Saturday, July 31, 2010


Rainbow that Elisabeth saw when she was on her service trip to Yunnan.

Double rainbow that we saw when on our trip to Inner Mongolia.  One of the Chinese girls with us had never seen a rainbow and wasn't really sure she believed that they existed.

Rainbow outside of our apartment in Shenyang today.  The first one that we've seen here!

Salmon and meatballs and ice cream, oh my!

Yes!  We have an Ikea.  It opened a few month ago and to Elisabeth's horror, neither Paul and I had been there.  We are moving to a new apartment in a few weeks and need a few new things.  We usually shop at local markets but there are some things that are hard to find in our city, such as fitted bottom sheets.  Plus,Ikea is just a fun place to shop.
So we took off in a taxi.  We only had to say the name in Chinese and the taxi driver knew where it was.  We walked up and walked into a store that really was identical to any Ikea that we have been to in the US.  The signs were in Chinese and English with Swedish names for the stuff.  I only saw one mistake "Tabbles" for tables but the rest was almost perfect.  The prices were low, the aisles were wide and it was really fantastic.  We were not approached by a single salesperson the whole time we were there.  If you have lived in China, you know how unusual that is!  It can be exhausting for foreigners to shop in China.  The bargaining takes skill and language that I sometimes don't have.  It's hard to look and think when a salesperson is following you and offering their advice.  So it was nice to just look and not feel any pressure to buy.
We went to the restaurant and had traditional Ikea food.  I had salmon and Paul and Elisabeth had the meatballs. My salmon was meh but the meatballs were good.  Then we went downstairs and had the 1 RMB ice cream.  This is about .30 so an improvement over the $1.00 cone that you get in the U.S.
We did have one rather surreal experience.  When we were standing in the fantastic kitchen goods section, I heard this song being played.  It's by Faith Hill.  Read the words carefully.

There will come a day

It's not easy trying to understand 
How the world can be so cold, stealing the souls of man 
Cloudy skies rain down on all your dreams 
You wrestle with the fear and doubt 
Sometimes it's hard but you gotta believe 

There's a better place, where our Father waits 
And every tear He'll wipe away 
The darkness will be gone,the weak shall be strong 
Hold on to your faith 

There will come a day, there will come a day 
Wars are raging, lives are scattered 

Innocence is lost, and hopes are shattered 
The old are forgotten, the children are forsaken 
In this world we're living in 
Is there anything sacred>
There will come a day, there will come a day 
The song will ring out, down those golden streets 
The voices of earth with the angels will sing 
Every knee will bow, sin will have no trace 
In the glory of His amazing grace 
Every knee will bow, sin will have no trace 
In the glory of His amazing grace 
There will come a day, there will come a day 
Oooh there will come a day 
I know there's coming a day, coming a day 

 Yes...there will come a day!  We hope in this.

And speaking of surreal things, we believe that we have the oddest cat ever.  We got this car last Christmas at an outdoor market.  He is just really quirky.  Here is one of his quirks.

He loves water!

The shower goes on and he hops on the edge of the tub.  He often goes inside the curtain we we are actually in the shower.

He grabs some water with his paw.

And drinks it.  He seems to have no fear of water, doesn't mind getting wet.  He is an odd duck of a cat!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hungry for green.

We live in a city of 8 million.  It is noisy, crowded and sometimes the air is polluted.  There are beautiful parks and we live near a river, but we spend most of our time in the "city" part of the city.  We did just get back from two weeks in the beautiful grasslands of Hulun Beier, and that fed my soul in wonderful ways.  But the hunger for  green is always there and we were excited when we were invited to be part of a group that went out to the Shen Yang Botanical Gardens.
This morning, 14 adults ranging in ages from early twenties to around sixty, and five children ranging from 8 months to about eight years old, got on the long distance bus to the Gardens. Amazingly, we all got seats, which was great since the Gardens are about an hour away.  It rained hard last night but was clear and beautiful today.
We entered on the Chinese side of the park and were immediately surrounded by beautiful flowers.

Brown eyed daisies, day lily's and coneflowers!  Reminded me of  Missouri.

Beautiful little sub-gardens for different part of China.  We got in a little trouble for taking a picture of Chairman Mao as it was a place for people to post and pay to have their picture taken.  We didn't know and felt a little bad.

Lunch- chicken feet or peanut butter and jelly 都  可以。

Through the woodlands- green, green, green.


Resting on the big, swinging hammocks.  

Cross this bridge at your own risk- no warning sign!

Warning sign for the signs for bridges across the water.  Good practical advice- Be careful and act in accordance with your own strength!

Bridges across the water.

We ignored this part of the park.

On to the children's park.

