(Guest Post) Hiroshima Castle

Not being able to visit Hiroshima was one of my biggest regrets. Take a look at Rachel’s original post for georgeous photos of the Hiroshima Castle! https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/hiroshima-castle/
Rachel Kitai is a traveler and artist, check out her art here: http://rachelkitai.com/
Our Sunday officially started with a bike ride to Hiroshima Castle, only a few blocks away from the Cooper home. It was so refreshing to ride a bike again. Hiroshima, the city, is actually quite flat and it’s easy to get around on a bike even if you’re out of practice (like me).
By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)
The entire Cooper family rode our bikes to the castle and then Aly and I went up and around to view all the displays. One floor alone was just about the evolution of toilets in Japan. That was…fascinating. Another floor described the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and I was extremely impressed by how…diplomatic the English text was. I don’t mean “diplomatic” in a bad or negative way. The tone of the text was just very factual without any judgment. They literally just said exactly what happened and how it happened and how it affected everyone else. I was so very impressed.

(Guest Post) Simply some words about “Me”

Hi – I am Sheida. I am a persian girl, grown up in Germany, in Düsseldorf. My parents moved to Germany when I was three years old, for some political reasons, but I cannot remember anything of this anymore. All I know is, that my parents told me that I didn’t want to go to Germany or even learn the German language. As a result, I totally cannot speak Farsi 😉 well, I still understand it, but speaking – please don’t ask for it.
Please find the original post, with all the photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/02/simply-some-words-about-me.html
By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)
I thought I would introduce myself to you, so that you know who I am and what I am doing. I am 33 years old who lives and work apparently in Prague, Czech Republic. How do you introduce yourself to people you don’t know and probably won’t ever get to know? Well, I would say I am someone who loves the small things in life and though is striving for bigger dreams. I am not married, nor in a official relationship which probably would worry a lot of women in my age, but not me ;-). I love my life, although I thought I should start enjoying it more and start to do more of what I love, instead of dreaming it. That’s mainly the reason why I start writing this blog.
Getting back to my story, I grew up in Düsseldorf, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. I had pretty a normal life I would say, with all the teenage drama – didn’t every teenager think they had the worst time ever in their life? – some romances and so on, with one big difference. I knew from the very beginning, that I don’t want to stay forever at one place. I wanted to travel. Even when I did the usual vacation with my parents to Turkey, Spain, Italy and so on, I always wanted to go further away, I knew there is more to just that normal life. I wanted to see what’s on the other side of the world, experience adventures.  And I did. I was lucky enough experiencing how it is to live for half a year in Australia and in Bangkok, I visited much more places, like Cambodia, Egypt and many spots within Europe.
I did so many wonderful experiences, but somehow I had to finance my travels and I guess that I didn’t go always the easiest way. Got lost in between and had a big break from traveling. Well, after school I went to Australia – there was a lot of persuasion skills necessary to get my father convinced that it was the right thing for me to do. After Australia, I did an apprenticeship as a real estate agent, then I worked for three years in a company which didn’t challenge me at all and at one point I noticed that life is going to fast by, without anything special to happen. I needed to change that, so I got the crazy idea of getting back to school and study. And I did. In the Netherlands, I studied International Business and Management Studies in the English language.
I did like ten steps backwards 1. Getting rid of my car 2. Getting rid of my own flat into sharing a flat 3. Getting rid of my stable salary into doing onside jobs, but gaining therefore 1. More knowledge 2. The chance to travel and work in Bangkok for 6months 3. Getting to know wonderful people and feel younger and party as much as possible 😀 I did get the chance to work at great companies such as AirBerlin, Daimler (Mercedes Benz) and Hewlett Packard. Never staying longer than one year at one place. I would not want to give that back, although I have to admit it was really exhausting. Pushing me absolutely to my limits. I think that might be still the reason why I am at this point where I am. Living and enjoying my life and trying to get most out of it as possible.
There are still so many things to discover and experience and I would love to take you with me on this wonderful journey. So I’ll better stop the jibber-jabber and start blogging 😉

(Guest Post) Volunteering at a dogsled farm – Snowdragons in Austria – Part 2

1st October 2016
Today it is Lukas’ birthday 🙂 and he is having a cold 🙁 poor guy, although he was still fit enough to ask if his cake is ready 😉 but, as always, let me catch up the last events.
Please see the original blog post, and all the beautiful photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/10/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html
By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

