Chinese Mamma Mia


Yes, you see it correctly, the Chinese version of Mamma Mia is playing.

Last week when I went to church I noticed all these posters advertising Mamma Mia.  I asked a gal after the service if she could read Chinese characters to give me more details, but she couldn’t. So Christie who works with Mark gave them a call and she was told it plays nightly from 7:30 till 10:00, and the tickets range from $20 to $100.

I loved the movie and saw the broadway show years ago when it came to Salt Lake City.


I then saw this review in a local magazine.


I knew I needed to go.


My ticket and a couple postcards they handed out.


Mark had work to do, a few of my friends didn't seem interested in seeing and all Chinese 
show, so I decided to go by myself.

I walked there which took 30 minutes and as I got closer I could see
scalpers selling tickets, and for the first time, I thought I hope they
have some tickets.
I walked up to the door, where there were 2 guards who were only letting
people in with tickets. So in Chinese I said I wanted to buy a ticket.
Just got looks and I tried to walk in, to which they held up their hands
to block my entrance. I said it again, and they pointed to the sidewalk,
perhaps the scalpers. So I said it again, and tried to walk in and was
blocked so then they called someone, who called someone, and a guy came
walking out, and they let me in. I was just getting ready to call Tom for
some assistance. Anyway they took me to a girl who spoke English, so they
finally got the idea. They did say a couple times, tonight? which I know
that word, and responded with "now" in Chinese. I was then wondering what
kind of tickets were left. He mentioned 280 RMB ($40.00) and I could pick
my seat. He printed out a ticket and pointed me in the right direction. I
was actually up in the balcony cheap seats. Many empty seats for a
Thursday night, in front of me and behind. So when the show started I
noticed many people moving forward so I picked a seat about 10 rows ahead
which was a perfect seat.
The show was fabulous, and they did a great job with all the settings on a
small stage. Fun to see all the costumes, and listen for the few English words
in each song, as it was all Chinese,Honey honey, money money, super trooper, voulez vous.
I really didn't mind all the speaking in Chinese since I know the story.
At intermission a gal was walking around selling programs and CD's which I
thought I would purchase since I really was enjoying the singing. She said
in Chinese the songs were in English :(, which I already have and am
listening to as I write this.
I was sitting with a younger crowd so for the last 2 songs we stood and
sang. The last song "Waterloo" was in English and it brought tears to my
eyes for some reason. Maybe just felt like home, standing and singing an
English song. I left feeling so uplifted and just happy with myself for
They did sing one extra Chinese song, but all the rest from the original
show. It went from 7:30 to 10:00.
Maybe I will go again, as I just loved the show.
Mark was there to walk me home, a great ending to a perfect night.
Miss Karen, you would have loved it.

Final photos from Jeju

Yesterday, Mark received some photos that his co-workers took, so I picked out of few of my favorites to share in closing the chapter on Jeju.

The group at the crater. See if you can find me?

Sadie (147)

I loved this picture with the panoramic view. Bo actually took 3 pictures and then blended them together. Pretty cool!


I liked this photo.


Almost to the top of the crater.


I will have to add this photo to my blog on my adventurous day. I am showing the ladies the note that explains about the traditional market.


I could not figure out what this souvenir was as it looked so cute, so I just had to buy it.


Does anyone want to take a guess?


Our adventurous day!

