Happy Children’s Day

Welcome to June and greetings from Shanghai! Thank you to everyone for Christoph’s lovely birthday wishes. We had a quiet weekend in Shanghai and absolutely loved it. June 1 is also International Children’s Day and so there were many parties throughout the city in celebration of all the little ones in the world.

We had a slow start on June 1 and after a leisurely breakfast together, Christoph headed off to the dentist while I made my way to a kid’s birthday party. After our various outings, we circled back home for a much-needed apero of G+T and nibbles. This was followed by a global picnic dinner of some of our favourite things; crackers and dips from Australia, cheese from England, wine from Italy and chocolates from Switzerland. It was luxuriously decadent; Christoph’s perfect birthday meal and a representation of how small our world has become.

Kumihimo: who knew strings could look so fancy? They can be bracelets or necklaces.

Kumihimo: who knew strings could look so fancy? They can be bracelets or necklaces.

So now, what’s with June? Christoph is working full throttle on his factory project shuttling between Shanghai, Jiaxing and Mainburg. I’m quite booked up with kids’ activities, volunteering work and crafts. My newest learning is kumihimo which will be added to my list of ‘Skills I Have But Can Not Earn Any Money From’, hihihi. June will keep me mostly running around but also a little sad as a good friend, VB, will be repatriating back to Australia at the end of the month. There may be some shedding of tears but that is the Shanghai life. People are constantly coming and going and we try to get used to it but that still doesn’t make it any easier. I’ll have to go friend-finding... again. sigh

On with other June news, here’s this month’s challenge if you’re up for it:

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I’m going to try my best to not be a collector of plastic bags. We‘ve already stopped using plastic straws since a few months, instead we use these metal straws we bought in Australia, and I always have my trusty re-usable carry bags with me for those small purchases. Also, I always have my re-fillable water bottle with me so in a way, I‘m almost half-way through the program. Let’s see how much more we can do about reducing our plastic use by the end of the month ;o)

The Maldivean Glow

We had a most luxuriously relaxing time on the Maldives. As usual, we always go away somewhere secluded for Christoph’s birthday and this year the Maldives was the destination. This was my first visit and Christoph’s second but I’m certain this will not be our last visit ;o)

View over some of the islands from the plane.

View over some of the islands from the plane.

Once on the island, there wasn’t much to do other than sleep, eat, drink, swim, read and repeat. I made use of the hotel’s stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling gear. The island we stayed on unfortunately did not have it’s own reef and so we had to take a boat trip to do some serious snorkeling. But it was amazing! Reef sharks, sting rays, the most magnificent array of tropical fish... I was in love :o) Just beautiful.

Happy days :o)

Happy days :o)

Christoph was served chocolate birthday cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We worked out that the hotel must have them in surplus or that it’s a regular occurrence in the Maldives... this birthday thing. Hehehe.

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It now seems weird that we were on a beach just a few days ago. Since we arrived back to Shanghai, Christoph hit the ground running and has flown off for work again. Luckily he was able to unwind and keep the job away while we were on the island but once back in Shanghai, there is no escape! Treasure those carefree sunny days people!

Post-Birthday

It's been a week since Christoph's big birthday and thank you everyone for your well wishes. We arrived back in Shanghai on Sunday and slipped easily into our city life. The time off was very much needed; yummy food, massage, sleep, swim, food, sleep... the typical R&R routine ;O)

Part of Christoph's birthday surprise last Thursday. 

Part of Christoph's birthday surprise last Thursday. 

We began the trip in Singapore and met up with some friends and acquaintances. Then we flew off to Phuket and drove over flooded roads to get to Khao Lak. The place we stayed at was so secluded that we had no other choice but to unwind!

The birthday boy, enjoying sunsets each evening... with drinks of course :o) 

The birthday boy, enjoying sunsets each evening... with drinks of course :o) 

So back to normal and busy work schedules! Have a good week everyone!

Normal for Many, Unusual for the Norm

I thought this would be a good time as any to share a wonderfully confusing story as to why I have two birthdays.

After having recently celebrated my real birthday- ie. not the one listed on my passport, many of you may also know that I have another one coming up in a month. It's been a running theme of my existence since arriving in Australia in 1980.

I won't go into a lengthy refugee story but here's the gist of how it came to be. At the end of the Vietnam War, many southern Vietnamese fled the country in fear of the Communist regime's repercussions. My parents were among those who sold everything they had and boarded a fishing boat bound for Malaysia. We were unfortunately pirated and thrown off our vessel. The fishing boat sunk, along with all official papers we had, among them, our birth certificates.

Background note: Culturally, Asians don't give birthdays much significance. Most Chinese - Asians register the Gregorian dates as the official dates for births but will also tell you the Lunar dates of when they were born. It's awfully confusing sometimes. What is significant, however, is the year in which you were born as the Chinese zodiac supercedes many beliefs. Therefore many Asians can easily tell you which animal sign they are instead of their birthdate. I grew up being recognised as a dragon... born 1976.

Back to the story: Given Vietnam's realities at the time, my grandparents never found it important for their children to be comprehensively educated. Upon immigrating to Australia, my parents realised that a good education was key to their children's future. In doing so, they went slightly over the top; while registering us for residency, my parents 'cheated' and made all of us older. This effectively made sure that we could start school a year early.

As you can imagine, this whole deceptive plan made most of us siblings want to find our real birthdays. As luck had it, the hopsital that we were born had meanhwile burned down, so their archives were no longer available. In my case, however, thanks to my maternal grandmother, she had one single photo of me as a baby. On the back of it she had recorded that I was born on December 4, 1976 and discharged from hospital two days later.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Have I confused you enough? The December birthday is important to me because it retains my dragon traits; yes, dragons are also very proud creatures. Whereas if I were to have been born on January 10, 1976 that would make me a rabbit...and that of course would never sit well with me as I have a brother who is already a rabbit.

So as you can see, I'm giving myself the hassle by insisting on being a dragon and I'm very aware that many Westeners will still find it difficult to understand why. I just can't drop my unofficial/ dragon birthdate. So poor Christoph has to put up with remembering both... which reminds me; I'll be turning 39 next month but only turned 38 last week! Lol

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th Birthday

Also known as 'Father's Day' in Thailand, today celebrates King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th birthday! King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the longest reigning monarch in Thai history and the world's longest current head of state. His reign began on June 9, 1946 and his coronation was held on May 5, 1950.

The people of Thailand are devoted to the monarchy and as a sign of that devotion and respect, wear the colour yellow on this public holiday. Why yellow? It's the king's favourite colour :o)

Over the last couple of days, Christoph and I have seen a see of yellow whenever we are out and about. As an observer to this tradition, I find it very touching and profound to see how the people of Thailand love their king so much. How great is it to be so loved by the people you watch over? It's truly inspiring.

The streets are full of supporters.

The streets are full of supporters.

Image credit: www.kauaikimonos.com