Category Archives: Changzhi

Noodle heaven that is also a safe haven.

I submitted this article more than a year ago to the China Daily Newspaper when I still lived in Changzhi. As you can see it  took more than a year to get published. I like how they jazzed up the article with a more descriptive vocabulary.


Life  Section

Noodle heaven that is also a safe haven

By Sun Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-04 07:58
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Noodle heaven that is also a safe haven

Noodle heaven that is also a safe haven

EDITOR’s Note: “Home & Away”is a section about the life experiences of expats living outside of the major metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai. If you are such an expat and have an interesting story to share, please send an e-mail to

Joan Wayment says it feels great to walk around Changzhi city, in North China’s Shanxi province, and not be nervous.

Noodle heaven that is also a safe haven

“You can walk down any street in town, and not worry about being assaulted or robbed,” Wayment says.

Having lived in peaceful small towns in the United States for 30 years, Wayment is happy to have that environment replicated in a small Chinese city.

But her favorite part about living in Changzhi is that she gets to see the rustic side of a city on the fast track to development.

“I am impressed by the construction that seems to be going on everywhere,” Wayment says.

“It is fascinating to see there is still so much manual labor today,” she says, referring to street sweepers, delivery boys, and people cleaning the snow using brooms to shovel it into carts, instead of mechanical cleaners, coin vendors and snow plows.

Wayment adds she is also captivated by the picture of donkey carts on the streets alongside sleek buses and fancy cars.

The 53-year-old landed in the city in 2009 to join her husband, who came to Changzhi six years ago to work for a coal mining joint venture.

Given the city has just one KFC and Pizza Hut, the couple don’t have much choice when it comes to Western food. But Wayment says both she and her husband relish the food that the province is famous for: noodles and vinegar.

Wayment is amazed she can get the noodles for a very reasonable 3 yuan ($45 cents) and swears by her special noodle seller who will generously throw in a couple of hard-boiled quail eggs for that added taste.

“Wherever I go, I bump into diners eating noodles. Everyone here seems to have their three meals a day on little stools, at sidewalk tables,” she says.

Asked about her “culture shocks”, Wayment mentions the 24-hour traffic and “streets packed with pedestrians and bikes”.

She adds that riding a bicycle in all that traffic is mentally and physically exhausting and her husband and she are probably the only ones in town to wear a helmet.

“When driving around, I have to take many detours owing to road blocks and the muddy roads,” she says.

“At one point, instead of four lanes of traffic going in two different directions, we had five lanes going in one direction. That really zapped me.”

Once, when Wayment walked down the street, she almost caused a traffic accident because people were staring at her and not looking where they were going.

“As I am the only Western woman in this city of about 3 million people, I am stared at wherever I go,” Wayment says.

According to her, people often strike up a conversation in Chinese and normally she replies by saying “ting bu dong” (I don’t understand what you’re saying.)

“But no matter how many times you claim that you don’t understand, they just continue to talk and their voices get louder and louder.”

Despite all this, the Canadian says she enjoys participating in or being invited to festive occasions, especially Chinese weddings.

She was surprised when a wedding was held outdoors although it was still January, and none of the guests seemed to mind the bone-chilling weather.

Since settling in Changzhi, she has been working as a volunteer teacher at a local middle school.

She takes delight in driving a couple of students to school and chatting with them. It’s both an opportunity for them to improve their English and for her to practice her Chinese.

She describes her Mandarin as “very limited” saying it just lets her get around in a cab and order food and drinks.

During her spare time, Wayment likes walking through a park to feel the city’s vibe, sharing her China stories on her blog, going to the gym, and traveling around the country.

Asked whether she wants to live in the country’s major metropolises, Wayment says it would be fun to live in cities like Beijing where many people speak English, but plans on staying in Changzhi for a few more years.

“I like to see people’s daily lives in this rural area. Everything is very inexpensive and you can easily get around because it is small.”

