Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Our First Visitors!


About a month ago we found out the Meaghan Brady, the daughter of our neighbors from Portland was living in Nanjing in the Jiangsu Province . While Meaghan was home from college the summer we were in Portland, she used to babysit Gemma. Meaghan, her boyfriend Jeff, his uncle and aunt Bob and Darcy came to Sichuan to do a little exploring.


We had a great time with them while they were in Chengdu. They stay with us on their way to explore Emei Shan and Leshan Dafo and stayed with us on their way back to Nanjing. We were able to introduce them to the Sichuan style of cooking by taking them to a traditional Sichuan restaurant and also the Sichuan famous hot pot. We had such a great visit with them and had the pleasure of meeting Jeff, Bob and Darcy.


We also had the pleasure of having a little chiropractory done to our neck and back while they were visiting. Jeff's Uncle Bob is a chiropractor in Hawaii and we were able to be adjusted while they stayed with us. I have never had this done, but I have to say I loved the results! I have been sleeping like a baby ever since my adjustment. Now to find a Chinese equivalent...


11 Days!

In 11 short days Gemma, Angus and I will be on an Air China flight from Chengdu to Phoenix! I can hardly contain myself! I don't even care about the fact that I will be trekking half way around the world with a 4 year old and 2 year old! I just can't wait to see my friends! Whoopeeeee!!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006



Sunday we decided to do a little day trip to Leshan, home of the Dafo. The Dafo is listed in the Rough Guide to China as a must see and is also a UNESCO site. I have to agree I totally agree with that, if not for the Buddha, but for the beautiful park the Buddha sits in.


We did a ton of walking and most of the walking was up and down stairs. We couldn't take the stroller with us so Angus was on Jonny's shoulders most of the time. Gemma was an absolute trooper and probably walked 5 miles! She did fall once and scrape her shin, but she was a star!


Crouching Tiger, Little Dragon?


We were pleasantly surprised by all of the beautiful scenary in the park. They had a little koi pond and sold fish food so we could feed the fish. Here we are trying to get the fish to jump out of the water to get their food.


We unfortunately didn't get a chance to see the entire Buddha, just his head. There was a huge line to get down to his feet, but we thought it would take more than an hour to do so. We knew we would be back, so we just took a few snap shops of his head. Everyone was trying to touch the Buddha's ear for some reason, I decided to give him some lip service!


Gemma and Mommy with the Buddha.


Angus doing his best impression of a Chinese man! Most Chinese people just squat where ever they are when they are tired. I have seen people hope on the escalator at the supermarket and just immediately squat. I find this position quite uncomfortable, but obviously Angus doesn't mind.


Here is a picture of Gemma and Jonny with a statue of the sculptor and monk, Haitong who created the Dafo. Haitong began the project in 713 AD to protect passing boats from danger. The monk lived in a cave behind Dafo's head and when a local official threatened to blind Haitong unless he could take a cut of the funds, the monk gouged his own eyes out to prove his sincerity. The project was only completed in AD 803 after his death.


Here is Jonny and the kids in a traditional Chinese door called a moon gate.


Here are just a few pictures of the beautiful scenary inside the park. I am definitely coming back again!



Notice the look on Jonny's face as Angus pulls his ears!


There was also another Buddha carved in the opposite side of the mountain from Dafo. It is called the Sleeping Buddha and is 170 feet long. When Jonny went to work today he told some of his Chinese co-workers about this and they said that it didn't exsist. I clearly saw it and I think you will be able to see the Buddha's face. Remember he is sleeping, so his head is sideways.


Here was one of the beautiful temples inside the park.


A family shot!

I have to say this was the best site seeing trip I have taken so far in China. I will definitely be bringing friends and family to this place. There are tons of photo opportunities and it feels very Chinese, but without the spitting and smoking!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Happiness is...Familiar Western things with a China flare!

Since we are finally over our jet lag I decided it was time to get in a better routine than we have been since we arrived in Chengdu. We decided to hire another part-time ayi to help Xiao Yang with the cleaning since she doesn't get much done with Angus in tow anymore. Xiao Sun prepares Jonny's breakfast and does most of the cleaning while Xiao Yang watches the kids when I am out running errands and is my personal sous chef. So far it is working out good! Jonny wasn't exactly that keen about the idea, but I think he is more happy now that he has his coffee and breakfast waiting for him when he comes down the stairs.

My Chinese teacher cancelled my lesson on Tuesday, so Angus and I have the morning free since Xiao Yang wasn't coming until 12. We had heard that there was a Gymboree that open here and Chengdu so we hopped in the van and went to find it. For those of you that are not familiar with Gymboree it is a expensive play, music, and art program for kids birth to age 5. Gemma went for a couple years and really enjoyed it. We arrived about 30 minutes later and went up to the 7th floor of one of the many department here in Chengdu. I was so thrilled when I saw the sign in big colorful letters "GYMBOREE". I was so excited I could hardly wait to see Gymbo the Clown (Gymboree's mascot)! We walked in and it was brand new and extremely nice. I quickly signed both Gemma and Angus up for 2 classes a piece. I was thinking that I would be getting China prices to, but no such luck. It was still as expensive if not more than in the US. I figured that it was worth it since there is not much for the kids to do in Chengdu.

So far there are 60 kids enrolled, mostly Chinese and Koreans and I have recruited 3 other North American families to go. Maybe they will give me a marketing job and my kids will get a student discount! Gemma starts her art class this evening with two of her classmates from QSI. We will let you know how it goes.

Another fabulous Western find for the week was a new restaurant called Hot Spot. Hot Spot is a pseudo-Japanese-Chinese fusion restaurant with the big teppan tables. The tables are U-shaped and very funky compared to the plain rectangular tables we have been to previously in the US. They also have a very fab menu which includes everything from goose liver to steak to chicken to prawns. We ordered Thai-styled prawns, steak, chicken, beef roll (enoki mushrooms, red onions, wrapped in a thin slice of steak), bean sprouts, Chinese greens with mushrooms, and fried rice. The only negative thing I have to say about this place was in true Chinese fashion the vegetarian menu was not really vegetarian, which was unfortunate because the woman who arrange to go there was a vegetarian. So when we had our bean sprouts there was a little bit of bacon and also in the Chinese veggies they put a bit of pork.

I have even heard there is an IKEA type store that recently opened, so I will have to go and check that out sometime soon! My new hometown is really shaping up!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Back in Chengdu

We returned from Northern Ireland last Saturday in one piece. We missed our connecting flight in London (Heathrow) and were re-routed through Hong Kong. I would start a rant about Heathrow, but I don't have the energy to type. One suggestion, if you ever go to or through London please talk to me first before you book your tickets, it may save you the headache that we experience almost every time we fly into that joint! It took us an extra 6 hours to get home, but luckily we still got home the same day we were suppose to. I have had a horrible time with jet lag, but Jonny and the kids are doing pretty good. We are trying to get in a better routine here in the Du and I think I have been successful.

Thanks to everyone who sent their kind words, thoughts, and prayers. We really appreciated the support, it meant alot to us. Things are going alright with our family and we look forward to getting back to Northern Ireland again in August.

Gemma, Angus and I will be leaving for the U.S. on July 10th! We are really looking forward to seeing our friends and family!