The City in the Desert, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the bustling capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is often over shadowed by its nearby neighbor Dubai. There are many beautiful things to do and see in Abu Dhabi, it is worth a visit of its own.


Abu Dhabi is a great choice of a place to stay rather than Dubai or in addition to visiting Dubai. Abu Dhabi gives you a better taste of the local culture as well as even more beautiful beaches to enjoy.  


There are many beautiful sites, you will not run out of things to do. 

the Abu Dhabi Skyline by Unsplash

the Abu Dhabi Skyline by Unsplash

Things to Do:


The Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque (Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque) is probably the most well known structure in Abu Dhabi. It is also one of the biggest mosques in the world.

It is a stunning structure that you don’t want to miss. This mosque was designed to incorporate different muslim civilizations and embrace cultural diversity.

You must wear an Abaya to enter and they are provided for you at the entrance if you do not have one. The Mosque will leave you in awe from the outside, in. The amount of detail and beauty is truly amazing. The perfect instagram worthy shots are waiting for you here.

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

Taking a Desert Safari offers a great experience away from the city. You are picked up in the afternoon, then taken on a short drive to the sand dunes. The four wheel drive vehicles take you for a fast paced thrilling ride through the dunes. It’s not for those who get motion sickness easily.

Next you are taken to a camp that allows you to participate in some activities of your choice. The one we attended had sand boarding, camel riding, henna, and a booth for trying on traditional clothing. It ended with a nice buffet meal and entertainment of some traditional dancing before heading back to town.

This was a great way to spend an afternoon & evening. There are many different companies you can choose from for an evening in the desert.


Yas Island

 

Yas Island is the place to go for all of your entertainment needs and beyond. It has Farrier World, Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld and Warner Brothers Studios, as well as it’s own beach. There is also an abundance of shopping, restaurants and nightlife to enjoy in this part of the city. There is something to meet any interests.

Corniche 

Corniche Beach is a great area to go for outdoor activities. There are long walkways and boardwalks that are perfect for taking in the view of the beautiful Arabian Gulf. Cycling and pedestrian pathways line the beach, along with free sports facilities that can be used. There are different areas of the beach you can enter depending on if you are going as a family, single or group. Corniche is a perfect way to spend a beautiful day outdoors with all kinds of activities.

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Saadiyat Island

The public beach at Saadiyat Island is a perfect place to spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun and swimming the clear gulf water. It is clean and the water is clear. You pay a small fee to enter the beach for the day and you can pay a bit extra if you want a lounge chair included. 

the Public Beach at Saadiyat Island

the Public Beach at Saadiyat Island

The Louvre Museum

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The Louvre Museum is a highly recommended attraction to visit while you are in Abu Dhabi. The Louvre is a civilization and art museum that opened in 2017. The museum is full of all kinds of paintings & artifacts from around the world. The building itself is beautifully designed, you will be in awe as you walk through the different sections.  

This is the first museum in the Arab world that really celebrates being culturally open. A beautiful water feature runs throughout the museum and the laced roof was created to emulate palm trees that used to top houses.

You can really spend hours here if you choose to, taking in the design and exhibits throughout.

Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi

Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace Hotel


The Emirates Palace Hotel is another iconic landmark in Abu Dhabi. It is an immaculately designed hotel that was created with a mix of Arabian design inspiration along with modern luxury. It is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. If you are not a guest, you can still visit and wander around inside and out.

Where to Stay?

There are many amazing and beautiful hotels throughout the city of Abu Dhabi. For my recent stay I chose to spend my four nights at The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi. I highly recommend this hotel! It is a perfect mix of affordability, convenient location between the airport and downtown, great service and it has all the important amenities you could want. 

The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

room with a view, The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

room with a view, The Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

The rooms have a beautiful view with floor to ceiling windows. The room was thoroughly cleaned and restocked daily.

the buffet breakfast has everything you could ask for and more. Having a good breakfast you can walk to is such a great benefit in my book when on vacation!

The gym facility is clean and also includes a sauna, steam room and outdoor swimming pool. Having gym access is a big bonus for me on my travels.

I also had a lovely massage in their spa that helped me to overcome my jet leg and relieve the tension of travel.