The weekend, after the group left, we spent pretty chilled with a few hikes, watching movies, and playing board games. Maria and I, we figured out that we have the same kind of craziness! We both LOVE Walt Disney Cartoons, we use almost every sentence to start a new song, and our favourite activity is, miming the voices of dogs and interpreting what they probably think or would say. We just went for a walk, when I was miming one of the dogs and I noticed that it is a good thing that she is as crazy as I am, otherwise every other person would just call the men with the white coats =P

The other day, Lukas and I went to pick up the transporter for the dogs. When we are going for a race, we would go with the transporter which includes self-made boxes for the dogs and the caravan attached to the transporter. The caravan, we already picked up before. Now it was time to tidy up the transporter. Even it doesn’t look like, there is really space for 16 dogs. Maria and I were supposed to clean the car. In the beginning, I was thinking that the boxes were pretty small and I couldn’t believe that there would be space for two dogs within one box. While cleaning it, I noticed that I fit easily with half of my body inside to reach all corners. Bigger than I thought. Doing so, I felt tempted to try out if I fit in … so I’d tried …  and I did fit =)

 

Lukas was amazed and said that usually there are just three people going to the race. Now that he knows, I’ll fit, we could go with four….no way =P

I think, I didn’t mention until now that at the moment we have Aliy and Laska in the house. Aliy is already in heat, and Laska is about to get in heat and they would drive the male dogs crazy staying in the kennels.

Just to give you the picture, we have nine full grown, not castrated male dogs =P Aliy is not allowed to get puppies yet, because Lukas has no breeding certification for her. She needs to be tested before. Laska is allowed, but Lukas wants her to breed with some Husky from Switzerland he has chosen. So we are just waiting for her to get in heat, then we would drive her all the way over to Switzerland.

A dog is getting about every six to eight months in heat. She is usually around four weeks in heat, but she is just able to breed as of the 11/12th day. She will be then, hopefully, pregnant for 58-68 days and then we will have puppies J really looking forward to it. I want to be here, when it is happening! knowing myself, it will be probably difficult for me to go away… maybe, I will extend my stay a little bit 😉 We have a little bit troubles with Braxi, the yard dog. Braxi is absolutely in love with her (that’s the children version – psssst ;-)) Maria and I are calling it “Romeo & Juliette” Story. The forbidden love. He is waiting infront of the window or door and howling for her and she is sitting on the other side. Every time we get out of the door, he already awaits her and when we are coming back from a walk, he is waiting behind the gate. I have to make a video/pic of that! So cute, but unfortunately they are not allowed.

The rest of the week was actually pretty calm. There was just one senior group visiting for one hour, so Maria and I had a lot of free time. I used that for publishing my first post, practising to take pictures with my mirror reflex camera (I am trying to take pictures of stars, believe me, that’s not that easy) and drawing.

 

I found an Italian Tattoo Artist, Lucreziau, she is just amazing! I love her drawings, so I sat down and tried myself a few of her drawings, not that bad for the first attempt I guess 😉

First attempt of drawings, changed it a little bit though

Well, and then Lukas was the whole week reminding us that it is his Birthday WEEK 😉 and then he tricked me. He asked me if I could bake, I said yes. Then he asked, what kind of cake I can do and I answered him, I can do any cake by recipy – he wants a black forest gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)! Well, I said I could do anything so now I had to prove that I could! I changed a little bit the design, but I think I didn’t do too bad! It tasted delicious though 😉
2nd October 2016
Okay two different things which came to my mind on this special Sunday =)

I just saw this morning some advertisement in facebook about Walt Disney and then it just came up my mind. I would love to go to Walt Disneyland Paris!!! And the best company for such a trip is someone who is just as crazy about Walt Disney as I am – Maria!!! I went to Maria- ok no, I was jumping into her room with a huge grin in my face and told her my idea and her eyes started to sparkle!!! She would be in! So the only thing to find out, would be, to find the perfect timeframe, so that Lukas can bear both of us not to be around for three/four days! Do you know those days when good ideas just come to you very easy? That was obviously one of those days 😉 Lukas told us the day before that one of the last volunteers would come end of November to visit him for a week. So I thought, when we would go in that week and Miriam would be here too, then there should be almost no reason to say no, right? Before we even could ask Lukas, Maria and I were so excited about that idea 😀 when Lukas came down into the kitchen, we both ran to him and almost screamed at him and he said YES!!!! Woooooooohoooooo 😀 Both of us, started dancing – hahaha =) we sat down and started planning our trip. So right now, we booked, hotels, entrance tickets and plane tickets – 28th until 30th of October are set up! Still two months to wait … keep you updated, there will be most probably a separate post just about Walt Disneyland 😉

