Category Archives: Travel

What To Pack When Teaching in China

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

I was in China recently (first time!) showing Chinese teachers how online learning is conducted in the U.S. Before leaving for China, I diligently checked on what to pack. I made some good decisions. I made some bad decisions. This post hopefully helps others about to make that long journey to a fascinating country.

My style of presenting and teaching is to use a MacBook Air, recording myself with a BT-1 Bluetooth camera (positioned towards the back of the room) and ScreenFlow.

Clothes

I was in Beijing in June. Hot and humid. Definitely worth checking the weather before visiting. Chinese culture is not particularly bothered about formal attire, so no need to pack a business suite or dress shoes. For teaching in June, lightweight hot-weather clothing is the way to go:

  • Plenty of short-sleeve shirts
  • Semi-formal trousers (TravelSmith has a range designed for heat and humidity, or you can go Outlier)
  • Performance trousers (for visits to all the tourist sites)
  • One pair comfortable walking shoes. Go for something lightweight and breathable.
  • Underwear
  • Hat
  • Umbrella (keeps off both the rain and sun)
  • Packable rain-jacket

Technology

Chinese airport security is more restrictive than in the U.S., you may be able to bring something into China, but taking it back on the airplane may be more difficult. One of the most useful gadgets I had on the trip (HooToo TripMate Wireless N Portable Travel Router with 6000mAh Battery Charger) was confiscated as I was leaving Beijing Capital International Airport. The reason was that it had a battery that lacked “proper wording” (officially declared capacity). My understanding is you want to have less than 100 watt-hours, and for this to be clearly stated on the device.

Typical Chinese Electrical Outlet

Typical Chinese Electrical Outlet

Whilst teaching, I was in typical Chinese classroom. Projectors worked with either VGA or HDMI connections; so having adapters for both was a must (which is where the Cable Matters® Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/DVI/VGA Male to Female 3-in-1 Adapter comes in very useful). Internet speeds could be slower than what I was used to, and WiFi could be slower than a wired connection – this is where bringing my own router and Ethernet cable brought dividends.

Essential iPhone Apps

Explore Beijing Subway Map

Explore Beijing Subway Map

Explore Beijing Subway Map

Beijing’s Metro is fantastic (and rapidly expanding). New lines and stations are coming to service. This app helps you navigate, and has maps for each station

Express VPN

Express VPN

Express VPN

A VPN is required in China to access sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.

Learn Chinese – Mandarin Phrasebook for Travel in China

Learn Chinese

Learn Chinese

English is not commonly spoken in China. A phrasebook is essential.

Miscellaneous

Almost Perfect

PortsChecked into a new hotel, and for a second I thought that this might have the perfect setup for me to plug in my laptop, phone, and iPad into the hotel television. The desk had ports for HDMI, VGA, RCA and audio. However, attempting to actually getting this to work was futile…

 

Exploring Chicago’s Art Institute: Part 5

sculpture

Finished! I have visited all that I can visit at Chicago’s Art Institute. Definitely a museum that needs many days to explore. I now have a decent foundational knowledge of what is on offer and how to navigate the labyrinthian galleries.

Paris Street; Rainy Day - Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

Paris Street; Rainy Day – Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

I realize that I am extremely lucky to have this museum on my doorstep (literally a walk of only five minutes from work).  A good place to decompress.

Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits and Vegetables in a Market - Frans Snyders (1579-1657)

Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits and Vegetables in a Market – Frans Snyders (1579-1657)

I will be heading back to look in more detail. The less-visited galleries are fun to walk through, lacking the hustle and bustle mainstay galleries. You also get to see artworks that just look a little strange… Such as “Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits and Vegetables in a Market.” The market trader looks like a precursor to Santa Claus.

Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

  • Lower Level
    • Photography (1-4, 10) – Visited
    • Thorne Miniature Rooms (11) – Visited
    • Paperweights (15) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (24) – Visited
    • Textiles – Visited
  • First Level
    • Prints and Drawings (124-127)  – Visited
    • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art (140-143)  – Visited
    • Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Art (101–109, 130-135) – Visited
    • Indian Art of the Americas (136) – Visited
    • African Art – Visited
    • American Decorative Arts 1920–1970 (162) – Visited
    • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art (150-154)  – Visited
    • American Art before 1900 (161-179) – Visited
    • Chagall’s America Windows (144)  – Visited
    • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room  – Visited
    • Ryerson and Burnham Libraries  – Visited
  • Second Level
    • Chicago Architecture (200)  – Visited
    • European Art before 1900 (201–248)  – Visited
    • American Folk Art (227) – Visited
    • European Decorative Arts (231-234)  – Visited
    • Arms and Armor (235-237) – Visited
    • Renaissance Jewelry (237) – Visited
    • Impressionism (225-226, 201, 240-243) – Visited
    • American Modern Art 1900-1950 (261-265, 271-273) – Visited
    • Special Exhibitions (Regenstein Hall) – Visited
  • Modern Wing
    • Special Exhibitions (182-184) – Visited
    • Photography (188) – Visited
    • Film Video and New Media (186) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (283-286) – Visited
    • Contemporary Art 1945-1960 (289) – Visited
    • Contemporary Art After 1960 (288, 291-299) – Visited
    • European Modern Art 1900 – 1950 (389-399) – Visited
    • Contemporary Sculpture – Visited

