Visiting Shanghai, Xian and Beijing in December

Travelling in these regions of China during the colder months is not for the faint of heart. It gets very cold. I mean freezing cold. I mean frigid, I will never ever be warm again in my life COLD.

One big advantage is that you can walk the many distances from place to place without sweating buckets. There is much walking as you sightsee, especially in Beijing. Also, no trip to Beijing is complete without a trip to The Great Wall, so even with snow flurries falling from the sky, we enjoyed its magnificent workmanship.

Getting to the Great Wall

I think the most convenient way to get there from Beijing is to go with a tor company. There are tours that take you there and pick you up after you are done. If you don’t speak the language then this is a good option. Someone will be on board to explain everything to you and all the fellow tourists on board in English. It is also reasonably priced. I often buy tours on Viator.com when I travel, so check out tours there. (This is not sponsored, just advice from my experiences with them.)

Schedule a full day because it is quite a drive there and back. Also, it is worth walking along the wall and enjoying the scenery and such. I can imagine it being very beautiful in spring and fall.

Yu Garden, Shanghai
Yu Garden Shanghai

You can still enjoy being out about in Shanghai even in the cold in winter. There is much to do and see in the way of cultural elements. Shanghai is known for its shopping but there are art museums, gardens, an aquarium and other things to enjoy. I enjoyed the different Christmas decorations around the city since I was there just before Christmas day.

In addition, the subway is great for getting around, though you have to be prepared to be pushed by many people. It is all a part of the adventure.

Xian, is where the Terracotta Warriors are to be found. It is worth visiting the Terracotta Warriors Museum to see the beautiful work of art on display. Read a bit about the warriors before going, to fully appreciate what you will see.

Enjoy walking around the town and see the city wall, the bell tower and enjoy street food. Soak up the different experiences and see how people are as they go about their daily lives there.

Dress for the weather if you go in winter. It is a great time to visit because you can have many of the tourist sights to yourself.

Things are affordable, so you can enjoy many experiences and stay in mid range hotels at a good rate. There are many options for good restaurants with affordable prices. Also, with some research you can get from place to place by train. I flew into Shanghai then took the train to Xian then another one to Beijing. Then I flew from Beijing back to Japan. We took the trains overnight, so that’s a great way to save on lodging and wake up in another city. BUDGET TIP!

While Beijing was oh so cold, I did enjoy that city most because of its architecture, museums and historical sites. I hope to visit it again in more palatable weather.

Have the Conversation and Don't Bottle up Stuff

Sometimes keeping the peace means having a difficult conversation to get some things off your mind. It takes courage but the weight that falls off after the conversation is a thing of wonder and beauty. This is self-care because bottling up things inside cause stress levels to rise. Most of us are wary of approaching someone who has offended us in some way to have that conversation. However, if you are anything like me your attitude towards that person will reflect your feelings. These feelings can weigh on you if it is someone you truly care about or see regularly.

How to Prepare for and Approach the Conversation

Pray. Ask God to give you the right words and attitude to effectively convey your points. If you go into the conversation angry and hostile the outcome will not be good. It’s important to show respect for the other person who has wronged you. After all, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ Treat others with the grace you expect to be treated with. I know this is the last thing we want to do but doing what we want to do, in the heat of the moment is counterproductive.

Write down the things you want to address. Approach this formally since it helps to ground you. Also know that you will need to be bold and make eye contact with the person. It is also important to meet privately if it is a friend or relative. For coworkers, for example, get a third person in the room. This is important for accountability. Ideally the person should be in a position of authority and neutral to best serve both of you.

If you can, get to the room before the meeting starts and do some deep breathing exercises and pray to keep a calm composure. Remind yourself about how you would want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot.

How to Engage in the Conversation

Get to the point. Start off with the person’s name, make eye contact and state why you asked for the meeting. Ask to be allowed to say all you have to say without being interrupted and wait for confirmation on this. Then speak calmly and moderately while making eye contact. If you are someone prone to being nervous in such situations keep a pen in your hand to help with this. Twirl it or do something to help you get through.

Allow the other person to also speak uninterrupted and really listen. You may be surprised to know that in many cases they didn’t mean to offend you and may even be unaware that they offended you. THIS IS WHY THE CONVERSATION IS IMPORTANT INSTEAD OF BOTTLING UP FEELINGS. Believe me, I am talking from experience.

Being Afraid of Confronting Others Sometimes only Gives you Stress

Confrontations are never good. We often think of speaking with someone about something they do to us as confronting them. I see confrontation as approaching someone in anger to try to right a wrong. This is something that often causes more issues.