So let’s get started 😉

The second thing, Maria and I were thinking about starting some abs challenge! I upgraded the whole thing into a fitness challenge. I downloaded an app, called 30 days’ challenges. It is separated into two beginners, intermediate and advanced levels in all body sections – Ab, push up, squat, arms, butt, plank, thigh, and cardio! Maria and I decided we want to try us in three sections – ab, squat, and cardio. We will start as of tomorrow. There will be no uploaded information or pictures in between. I will definitely work on a video, so that improvements are visible – hopefully =P What I like about that app are the different levels you can exercise, that means, when your done with one level/challenge you can tackle the more advanced one. I should maybe mention, that I am usually approximately 51/52kg (I am 1.57m tall(small)). I put on weight in the last months and had my max. weight reached by beginning of September– 57kg!!!! I was shocked!!! Since I started here, I got down to 54.5kg. Just by moving more, but I am definitely eating too much chocolate =P If I start taking care of what I eat and add more exercise, I am sure I will get back to my usual weight and maybe even better? In addition, I started a bet with my boyfriend. Who ever is reaching his/her goal until Christmas get invited for a nice dinner and gets a small present OR is allowed to wish something. As the Fitness challenge Maria and I are doing, will take 30 days, I’ll upload most probably around the 6th of November one separate post about that challenge. So, let’s get started!!
4th October 2016

Yesterday, it started to rain. It turned much colder and the earth got soft. Lukas told us, that now the dogs need to be taken out as often as possible. So we went in the morning with Aliy and Laska (they are still in the house, so they need some exercise), then we took Braxi and the puppies and in the afternoon we went with Atreju, Simba and Lilly. Atreju and Simba were pulling us like crazy, they have so much energy! Unbelievable!

Believe it or not, but I was able to take a short video, when we came back from our hike with Aliy and Laska. Check this out:

 

Talking about Aliy, she can be really an ass! Sorry, but as much as I love her, she is really sassy! When she is pissed about something, for example, that Laska can go for a training, but she doesn’t, she is peeing in the house … out of protest! She did it already three times! And she is soooo jealous of Laska. She doesn’t like it, when you pay attention to Laska, she wants all the attention just for herself =P When you start petting her, she sits down right infront of you and enjoys it so much. But don’t you dare to stop, if you dare, she either comes one step closer looking at you with her dog eyes or she does this:

 

5th October 2016
YES – training! My first time as a co-driver!!! I recorded some of it, but I need obviously still some practice because not everything turned out as well as I wished for. Still I got some beautiful pics and videos.

 

We went this time longer than usual. Before, Lukas went for approx.10-15minutes, but today we went for 20-25minutes. You could see that the dogs were exhausted and even they have to get used to the training again. There was a whole lazy summer and a few kilos too much on a few dogs 😉 But even I had my training, I had to jump off in between to untangle the dogs or even run the hill up, when it was too steep. Good workout =P

 

Braxi is getting more and more annoying with Aliy, I think now the dangerous days started, when Aliy would be ready to be humped. I really had a fight with Braxi, holding him back so that Maria could pass by with the Aliy and Laska. I don’t know if that was the reason, for what happened later but when I wanted to get out of the house, I noticed that my boots were gone. Maria’s boots were lying a little bit further away but still in front of the house, but mine were gone! I suspected Braxi, and when I got my sport shoes on and went to look where he could possibly have put them, it happened. Braxi tried to hump on me! I can tell you, when such a big dog, is holding you with both front legs, that’s painful and you need a lot of strength to get rid of him! I couldn’t move! As soon as I did one step further, he tried humping me again! I started to get really angry! I couldn’t get rid of him! Then I heard Lukas yelling, he tried to call him off but he failed because he cracked … of laughter!!!! Now I really got upset! I got rid of Braxi, he still was following me wherever I went, but at least I was able to keep him in a certain distance from me. I don’t know what got into him, but he is just doing it with me! He leaves Maria and Angelika alone. At least later during the day, I got him to relax a little bit more or let’s say, I could see early enough when he is about to hump on me, so that I did correct him. Men – seriously!
Next day, there should have been also a training, so we got up early and started feeding the dogs. Maria noticed directly that something is wrong with Duke. He obviously vomited his dinner and was lying motionless in the corner and wasn’t even interested in food. Everybody who knows Duke, know exactly that something cannot be right, if Duke is not interested in food. He loves food! He seemed to be really weak. After everyone was fed, Maria and I started putting the harnesses on the dogs and asked Angelika if she could go down and tell Lukas about Dukes’ state. She came back and said, that someone will come up to check on him. When Lukas came, he directly called the vet. He carried Duke to the car, and he and Birgit drove away. Training cancelled. We took off the harnesses and sat in the kitchen waiting for them to come back. We all felt very restless. They came back, and the whole atmosphere was kind of tense. They carried Duke upstairs and told us, that the vet didn’t know what it was. After an hour, Lukas and Birgit went for another vet because Duke had a break-down and they were really afraid of losing him! Situation wasn’t easy at all. I kind of felt not good on that day either. I got stomach issues – maybe sympathy sickness? No idea. The whole day we were not in such a good mood because we were worried. Though on the next morning, Duke felt much better. What a relief! Check that video, just adorable 🙂
We had a training and afterwards Lukas and I went with Duke for the doctor to see the blood results. The doctor was relieved to see Duke so much better. Obviously, he had stomach problems before and she is suspecting some infection in the liver, cause the numbers were a bit high. She gave him an infusion and some tablets for Vitamin B and liver antibiotics.Additionally, on that day, my boyfriend arrived! I was so excited to see him again 🙂 we stayed in a pension in Stronsdorf. He arrived late in the evening and we directly went there. The pension is located up a hill, with no other houses around you very quiet and nice. We had a wonderful chilled evening with some wine and talked a lot.