Christie, Paweena and I had quite the exciting day yesterday on our free day.
I found a brochure in the lobby that talked about traditional Korean
crafts which is what I wanted and Paweena (from Thailand) had one that
talked about handmade jewelry and shawls and sweaters. So we asked at our
hotel for directions and 5 of us headed out at 9:00, with place only 5
minutes away. So we walked and asked and asked, but no one could speak
English or Chinese. So we walked back to hotel to get better directions,
and 2 left our group, and we were told the same directions so we went back again,
 and all we saw were veggies, and fruit. So after
another hour we figured it wasn't meant to be. We strolled the quiet streets
and stopped in shops, and went to an E Mart like a very nice Walmart.
Looked around and went up to the 5th floor, and ate a huge Korean lunch
for only $5.00. Walked around as a nice day and stopped at an old small
Emperor's palace to tour. Then the 3 of us just sat on a bench in the
shade as a nice day and just talked about China and our lives. So relaxing
and just fun.
After a couple hours decided to walk in a different direction, and came to
a small store with a young guy who spoke English. Asked him about the
market and after a few minutes, he called someone to find out and found a
place. He said a 15 minute taxi drive. It was 5:30 and they were up for
the adventure so we grabbed a cab, with the place written in Korean. He
dropped us off and we looked around and went into a store to ask. Of
course no English, so she looks at the paper, and shows to a friend who
runs next door to ask. So we sit and wait. She comes back and points
across the street, so away we go. Still can't find and we see 6 ladies outside,
and show them the note. One lady takes the note and runs into a nearby
restaruant. Out comes a handsome young man who could speak English. If you
can believe it he had lived in Toronto Canada for 2 years. Anyway he says
come and sit in his Korean Pork Rest. and he will call the number. A
waitress comes with a bottle of real Coke and we say no thanks, and in
Korean it was like, you must have some. So we open bottle and have a
drink. The young man(Andy) comes back and says he will drive us to the
store. So we hop in the van and he basically drives us around the corner.
I must say the Korean people really went out of their way to help even
when they couldn't speak our language. So we finally got there and I am
thinking after looking all day, I better find something to buy.
The store was a basic souvenier shop, but had a few peices of jewelry. So
I bought a pair of earings that are in a traingle shape and looks like
tiny tiny pressed flowers behind a piece of glass, so a nice souvenir for me.
Then it was 6:30 and we were getting hungry, so we walked back to Andy's
restaruant for some Korean barbecue which is quite famous. Andy was happy
to see us, so we talked about the Utah Jazz, good ole Karl Malone and John
Stockton, and the cold weather in Canada. He gave us a free bottle of
Korean Sprite, which tasted good. The food was delicous.
We walked out and a taxi was there!!! we got back to the hotel at 9:00. So
a fun filled 12 hour day. I thanked the girls for including me, and making
my day so much fun.
It was nice to go back to my quiet room and read for a couple hours.

Some pictures from the day.
The cutest restroom signs I have ever seen.
This park was across the street from our hotel/
IMG_0163Paweena, new friend Andy, Christie
My earrings, along with the free gifts of chocolate.

Jeju “Hai Nu” water women

The night before I left on the trip, Mark and I caught the last 15 minutes on the National Geographic channel on the water women of Jeju. The show was fascinating, so I was on the lookout when we arrived.

The article is long, but I found it so interesting.

Water women of Jeju diving to extinction (AFP)  From the Khallej Times Online

28 April 2005 HADORI, South Korea – Her black fins flashing like the tail of a baby whale, grandmother Cho Hyang-Sook, aged 74, disappears beneath the surface of the waves on a lung-searing dive to the bottom of the sea.

The frail old lady with twinkling eyes studding a weather-beaten face is one of South Korea’s legendary water women, or haenyo, who have been scouring the ocean bottom for generations off the volcanic coastline of Jeju island, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of mainland South Korea in the East China Sea.

Jeju’s water women are a hardy, independent breed who cash in on the ability to punish their bodies beyond normal human endurance. In their prime, water women can dive as deep as 20 meters (66 feet) and stay down for about two minutes, while working hard underwater without oxygen and with primitive tools.

They make a living by catching anything that is edible from the seabed including shellfish, sea slugs, octopuses, crabs and seaweed. Top earners can make up to three million won per month (2,950 dollars) by diving, according to Choi Kyung-Ja, 52, a water woman who like some others operates her own seaside restaurant in the northeastern village of Hadori.

Older water women like granny Cho make less, averaging between 300 to 400 dollars per month. They usually sell their catch to dealers from fisheries who wait for them on the shore as they dive. Seafood from Jeju is prized because of its unpolluted water.

Once a common sight on the island, the haenyo are now something of a curiosity. South Korea’s water women originated in Jeju hundreds of years ago as the island offered few other prospects for making a living.

But these days no young women are attracted to the hard and dangerous work in favour of other opportunities in a country, which has undergone rapid modernisation and development. Jobs in business and tourism are less demanding and promise better rewards.

The divers also face competition from offshore farming, and the many tourists who visit Jeju are aware that what they see today may be no more than a folklore memory tomorrow. The number of haenyo has fallen from 14,143 in 1970 to 7,804 in 1980 and 5,650 in 2004.

