Archives For Asia

For my last trip to Asia, I was looking for the least expensive airfare I could find. The best rate had me going through Doha, Qatar, so I thought it would be nice to see a new country, and the trip was booked. My itinerary had me going from Doha, Qatar to Hyderabad, India. The flights went well, and so did my getting through customs in India, but that is when my travel plans fell apart! 

I arrived in Hyderabad at about 1:00 AM and made it through customs easily and reclaimed my luggage. To check in for my next flight, I had to go outside and up to a ground level floor, where I was stopped by armed military men. I told them that I had just arrived and needed to check in for my next flight. One man with a rifle and pistol took my itinerary and walked off. His partner told me to wait by the door, and the guy with my paperwork was gone for almost 30 minutes — and then my new day turned for the worse!

When the man with the guns and my itinerary returned, he told me that my flight didn’t exist! Then his partner took my itinerary and passport and went to the ticket counter for my alleged flight. I could see him the entire time, unlike the first man; and he came right back and told me to go to the ticket counter at 8:30 to get booked for their next flight to my next city of Visakhapatnam, India. Finally, I was given my passport and itinerary and allowed to enter the airport!

My first stop was to the ticket counter, and they told me that my flight never existed, and they didn’t know how my travel agent booked the flight. I asked for their next flight, which was at about noon, so I had a very long layover in the Hyderabad airport. I did, however, make a new friend — would you like to see?

Yes, that pigeon decided to share breakfast with me! I had seen other flights on other airlines leaving before my flight, so I asked at the counter about a reciprocal relationship with the airlines so I could get on an earlier flight, and I was told that there were no relationships like that with their airline . . . so I waited . . . and waited. Oh, did I mention I had a long wait? 

When it was finally late enough for me to work my way to the gate, I saw a sign that was extremely ironic and even painfully funny at the time. I will show it to you below!

So, the airport where I had been somewhat detained by armed military men that took my itinerary and passport, booked on a nonexistent flight, and had about an 11 hour layover had been chosen as the number one airport in the world. Wow, I would have hated to have seen the worst airport in the world!

Oh well, when you travel, you have to be prepared to have things (some good and some not so good) occur that are out of your control. Trust me, you will have much less stress and frustration if you accept what you can’t control and try to make the best of the new situation!

On my last trip to Asia, the best airfare I could find had me going through Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Air. I thought it would be interesting to see a new country, so I was pleased to find an inexpensive flight, and it was booked. Would you like to see Doha?

New Sights to See |

My apologies for the quality of this photo, but since it is so hot in Qatar, all of the windows to the exterior of the airport were treated to block some of the sun. I can’t imagine how hot it gets there during their summer months! Hopefully you can make out some of the tall buildings in the background. This photo doesn’t display how large an area Doha’s skyscrapers occupied, but trust me, it was expansive.

During my flight to Qatar, I found it interesting that one of the options on your personal entertainment screen was the Quran. Also, when I arrived in the Doha airport, I learned that women had a separate prayer room from men, as you can see from the sign suspended from the ceiling. Obviously I don’t know much at all about the culture in Qatar!

New Sights to See |

Doha’s airport was modern and clean, and it had several play areas for children. One of the interesting observances I had while there were all of the upscale shopping options. Also, within the airport, very tall palm trees were growing. One person told me that most of the hourly workers at the Doha airport were people from Syria. I don’t know if that was true or not, but the person that told me this has traveled extensively, so I believed him.

So far my trip was going well. But you will need to read my blog scheduled for the 15th of June to see if my good fortune continued!

During my last trip to China, it was cold…….very cold! It is common knowledge that there aren’t as many colors to see in the winter, because the flowers aren’t blooming and the trees don’t have leaves and fruit on them.

colors As I was walking down the street, the normally crowded benches were empty and grey. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to sit outside in the cold in a place where the snow and ice were stacked up very near to where you would be sitting. In the picture to the left you can see this area was void of color.

After seeing all of the dullness and drabness of a winter’s day, something caught my eye. I noticed a lady wearing a coat that was more colorful than any coat I think I have ever seen in China. To my surprise a couple of store fronts down from here, I saw an extremely colorful display. I don’t know what this store was selling, but their advertisement certainly stood out on a dreary day. I also thought it was ironic with the lack of color all around, and then seeing how similar the lady’s coat was to the display in the store. As you can see in the pictures below, these colors grabbed my attention!colors2


op_edAs I wrote about in Global Partners in Life’s (GPiL) book, Unseen Tears, there have been multiple children for whom GPiL has provided funding to meet the expenses for an operation to correct a hole in a child’s heart.  The character in the book was named Xiao Ting, and I actually used two children from the special needs orphanage GPiL supports to make her story.  These two little girls were similar in many op2_edways, including the surgery they desperately needed.  Both of them had blue lips, blue fingernails, and they couldn’t play as actively as they wanted.  Also, they both had extremely strong personalities, when they felt well.  

