One year and 13,000 photos later, it’s time to say goodbye to 2009. In summary:
January: Dallas, Nashville, Paducah
Cat tails at the Trinity Audubon Center.
Photo shoot with friends.
Snow in Tennessee.
Ice storm in Kentucky.
After a few weeks of relaxing at home, I went to visit Jamie’s parents outside Nashville. Winter weather descended on the area and was at its worst during a historically bad ice storm that hit while we were staying with her sister’s family in Paducah, Kentucky. Power was knocked out across the area from trees crashes from the weight of the ice. Despite the emergency mood, the sledding was fun.
The whole month felt in limbo as I was waiting day by day for news of my job in Shanghai.
February: Dallas, Shanghai
Old railroad track in Dallas.
A new home in Shanghai.
I went back to Dallas for most of February, finally with the news that I was shipping out to China at the end of the month. I soaked in the family, played some basketball, ate some barbeque, and said my goodbyes.
Arriving in Shanghai, I remember most the moment I stepped into the serviced apartment. The place was clean, weird, and high above the ground. I was surprised to be living in the same vast complex of residential towers that I had noticed in December.
With only a day to adjust, I went to work for the first time in China. The two mile walk took me fifty minutes in freezing rain. And on the first day I already had a meeting at 6PM. It didn’t bode well for the time to come. In the last days of February, I did a lot of walking in the rain to and from work. The weather was cold and miserable. But J. and I also began to explore the city on foot, including some parks.
A new, used bike.
J. and I both had bikes in March, making exploring the city more fun and easy. We hung out at a variety of parks on the weekends, kicked the feather, tried new restaurants, and hung out. The soda project at work started that month, and little did I know that it would still be unfinished by the time I left in December.
April: Shanghai, Tongli
Around Shanghai in pink pajamas.
I played bike polo for the first time in what would be a series of amazing and violent weekends. J. and I took a bus day trip to a picturesque water town near Shanghai called Tongli. Work had a founder’s day celebration that lasted all day and involved a variety of weird and memorable activities around town including dressing up in pink pajamas and getting photos taken with strangers, getting a makeover at the Barbie flagship store, hip-hop dancing classes, karaoke, fake wedding photos, and more.
May: Shanghai, Hangzhou
West Lake in Hanghzou.
J. and I.
More bike polo and work. For a holiday weekend, a group of friends and J. and I took a train to the nearby city of Hangzhou. It was wonderful: clean, beautiful lakes, hills, woods, tea fields. There were scads of Chinese tourists out that weekend, but it was still possible to find quiet places. The trip was one of the highlights of the year.
Bike loaded with empty boxes.
Hazy air along the river on the way to Fuxing Island.
For D.’s birthday, we went on a dust and epic bike ride to Fuxing industrial island north of town.
July: Shanghai, Jingdezhen
Ferris wheel at Jin Jiang Action Park.
Sunset from our apartment window.
Plate graveyard in Jingdezhen.
Train track surrounded by drying pottery.
To celebrate J.’s birthday, some friends and I went with her to an amusement park. Later in the month, J. and I took a trip to Jingdezhen. The city is regarded as the ceramics capital of China, and it shows. Pottery is being made everywhere. The weather was hot and there were language and food difficulties, but it was fun to explore.
An average month of meals and bike exploration.
We upped our amusement park experience by taking a trip to the sprawling and recently opened Happy Valley. I rode some of the most terrifying rides yet, including one coaster that seemed to defy the laws of sanity.
A romantic evening was spent watching a fireworks contest over a canal near the Longhua Temple.
October: Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei
Seoul from above.
Hikers on a rock with the city in the background.
Snapped just after proposing to J.
Food market in Taipei.
Construction worker looking at rubble in Shanghai.
October was a traveling month. I explored Shanghai with my recently acquired prime lens. I found myself overjoyed at how crisp and fast it was, and annoyed that I had bought the wrong focal length.
J. and I went on a weeklong trip to Seoul. The South Korean city was wonderful. At the top of a mountain, I proposed to J. and she said yes. Obviously, this was the most significant happening of the year. J. and I checked on our lock at the top of Namsan Seoul Tower and found that the label had already been worn by rain.
Later in the month, I went to Taipei for around ten days to actually shoot the commercial I had been working on since March. Taipei was wonderful too. In the downtime between work, I explored the city thoroughly on foot. I feel in love with the parkland by the river, its tropical plants, colorful and weird architecture, alley neighborhoods, and delicious food. The pearl milk tea was exceptional.
Thanksgiving in Shanghai.
J. and I went on our last exploratory adventures together before she headed back to the States for the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. I celebrated the holiday with a feast at a coworker’s apartment. The last two weeks were busy at work and lonely. I went on some chilly, solitary rides to places I had never seen. It was proving hard to find new areas to explore.
December: Shanghai, London, Dallas
The last house standing.
Tower Bridge, London.
A pile of cats awaiting in Dallas.
After a few more lone bike rides, it was time to go to London for ten days for post production. I had never been to London before. During the downtime, I explored the city by foot and Tube. The weather was cold and drizzly, but I made the most of it.
Just five days after returning to Shanghai from London, it was time to leave for home. With relief and uncertainty, I boarded the plane on my 30th birthday for the long (and delayed) journey back to Dallas.
In Dallas, I immediately unwound months of stress through a combination of eight cats, home cooked food, relaxation, basketball, feather kicking, a new game involving sticks called “Sword Sensei”, and visiting old friends. I hadn’t seen my best friend in four years, but we caught up quickly.
Two-thousand nine wasn’t as full of adventure as two-thousand eight, but it was still pretty amazing. I have high hopes for the coming year. The adventures will be more domestic and marital, but I hope to document them with the same gusto.