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

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

Travelling through the countryside


We took the train from Shanghai to our final destination, Huaihua. It was a 20 hour journey so we got a ‘soft sleeper’ which is a 4 person cabin with beds. It was pretty comfy and the girls loved the bunks. Lucky for us there were two other kids about the same age as our girls, who could speak English! They were Chinese-Australians on the way to visit their grandparents. Funny how our first real conversation with someone was with a 6 year old.
The countryside was very lush and green, and with all the rain, we saw much flooding and many engorged rivers. There was not much for city life along the way, all quite rural. It looks like a tough existence for many.
Chinese countryside
When we finally made it to Huaihua we faced the task of getting our heavy luggage and 2 kids down and up sets of stairs to get out of the station. Of course there was someone offering assistance, or rather grabbing our bags and speaking rapid Chinese and starting to walk away. He was probably about 60 years old and managed to take our 2 heaviest bags. When we gave him money at the end he wanted more so we doubled it and then he tried for more. Funny, even non-English speaking people understand, “Bye, bye” and he and all the onlookers laughed that we did not fall for his big money scheming. Our pickup was not evident, since our train arrived an hour late, so we waited in the front of the station, again surrounded by 25-30 curious onlookers. I managed to convince someone to loan me their phone so we could call for our ride. While we were standing there waiting I glanced around, and saw this above us, to me, I think she looks like she’s fondling her nipple and flipping everyone the bird, quite a welcome to Huaihua!
Huaihua angel

Shanghai Attractions


After a day of rest following our long flight, we managed to take in some of the attractions of Shanghai. To us small city folk, the city itself was quite an attraction, especially at night. It seems that every available surface is lit up at night. Xuhui district at night
We saw scooters with rope lights covering them, trees with lights that fell like shooting stars and every imaginable colour of lights on almost all commercial buildings. Many of the lights on the buildings were not static, but changing colours and patterns. Even the many elevated highways had lights (and flower boxes) lining the sides of them. Emily and Madeline really enjoyed any rainbow lights they saw.

We took an hour long river cruise at dusk, where you sit on the upper level of the boat and viewed the lights on the buildings along the river’s edge. On the west side of the river is old Shanghai, with beautiful colonial architecture, all lit up in yellow. The opposite side of the river houses the many ultra-modern skyscrapers and the Oriental Pearl tower.
Oriental Pearl and buildingsRiver boats and lightsAmazingly enough, all these buildings have gone up in the last ten years. As I asked a police office for directions to the nearest ‘chuan’ (boat) I was overheard by a friendly Chinese woman. Immediately she grabbed my arm and started speaking rapid fire Chinese indicating that they were going to same place. The group of 4 Chinese women, all wearing hot pink polo shirts, became our fast friends. They accompanied us the entire evening and helped us get the best seats on the boat. Emily sat on one of their laps for much of the boat ride.

The next day we visited Expo.Canadian pavillion The theme this year was “better city, better life”. We visited the pavillions for Canada, Hungary, Malta, the Caribbean, and Australia. It was quite a huge venue so we did a lot of walking around looking at the pavillions from the outside. As with everything else in Shanghai, it was really impressive at night. We enjoyed the Australian pavillion the most, it had a great multimedia show on a revolving stage that lasted about 10 minutes. We lucked out with our timing because we got to see a performance of a group of young people playing violins and cellos, accompanied by a drummer and keyboardist. We recognized some Rolling Stones and Supertramp and also played some classical Chinese music. All this just when we stopped for a few Aussie meat pies and a VB for Simon and a Crown Lager for me. I’m realising that, with Western-style food, the price may look quite cheap, but the portion is tiny. I might have called them Aussie meat tarts instead of pies.

The Canadian pavillion had a cool plasma screen type thing under a few inches of water. When you splashed the water or touched the screen it caused a different picture to show up underneath. There also was a wall with blocks that came in and out in different shapes like an inukshuk or a totem pole or just a collage of photos. I tried out the bike that you could pedal and cause the screen ahead of you to move and show an animated movie of travelling through different parts of Canada. The feature movie was a little uninspiring, since it featured only cities, which, in my opinion, is not the most picturesque parts of Canada. We enjoyed some Chinese-style poutine and a few Carlsberg beers while chatting with the Quebecois restaurant manager. He’s been travelling in Asia since 2003 and gave us a few pointers of where to go.Poutine, Chinese-styleMountie at Candian pavillion

The UK pavillion is made up of a bunch of stiff fibre optics of some sort, Emily thought it looked like a giant porcupine. I think her description pretty much covers it. I thought it was really cool. UK PavillionAlso neat looking was the Luxembourg pavillion, which reminded Emily of the crooked house from the nursery rhyme.
Luxembourg pavillion
The Norwegian pavillion offered odd-looking monoframe bikes to ride down the spiral pathway, the lineup was too long for us.

