Better In Time

•February 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That’s the new theme of my life currently. The sadness comes in waves, but it just takes time to experience peace again. Can’t wait ’til my wounds are fully healed so that the damn stinging in my heart would go away.

I’ve never felt so forced to do that cliche soul-searching before, nor do I feel inclined; but I know it’s for the best. I guess it’s really not soul-searching but more so soul-filling with God.

The drives are the worst. There’s just too much room for thinking. It’s times like these I wish I was back in Shanghai where I can take a subway while preoccupying myself with games on my iPod touch or observing others around me. I didn’t realize how bombarded the radio waves are with love songs. Even my favorite soft rock hits are leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. Ironically, the more I try to drown out my thoughts with music, the more I’m reminded of how badly it hurts.

All of this is so fresh and new to me. I’ve never experienced this before and hope to never have to again.

I’m God’s lost sheep that’s been found. Thanks for the reminder, Janelle.❤

Slump

•September 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Not until these past two months have I truly experienced the reality of initiative and independence. I find myself keeping busy these days, but haven’t made time to really sit myself down to job search. I feel unmotivated, yet try my best to scrounge up ways to feel productive.

To all those who are curious as to what the unemployed, out-of-school kids do, take at what my busy schedule entails having been back home for so many weeks:

-working at my mother’s restaurant

-58-12 org duties

-running dozens upon dozens of errands for mother

-hanging out with the bfriend, old and new chums and of course the fam bam

-church and Bible study (hoping to attend more regularly at least)

…and eating. It’s good to be back, America.

Like many of us, I had goals. I HAD GOALS PEOPLE. Where did the motivation that carried me through four years of college go? I need to reorganize my life. Google Calendar, help me get my shizen together.

Season Finale

•June 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Starting my internship on September 15, I never thought this day would come where I would have completed months of working full-time at an international logistics company located in Shanghai.

That day has finally arrived, and of course, the feelings have been mixed. I knew it would be hard to leave my job, my co-workers, stability, a source of income, as well as plenty of other things–but at the same time, I am completely relieved. It’s been a rough 9 months, as if I really WERE havin’ a baby–I’ve had to nurture my life carefully in this foreign place, learn how to make use of hours and hours of free time at my internship, adjust to so many changes both physically and mentally, deal with emotional instability and try my best to control mad cravings for things from home. I’ve finally given birth to what I would call a new season in my life, and am ready to put my all into this new chapter.

Despite a whirlwind of experiences, I am so happy to finally move on to this research project I have been working on, as well as just travel and spend time with a close friend. But I look most forward to returning home and seeing my loved ones again.

I know I probably should have done this earlier, but upon the request of Miss Lisa Corujo, I thought I’d give a brief tour of where I’ve spent majority of my time here in Shanghai to satisfy all of your curiosities…

C. Steinweg Co., Ltd., Shanghai

http://www.steinweg.com/en/home/

Morning Commute to Waigaoqiao Bonded Logistics Zone

Waiting at Century Ave for the company bus along with other local workers

And, it arrives. Co-workers pile in quickly to claim the best seats for the hour-long bus ride

TV with Chinese dramas to keep us entertained. Very useful tool in improving my Mandarin--it's a lesson each morning!

entering through security gates into WBLZ

Pulling into the company parking lot

Front Entrance

bus drivers and my sassy co-worker, Jennifer

Front Lobby

Reception Desk

Operations Department

Up towards the second floor to my department and desk

orange-themed cubicles and chairs--work time

where i spend the next 9+ hours of my day...

Break Room/Lounge

fancy, eh?

caffeine galore--tea, tea, tea!

you know you're in when you get your own office mug

1.) emphasizing health and fitness 2.) providing employees the illusion they're escaping the workplace

Lunch Munch

where our bento box bashes take place--it's always a fight for the microwaves

Warehouse & Storage Yard

view of our outdoor storage yard and managers' nice cars

piles of copper cathodes (our most popular stored commodity metal)

unloading copper from containers for storage, usually shipped from Brazil.

our warehouse that stores mostly metals like copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, etc.

rainy days

It was a good 9 months. I’ll miss my loud, crazy Shanghainese co-workers (which ~80-90% are women), the loud booms and bangs of forklifts loading and unloading cargo into the warehouses which can sometimes cause the entire office building to rumble, dining with others on reheated bento boxes, indulging in the taste of green tea throughout the day, catching up with friends on Gchat for hours at a time, completing basic admin tasks as well as random jobs, receiving small gifts from co-workers who’ve recently come back from their honeymoons, vacations or just had a baby, random snacks from co-workers like Yak meat pie or duck tongue, the smells and feel of the orange-colored office, and most of all, being left with a sense of accomplishment when I hop on the bus to return home after a long day.