Exploring Chicago’s Art Institute: Part 4

walking

Still working my way through Chicago’s Art Institute. The current status of visited galleries is:

  • Lower Level
    • Photography (1-4, 10) – Visited
    • Thorne Miniature Rooms (11) – Visited
    • Paperweights (15) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (24) – Visited
    • Textiles – Visited
  • First Level
    • Prints and Drawings (124-127)  – Visited
    • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art (140-143)  – Visited
    • Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Art (101–109, 130-135) – Visited
    • Indian Art of the Americas (136) – Visited
    • African Art – Visited
    • American Decorative Arts 1920–1970 (162) – Visited
    • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art (150-154)  – Visited
    • American Art before 1900 (161-179) – Visited
    • Chagall’s America Windows (144)  – Visited
    • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room  – Visited
  • Second Level
    • Chicago Architecture (200)
    • European Art before 1900 (201–248)
    • American Folk Art (227) – Visited
    • European Decorative Arts (231-234)
    • Arms and Armor (235-237) – Visited
    • Renaissance Jewelry (237) – Visited
    • Impressionism (225-226, 201, 240-243) – Visited
    • American Modern Art 1900-1950 (261-265, 271-273) – Visited
    • Special Exhibitions (Regenstein Hall) – Visited
Portrait of Jeanne Wenz - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Portrait of Jeanne Wenz – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Only three more areas to explore (Chicago Architecture, European Art before 1900, European Decorative Arts), and then I am done. But not really. I know that the winter months will find me here at lunch, and I will also have to take a deeper look at the various apps that the museum has created.

Head of Pavlova - Malvina Hoffman (1887-1966)

Head of Pavlova – Malvina Hoffman (1887-1966)

Exploring Chicago’s Art Institute: Part 3

Sculpture Court

Sculpture Court

The exploration of Chicago’s Art Institute continues. Yesterday, I visited the Sculpture Court and American Art before 1900.  That pretty much finished the first level.

The Cafe - Fernand Lungren (1859 - 1932)

The Cafe – Fernand Lungren (1859 – 1932)

This seems (along with textiles) to be one of the quieter parts of the museum. There is plenty of space to take in the art works, and is a good place to decompress when tired of the heaving mob in some of the more highly-trafficked galleries.

The Herring Net - Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910)

The Herring Net – Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910)

  • Lower Level
    • Photography (1-4, 10) – Visited
    • Thorne Miniature Rooms (11) – Visited
    • Paperweights (15) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (24) – Visited
    • Textiles – Visited
  • First Level
    • Prints and Drawings (124-127)  – Visited
    • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art (140-143)  – Visited
    • Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Art (101–109, 130-135) – Visited
    • Indian Art of the Americas (136) – Visited
    • African Art – Visited
    • American Decorative Arts 1920–1970 (162) – Visited
    • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art (150-154)  – Visited
    • American Art before 1900 (161-179) – Visited
    • Chagall’s America Windows (144)  – Visited
    • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room  – Visited
  • Second Level
    • Chicago Architecture (200)
    • European Art before 1900 (201–248)
    • American Folk Art (227)
    • European Decorative Arts (231-234)
    • Arms and Armor (235-237) – Visited
    • Renaissance Jewelry (237) – Visited
    • Impressionism (225-226, 201, 240-243)
    • American Modern Art 1900-1950 (261-265, 271-273)
    • Special Exhibitions (Regenstein Hall)

armour

Today, Arms and Armor and Renaissance Jewelry were my galleries of choice on the second level.

Exploring Chicago’s Art Institute: Part 2

What May Come

What May Come

Continuing my exploration of The Art Institute. Almost finished with the First Level, and wandered about:

  • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art
  • Prints and Drawings
  • Chagall’s America Windows
  • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room
Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room

Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room

One more gallery to see on the First Level, and for this I will, see how well the museum’s guidebook apps work.

