Fly to Beijing

The day started off wonderful with another great massage. I could really get used to this lifestyle. We then met up with Simon (Mark’s interpreter for the last four years) and caught a flight back to Beijng. The plane actually left on time , was relatively smooth and landed in Beijing so that was pleasant. It was nice to get to our hotel which was the very first hotel we stayed in on our first trip to China. Went out to a Thailand Restaurant for a company dinner as a couple people are leaving so it was nice to see old faces. Most of the food was very spicy so not my favourite.

I am including a picture of Simon and his new fiance. A weddingp6280239 is planned for later this year which I hope to attend!!!

I really enjoyed the variety of food we ate in Harbin. The first night we ate at a German/Chinese Restaurant and the second day Russian/Chinese. Including a picture from the German Restaurant where you will notice a pitcherp6280242 of green beer. Something I had never seen before.  Picture of Brad and his dad.

p6280243Brothers of Brad’s new wife

I hope to get my nails done tomorrow.  For the last 3 years I have had the same girl (Ruby) do my nails, so it will be interesting to see if she is still around.

Shopping Day

It is amazing what a good nights sleep will do for the soul. Woke up this morning and went over to the bride and groom’s house for a visit. Brad had arranged for me to get a massage after my long travels and I was not going to complain. Xin Hua (Shin Wa) the bride gave me some new silk PJs to wear for it so I was already. It felt so good.


      Brad and Xin Hua

harbin-001      Massage table set up in their living room.

After the massage we had lunch at a Russian Restaurant and the food was delicious. The city of Harbin is in northern China so close to the Russian border. After lunch Xian Hua took myself and Brad’s 2 sisters for a shopping experience. It was a different experience  to walk around the town hand in hand with Xian Hua as some Chinese are very affectionate and it is not uncommon to see women walking around holding hands. I am just experiencing so many cultural differences.  The shopping was not different though, as in that all the shoes I liked were just to small for my feet. Getting used to hearing the Chinese word “Mao” meaning no we don’t have it.  Not like I really need another pair of shoes.  It is great to shop with a local as she did all the dickering for us which was nice and also bought us each a purse. A very sweet woman. Anyway all of the sudden the clouds rolled and all the vendors on the streets started packing up their goods. Xin Hua hailed down a rickshaw which was glassed in and 3 of us climbed in for a very exciting ride home. I am going to try and insert the short video I took. You will start to hear the rain and the big loud honk is from the bus behind us that we pulled out in front of. It was like riding a carnival ride which you will be able to hear from our laughing. I had a hard time finding the video so Mark helped so will see if it copies. Looks like the video is too large and Mark is now asleep so will have to try and shorten it.

Anyway went back to their apartment and had a nap and then ate some dumplings which Xin Hua’ s mother and the masseuse made. They were delicious. harbin-0071   Mom on the right.

After lots more good food and company it was time to come back to our apartment. I have been invited back in the  morning for another massage before we leave to fly to Beijing. No complaints here :)

Welcome to China

I have been pondering how I was going to start my first blog from China and then the words came to me, “You guys are not going to believe this.” The day was filled with ups and downs but ultimately ended on a very disappointing note. So let me get started. We left Salt Lake on time and had a good flight to San Fran. After getting seated in San Fransisco  we were told there was a problem with our seats as they had overbooked. Lucky for us, Mark and I were moved up to First Class which was wonderful so we had a great flight to Beijing. When we landed a medical crew came on board wearing goggles and huge masks on their faces.  They took everyone’s temperature with a device held in front of your forehead and luckily everyone was healthy on our flight so we were able to leave the plane. As we walked down the hallways another temperature check was taken like someone was taking your picture and 5 people in front of us were pulled aside.  Even being healthy made the walk a little nerve wracking. We picked up our bags and rechecked them to fly to Harbin to attend a wedding for Mark’s co-worker. A Burger King was discovered and I decided to enjoy my last western meal for awhile. Almost all the sandwiches listed said spicy but I got just the regular. It was delicious even though it was really 2:00 am. US time.p6270229

I was all set to board the plane for our next 2 hour flight and have a nice long rest. You are all probably thinking this sounds okay.  The flight was okay until it was time to land in Harbin which was having a terrible storm so after circling a few times we landed 30 minutes away at the next closest airport.  We sat on the plane for 2 hours when they decided to try to get to Harbin again. Just as we were getting ready to land for the second time, I could just feel the change as we started going up at a very fast pace instead of down. We then returned back to the nearest airport and were told that was it for the night. It was now 11:00pm. China time so I had been up around 30 hours.  I was surprised at how calm everyone stayed as they paraded us off the airplane into shuttle buses to take us to a hotel for the night.  It was very difficult at times since we had no clue of what was happening and no one was really saying anything. After arriving at the hotel and standing in line we were given a key to a room and basically told the plane would leave some time in the morning. Luckily for us Mark was able to find a small store at the hotel which they opened up so he could get his water.  Once in the room we discovered the air conditioning did not really work, and I would not walk around in bare feet, but the sheets were clean so we were happy to go to sleep after traveling over  30 hours.

