Answering the big question…Was it worth it???


Our stay in China has come to an end after 5 months. It has been an interesting and valuable experience. Medically speaking, I feel that the treatments have had some benefits. I did not get the miracle cure that I once may have hoped for, but I found other things. I found out how to better manage my condition; what makes it better and what makes it worse. I found out that I get results when I stick to my regular strengthening exercises, and that when I slack off it shows. I have learned that daily meditation is my greatest ally and that my brain needs to be ‘turned off’ for a while every day. Most importantly, though, is something that I already knew was confirmed; a positive mindset goes a long way to healing and feeling better. When doubt or anger or impatience clouded my mind, I did not show any progressive results. When my thoughts were positive I did. So I am happy to be at more or less a similar state as I was 5 months ago, which in my opinion is a positive when all I have been promised in the West is a steady decline of health. I am continuing my daily herbal tea (or capsules) and hope to continue on this path of positive progression.
Also, it is always worth it. The things that my family and I have experienced, seen, tasted, touched and lived were like no other in our lives. As always, life is an adventure…!
There is beauty in life

Farewell to China


Some of the final images of our lives in China before we set upon our next set of adventures.
Tai chi in the main entrance of the hospital
Tai chi
Our girls love a party!
Party girls
Such great artists!
Emily and Madeline having their daily ‘tea party’ with Lutz and Martina from Berlin. We look forward to visiting them in January.
Tea party
Simon watched interestedly as this person’s house got closer and closer to being buried by roadside construction…was it saved or not? We may never know.
A garden at a lovely dim sum restaurant in Guangzhou, our last stop in China.
Dim sum
Guangzhou night scenes:
Tree lanterns
Guangzhou night
Good bye China from the Guangzhou airport with the mascots of the Asian games 2010 which were happening while we were there.
Airport goodbye
Next stop, tropical paradise…?
Island paradise

Playin’ in the mud


sticky mud
For the last two weeks it has been solid rain here, and not very warm either. We’ve been holed up in our room or at the shopping mall playground, not much for excitement otherwise. So today it warmed up and the sun kind of peeked out from behind the clouds for a little while. We decided to go out and embrace the environs. In plain talk, we let the girls run around in the mud puddles.
all smiles
Of course this was great fun for them and we had a few giggles ourselves. You can judge for yourself here:
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Random China


It is 3:20am and I am awake. What better time than to add a few photos that have accumulated that are notable.
On one of our Sunday outings, the girls got to go for a horse ride:
Horse ride
These ‘stone bridges’ are very popular, found everywhere.
Stone bridge
It is fall and the rice has been harvested:
Drying harvest
Here it is drying:
Drying rice
Here’s the kids playing in the rice, just like a sandbox:
Kids in rice
The rural Chinese have a tough life:
Hard worker
We are living in the ‘newest’ city in China, Zhongfang. There is promise of greatness, similar to our subdivisions:
The dream...
The reality:
The reality
And finally, we’ve decided to ditch the training wheels, Emily is a biker!!
Em on her bike
She loves her bike gloves ‘just like mom’. A lifesaver for learning to ride, otherwise one scraped palm and it’s all over for the day!!!

10 minutes of Chinese fame followed by an exotic lunch


So my big day of fame in rural China has come and gone. My speech went well, I was surprised at the big round of applause after I began the speech with “Zun Jing de Lai Bin Men, Nin Men Hao”. This means Welcome, Honoured Guests. I decided to scrap the joke about the moth, it didn’t seem quite right.
Pauline speaking
For those of you who are interested, a transcript of my speech is posted here:
Before and after the ceremony a humongous amount of fireworks were let off. The sound was deafening and it formed it’s own smoke cloud. Good thing the ambulance was neaby in case anyone had some bronchial problems! Hopefully they are offering a deal on tinnitus treatments this week!
Fireworks smoke
The debris; note all the red in the background, both left and far right; that is literally THOUSANDS of the small red loud ones:
Fireworks debris
Afterwards the patients of the hosptial and the visiting dignitaries were invited to a fancy lunch at a nearby banquet hall. They pulled out all the stops, the meal included turtle soup, spicy toads, pig’s stomach with garlic scapes, black-skinned chicken and other assorted dishes. This is just the beginning of the serving, there were MANY more dishes.
Chinese food
I made the mistake of asking the translators if that was a type of mushroom in with the garlic scapes, they burst into fits of laughter so I knew I would probably not like the answer. It was, indeed, the pig stomach. I finished my bowl, it wasn’t actually that bad (It’s in the foreground of the photo).
Simon was first to try the toad. I liked it, and had a few pieces, it was cooked in a very spicy fashion.
Pauline tries toadSimon tries toad