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There are several great food options within the hotel. I highly recommend trying Stock Burger. I tried my first Camel burger here and it was delicious! The prices are also really good!

All of the staff at the hotel were so kind and had exceptional hospitality. I will definitely stay here again when I come back to Abu Dhabi. To learn more information or book your trip check them out here: Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi


You can also follow them on instagram @holidayinnabudhabi and the restaurant @stockburgercoad

I hope you get to visit this awesome city in the desert and I can’t wait to hear about your experience.

Health, Love & Happiness,

Courtney


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Top Travel Accessories of 2019

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There are no so many cool gadgets and little things that you can get now to make your life easier while on the road or in the air. I love finding different products to make my travels more comfortable and easier. I am sharing with you a list of things that I love, plus some products that I think look so awesome. These are my top travel accessories for 2019. Happy Travels!

*this contains affiliate links where I may make money if you choose to buy a product, but at no additional cost to you

1. Bag organizers

Organizers for you luggage are so nice to have. They are not real expensive to buy, but they are so nice for making it easy to organize all the different things in your suitcase. This makes it so much easier to find what you need, especially if you are actually living out of the suitcase for awhile like I do. These packing cubes are very light, which is important because you are trying to keep it under weight. They are also really durable, plus this set comes with a bonus of a laundry bag. Check these out below.

2. Essential oils 

I use essential oils regularly, for everything. Packing a bunch of the small bottles can bring down the weight, plus I am also guilty of not closing them all the way and having them leak. The pack of oil blends below are perfect and really the only 4 you really need. I love that they are roll on because, for example the sleep one is works great to rub on your palms on the plane to help you feel more relaxed. Included as well is defense blend to help fight all those added germs we are exposed to. The breathe blend is great for when you are sick or congested and the muscle blend helps to relieve sore muscles. These are much less likely to leave and great as a carryon on flights or just for everyday in your purse.

3. Wireless charger/portable charger

Either a wireless or portable charger can come in handy when traveling. For one it’s always nice to carry less cords with you and sometimes you also need to be able to charge without an outlet. I highly recommend all the eco-friendly products that nimble has to meet any of your charging needs. They use recycled materials to make their products as well as packaging in 100% recycled paper, no plastic. They also recycle one pound of e-waste for every one of their products that is sold. How great is that? Awesome, products, that are also eco-friendly. A win-win.

4. Cleansing Packets

I am obsessed with this, I always have some in all my bags when I travel. The ones below are especially fantastic because they are natural and made with therapeutic essential oils. This is the variety pack so you can use which every oil is good for that moment. Use them to clean off makeup, to wiping down the food tray on an airplane. This are great not only to have for your travels but everyday in your purse or car.

5. Luggage 

Of course, when traveling, you can’t forget luggage. Personally, I prefer the hard case rolling suitcases when I am going for long tavel. They seem to have more room in them and are more durable. It is important to find ones that are of good quality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do this. No matter how nice of a suitcase you have, they will get scuffed up gong through those conveyer belts. Another positive is the lightweight of these and they come in so many colors. I have given options for two good brands below to choose from. One a little bit more reasonable priced, maybe for less frequent travelers. The other may be a better investment for those who travel often and need something that can withstand the conditions of going from airport to airport.

6. Jewelry organizer 

If you have ever packed jewelry, you know it can become such a tangled mess. This organizer helps to prevent that. You could also use this bag to organize a variety of little things other than just jewelry. It rolls up nice and small and weights practically nothing. This is a must for me.

7. Workout bands 

I take these with me when I travel. It is important that I maintain my active lifestyle, even when not at home. Not every place I stay has a gym there or nearby. These bands are so lightweight and there is an endless amount of great exercise you can do with them. If you are not sure what exercises, just do a quick search on Pinterest and there you can have a good quick workout right in your hotel room. These are actually just great to have at home as well. They may seem like not much, but trust me, you can get really sore from the littlest movements using these.

8. Tri-pod for camera/Phone

This is a great thing to have, especially when traveling solo. I believe in living in the moment and stepping away from the phone but there is balance there. I also think its great to document your travels, you can tell a story with photos & videos you take. As a blogger, it is also essential because you don’t always have someone there with you to take photos for you. These Tri-pods are nice and small so it is easy to pack with you. These are both in packages that have all that you need. The first is a bit more affordable but the second has the advantage of having flexible legs on it that give you more options of uses.