Thanks to the Big-G for all that I’ve gotten during this time.

Hong Kong, We Meet Again

•June 5, 2010 • 1 Comment

Hong Kong is one of my favorite places in the world. Not that I’ve been to many, but whenever I ride the airport express into the city, the colors and pleasantly cluttered skyline greet me with an overwhelming sense of comfort. There’s something about this island that I find familiar, close to home. It’s no where near like the places I’ve grown up in (one could argue San Francisco but even then, that’s just Chinatown); but yet, I feel safe within the uniquely-crafted contours of this city.

My four days in Hong Kong were sleepless, but in the words of Feist, that’s what our youth is for, right?  Wandering the rarely calm and empty streets at 6am was absolutely surreal. You could literally feel the city slowly wake up–the early birds greeting each other with enthusiastic hellos, the sudden, loud rumbles of steel doors being pulled open at shops, the occasional taxi driving by and the buses and trams preparing for their daily routine of keeping the city’s gears in motion.

Hong Kong’s crowded. It’s disorderly, yet efficient. People march forth yet avoid collisions. They’ve mastered the art of weaving all while carrying on conversations, viewing the sites around them and even savoring the last bite of a late afternoon snack. This place is good for the lonely soul. It stimulates the mind and drowns out unwanted voices playing loudly in your head. All you take note of are the faces that pass you by–new and exciting, but not enough to keep you staring for more than a few seconds. Even in a brief glance you feel the mystery is solved quick, unintentional labeling. At the same time, you realize the potential of each individual on the street. They make choices and act on their desires as much as you do. Perhaps that’s one of God’s gifts to us–innate commonality. No matter how much you try to avoid your emotions, inner desires and the warfare within your head, it’s a requirement for humankind.

Light determines so much–our mood, actions, thoughts, and so on. The day revives our souls with a refreshing start, but the night revives our spirit as the after hours make us feel as though we were truly living up to every word from the phrase “when in Rome.” When the sun sets and the night comes, we switch gears to move onto our other list of adventures. So far, Hong Kong’s provided the longest one.

Here’s to you, Hong Kong:

Thank you for making it so easy to be with friends and enjoy life. I look forward to meeting you again.

Highlights

•May 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while.

A month and half has passed and so many things have happened along with major decisions made, some of them being:

-World Expo 2010 begins!

-quitting my internship in mid-June

-joining B.O.D. of 58-12

-starting a research project on migrant workers & the Expo with Mel

-coming home end of July (with fingers crossed)

Along with major decisions, exciting festivities and happenings have made my life exciting and quite enjoyable. I think it’s time for some photo vomit. GAG!

Snack Streets, 小吃

Shanghai snack streets are one of the most amazing things that you can’t find in the States. Cheap, delicious foods from dozens of vendors all aligned in rows alongside of streets–what more can you ask for? For this reason, Levi and Rachel decided to take me for a “snack street adventure” in which we went to three different areas including the newly moved and renovated Wujiang Road (吳江路).

First Stop: 振鼎雞 (zhen ding ji)

Rachel and I dining on delicious steamed chicken

Second Stop: Xinjiang Lamb Kebabs

Me, Levi & Rachel with amazing lamb kebabs

SKEWER TOWER! Yeah, this place was popular.

Third Stop: Yang’s Fry-Dumpling (小杨生煎馆)

FINALLY tried shengjianbao from Shanghai's most famous place.

