Erratic weather
It was 35 deg C and the heat was biting my skin. The next day, it plunged to 15 deg C and when the wind blew, it was bone biting….only here in Shanghai!
Soar like an eagle, don’t bum around like a turkey…
I started using this phrase when Kai was facing extreme difficulty in doing his Higher Chinese. You see, we are a English-speaking family. Since he was young we have exposed him to many books but we made the mistake of not introducing him to Chinese books at the same time. The love for English books was very strong but he was lacking behind in his  mother tongue – the Chinese language. When he was in P1, he totally has no interest in Chinese and he was just doing the Normal Chinese. To add to his problem, he had an almost-to-retired Chinese teacher who was not very interesting and motivating. When we were relocated to Shanghai, the Shanghai Singapore International School only offers Higher Chinese. Kai has no choice but to do it and it was extremely difficult for him. Seeing him cry while doing his Chinese homework was really upsetting for me during those early days.

I  reminded him that crying is not going to solve his problem. He has to overcome it. Kai, being a very visual boy, giving him illustrations will help him see things  better. I used the eagle as an illustration…how eaglets learn to fly.  The moment they overcame their difficulties, they would soar high up in the sky with their huge majestic wings. I also reminded him of how Grimble, pushed and shoved Soren and Glyfie to fly in the story, Guardians of Ga'hoole. I kept on pounding this fact into him and of course never under estimate children’s power to absorb  information…little Ann sitting by the side, listened to every word I said. Today, Kai isn’t a top student for his Chinese but he has indeed come a long way and has improved tremendously. He can be left on his own to do his Chinese work. Occasionally, he may need some help. Credits must go to his P4 Chinese teacher who never gave up on him and his tutor who comes in once a week, by the way, this tutor had a Phd in Chinese consultation! He has graduated and left Shanghai and thank God, He never fails to provide. I found him another excellent tutor. I have seen her teaching Kai...very passionate lady.

Reminding him not to be slothful too. Look at turkeys, they bum around and what happen to them….end up as someone’s Christmas dinner. The kids always find this funny...cos' no one eat eagle!

When I saw a picture of a soaring eagle, I just had to paint it for the kids, to help them remember what I have taught them...
This was my second painting. The kids loved it

When I first brought it home, I asked the the kids what was it all about?
Kai said “soar like an eagle”
Ann completed it… “soar like an eagle, don’t bum around like a turkey”
I am very glad that they remember the lesson well. The painting is now hanging in the family room, everyone love it more than I do.
A short trip – Suzhou
Remember, last year, I blogged about our trip to Hangzhou. This year, we decided to check out Suzhou. She is a major city located just outside Shanghai. If you speed, you will arrive in a 1 1/2hour drive. Considered one of the two most beautiful cities of Shanghai. Perhaps, time has changed.  Clearly, she should not be compared to heaven. Well, I haven’t been to heaven but when one uses heaven as an analogy, it often refers to somewhere nice. My definition of a beautiful place has to mean “in its rawest form, the beauty stands out”. I find Suzhou too commercialised to be classified as a beauty. Well, you can disagree with me cos’ afterall, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

Journey with me through the city of Suzhou…
This is a (huge) wedding car and the green coach is a sleeper coach. Take a closer look, the upper deck is the sleeping cabin

Mother and child selling oranges along the road. Two elderly women selling their vegetables outside a petrol kiosk.

China is not just about the rise and rise of billionaires. Having stayed here for almost two years now, I have seen what real poverty is like. It is more than just a great divide, if not curbed, it can be a mammoth problem. If you have read about the crisis in the Middle East, you would have known how it all started…

Not exciting, not vibrant to be called a night market. Hangzhou has a more colourful night market

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Trying my best to excite the kids. But… I finally succumb to them.
Yes, can give it a miss, if you haven’t got much time

I think the most exciting part of the trip was the visit to the silk factory.
The wax museum with all the hands-on gadgets, if you may call them

Silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves. The cocoons

Manually sorting out the good from the bad cocoons. Labour intensive work. Now you know why silk is so expensive

Soaking and washing the good cocoons before bringing them to the production floor

If you stare at it hard enough, you will be able to see the silk thread. The lady manually pulled out the thread from the cocoon and attached to the machine. No easy task. People like me, with no fine touch, I would probably take a few days just to finish one cocoon of silk

The silk yarn…weaved into silk cloth before various designs were printed on it

The next time you go and buy silk cloth, make sure you do not demand for an unreasonable price. It is an extremely labour-intensive job just to get the silk thread out from the cocoon. To know if you are really getting the real stuff, use two fingers to run down the fabric. Next, rub both fingers together gently, your fingers should feel smooth, like baby skin.

Morning market. Fruits of all sorts

Fresh cucumbers for sale. After shaving off the skin, the locals just crunch on it, treating it like titbits. HEALTHY!

More fruits and vegetables. We bought pipa (loquat) home. They were very fresh and juicy. Notice the weighing scales that was being used. The kids were amused

This is much more interesting than the night market. Lots of nick-knacks for the mother and children

These are common water village which can be seen in Suzhou. Just need to visit one, they are almost identical

Lots of ancient architectures were still kept

I must show you this beautiful hotel which we stayed for two nights. It is one of the most beautiful hotel with a special character of its own. Presenting…the Suzhou Pan Pacific Hotel

The exterior. Special isn’t it? Made me feel like I was living in the Forbidden City

We were upgraded to a suite (life's little surprise from God) and the kids were most excited…
The bedroom. The mini hall cum study. That’s Kai, pretending to be a CEO. Ann was there but sneaked off as I was taking the picture cos she didn’t want to be seen as his subordinate. LOL

The jacuzzi which became the kids’ swimming pool. Can’t blame them…it has been a long six months of cold weather. A nice little balcony. Inside those windows, is the jacuzzi

My verdict of Suzhou…
If you only have time to tour one city, just go for Hangzhou. There really isn’t anything outstanding over here. Gardens and lots of gardens are their main attraction but really if you have seen one, you have seen all.
*Note. This is the post which I have written for the third time. It was frustrating losing it after finishing it... twice. So I hope you have enjoyed it *wink*