The following day we were planning on going to the wild animal park to see some pandas, but we didn’t get moving early enough and it was quite far from where we were staying. Instead we went to the Ocean Aquarium. It was definitely set up for kids with all the exhibits down low and several aquarium tunnels. We really liked the tunnel under all the sharks.
Shark tunnelPenguinsPolar bear
Hmmmm, wonder if anyone is listening to this advice…?
Don't eat sharks After the aquarium we went to a tunnel of a different sort. It’s called the Shanghai Tourist Tunnel, and you ride a small pod-like car on a track under the river. It’s only a 5 minute trip but the tunnel is covered with really cool psychedelic lights! Kinda touristy but we really liked it.
Psychedelic tunnelTomorrow we head to Huaihua (pronounced wai-wa) on the train.

The Shanghai Experience


Well, we’ve arrived in China, after a long but not-too-bad flight. The girls were exemplary travellers, except for a small meltdown for Maddie landing in Shanghai. It had been a long journey for a 3 year old.

We were happy to find, at 3am, that our Ramada hotel room was, in fact a suite, and that we have two rooms; which means one for us and the girls sleep in the ‘living room’. This is the nicest hotel either of us have stayed in together, at about the same rate as a motel in Canada. This hotel is also great because it is our only enclave of (partial) English speaking people. We would have been hard pressed to buy a train ticket for our next journey otherwise.

Shanghai is a huge city, full of lights. It mixes the old and the new, where hip, young people talk on their iphones next to someone driving a moped carrying 12 water cooler bottles and a passenger. Crossing the street is an exercise in caution, as pedestrians are the low man on the totem pole. Each street has a lane of two way moped/bike traffic then two or more lanes of vehicles then another lane of two way, two-wheeled traffic. It seems that anyone turning left doesn’t care who is crossing the street and the two wheeled vehicles just keep on going anytime. Together these make for a lot of possibilities of being run over. We just try to stick close to the Chinese while crossing the street, as they don’t seem bothered by this at all.

Things as we know them can be very different here. Simon was happy to learn that there is a Starbucks beside our hotel, he wanted to ease into his non-Canadian coffee experience. I also am fond of my chai tea lattes, but there was no chai tea listed. Instead they have a green or black tea latte. This is what I got, Green Tea Latte it’s actually quite delicious and I think I’m going to miss them. Going to Starbucks is definitely a luxury for the Shanganese, as it costs about 5 times more than a coffee at a bakery or anywhere else, about $5 Cdn.

Emily is a picky eater so we tried ordering cheese pizza for her a few times. The first time we got a flat bread with spring onions inside it. Needless to say that was nixed. The second time it took 3 waiters to explain that we wanted only cheese on the pizza. Apparently that means no tomato sauce too. Tonight it was late so we tried Pizza Hut. Altogether pretty good, but still not up to Emily’s standards. She is going to end up eating a lot of rice on this trip. Madeline is much more adventurous with food, she liked the dumplings and spring rolls I had at lunch-time. I’ve been sticking mostly to dim sum dishes, as they are a little simpler and I figure contain less of the unknown. They also often have photos on the menu, which is really the only way we can order anything. Our attempts in using our phrasebook are usually met with blank stares, it’s all about the pronounciation, and we definitely are lacking in that department.

At Expo I had to get used to the lack of personal space. There are numerous lineups, and the person behind you is literally right behind you. It’s ok and I only had to give one guy who inadvertently stuck his tripod in my ribcage the ‘big elbow’ as I like to call it. The concept of not passing someone in a lineup seems to be lost on the Chinese as well.

This may sound like a negative rant but I like to see the differences in things. The Chinese we’ve met are very generous and eager to be friendly. They seem to be very interested in us and are always giving us a smile and a hello or ni hao; especially if they also have children. The photo-taking is another story…

Ni hao China!


We made it!

Am sleep deprived so that’s all you get for today.

Wan an. (good night)