 

Next morning, we had Breakfast around nine (so strange to sleep longer than 6/7 am ) talked with the owners, played a little bit with their labrador Maya (super cute) and drove then to the snowdragons. We went to the yard, and Max got to know all dogs and believe it or not, since Max came to visit the dogs.

 

Afterwards, Miriam, Angelika, Max and I went on a hike with the puppies, Laska and Aliy. It was for once not raining and we enjoyed our hike a lot. It was a nice feeling, to have your loved one with you, sharing the experiences you do 🙂 later, Max and I went to a restaurant Gasthaus Herbst it didn’t look that fancy to be honest, but the food, OMG awesome!!! Really nice! Lukas told us afterwards, that they obviously have some Star cook working there. With full stomachs, we returned to the pension and just chilled in the afternoon, watching TV, napping and talking. In the evening, we went to Lukas and Birgit and we all went to an event, called Night of Celtic fire at a museum in Asparn. It was really nice, very cold though. Max and I would have loved to see the houses and environment during daylight. We spent another nice evening together, before Max left on the next morning.

Sunday afternoon, we had a kids birthday taking place. Ten kids, in an age of 7-9years old. It was very exhausting, as always when kids come to visit 😉

 

The next days we had trainings and a lot of hikes. We have to get prepared. The first race we are taking part, will be in the last week of October. On wednesday, I had to prepare a scavenger hunt for a children group – 55 kids!!!! On Thursday, at 8am there would come 55 kids in an age of 10/11 years old. Lukas, said he needs someone grumpy for the hike =P no, of course he was kidding, he needed someone who can control a bunch of kids and two dogs. We were going to divide the kids in five groups and we would have five stations so that each group is always busy.

 

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but I got an UP bracelet which is counting my steps. My personal goal are 11000 steps per day, well on that very special day, I did 24000 steps!!!! Actually, it isn’t any problem to reach the 11000 steps anymore, I am at least on two hikes every day! But on that day, I really was exhausted! We all were, at 11pm it was total silence in the house and no lights burning.

In between I am always considering and reflecting my whole situation. Even, when I am in between really tired and my whole body is aching, I am really happy. I have a loving boyfriend, I have wonderful people around me, such sweet dogs who give so much love and I have no pressure that I need to do anything. Of course, I am already checking what could be my next step, but if I don’t find the right job as a next step, I just would do another volunteer job. I have to admit, I was even thinking to do another study course, but these are just thoughts. I will let you know for sure, when I decide 🙂

Hope to see you for my next post 🙂

The New York Explorer Pass Saved Me $100!

The New York Explorer Pass did in fact save me $100, this isn’t just click bait. But it could have saved me even more! Or nothing at all… The New York Explorer Pass is the way to go if you want to use it to do some expensive tours and sightseeing, however it can also lose you money if you only use it for the cheaper options.

It’s basic math. The New York Explorer Pass lets you visit 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 attractions for a set price. There is a custom option if you already know which specific places you want to visit, but I really enjoyed the flexibility of choosing from the 82 different activities on offer!

If you want to calculate whether or not the Pass will save you any money, you just need to do some basic math and you don’t need to do any research outside of this website. As you scroll through all of the offered attractions, you will see their regular admission prices that range from $18.5 for the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum – Ferry Ticket to a whopping $69 for the Luna Park at Coney Island: 24 Ride Pass.

