Every few weeks I try to write an update, for those who like to stay in touch!
Our 2018 Blog ⇔ (Clicking on photos reveals the entire caption and often makes pictures bigger)
Jan-Dec (click here for Jan-Dec 2017)
Nov 11, 2018
We’ve been back in HK for a month now—how time flies when you are busy! The temperature outside is finally cool enough so that you can walk a bit without sweating, so Vivian and I have ventured out a few times (see below). I’ve also found a way to get exercise while at work. While in the US, I saw workers with desks that raised/lowered (so you can work sitting or standing), and my office agreed that this would be better than the make-shift table I’ve been using for the past 7 years. I like it! (Maybe I’ll get a picture next month.) I even got the “hand-crank” version from Ikea instead of the “motorized” version. According to their ad, just by cranking it up and down once a day, you burn enough calories to eat another pastry!
Another highlight can be seen in the split photo below; I was invited to lead worship for two groups within the past week. Music has long played a positive role in my life (especially emotionally), and when I was a teacher I always enjoyed the chance to share songs during holidays and end-of-term celebrations. I know lots of people who do this better than I do, so such opportunities are rare in HK, but I’m grateful when they come. (If you’ve never heard my songs, you can listen here.)
While we were in the US, the new Hi-Speed rail terminal opened in Kowloon, so we walked over for a look. It’s a nice, spacious building, and they were even kind enough to create a roof you can walk on, with a great view!
A new food court opened near our church while we were away, so we were anxious to give it a try. Vivian shows how happy we were to find some “mainland” favorites.
I took this photo July 1, of the yet-to-open West Kowloon Train Station. It allows us to board a fast train here that takes us quickly and directly to many parts of China.
The subway system in HK is remarkably efficient, but on Oct 16 something went wrong with the electronics and the result was chaos. I left at 7 for a meeting; the trip was supposed to take about 25 minutes, but it took two hours!
It’s always a privilege to be given the chance to use my limited musical abilities to lead group worship.
Oct 14, 2018
We are back in Hong Kong after three weeks in the US (for me; after a week in China) and two months (for Vivian). While in the US, we did things we needed to do, had to do, and got to do. In turn, I’ll write about a daughter’s loving duty, difficulties we dealt with, and things that delight us as members of an earthly and heavenly “family”.
“Needed to do”
There’s a deep need in the human heart to care for one’s parents. In the east, they call this filial piety; in the middle east (i.e., in Jewish and Christian circles) this is the subject of the fifth of God’s “ten commandments”: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exod 20:12 ESV. This “need” is so closely mixed with “love” that it’s difficult to separate the motives for our actions, but it was this necessity that sent Vivian to her mother’s bedside on Aug 9. She was blessed with the chance to spend ten more days with her mother, Esther, before she peacefully slipped from the troubles of this life into the next. Living so far from the family and friends we love, Vivian was very grateful for the chance to be there at this special time, as Michael was last Easter when his Dad slipped from this life.
Vivian said her mother’s memorial service was beautiful. On the left, you see the release of a dove in Esther’s memory; her pastor
shares in the middle photo; (right photo) our friends Tom and Kunming were among the many who have shown deeply appreciated love and support over the past two months.
Esther (far right) with her beloved daughters and granddaughters in 2007.
Esther—as a Christian who for most of her life has loved and served Jesus (two more things that are hard to distinguish from each other)—did not fear death; and those of us who were left behind have Jesus’ own promise that those who have faith in the redemptive act of His crucifixion will be united in Him forever—and thus we will see Esther again. This truth is of great comfort when a loved-one comes to the end of his/her earthly life. The Bible says that we humans were created to live forever, and that the choices we make in our short lives will determine where and how we will spend eternity. The wisdom penned by some of my favorite authors talks about this far better than I can, so let me share a few insightful quotations.