9. Fold up duffle bag

I always pack one of these when I go on my travels. They are so great because it is light, and takes up very little space in your suitcase. It is good to have because sometimes you want to buy some things while on the road, right? This creates another bag you can use along with way to help with extra room you may need or if you find your bag is overweight. Sometimes having to pay for an extra bag can save you more money, then having to pay for an overweight bag.

10. SIM card storage

When I travel country to country, I get a SIM card for most every country a go to if I am there over a couple weeks. In many countries it is really inexpensive to buy a small data plan to use while you are there. This is something I find really comforting and helpful as a solo traveler. If I go out exploring I know that I can use my phone to map out where I am, order an Uber or if need be cal for help (though luckily I have not had to use it for that). This comes in handy because those little SIM cards are so small and if you are having to swap them out this is a great way to store them safely, so you don’t lose your original one, plus it has the little PIN to easily change them out.

11. Infinity scarf with pocket

One of my essentials that I take on a flight is a scarf. I love to have one for a few reasons. It can get cold on flights, no matter the temperature outside so it is a nice thing to have for added warmth. Also, sometimes, you end up sitting next to someone that is sick or there is a smell that you don’t like, this is an easy way to cover up your mouth or nose to avoid some of those discomforts. Or if you are sick your self, a polite way to keep from coughing on other people. This scarf gives you another added bonus with a pocket. It can work as storage for anything you may want to have close by such as your passport, chapstick or some headphones. A bonus is it comes is so many colors to choose from!

12. Camera Lens

If you are like me, you use your phone also as your camera as you travel. I have to say my iPhone xs takes some pretty amazing photos. It may not be as fantastic as a nice professional camera, but for me and what I need it works perfectly. This is a pack of 6 camera lens to help take your photos to the next level. Great for added zoom, wide angle and more. A much more cost effective way to get higher quality photos. These are compatible with iPhon, Samsung and other phone brands.

13. Travel adapter

If you are traveling to different countries you need a travel adaptor. It’s best to purchase this before you go, because going through the airport they are much more expensive and sometimes buying them in the country, you don’t find ones that are as high quality. This one is so great because it is small and comes with ports that work for just about all countries around the world. Plus it has several USB ports which can be great for charging multiple things.

14. Travel door alarm

This is another great item for those solo female travelers, but can really be good for anyone that wants that added security. This is easy to use and nice and small for traveling with. It’s a small devise that you hook up to a door and if someone enters while you have it up it will sound an alarm. I have actually heard nightmare stories of people traveling when even hotel staff have tried to come into their room at night. This is an inexpensive and great precaution to have. Really, this can also be great for your home or apartment. If you do not want to pay costly at home alarm systems, this can be a cheaper alternative that can also help give you piece of mind.

15. Waterproof bluetooth speaker

This is something extra to bring along while traveling if you enjoy music. It can be great for when you are on the road or even just when you just want to have a speaker that doesn’t require a plugin. This one is nice and small and light. The bonus on this is that it is waterproof, so you can even use it in the shower or don’t have to worry about it, if you want to take it for your day at the beach.

16. Travel size oil diffuser

I am obsessed with my oil diffuser, so this is a must for me. You can add in some lavender to help you sleep in places that are not your bed, or add in some eucalyptus to help you elevate congestion. It is usb portable so you can take it anywhere you want. It is a great option for the car, hotels or anywhere you choose.

17. Underwater phone case

These are great to have, especially in the summertime or while traveling somewhere tropical. This keeps your phone safe, gives you the ability to take photos underwater and having it around your neck helps you not to lose it.

18. Portable Hammock

Who does not love relaxing in a hammock. A portable hammock can be an awesome thing to have anywhere you go, from the beach, to camping, to your own backyard. It is lightweight and packs up easily to to take with you anywhere.

19. Passport holder

I love having my passport holder that also works as a wallet. I can keep not only my passport but money, cards I need and my fight ticket without having to have my whole walled or purse out. This make it easy to find in your bag and keeps it from getting bent and warn as well. There are many designs to choose from too.

