A new friend named DongDong — News update

Last week Xueer’s friend  DongDong came for a visit and stayed all week. She doesn’t speak English but I enjoyed her company very much. She has lots of energy so is always busy and talks well using hand motions. She is an excellent cook so made most of the meals which were delicious as she made me fried rice with egg and vegetables almost daily. Everyone except me loves onions and garlic and the food was covered so Mark enjoyed all those dishes.

On Saturday night we had a few people over and we played the bowling and boxing game on our Wii which was a blast. All our Chinese friends had never played it before so a good time was had by all along with a little exercise.

DongDongDongDong playing the boxing game.

For dinner I made some chili so earlier in the day we went to the outdoor market to buy some hambaba. Remember the butcher from a previous blog. So he cuts the hunk of beef and was ready to grind it when DongDong went behind the counter to trim off more fat. It was funny to see her just pick up the knife and start cutting. The butcher just watched. Then she insisted that they wash the meat so a woman brought out a bucket with some waster and DongDong washed the meat. She then trimmed off  more fat and washed the meat again. It was just so funny to hear them all talking and DongDong just going about her business. She then let them grind the meat so needless to say the meat was almost fat free with no grease to skim off when I made the chili. Luckily Joe had some kidney beans so it turned out well. Mark barbecued some burgers so we enjoyed our dinner.

Remember when I said they were going to have to turn off the power for 48 hours well they did the work this week and turned off the power at midnight and had the work finished at 4:00am.  The 48 hour job was finished in 4 hours.

Changzhi had their first really sunny clear day last week. From Joe’s apartment on the 24th floor you can see some of the city on a daily basis. Well last week for the first time I could see that Changzhi is surrounded by hills (small mountains) imagine that. I was surprised as I have been here for 2 months. I miss the beautiful blue sky and mountains in Utah.

Lotus patch at park.

walking park 003

Tomorrow Mark and I are flying to Beijing and then the next day leaving for a 4 day trip to  Tibet.  Mark’s American boss along with his wife invited us so we decided it would be a great time to see Tibet.  I have been reading about Lhasa the capital of Tibet as that is where we will spend our time touring around. Looks like we will be on a guided tours so we can see all the major sites. Hopefully playing badminton the last few weeks has helped get us in better shape for the high altitude 13,000 ft.  The weather is suppose to be in the 50 and 60’s so cool for me. I didn’t bring a jacket with me to China since I just packed my usual summer clothes so I know what I might be buying there. The traditional drink is salted tea made with yak butter…so I will let you know what that tastes like. :(  Some of the nomad women smear yoghurt on their faces with a tuft of wool for protection from the sun since we are up so high. I think I will just bring some sunscreen.

My daily walk

]I am now  in a routine of going for a walk each morning at 8:00 when it is still relatively cool outside and the humidity is not horrible.  The Park is an 8 minute walk from the apartment but only opens at 8 so I am usually there when they open the gates. It is closed every day from 12 to 3 which is surprising for a park.

walking park 002

I hope you don’t get dizzy watching this video as I was walking. Sorry


walking park 004

Everyday at the park there are group of workers that sweep the sidewalks and fish out trash out of the water. After a couple days when I walked by they started talking to me. I smiled and said “ting bu dong” I don’t understand, so now when I walk by I smile and wave and say” Ni hao” and they smile and  return the gesture.


walking park 005

I still have to measure the distance to see how far I am actually walking but I walk/jog around the park for an hour so I feel like I am getting a good amount of exercise.

Lesson on how to pick a good fish

Xueer and I went out last week to purchase some fish for dinner. Fresh fish is so popular here in China and luckily a food that I enjoy eating. Except here you do get the whole fish so you are always trying to be very careful not to get a bone stuck in your throat. A while ago Simon (Mark’s assistant) did get a fish bone stuck in his throat which required a trip to the hospital to have it removed. It cost him 180 RMB or almost $30.00 to have it removed.  So now we always joke about the 180 RMB fish bones.

You can see the little turtles that people use in soup. One little boy was carrying one in a plastic bag so I assume for a pet.


The young man is asking Xueer if she wants the fish dead or alive. After Mark saw this and we had eaten the fish he said that doesn’t look very sanitary. I guess now you have all learned how to kill a fish.   Xueer reassured us that she washed the fish really well.


Dinner at a Mongolian Restaurant

While in Jincheng we visited one of Mark’s favorite Mongolian Restaurants which does a fabulous dish of barbecued lamb’s back. It is so tender that it just falls off the bone. We went a couple times when I was  there last year so I was excited to revisit the place. It was all that we remembered, so we enjoyed the feast. The owner came down and played some instruments and the wait staff joined in.

Jincheng 004After the song she placed a white silk scarf around the necks of some of us at the table.

In the video our waiter is holding the white scarfs and the girl is holding a little silver bowl. In Mongolia the bowl is filled with liquor that you toast with and then drink after each song. Luckily they didn’t do this at this restaurant.