—”If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” —C.S Lewis
—“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky
—”[My accident taught me] that when you are strapped to a body board after a serious accident, that concentrates the mind. During those seven hours… all that mattered boiled down to a few basic questions: Who do I love? Who will I miss? What have I done with my life? And am I ready for what is next?” —Philip Yancey
—“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and in the life to come.” —Henri Nouwen
—GK Chesterton says that one of the primary elements of life is “the primary and overpowering yet impalpable impression that the universe after-all has one origin and one aim, and because it has an aim it must have an author.” “Atheism is abnormality. It is not merely the denial of a dogma, it is the reversal of a subconscious assumption in the soul: the sense that there is a meaning and a direction in the world it sees.”—GK Chesterton
—CS Lewis says (like Isaiah) that we are all “rebels” and that one reason why we must surrender from the rebellion is because we were designed to live forever. If we constantly get a bit worse (bad temper, jealousy, etc), it might be manageable during your lifetime… “But it might be absolute hell in a million years. In fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be.”
—“There is not and cannot be in the whole world such a sin that the Lord will not forgive one who truly repents of it. A man even cannot commit so great a sin as would exhaust God’s boundless love. How could there be a sin that exceeds God’s love?” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky—“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” —Martin Luther
—“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”—David (Ps 39:4-7)
And finally, Esther had a plaque in her kitchen, hand-written by her mother in the 1960s, and bearing another of my favorite quotes (from a man, incidentally, who had served in China in the late 19th century):
—”Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” —CT Studd
“Had to do”
Whereas my comments about things we “needed to do” flowed from love, we also spent a lot of time doing things that simply “had to be done,” unrelated to positive emotions like love, fun or joy. These included dealing with the legalities of Esther’s passing, discussions with those who tend the graveyard, and of course seemingly countless hours spent in transport: planes, trains, subways, rental or borrowed cars, taxis, airports, hotels, and so forth. Much of life (at least for us) is made up of things we “have to do.” Some people think that the hassles of travel are good reason to never venture far from home, but Vivian and I believe just the opposite! We would miss being with many valuable friends, seeing awesome places, and doing unusual things, if we were unwilling to do what is necessary to get around.
Vivian stands near her mother and father’s graves, which is also where Vivian and Michael will oneday “rest.” The statue depicts a favorite story about Jesus giving challenge and comfort to a woman, found in John chapter 4.
Our last stop was Los Angeles. These mountains are not far from the city, and yes, I wanted to eat Chinese food while there! The building on the right was an iconic part of the LAX airport when I last visited (1984), but I don’t think it is even used today.
On this trip, we were in airports in California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas and Hong Kong. I used the Washington DC Metro, and took the train from Philly to DC.
The sign under this beautiful mural at the Philadelphia train station says it dates to 1895. I’ve enlarged the plaque so you can read more about it.
“Got to do” (that is, deeply wanted to do)
The phrase “I got to do it” can be confusing to English-learners, because it can also sound like “necessity” (compare: “I’ve got to do my homework tonight!”). But we “get to” do the things we enjoy, and the verb sometimes even implies an unexpected or usual delight. This is really why we travel! On this trip, we got to attend a beautiful wedding, see cherished relatives, be with our children and grandchildren, and spend time with friends. We even “got to” make new friends in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and had the unexpected joy of talking about our work at three universities (I always love being around students!). We also got to see the beautiful mural in Philadelphia (shown above), visit an awesome new museum in DC, speak with a movie director for an hour in LA, and take our grandkids to Legoland! We are very grateful for all of these blessings!
This Lego Cake Topper celebrated the marriage of our son Andrew with Laura (on a cake honoring Mom’s birthday). In the other photo, we’re dressed up for nephew Philip’s wedding in DC.
A day before Philip (far right) married Bethany, we enjoyed a family celebration welcoming Laura and Bethany into our family. These gatherings are rare since we came to VA from SC, PA, GA, TX, MD, and Hong Kong!
At Philip’s beautiful wedding, Andrew is far right, Michael’s niece is far left; the dancing couple is Michael’s sister and her husband, who surprised us all with a beautiful dance learned on a recent vacation cruise!
Michael’s first day in Philadelphia included a surprise chance to participate in this picnic for visiting Chinese scholars, hosted by an Ivy League professor. Just about everyone was introduced as “Dr” somebody, doing research on some remarkable topic. What an honor and privilege to spend a few hours together in America!
