Archives For China

There is continued good news from China! I know some of you may have heard negative things about China on the news, but there is something happening there that is an improvement. Would you like to know what it is?

The air quality in Beijing is improving at an amazing rate! The photo above was taken in the afternoon during the winter, so the sun was lower in the sky, and you can tell by the lack of leaves it was winter. The sun wasn’t brilliant and clear that day; rather it was dull from all of the air pollution.  Many times I have taken groups to China and our flight would arrive in the afternoon. While walking up the ramp (which had windows on each side) from the plane to the airport terminal, my friends would say, “Oh, it is going to rain today.” As I kind of chuckled to myself, I would explain to them the air in Beijing just looks like that on some days.

When I lived in Beijing several years ago, I lived on about the 20th floor of an apartment building. On some days it was difficult for me to see the telephone poles by the street from my apartment window. So, I am very happy to report that Beijing has done a marvelous job of improving their air quality. 

The photo above shows a building in Beijing. As you can see, now there is a beautiful blue sky!

Some industries have been invited to relocate outside the city, and I think that has had a positive and visible impact on the skies over Beijing. Public transportation is available and encouraged in Beijing, which has also helped control the air pollution. 

If you had considered travel plans to Beijing and were concerned about the air quality, I would encourage you to book your trip! Based on what I have seen, it would be surprising to me if you saw a return to the days of horrible air pollution. Maybe I will see you there!

The Daily Market

September 13, 2019 — Leave a comment

Please allow me to take you on a brief tour of a daily market in eastern China. This city is not considered a large one, but it has grown extremely fast in the last few years. Even though the vendors are busy, they have always been kind, patient, and fun to be around. Would you like to meet one?

Obviously this guy is a butcher, and he said he would give us any cut of meat, just tell him what we wanted. He did, however, take time to let us know that his sausages were the best in the city. He was very good at marketing, and laughing at his obvious selling techniques. 

As you can see in the photo above, cleavers are VERY common in China. I can’t imagine going to a market and not seeing them. Additionally, the hard wood cutting blocks are frequently used by the butchers. 

From what I could see, there was absolutely no way this chicken could have gotten out of the cage, but it looks like somehow it did. It kind of looks like he is the boss looking down on his workers. Yes, at this market you can buy your chicken alive or already dressed. It is your choice! 

It is quite common for a Chinese family to go to the market each morning to get the food for the day. This way the freshest food will be served, and you get great prices at these markets compared to the big grocery stores . . . usually! Often the farmers will get up very early in the mornings and drive their products into the city. Many of the markets are only opened in the mornings.

If you have an opportunity to visit one of these daily markets, I strongly encourage you to partake. Remember, you never know what you might see! 

Happy traveling!

Where It All Started

August 30, 2019 — Leave a comment

For those of you that have followed Global Partners in Life and the work we are doing in Asia, you know that the first group of orphans we supported were from a rural area in China. There was a horrible fire in an illegal fireworks factory in this rural area called Junan, and 20 students became orphans that day. 

Through the support of our generous donors, Global Partners in Life had been supporting these orphans before I had an opportunity to meet them in person. Would you like to meet them also?

As I said, this was a rural area and you can see the roads were not paved. We visited the orphans at their school, and even the school’s band showed up to welcome us. I felt very sorry for the students in the band, because it was 105 degrees that day and they had to wear their band uniforms.

The orphans we were supporting were allowed to come to school that day without wearing their school uniforms. We had a formal ceremony, and those particular orphans were given some gifts and sat in the front row.

As you can see in the photo above, the students in China wear uniforms to school. I have more photos of the orphans, and as you can tell, they were different ages. Global Partners in Life made a commitment to them that, regardless of their age, we would pay for their school fees, school supplies, uniforms, books, and lunches until they graduated from high school. I am thankful to report that 19 of the 20 did actually graduate from high school. One boy ran away one month before he graduated, and we have no idea what happened to him after that.

I am so thankful the donors of Global Partners in Life enabled us to meet the needs of these 20 orphans. Through their contributions, we were able to change the trajectory of these children’s lives by helping them receive an education.

We would love for you to partner with Global Partners in Life also!

Bathhouse

August 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

When I was teaching at a university in China, most of the dorms were located in the northwest section of the campus. The dorms were heavily populated, and to be honest with you, poorly illuminated in my opinion. At the end of each hall there were bathrooms with several sinks, mirrors, and toilets. There was one very important thing missing — would you like to know what it was?