During my visit to New York last Christmas, I chose the 5 attraction Pass since I only had a week to explore the city! It cost me $134 (it would have been $99 for a child) and I was planning on only using it for the most expensive attractions and visiting the cheaper places without using the pass to save the most money. Souvenir shopping excluded, I actually only spent $300 on my entire week in NYC, Airbnb included!

Of course, a week passed with the blink of an eye and I ended up running out of time and using it for whatever attraction I happened to stumble upon – and I still saved lots of money! I’m already planning my next trip to New York for August and this time I will be getting the 10 attraction Pass for $219 ($169 for children). To make this one worth it, you simply need to make sure that each of your 10 attractions costs more than $21.9.

For the 5 attraction Pass, each activity had to be  over $26.8 to get your moneys worth. I originally planned to do:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus New York: Classic 1-Day Tour – $60
  • Night Tour by Big Bus New York – $45
  • National Geographic Envounter: Ocean Odyssey – $43.01
  • Gossip Girl Sites Bus Tour by On Location Tours – $49
  • Catacombs by Candlelight Tour – $35

This would have had me paying just $134 for 5 attractions worth $232! If need up trading in the Night Tour and Gossip Girl Tour for the Top of the Rock and Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry which were both much cheaper options, I still ended up saving $70.

So basically, as long as you’re not just riding the $18 Ferry every day for a week or only visiting two places instead of five, you’re not losing money on the Pass!

Mealworm Mondays: Livin Farms Hive Resources & Info

This weeks Mealworm Monday features the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms!

Read more about it at Livin Farms:

(Guest Post) Volunteering at a dogsled farm – Snowdragons in Austria – Part 1

March to September 2016 – what happened since my last post
Since my last report, there is some time passed and MANY things changed. Obviously, I needed that time before I start off for real, but now I will for sure.
Please see the original post, including photos of cute huskies and beautiful landscapes, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/09/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html
By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)
Let’s catch up what happened so far (in short cut):
I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this? I started to research and to search and to search and it got me from jobs in Alaska to the very corners of China. In the meanwhile something else happened, I found love. Well, that’s typical. I want to go away and travel the world and I fall in love with a German guy in Czech Republic/Prague. It kinda throw me back a little, but still he told me that if it makes me unhappy, I should follow my dreams and if it works out, at one point we will be at the same place again. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I got an idea, maybe, it will be the right thing to do some volunteering work and take the time I need to figure out what I really wanna do? I was not sure yet where I wanna go or what to do exactly, but at one very special morning on the 10th of May, I just got so upset in the doing something I don’t have any passion for, that I decided to quit on that very same day. First, I was relieved, then I think scared and at one point very sure that was just the right decision. If you think rational about it, what am I scared off? I saved some money to make sure that I will survive a while without a job, I will do some volunteering which is always good in your CV, AND just in case everything does not work out as I wish, I always can find a job! Even if it is not the perfect job with a high salary, but I am capable of finding a job very fast and secure me financially. So what am I afraid of? That I finally could find something what I really like and be happy?
After all this thoughts and preparations, I finally decided that I want to find a volunteer place somewhere nearby (so that I could still see my boyfriend) and I would like to try a dogsled farm as I liked it so much in Norway. I really found two places, one in czech republic and one in Austria. After a few messages I decided that I will go to Austria. After such a long time it would be nice to understand the local language. Addionally, I liked that this dogsled farm used the dogs not only for races, but also for therapy reasons with kids, youths and adults. I got the place and arranged that when I get along with the hosts, I will start mid of September and stay there until Dec ’16/Jan ’17.
Dogsled Farm, 11th of September 2016
On Sunday, 11th of September 2016 my boyfriend and I planned to go to Austria, so that he can bring me to the volunteer place. It almost looked like I am not going to make it, because I felt so sick on that morning. I have to admit, I felt the whole week sick due to my excitement – this damn sensitive stomach =P I took some pills, lay down for half an hour and I felt strong enough to leave. The dogsled farm is called Snowdragons and is located by Gnadendorf, but not in the small city, no, between Gnadendorf and Wenzersdorf. So when you need something to buy, you have to drive at least 10km – well that’s in the middle of nowwhere right? Lukas and Birgit, the hosts greeted us very friendly and showed us around. The most exciting part was of course the dog shelters. There was a lot of barking around the corner and 18 Siberian Huskies were greeting me through there shelters. In the beginning, he only let his yard dog Abraxis out, what a big a beautiful exemplar. I have to admit, at first sight, they really are impressive and huge! Definitely in comparison to me =P especially when they jump up on you. Additionally to the hosts, there is Maria, she is from New Zealand is 22years old. Then, there are Miriam and Angelika, who are working in between on the farm when help needed. It is part of their practical year in school and is counted as an internship. They are both 16years old. The girls are really lovely 🙂
Update 24th September
I think, after being two weeks here (with a weekends interruption due to the wedding of my boyfriends stepbrother which I attended) I would say, I slowly get used to the life on the Snowdragon farm. It’s been a really tough week and it is still not over yet, today there will be a group coming of 13 people who will stay until tomorrow. But let me start telling you what happened so far.