Next he played an instrument that looked a flute.

Jincheng 005

Once again you can hear all the other people in the background.


Mark learns how to play mahjong

While in Jincheng over the weekend we went to a restaurant that had a mahjong table. To put it simply it is a very popular game in China. You see people playing it everywhere. This was a really fancy table in that you pushed a button and all the game pieces are stacked under the table and come up ready to play. If you look closely you can see different Chinese figures on each piece so it really helps to be able to read Chinese as even simple numbers are written with Chinese characters. The general idea is to get groups of 3 with some kind of pattern but you must always have Jincheng 007at least on pair to win the game. (You can see that I learned lots about the game).

Now you can watch a game with Mark, Brad, Xueer and the back of Xinhau. You would almost think that Mark can understand all the Chinese being spoken to him. After Mark finished one game another girl sat in and then the game pieces really moved around quickly.


Visit with Mary and GuaGua

We had a very nice visit in Jincheng and I was pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful remodeled rooms. They still had the very hard pillows and woke up during the night to wish that I had brought my own pillow. I grabbed a couple towels and wrapped them in my blouse to use as a pillow which helped me sleep for the rest of the night. It was fun to visit with Mary and she was proud to show us her office.

Jincheng 002We met Mary and GuaGua the next day for lunch. He was very skeptical of us and did not want to leave Mary’s side which is understandable sitting across the table from us foreigners. It was only towards the end of the meal that he would say a few words.

Jincheng 012

You really have to listen as with all restaurants it was loud inside. Mary is teaching him some English words so you will hear him say banana and mom. He will be 2 years old soon so a very busy little boy.


Tomorrow you will be able to watch Mark learn how to play mahjong. Very interesting.

Weekend in Jincheng

This weekend our apartment was going to be without power for 48 hours so we decided we would take the hour drive to Jincheng where I stayed the last 3 summers. They have remodeld the rooms  at the Fujing Hotel so it will be fun to see what they look like. We will also be able to visit some old friends. Mary works at the hotel and was a big help to Mark and I over the years as she was our translator at the hotel. Last year she had a baby and nicknamed him “Gua Gua” which means mellon but sounds so cute and is easy for me to remember. I am hoping to see him as he should be around 18 months old. Brad and Xinhau still live at the hotel so we will go out for dinner with them to one of Mark’s favorite restaurants to have lamb back.

We just found out this morning the power turn off has been postponed for a few days as they are not ready to do the job. We are still going but then when the power does get turned off we will probably stay at a hotel here in Changzhi. I will be sure to take lots of pictures of Gua Gua.



Joan and baby

Vegetable market

http://www.littlejoanie.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/buying-fish-007.flvYesterday when Xueer and I went to the market I took this video to give you all a better idea of what it looks like. It was raining but luckily this part of the outdoor market was covered.

This is the same market where we purchased the meat. You can see the people riding the old bicycles and some times motorcycles drive down the path so you always have to be watching so you don’t get run over.

Barbecue time in Changzhi

Over the weekend Joe went shopping at  Metro( similar to Costco) and came home with a charcoal barbecue which he was ready to use. Luckily Mark had a few tools so Joe spent the afternoon putting it together and then rolled it down to our apartment since we have access to the roof. Mark could not remember the last time he used wood charcoal so after some trial and error he was able to get the fire going. We marinated some steaks and made shish -kebabs which tasted better than the normal tough steak and  also made baked potatoes since we had purchased some sour cream in Beijing. The whole meal took longer to cook than we expected as compared to using shoes, barbeque 004 a gas grill but worth the wait.  Since the roof top is a public place  we really don’t want to leave it sit out there unprotected so it looks like I might just have a barbecue sitting in my kitchen.  Probably not to many people are going to be able to top that.

Shoes and News

Mark and I finally found some badminton shoes in Beijing. We looked at many stores and many still did not have my size. So on the last afternoon we were told of a sporting goods store which was a fifteen minute drive from our hotel. As we got closer to the store we did not see many cabs so in broken Chinese Mark asked the cab driver if he would just wait 15 minutes for us. He gave him extra money and we ran into the store hoping he would still be there when we got out as we still had to pack and check out to catch our plane. So we were very happy to see him as we came running out of the store. Luckily the one pair they had for each of us fit so now we can start playing.

shoes, barbeque 001

Mark subscribes to the China Daily newspaper which comes out of Beijing. He usually gets a weeks worth of papers a week late but still very enjoyable to read a newspaper. Just wanted to let everyone know the 4 top stories from the U.S.

1. Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea to rescue the two journalists.

2. Hillary Clinton’s trip to Africa.

3. Governor Huntsman’s appointment to China.

4. Paula Abdul is no longer going to be a judge on American Idol.

shoes, barbeque 005

I guess I am all caught up on U.S. News.

I wish all of my dear friends back at school to a great first day. I still can’t believe I won’t be there.