The dormitories didn’t have any showers! To shower, the students would have to leave their dormitory and go to the nearby bathhouse. Check out the bathhouse in the photograph below!

Obviously this building has more than one floor, and that is good for separating the males and females. I believe the boys are on the first floor and the girls were on the second floor. Another interesting thing about the housing involves the teachers. If you were a single teacher, you were given a room in the dormitory. On the other hand, if the teacher was married, they were given an apartment. For the single teachers in the dormitory, they didn’t like going to the bathhouse with their students.

Many of the students had plastic basin that they would take to the bathroom to fill with water and then bring to their dorm room and wash up a little before they went to bed. By the way, the photo below is from one of the student’s room that had 13 people living in it! Did I mention earlier the dorms were heavily populated? This particular room was on the end of the building and larger than the other rooms. 

While teaching at this university, I was always impressed by how clean the students were and their clothes. You guessed it: they didn’t have a place to wash their clothes on their hall either!

What an Honor

April 30, 2019 — Leave a comment

In 2018 when I tried to visit the area of China where Mrs. Xu, the widow Global Partners in Life has supported the longest, lives, there was a surprise snow storm, so I was unable to visit. I was told my flight to the city may make it in, but there was no way I would make it out, so I decided not to go.

A few weeks ago I returned to China, and I went to visit Mrs. Xu. In the photo above, she is the lady on the right. Unfortunately, she had some bad health news!

What I didn’t know is that Mrs. Xu had been having a thyroid problem, and her physician told her she needed surgery. Mrs. Xu didn’t have the money for the operation, so she had no plan other than her prayers. 

Since I hadn’t seen Mrs. Xu in 2018, when I saw her a few weeks ago I had our financial support from 2018 and 2019! Mrs. Xu was extremely thankful to receive the gift from the generous donors of Global Partners in Life, because now she had enough money for the simple procedure she needed to have done.

When she visited the surgeon, he told her there was one medicine he wanted to try before doing surgery. Mrs. Xu started taking the new drug, and her condition is improving! For now, there is no surgery scheduled for her!

For Mrs. Xu, I want to extend a huge thank you to the people that are so generous to Global Partners in Life and enable us to help a widow in China with a medical need she couldn’t provide for by herself!

Truly, helping someone in need is an amazingly good feeling!

The Year of the Pig

April 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

Recently I returned from a trip in China right after their Spring Festival, which marks the start of their Lunar New Year. As you may know, there are a dozen characters that make up the revolving zodiac representatives of each new year. Many in China can tell your age, if you tell them which zodiac animal represented the year in which you were born. Would you like to know which year’s animal represented the year in which I was born?

The Year of the Pig | BeauSides.com

That is right! I was born in the year of the pig! Can you see the resemblance? With my eating habits and the way I kept my college room, well, the irony is overwhelming!

The Year of the Pig | BeauSides.com

Pigs are apparently playful, as you can see here and in the next photo! Who knew?

The Year of the Pig | BeauSides.com

The culture in China would dictate that I wear the color red often this entire year. You should have good luck when it is the year of the animal representing the year you were born, and you should wear red clothes frequently! That enhances your good luck, and maybe people will notice this is your year!

Oh, and one last photo of a cool pig indeed!

The Year of the Pig | BeauSides.com

Happy Year of the Pig!

My title may or may not entice you, but I saw some unique cars in Beijing during my last visit! Hopefully you will find them as interesting as I did. Would you like to see them?

The Diversity of Cars in Beijing

Arguably, nothing says elegance like a Bentley. This beauty was parked near an area I know pretty well, and I wanted a test drive! I didn’t know this before that day, but “Bentley” is inset in the headlights.The Diversity of Cars in Beijing

Perhaps all of the other Bentleys I have owned didn’t have that option! Ha Ha! The next car I will show you certainly takes a back seat to no other automobile. Can you guess what it is?

The Diversity of Cars in Beijing

This Rolls Royce was literally steps away from the Bentley in this upscale shopping area of Beijing. Rolls Royce has long been considered the measuring stick for other luxury cars, and this one was tricked out on the inside. The leather seats looked amazing. If I could afford a Rolls Royce, I think I could afford an additional paint job to cover the purple! This certainly isn’t a muscle car from the 1970s!

To show you some of the contrasting styles of cars you can find in China, check out my next photo!