19. Travel Pillow

I actually have this one and I like it so much more than the traditional neck pillows. It takes up less space too and it is super comfortable. It may look a little funny but it is worth it, especially for a long flight. I felt that I got much better sleep with this.

20. MacBook Lightweight laptop

I have an older version of this from a couple years ago but it really was the best purchase I have made. I love my Mac, it is super easy to use but the best part is how light it is. Before this I had a laptop that was so heavy to take in my carry on bags, it was so annoying. This one is the perfect reliable laptop when you are typically on the road. Plus I always get compliments on it. If you are looking for a new laptop I highly recommend it. It is worth the investment! This is the latest version.

These are just 20 of many amazing products that are perfect for travel in 2019. You can check out my amazon store for more travel recommendations as well as all of my favorite amazon products. Happy shopping and safe travels!

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Health, Love and Happiness,

Courtney

5 best things about living abroad

I can still remember the feeling of uncertainty when and nervousness on that first plane ride moving to China. I had left everything back home that I had worked hard for as well as my family and friends to make a life change for myself. It was a big risk that really did turn into a big reward. It doesn't make life perfect or easy all the time but making a change myself and really doing it sure does feel good.


Now that I am back home (in the US) for a short time I have had a lot of free time to really reflect on all my travels and time abroad. I can think of so many things I am grateful for but these are my top five best things about moving abroad.


1.Opens your eyes and mind

I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in most of my posts This truly is something special and really not something you can grasp until you have traveled and immersed yourself in a culture very different than your own. It makes you become more compassionate and understanding of others. You can truly realize that though we may seem so far opposite, that people really are the same all over the world and there is so much more you can relate to. It also helps you to appreciate what you have and be that much more grateful for where you come from.

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2. Lifelong friendships

I can’t express enough how much the people I have met along the way mean to me. When you are thrown into a unique situation where you must adapt yourself you really become close to those around you. They are your family, support system and the bond you create is very special. I am very lucky to have lifelong friendships with people I met while working in China as well as people who we came in contact with during our travels. It is truly special to know people from all around the world from all different walks of life.

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3. Travel

This is an obvious choice but the ability to travel to different countries while living in a country abroad is so exciting. It of course is less expensive to travel in Asia while living in Asia and so many amazing places to choose from. I had the opportunity to visit 5 other countries during my time there as well as several places throughout China.



4. Gain courage and confidence

I have always been somewhat of an introvert and quiet person and a part of me still is. However, this has helped me grow so much in getting out of my comfort zone, trying new things and opening up to people. I am not afraid anymore to travel alone and be alone. One of the main things that friends and family tell me is that they think I am so brave for what I have chosen to do. Maybe they are right but I have felt nervous many times its more about having to push past that to accomplish what you want.


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5. Let go of material things

I have not once regretted selling my car, home and most of my possessions before moving. I still buy more clothes than I need on occasion but it really has made me rethink what is important in life and belongings are not my first choice. It is also limited what you can take with you, so it forces you to be more conservative in your possessions. I choose to spend my money on my experiences over things, which gives me much more happiness in return than any cute outfit will.



My next adventure will be teaching in Singapore. I can’t wait to live, work and explore this beautifully clean and exquisitely designed city. I hope to encourage others to take risks in their own lives whether it be moving aboard or anything else. It may not come out exactly how you planned but the important part is to try. 


“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”


-Les Brown

 


with love,

Courtney

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A year filled with adventure

As I sit here in the peace and quiet of my hotel room on my first solo trip, I can’t help but reflect on this past year and the amazing places and adventures I have had the opportunity to indulge in. I have to remind myself that I also created these opportunities, this new lifestyle for myself, it was not just thrown in my lap. I feel so proud of what I have accomplished this year and also feel very blessed for another year of life and honored to have met such special people to share it with.

 

The first place outside of China that I had the chance to visit was Phuket, Thailand. It was a quick two day trip but incredible nonetheless. I got to enjoy it with two of my wonderful friends that were visiting from the states, Nikki and Jon, and my awesome roommate Merium. We relaxed on the beach, road in the tricked out tuk tuks, wandered an incredible night market and the infamous Bangla road in Patong Phuket. With a quick flight just a little over two hours from Chengdu, its totally worth a quick getaway.