“Young girls don’t like to take up this tough job’

Cho, whose mother, grandmother and great grandmother were all haenyo and whose own daugher, in her 40s, has followed her in the trade, says youngsters have more choice and higher aspirations these days.

“There was nothing else for us to do,” she says. “Young girls don’t like to take up this tough job. They have other opportunities these days.”

Now, “there is only one haenyo who is younger than 30” while most are aged between 50 and 80, says Hong Won-Sik, an official in charge of haenyo affairs at the Jeju provincial government.

On a typical morning as the tide begins to ebb, exposing more of Jeju’s basalt coastline, a line of women, mostly in their 60s and 70s, starts trickling toward a cement shelter by the sea which serves as a locker room and storage area.

Leading the way is Cho, wearing a dark shirt and baggy pants, shuffling towards the shoreline while chatting away with her friends.

Holding fins in one hand and a net basket for her catch slung over her shoulder, the diminutive woman heads out to sea over the stony beach.

Stuck into her weight belt, she carries a flat metal stick to pry abalones from rocks; a metal blade curved 90-degrees to drag octopuses from their lairs; and an all-purpose hook for shellfish and other prey.

Cho and a few other older haenyo swim some 200 meters (yards) from the shore while younger and stronger colleagues swim further out, hoping for better hunting in deeper waters.

With a splash of her black fins, Cho disappears under the waves. Some 30 seconds later, she reappears, putting something into her basket that rises to the surface.

When they resurface, the water women exhale in a loud, long breath that sounds like a whistle, before plunging back again. The Jeju divers do not use breathing apparatuses as they toil for hours in the water.

“If a haenyo gets greedy … she might drown.”

White buoys bob up and down on the dark blue sea surface as Cho and others work without rest, food or drink. Four and half hours later, Cho returns from the sea, exhausted and weighed down by her catch of the day.

Her basket contains 1.6 kilos (3.52 pounds) of abalones, 10 sea slugs, a dozen sea urchins and a haul of kelp.

A trader from the local fish market buys up the lot for about 50 dollars, double her usual daily income from diving.

As the sun rises higher, they start changing into rubber wet suits. Cho bought hers for US$150 a few years ago and it transformed her working life. Before the arrival of wet suits, Jeju’s water women, winter or summer, dived in cotton shirts and shorts despite body-numbing sea temperatures.

In a museum we were able to see their old diving suits.

P1010733 (13)Their accessories to help in gathering the seafood.


These are the signs you would see around the island.


There would be awnings set up in different areas around the shore.


It was fascinating to watch the women carve open the shells.


Seafood for sale


I love this picture.


One of the guys on the trip purchased the raw seafood meal which included a bottle of Korean liquor for $20.00 US. I tired a couple pieces which were very chewy.


The only problem the women suffer from in old age  is with their hearing from the years of diving and the pressure of the water.

jeju women

Kimchi for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Kimchi (play /ˈkɪmi/; Korean: 김치 [kimtɕʰi]), also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings.[1][2][3] There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, green onions or cucumber.[4] It is the most common banchan, or side dish, in Korean cuisine. Kimchi is also a main ingredient for many popular Korean dishes such as kimchi stew (김치찌개; kimchi jjigae), kimchi soup (김칫국; kimchiguk), and kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥; kimchi bokkeumbap). (Wikipedia)

On our last morning before heading to the airport we learned how to make kimchi.


We were given a plate with cabbage and spices to rub on the cabbage.

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Then the cabbage is rolled in a ball to ferment for added flavor.

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Early kimchi was made of cabbage and beef stock only. Red chili, a New World vegetable not found in Korea before European contact with the Americas, was added to kimchi recipes some time after 1500. Red chili pepper flakes are now used as the main ingredient for spice and source of heat for many varieties of kimchi. In the twelfth century other spices, creating flavors such as sweet and sour, and colors, such as white and orange, were added. (Wikipedia)

I wrapped my kimchi in a plastic bag to bring home for Mark. At the airport I noticed the very strong smell seeping from my backpack, and decided to leave it there before everything smelled like kimchi.  I purchased a bag of the real stuff for Mark.


After the domestic part of the tour, we were able to dress in a Korean gown.

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Christy, Paweena and I had fun dressing up in the costume.