The Diversity of Cars in Beijing

This little car was parked very near the Bentley and the Rolls Royce. I would guess this car weighed about as much as the wheels on either the Bentley or the Rolls Royce! Unfortunately, I am a veteran of the traffic in Beijing, and I am not sure I would feel very safe in this vehicle. But it did give me a good comparison for the other cars!

When you are traveling in foreign countries, I would suggest keeping your eyes opened for interesting cars. Oh, it may also help you stay safe when you are walking!

Where have you seen the most interesting cars?

If you recall, a few years ago in China there was a fire in an independent, non-governmental orphanage fire and unfortunately multiple children perished. Shortly after that, the government said any province that had an orphan in an independent orphanage could bring the orphans back to their home orphanage where they are registered. This proved the government had a plan and were taking action.

So, the government workers and police came to the independent orphanages around the country, interviewed workers to make sure the level of care needed for the children was being met, and eventually removed some of the children from what was potentially the only home they had ever known. Unfortunately, the special needs orphanage we support had eleven children taken during this period, if my memory serves me correctly.

Currently, the environment in China is one where all rules and laws are being enforced. So, once again, some of the provinces are removing children from the independent orphanages, like the one supported by Global Partners in Life.

History Has Repeated Itself

If you remember Lei Zi, pictured here, he is a VERY active 4 year old boy that is full of life. He has been removed by his home province and placed in a government orphanage. Five other children from around the country were brought in with him. We have a friend that works in this orphanage, and the friend sent a video of Lei Zi, which was shown to me. He was wearing a shirt and a diaper and no pants. In the video, he was crying and saying “my mom,” meaning the leader of the special needs orphanage we support, “has pants for me.” For some reason, the new orphanage is making him wear a diaper and no pants. He is potty trained, so we don’t understand this.

As I said, history has repeated itself.  We have weathered this storm before, and we intend to persevere again.

As Global Partners in Life celebrates our fourteenth anniversary, we have many wonderful accomplishments to celebrate! Moving forward, we will need to be wise and informed as we serve the people we have been led to in China. 

It was about this time of year when some students and I took a road trip. Actually, it would be more accurate to say a bus trip. The students were from the university where I was teaching, and we decided to go to a smaller town a little north of our city to have a look one weekend. Would you like to know what we saw?

A Peaceful Environment

There was a small river going through the town, and it had this interesting looking bridge. There was a large park along this area of the river, and we enjoyed some street food while sitting in the park. We consumed our glass noodles while eating them out of a clear plastic bag; my first time for doing that. Glass noodles are slippery, and you don’t want to poke a hole in the plastic bag with your chopsticks!

As we walked around town, I saw something that surprised me. They had an old stone wheel for grinding wheat, which is grown locally. I have seen one that used a donkey walking around in a circle to move the stone, but this one used man power. You can see it in the photograph below.

A Peaceful Environment

Some things I also enjoyed seeing in China were the many pools of water with beautiful water lilies in them. I was impressed with the different colors of the lilies, and many times there would be koi swimming around the lilies!

a-peaceful-environment-3

This was an enjoyable trip for many reasons! This particular area of China enjoyed a much slower pace of life compared to when I was teaching in Beijing!

Maybe this blog will help you remember a calm and peaceful place you have enjoyed. I know it certainly has done that for me!

One thing we consistently hear is that the air quality is horrible in the major cities in China. Well, I can show you proof that isn’t always the truth. Granted, the weather can have a huge impact on the air quality, but here is a photograph I took during my recent trip to Beijing, and it clearly shows the sky is beautiful, clear, and blue. Check out the helicopter inspecting the skyscraper under construction below it!

Interesting Sightings During China Trip

If you are into gadgets, I saw a new one in a taxi cab. It is not uncommon at all to see a device plugged into a cigarette lighter for charging a cell phone, but I saw one with more capabilities than simply charging a cell phone. This particular taxi had a cell phone charging device, and built into the device was an electrical outlet. If it looks odd to you, it is because some of the slot configurations in Chinese electrical outlets are shaped much differently than the ones we have in America. Do you want to see it?

Interesting Sightings During China Trip

By the way, the driver of this taxi loves the National Basketball Association. His two favorite teams are the LA Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is amazing how something like basketball can be the catalyst for a great conversation anywhere in the world!

Keep your eyes open when you are traveling, because you never know what you might see!