Taylor Graduates!

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Lakewood High School Commencement 2012                                           Denver Colorado

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“As long as we have memories, yesterday remains.
As long as we have hope, tomorrow awaits.”
–Unknown

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Matt and I had a great time the whole trip. The drive was wonderful as the scenery between Utah and Colorado is amazing, being with family again was refreshing, and the food was delicious.
Edith (my mother-in-law), Matt

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I love my mother-in-law Edith and my extended family.

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Thais, Roland (parents of Taylor, and Mark’s youngest brother)

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I wish the best for Taylor while she attends Knox College in Illinois. I think she will feel close to home with the T-shirt quilt I made for her with all of her favorite shirts.

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Good Luck Taylor, in your new journey.

I believe in Preen

My flight home was smooth and on time, and it felt great to see the blue sky and smell the fresh air.
Patricia brought me home to Spanish Fork on Monday and was I thrilled to see my weedless flower beds. While at home in April I spent many hours weeding, and then covered the ground with Preen.

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It worked very well, as no weeds are visible, and I just about jumped for joy.

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Last year I spent many many hours pulling weeds from the following areas.

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This morning I spread Preen around again, and am thrilled to think of all the free time I am going to have to do fun things,instead of digging up weeds.
I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.
Matt and I are driving over to Denver to attend my niece’s high school graduation.
I really miss road trips while I am in China, so the thought of driving and just visiting is exciting for me. A few snacks along the way are always helpful.

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Mongolia: Home of Genghis Kahn

On this trip to Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mark and I stayed at the newly opened Sky Tower Hotel.

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I took the photo on the left. His office is just across the street right beside Sukhbaatar Square. In 1924 Mongolia was proclaimed a republic, so this date marks the birth of Modern Mongolia and a new era in the history of its people.

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This time while driving around UB, I noticed Genghis Khaan carved into the mountain side.

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Close to our hotel is the Zaisan Monument. It was built by the Russians to commemorate the “unknown soldiers and heroes” from various wars, and to represent peace with Mongolia.
Next time I hope to climb the 300 steps to the top, to view it up close, and also see UB.

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On this visit I learned that the Mongolian people love chocolate. In the few grocery stores that I shopped in, I noticed aisle after aisle of chocolate bars, candy, cookies, from all over the world.
The desserts that I tried were delicious, and such a nice change from just fruit in China.
I also learned that even in May the daily temperatures can make extreme changes in a few hours. I was hot yesterday as the temperature was around 82 F (28C) and this morning it was 37 F (3C), so I needed an extra sweater. I should be flying back to Beijing right now, but because of the wind our flight is delayed 8 hours. We hope to fly out tonight with any luck, so will just keep my fingers crossed.

What and Where?

I am traveling with Mark this week, and made this food purchase.

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I was so attracted to the sweet baby face.
Can you guess where I am, what kind of food it is, and from what country it is made?

Happy Mother’s Day

I would like to wish my dear mother, and mother-in-law a happy Mother’s Day.
Last year I was home for Patricia’s graduation, and was able to celebrate with both of them. This year I am in Beijing and happy to have Mark here with me for the day.

Xieman came over on Thursday and surprised me with a couple thoughtful gifts. Mother’s Day is a Western holiday but gaining popularity in China. I decided that I may as well have a little celebration with Xieman since my kids aren’t here, so I bought a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.

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A first for her and she loved the sweet desert. It did taste good.

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Mark and I will go out to eat and then for a foot massage.
I would like to wish my family and friends a very Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your family!

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The bike ride of a lifetime!

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” That’s a quote by famous American writer Mark Twain. I recently read an article in the China Daily that listed the top ten places to ride a bike in China. Beijing was on the list as most roads have designated cycling paths, which doesn’t stop the cars, motorcycles, buses, but it helps.
“If there is only one place city folks have time for, it should be Yangshuo, a small rustic city surrounded by scenic mountains and rivers. The best way to see the precinct is by cycling along the country roads.” (The China Daily)
We did just that, and it was beautiful.

