Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fake Finds: November and Baby Bandit

It's been a while, eh? You know what that means, right???!!! We've been so busy doing incredibly exiting and amazing things and experiencing life and trying to soak it all in that I haven't had time to write a blog post. 

Or, it's what's actually happened: life. I got sick (pneumonia) and that lasted a good 3 weeks, our school underwent an inspection from the BC government (it happens every year so we can keep our diploma-giving status) and I was up to my eyeballs with boring paperwork, and we've just been busy with work. We haven't traveled anywhere exotic yet or gone to other cities in China because, well... 

Here's one reason: 

Baby Bandit. 

If you didn't read about him on Facebook, here's the story: 
Phoenix and I went for our traditional weekend scooter-ride and 
we passed a gigantic lumberyard right next to our school. 
As we drove through the wooden city this literal pack of dogs started emerging
from between the piles of wood and baby Bandit came running up to us. 

It's like a love story. Except doggy-style. 
I know how that sounds and I don't care. 

Anyway... We drove home, told Ian about this adorable puppy that
practically begged us to take him (as well as the Chinese workers who
shoved him into my arms and motioned for us to take him) and Ian was
intrigued. So intrigued that the next morning Ian drove there, picked up baby Bandit
and brought him home. 

So now we have two dogs in our tiny apartment but it's fine... It just means that traveling
will be a little bit more of an obstacle, but it's a small price to pay for the tiny
life we saved. He really is a sweet doggy too! 

So that's why we haven't gone away for weekend excursions, but we 
have gone into Shanghai a few more times and picked up a bunch of fake goodies... 

Here are some highlights: 

Rolex watch - $45
Rolex inner-workings and mechanisms.. Crystal face. It's a dream.

Living in China you can't ignore the pearls everywhere.. 
They're addictive! I got these 2/$45

Lots of different colours and shapes.. 

I fell in love with the design and bought a light necklace too!

So practical stuff... Socks. They have tonnes of them, and cheap of course!
$2.50/pair (BIG size for my BIG feet!)

I didn't bring dress shoes. So I picked some up 
for $25... Leather, kitten heel. Fit my huge feet! 

I have tried to find blue hair dye to colour my own hair, but nothing.. 
I bought some bright blue hair extensions... $2 for both. 

So something I've been unhappy with is the whole nail situation. 
I am used to getting really great nails in Canada and just haven't found the same
quality over here. So, I decided to pick up my own materials for doing my own nails 
from my makeup girl. (She's calls me her very best friend, hahaha)

UV Lamp $25
Gel Nail Polish $6 each

She gave me this stuff for free too: 
(Eyeshadow Primer and black eyeliner)

Do you want to see my first set of gel nails??? 

Not perfect, but a great start!! I am so glad I did this... This is 
going to save me lots of $$$ in the long-run trying to find someone
to do my nails! 
(I get gel nails because my nails are thin, and crack and bend 
hideously if I don't do something with them)

So how's that for a month of news? I will try not to go so long next time okay?! 
Talk soon!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fake Finds

I was thinking of doing a little feature every time we go to the "fake markets" to show you what we got! There are a lot of these fake markets, as I've said before, and some of them are better than others. Yesterday we went to "The Pearl Market" where they sell REAL pearls, they just may not be the best shape or colour, or some of them have a blemish... 

For example: 

This is a long string of grey pearls (opera length). They are freshwater pearls and most of them have a round-ish shape - this kind of pearl is referred to as "Baroque."

In Canada you would/could pay upwards of $100, and as my brother would say: guess how much?? 
$20. The girl who sold me them started out higher, of course, but I think I got an OK price. 

We left the pearl market with nothing except pearls (they had other fake stuff, but it wasn't good quality.. For Ex. their "Prada" bags said "Prdpr" and I was like, ya no... SO ONWARD! 

I went to this makeup booth where the lady said she'd try to score me some blue hair dye, but she couldn't find any. "More time" she said... So I bought a couple of things while there. 

