Little Duan Duan

After waiting for over a year, Mark and I finally made the trip to Xian to meet Simon and Wendy’s son Duan Duan. He is a cutey, and a very busy little boy.


He likes to eat watermelon.


He loves to dance, and listen to music.

Simon’s two brothers, mom, sister in law and niece.


Simon and Wendy recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary.


We went out for a delicious lunch, which was close to Simon’s home so we were able to walk there.  Duan Duan who is 16 months old loves to walk, run, push a stroller, and wave .

Mark and I had a great time visiting with both Simon and Wendy’s family.


Let’s do the Hokey Pokey!

On Wednesday we had a small Halloween Party and played a few games.

The students learned how to do the “Hokey Pokey”.



You can see Larry enjoyed the activity. The weather has turned cold, and with no heat until November 15, we thought the song would warm the students up. We all wore our coats in the classroom, as I think it was in the 50’s.

This was the first time my students played “Simon Says”.



I thought David from the advanced class did a great job, with “Simon Says”.

Food and Souvenirs from Tianjin

Stella took us to a couple Chinese Restaurants that served delicious food. I think this is the most colorful dish I have ever experienced, and it tasted great.


Stella and I picked out these shell fish, which contained small pieces of fish that tasted similar to scallops.


The biggest snails I have ever eaten. We picked them out while they were still crawling around, so I wasn’t quite sure if I would like them. They were chewy but good. They put the shells on the plate, so you can see that they cooked them all. The meat is laying beside the shells.


The steamed “flounder” fish was scrumptious.


We just looked at this sausage in the restaurant mall. Rare to see in China, especially this big.


This is a local sweet treat made with rice powder. It is cooked in the wooden holder, placed on a the tortilla and topped with jam.


Stella and her dad at the entrance to the Tianjin traditional shopping street.


We stopped at the well known pottery shop.


Stella’s dad purchased this cute little statue set for me. The tradition is that your host buys the first souvenir while visiting. This set reminded me of the story of the “Big Pumpkin”

little people

A trip to Tianjin

On Saturday Mark and I met Stella at school and took a taxi to the South Beijing Railway Station, to board the high speed train to Tianjin which is 137 kilometers from Beijing.

Tianjin is located in Northern China along the coast of the Bohai Gulf, a fast 30 minute ride on the train. Surrounded by Hebei on all directions except for the sea and is bordered by Beijing to the northwest, it lies at the northern end of the Grand Canal of China, which connects with the Yellow River and Yangtze River. The municipality is generally flat, and swampy near the coast, but hilly in the far north, where the Yan Mountains intrude into northern Tianjin. (Wikipedia) It is the sixth largest city in China.

The Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway (simplified Chinese: 京津城际铁路; traditional Chinese: 京津城際鐵路; pinyin: Jīng-Jīn chéngjì tiělù) is a high-speed rail, passenger-dedicated line between Beijing and Tianjin in China. The 117 km line was built to accommodate trains traveling at a maximum speed of 350 km/h (217 mph), and currently carries CRH high-speed trains running speeds up to 330 km/h (205 mph). When the line opened on August 1, 2008, it set the record for the fastest conventional train service in the world by top speed, and reduced travel time between the two largest cities in northern China from 70 to 30 minutes. (Wikipedia)

Stella and I at the Beijing train station.


The station was filled with many people with trains leaving all the time.


The windows are cleaned each time the train enters the station.


We purchased the business class tickets, so the seats were comfy and our compartment at the very back on the train was quiet.


Tianjin was the second port city after Hong Kong, and before Shanghai so many European influences with the architecture. It is absolutely beautiful and at times forgot I was still in China.


An old car on display on the sidewalk.


This is the university where Stella studied to get her degree. She told us stories of living in the first year dormitory with 8 girls in one room, on 4 bunk beds with no privacy at all. The bathroom and showers for the hundred people on each floor were at the end of the hall. It wasn’t much fun standing in line to wait your turn to shower, and being on the 20th floor with no AC in the hot hot summers. After the first year, there were only 6 girls to a room.  Once again I realized how fortunate  we are with our schools in Canada and the US.


We strolled past this church, which is still in service.



Tomorrow the shopping and the food.

“Ear candling”

I heard about “ear candling” from my sisters in Canada years ago, and Mark had it done once when he lived in Jincheng. A new spa opened close to our apartment so Mark and I thought we would give it a try.

After we went I looked it up on the internet to explain the process.