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After the short ride in the city, it was wonderful to get out to the countryside. We rode along paths by the river, and into little villages.

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I had to stop and take this photo of all the toothbrushes in the open window. (Probably not the cleanest place for the brushes, so close to the dirt road.)

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Above the front door, is a mirror to frighten the ghosts away, and also a scissors, something sharp to hurt a ghost.

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We stopped at this women’s home where a few us of purchased the small fresh flower wreath for 30 cents. (2RMB)

She is wearing a rain coat that she made from palms from a palm tree, and she said it was waterproof.

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The flower people

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Our wonderful tour guides, Rebecca (upfront from Beijing), Lily from Guilin.

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In her back room we were shown her coffin. I learned that in the country when you are around 60 years old a coffin is made to your specifications, and is just stored in one of the rooms.

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Proof that I was riding a bike.

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Interesting sign along the roadside.

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We would just park our bike along the road to stop and see the homes.

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The whole group

Yangshuo groupThis concludes my wonderful trip to southern China.

Guilin, the mystery of Elephant Trunk Hill!

Guilin (Chinese: 桂林; pinyin: Guìlín; Zhuang: Gveilinz) is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of far southern China, sitting on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus“, owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. The city has long been renowned for its unique scenery. (Wikipedia)

Guilin is world famous for its amazing scenery, especially its karst mountains. The city of Guilin has five famous mountains that stand out in not only their beauty, but also their historic significance. The most famous is Elephant Trunk Hill. It is located where the Peach Blossom River empties into the Li River and is the symbol of Guilin. Its shape resembles an elephant drinking from the river.

Legend:
On the top of Elephant Trunk Hill sits a pagoda named Puxian Pagoda. It is 14-meter-high, and was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The pagoda looks like the hilt of a sword sticking out of the back of the elephant. There is a ancient legend surrounding it. In the ancient past, the Emperor of Heaven set out to conquer Earth commanding his troops from the back of the elephant. The elephant worked so hard to provide transportation for the Emperor of Heaven, that it became seriously ill. The local farmers nursed it back to health. The elephant being extremely grateful, decided to desert the emperor and stay on earth to help the farmers plow their fields during a time of famine. The Emperor of Heaven was so angry, that he thrust his sword into the elephant’s back and turned the elephant into the rocky hill. The pagoda erected on top of the hill stands for the hilt of the sword. Now this kindly elephant can forever stay with the friendly people of Guilin, guarding the city and welcoming guests from all over the world to this beautiful city. (Taken from China Odyssey Tours)
I was told of this legend of elephant hill, and how important it was to see while visiting Guilin. After dinner the first evening Rebecca, our wonderful tour guide, mentioned that she would take us to see the hill. Along the way we stopped to do some shopping, which took longer than we expected, but Rebecca was determined to find the site. She asked many different people for directions, but by the time we got there it was 9:00pm. so dark outside. It was so cute to watch her walk along the gate to try and get a look at the hill, and recite, “there it is in the middle”. Needless to say we could not see anything, and she felt bad that we had walked so far to find the park closed. So we settled for taking a picture out front.
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We returned to Guilin to fly home, and had some free time so we were told we could go up to the top of one of the pagodas to view the elephant hill. The actual park was a distance and they had raised the price because of the holiday weekend, so Patchara and I decided to check out the pagodas.
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We climbed the 7 flights of stairs of the first pagoda, and saw the mountain but were not able to see the elephant trunk!!! All that climbing for nothing!!
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We then went underground to go the next pagoda where there actually was an elevator. On display were statues to represent the Chinese horoscope, so here I am for the year of the rooster.
P1030390We took the elevator to the 7th floor and climbed the steps to top of the 9th floor, and saw the same mountain view.
Disappointment filled my sweaty body. I guess it is meant to be, that another trip to Guilin will need to be taken in the future to view the city’s most famous site.
For now I am thankful to google for the picture. ( I bet all of you are also).
elephant in Guilin

A raft ride down the Li River

Patchara and I decided to purchase a sun hat before getting on the raft.