So these eye-shadow palettes are some of the most recognizable makeup products on the planet, and they're pretty expensive, so of course China makes fakes. The interesting thing about this particular fake is that Urban Decay is made in China, so this fake is pretty damn close. I've watched some "spot a fake" videos about these and with my palette there's only one thing out of place.. The colours are all like the original and have good pigment loads, so I'm thrilled!!
Canadian price = $72 MY price, $0 (I'll tell you why in a sec...)

These sponges are crazy expensive...$20 at M.A.C. and at least that at Sephora. 
MY price $0 (I'll tell you why in a sec.)

If this one is a fake it is an IMPECCABLE fake and I am fine with it... It's the GHD Professional Straightener and I took a look at it last week and did my research this week. I watched all of the videos, found out how to check the serial numbers and it all checked out... So yay! I tried it on my hair in the booth and it definitely got to the temperature needed to straighten my thick hair, and it heated up in 60 seconds... SCORE! So my "friend" started out by asking around $140 (plus $30 for the eyeshadow and $8 for the sponge for a total of 950 Kuai or about $175) and then I said that is WAY too much and Ian came and said we don't have that kind of money etc etc... I said all I had to spend that day was 500 Kuai ($90) and that was it.. Ian and I started talking (kind of putting on a show) about how we needed to get home still with the taxi and the bus etc etc, so $500 was my max. I am still trying getting my feet wet as far as bargaining (I mean, I've offered some stupidly low prices and the people laughed us out of the booth - so they too have their bottom lines, lol!!) but I have been told to have a price in mind and don't go above it, and I wanted/needed that flat iron and I wanted to pay no more than $90.. 

Well I got all three for $90 and I was happy. She's still going to look for blue hair dye for me and I'll probably go back to her booth for more makeup so I left with our friendship intact. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Our Apartment In Shanghai

So it was a nice day so I decided to make a video of our apartment here at Zplashes Resort. We live on the campus where the school is located (about a 5-7 minute walk from the actual school) and most of the staff live in the accommodations. The "rent" comes off our paycheck and it amounts to... *drumroll........* $400/month, so it's pretty awesome. There are nicer places in town, but we love how close it is to the school, and the restaurants in the resort part of it are really good... That will be my next tour!! 

So... enjoy. Have a laugh... Skip over my craft desk tour if your eyes start to glaze over, lol... 

Oh... If you want a laugh, here's Phoenix's parody of me.. ha ha ha. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Food" In China

I have learned in my travels that you have to be open-minded to other people's food when you're in their country. Ireland: blood pudding. Like, seriously?? You eat food with blood in the title. That's just weird for me. China: a shit-load of stuff... 

Chipmunks... I've seen them at a few markets and I gotta wonder who eats these adorable little guys. 
Mmmm... Chipmunk... 

So do they buy them as chicks then raise them? I hope so... Although, I was at KFC the other day and had a chicken breast and wondered how old the chicken was that gave me that breast. It was TINY. So maybe I'M eating these little chicks disguised as delicious fast food! I tell ya, China is a good place to turn you vegetarian. 

How about some toads? At our local grocery store they're actually all just sitting in a tub with no top. They're not jumping out. Why....??? Are their legs like, cut?? Anyway... Frog soup? Frogs legs?? 

Turtles of various sizes and breed. I've seen babies all the way up to these huge dinner-plate sized guys. And yes, they're alive and staring you in the face. 

People pop out the seeds of the Lotus flower and eat them. This is just weird... I would like to try it though! 

So we're going into Shanghai for a few days where I'm sure I'll snap a lot more interesting eats! 
We are going to do some touristy things, but we're also going to a bunch of malls and haggle/fake markets. I cannot wait I am so excited!!! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shanghai Shopping Trip

So I was so excited when my friend Maria said she woud take us to Shanghai because 1) we needed someone to show us the route (taxi - bus - subway - and back again) and 2) I was ready to see the big city!! The travelling there wasn't so bad because transit is quick, cheap (about $10 round-trip) and easy, but the subway has about 12 different lines, so we just needed to be shown the ropes, so to speak. 