These pictures are of the older of the two girls before her operation.  I am thankful to say that she had a good recovery from her surgery, and she has been adopted by a family in the States.  

The next picture is of the younger of the two girls.  She is so funny, because she was so much smaller than the other children, but she always tried to boss them around.  The children have a long table they use when they are working on crafts, and this little girl would climb on the table, stand up on it, and start giving orders to the other children.  Her surgery was a success as well, but unfortunately, she was one of the children removed from the special needs orphanage GPiL supports, so I haven’t heard much news about her.  op1_ed

These young girls are only two of the many success stories about the work GPiL is doing in China. I am thankful to have found this special needs orphanage and hopefully our impact with the children will increase!

For some unknown reason, the special needs orphanage Global Partners in Life (GPiL) supports has had several children that have a hole in their hearts.  After being around several of these children, I can now recognize some of their symptoms.  Usually these children will have blue lips and fingernails.  Also, they don’t have as much energy as the other children.

What may be our largest success story involves a child with a hole in their heart.  From what I have been told, this very small child was in an overcrowded municipal orphanage.  His condition was dire, and the 3 shift leaders got together and decided the child was going to die.  With them all being in agreement about the child’s imminent death, they decided to take the food given to the child and give it to the children they knew would live.  Somehow the lady that leads the special needs orphanage GPiL supports found out about this situation and she was given the child. The child spent 2 months in a hospital before going to the orphanage.  

Once the child had gained enough strength, we donated the money for the surgery to repair the hole in the heart.  While the baby was recovering, a young American teacher in town started fostering the child.  The child continued to improve, and the teacher’s parents legally adopted the baby!  So, this child went from being left to die to living with a wonderful family in America!  

As you can tell from the pictures below, a large incision is needed by the medical team to correct a hole in the heart.  I can’t imagine how sore the children are after this operation, but I am thankful that GPiL has been able to provide the surgery for them! And in this case, the child also received a loving family.hh


These are two different children and the surgeries were done a year apart.  Thankfully the surgeries were successful!  When people donate to Global Partners in Life, this is one of the ways we use the contributions to help the children!

At the university in China where I taught, foreign students, foreign teachers, and employees lived in apartment buildings.  If you were fortunate enough to be a high ranking employee or someone with many years of service, then you would be permitted to have a first floor apartment.  There were some noticeable benefits of a first floor apartment besides not having to walk up the stairs.  And to answer your question, no, we didn’t have elevators.  su

Some nice features of a first floor apartment included a courtyard behind your apartment that was yours and you received a storage unit.  The storage units had no electricity, water, or heat. They were just concrete walls with a roof.  To my surprise I found that some people tried to rent their storage units, not for storage, but for a home!  The university frowned on this, so they made a rule that all of the units had to be locked at night, and the security guards that patrolled at night would check the units to make sure they were locked.  Some college students were so desperate to get away from the crowded dorms they would still rent the units knowing they would be locked in at night.  Did I mention they had no electricity, water, or heat?  The owner would probably be the person that locked them in at night, but the renter had to make sure they had someone to unlockthe door in the mornings.  My greatest fear was that there would be a fire and the tenants would be locked inside!

Another option some people chose with their storage units was to turn them into a small shop.  Many sold snacks or home made tofu from their units, and these were usually a great place for friends to gather.  You could always come across a card game, board game, or chit chat when going by the storage units that were open to the public.su2

Some people would paint the exteriors of their units, and they looked much nicer than the ones that were not painted.  I lived in the north east section of the campus, and nobody in that area decorated their units, so our area didn’t look as nice as others.  