 

Thailand is one place I will go back to sooner rather than later, though the experience was wonderful, there is so much more I look forward to seeing in the near future. I have heard wonderful things about Chiang Mai in the north, as well as the other beautiful islands around the south.

 

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

The Great Wall of China was a must visit for me while living in China. I knew I wanted to go to Beijing and I was thrilled when my lovely roommate invited me to enjoy it with her and her parents that were visiting from Texas. The company was outstanding and so were the sites. I was really blown away by Beijing and the historical landmarks that we got to see. Sometimes I like to get away from all the “touristy” things when visiting another country, however, in Beijing its a must. We stayed near Tiananmen square and toured the forbidden palace. The size and history this place holds is mind blowing. The summer palace is equally if not more grand and beautiful. The best for last was saved as we visited the Great Wall of China on our last day there. We went to the Great Wall section of Mutianyu which entailed a ski lift up and toboggan down, which was even more fun than it sounds. Pictures do not do it justice, there is something so magical about experiencing the The Great Wall of China in person. The massive size and length that you can see go on what seems like forever on top of a huge mountain makes you wonder how these people in ancient times managed to build this amazing structure.


The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu, China

The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu, China

Vietnam holds a very special place in my heart and with all the places I have gone since I am still drawn back to its rich culture, sites, smells, sounds and food. I first visited Vietnam back in March of 2015 when I did a volunteer trip there for a few weeks, it was there that sparked my desire to travel more, to what eventually lead me to getting my TEFL and taking the job and moving to China.

In January 2017 I was able to take another Epic journey to Vietnam, but this time with the company of some of my favorite people and an even bigger adventure into more parts of the beautiful country. The trip started in Hanoi, the capital, staying in the color and excitement of the Old Quarter. This is where I previously stayed in Vietnam as well. Again I was thrilled to experience the majestic Ha Long Bay a couple hours east of Hanoi. As no surprise, my friends were just as enthused by the amazing natural beauty that it holds. Next we took a 16 hour train ride south, headed for central Vietnam. The train ride in itself was an adventure. Luckily we booked a soft sleeper in cart 12, however not knowing what expect we didn't pack food and had to venture our way to cart 1 all the way at the beginning of the train. The train is in no way smooth, its old and rickety and full of culture. As we worked our way up the train you could tell the price of seats went down and down. Hidden in doorways between people were sprawled out sleeping in corners, closets, people were singing karaoke on personal karaoke mikes with speakers in the hallway. It was truly a feast for the eyes and it made that long walk very exciting. We finally made it to the food cart were we were met with stares from everywhere as I don't think they get much foreigners up there and a bowl of what was called pho but really was just some instant noodles. Regardless, we were happy and enjoyed the laughs, smiles and food in our bellies. The next morning we woke and soon arrived at our destination of Da Nang, a coastal city, historically as a french colonial port and population of roughly 1 million. We spent a couple days here and enjoyed the beaches, seafood, giant lady buddha, dragon bridge and exploring a bit of the city. Next we moved just 30 minutes south to the city of Hoi An, known for its colorful lanterns and various architectural influences. This may be my favorite city I have seen so far in Vietnam. The colors that filled the streets, the smiling faces, rice paddies, tailor shops and small village feel all contributed to its appeal. After a few exciting days we made way back to the capital city of Hanoi by another long train ride, topped off with some more shopping the old quarter before we headed back to China.