China Daily

Silk rugs in the making

Five years ago Mark and I made a trip to Gaoping to view the making of silk carpets. Last week while visiting our old homestead we revisited the same shop, and were amazed with the changes we saw. The shop has updated the design and making of the carpets.

We also visited another small family shop where everything is still done by hand.


All the silk is on the spools.


They follow a paper pattern behind the carpet.


The owners of the small shop, where it takes 2 to 3 months to make a small rug.


The carpet shop remodeled, so the patterns are designed on the machines.


A carpet color pattern.


The silk treads are organized for the rug.


Some carpets in the making.


I enjoyed picking out a couple to take home.

Pictures of Susan’s baby

Since I returned to Beijing in January I have not done any traveling with Mark to our old apartment in Changzhi. So I have missed seeing old friends, but it has been good for me to concentrate on my Chinese classes.

I have not been able to visit my dear friend Susan and her new baby daughter. Susan just sent me pictures which I would like to share.

Susan, Joan and Mary (mother of Gua Gua) from 5 years ago


Susan and hubby 6 weeks before the baby was born


Here is Chen Mei Han which means beautiful and well bred.

Susan's baby

Her nickname is KeKe which means cute!

Susan's baby 2

Isn’t she a bundle of joy.

Susan's baby 3

Susan, she is beautiful, just like her name. I can hardly wait to meet her in April.

Update: Yesterday I had a private lesson for the first 30 minutes before another student arrived. We talked about places I have visited in China, and if I liked them.

Simon came to town so we spent the afternoon shopping for more furniture. It was so much fun to see him again, and just laugh and laugh about old times. My heart got a good work out with all the laughing. Mark and I wanted a chair/bench to put by the front door and found one that we liked, but the owner would not dicker at all on the price. We went back to the same place and I stayed out of sight while Simon worked his magic and he saved Mark a bundle. Thanks Simon! What a dear friend you are. Today he is going with me to sign up for a Chinese credit/bank card. Before I would always have to be with Mark so he could use his, now I will actually be able to charge things on my own!!!

Reflections of the past 16 months in China!

Life is changing for me in a very good way with the move to Beijing so I would like to reflect on the life I am leaving behind.

It was with some anxiety about my future when I moved to Changzhi 16 months ago, as I was leaving my children, a job that I loved, friends, and my warm cozy house. Mark and Simon did a great job getting the apartment ready for me, so when I arrived I was ready to take on the world. It only took a few weeks to realize that the life I knew, was not going to be repeated with much ease. I always thought I was kind of a “go with the flow” person, but living in a place that is totally foreign can be very difficult when you spend the majority of the day by yourself. I learned that it was okay to spend the day by myself, going for a walk every morning,  enjoying blogging on the computer, reading, taking a nap, day after day, day after day. It sounds good to most, but gets old very quickly when you have  no one to share the day with. So I learned many things about myself, that I will not miss with the move.

I won’t miss a freezing cold apartment where I had to carry hot water bottles around me all day long in order not to freeze, and that was with the heat on.  I totally despise being cold, and the thought of another cold winter could push me over the edge. Our new apartment will be much better.

I learned many things about politics from watching “Bloomberg’, and stocks from watching CNBC nightly with Mark’s co-workers. I think I learned enough for a life time so I won’t have to watch these shows anymore.

To be able to put a load of wash in the machine and not worry about checking on it every 5 minutes to see if it tipped over will be a treat.

To be able to turn on the heat, oven and micro wave at the same time and not blow the circuits.

To go into a bathroom and not smell any foreign odors.

To not have black slippers, or socks even though the floor is mopped constantly.

To  not hear the constant banging of hammers, and the constant beeping of horns day and night.

It was Laura who suggested that I get a sewing machine to help pass the time, which was a wonderful idea. I would remind myself while sewing that if I were at home I would not be sewing during the day, but trying to cram it into the evenings. I made 4 quilts so a huge accomplishment.

