil and stomach problems I’ve had in China!

      As far as sending stuff home, I have lived here for a year, and did have to have clothes for all seasons and enough to last for a year. The 3 boxes in total that I had to send home from China were MUCH fewer than the 19 boxes I sent home by cargo when I left Oman!! I have really had minimal stuff here in China, and believe me I’m so sick of wearing the same old clothes over and over again!

      You know, I have the Leonard Cohen version of “Hallelujah” in my iTunes library, so I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but it didn’t catch my attention until I heard the Rufus Wainwright version. I like that line about “tea and oranges that come all the way from China,” especially considering that’s where I am right now!! I love Cohen’s song “Dance me to the end of love.” I hear Bon Jovi has also done a cover of “Hallelujah,” but I haven’t heard it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, great send off! Better than I thought you would get. It was nice to see your students too.

    I went back to work last week! I have a contract position – they needed my skill set, but not full-time. So it may evolve into a permanent part-time, which would be great for me. Still, it was weird being at work last week.

    See you soon!



    • Nancy, I was very happy with the send-off from my students. They are the best! Congratulations on going back to work. Part time sounds great! I’d like to find that kind of job myself. I’m sure it must have been strange to be back at work when you haven’t worked in a while! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s going better than I expected. People have been really nice, very welcoming, very patient explaining the systems. They’re thrilled – I know what the end is supposed to be, so they don’t have to explain what to do, just how to get it done.


      • That’s great Nancy! A new chapter in your life!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on the Award, Cathy! In spite of some of your grumblings and not liking the system, I bet you did a fantastic job. Those kids all look happy as can be and it’s great to see you with them. A last cocktail hour! Jiminy Cricket- did you think it would ever come?
    I’m a Cohen/Suzanne lady too. Safe travels home, Cathy! You’ll soon be hugging that family again. 🙂


    • Thanks, Jo! I do grumble a lot about some of my jobs, as none of them are remotely perfect, but nonetheless, I do work hard and do everything I’m supposed to do and then some. This is one time I haven’t been rushing to get out of a place where I’ve lived and worked, but I am ready to go home now. Leonard Cohen is a great writer, I agree, but I do love this song done by Rufus Wainwright. I hear Bon Jovi also did a cover of this song, but I haven’t heard it. Can’t wait to get home and hug my family. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t heard the Wainwright version, I don’t think. Must Google or look on Sound Cloud or whatever (so clued up! 😦 😦 ) Heaps of hugs just waiting for you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Well done Cathy. You’ve really achieved so much during your time there, and the joy on your students’ faces tells me that you’ll be greatly missed. They obviously love you very much. Safe trip back home. What amazing memories you’ve made. xx


    • Thanks so much, Sylvia. I feel like I’ve been on the go since I arrived, and now I need a break. It was a great pleasure teaching my Chinese students. Thanks so much for your good “safe travel” wishes. It’s been a great year, and I’m glad I came and made the most of it. 🙂 xxx


  12. I’m a bit late reading this and as I do, you must be well on your way home Cathy. Congratulations on completing this year. I know it wasn’t always easy for you.

    I hope you continue to have the occasional cocktail hour. It’s fun reading about what everyone has been doing. If I was going to have a drink this evening it would a glass of Somersby apple cider. We’ve just had two weeks school holidays here and the first week I went to Port Douglas, in far north Queensland, with Mr ET. It is beautiful there and I’m planning to write some posts about it soon. (I haven’t written a post for a few weeks, mainly because we’ve been away!) One evening we went to a café called The Beach Shack, which had been recommended to us, but sadly we didn’t have a reservation and it was booked out. So we decided to order a take away meal and had a drink while we were waiting. I asked for a cider and was given a large glass of Somersby and it was deeelicious – the best apple cider I have ever had.

    In the second week of the holidays, I went to the opposite end of the country, to Melbourne, with my sister and nephews. Talk about two extremes. 3000 kilometres apart and a difference of at least 15 degrees in weather. It was 26 degrees C in Port Douglas and 13 degrees C in Melbourne, for a few minutes in the middle of the afternoon. It was much colder than that for most of the days.

    Safe travelling and I’m looking forward to reading your next instalment soon.


    • So sorry, Carol, I just now found this comment and realized I never responded to you. I don’t know how I missed it. I’ve never had Somersby apple cider. Is that an Australian special drink? I think I’ll have some too, if you don’t mind.

      I have returned home now (and have been home for almost 3 weeks). It’s so nice to be home again, and to eat normal and delicious food. I forgot, being in China, what a variety of ethnic foods we have here in America, and so many excellent restaurants. That being said, I’m also trying to eat very healthy and exercising every day, trying to lose the 7 lbs. I put on in China.

      I’ll have to drop over to yours to see your posts about Port Douglas. I’m glad you got your Somersby apple cider there. Is that a non-alcoholic drink?