Opening ceremonies


The hospital got all gussied up for the occasion:
Fancy hospital
The dragons guarding the entrance:
Dragon entrance
The flowers were beautiful:
Beautiful flowers
So were the girls, and this is their friend, Nura, from Libya:
Nura and the girls
Some of the staff got dressed up as well:
Fancy ladies
The staff were all in good spirits:
Happy staff
The girls gathered up some of the flowers after it was all over:
Emily's flowers
Maddie's flowers
And the next day, the flowers were carted away:
Flower removal

Hunt Adventures in China


For those of you who have not heard, Simon has finished the first of his films documenting our Chinese exploits. Make sure you plug in your headphones or TURN UP the speakers, because it’s rockin!!!
Click here to watch it!
Coolest tunnel ever

A hubbub of activity


Things around the new hospital are shaping up quickly. The staff have been working almost non-stop in readying the building and grounds for the grand opening ceremony on Thursday. Sod has been laid, flowers and trees planted, great amounts of dirt moved around; and today decorative red banners have been hung on the entire front of the building from the roof to the ground.
I have been asked to be the honorary spokesperson for the patients. Ok, I’m the only one who’s first language is English, so that’s why they picked me. I have prepared a speech for the visiting dignitaries and whomever else will be attending. I am not nervous about this speech since I figure only about 5% of the people will understand me fully and maybe only another 2% will have a general idea of what I’m saying. Everyone else will have no idea what I say so I can totally screw up! Ha! A translator will speak along with me for the remaining 93% of the people. I am trying to add a bit of humour, but this is a very difficult thing to do cross-culturally. Another patient, who was a media attaché for the US-Kuwait embassy for years gave me a suggestion. He heard a popular song here titled, “I love you as the moth loves the rice”, so I am going to work that into my speech. It will be a regular laugh riot. Hopefully the guests will know the song and not think I’m some weirdo talking about loving moths. Stay tuned for photos and an update of the event in a few days…

Chinese caste differences?


Now that we’ve been here in China, we are not so much gawking at everything in amazement or incredulousness (is this a word??), but we are relaxed with the daily routines and occurences of a Chinese city. We are beginning to see and understand some of the nuances of life here. Women carry umbrellas wherever they go. You can buy quite fancy ones, with beautiful beads and organza and lace on them. Obviously not suited to a monsoon-like downpour. The reason they carry them is that they use them for the sun. Ok, I thought, that’s good, a little personal shade, after all, it is over 35 degrees most days. However the REAL reason is that Chinese women do not like to get a suntan. It is considered unfashionable since the labourers, farmers and ‘peasants’ that work in the fields all day are deeply tanned. Chinese women spend a fortune on ‘whitening creams’, probably as effective as those that promise to erase wrinkles. The funny thing is that, in our culture, it is the opposite. A tan is a sign of opulence, for those who spend their days in leisure; golfing, playing tennis or other outdoor pursuits, instead of in an office cubicle. I am speaking about urban North Americans in particular, and making broad generalizations, of course.
So what to do if a genteel Chinese lady has left her umbrella at home, and is suddenly inundated by the bright sun? She has to find something to cover with, and quickly. How one forgets their umbrella at home but manages to remember to bring a plastic washbowl is beyond me…
Umbrella alternate
Another thing that I have noticed is that Chinese men have long nails. Not the labourers who are building this hospital, but the doctors do. I have not had a chance to inspect too many men’s nails, but the hair salon was an obvious spot to see men’s nails up close. Mostly it is the index and the pinky fingers.
I am thinking this is partly fashion and perhaps a little bit of a class difference as well. I am not sure, but it is a custom that I do not find particularly attractive. Maybe that’s because I’m a short-ish length nail person myself, but Simon does not have to worry about requests for longer nails!

Beating the heat


With temperatures in the upper thirties and high humidity every day, it is tough to stay cool. We, thankfully, have an air conditoned room, but it’s nice to get outside as well. Here’s our new solution…
Pooltime fun

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