Between the Capitol building and Washington Monument in DC, you’ll find several of the world’s best museums, and they are all free! This is one of the newest: Museum of the Bible, where I spent a day learning about the Bible’s history, translation, and impact. What a remarkable book (and museum)!
This is one of the three universities Michael visited, seeking to let students know about the chance to study or work in China. Eastern University is in a Philly suburb, and I’m joined here by two dear friends who studied there with me in the 1980s.
In Los Angeles, we talked about our work with colleagues, most of whom we’d never met before. They asked what we wanted as our last meal in the US, and we said Chick-fil-A — a delicious treat you can’t find in Hong Kong!
One of the hardest things about working in Hong Kong is the distance from our grandchildren. Here I’m being overwhelmed with a loving reunion after 1.5 years apart! It was also my first chance to meet our newest granddaughter.
We’d really been looking forward to taking the oldest two kids to Legoland in Florida. The drive was longer than they were used to, but we had a memorable time. The thing they liked best was playing with Lego!
We’ve been back in the Hong Kong for over a week now, and I’m typing this at 2:30 am, which shows that getting over “jet lag” has been particularly difficult this time! Maybe our advancing age has something to do with that!
Vivian contributed a post on July 13 in which she gives thanks for the little blessings in life.
Aug 15, 2018
When I was a teacher, I looked forward to the summer. Sometimes we got to visit the US; normally I didn’t have a lot of classes to teach, and thus summers were more relaxed for the whole family. Life is certainly different as the director of a charity. Not only do we have HOT Hong Kong to deal with, but this job doesn’t have natural “seasons” to rest, so if you are not careful it is easy to overwork all the time. At the beginning of the summer, I managed to balance work with the rest of life, but July and Aug have been challenging. We’ve dealt with (among other things) unexpected family situations in the US, orientation for new workers, staff reviews, changes at the office, key projects to plan, and a new computer (faster speed, but making old software obsolete, which means investing hours to get used to replacements!). Another big factor was the decision for Vivian to return to the US again, helping to care for her mother for a while. So, I carry on in HK without the strong “right arm” of my wife! And while I’ve not been able to keep my “goal” of weekly work on my websites, I did update the “Cancer Survivor Report” about our friend Gabe, Vivian added uplifting thoughts (see caption under her photo), and I added an EFL Movie Study Guide for Finding Nemo.
I’ll give you a glimpse into the rest of our month through the following photos and captions, for those who enjoy reading about our lives.
I don’t talk much on this blog about work, but in May the charity I work for received official permission to keep working in southwest China. This involved cooperation between many people, and we are very happy with the outcome. This screenshot is from a public webpage–if you can read Chinese, you can visit the web address shown at the top for more of the story.
I took this photo July 1, of the yet-to-open West Kowloon Train Station. It allows us to board a fast train here that takes us quickly and directly to many parts of China.
In mid-July we gathered with friends in Hong Kong for dinner, and to celebrate several birthdays among the group (including ours).
Articles and film trailers for “Incredibles 2” enticed us to visit a movie theatre for the third time since moving here in 2015. It is rare that a sequel is as good as the original movie, but this one comes close!
(left) I don’t see many “guard dogs” in Hong Kong, but there are many “guard cats” who help to control the rodent population. This one caught my eye one night, coming home from work after midnight. (right) In China we always drank bottled water, but in HK there’s just no space to put the machine in these small apartments so we bought a British water filter. The “white” ceramic filter standing up (before adding the cover) is replacing the “brown” one that has kept us from drinking strange things for a year–and we are grateful!
This ad in the subway caught my eye. I can picture God “3D printing” our world, which certainly required more engineering and creativity than even the coolest things we come up with! I even think there’s something profound in the way these people are too preoccupied to notice this cool poster–just like we fail to notice the wonder of our world.
Toward the end of July, I was very surprised to discover a new Popeyes open in our neighborhood. We often enjoy a Popeye’s biscuit at the airport, while waiting for a flight out. But my hopes were dashed to discover that EACH small biscuit costs $15HK (about $2US)! My dough won’t be paying for much of theirs at these prices!