Hanoi, Vietnam on the eve of TET 2017

Hanoi, Vietnam on the eve of TET 2017

The next adventure was one I had planned to take since I first arrived to China. I was not sure exactly were it would be to, but I wanted an epic and memorable journey as a cheers to turning 30. Bali, Indonesia ended up being the destination of choice. Bali is somewhere that many people dream of and coming from China it was an easy and affordable decision to make as the right trip. I enjoyed the week with my friend and roommate along with her friend from the states. We stayed in a lovely balinese style house we found on Airbnb with a relaxing pool, in walking distance to Sanur beach. Sanur was a quiet beach town in comparison to other areas of the island but thats why I chose it. Experiencing relaxation and the culture were first on my list rather than just the party scene. We had the pleasure of hiring a driver for our adventures around the island and he also became our friend who we learned about the Balinese culture from. His name was Ketut, he was so kind and always smiling, a prime example of the lovely Balinese people. We got to see several beaches around the island, a monkey forest, rice terraces, hindu temples, a Batik factory, traditional show and so much more. There are many things I would like to back and do there such as see more of Ubud, the central part of the island filled with rice fields, bohemian shops and backpackers, as well as hop over to the Gili islands. However, I wouldn't change once second of the trip we had, though if I could have stopped that 6.4 earthquake that woke us up on the final day I would have. Mt. Batur was the highlight of these trip. Mt. Babur is one of two active volcanos on the island of Bali, Mt. Agung being the second. They are both in view from many parts of the island and a stunning site. We choice to do the early morning trek up Mt. Batur to see the sunrise. I was surprised to see so many people take on this early morning challenge as well. A guide is required and you start your day at 2:00 as first you must drive to the base of the volcano. The hike up took a few hours. I did not expect a walk in the part but it was much more intense than I expected but made the accomplishment that much better. The walk was completely in the dark up steep slopes having to carefully watch your step by flashlight through the rocky paths covered in slippery volcanic rock. We made it to the very top and saw the breathtaking view of the colorful sky and what seemed like the rest of the island in the distance. It was an unforgettable experience. The hike down was even more of a challenge on the slick rocks as I fell too many times to count, but the view was ever so worth it. Bali and Indonesia, I hope to see more of you again one day.

coffee tasting, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

coffee tasting, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

As I stated earlier I am currently in the midst of another destination as I right this. This time I am basking in the glory of Langkawi, Malaysia. This trip was not as planned or thought out as the rest and something I decided to do as a treat to myself. I had some more vacation time to use up before the end of my first teaching contact. I used first half of that time to finish up my finals for my masters degree. I had some days left over and I decided why not use that to go somewhere. None of my friends had the time off, so I chose to go somewhere alone. After some research and the desire to see another country I settled on Malaysia. I knew I wanted to experience ultimate relaxation and somewhere breathtakingly beautiful and thats what brought me to Langkawi. It is an archipelago off the coast of Malaysia. It is home to stunning beaches and the first Geoopark of Southeast Asia. I chose to stay at a nice resort with beautiful beach front on the northern part of the island, on Tanjung Rhu beach. I have not been disappointed. Traveling alone can be lonely but not in a sad way. I believe you should never stop yourself from going somewhere or experiencing something you want to, even if you don't have anyone to go with. Ultimately it also helps you grow.

Tanjung Rhu beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

Tanjung Rhu beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

You don't have to be rich or wait until retirement to see the world. It is possible to make it happen for yourself if you want it bad enough. I didn't know I could until I started believing I could and made it happen. I can’t wait for the next adventures and experiences that lie ahead. Never stop exploring.


with love,


Courtney

Home of the Pandas and Hot Pot…#ChengduChinalife

Before I started researching China and cities to work I had never heard of Chengdu. I discovered most people that I spoke to about my transition had never heard of this huge city either. Chengdu is located in the southwestern province of Sichuan and has a population of roughly 14 million people, the 4th most populous city in mainland China. The great thing about this city is that even though it is so large it is also quite calm, with many parks, teahouses and beautiful places to visit throughout. There are also so many quick getaways out into nature by a short bus or train ride. I have had the opportunity to visit a few, Emeishan and Qingcheng mountain. However, there is so much more to explore and on my list.

When I first arrived, though intrigued and excited, I did not think it would be possible for living here to feel so called “normal”. Now, over three months in, life feels normal. There are many things that will always fascinate me and things I miss from home. There are also so many things I wish I knew before I came even though I don’t believe you can ever be fully prepared, its not real until your actually living it. Below are random facts and pieces of information that I have found interesting about life here in China thus far:

#1 – Pandas

It is pandemonium here in China, well especially Chengdu. Pandas are everywhere…statues, clothing, pencils, signs, etc. It really is the land of Pandas and they are proud of it. There are several reserves of real pandas in and around Chengdu. I have only visited one so far. They sure are as adorable and wonderful as they seem and even better in person. It was great to go somewhere that felt like more of a natural living environment for them rather than a caged zoo. I look forward to many more trips when family and friends come! They are a must visit while in Chengdu!