Last week, I needed to get used to all dogs and their names and how to feed them and in which order, and so on. It is really tough, to carry the big bucket full with meat, veggies, rice and water and to manage to get inside of the kennels without the dogs jumping on you. I am getting better at it. Then, there are of course a lot of tasks which include cleaning and maintaining the yard, the house and the kennels of the dogs. People, who are visiting the farm, are just seeing the end result. The way it looks very nice and enjoy the time with the dogs, there is a lot of work behind the final result.

Before I get further on, I would like to introduce you to all dogs:

ABRAXIS (Braxi), he is the yard dog and just so lovely! He looks like a typical Husky, with black/white fur and two brown eyes.

DUKE, he is the senior with his almost 11 years. He is golden and got a  really thick fur. Fascinating is his left eye. He got brown eyes, but his left eye is a quarter blue. He is a big attention seeker.

ANGOR, he is one of the strongest, I would say. Brown/white fur, with two blue eyesPUNKTI, he is a bit shy, but very sweet. At the moment he is so in love with Laska :D. In German, PUNKT means dot or spot and he got one white spot on his neck, that’s why he is called Punkti.

ANGEL, she just looks like an Angel. She is from Sweden and really soft white fur. She has one brown and one blue eye. She is shy, but super sweet. I think that Angy is the one dog chosen for me to work on my weaknesses, I will get to that later in detail.
NICO, he is to recognize by his limping. He got injured when he was born. He loves to tell you his story 😉
BLESK, the white lightening. He is a crazy dog 🙂 he is from Czech Republic. I think he needs some time to gain trust, at least it took me longer to get close to him.
LASKA, is the sister of Blesk and all black. She loves to be cuddled. She is in heet, that’s why we keep her inside the house.
ATREJU, his name was the first I could remember, because he is named after Atreju from the Never Ending Story. Strong, but so loving.
SIMBA, he has such a laughing white face. He loves kids and is really polite and careful.
SUPERNOVA (Nova), she is only five month old and little thunderstorm. She is from America and you just fall in love with her. Her front side is white, her back dark.
STAR, is the brother of Nova and a little monster, he just looks the way he does on the picture when he did sth 😉 walking with him outside, people keep asking if he is a wolf, he gots a lot of energy and is keeping us all off our feets. I like him a lot.
FOPPA, he and Simba are difficult to tell apart, but Foppa a bit thinner than Simba and has a slight difference in the marking of his face. Fobba is also shyer with one exception – when he is about to get food 😉
LILLY, does play the mommy of Nova and wants her to be disciplinated. She is very cute.
JOY, is just being a joy to all of us. She has a laughing face and so cute.
ARTAC, cannot stay still and always makes troubles with his brother Arthur. He never goes anywhere without his brother. He has one blue and one brown eye.
ARTHUR, brother of Artac. He loves to be cuddled. A little more quiet, although he is dominating Artac. He has brown eyes.
ALIY, the elf. You have to love her! She is so eloquate and also loves to be cuddled and when you stopp, be sure that she will remind you to keep on going on. She is also in heet and therefore, lives in the house at the moment.When I returned from the wedding, the real work started. We had on Tuesday a school group coming for three/four hours. 27 children in an age of 10/11 years old!!!! OMG!!! I can tell you, that’s pretty tough 😀 but to be honest, the kids were amazing! They loved the dogs so much and played all games so motivated. First, we did a cart race with the kids, to get a little bit of energy wasted – we played it twice and both times the boys won. But we always say, the boys are the stronger and faster, but the girls are the ones, who are cleverer.

Then, they get to play a Quiz with questions about Huskies and the answers were hidden somewhere in the yard. Later on they got to spent time with the dogs in the yard, and then, we went for a hike. The kids got a map and they had to find their way back to the farm – kinda funny because they really were not that good in map reading, but we were not allowed to give them any advice (as if I had a clue, for me, that area was also very new 😀 ). After we returned all savely, they got to spent a little bit more time with the dogs before they had to say Goodbye, which most of the kids really didn’t want to.