We joined a gym, and I learned that I really did like to swim. Thanks mom for making me take the swimming lessons over and over to finally get in the water.

I learned that I really do like eggplant, watermelon, lemon ice tea, and still do not like lots of garlic and spicy food, and not real milk.

I learned that I enjoy blogging and can do more on the computer that I ever thought I would be able to do.

I now enjoy (don’t hate) deep pressure massages.

In the last year, I have been stretched in more ways than one, and as some would say “stronger for it”. I don’t know about that, but have much stronger likes and dislikes.

I have learned,

Chaoyung park, airport 010

Whenever people would ask where I lived in China, and Beijing would be mentioned, I would say that I would be on cloud nine if I lived there.

Well here I go, I have always enjoyed my trips to Beijing, so I am ready to climb mountains with my positive attitude. Will let you know!

Moving Day

The day has arrived for me to pack all my belongings and leave Changzhi for the big city of Beijing.

The 4 packers arrived at 9:00 and went straight to work packing all of our treasures to take with us. Amazing to watch as they make a box for everything to be moved. Like our big couch, chairs, plants.


the couch before

curtains for apartment 010

part of the couch all wrapped

packing 2

A short video of the men packing. Mark and I spent an hour yesterday working on the video part of my blog, as all new and I was having problems. This worked so I  think I have it figured out. (Matt will be happy)

packing 3

Off to seek out some new adventures in Beijing.

My dear friend Susan is expecting a baby soon

When I first came to China 5 years ago, I lived at the mine in the guest house with Mark.

Susan was the first friend there and made my life meaningful. She arranged volunteer teaching at the local school, and would leave her job everyday to walk me up the hill to the school. Some evenings when Mark would work late we would walk on the stone walls that surrounded the peanut farms. I enjoyed her company immensely and will always remember her kindness when I was so far from home and family.

Susan got married last year, but unfortunately Mark and I were out of town, so we missed the wedding.

She came to visit yesterday so a very exciting day to meet her husband, and see her looking so cute pregnant. She is due in a couple weeks, so started her 6 month maternity leave to relax a little before the baby comes.

Susan and hubby 2

Susan (5 years ago) along with Mary. You have seen me with Mary’s little “Gua Gua”

Sanya 008

I wish Susan the best and will let all of you know when she receives her bundle of joy!

My last morning walk around Changzhi!

This morning I slept in a little and then decided to go for my last morning walk around Changzhi. The packers come on Monday and I will fly to Beijing on Tuesday morning with Simon as Mark leaves on Monday.

The sun was trying to peek thru the haze, and it is actually warmer here than in Beijing.

cute sign on building under construction next door

Last walk

This man has been setting up his bird cages every morning the last few weeks. I assume he is trying to sell them. The birds look like the common bird you see flying around.

last walk 1

walking the dogs, by bike

last walk 3

in the last year, many more garbage receptacles have been placed on the sdiewalks

last walk 5

many people now fish at the local park where I walk

last walk 6

first time I have seen a boy walking a dog

last walk 9

on many mornings I see people walking backwards in the park (easy to take a picture)

last walk 10

look at that tiny face peeking out of the blanket

last walk 13

a grand opening of some business

last walk 14

delivering tomatoes

lasat walk 11

how about some vegetables

lasat walk 12

I have walked past this rider for the last few weeks. In the back square containers are water and fish floating around.

last walk 15

more fresh veggies

last walk 17

snack corner, always at least 6 carts selling just about everything

last walk 18

look at that fresh produce on one of the carts

last walk 19

always old and new, the donkeys along with the new high speed buses

last walk 16What will I miss from my morning adventures? I will miss the donkeys.

The cold weather has arrived!

October is perhaps the most glorious month in Beijing, but now we are nearing the end of the month.  Most Beijiners will say there are only two seasons in the capital- the smoggy, sweltering summer and the dry, bitterly cold winter.