World Expo Opening Ceremony

With the Expo starting, Levi, JJ and I decided to join the excitement by catching the fireworks show in the Expo opening ceremony. Unfortunately, the riverside areas were all blocked off with security controlling crowds of people wandering around looking for a good spot to see the fireworks. We ended up near a dock and stood in the middle of the street with dozens of others waiting in anticipation. After an hour, a good number of people had left as Expo volunteers and policeman advised them to watch from the TVs at home. We decided not to give in so easily, so were able to find a better spot facing the Nangpu Bridge directly. But when we heard the first boom, we realized the fireworks were actually behind the buildings to our left, so we chased and followed the sounds and flashes of lights that lit the sky. It was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever experienced–running around madly through the streets along with crowds of locals who were all filled with Expo fever, as we aimed for the beautiful sight that lied ahead. We eventually found a better spot and got a good glimpse of the tens of thousands of fireworks that were apparently set off for the night.

chasing the excitement


Exploring Xujiahui, 徐家汇

After church, Levi, JJ and I went on a little adventure out to explore the metro area of Xujiahui, in which we also came across Xujiahui Park.

Shopping Area in Xujiahui. Gotta love the lights and colors.

Late night walk: Levi & JJ with her bike.

salsa dancing couples

Just saw “Prince of Persia” today. Jake Gyllenhaal❤ I enjoyed his Persian-style ass-kicking. I want a dagger now.

Also went through 3 seasons of Mad Men and 21 seasons of the Simpsons.

Ricky and Jane introduced a fun Chinese dating show on TV called 非诚勿扰 (“If You Are the One”). Basically the show has 24 girls who all have a buzzer on their podium that they can press any time throughout the show to indicate they are not interested in the guy that is offered at the moment. Then a series of videos and interviews/questions by the host, the psychologist of the show and the girls proceed through the night. If the guy manages to gain at least one girl’s favor (meaning she hasn’t pressed her buzzer yet), he gets to choose two girls from the show and if they agree to go on a date with him, then it’s a success! It’s quite intriguing as many girls would immediately press their buzzer right when the guy walks out (sad, I know) and present not just superficial reasons but actually very deep, analytical assumptions they obtained through first impression. You get a very interesting look into the minds of Chinese women.

I fill my life with a lot of visual junk.


Through the bund, down the rabbit hole, across the pews and finally back home.

•April 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This past weekend was great. It was relaxing, reflective and eventful–all the things a weekend should be. WADDUP WEEKEND.

Through the bund…

The Bund was recently re-opened after years of renovation just in time for the World Expo. So after hearing this, I decided to beat the Expo crowds and explore this area with my friend JJ.

On our way there, a young looking fellow started following JJ and I. I didn’t think anything of it at first, until he started bumping into my arm every so often, and looked as though he were listening intently to our conversations. Every time I turned to look at him, he’d quickly look to the ground with his head down, drinking from his water bottle nervously. So to test if our fears were legitimate, we decided to stop. And lo and behold, he slows down as well after noticing we had fallen behind. He takes extremely small steps, occasionally glancing back, and then stops at a street vendor to admire his products. Then once JJ and I pass him, he catches up with us once again….

Luckily we were in a crowded place, so JJ and I dashed to the promenade area of the Bund. We thought we had lost him, so started taking photos with the new flower decor for the Expo. And as I posed and smiled, I suddenly saw in the corner of my eye someone slowly creeping up right next to JJ (WTH MAN). I jumped and ran to her, and we huddled there as he took pictures of the flowers with his cell phone. I then did a quick prayer, and after standing there not knowing how to respond to his awfully creepy stare and smile, he finally left us.

Conclusion: I need a new swiss army knife.

Even though the walk there had left us a little shaken and uneasy, JJ and I still were able to enjoy the incredible view of Lujiazui despite the foggy and gloomy weather.

(As always, I recommend clicking the photos to see it in better resolution if you have the time😉 )

Escape to the Bund

Lujiazui & Oriental TV Pearl Tower

Newly renovated promenade

Expo 2010!

JJ

Expo, biatches

enjoying the view

foreign commercial area along the bund

After exploring for quite some time, we then headed to eat at a nearby restaurant that served dim sum, cold dishes (凉菜) and a lot of other kinds of Chinese foods. JJ ordered us some dim sum, which wasn’t terrible, but it sure doesn’t beat the stuff from Monterey Park and Rosemead. We also had some beer, which made for a very delightfully unusual combination. Tea? No, a bottle of Tsingtao please.

好吃!

