China Family

Hello all– More of our recent travels (If you are absolutely bored by other people’s trip photos, you might just want to skip this post!!).  We had an exciting eventful couple weeks traveling with our kids, Ani, Brian and Little Lois to China, Hong Kong and Japan!  We started off in China, visiting our son-in-law Brian’s extended family there.  Such warm, kind people.  Here’s our China stay…

The first morning 18 month old Lois met up with her 100 year old Great Grandmother.

And the most fascinating part of the trip for me was wandering into the now mostly abandoned village with Brian’s Dad, Kai and his sister, who had grown up there.  Kai showed us the well, where they drew their water and we peeked through the now empty places that were his home.



You know we had plenty to eat along the way!  Brian’s family were so generous and we shared some lovely meals together.


And our last day together we strolled through the along the river and through the city park.


So thankful that we had the chance to meet the Brian and Kai’s warm and welcoming family.  I’m hoping they come to California one day so we can care for them like they took such good care of us.  (photo: Brian’s aunt and Little Lois hit it off!)

Yak Stew (or lunch in China)

Hello all– I was rummaging through some old photos and came upon this day we stopped in a small village in the interior of China for lunch.  Not just any lunch, but yak stew.  And it was surprisingly delicious!

We were visiting Ted & Luanne (my sis and her husband at the time) who lived some miles down the mountain road.  They took us on a countryside tour that couldn’t have been more intriguing and gorgeous– photos by the Yangtze River, visiting the home of an early British explorer and passing luscious fields of cabbages and water buffalo on farm after farm.

And for lunch there was yak.

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photos:  My Larry, Ted and our travel buddies heading into the restaurant, the noted Yak Stew,  and other bright fresh dishes to finish it off…

And there were other fascinating people and things to be seen in town:
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A walk along the stone streets, courtyard door, outdoor lunch prep on laundry day.

The mountains above
View across the rooftops.

Neighborhood ladies resting in a courtyard of the pharmacy.


Thanks Ted and Lu for the marvelous memorable days with you in China.  Wouldn’t it be remarkable to do it all again? xox

Sledding through the Bamboo Forest


Hey there–  Last summer we drove up into the mountains outside of Shanghai to a lush bamboo forest.  The whole time we were hiking up that mountain trail amid the bamboo, I was eyeing the sleds on rails that sliced down the mountain.  Being the coward that I admittedly am, I was secretly thinking, “Glad we’re not planning to have that little adventure!”  BUT, wouldn’t you know it, that is exactly what happened!  Once we reached the peak it was all aboard the sleds for the trip down.  You can see how much I loved every minute!

IMG_3732Here I am, hanging on to the brakes for dear life!  It turned out to be more fun than I thought, in a scary sort of way…

IMG_2843     IMG_2844         We had other forest adventures– leaping across the lily pond on stepping stones.

IMG_2849     IMG_2850And winding our way up the first half of the mountain aboard an ox cart.

IMG_2854     IMG_2853Then there was some happy hiking (and maybe a little whining) on up the mountain.

IMG_2888     IMG_2892We loaded ourselves into the zippy sleds and set off back down (and I do mean down!).

IMG_2898     IMG_2902A little more exploring in the mountain stream, and across the bamboo bridge, and we set off for home…   Thanks Micah and Jodi for the big day out in the bamboo forrest!

IMG_2906It was a glorious, grand day together.  Can’t wait for more adventures ahead…

Great Eight in Shanghai

IMG_2902Hello friends– Back from two weeks with Micah, Jodi and the 3 grand-girls in Shanghai.  It was an exciting trip all around, but here are eight great memories of our trip…

IMG_2610     IMG_2664#1.  Seeing the family all lined up waiting at the airport–hugs all around!  #2.  Watching Micah and Jodi parent those girls– they know how to have fun together.

IMG_2785     IMG_2773#3.  Hiking, swimming and enjoying the cooler days in the bamboo forest of the mountains outside of Shanghai.

IMG_2974     IMG_2658#4.  Lots of high stakes UNO games- winner gets an M&M!!   #5.  Micah’s mail order science lessons in the afternoons with his girls.

IMG_3187     IMG_3384#6.  A morning at the fantastical mall playground– lots of bouncing, swinging, building fun for kids and their grandmas.  #7.  Watching Charlotte leap and twirl at her ballet lesson.

IMG_3031    IMG_2820    IMG_2651   #8.  Getting reacquainted with with the 3 bright and bouncy grand-girls and hopefully making memories for them of their time with grandma and grandpa.