For almost three years, I’ve used an iMac that was donated by another local charity (for which I’ve very grateful!). Recently, it developed “issues” and we found corrosion inside. Unable to find another refurbished model, my company bought a new iMac, which arrived Aug 6. However, when we set it up, my laptop stopped “talking” to iCloud! It took days to sort it out, which put me days behind! Like life, problems and blessings come hand in hand, but all-in-all the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places (Ps 16:6).
Vivian and I celebrate our birthdays and anniversary in August, so here we are treating ourselves to ribs at Outback. Yes, it cost more than a few biscuits, but it’s only once a year… And in this case, we were celebrating my good fortune to have now spent half my life with this wonderful lady!
Just a selfie taken after church in Hong Kong, around the time of our anniversary.
Just days away from our own anniversary, our son Andrew married his sweetheart Laura in Pittsburg. We don’t say much about our kids, to respect their privacy, but we are very proud of both of them! I look forward to seeing both, their spouses, and my grandchildren again in September.
The colorful decorations in this subway car were almost overwhelming! Lego is 60 years old?! Our son loved Lego as a kid, as did I… much closer to the time Lego was born!
Vivian’s birthday this year came with a gift from the HK government: a “senior citizen” pass that lets her ride public transportation for a fraction of what it costs me! My gift was plane tickets so she could spend time with her mother and the family, and some beautiful flowers.
Jul 12, 2018
While I don’t have photos to show for it, I’ve been busy with work (I worked 85 hours last week, mainly helping two new families bring their expertise to China) and also busy tweaking my websites–trying to keep the “goal” I wrote about in June. I’ve added photos to the slider on the home page, and recategorized my “writings”. I added a bit to my “hospital adventures” page. You’ll find an article on How to Pray (plus a worksheet), as well as a Beijing photo page and poem called Reminiscence. On EFLsuccess.com, you’ll find an updated Movie Guide for Steel Magnolias.
Jun 13, 2018
The stitches are now gone, and my experiences at the out-patient clinic continued to impress me. I had a nurse change the dressing twice, and then remove the stitches. Each time, three “student nurses” were present to watch and learn — and since I love being around students, I actually enjoyed having them there. Some spoke to me in Mandarin, others in English. God bless them as they enter this noble profession!
Today and last Wednesday I’ve actually “accomplished” something on my websites. I’d read recently that people in the service industry (like Vivian and me, since moving to HK) know in our heads that we are making a difference, but we have little to show for the hours we spend on a computer or preparing for meetings. Thus, the author said, we need to find “other things” to do that have more tangible results. I guess that’s why my brother loves fixing-up houses. Well, I’m trying to update or move a page from my old website to this one (or EFLsuccess.com) each week. Last week, I moved and updated my movie guide for “Jungle Book“; this week I updated my “Half-the-world” page and added the article spawned by that visit to the Soviet Union, published in a US magazine in 1990. If you are interested, take a look!
May 29, 2018
I was very happy with how everything went this morning at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, as they removed a carcinoma from my face “with wide margin.” I arrived as scheduled at 9am, obviously before the throngs begin to come (see May 22 photo of the same room). Actually, that’s on the same floor, but it is a different ward. The first window I waited at was the wrong window. (The hospital signs could be clearer, and there was no one around to “ask” who spoke English or Mandarin — the people I tried just pointed and grunted.) Once I found the right ward, there were normal allergy/etc questions, blood-pressure test, talk to the operating doctor, etc. I wasn’t surprised this time when they told me to take off “everything” (my wedding ring gave me no little difficulty, as it hasn’t left my finger since my 2014 neck surgery in HK). Unlike western outpatient clinics, which (in my limited experience) do such face-surgery procedures in their office, with you wearing your normal clothes, today was “full surgery” in the “theatre”. While I waited with a handful of others, all wearing (ONLY) the hospital’s flannel pajamas, I was grateful that I was allowed to listen to a book on my phone. I was also grateful for the blanket they provided (in HK, you rarely need a jacket outside, but need one inside about half the year because of very cold AC). Around 10:45 they called and briskly walked me to