Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thats right, you are related to us, and don't try to deny it, we now know how to blog and we will not hesitate to create a blog all about our family that would prove the fact that yes, indeed, we are part of your family.

Life's lessons learned in China
Things just take longer in China (with the exception of erecting tall buildings which appear after an incredibly short time of construction). For example, traveling to our church member friends Brock and Ginnie Fox's house for Friday night dinner and games takes about two hours during rush hour (we had brownies, ice cream and great company which made the entire crazy trip worth it). Even Michael, a fairly large man by Chinese standards, suffered casualties after experiencing way too many people being squished into a bus. It was a miracle we could even get off at our stop. Oh, memories of public transportation. Gotta love it!

Party Hopping
Once again we experience the joys of going out to eat with our students who are always extremely surprised that we don't drink. Both classes we teach planned their dinner party on the same evening. Luckily they were both in the same restaurant so we could rush back and forth from one group to the other. We have concluded the the word "delicacy" indicates the need to closely inspect what shows up on the serving platter to identify what it may be (usually we have no idea and someone has to look it up in the dictionary to tell us. Example: tendons and cartilage). Simple common food is preferred and usually more edible to us.

We don't remember the name of this game, but the table is huge!

Sichuan Earthquake
Everyone has greatly felt the loss of the earthquake in the South. This week has been a week of morning for the country and we feel that it has brought the country together as a whole. Every week we show a film. This week we chose "World Trade Center" about 9-11. It was very sobering and thought provoking for the police officers. We had a good discussion about preparedness. Now everyone in our classes knows about 72 hour kits and food storage.

One-on-one Interviews
Each week we have personal interviews with each student. Feedback indicates that they have an appreciation for our teaching style. Our game plan pretty much is just to have fun in order to create an environment where they can open their mouths to speak English and to get them thinking for themselves (FYI, this is NOT the traditional way English is taught at schools in China). Class favorites include: debates or discussion groups on hot topics, CNN video clips, reading articles, English talent show, arm wrestling, leg wrestling, trust falls, musical chairs, wet face, do you love your neighbor?, Two truths and a lie, Mafia, hang man, signs, and even Simon says. It is a rewarding feeling to see how much more confidence our friends leave with than when they arrive and the group unity that is formed after only a few short days.

Ultimate Frisbee introduced into China!
Reports show that a new following has begun of Ultimate Frisbee fans at the Beijing Police Academy of China. After class, a group of our students caught on rather quickly to playing Ultimate.

Here are some pictures from the Great Wall Marathon!
Some of the church members who came to run.

Thats right, after 26 years of preparation and puberty, I can now grow somewhat of a beard. This only took three days to grow and yes I know it's a little scraggly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Running in the 10K let us enjoy the scenery of the Great Wall and lots of great company from members of our branch here. Having fun staying in the hostel up in the mountains, running, and cheering with everyone for the race was worth the effort struggling to find our way around without speaking the language to get to our destinations. People were there from all over the world.

Each new group of students has their own feeling about them. This past week we had a particularly united and outgoing group who wanted to involve us in all of their out of class fun. This gave us the opportunity to be exposed to karaoke and going out to eat with them. One thing is for sure, those who may be shy to speak English seem to have their tongue loosened after a few drinks. They are all amazed when we tell them that we don't drink. Michael's manliness was even questioned with the persistent declines but don't worry that misconception has dissipated with his newly grown lumberjack beard and the fact that he can beat any police officer in an arm wrestling contest. Needless to say we think there should be more spontaneous singing after meals with friends in America (preferably not initiated by drinking alcoholic beverages).

Sorry that there will be no pictures until next week, we can't even log onto our blog to see what it looks like, but we can update it! We think that China has blocked some of the blogging websites.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May Holiday

Second honeymoon to celebrate four wonderful months of marriage!

May Holiday = 3 nights on a train, 1 in a tent, 1 in a hostel, lots and lots of people, one of the two holidays when the Chinese have a work break besides New Years. The long weekend when everyone returns home or goes traveling. A time we will never travel again because it is absolutely insane, but we can really say that we have broadened our “Chinese experience” as we engulfed ourselves in the culture riding packed overnight trains, squeezing through crowds and feeling very Asian by taking pictures of everything.

Shanghai: “Whore of the Orient, Paris of the East; city of quick riches, the domain of adventures.” Thank goodness for the subway which allowed us to find our way around to see the old European style building strip (Bund) along the river, the Shanghai Museum, and Old town. After seeing all the famous sites our most memorable and enjoyable experience was wondering in amazement through the outdoor commoners market away from all the tourists. Being hosted by our local dear family friend Apex for some local cuisine was also a treat (somewhat a treat if your into that kind of stuff says Mike).

Shanghai Old Town

Marydale Farms international tour!
The Bund in Shanghai.

The hard sleeper on the overnight train, when in doubt
always go with the sign that says soft sleeper!

Dinner with Apex Kong!

This is a diaper in China! Yes, the whole street!
Yellow Mountain: Hands down one of the most beautiful places in the world! Absolutely spectacular and breathtaking. Okay, breathtaking might also be attributed to hiking about 27 kilometers up and down steep trails (when we say steep we are not kidding, there were only a few places that were without stairs). After getting a few hours sleep in our little tent at the top of the mountain we enjoyed the sunrise and a day of hiking. The harder the trail, the fewer the number of tourists.

The mist before the rain on the Yellow Mountain.

A worker takes cucumbers to the top of the mountain, they will make multiple trips like this everyday, strait up then back down, then up again.

The sunrise at the Dawn Pavilion! 5:24 AM (Mike even got up for it)

Legend has it that if you leave a lock here your love will last forever!

This is where we stayed, the trash pile cost us a few extra dollars so we could be next to it and even a few more dollars to have our tent literally 2 inches away from all the other tents.

Tamara overlooks the Grand Canyon of the Yellow Mountain.
Don't Look down, or underneath the trail.

Really don't look down this time! How did they build that trail!
Hang Zhou: So far the most romantic place in China. It is clearly evident when West Lake has been the inspiration for decades to poets and artists. Biking around the lake dodging tourists was very entertaining but mostly we just loved how beautifully serene it was. Luckily we were able to find a nice cheep hostel room. One of the fun things about traveling China is all the interesting foreigners you meet. Everyone has a story. Our hostel room was shared by a Russian girl, Columbian girl, and two Chinese men (one of whom snored very loudly).

Hang Zhou, China, West Lake with some Chinese Pirates.

Very Romantic.

Long Day

Bumble bee at work.

Mini Bike, she is ready for the Tour!

Not ready for the Tour.

A beautiful Japanese Maple.

Joining in the Chinese Glamor shots!

We are pretty proud of ourselves that we survived traveling through China by ourselves not being able to speak the language. If we can do it anyone can do it! Now we are prepared to take you around China!

This is a video of some Senior Citizen Techno Line Dancing!