A wake up call came at 7:00 to say breakfast was ready so Mark and I showered and we headed down. We obviously arrived after the crowd so there were not too many choices. I had a small bowl of rice which was about all I could take. It did look like they had served hard boiled eggs, and water melon, so we headed to the store so I could buy a breakfast for a Champion as Matt would say. Who would have thought blueberry chips could taste so good.  I was pleased to get my fruit in.p6270230

p6270232Mark and I packed up our carry on (thank goodness I packed some clothes in my carry on) and headed down to the lobby just to wait to hear when we would leave.  After sitting for an hour we were told the plane would leave at 10:00 which is when the wedding was taking place. :(  So at that point we knew we were going to miss the wedding but hoped we would get there for the reception to follow. We drove back to the airport and once again I was surprised how quiet everyone was as we walked thru the airport to the board the plane.  While in line we met a family from China who has been living in DC. for the last 10 years so they were able to translate the news to us. After waiting for 40 minutes we were told the plane was delayed due to weather and they had no idea when it would leave.  At that point we knew we would miss the whole celebration. Here I thought I only had problems flying home from China. Needless to say it was very depressing so we just sat to wait it out.

While waiting we noticed an old couple carrying these very heavy cartons around, so our new friends asked what they had and they were very happy to share some fruit with us. I have never seen this fruit and no one knew the English translation so they called it a Chinese plum. It was delicious. The old couple did not want their pictures taken but finally agreed.p6270235


Now a few hours had passed and the natives were getting restless and the yelling started which is what I expected hours ago. It actually got a little scary as I half expected a riot to start. The people just wanted to fly they didn’t care that it wasn’t safe. After 3 more hours we were told the flight would leave and we loaded on the buses to go to the plane. While I was standing on the bus this young man ran around me obviously trying to get away from the security for arguing, and one of the flight attendants took my boarding pass ( still don’t know why) so I said to Mark, “this just isn’t fun anymore.”  At that point I got my boarding pass back and we got back on the plane.  The flight back to Harbin was uneventful, so I just tried to think happy thoughts about living in China since this was not the start I was hoping for.  I was happy as they were able to land the plane (4:00 pm.), and we were able to get to our nice hotel. The Shangri-La really is quite nice and I am starting to feel  happy to be back again in China.

We changed and went over to visit with the bride and groom which I will write about tomorrow. Still have some jet lag going on. Will be happy to sleep on a nice soft bed.

Lake Powell



Just returned from a week long houseboat vacation at Lake Powell.  Enjoyed the hot weather except when the air conditioning QUIT and was not fixed for three days. Getting me ready for the hot weather waiting for me in China. It was wonderful spending time with family and I treasured all the free moments I had to visit with my kids since I won’t see them for three months.

My suitcase is calling for me so I better just dig in and get packed. Mark and I leave Friday at  5:00 in the morning. Our new China visas arrived in the mail so we should be goood to go for  ayear.  I guess I can keep my fingers crossed for awhile.

Apartment in China

Last summer when I was in China I helped Mark furnish the apartment where I will now live. When we finished all the decorating it was time for me to head home. Sending a few pictures so you can all see where I will live.  The name of the city is Changzhi (pronounced Chonger). The apartment is still under construction inside so I think I will hear lots of noises during the day and night. apartment-building1

I will live on the sixth floor of the circular building on the left. Mark said a few restaurants have opened in the 4th floor building up front.

Master Bedroom

master-bedroom-curtains Kitchen

kitchenDining Roomdecorated-apartment-0071

Living roomdecorated-apartment-004

Friends I will miss

Today I thought I would add a few pictures at once to see if I can do it.

These are the wonderful ladies that I have worked with over  the last few years. Connie and I have worked together for the last 8 years.  Connie and Karen recently gave me the beautiful picture that Connie’s son Dan painted. The phrase says it all, Co-Workers By Chance   Friends By Choice.  I am still trying to find the perfect place to display my masterpiece.  I  will miss all of my friends dearly, but I know they will all keep in touch while I am gone :)the-fun-tk-group1



First note from little joanie

I hope  I can remember all the little tips that Matt gave me for my new blog.  I was excited to hear that Mark was able to see my blog last night.  I think this should work for me when I get to China.  Looking  forward to Mark getting home this Thursday for a two week visit before we both go back together to China.

I have been spending every weekend with my kids which has been absolutely wonderful.  Learning new games so I am sending a picture of us playing bacci ball. I loved the game. I won a few times so maybe that is why.


Here I go again


China has been blocking blogspot sites, so to get around that my son helped me setup this new blog on my own domain.

Another new learning experience for me, but from here on out visit for all my updates.