I believe it is important to approach an individual respectfully, to have a mature/grown conversation about something they have done to you. Timing is key, so we often need some time to cool off before we can do this. We encourage kids to talk it out. We know communication is important in intimate relationships to resolve disputes. Why is it then that we learn to be afraid of telling someone they have offended us? There are some things that can’t be let go of easily. A five minute conversation can do a world of good.

I did this recently and it did a world of good for my peace of mind. Interestingly, we both got to find out things about each other that we did not know. In addition, we also understand our boundaries better. This is self-care in action.

Instead of bottling up stuff, try having a conversation to clear the air. Even if the other person isn’t receptive you gain peace and that is paramount.

How are you Working on yourself to be your Best you?

Working on yourself to be your best you doesn’t only pertain to academic pursuits. It is wonderful to get different certifications and equip oneself for different opportunities. Here I am talking about focusing on the intangibles that pay you an a deeper level.

Do you love yourself? Do you also like yourself? Being the best you requires that you answer to these questions in the affirmative. If this isn’t the case then you should do the work needed to get to the place where you state an emphatic “yes!” to these questions.

So, you are in love with who you are and you like yourself, lovely. I do too, as we all should.

Do you like how you communicate with others? Do you walk away from an encounter feeling frustrated that you couldn’t get your point across? Do you know how sometimes, it is only after having a conversation that you know what you should have said? Listen to really hear what is being said, do not rush to answer, give yourself a few seconds to frame your thoughts and deliver them appropriately. With practice this becomes easier to do. It is quite a task to control our emotions especially in heated moments. Explaining yourself clearly in different settings is something worth mastering.

Do you find it hard to say no to others? If you do, take some time to assess who you find it particularly hard to say no to. Be honest with yourself and try to get to the bottom of why this is the case. Often this stems from a fear of disappointing someone who you think will form a negative impression of you. The people in our lives who care for us will understand when we tell them no sometimes. If you only say yes to someone every time because you feel pressured, that is something you need to work on. Every time you say yes to doing something in your free time, you may be saying no to yourself. Therefore, the things you say yes to should interest you.

I know exercising and being active is of vital importance for me to be my best self. Since, I enjoy being a couch potato after being on my feet most of the day, I walk the 1.3km to and from the train station everyday instead of taking the bus. I also take the stairs in the station and forego the escalator. Every little bit helps. In the same way, I try not to eat too much crap and eat light in the evenings. Fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and water are staples. Chicken makes a cameo appearance once in a while and fish has its time to shine. I really like grilled salmon. My body feels good fuelled by these things. When I cheat and eat some other stuff my body sure protests.

Are you an empathetic person? Do you try to help others as needed? I know we can’t help everyone. It is easy for some people to give others money to help them but not their time. Everybody is busy in this fast paced world. Being your best you may mean giving more of your time to others. Meet friends and talk without distractions. Set aside 30 mins to call up someone, schedule it if needed. In certain places where people have all their material needs met, the gift of someone’s time can be precious.

How are you working on yourself to be your best you? No one is perfect. Each day is an opportunity to improve in some way. Something as simple as deciding to change your outlook on some things in your life is a step closer to being your best you

We are all works in progress and by being intentional we can become who we want to be day by day.

Develop the Habit of Spending Quality Time Alone; it’s Self-care

“You live alone!? Don’t you feel lonely?”

Many a conversation has this interjection because the person to whom I am speaking, discovers I live by myself. It happens quite often. (Perhaps it’s a cultural thing here.)

Is living alone synonymous with being lonely?

I wonder if people realise that you can live with others and still be lonely. Loneliness and being alone aren’t two peas in a pod.

Some people like being alone and may even need this for their sanity. There are also others who thrive on being with other people and still others who fall somewhere in the middle. At some point we will be alone. Being alone is great for taking time to develop yourself. Here are some positives from spending time alone:

  • You learn to hear your own thoughts and take the time to reflect and unpack things mentally. This gives clarity and helps you to learn important things about yourself.
  • You take time to do things that help you to rest. This is, if you learn to enjoy the times when you are alone. I mean, to just lie in bed and scroll through the internet or read a book or just be. I gift myself this opportunity on the weekend. It’s self-care.
  • Write down some goals and plans.
  • Dance, sing, clean, cook, take yourself out or just do whatever you want to (responsibly of course).
  • Develop a routine to pamper yourself in your alone time. This is self-care.
  • Go on a retreat by yourself to unwind and relax.
  • You can work on creating a peaceful atmosphere in that time as you de-stress.
Taking it slow…

Indulging in self-care doesn’t mean spending a bunch of money. Something a simple as taking a bath or lying on clean sheets at the end of a long day or eating that meal that hits the spot, soothes you. It’s nice to enjoy being alone at times. If you can’t be at peace when you are with yourself how can you be with others I wonder?