the “operating theatre”. From here, things are a blur–in part because I wasn’t wearing glasses! I guess there were six or eight in the room (including the young doctor), all acting very professional. I asked if people spoke English and offered to use Mandarin instead; Dr Ivan said they all spoke English, and said their English was better than their Mandarin. Next came numbing shots, a heated blanket, lots of dabbing to sterilize, covering my left eye with some sort of special tape (to prevent infection), drops in my right eye (which I couldn’t open to help the nurse), and some sort of covering for my entire face–which then was “opened” so the affected area alone was exposed. I suppose the surgery itself took about 15 minutes. The only (slight) discomfort was an itch in my left ear, which of course I had to ignore. I silently sang hymns and recited Bible verses, trying to stay as calm as possible. (Next time, I need to prepare by practicing hymns with a cadence similar to my heartbeat–for I could hear the monitor beeping throughout.) When it was over, they asked me to relax for half an hour in the original waiting room; then I could put my clothes back on, and after another blood-pressure test went to find the cashier. It cost a total of 195HKD ($25US), only slightly more expensive than the visit at which this appointment was set up. Yes, there are private clinics, which charge “American” prices (I remember that the deposit for a similar procedure at Evangel Hospital in 2014 was 15,000HKD), but as a full-time employee and resident in HK, I’m entitled to use the public medical system, so I did. The stitches are supposed to be removed at a local outpatient clinic on June 5 (for about 20HKD). I’m sure that working in a busy hospital like this, with so many patients in a place like HK, is not easy. But I was very impressed by the whole affair — and I’m grateful for the efficient, professional, kind way I was treated.
The “other” waiting room, before patients arrive. I didn’t take photos inside on “surgery day.”
I’ll look like this for a week. This selfie was taken in our kitchen; our office is the 9th floor of that green building.
May 22, 2018
On April 23, Vivian flew to the US for a month, mainly because her mother had taken ill. But our daughter lives in the same city so Vivian also got to spend time with the family. She even drove Beth and her family north one weekend, where they could rendezvous with our son and his fiancee. Meanwhile in HK, a spot on my face was evaluated and determined to be skin cancer. The main surgery will be May 29, after Vivian returns to HK (she is flying as I type). Since I’ve been putting in too many long days, I took Mon-Wed off this week; I’m catching up on my blog in an environment very different than our downtown apartment!
The Queen Elizabeth hospital in HK is huge. On my first visit I didn’t know where to go. I was impressed when they said, “just follow the brown ribbon outside.” It worked!
(My initial HK appointment for evaluation) We are all waiting for our appointments with one of several surgeons. I think it took only about two hours–not bad for a crowd like this! And care of HK’s public hospitals is very inexpensive, for which I’m grateful.
That’s Vivian with her mother; above that she’s with our two children (who live a day’s drive apart, so they don’t see each other much). On the left, Vivian said goodbye to the grandkids yesterday. Our youngest granddaughter’s shirt says “I make Gramma smile”!
Here’s a rare family photo. I really wish I could have been there too!
Here’s the view from our bedroom. Just two short blocks from the office, I can’t imagine anything more convenient, and you can also get from Mongkok to most of HK’s population (on the peninsula or on HK Island) quite easily.
But Hong Kong is bigger than most people realize, and the government has set aside huge tracks of land for parks, hiking, water resources, etc. This week, I’m “resting” in Ko Tong; yesterday I went to Grass Island; tomorrow I travel three hours to greet Vivian at the airport, and then we return to our flat near “Prince Edward.”
Yesterday, a ferry took me to Grass Island, and isn’t this view different from what I see from my apartment!? This would make a great puzzle!
There is much you can’t see in a photo: the crowds of tourists, construction, cows wandering around, and the hottest temperature of the year so far (95F)! But you also can’t taste this wonderful fried rice, at the restaurant with the Coke sign.
Yes, there are “wild cows” (no owner) in these hills, as well as just outside where I’m staying. (This cow is on Grass Island.) I also saw monkeys; fortunately, I didn’t see any of the large snakes. We don’t have any of those in Mongkok. You can see the ferry at the pier.
The ferry also stopped here. I think it is called Ko Lau Wan Tsui. Maybe I’ll check this out on my next “visit to the countryside.”