The bus terminal/airport terminal/subway terminal... It was huge! 
We headed to a street where a lot of the stores sell art supplies (mainly traditional calligraphy brushes and papers) but there were a bunch of stores that had some "western" art supplies too, and I was EXCITED!! One of the most shocking things I encountered were the alcohol markers (like Copic, except I didn't actually find Copics per se) were about  ¥3 each, which is about $0.60!! If I didn't already have a couple of different sets of markers I would have bought a bunch. I bought a set of Faber-Castell watercolor pencils, some Stabilo pens, a paint brush, some palette paper, a couple of canvases and that was about it... 
Note: bamboo scaffolding (scary!!!), animals in cages NOT for adoption (for consumption.. awwwww...), crowded subway, guy harvesting Jackfruit - I gotta try some!

We then headed to an underground market and that was fascinating! Everything was "fake" and the salespeople were something else... They grabbed you, they called out to you, and if you dared to look in their booth they would haggle with you until you were convinced you got a good price! lol... I have to say that between Ian, Phoenix and I we are a family of good hagglers. We were willing to walk away from the items and that was key - if you go to walk away they'll give you your price! I didn't take any photos in there (you weren't allowed) but I'll try next time. It was a trip!! 

So... I wanted to go to the Apple store to pick up a doo-dad for my iPad and I just didn't know how crazy the Chinese were for Apple... 

There was a crowd waiting outside the store to get in, and the funniest moment was when the store finally opened, the staff stood at the entrance and clapped for all the customers as we walked in. The royal treatment!! We walked by the Apple store a few more times that day and the crowds never lessened. Having an Apple product is a MAJOR status symbol in China - all the kids have all the gadgets in my classes... 

That's all for now! Zaijian! (prounounced tsai-tsee-en)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Update: School 'n Stuff

So firstly, I know you all want to see what our place looks like and what our school looks like, but you're gonna have to keep your pants on!! I have some pride (yes I do, and I bet you didn't know that...) and I have to pick up some essentials for our apartment that will make our place a lot more organized, but presentable too... Know that we are pretty happy with our near-free accommodations and we won't be moving off-campus any time soon. There are a lot of teachers here that have lived in "Zplashes Resort" the whole time they've been here... So it's really not that bad!!

School: Phoenix is doing well in school and loves all of his teachers - yes even his evil drama teacher ;) - and he's actually doing the grade 9 curriculum. That's right, he skipped grade 8. If we go back to Canada he would go back to his normal grade, but just because his English is so high he can work at a higher grade level competently. He will have some holes because "English" is actually ESL here, and I am not sure how much of the grade 9 English curriculum is going to be covered, but the rest of the classes are on-par with Canada... Ian is teaching ESL and cultural studies to grades 4-6 and like we've been saying, kids are kids no matter where you are. He works with a full-time Chinese aid in the class and she's helping him know how far he can push the kids and where they're coming from. It's tough for a lot of the kids because it's a boarding school. Can you imagine dropping off your grade 1 child in September and saying GOODBYE to them? For like, a week or two?? Crazy... So some of the kids act out, some of them are grumpy, but they are all kids just like at home. I am doing well, I have 4 drama 10 classes, and one Drama: film and TV class and they're all great. Just like at home kids are like, "What? I have to get up in front of people and ACT?!?!" Ummm. That's right! In a couple of weeks I will be starting an after-school club/class: Vocal Performance with another teacher at the school who is a singer. This school is ON FIRE for singing and dancing and we already have our first competition under-way. I can't wait to get started with music!!