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The river was absolutely stunning.

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Many of the raft drivers were having their morning nap!

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Patchara asked our driver to sing us a song. He then asked us if we thought the river was beautiful.

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It was very interesting to watch the drivers maneuver their rafts under the low bridge.

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I enjoyed watching the drivers twirl the long bamboo stalks to move the rafts down the river. The driver asked Patchara where I was  from. (Mei guo, USA)

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We could see ahead of us a small waterfall, that the rafts were being pulled up to go for a thrilling ride.

P1030326As you are going down the “waterfall”, you are asked to pose for the camera. In the short time it takes they took about 25 pictures that were up for sale. Our raft stopped so we could check out the photos to purchase for $3.00 each. We purchased the following photo.

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Who would have thought they could turn this little “thrill ride” into such a money maker.

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The 40 minute ride down the river was a trip to remember.

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Walk along the Li River

Yangshuo (阳朔; Yáng shuò) is a very scenic, small county and city surrounded by many karst mountains and beautiful scenery near Guilin, Guangxi. (Wikitravel)

This was another one of my favorite parts of the trip as everywhere you looked the scenery was fantastic.

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We walked along the river for a few hours feeling the heat of sun on our backs.

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These are the mountains that I had heard about for years and longed to see.

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We were able to see the locals working in their fields.

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We walked along the many rice fields.

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We saw a few water buffaloes walking down the path, and at work in the rice fields.

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Interesting just to stand and watch the farmer plow his field in bare feet.

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After walking for a few hours a few of us realized we did not see the rest of our group. Luckily we were with Rebecca, one of the tour guides who made a call to learn we had walked a log way past the turn off. The rest of the group was waiting for us to go for the river raft ride,so a van was sent to take us the rest of the way. We just got very distracted with all the natural beauty.

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Tomorrow the river raft ride!

The food the food in Southern China

I enjoyed some really tasty and unusual food on this trip.
I recently had read in the newspaper that in southern China, people still eat dogs and cats. While on our trip we were taken to a local market to buy cooking supplies for our cooking class, and we were shocked to hear that butchered cats and dogs could be purchased. We were allowed to walk around and see but were told NO pictures could be taken. Perhaps because the sale of these items is illegal.
The older people usually only eat cat in the winter to supplement their diet. The cat would be used in a (tiger) dish, while snake would be used in a (dragon) dish to fortify the body. In late December a southern newspaper reported about 4 million cats are eaten in China in a year, and the number is rising.
Most of the cat eaters are older people and old habits die hard. Cat dishes are rarely seen on the menus of restaurants downtown, and most young people do not eat them. A law enacted in 2007, states trade in cat meat is illegal. China has recently finished a draft on animal protection, and it is singled out as a punishable offense. (Taken from China Daily newspaper). />

Deep fried smelt fish
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Frogs for lunch! Many years ago I ate frog legs, but this was the first time to actually eat frog.

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Frog meat which was delicious

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Chicken that was cooked over a barbecue in bamboo stalks.

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Young bamboo lightly fried

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Monkey tail vegetable that Lily had picked on our walk to cook for lunch.

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All I could remember was that Patricia had monkey tails in her flower arrangements at her wedding.

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The cooked monkey tails which had a delicate taste.

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We didn’t eat any snake, but heard they use it in many dishes and drinks.

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Passion fruit wine which had a very strong taste.

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Cumquat fruit is in season

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Rat for dinner!!!!!

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Look at that big melon! This was the market that sold the cat and dog!

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Our cooking class, where we prepared, cooked and ate 3 dishes.

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The teacher

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My 3 dishes, eggplant in Yangshuo style, Beer fish which was delicious, chicken with cashew nuts.

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The setting was in an old farm house outside of town which was beautiful.

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