Apr 22, 2018
After Dali, we made work-related trips to Chengdu and Wuhan, before returning to Hong Kong.
I forgot to include this photo from the Xi’an airport. I’d never seen a “nap box” before, but it’s a great idea for travelers. (But I think they need to be “inside” for those with a layover, inside of out by check-in desks.)
This was one of many “classic stories” featured on a long wall in an alley in Chengdu. It’s a great way to foster a renaissance of classical values.
Chengdu is certainly proud of pandas–native to Sichuan Province. We bought the quartet on the right at our hotel, with proceeds going to charity, and the bears going to our grandchildren!
When friends told us to meet them “under the panda’s butt” we were confused at first — but there it is, outside a mall full of luxury goods.
On the mall’s rooftop garden, you get to see “the better end” of the giant panda. It’s MUCH cuter than King Kong, but I don’t think it would make a very good film!
We never cease to be amazed as China’s beautiful handicrafts. This man was making pictures in Yak bones, so I gave him a photo of Andrew’s dog, and a day later picked up a personalized gift for our son.
In Wuhan, we were asked to see if our company could recommend an experienced professional to help run this “American” restaurant. The former manager built a good customer base before retiring. If you know someone who could help, write to me!
This little coffee shop is also looking for a manager or assistant manager. It has an active English Corner (almost every night), so there’s a lot more to it than just being able to make delicious snacks and coffee.
And who wouldn’t like to teach at a colorful school like this one? Our company is always looking for qualified teachers, willing to work in various educational fields, in many cities.
We got back to HK just in time to join this one-day “retreat” with friends from church. In the selfie at the bottom, teams had to build a tower with dry noodles and a marshmallow — the ladies’ team beat us guys!
Speaking of guys, here’s a few of the men I meet with weekly, as a part of the “Walk to Emmaus” community. We share with and encourage each other, and pray for one another. I think all men need a group like this! And we meet at 7:30am, so no, that’s not beer–it’s “Nitro Coffee” at Starbucks in Central!
Here is a friend’s translation of the “tiger story”:
“Choke tiger to save father” ~ Yang Yi was a man living in the Jin Dynasty. One day when he was 14, he was harvesting rice in the field with his father. But suddenly a fierce tiger came. It threw his father to the ground and tried to drag him away (you can tell what the tiger was thinking about). Without any weapons, the boy forgot to consider his own safety and started to choke the tiger with all his strength to save his father. The tiger eventually gave up and ran away. (The traditional virtue being promoted is filial piety.)
–My Chinese translator’s comment: Now we can see many public displays like this. They are all about traditional Chinese culture and morality (that are advocated by modern values). They are efforts to cope with the current degeneration of morality, and they have all been produced after President Xi came into office. Before that, many things related to “Chinese tradition” were simply regarded as old or out-of-fashion, which is terribly wrong.
–Michael’s comment: I’m glad to see this effort to laud Chinese traditional culture and values. Any culture that refuses to learn from it’s past is doomed to repeat its mistakes, while a healthy mix of “old and new” can help the culture move forward.
Apr 20, 2018
I need to backtrack to start the trip in Kunming. Next we headed to Dali, and I made a solo trip to Xi’an and back. The agenda for the next few days was “rest” (with a little work).
We lived in Kunming for five wonderful years. One of Vivian’s favorite things to do was to visit Green Lake Park, where Siberian seagulls wintered. This is a photo from “the good ol’ days.”
By March, the gulls are normally gone, but Vivian was thrilled to see one lone gull. It was like he was waiting for her! After a few laps around the lake, he went off to join his friends….
A friend took us to this local KM restaurant, where we got to eat some of our favorite foods. Of course, when we lived there, we had “trained” the cooks to leave out the spices!
The next stop was Dali, a beautiful place we have visited several times.
Way up on the hill, here’s a view from Dali University. There’s not likely a prettier view from any classroom in China! Kunming has a high altitude, but Dali is over twice as high–so you really feel the stairs when you first arrive.
Dali’s “old town” has maintained a lot of charm and color. Since we were “on vacation” we strolled through town a few times, and on this occasion treated ourselves to Pizza Hut, with this beautiful view.