I have enjoyed many walks in the last few weeks when the temperature is cool, but not yet cold, the leaves on the tree-lined streets turn flaming yellow and the skies are often clear blue with white clouds.

The markets around the city are bursting with fall produce. Juicy persimmons, pears and apples beckon from stalls or the back of carts and you can buy bags of them for next to nothing.

October is the perfect month for Beijiners to wheel out their bikes and go for a recreational spin around town. It is not too smoggy and sweaty like in the summer, and no frozen toes and stinging wind biting your face in the winter.

October 2009 in Xian

Xian 017

But, the last few days and have been a big reminder that winter is coming as the temperature has dropped and the heavier coats have come out of the closet. You need to put on the heavy coats as the heat only comes on in 3 weeks, November 15th. I visited Mark’s office this afternoon and many people were walking around with big scarves and coats on, which is depressing to think they will have to do this for weeks.

There have been many articles in the newspaper recently addressing the issue of when the heat should be turned on. I understand  they have made changes this year, so if it is around freezing for 3 days in a row they will turn the heat on all over the city. I for one am ready for some heat. Thankfully our hotel has been comfortable and when we checked out or new apartment is was also warm, thanks to good windows and better construction. Maybe I can look forward to not freezing  my bones this winter and actually enjoy the season.

Winter in Changzhi

best of sun

Joan tries Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

I thought I would share my recent experience of "fire cupping which is a form of TCM. Since
being in China I have noticed people walking around with circular marks on their necks.
I learned that it is a type of therapy to get rid of aches and pains.
According to Wikipedia this is the story.

The cupping jar
email sucky jars for massage 007
Fire cupping or simply cupping is a form of traditional medicine  found in
many cultures worldwide. It involves placing cups containing reduced air
pressure (suction) on the skin.
 Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to
1,000 B.C. This method in multiple forms spread into medicine in Asian
and European civilizations.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cupping is a method of applying
acupressure by creating a vacuum on the patient's skin. The therapy is
used to dispel stagnation—stagnant blood and lymph, thereby improving qi
flow—to treat respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and
bronchitis. Cupping also is used on back, neck, shoulder and other
musculoskeletal conditions.

According to the American Cancer Society, "[a]vailable scientific evidence
does not support cupping as a cure for cancer or any other disease".[3] It
can leave temporary unsightly marks on the skin and there is also a small
risk of burns. Persons who claim this therapy to be beneficial report that
it produces feeling of relaxation and invigoration. It is possible that
whatever relief is obtained from this procedure derives from the same
principles that are employed in shiatsu massage, where instead of the
outward sucking of the cups, strong inward pressure is directed at the
muscles of the dorsal ribcage and abdomen.

A couple years ago I had it done during a foot massage. The wand she is holding is
ignited and quickly removed from the jar to remove the air pressure so it will stick. 
Jingcheng July 2007 089
I have had the procedure done twice by a massage therapist. The first time
just on my back, while the last time she put some jars on my legs. It really doesn't
hurt, but just feels tight. No marks were left from yesterdays treatment.
I must say that my shoulder has not been bothering me since the

The mark stayed on my back for a few days.
smalll suckie jars on back on back
I am ready for more. My therapist told me yesterday that it is not good to have it done
to often as it will disrupt my "qi" inner harmony.

No more slimy flowers!

While in Sydney Australia, Mark and I were able to do some shopping for items made in Australia.

I fell in love with this flower vase.

flower vase 2 006

It is made of Australian sandstone with a chromed metal stand.


Sandstone is a sendimentary rock composed of mineral and rock grains (quartz and feldspar). The sedimentation process takes many millions of years (over 500). The sand becomes sandstone when it is cemented by the precipitation of minerals between the sand grains. These cementing materials are silica and calcium carbonate.

flower vase 2 002

You just put a little water in the stainless holder and the stems are held in place with the circular holder. Voila! no slimy stems.

The only difficult part with bringing it home, was that sandstone is not light weight.  It was worth the sore shoulder.