As I mentioned in my book, Unseen Tears, on my first visit to the main orphanage in the book, I wasn’t told this was a special needs orphanage.  As you may imagine, I was slightly surprised when we entered the orphanage and I realized it was a special needs orphanage.  I was so impressed by the children and their abilities to not let a physical disorder impede their enjoyment.

mi2One of the children I wrote about in the book is a girl with dimples.  She truly has a smile that can ignite a room, but unfortunately, she also has spina bifada with a tethered spine syndrome.  What I have learned about this medical condition is that it means her spinal cord is frayed, so that messages to and from the brain aren’t transmitted correctly.  She has no feeling from her waist down, but she can walk a little.  Although when she walks, she has developed a large wound on her heel, so she is discouraged from walking.  Also, she has incontinence issues, so she has to wear a diaper, and that means she can’t go to school. For the public schools in China, if a child is in a diaper for any reason, they aren’t allowed to attend school.  This rule has impacted multiple children at this orphanage in a negative way.

Part of what Global Partners in Life does for the orphans is provide for their medical needs.  We have purchased medicine when she needs it for her foot, and we also provide for the checkups with her doctor.  She is an energetic girl, so we have also purchased crutches, as seen below, so she can be more mobile.  With her crutches, she can go outside and play with the other children, and that makes all of us very happy!  To learn more about Global Partners in Life, please visit 


Crutches that were purchased for this girl.


Playing with the other children.


As someone who considers himself a fisherman, I often enjoyed the views I had from the area around the campus where I was teaching.  There was a dirt road that ran along the east side of the campus, and the building where I lived was right beside the dirt road.  My apartment was high enough to look out and have a fantastic view of the best sights in the city.

On the other side of the dirt road was a river.  It wasn’t a large river or a deep river, but the fishermen must have had good luck fishing there, because they spent so much time there.  In fact, they set up fish camps and lived out of them.

These fish camps came in various shapes and sizes, and I found them very interesting.  Some looked like enhanced tents, some were just huts, and others appeared to be larger and have a more stable structure.  Here are some of the fish camps I saw frequently while living in China:




As you can see, one camp had an area like a fisherman’s squatters neighborhood.  The people living here were also gardeners, as you can tell from the previous picture.  The large and old bulldozer in the photo never moved.  I imagine it helped grade the dirt road and just died there.

These homes may not have had all of the modern conveniences we enjoy, but they did have an amazing location.  They were right on the river, so their views were wonderful every day, and they had the peace and quiet of being away from center of the city!  I can easily understand why they chose to live in their fish camp beside the river!

Can you imagine how much storage would be needed while having up to thirty three special needs children living in a three bedroom apartment?  Yes, you are starting to see how that could be a challenge!  


I must give credit to my friend that leads the special needs orphanage Global Partners in Life supports. The odds may be stacked against her, but she utilizes the space she has very well.  What a new person may see as clutter is actually organized to my friend.  It amazes me how she can go directly to whatever she is looking for and find it immediately in all of the stacks of “things” she has.


 The cabinets in the children’s room are so full a cord has to be used to tie the handles together so the contents don’t spill out.  Ok, this may also keep inquisitive children out of the cabinets as well.


Before our help organizing the balcony storage.

There is also a glassed in balcony that is used for storage.  This is a great use of space. It is extremely cold there in the winter, so it may be uncomfortable to use the space for anything else.


After, with the new shelves!

As you can see, some items were tied together in the closet, and some were stacked in whatever manner that would allow them to fit into the closet.  A friend of mine was on the trip with me and he saw this.  He is in the construction industry, so he took it upon himself to purchase the exact shelves that the leader wanted, and we emptied out the closet, assembled the new shelves, and restacked everything into the closet again! Trust me, that was a full day’s work!  We were happy with how much difference our effort made, however it did get a little crazy trying to take everything out of the closet with all of the children wanting to play!

Residential Wiring

September 29, 2015 — Leave a comment

There are several differences in the wiring of homes and apartments in China and the States.  The first one is that homes in China use 220V, and the states use 110V.  That isn’t something you can see, but you may need to know that when you plug in your appliances.  Don’t worry about your laptop, because the power cable probably can make the adjustment, so no problem with it.



The lights would be another difference.  It is not uncommon at all to see a light in China that doesn’t have a glass globe around it.  That is not to say that nice light fixtures aren’t there, it is just to say that frequently you will see just the light socket to hold the light bulb.  In fact, sometimes you will see some electrical wire hanging from the ceiling with a socket at the end, and that is the light fixture for the room. RW5 

Another difference is with the unused cables.  Sometimes you will come across an electrical outlet or light switch that has some unused cables protruding from them.  You never know if they are hot or not, so be careful!RW4


I am not aware of anyone having a problem with being electrocuted by these exposed wires, and that obviously is a good thing.  So, if you are traveling in China, don’t be surprised if you encounter wiring like this.