“Ear candling,” also known as auricular candling or coning, refers to various procedures that involve placing a cone-shaped device in the ear canal and supposedly extracting earwax and other impurities with the help of smoke or a burning wick. The origins of candling are obscure. Ancient Tibet, China, Egypt, the pre-Columbian Americas, and even the mythical city of Atlantis are cited as possible contributors. The procedures supposedly create a low-level vacuum that draws wax and other debris out of the ear canal. Some proponents even claim that impurities are removed from the inner ear, the facial sinuses, or even the brain itself, all of which are somehow connected to the canal. Proponents claim that candling can:

  • relieve sinus pressure and pain
  • cleanse the ear canal
  • improve hearing
  • assist lymphatic circulation
  • regulate pressure
  • purify the mind
  • strengthen the brain
  • relieve pain and fever associated with a ruptured eardrum
  • cure swimmer’s ear and other ear infections
  • relieve earaches
  • act as an alternative to “tubes put in your ears”
  • sharpen the senses of smell, taste, and color perception
  • stabilize emotions
  • stop tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • help TMJ pain and stiffness
  • relieve vertigo
  • fortify the central nervous system
  • clear the eyes,
  • purify the blood,
  • act as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, or antibiotic
  • cure Meniere’s syndrome
  • aid sinusitis
  • release blocked energy
  • reduce stress and tension
  • cure auricular zona (a herpes zoster infection of the ear)
  • open and align the chakras
  • open the spiritual centers and cleanse the auric bodies.

How is Ear Candling Done?

Ear candling requires the use of ear candles. Ear candles are made of cotton or linen that’s wound into a cone shape, soaked in wax, and then allowed to harden.

This hollow candle is inserted through a hole in a plate specially designed to collect wax, and placed into the external ear canal. The candle is lit at the opposite end.

Proponents of ear candling claim that this creates a low-level vacuum that draws ear wax and other debris out of the ear and into the hollow candle. After the procedure, a dark, waxy substance is usually left in the stub of the candle.

Many people find it to be a satisfying procedure, because they are told that the dark waxy mass they see is a combination of ear wax and debris.

Proponents of ear candling claim that it can help to remove ear wax and debris from the ear and facial sinuses. The external ear canal, however, is not continuous with the middle ear, sinuses, Eustachian tube, and nasal passages when the ear drum (tympanic membrane) is normal and intact.

Other manufacturers claim that smoke from the burning candles dries out the ear canal and stimulates the body’s natural excretion of wax and dead cells, pollen, mold, parasites, and other debris. Taken from Google.

It was an interesting  and enjoyable experience for me. Before the candle is used I received a facial massage where  she used moderate pressure on the areas near my nose and ears. Since you are lying on your side it is difficult to actually see what is done, but I could see the light from the candle and  feel warmth in my ear, and hear the beautiful crackling sound. She continues to massage around your ear while the candle is burning.

Afterwards I felt great, so I am glad that I gave it a try. Wouldn’t it be great if it could actually strengthen your brain! For years I have had a small problem with my sinuses and my lack of smell, which really is okay living here in China. But now my breathing/smelling passages seem clearer. I don’t know if that is due to the candling or the the pressured facial massage.  I should say that Mark really didn’t notice any difference afterwards.

I have no idea who this person in the photo is, but couldn’t get over the resemblance to myself.

Yesterday I taught my first English lesson to the employees in our apartment. There were about 15 young people in attendance, only 3 women, with the majority being the guards who patrol our building.

They learned how to say their name, age, where they are from, and different rooms in the apartments. It was fun walking around and I could tell that 3 of the guards knew more English, so I had a short conversation with each of them. After the class was finished they all stood up and saluted me… a new and gratifying experience.

I think next week, I will talk about different forms of transportation, cars, taxis, bikes. I have a book that shows different makes of cars which I think all the young men will like, as there are many expensive cars at our apartment.

Learning about clothes

This week the students learned about clothes. I packed a bag of 20 items of clothing, to share with the students. Linda (beside me that I met last week) came along to help with the teaching.


Surprisingly the boys liked my pink head band the best. Alex and Larry tried it on.


I think Larry is feeling a little stressed. (You just got to love him)


Then I read the story, “The Big Pumpkin” which was one of my favorites when I was teaching TK. (Thanks Connie for sending it to me)


Look at all those interested faces when they probably couldn’t understand many of the words. Thanks for my ELL (ESL) training, the students can understand with lots of body actions.


They loved the story and I will read it again next week, when we have a Halloween party.

A couple weeks ago, Annie the director filmed the class singing Row Row Row your Boat,  and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Yesterday I spent an hour with Nicole and Leo (guard) in the lobby practicing their English, which was fun. This morning when I returned from swimming, Shirley one of the managers at the apartment stopped to talk with me. Nicole had told her about my teaching so she asked if I would teach all the workers in the apartment once a week for an hour. So, I start this afternoon with a group of maybe 10 workers. Shirley said she would give me the teaching material which will be common words for the workers to know. She also wondered if I would be interested in teaching some of the children in the apartment and how much I would charge for that!! I told her I had no idea what to charge, so she was going to see how many children are interested. Will wait to see what happens with that idea. I told her the schedule would have to be flexible for when I travel, and that I would be going home in one month. No problem, she said. Will let you know how it goes.