Down the rabbit hole…

We then headed to the Super Brand Mall and watched Alice in Wonderland in 3D. They had this special where you can get a bucket of popcorn, a scoop of ice cream as well as two bottled drinks, all for 10RMB! I’m a huge snacker when it comes to watching movies and TV, to the point where sometimes, certain movies or TV episodes suddenly conjure up cravings for specific kinds of food. It’s like when people study while smelling a certain scent so that when it comes to test time, they recall all the answers once they smell it again. Now whenever I watch 30 Rock, I suddenly crave tea and toast. Whoa, mind games.

I really enjoyed watching Alice in Wonderland in 3D, with things flying at you, especially when you fell through the rabbit hole with Alice. I was laughing and smiling the entire time and felt like a child again. I usually love Tim Burton movies, and this one was quite fun as well. The cinematography, the computer-generated setting and coloration was all very captivating. Perhaps it’s because I hadn’t seen a movie in quite some time, or haven’t seen Avatar (gasp!), so my standards for 3D films are quite low. But nonetheless, the movie hit the spot.

sporting 3D

Across the pews…

Sunday was great too, as my friend Christine had decided to visit SCF Hengshan with me (she usually goes to the sister church in Hongqiao). I then unexpectedly met tons of people, as JJ and Christine introduced me to their friends, shaking hands and trying to remember names and place of origin. It was great to finally meet people closer to my age group, as my small group is majority middle-aged (other than the two kids who come with their parents). But I still enjoy it nonetheless.

I then grabbed dinner with Christine, JJ and a cute couple who had graduated my year from UCSD. They told us that they had recently auditioned for Amazing Race: China Rush, which I give them props for as the challenges on that show seem quite daunting and just damn crazy. We also had some really interesting conversations about what it’s like to be an ABC back in the motherland. We shared stories and experiences, our perspectives on foreigners and how they view the locals and vice versa and the struggles we faced as an emerging third culture as being neither fully Asian or American. I think the Asian-American conference we had for IV really gave me a greater understanding as to what I had to offer to God’s community as an Asian-American. I need to find my notes.

Finally back home.

This weekend really made me see that with a little intentionality, I can make this experience so much better when I actually make the effort to call and meet new people. I thought my experience in Shanghai would mostly be this independent, soul-searching journey, but after 4 months of endless solitude, I think I’ve come to realize that being around people is just infinitely better.

Thanks Big-G for connecting me with your homies.

Big Boss, Big Weekend, Big World

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Big Boss.

Ben’s dad,  the boss of both the Singapore and Shanghai offices of our company, visited this past Tuesday. So prior to his arrival, our staff and managers frantically ran around the office in order to make proper preparations. Managers demanded reports, the operations team organized piles and piles of paperwork and maintenance scrubbed away at desks and floors until they could see their beautiful faces shining back. Feeling guilty for not having much to contribute, I decided to do my part by slapping on my best blouse and pants to add to the professional image of the office. Hey, I’ll dress to impress. But luckily, he came during the days in which I had the most to do, so I kept busy. Raise, validated.

We had lunch at the famous 小南国 (xiao nan guo) or Shanghai Spring restaurant, in which serves traditional Shanghainese food in a swanky setting. It’s always a plus to eat with the boss and managers as lunching with your superiors means superior indeed. And yes my friends, it was a Can-Can on my tastebuds.

Ben’s dad is a hilarious man. He loves to tell funny stories and even  joke about the most controversial topics like religion and politics. Censorship is not his style, which creates a mix of tense yet funny conversations, because despite disagreeing or feeling offended, you just gotta go Johnny Tightlips and slap on a smile out of respect for the big man.

Example of how one conversation went:

Mr. Pang: “Tammy is a Christian you know. Shiny, what religion are you again?”

Shiny: “I’m Buddhist, Boss!”

Mr. Pang: “Buddhist?! Oh, you mean Bu—-llshit!”

Oy ve.

Big Weekend.

Because Monday was 清明节 (qing ming jie) or “Ancestors Day/Tomb Sweeping Day,” we got the day off. Three-day weekend, hellz yeah!

Although I did not do anything too exciting, my weekend was still very much enjoyable.

