28: Happy Birthday!

I welcomed my 28th birthday with a whole new outlook, it had been a crazy year leading up to that moment, I was feeling rather blessed during that recent celebration. Working on my birthday wasn't a chore, the children wished me a happy birthday at least one hundred times! The weekend brought many shenanigans, I wasn't ready for Jinshanling's Great Wall! So high! 

My 28th birthday had fallen on a Wednesday, being a day of work I wanted to make it special for the children. The morning was really fun, the work period was really busy with my English Corner filled with children learning and exploring, using the English language materials that I had made for them to learn from. One of the children also celebrated their birthday, celebrating together we all enjoyed songs and as a class we wished each other happy birthday in both Chinese and English. To my surprise, my lead teacher had bought me a lovely chocolate cake! I shared the cake with some of my colleagues but if truth be told I wanted to enjoy it by myself! I had a relaxed morning after the work period, observing my fellow foreign colleagues class was something that I needed to do. My birthday at work was nice, it felt lovely to receive some nice gifts from some of the parents! Not another announcement from the UK?

During the nap time I went to the local supermarket to pick up somethings for the afternoons cooking lesson, well food orientated learning that I try and do with the children once a week. Getting some bananas, cakes, peanut butter and some apple jam incase any children had a nut allergy, my shopping was complete. It was a very rare visit to Wumei because I use an app that arranges delivery to my door, its much more convenient and quite frankly I can't stand food shopping! The food lesson went down a storm, the cakes with peanut butter and bananas went down very well with the children, they sat down with their treats, it was strangely silent as they devoured their snacks! The day itself was really nice, my after school class came around like it usually did, things flowed well and the kids seemed to pick up on the happy vibes. As much as working on my birthday wasn't a bad thing that day it would be nice if 2019 could bring a weekend birthdate! Sure, the universe listened! 

Friday brought me back together with my two Montessori besties, we had gone through the spring and summer weekend course together and it was an experience to say the very least! The days professional development took place away from our usual campuses, meaning I got a taxi into town because the early alarm call made getting the metro sound like a bad idea. I was tired! Learning about 'peace education', 'sports' and 'health and hygiene of the classroom' took us out of the classroom for one day. Myself and Chanel went to QMex for a saucy lunch with a beverage or two, keeping it professional we were back on time, no fingers could be pointed at us! The social afterwards was good, a nice selection of beers were available, staying away from the mixed drinks I wanted to carry on the party, the last month had been mad busy at work! Kelly spent time with her Zimbabwe compadres, she's going to show me her country soon! 

My birthday week so far had been great, work had been smooth with only a few small issues. My birthday itself was nice and being a Wednesday I didn't touch a drop of drink because I can be professional when I have to be! Friday allowed me to get a little bit crazy, being aware of my semi-professional setting I enjoyed the beverages but kept things cute. Branching away from the social I went to Destination to see if it was going to throw shade or not, it wasn't the best if I am completely honest. I picked the pace up the following weekend at Kai with a more simple and less snooty crowd. Getting a huge McDonalds had to be done, I hadn't had much to eat at all during the social. A few crazy developments occurred on the Friday night but I'll keep those confidential, I had been exploring a new adventure of sorts, with that experience terminated I resumed life as normal because I have always have options. Let's just say it was kind of a complicated 'love scenario' so I'm like a cat with nine lives.

Being in Beijing just over the one year mark I knew I needed to start visiting the key landmarks that represent the city and the country. It was somewhere I wanted to visit before my Beijing journey had even started, choosing the lesser visited Hebei branch of the Great Wall had to be done. The Jinshanling section of the Great Wall gave me a quieter panorama of Beijing and Hebei's mountainous border regions, away from the craze of Badaling and Mutianyu, no I wasn't going to put my money into the commercialism of Simatai's side of the wall at Gubei Water Town! Going up to the top in the cable car wasn't bad, making my way to the nearest access to the wall started to the fear into me, I don't do heights but wanted to experience the wall for myself at least once. The views were unstoppable, the photos online really don't do the actual vista any justice, I walked slowly as the walls path hugged the mountain top. 

Knowing it was time to turn around I gathered all the courage I had, made it down the stairs and by the grace of whatever god exists I managed to get the cable car back down to the car park. I want to reinforce that my visit to the wall was well worth it, one of the wonders of the world has been bossed and I can say I have been to two iconic Beijing/Hebei landmarks. The views were out of this world but the height and the twisting turning nature of the walls path really knocked me sick, its a mixed feeling because the views were just indescribable but I felt terrified at the very same time. My birthday week concluded with such an epic event, things had panned out just fine and it was time to begin my first new week of work as a 28 year old, with each year I feel extremely blessed by the path my life has taken. I hope to have another packed year that's filled with travelling, hard work and drama because you know I love it all! Beijing, you better pull it out of the bag in 2019! 

Another Year Fierce! 

Joseph Harrison 


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