Panda Research Base, Chengdu, China

Panda Research Base, Chengdu, China

#2 – The clothes are awesome

There are endless amounts of markets and clothing stales with any variety of clothing you could ask for. The best part is the funky style and shirts with sayings which contain broken english and random words that make absolutely no sense. To me that is the awesomeness of it and I have already started my collection of these great shirts! The Chinese, at least what I have experienced in Chengdu, as a whole really are very stylish. Always dressed up for any occasion, even hiking a mountain! It sure makes you feel good in your athletic wear hiking up a mountain dripping sweat and having women in dresses and heals without a stitch of sweat pass by ;).

#3 – Markets

Markets of not only clothing but of all different foods are waiting to be discovered as well and there nothing like you would find in the states. One particular fish market I came across has any variety of sea life you could possibly imagine, from turtles and snakes to many things that I don’t even know what they are. The smell was extremely pungent and close to being unbearable but so worth walking through. Markets that contain meat just have the meat hanging there, nothing to keep it cold. Or you could go with the option of seeing the animal such as a duck, chicken or rabbit killed right in front of you. It can be disturbing, but another experience that is important to be had when in China.

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neighborhood market, Tongzilin, Chengdu, China

neighborhood market, Tongzilin, Chengdu, China

Market at the North Train Station, Chengdu, China

Market at the North Train Station, Chengdu, China

#4 – All about the heat

The Chinese seem to like everything hot and ice is a hidden treasure. This includes drinks and the temperature indoors. Unless you are in a western style restaurant (and sometimes even in those) warm water is what is served and ice may not be an option. Air conditioning, though places like malls have them, don’t seem to be put to use as much as would be expected or appreciated. Sometimes you may get lucky and get on a bus or in a taxi that has one on but the chances are minimal. Teaching a class, no matter if your moving a lot or not, you are bound to come out sweating. Be ready to be shiny and sticky 90% of the time. On the positive at least your body is releasing more of those toxins it is taking in through the pollution!

#5 – Chinese medicine

This layers off from above as there are many health reasons they do what they do, including only drinking warm water. Still natural Chinese medicine very much a real thing and is what is typically given when going to the clinic. I have been sick just a few times since I have been here and a translator is a great tool if you want a quick trip to the clinic. Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into a store and get medicine, painkillers or really anything to help even with a cold. When you do go to the clinic you are given so much stuff and told to take a large number of small pills several times a day not knowing at all what it is. At least there is comfort in knowing it is something natural. For me it is actually my preference but the difficulty is not being able to know exactly what it is. Natural medicine is what am studying and I am slowly trying to understand more about Chinese medicine here while I can. Maybe this is why they seem to age very gracefully.


Tongzilin neighborhood, Chengdu, China

Tongzilin neighborhood, Chengdu, China

#6 – Clothes dryers are not a thing

Maybe the rich have them but your brought back a few decades here by having to hang dry your clothes. In the U.S. anyway, we have been spoiled with many conveniences including the ability to dry your clothes quickly. Its the little things that help you to appreciate as well as realize you can easily adapt and live without.

#7 – Internet and television

American television and tv shows are not something you can watch here, except for the occasional sports or possibly children’s cartoon. Even Netflix is blocked. Honestly, I really don’t miss it. Plus there are no copy right laws so most people just download the shows or movies they want. The internet is a bit of a tougher thing to miss. Bottom line it is just slow and a VPN is necessary to access most sites you will probably want to. It makes it challenging and frustrating especially when it comes to trying to talk to family/friends and in my case also taking courses online. With that, I really came to china to get outside and see and experience what I can while I am here so the importance of this goes down.

 


restaurant in Flower Town, Chengdu, China

restaurant in Flower Town, Chengdu, China

There are so many more crazy and interesting things to observe here in China such as no personal space, uncleanliness, crazy baby hats, babies with bottomless pants, shirts with built in sweat clothes, spitting, mouth numbing Sichuan peppers, being closely followed in stores and the list could go on and on. I may never get used to some of these things but is now not unusual to the eye.


“Notice that the stiffest tree is the most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee


❤ Courtney


 

cute bridge, Chengdu, China

cute bridge, Chengdu, China

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