Saturday, I had webcammed my family as Amy and my dad drove back up for the weekend. I absolutely love these moments, as it’s usually right when my family finishes dinner, which also means that my dad has had his fair share of brandy. My mother and aunt’s excitement accompanied by my dad’s silliness from intoxication, as well as my two sisters’ pure hilarity makes for heart-warming and gut-busting conversation. There is a specific type of laughter you can only get from your loved ones, where it’s deep-sounding and good to the soul. Mm..just like Campbell’s.

Webcam with the Fam

Afterward, I met up with Levi for our tutoring session. Normally, we would go out and meet at a cafe to study, but because he had heard that I cook for myself quiet often (at least 5 days a week), he was curious about my cooking skills. I’m not Iron Chef or Emeril, but I thought I’d do something nice so agreed to cook up a few dishes for him. So let’s see what was on the menu:

Appetizer: Soup with napa cabbage, chinese sausage, dried shrimp, green onions, cilantro and rice cake.

Main Course: Porkchops marinaded with soy sauce, garlic and ginger + Beef stir-fry with bean sprouts, yellow chives, king oyster mushrooms, garlic, green onions and some cilantro.

Levi said he had enjoyed the dishes, so that was good.

yummerz!

So after tutoring and dinner, Levi and I decided to get some milk tea from 85 degrees Celsius. I absolutely love their 英式奶茶 or “British Milk Tea.” I like to get it hot, and have gotten used to sipping it threw a straw like everyone else. They also put that plastic seal on top that I used to think was only made for cold drinks, but I guess it does just fine.

奶茶!

After returning to my apartment, I then had another webcamming session with Charles just as he woke up. Staying up was no problem, as the milk tea surely kept me up until 5am. What the hell’s in those babies?!?

The Easter service for church was quite enjoyable, as we had an awesome performance from the Shanghai Lights Ensemble who sang “Oh, Happy Day.” I wanted to get up and jump on stage to dance away like Whoopi in Sister Act 2.

Sing it, ladies!

On my extra day off of work, I decided first head to Starbucks to enjoy a delicious cup of Americano with a toasted blueberry muffin. I had some quiet time and reflection, which was something I had not been able to do much this past week. The atmosphere of the cafe really helped me to focus, as I went through Psalms 119. The sofa was also extremely comfortable, as I had forgotten such comfort even existed after having slept on a hard, springy bed and placing by caboose on things that can be rough on my back.

Then afterward, I headed to 八佰伴(BaBaiBan)/Nextage Department Store which is a ginormous 10-story to do a little shopping. I browsed around my favorite store, Uniqlo , but found nothing. But I did find a cute skirt from H&M for 99RMB (~15USD).

Thoughts? (sorry for the bad picture quality)

I also treated myself to dinner at a Japanese dinner. Got my favorites: grilled mackerel and salmon sashimi. I was tempted to get another favorite, Beef Yakitori stuffed with enoki, but refrained. Yes, I have SOME self-control.:/

Now I’m relaxing, and cooking up some wintermelon soup for lunch tomorrow (and perhaps the next few days).

Good weekend.🙂

Big World.

I’ve officially decided to come home in 6 months. As of now, I am 80-90% sure I want to go back to school and pursue an MBA. During my time here, God has reignited my passions for a career that would allow me to work in the field of microfinance. More specifically, I want to be able to advise borrowers on how to best use their loans to jumpstart a business that would benefit them in their situation, accounting for dozens of factors including ecological environment, economy, household, market demands, etc. Many families have had the great opportunity to obtain a loan, but often do not know how to best invest their money. One particular story in which I had heard from Charles’ close family friends had really opened my eyes to what I could do with a business degree. Mr. Hicken had talked about a family in Mexico who had received a loan and decided to open a cattle farm. The problem was that they lived on a steep hill, which led to a plunging death for many of their cattle. Many of you right now may think, well DUH, why would they even think to do that? But the reality is, many families are limited in their skills and resources, so often do not think to do otherwise. They do what they know in which they’ve come to learn in their environment. So my hope is to be able to impart valuable knowledge and assist in what I can—to be able to expand their possibilities even further than they themselves can imagine. Praise God for passion and direction. I just hope this is the right path. I’ve really learned how global and great God really is during my time here in Shanghai, and even more so the way this world needs Him. A big world needs a big God to solve big problems. Let’s do this Big-G.