Cosmetics and plastic surgery

Before I left for South Korea, many people talked about all the cosmetic surgery that all the Korean ladies have done on their faces. After getting on the tour bus, it was one of the first subjects our tour guide talked about. She said many, many women have the surgery done in their young 20’s. When they are getting ready to get married the groom might ask to see a picture of what they really looked like. If they are not asked then, they will be asked after they have a baby to see who the baby really looks like. She menitoned one Chinese actress who went to South Korea to have some work done, and was not allowed back in China because her new face did not match the picture on her passport.

Everywhere you looked their were cosmetic shops selling all kinds of beauty products. Many to do with lightening your skin, and all the products were made in Korea and seemed to be reasonably priced.


I did a little research on the subject and found the 95% of celebrities get some kind of cosmetic surgery. 50% of ordinary women and 30% of Korean men see the knife. The article said that plastic surgery mania in Korea is led by women in their 20’s which is a new  trend in the younger girls. Another article mentioned that 76% of Korean women have undergone some kind of surgery with the most popular being the double eyelid reconstruction. The operations are slightly cheaper that in the United States. Some women feel they are pressured to look better so they can get better jobs.

I did find that their faces were much lighter in color, so hard to say if it is because of skin bleaching or just lighter makeup.

I am almost out of my Mary Kay supply so I decided to indulge and buy a few new cosmetics. Skin Food, gold caviar collagen serum, and cream!!!! My face feels wonderfully soft.


I think South Korea was happy to see my group come and shop.

Here are a couple additional food photos.  I found this item in a grocery store, and I think easy to tell it is spicy hot.


Some big bags of the small fish.


Lots of ground pepper to chose from in the outdoor market.


I was surprised to find this nice toilet in a public shopping mall. I had always heard that Japan had electronic seats, so this was a nice find.

I tried my luck and pushed one button, which heated the seat, and blew a warm fan!! I could go for that in China or at home.


Another Asian custom of women dieing their hair black forever was very evident. I did not see any grey/white haired people.

The food, the food

I loved all the food as it was mild in taste, with many many side dishes to add the extra spice as you liked. Many of the main dishes are served in a hot stone bowl, accompanied with stainless steel chopsticks, big spoon, bowl, and cup. Mark would have loved the chilled water served with each meal. My mom would have loved the temperature of the food, as the soup was served boiling hot.


Color plays a very important role in each meal. Five colors must be included in each dish, black, red, yellow, green, and white. All the cooking done with very little oil, and very little meat.

Our first meal was the classic Korean one-dish meal, Bibimbap, which is always served in a hot stone bowl. It is slightly sticky rice covered by neatly arranged toppings of vegetables.


Some of the side dishes are barely blanched bean sprouts, served with chives, kimchi, soba noodles, lettuce, and salty tiny tiny anchovies which I just loved.


Always lettuce and garlic in addition to the other accessories.


The first meal we actually ate sitting on the floor.


The tables were always equipped with some kind of cooking equipment.


On our free day for lunch we ate at a small restaurant in a food court. It was a bargain at $5.00 with enough food for 2 meals. So much preparation, that he motioned me to sit down, as it took about 15 minutes to prepare. In the picture, 5,000


The man cooking the meal


The main dish was cooked pork slices, with a little spicy sauce.


I was really surprised how much I liked the tiny little fish. I brought a small bag back for Mark.


We tried some of this interesting fruit from an outdoor market.


The one food I didn’t care for was the seaweed soup. Perhaps an acquired taste.


The fried fish was tasty!


The barbecued squid was chewy, and quite delicious.


Interesting to see him use the small torch to speed up the process.


Our last meal was chicken, spaghetti noodle soup. Inside the chicken was a ball of rice. You basically pulled the chicken apart and ate with the chopsticks, and sipped the broth with the spoon. A couple of Mark’s co-workers ate it all including all the bones!


With all the food that was available we were pleasantly stuffed after each meal, which was good, as no dessert was served. The island is full of orange groves so lots of fruit to purchase.


As you can see, I was fascinated with all the food, as that is just some of my pictures.

The story of Jeju Island

I was very thankful to be sitting by Patchara (Thailand) on the bus, since all the tours were spoken in Chinese. She did a great job interpreting for me what the tour guide was saying to everyone else.