Before and after a group is coming, everything needs to be clean and the tent needs to be cleaned as well. They use the facilities inside the house, so that needs to be cleaned as well. Lukas and Birgit are working on a cultivation which includes rooms for sleepover, a bathroom and kitchen for the guests. So far, they used all facilities inside the house, meaning the bathroom is much more ocupied than usual =P

After the group left we had a team meeting and Lukas told us, that the next days the weather will be cold enough in the morning so that they will be able to go for a cart run with all dogs. He told us which dogs have to be lined up in which order. So on Wednesday, we needed to get up around 6am to feed the dogs at 6.30am and then to get them ready. Put the harness on and get the cart outside ready  –  Well, let’s say it this way; the first time, we kind of sucked =P

Marie, Angelika and I, we put first the wrong cart outside, then we put on the harness on Foppa, which we were not allowed, because he can get so excited that he would chew his harness off. He needs to get ready last! It was so stressful, all dogs went crazy, we forgot to open the gate before we started to get ready, I felt SO stressed!!!BUT, as soon Lukas released the line and the dogs could start running, all dogs went silently and just run perfectly in line. Furthermore, we thought we just go inside and wait, because they will be away for at least twenty minutes. So we had breakfast and then went outside to find out that they were already back and almost all dogs were back in their kennels. I felt really bad. We went then inside and had a feedback talk. All mistakes were mentioned and noted, so that for the next run (next morning) we would be prepared!

Then Marie, Angelika and I took the puppies and Duke for a hike (they are not going for training). Around 2pm the next group arrived. They were 4 young adults in the age between 16 and 19yrs old and three coaches. They are from a vocational orientation training facility. They let the young adults to try out different kind of work and let them participate in projects, so that they’ll know which job they are going to do. In the beginning, when a group arrives, there is always the same kind of routine. They get first to see the dogs, Braxi is greeting all of them so kind and sweet that all of them fall immediately in love with him. Lukas is explaining some main rules, how they have to behave around the dogs, what they really like, what will stress them and then they are allowed to the backyard and we let out the first two kennels. Then we change and they get to know slowly all dogs a bit better. Depending on the group, for example, when they are a bit older like this group, they can go for a hike and they are allowed to wear the hiking belt (it is a belt which looks and works pretty much like a climbing belt and is made for pulling purposes). We (volunteers and interns) are accompanying them, so nothing bad happens and they find their way back. That’s what we did on that day. This group was going to stay until Friday. They grilled in the evening and had some beer and just enjoyed themselves. We girls needed to feed the dogs in the evening. I was really tired on that day and another early morning was still ahead of us.

Thursday, we were up quite on time and started feeding the dogs a bit earlier so we were prepared and had more time. We did not repeat one of the mistakes we made the day before. I also didn’t feel that much stressed, although as they wanted to run, the two Lead dogs got tangled. But with help of Birgit, we managed it and they were off. We waited for them to return and helped to unleash all of them. Lukas said, that there are just small improvements to make but we improved a lot to the day before (whoop whoop :)). Maria, Angelika and I went again for a hike with Duke and the puppies. Unfortunately, Maria stepped into a small hole on the ground and somehow sprained her ankle. It got swollen, so we let her rest pretty much the rest of the day. The group played on that morning a game called “Lost”. The groups will be divided in two groups which will be taken separately to some spot further away. They have to find the right way back with only some hints to a certain meeting point. Lukas and I were checking the route the day before and wrote down all hints for direction. If everything goes right both groups will meet at the meeting point. As of the meeting point both groups have one half of a map, which combined will lead their way back to the Snowdragon Farm. That gave us some time to relax and go for some grocery shopping. Around lunchtime we waited for them in the backyard. Then we all could have lunch. In the meanwhile, Miriam, the second intern arrived as well. The afternoon was pretty chilled, just enjoying the company of the dogs. Then we went for one more hike, before the group relaxed in the evening at the open fire with some beer and food. Lukas told us girls, that there won’t be a morning training for the next days, because the weather is getting warmer again. Somehow a relief for all us – we can sleep one hour longer, although on the other side, I have to wait longer to get a ride with the cart…