I’d seen these cute electric cars before, and a local friend rented one for us for only 100RMB for the day! We had a nice time puttering around the waterfront, and getting “lost” in little villages. We even stayed dry in a heavy rain and hail storm!
Apr 13, 2018
After visiting five cities in two weeks, we fly back to Hong Kong in the morning. Here are a few photos of my quick overnight trip to Xi’an.
The Bell Tower has been in the center of Xi’an for centuries, witnessing many changes in modes of transportation. On my first visit (1985), private cares were very rare in China–not so anymore! When I lived here (2002-05), everyone peddled a bike; these have been replaced by mopeds. The newest trend is “rental bikes” (foreground) which can be unlocked using WeChat Pay (social media), and then left anywhere, once the renter is finished with them.
Near the Bell and Drum towers, Xi’an’s “Muslim Quarter” remains very popular with tourists. You can find souvenirs and keepsakes, but most people seem to be there for the food.
“Helen’s” has been in the Muslim Quarter for a long time, though previously featuring her dad’s works–he was well-known for inspirational paintings and calligraphy with Biblical verses. Before I bought a pair of Helen’s paintings, she told me her moving story. She was not a Believer until her dad got sick with cancer. She saw how real Jesus was through his illness and in the way the Christian community cared for her father, and this led her to take up his painting profession, and in this process she also found peace in the Lord.
Vivian, Andrew and I moved to Shanghai in 2000. Our first “tourist” trip was to Xi’an, and there we met (fellow teacher) Liang, who has been a good friend ever since! His son (about Andrew’s age) hopes to study abroad soon. Treasured old friendships are one of life’s great joys, so it’s always a pleasure to see this family again.
Because of my quick trip to Xi’an, I was in the Dali airport four times. The flight from Xi’an was delayed, so it arrived at about 1 am. When we left a few days later, we had to walk out to the plane in a light rain. Both of these were unusual–normally you enter a plane by direct ramp or via a bus.
Mar 31, 2018
Tomorrow is Resurrection Day, so “Happy Easter!”
As March turns into April, we are enjoying Kunming, where we lived from 2005-2010. We came for meetings (here and in various cities), but we are always thrilled when we get to see old friends. Tomorrow we fly to Dali. We return to HK in mid-April.
Last Monday, I had the privilege of teaching these American students, passing through Hong Kong after a week or so in China. They were interested in the changed I’ve seen since I first arrived in 1985.
Roland was my student in 2009, at Kunming Medical University. When we found out that our schedules overlapped, we enjoyed a cup of tea before he had to leave for the airport. It is always heart-warming to know that busy doctors still enjoy chatting with their old teacher after so many years!
Lucy and Lily were my students at the Medical University in 2008. Lucy is a doctor, and she is considering a research position in the US. I also got emails from a few other former students who couldn’t break away for a visit.
Lily is now teaching at a local university, but her husband owns a music store, and Lily tutors on several instruments, including the Gu-Qin. I only had time for a quick lesson, but I sure wish I could make it sound as good as she does!
Feb 28, 2018
We returned to Hong Kong from Thailand just minutes before February ran out. Our work-related conference went very well, and though it is exhausting it is always a highlight of our year. I’ll try to bring you up to date with some photos.
Happy Chinese New Year! This is the “year of the dog” so there are lots of cute decorations. My favorite (of course) is the ones on my own door, which feature our grandchildren, but “second favorite” would be anything that features my favorite beagle: Snoopy!
On Feb 2-3, I attended the Global Leadership Summit in Hong Kong for the third time. It is always an encouraging and challenging time hear from key international leaders.
On several days in early Feb, this cute Subaru was parked outside our HK apartment. It really reminds me of the VW van my grandpa drove when I was a kid! What a cool vehicle.
With the holidays come lots of crowds. It took over 30 minutes to get onto the subway here, in what normally takes just minutes. “Welcome to Hong Kong at Chinese New Year!”
Among our many preparations for the conference in Thailand, Vivian decided to create a way for attendees to help us add names to “group photos” from past conferences. Many participated, including Peter–our main speaker and former Director!