Thanks Micah and Jodi for all the good talks, the intriguing meals, the outings to so many interesting places, and all that girl fun.  It was a wonderful stay that we’ll never forget!!

Streets of Lijiang, China

IMG_5426Hi there–  I’ll admit I’m a little envious.  My mom is off visiting my sis in Lijiang and it’s left me wishing I could have tagged along.  We were there last summer, wandering over canals and cobbled streets in the old town, sitting down to a plate of yak for lunch and sampling the green onion pancakes from street vendors…  So I pulled up our travel pics- Here are a few:

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The houses sit perched over winding canals connected by stone bridges and streets paved with huge blocks of stone.

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Bicycle delivery men– the first is headed to a restaurant with his load of vegetables and a whole pig tied to the top.  And right is the wagon full of blocks of coal used for heating.

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Old gentlemen sit in the afternoon sun on the plaza and a friendly grandma lets me take her photo with her grand baby in the market.


Red buckets stand ready by the canal for the fire brigade in case of fire.  And a jeweler plies his trade on  an anvil in front of this shop.



Here’s my mom and my sister last summer on their way to the wet market, basket in hand.  I hope you two are having a grand visit this time around as well.  Wish I could drop in and spend a day wit you!

Street Food in Lijiang, China

IMG_1048Food vendor in the open market prepares food with her child in tow.

Hi there–  I’m of a mind that on vacation, you should eat several times a day.  I mean breakfast, lunch and dinner just aren’t enough to sample all the intriguing, potentially  delicious things that are out there. So I’m all for a mid morning pastry in Paris or a afternoon tapa break in Barcelona.  And ice cream I’ll eat any time of day.

So imagine my delight to find the abundance of street food possibilities when we visited the town of Lijiang in south central China.  It’s a beautiful town of winding stone streets, flowing canals and dozens of foot bridges.

Back in Lijang-- taffy pullerIMG_5580

A man in the plaza pulls taffy hung on a post at a candy shop.  And an early morning vender sets out colorful balls filled with rice, corn on the cob, onion pancakes…

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Several varieties of soups sit out on little individual hot plates ready to be tasted.  And a man sells hard cooked quail eggs from under a large pile of rice.

IMG_5375     Street food stands

I picked up a plate of my favorite green onion pancakes and strolled down the stone street lined with vendors selling skewers of meats, fried lotus root (yumm), moon cakes, noodles and stir fried tofu…  and so many foods I couldn’t identify.  It was a fascinating morning of culinary curiosities.


Mushroom Stew–A Lunch in China

IMG_1385Hi friends– Looking through summer photos last night and came upon this memorable lunch in a small village overlooking the Yangtze River.  Our Chinese friend Thomas, loaded us into his little van for a day up higher into the mountains over the Yangtze.  Midday we stopped for our lunch with a view and a big pot of mushroom stew.

IMG_1372We were greeted at the front window by the cook, attending her wok.  Notice the hole under the window for feeding logs into the fire.  The window out the back had views down the hills to the river.

IMG_5790  IMG_1374  IMG_5802Here ‘s a view of the kitchen and one of the ample bags of dried mushrooms ready for the wok.  Once the table was laid, Thomas and his young cousin, fill their rice bowls.

IMG_5797  Pork and Tofu Soup for lunchThomas poured the thermos full of scalding water over the tea leaves and filled our cups.  And after a wait while the stew was being stirred up in the wok, our lunch arrived on the table– mushrooms, tofu and pork– with rice, ginger, and chili spices to add in.

IMG_5796We ate our fill and chatted while we looked out over the rooftops and down to the brown waters of the Yangtze.  It was a lunch I won’t forget.  Thanks Thomas.

China Countryside

Hi traveling friends– Looking back at our China pics today and I can scarcely believe we were in such a place, seemingly removed to a different time.  That afternoon we trundled in our little van past field and farm on roads scarcely wide enough to navigate.  I’d love to spend a week exploring those rutted roads…

We came across a Chinese grandma who forages for mushrooms and sells them alongside the road.

…And passed field after field of tidy crops, tended by hand.  A tiny part of the vast farmland that feeds China’s billion and a half people.

Farmers used the highway to guide their livestock to the fields.

And crops are transported in the ubiquitous baskets, found in the towns on the back of shoppers in the markets and on the workers who harvest in the fields. Pack horses and water buffalo (my personal favorites) do their share as well.