My cute little couple

Yesterday, a friend and I went shopping at the 798 Shopping District. Tom was busy so we had to get around in a taxi. Since I know how to say my numbers, it was easy to tell the taxi driver where to take us in Beijing. And we actually got there without any problems. I was looking for a couple statute to put on my coffee table.

And with these, I can move them around.

When making the deal, he did not give me a discount, but I understood what he was saying without showing me a calculator to show me the amount. Yahoo!

The Ants Go Marching

Last week, I was tired out after teaching this song for 20 minutes. I went over verse one a few times, and then got to the fourth verse, so we will finish this week.


We practiced raising our arm and shouting “Hurrah, hurrah” as I said Americans like to do that. Below is the first two verses for friends who are not familiar with the song.

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two,
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!


They all caught on and started to do it.


The ants go marching 2 by 2, the little one stops to tie his shoe. (That is what I am doing)


Alyson is in the advanced class.

singing Ants Alyson

David is in the advanced class.

singing Ants david

We played hangman guessing game, which they all enjoyed. Including me at the back.

singing Ants. whole class

The class singing “The Ants go Marching” Listen to those voices, and watch Larry up in the front row, with the black sweater on.

Head and Shoulders

Last week the students learned about the parts of  the body.


A great opportunity to teach the students, “head and shoulders”.


Larry who slept last week, was on fire and suggested we go outside to practice.  Here is a great photo of my class. They were all given English names by the other teacher, so here they are.

In back row from left, Nicole, Jake, Larry, Sam, Lisa

Front row from left, Alex, Gerry, Joe, Daniel, Emily


What a drill sergeant I was, when we practiced “touch your head”


Larry learned the rhyme the quickest and was easily coaxed to come up front to show the rest. (I thought everyone was doing it, along with us)


He did a great job, and was happy.


Just the girls.


I think they all know where their ears are.


I haven’t talked in such a loud voice for a long time, and after this we joined the other group, and sang “The ant’s go marching”. (Tomorrow)

Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park (also known as Coal Hill or Prospect Hill)
JingShan Park (S

Jingshan Park
One of the peaks of the Jingshan
Type Urban park
Location Beijing, China
Coordinates 39°55′25″N 116°23′26″ECoordinates: 39°55′25″N 116°23′26″E
Area 0.23 km2 (0.089 sq mi)

Paifang in the Jingshan

Jingshan (Chinese: 景山; pinyin: Jǐngshān; literally “Prospect Hill”) is an artificial hill in Beijing, China. Covering an area of more than 230,000 m², Jingshan is immediately north of the Forbidden City on the central axis of Beijing. Originally an imperial garden, it is now a public park, known as Jingshan Park (景山公园).

The 45.7-metre high artificial hill was constructed in the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty entirely from the soil excavated in forming the moats of the Imperial Palace and nearby canals. It is especially impressive when one considers that all of this material was moved only by manual labor and animal power. Jingshan consists of five individual peaks, and on the top of each peak there lies an elaborate pavilion. These pavilions were used by officials for gathering and leisure purposes. These five peaks also draws the approximate historical axis of central Beijing.

According to the dictates of Feng Shui, it is favorable to site a residence to the south of a nearby hill (and it is also practical, gaining protection from chilly northern winds). The imperial palaces in the other capitals of previous dynasties were situated to the south of a hill. When the capital was moved to Beijing, no such hill existed at this location, so one was constructed. It is popularly known as Feng Shui Hill. It is also known as Coal Hill, a direct translation of its old popular Chinese name (Chinese: 煤山; pinyin: Méishān).

The last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen, committed suicide by hanging himself here in 1644.

Jingshan is especially a popular place for elderly people socializing and gathering. One can often find elderly folks dancing, singing opera and doing other cultural activities, such as kuai ban, at Jingshan.  Taken from Wikipedia

This was the first time for me to visit the park, but will not be the last. The cost of admission was 30 cents. The first time for me to see people exercising with a sword.


It was amazing to be able to look down and see the Forbidden City surrounded by the mote that the hill I was standing on was made from.


Directly to the north of the park is the Drum and Bell Tower.


Here is the sign that talks about the emperor’s suicide.


The new tree that replaced the old one.


The beautiful fruit trees and flowers at the base of the hill. You can see one of the pavilions on the top of the hill.


Tom said this was one of the clearest days that he has seen all year.

as made with the earth removed to create the palace moat.