On Friday, I felt so much better. I slept good, recovered and was totally motivated. We fed the dogs, and later on the group wanted to go for one more hike. We just went for 25min. because the weather was already too hot. The group then packed their stuff and had one last meal. Lukas talked the day before to one of the coaches and had an offer to make to the group. He has one cart which is really old and needs some maintainance work and also some new colour. He asked, if the group is willing to work on that cart. In exchange, he they could visit us again and they get a drive in a cart with the dogs for free. They were thrilled by that idea. Finally, they packed and went away. In the afternoon, we spent some time with cleaning work, but it wasn’t too much. When Birgit came home she asked us if we would like to join her for some hiking up the hill. We did, so we drove with two cars. Birgit with Miriam and Laska and Nova, I with Angelika and Aliy and Star. It was so much fun. We enjoyed it a lot, the view were just amazing!!! We met on the way some people who had two dogs and they stood still when we passed by and asked if the two puppies were wolves 😀 I couldn’t blame them, they really do look like wolves.

In the evening we played some board games. I have to admit, I almost forgot how much fun it is playing board games. As Lukas is really competitive, unlike me (nooooot) we had a lot of fun. We played the game Ubongo (Ubongo Quick Start Rules). Later on that evening, the girls and I played the ladder game (board game). What a perfect day =) I fell asleep quite early, but very happy 🙂

To be continued …

Taobao Trendy: Online Bargains in China

When I’m not traveling, crafting or telling other people to eat insects even though I don’t anymore, I’m trying not to shop because I have way too many clothes. How did I go from moving to China with five suitcases between Isaac and myself to having piles of clothes over the apartment and bursting out of my closet? Taobao.

I’ve never been much of a shopper because going to shopping malls is exhausting and sometimes unproductive. The clothes are either too expensive, too long for my short limbs or not available in the one color or size that I actually want. Taobao fixes all of these problems and adds the excitement of finding the best price and waiting for the package to arrive.

Most of the clothes that I buy on Taobao fall into one of two categories:

  • Cheap, mass produced clothes made in China that I buy one of every color in (plain cotton T-shirts that are 56 cm long, a.k.a the only t-shirts that aren’t too long for me and dresses with fun prints that I can’t get enough of)
  • Overstocked/second hand items from nice brands that were either stolen from/donated by/I have no idea how they get them from Western companies.

The first is the risky kind. “Made in China” can sometimes mean bad quality, although that is quickly changing and China makes literally everything even if it’s not clearly labelled. So many Chinese products, even knockoffs, are great items and sometimes, like in the case of the Yi Action camera, they are even better than the original!

Scrolling through all the provided info and reading (or in my case, Google translating) can give you a lot of information like the material, the exact sizes and sometimes even pictures of a model wearing the clothes with the details of her height and weight. However, all of this information could be completely untrue! So head down to the comments.

In the comment section you will see people complimenting the packaging, saying if the sizes fit, and sometimes there will be photos of the people wearing the item which can help you gage the size. People will say whether or not the item arrived as expected (Chinese people do NOT hold back) and whether the seller was easy to communicate with.

If there are no comments and no one ever bought the item, you’re going in blind. Even if you find the same item in a different shop, it could be completely different and not at all what the photos show! If you still want to buy it, check out other items in the store and their reputability. Zero buys and reviews doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be authentic… it just means that you might be disappointed! Or not.

I’ve received many items that didn’t fit, that I didn’t like or simply changed my mind about. The great thing about Taobao is that you can return anything that’s not a food or an animal within seven days without explanation! If the seller doesn’t reimburse you within a week, Taobao will do it. Sending it back via door-to-door delivery has never cost me more than 15 RMB ($2) even when it was a lot of stuff going to traveling to the farthest most remote corner of China.

When it comes to my second category of bought items, the rules for buying are pretty much the same. But to be honest, I don’t have a trick for finding these magical shops that sell items like $60 Mango dresses with the original price tag still on for 10 RMB ($1.50). It also isn’t always obvious that the close are from these brands… that could be for copyright issues. The Chinese government has been cracking down on Taobao and getting rid of shops with copyrighted items, like re-printed books.

One of my more recent orders was what I assumed was second-hand clothing. It turned out to be all brand new items with all their original tags from a variety of stores ranging from Walmart to Reserved. Strangely enough, my $40 Reserved denim jacket cost 13 RMB ($2) which was half the price of the $5 Walmart shirt… apparently the original cost or brand plays no role the pricing. This is what makes all this online shopping in China thing so crazy and addictive!

I’ve actually had to uninstall my Taobao account (again) to avoid buying even more amazing and cheap clothes. After all, I won’t be living in China forever and I’ve already taken four suitcases jam-packed with new clothes to store with family. Chinese apartments weren’t made from Taobao shopaholics like me!

Enjoy your shopping and share your most exciting purchases/bargains in the comments below 🙂