First, the three things the island doesn’t have,

thieves, beggars, and gates and locks on their homes

Second, the three things that the island has plenty of,

rocks, wind, and women

You will see from the following pictures the wind that blew while we hiked almost 600 steps to the top of “Sunrise Peak” – “Seongsan Illochulbong”. The world’s largest crater, named after watching the sunrise after climbing about 25 minutes to reach the summit.

This picture was taken on the first day with my traveling buddies.

Patchara, Paweena, Christy, Joan


The plan was to climb to the top.


The sky was threatening rain, but luckily it held off while we hiked.


Can anyone read this?


Notice my hair!!! from the wind.


This really was the windiest day I have ever experienced. I am standing beside Jasmine who I hadn’t seen in years.


I made it to the top. An amazing experience to be cool from the wind, but still be sweating because of the humidity.


The walkways and steps were narrow, and crowded.


Beautiful scenery


I made it all the way up and down.


I found Jeju to be a very clean, and quiet city. We were told that the island does not have any factories which would explain the clean air.

Needless to say I saw and felt lots of wind, saw many, many rocks, and I think the story of more women is that many men are lost at sea fishing.

I loved Cheju Island South Korea

Jeju Island (제주도,濟州島) [1], formerly Cheju Island, is an island off the southern coast of South Korea, in the Korea Strait, and more recently Korea’s first and only Special Autonomous Province. Its capital is Jeju City.

Hallasan in Jeju Province.

Hallasan in Jeju Province.

Jeju dol hareubang aka the

Jeju dol hareubang aka the “grandfather statues”.

Jeju Island, also known as the “Island of the Gods,” is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners. It remains the top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds, and is also regarded as one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. Despite attempts to market the island as “the Hawaii of Korea,” climatologically and geographically it bears little in similarity to the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. (Wikitravel)

The island really didn’t remind me of Hawaii, with one of the big reasons being, the whole four days we traveled around I only saw one other “white” couple. Amazing!! I got lots of smiles from the many, many Chinese tourists along with groups of Japanese tourists. Our tour guide did not speak English, but I did find out that not many Americans visit the island. A few brave Korean school children said “hello” as I walked by. So, needless to say not many people spoke English which led to  an interesting day of shopping on our last day, which I will also tell you about.

The reason this location was picked for Mark’s company trip was the flight is just two hours from Beijing, and Chinese tourists do not require a visa to travel there.

It is a beautiful island with the beaches consisting of black hard volcanic lava.

We visited many of the beautiful natural sites the island had to offer.

This is a beautiful waterfall which was our first stop on the trip.


There were many many tourists playing on the rocks below.


Then on to Daepo Jusangjeollia, which has rocks rising from the water in polygonal columns. It occurred from the rapid cooling and contractions of the rock.

We went to see this site right after arriving as the forecast was calling for rain the next day.



Over the next few days I will share pictures of the many excursions we took. I will tell you how popular cosmetic surgery is in Korea, along with the most cosmetic shops I have ever seen. I will share 3 things the island has and 3 things the island doesn’t have. I must say that I really, really enjoyed the Korean food, more than I thought I would, with pictures to go along with that theme.

“Miss” Joan teaches about family

I just received some pictures from Heidi from our first class. Heidi and I have the beginner class with 10 students, while another teacher who is from the US. has the advanced class with 4 students. During our 3 hour class we get together for games and songs.

You can tell from the happy faces that the students enjoyed the game.


I must have been planning my strategy!!


I taught a couple songs to the combined class.” Twinkle Twinkle little star” which was easy for them since they knew the Chinese version. Also “Days of the Week” from my TK class, which will need some practice.

You can see that the other classroom is much bigger. I like my cozy little room.


Here I am teaching the terms, older and younger sister and brother.


Even the boys enjoyed looking at the wedding photos of Laura and Patricia.


I will miss the class next week as I will be on a trip with Mark’s company to the island of Cheju which is off the southern tip of South Korea. There will be a group of 50 of us going, but unfortunately Mark will not be accompanying me :(

He had another meeting come up for Mongolia which he has to attend. I debated just staying here in Beijing, but after talking to  Mark and some of his co-workers, I decided that I would tag along with the group. The four day trip is full of sightseeing with all planned excursions, and the meals are taken care of each day.   I know a few of the women and Tom our driver is going, so I think I will feel secure.  Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to use my Ipad  while on the trip. Time to go as Mark and I are going to the bank to get some Korean money as I am sure I will pick up a few souvenirs.