Now I'm going to leave you with a photo... Before we got to China we were warned about "wild dogs" and in my head I pictured rabies-infested mutts covered in shite and fleas. I never pictured something like this:

She was just wandering around the bus station. She was one of the happiest, friendliest little puppies we've ever seen and just wook at dat widdle face!! It was SO HARD to walk away from her. She needed cleaning up and good flea bath and she was running around near a busy street, but there are so many cute dogs just like her around us. It's heart-breaking... 

Anyway... I've got some photos of Shanghai loading up (it takes a LONG TIME with the slow internet here) so I'll probably have something tomorrow for ya! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reminder: To Also Rush! To Punch!

We had to go into the city of Suzhou (Soo-joe) today for a medical exam and this is what greeted me in the bathroom stall:

Huh?! I guess it's one of those lost in translation things... I was warned that in China the stalls do not provide toilet paper and they were right!! Good thing I had a tissue in my purse! You also can't flush it down the toilet - you have to throw it in a garbage can next to the toilet. I guess with billions of people in the country you have to think about that kind of stuff...

After our exam we went downtown to find something to eat. As always with traffic in China, there are millions of little electric scooters zooming around. (Gas scooters were just made illegal over the summer so they're all the slow, quiet kind which is nice)

It was a fun little trip but it was too short. Suzhou is a huge city and I can't wait to get back there and explore soon!!  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Had a Cry

So yesterday was a crying day. We were down to our last pennies and no one had taken us to the bank. We took a taxi to down to try to get to the bank and get our cell-phones up and running and we ran into major roadblocks.. No one spoke a word of english. At the cell-phone place I had to ask Siri how to say "bring me to the bank i need money" in mandarin. Then the people looked up the answer: THE BANK IS CLOSED. I had 7 RMB to get a taxi home (it costs around 20), we had no food, no utensils, no dishes, we were hot, frustrated etc... The taxi driver took us home for the reduced price because he thought we were pathetic and I got inside the apartment and broke down....

Thankfully today is a new day. We will go to the bank today, go to the grocery store, get our phones up and running and it will be better, but I just needed yesterday to feel sorry for myself, lol...

Luxu taxi (courtesy of my friend Maria's Blog)

Tomorrow we're going to Shanghai for shopping and Ian is going with a guy to check out the rugby scene! I'll take lots of pictures!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tobi Or Not Toby

So here it is. My first blog post about our "great adventure" to Shanghai (more on that later) and alas, it's coming to you from Canada. There are a number of reasons why I wanted to start this blog, namely:
  1. To chronicle our adventure for family and friends

  2. To serve as a resource for other Canadians (or whomever) moving to China

  3. To share photos

  4. To have an online memoir of sorts to look back at in the future
I am horrible with paperwork and if someone told me about all of the "hoops I would have to jump through" to move to China a couple months ago, I might have hesitated a lot more than I did. Thank god I have Ian to keep me on top of everything because I might have given up a long time ago. Nothing ever goes smoothly for me when it comes to applications and loads of paperwork and this time is not an exception. 

Here's a little known fact about me: my LEGAL name is Toby. Yes, with a "y". Ewwwwwww.... That's how you spell Toby the boy, or Toby the dog, NOT Toby the girl! So when I was in the 7th grade I took it upon myself to change the "y" to an "i" and become Tobi. The girl. The girl that can sign her name with a heart on top of the "i". Did I do this legally? Of course not. Why would I bother? Who's going to care?!?!? 

The Chinese government, that's who... 

So because of that letter with the cute heart on top we had to delay our flights a few days until I went to a notary saying officially that Toby Crawford is the same person as Tobi Crawford. phew.... Done... Can we go now? 

In a few days I will get my visa in the mail, I can go to the Chinese consulate and get everything signed and THEN we'll be on our way... But for now, here's some advice: 

Don't be cute with your name. 

Just sign all your stuff with the proper spelling, 

And for god's sake, don't let important people like your 

Credit card companies or universities screw up the spelling either!!!