Where the "children" played.

Any of our Columbia friend's recognize this woman?

Apparently it takes a village to change a diaper.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day.  We enjoyed the garden, enjoyed being with our friends and their really fun kids and enjoyed meeting some new friends.  We are hoping to go back in the Fall to really see some fall colors and renew our need for nature again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well worth a look.

NPR does a series on the rise of religion in China.  Very interesting.

Seeing Russia

The camp ended on a Wednesday but we didn't have train tickets until Friday night.  That isn't unusual at all.  Getting tickets is a tricky business, especially trying to get tickets all together.
So we hung out at the camp one more day for a lovely day of rest.  Then we got on the bus to Man Zhou Li.  Man Zhou Li is a border town on the Russia/China border.  It's the town where they change the wheels on the trains since the tracks in Russia are different than China.  We took the long distance bus to Man Zhou Li from the camp.  On the way, we could see Russia across the river and we saw many lovely birds on the grasslands.
Man Zhou Li was a rather odd place to be.  It doesn't "look" like China at all.  Rather, it looks like a Russian or European City.  Signs are in Russian or Chinese.  Some are in Mongolian.  There seems to be very little industry or tourism except for shopping.  It was packed full of Russians and we were spoken to in Russian continually. There were fur shops all over the place.
Part of our goals as travelers is to go to places that we are unlikely to be able to return to or places that few foreigners have been.  Man Zhou Li certainly fit that to a T!
We went to the Russian/Chinese border.  Our taxi driver told us that it was rather a rip to pay the money to go inside so we didn't.  I rather regret that decision.  We did stand on the outside in the pouring rain and had our picture taken.

Yes, it was cold and raining hard!

Old steam train.

This was out in the countryside.  It's a place of worship for Mongolians.  It actually was quite dark and a little scary looking.

Man Zhou Li boasts that it has the world's largest Matrushka dolls.  There is a huge one in the middle with a Chinese, Mongolia and Russian side.  All over the grounds were smaller dolls from different countries or with different themes.  They were really quite beautiful.

This was a large art museum next to the matrushka dolls.  One the grounds were huge statues.  It was expensive and we were dripping wet so we didn't go in.

Most of the buildings in the city had Russian architecture.  There were really charming statues all over the place and pretty lights.

Russians posing on the statues.  We were told that  other Westerner's rarely go to Man Zhou Li as it is so isolated.

The building are lit up at night and there is a beautiful light show.  Again, there was no sense of being in China!  It was a very surreal feeling of being in a different country while surrounded by Chinese people.

Twenty four hours after we got there, we left and took a  train to Hai La Er.  We met a friend there and went to the Russian market.  That was a great and fun market to shop at and we were pleased with what we bought.  Then we got on the night train to ShenYang and came back home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What we saw today

Elisabeth and I went to get our haircut today.  That alone can be an adventure!  We went to the Camus Hair Salon ( Camus?  Hair Salon of Despair?).  My hair turned out well.  Elisabeth's will need to be re-cut.  Total cost for wash, careful cut and blow-dry- about $4.00 each.
On our way to the mall where the Camus Hair Salon was, we saw this.

Eximious and Eternal glasses.  I have no idea what that means.

Oh, Golden Hans.  Please check your spelling rules.

Natural chocolate, cracker, candy and chips that is!

Awesome Ikea ad!  Recognize the woman in the ad on the building across the street?

Movie being shown on building- English curse words and all!

Beggar...or?  It's hard to tell.  This boy is probably a professional beggar.  There was another boy in an identical position and clothing on the opposite walkway in.  He probably was stolen from the countryside and someone was close by watching him work. It's hard to know what to do in those situations.

George Clooney in an ad.

Happy child dancing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The last post about camp...

I promise.  Then on to the travelogue.

On the last day of camp, we split the kids up into three teams.  We had them perform an "Amazing Race" kind of competition, where they went from station to station and performed tasks.  They had a camp volunteer with them who took pictures as they performed the tasks.  The pictures were then put onto a computer and shown at a rally.
Each task had something to do with the 10 days at camp.  It may have been a English class vocabulary word or something from a rally.  It was a super fun, super successful activity designed by the camp volunteers.

Pyramid by the Camp sign.  

Making words from the nature curriculum vocabulary.  Getting these kids to lie on the grass was a feat!


Spoon Race


One of the songs we had in the rallies was "Moose"  The kids were supposed to make this volunteer's hair stand up like moose antlers.  He was a totally great sport about it.

Finding bugs.

Nature beauty queen.

Dressing up and posing like a nativity scene.

Through the tire

Muscle men and women.

The kids were tired, hot and thirsty at the end but it was a fun way to end our time there.