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Travel Plans?

During the Spring Semester we get at least 2 long weekends, now we may have to work on a Saturday and get Sunday till Tuesday off, but we’ll have some three day weekends.

Just now as I’ve been waiting and waiting for various web pages to load, I’ve started dreaming of going to Korea, not for sightseeing, but for some decent internet speed. That really may be the reason to go over the May Day holiday.

Will China ever fix this problem? Will this university?

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Back to China

Tomorrow just after midnight I’m off to China. School starts on the 20th so I’ll have some time in Beijing, a day and a half, before I fly to Jinan. I’ll be the only American teacher there till Saturday night, when a new technology instructor arrives. The other English teachers, 4 of them, are still waiting for their visas. China sure has failed to improve this system. They may be in the same boat I was in in the fall having to make up classes. It’ll be especially rough on whoever is teaching 24 hours (a policy I’m 100% against).

I’m pretty well organized to go. I just have to pack toiletries and do a bit of laundry. I’ve got a few books to return to the library. (Ah, how I’ll miss using a library where I can take out books. We’ve never been encouraged to check out books in Jinan.)

I’m flying Eva Airlines for the first time. First I fly to Taipei and then to Beijing. On my way home I’ll spend a couple days in Taipei, but that’s not till June.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to blog and get online to most sites. There’s been news that China’s cracking down on VPNs. We’ll see if that’s so. It’ll be weird to be the only teacher at school from Friday – Saturday. It’ll be rather eerie. Usually everyone arrives the Wednesday night before the semester begins. This time they might be an entire week late.

For those Long Flights

These tips should help your skin and general feeling of well being.

Tasmania

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Since I have friends in Tasmania, I thought I should hop off the mainland and see what Hobart and its environs had to offer. I discovered that incredible nature and a more relaxed pace abounded in Tasmania.

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Tasmanian Tiger

Here’s what I learned about Tasmania:

  • The Tasmanian Devil is familiar to non-Australians because of the cartoon character but the Tasmanian Tiger was more of the state’s symbol than the former. However, the Tasmanian Tiger has been extinct (or believed to be so — some claim to have seen signs of them) for decades.
  • The tallest flowering tree, the eucalyptus regnans can be found here. The only tree that’s taller is the California redwood.
  • What is now called Tasmania has been inhabited by aborigines for approximated 12,000 years when it was cut off from the mainland.
  • Tasmania was named after Abel Janszoon Tasman, a the Dutch explorer, who saw what is now Tasmania in 1642.

My first full day in Tasmania I went with my friend cum hostess to the Tasmanian National Park, which was swarming with tourists, which is quite uncommon. We saw the Tessellated Pavement, which is an area of flat rock on the ocean. The ocean has cut into the rock over the course of time and what’s unusual about that is that the cuts are at right angles. It looks manmade, but isn’t. We also saw the Remarkable Cave, which is an arch from the land to the ocean, the Blowhole, a natural pool where water shoots up periodically, and lots of gorgeous seascape.

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  • My second day we went to Mt. Field National Park where there’s a rainforest and famed waterfall. This rainforest is home to the eucaluptus regnans.

    We had a great day strolling through Salamanca, the hip part of town by the harbor. (Sorry I can’t find photos.) Salamanca is home to dozens of craft shops, restaurants, bars and cafés.

    Day three was spent at the beach in Dodge’s Ferry, Tasmania. A word to the wise: reapply the sunscreen often. I’m still peeling my sunburned skin off. Still it was a wonderful trip. I want to go back to see Tassie’s funky Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

    Real Frequent Flyer Pros

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    I have read the One Mile at a Time blog to learn about getting miles more wisely, but while amazed at the stories of flying internationally in first class on miles, I hadn’t followed any of the hints yet. I just came upon an article in Rolling Stone about Ben Schlappig a “Hobbyist,” i.e. a person p who as a hobby fly all over the world gaming frequent flyer programs. They accrue miles and fly the world in first class far cheaply. It’s an interesting profile. Since he was a young teen Schlappig has been flying for fun and figuring out the system. He’s not alone. There’s a community of people who almost compete to see how many miles they can rack up or how little they can pay for the ability to do so. From this group are some helpful websites.

    Skiplagged.com is designed by Hobbyists and it’s like a Kayak. It’s a site that searches and find the best fares. It’s so good that United tried to sue them to stop posting fares which their system posted erroneously.

    Flyer Talk is a forum for Hobbyists and it appears that they’ll help newcomers by giving information e.g. which credit cards give you the most miles or which Star Alliance (or other) group is the best to join based on your travel or spending patterns.

     

     

    Chinese Zumba?

    Here’s my first stab at an iMovie. It’s less than a minute long. The guy in the orange was so joyful.

    Street Art on Hosier Lane

    Here’s a bit of the street art you’ll find in the lanes of Melbourne, Australia

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    Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

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    1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

    2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

    3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

    Other Weekly Photo Challenge photos:

    Photos from Sydney

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    Indigenous Art at New South Wales National Gallery

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    Sculpture at “The Rocks”

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    Sydney’s General Post Office (aka GPO)

    Ctrip Review

    I’ll never buy train tickets online from Ctrip.com. I thought it would make getting tickets a lot easier, but boy have I been proven wrong.

    First I signed up for an account, as I would for any website. Then I selected my tickets. Again this was typical and I didn’t have any problems, but it took longer than most sites. I then selected my tickets and the page loading was slow and I had to start over three times. After investing an hour in this process I found I would have to pay a $10 fee for each ticket. The usual fee is 50 rmb (around 90¢). I went ahead and bought just one ticket planning to get my return ticket at my hotel.

    Ctrip’s site says consumers can pick up their tickets at any kiosk. That was key for me.

    I went to a conveniently located kiosk and was told that the only place to pick up the Ctrip ticket is at the train station. Yikes! Chinese train stations are known for slow service and long lines.

    I wound up having to go to the station where I had to wait 50 minutes to pick up my tickets. Ctrip is a horrible way to go for train tickets. If I’d just gone to the station and bought mine there I’d have to wait in line for 50 minutes, I’d still have saved an hour and $9.10.

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