Being alone can be addictive. It’s good to strike a balance.

Travelling to Siem Reap to Gaze in Wonder at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat displays beautiful architecture and how well this meshes with nature over time.

Being at Angkor Wat is an unforgettable experience. This is why many people go to Siem Reap. Its setting is captivating and one marvels at the level of artistry seen everywhere.

Travelling to Angkor Wat in style with the nice driver

Look how lush everything is. It reminded in many ways about place sin the Jamaican countryside that I had visited. The driver was very funny and engaging. I remember the warmth of the people in this area and also the little kids who speak all kinds of languages. They may have slippery fingers, so though cute one has to watch out.

I just say ‘Wow!’
Nature pushes through and takes back what we introduced to mess with it. It makes something even more intricate.
Preservation in process, this is good since a legacy is being preserved so more of us can go, see and learn about another culture.
Lush tropical beauty. One can spend an entire day just enjoy nature and being restful.
Look how beautifully designed this is. Its ageing features gives it even more character.
Look at the intricate work of art….
Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to do a good bit of walking. Spend a day or two soaking up this wonder.
As pretty as a picture right?

If you are going to South East Asia, add Cambodia to the list. It is an affordable country and the people are warm and welcoming. Be careful though because there are those who may grab your valuables. Travel responsibly and so on…

Keep Going…

It’s easy to back away from life and just allow it to drag you down. Stuff happens and sometimes they bring us to our knees or even on our faces sometimes. Resolve to keep going. Each time get up and get going.

This thought came to me today and I decided to share it here for those who might need to see this.

It’s interesting how we can be moving and doing things, like busy bees but just be buzzing around in circles accomplishing nothing. It’s necessary to stop, relax our minds and allow them to refresh. To keep going requires a healthy mind that is active and working for us.

When you are tired, take time to rest and do what recharges you.

Keep going when others say less than positive things to you or about you.

Keep going when things are not going the way you want them to. See how you can be innovative and push yourself to live your best life at different stages.

Life is worth living intentionally, so know hard times will come as will good times. Resolve to keep going regardless. Remember better days do come as life cycles through.

What do you Need to Stop Procrastinating about ?

Procrastination is really the thief of time as the adage goes. I mean there are so many sayings cautioning us not to procrastinate but alas we do it. What are you procrastinating about? Why do you procrastinate and what do you need to stop procrastinating about?

All of this is easier said than done. However, the first step begins with honestly facing up to what makes you procrastinate about that one thing? You know that thing that you want to do but leave it hanging…

Are you afraid of failing? Remember failure is a part of the process to learning and growing.

Are you afraid of being vulnerable. Pray about it and try to step out in faith.

Is it that you don’t have the finances necessary to bring this thing to life? How about sharing the idea with someone who may be able to help by investing in your dream?

Write the book, or finish it in my case.

Research, plan, save and go after the new job/career etc.

Do some free online courses to learn about how to run and manage a business if it’s your calling. Platforms like Coursera and Future Learn, offer loads of courses from different universities around the world for free in some cases. Spend some time investing in your dream in this way and less time on social media.

Sometimes you have to do some things without knowing how it will all end. This is faith at work. I remember a few years ago I was just not liking the atmosphere of one place where I was working. I took to applying for different jobs. interestingly, the job that on the surface seemed to pay the least worked out to be the best with a good salary. I am happy I took the leap. I caution you to save and have a buffer while enjoying life, to enable you to do something like this.

Some people want to travel but put that off usually because of money. This is valid. However, you can have a ten year plan where you save as little as $20 – 30 USD a month for a dream trip. Do the math. The trick is to think about how much a trip like that would cost in that period of time and start saving for it now. Have a separate account and let it mount up. Even if it takes more than ten years, your reward will be the dream trip.

You may be at the stage where your first step to stop procrastinating is to write down your ideas, goals, dreams etc. Put it somewhere so you can see it often and remember it. You will be more likely to do something about it. Also, don’t be shy to ask for help. Speak to people who can help and know that yes, someone may not be open to helping but keep knocking on doors.

Keep pushing and going after what you want. Life is best lived as an active participant in your own life. No one else can do your life like you can. Fix your eyes on your path and don’t be distracted by what others are doing. What’s yours is yours and vice versa. Rejoice with others and don’t cultivate envy… nurture positive thoughts especially when things seem to be falling apart. Again, this isn’t easy but it’s worth it in the long run.