In early February we celebrated the third anniversary of the announcement that I would soon start to lead this charity in HK. (It would be a month later before we were allowed to tell others, but we quickly learned that this move would radically change our lives.) The bottom photo shows a rare, quiet dinner our first night in Thailand–before everyone else started to join us.
We’ve held the annual conference in many places, but none are as popular at this beach-front resort in Hua Hin Thailand. It is much less expensive than anything in Hong Kong, and our workers love the beach and pool–and who could blame them!
No, I don’t own a drone, but I can take a photo of photos on the wall!
Many Chinese people love to share “food photos” whenever they go on vacation. This is actually the only one I took, just to remember how delicious the salads and fruit were at our conference.
The hotel complex is very nice. Few people there speak English or Chinese, but we manage to communicate. And of course the main reason we are there is to be with colleagues and hold meetings that encourage and challenge us in the work we do.
I led a few of the meetings myself, and even got the chance to share some of my songs. Many attendees expressed appreciation for both.
On Feb 28, it was finally time to take the bus to Bangkok and fly to HK. The map shows where we met (just below the blue dot). The sign was posted at the bus station to remind non-citizens (esp the many retirees who have moved to Thailand) of immigration rules, including the need to report-in every 90 days and also report any trips outside the province they live in. They are also not allowed to work, taking jobs from Thai people. Frankly, I think these rules make sense; every country has the responsibility to protect its citizens and know the whereabouts of visitors.
Vivian snapped this pretty morning photo of the beach “in town” where we stayed for two days after conference (it was cheaper!). We will look forward to returning to Hua Hin next year as well.
I’ll close with three more photos, without captions. But you can read my thoughts about these shells in a new article called “Some Thoughts from the Beach.”
Jan 29, 2018
Once again I’ve put off adding my first comments of the month until the last few days. So, how has 2018 started? I’m too busy to blog, but that goes without saying. Though I don’t like to say much about my HK job on my website, “work” has had it’s ups and downs; the best news is that we finally welcomed two new Directors to our Board, after searching for a year. We are grateful for this needed addition. Both men are old friends, so you can see one (a decade ago) on the photo-page I added during this month: the DaQin post shows photos of a Chinese pagoda and historical stone tablet that have been around for 1400 years. (The post’s content was mostly copied from my old website, but I’m grateful for every “bit” of www.krigline.com that moves to this WordPress replacement site.) Below, you’ll also see that our daughter sent cute photos of the grandchildren. Here in HK it has been cool and it has rained some, both inside and out (picture below). We are ten working days from our trip to Thailand to lead a work-related conference and orientation (hence the lack of time, right?). And finally, Chinese New Year will take place while we are abroad. In other words, in spite of my long hours, there hasn’t been much to blog about; nonetheless, I’ll post a few photos anyway to let you know we are still here, and we’re grateful for all who try to keep up with us online.
The Christmas decorations have (mostly) disappeared, and beautiful spring colors have started to appear in anticipation of “Spring Festival” (or Chinese New Year).
I asked our daughter to send photos of the grandkids, so I can make them into “couplets” to decorate our door, and she took some nice ones!
It doesn’t rain much in HK, and that’s good because two windows in our “new” apartment leak! A guy came to try to re-seal them once, but obviously more work needs to be done.
On Jan 21, HK held one of its annual marathons. This one had over 62,000 runners. (Curious, I just learned that there are only 17,000 people in my home town!) Here’s the view from our apartment window, which is as close as I care to be. Three runners are in critical condition after the race–all over 50 like me. I don’t participate in such dangerous sports at my age.
Every once in a while I take a snapshot of ‘the people’ here, just to remind myself I live in a terribly over-crowded city. Heading toward a mall, I’d walked through a dense crowd for over five minutes before arriving at this three-lane escalator, which had all three lanes packed. Such scenes were never part of my American lifestyle.
Walking from a meeting in TST (downtown, Kowloon side), I bumped into an old friend: Charlie Brown! Apparently he has opened a cafe here in HK. I didn’t have time to taste his cooking, but going back there is on my “to do” list.
(click here for Jan-Dec 2017 blog)
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