  • Lower Level
    • Photography (1-4, 10) – Visited
    • Thorne Miniature Rooms (11) – Visited
    • Paperweights (15) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (24) – Visited
  • First Level
    • Prints and Drawings (124-127)  – Visited
    • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art (140-143)  – Visited
    • Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Art (101–109, 130-135) – Visited
    • Indian Art of the Americas (136) – Visited
    • African Art – Visited
    • American Decorative Arts 1920–1970 (162)
    • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art (150-154)  – Visited
    • American Art before 1900 (161-179)
    • Chagall’s America Windows (144)  – Visited
    • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room  – Visited
  • Second Level
    • Chicago Architecture (200)
    • European Art before 1900 (201–248)
    • American Folk Art (227)
    • European Decorative Arts (231-234)
    • Arms and Armor (235-237)
    • Renaissance Jewelry (237)
    • Impressionism (225-226, 201, 240-243)
    • American Modern Art 1900-1950 (261-265, 271-273)
    • Special Exhibitions (Regenstein Hall)

Exploring Chicago’s Art Institute: Part 1

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

As mentioned earlier, my mid-year resolution was to properly explore Chicago’s Art Institute. I am slowly making progress. Phase one was the Modern Wing, which I fully explored last week:

  • Special Exhibitions (182-184) – Visited
  • Photography (188) – Visited
  • Film Video and New Media (186) – Visited
  • Architecture and Design (283-286) – Visited
  • Contemporary Art 1945-1960 (289) – Visited
  • Contemporary Art After 1960 (288, 291-299) – Visited
  • European Modern Art 1900 – 1950 (389-399) – Visited
  • Contemporary Sculpture – Visited
The Eventuality of Destiny

The Eventuality of Destiny

From my perspective, the third-floor gallery “European Modern Art 1900 – 1950” was the one that I enjoyed the most. There is a profusion of art there, but just enough space and light to prevent everything overlapping and distracting. This will probably be the gallery that I return to most.

Clown Torture

Clown Torture

Whilst there, I did see a school group (kids about seven or eight years in age) mistake Bruce Nauman’s “Clown Torture” for something they would enjoy. They soon left, with a chastened school guide. Plenty of nightmare material…

Waka onna (young woman) No Mask

Waka onna (young woman) No Mask

This week, I started to work my way through the “non-modern” museum. Visited the lower levels, and started on some of the galleries on the first level:

  • Lower Level
    • Photography (1-4, 10) – Visited
    • Thorne Miniature Rooms (11) – Visited
    • Paperweights (15) – Visited
    • Architecture and Design (24) – Visited
  • First Level
    • Prints and Drawings (124-127)
    • Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art (140-143)
    • Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Art (101–109, 130-135) – Visited
    • Indian Art of the Americas (136) – Visited
    • African Art – Visited
    • American Decorative Arts 1920–1970 (162)
    • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art (150-154)
    • American Art before 1900 (161-179)
    • Chagall’s America Windows (144)
    • Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room
  • Second Level
    • Chicago Architecture (200)
    • European Art before 1900 (201–248)
    • American Folk Art (227)
    • European Decorative Arts (231-234)
    • Arms and Armor (235-237)
    • Renaissance Jewelry (237)
    • Impressionism (225-226, 201, 240-243)
    • American Modern Art 1900-1950 (261-265, 271-273)
    • Special Exhibitions (Regenstein Hall)

 

Another Genuinely Useful Gadget: The Mu

The Mu

The Mu

I will be heading back to the U.K. for two weeks later this year, and I was getting some of gear together that I intend to take with me. Amidst the various cables and adapters was The Mu. This is another genuinely useful gadget. The U.K. electrical plug is an impressive piece of technology, but has two notable features.

  1. More painful then Lego to step on barefoot.
  2. Cumbersome to pack, with a tendency to scratch or destroy everything else it is packed with.

The Mu makes the U.K. electrical packable with some amazing folding action.

I have the original, but I am looking out for the new version that sports two USB ports, with enough output to properly charge a tablet.

Pocket Tripod: A Genuinely Useful Gadget

Pocket Tripod

At first glance, an ordinary piece of plastic

I will cheerfully admit to owning more than a few gadgets. Most are a clever idea, but poorly realized and of little longterm value. However, every-so-often you come across something that is genuinely useful….

Pocket Tripod

A few twist and turns. Now we have an iPhone stand…

Last year, I supported the “Pocket Tripod” on KickStarter. This was to be a credit-card sized piece of plastic, that twisted and contorted into an iPhone stand. Typically, the travel iPhone stands are frustrating – small, lightweight, but ultimately useless.

Pocket Tripod

Pull it apart for widescreen use.

This particular gadget (the Pocket Tripod) is actually well-machined, and does the job as it should. On those occasions when I need to prop up the iPhone on a desk (to use with a Bluetooth keyboard) or to play music, this does the job. Very easy to carry around, and a particularly ingenious design. I recommend it.