We looked down on rice paddies spilling down to the banks of the silt filled Yangtze
River as we jostled and bumped along.

Thanks to Thomas who ferried us past village farms and fertile fields, with stops to pick wild flowers and examine the growing produce.  It was quite a day…

Good Morning Lijang

Green tea in a well seasoned little pot, along with mango juice and “churros.”

Hi all– One morning in Lijang, we set out in search of breakfast and were hailed by a shop owner waving people into his place.  We could see the cook preparing green onion pancakes in the doorway and the stack of Chinese “churros” nearby, so in we went!

We slipped by the griddle of frying green onion pancakes to find a sun drenched table, with a kitten sitting nearby on the window sill to keep us company.

Not exactly health food, but it was oh so yummy, and a quiet start to our day ahead exploring the mountain villages of Yunan…


Noodles and Dumplings in China

Hi friends–  One evening in China, my sis said, “Let’s walk over to the next village for a noodle dinner.”  So off we set–over a kilometer, past the canal and the homes with garden patches, past the woman leading her grazing water buffalo home for the night– to the noodle shop of a Chinese friend.

We stepped inside, anticipating noodles, dumplings cooked up on the spot.

And watched our dinner being stirred up in the wok.

There were hot noodles gently spiced and garnished with unidentifiable green bits.

And savory dumplings in a hot well spiced broth.

Thanks Luanne and Ted for inviting us along for a homey dinner in your quiet corner of China.  It was just great– We loved our time there with you.

Wet Market in Lijang, China

Our first morning in Lijang, we set off with my sister Luanne to the “wet market,” through winding alleyways to stall after stall of — fruits and vegetables, meat and spices…

First stop, the herb counter for Lulu to pick up a small bag of lavender.

There were so many vegetables I had never met before.  I’d like to buy a basket full and take them to a Chinese friend to cook up for us…

There were dozens and dozens of varieties of dried and fresh mushrooms, some fungi as big as my head!

We browsed past the copper smith’s stalls– rows of beautifully burnished pots and ladles,

…and on by the potter’s tables of pitchers and pots.

There were varieties of fruit, familiar and brand new to me.

And I studied tables of bright peppers and every color of pickled vegetables.

There were eggs, hen, duck and quail…

Fresh meat and all kinds of cooked fowl…

Midday even the vendors stopped for a bit of lunch as they tended their stalls.

We took home a small bag of these– just to find out what they were.  The thick peel comes off to reveal little slimy while globes, tasting a bit like super juicy strawberries.

It was a fine, full morning ambling through the market with my Mom and sis.  A feast for the eyes as well as the shopping basket.

China Road by Rob Gifford

Hi Friends– I just finished reading China Road, a Journey into the Future of a Rising Power  by Rob Gifford on the plane coming home from our trip to China.  Gifford has lived in China many of the last 20 years and was the NPR Beijing correspondent his last 6 years there.  So when his job moved him to London, he packed his wife and small children off ahead and set out on a 3000 mile, 2 month journey across Road 312 from Shanghai to Kazakhstan, hitchhiking, riding trains, trucks and taxis…  The result is a most insightful and completely engaging report of his journey.

Gifford speaks fluent Mandrin and the book is structured around his conversations with truck drivers, family planning officials, prostitutes, salesmen, cooks, HIV patients, minorities… he encounters along the way.  He talks with farmers who lament their meager incomes shrinking even smaller due to water shortages and rising taxes.  He meets with a hip Shanghai talk show host who reports, “morality–a sense of what’s right and wrong–doesn’t matter anymore”.  He talks with Amway salesmen who have great hopes for a prosperous future and observes western ethnic minorities who tearfully send their children off to high schools in the east of China to give them a better life.

These conversations allow Gifford to launch off into his extremely insightful analysis of some of China’s major problems and accomplishments–  the unlikelyhood of democracy, the changing morality, the rapidly growing wealth of the middle class as opposed to 750 million impoverished farmers.  He does a fine job summing up his thinking in the end of the book.

Gifford, incidental to the book, is a Christian and references observations of early Christian missionaries about China and even unexpectedly delivers a sermon of sorts when he visits a Chinese country church.  He estimates that there are at least 75 million Christians in China, 70 million communist party members.

I’ve stayed in 4 different areas of China now over 9 visits.  And along the way read a pile of books about China. But China Road is by far the most lucid, honest, engaging, worthwhile book I’ve come across. I would happily recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the people, history and place in the world of China.  Super book!