      I hope you had a wonderful time in Melbourne too. It’s always great to visit family, isn’t it?

      Enjoy the rest of your summer! 🙂


      • The apple cider is alcoholic and delicious. Cider has become a very popular drink here in the last few years.

        I haven’t posted any stories about Port Douglas yet, but I do have plans. It’s winter here – spring starts on 1st September. We’ve had some very cold days but at the moment it’s quite mild.

        It’s good to hear you have settled in at home again. I hope all goes well for you this time round.


      • Thanks, Carol. I hope it goes well too. I imagine it will, but then I also imagine I’ll get the urge to go abroad again eventually. Right now I’m fine where I am, but who knows how long before my wanderlust kicks in! I’ll look forward to your Port Douglas posts!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh gawd, now you have me looking up ‘meanings’ of my favorite songs. because I too can be a time waster, whether it’s cocktail hour or not. “Nothing is ever easy in China” – I remember saying that about the Middle East, do you know I have PTSD from lack of customer service and things never “being easy”? I’ll have great customer service or something will “be easy”, now in the US, and I will be at a loss, like what just happened. Welcome back to the United States where things may not be perfect, but they sure can be easy.


    • Haha, Tahira, I’m glad I got you hooked on looking up song meanings! That can waste a whole afternoon or more. 😊 Nothing has been easy in any of the 3 countries where I lived, so it’s a relief to be back in the U.S. where things are most definitely easier! I agree. That’s funny, your PTSD! I think I may have some of that too! I’m more exhausted from China than I was from either Oman or Korea. I wonder if it’s just me getting older. 😊


  14. Thanks for visiting my blog earlier. It seems I’ve come to this party too late as you’ve now been home for nearly a month! (I have visited both China and Virginia and would definitely much prefer to live in the latter.) Re Leonard Cohen, I am a huge fan and, although I accept he does not have the best voice, I will never accept that anyone else’s versions of his songs are better. He’s the man! Though I do like Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah, and kd lang’s version is another favourite. As someone else said, just about everyone has covered it. Hope you are settling back in at home.


    • Yes, I’m home now, Anabel, but I’ll still be posting a lot from China as I am so far behind in blogging about all my travels there. I haven’t heard kd lang’s version of Hallelujah, so I’ll have to check it out. It seems the Rufus Wainwright’s version has some different and additional lyrics than Cohen’s version, and I love those additional stanzas a lot! Thanks for dropping by!


      • I think Leonard wrote about 80 verses! It took him years. He sometimes uses different versions himself.


      • Interesting! You know more about Leonard than I do!! 🙂


      • I am a long-time fan, possibly even slightly obsessed……


      • It’s so funny, Anabel. I had never heard of Leonard Cohen until some Brits introduced me to him while I was in Oman in 2011. I don’t know where I was all those years!! It’s hard to know how I didn’t know about him unless it’s because he’s Canadian??? Or maybe I just wasn’t up with the music scene, although I thought I was. Also, maybe because he’s not quite my contemporary, but older?? I really have no idea, but I was happy to find him, even late in my life. 🙂


      • Well, he went very quiet for many years in the 90s, when he became a Buddhist monk, and didn’t start touring again till 2008 after his manger stole all his money. Maybe you missed him then.


      • I had no idea he became a Buddhist monk. That makes me like him even more! I can’t believe his manager stole all his money. Maybe that is why I missed him! I know now who to go to when I need to know anything about Leonard Cohen! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  15. You must be quite a teacher! I see so much happiness and fun in those group photos. And how interesting that the ride terraces turned out to be the fav place – when I think of all the historic possibilities, etc., but the pure sculpture and the way the landscape just extends out forever – fabulous. Love those photos!


    • Thanks so much, Lynn. I think I am able to bond well with my students; even though many of them told me later they thought I was very strict and demanding, they still enjoyed my teaching style! Chinese students are really a pleasure to teach, much like Korean students; they’re all so perfectly behaved and respectful, something I didn’t encounter at all in Oman or in teaching Saudis in Virginia.

      As for the rice terraces being my favorite place in China, they were so because of the wonderful magnificence and scope of the landscape and the relative lack of crowds. Yes, I saw many historical places in China, but most of them were packed with people (1.4 billion in China is hard to take!) and are overly done. I don’t know how to explain; they’re not necessarily commercialized but the human imprint is heavy-footed!

      I still haven’t posted my most recent photos of the rice terraces as I’m quite far behind in blogging about my China experiences. I still have to post about Yangshuo (my 3rd trip) and Beihai and Weizhou Island, and then the rice terraces. So much work to do; and then there’s Myanmar, which I loved and is on my rice paddies & papayas blog. And then there’s Joshua Tree in California, coming up soon. Someday I may catch up, before I forget it all. 🙂


  16. Oh, and I love the Leonard Cohen version – there’s a really old youtube of him doing the song with a German chorus, it’s great. But I can’t find it ) -:

    Liked by 1 person

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