Friday, January 30, 2009


We have always wanted to go to Yellow Mountain. But we have never found a good weekend to go. It's an over-night train away, or a 4 hour drive. Well, this last week, we decided it was now or never. We have the car for the week while the driver is off for Chinese New Year. We looked up everything we could on the Internet in the way of maps, and decided to go for it. I reserved a hostel online, and we just hoped we could find it. We weren't able to find anything in English, but we did find a map that showed a road that would take us to Huangshan (yellow mountain), the 205. We had a great day!!! We just followed this road, which was the slow road, it turned out. It twisted and turned in every direction and we went through a whole bunch of little towns. Some of the things we had to watch out for: cows, three-wheeled trucks, people doing fireworks, people walking across the highway, people selling sugar cane, TERRIBLE drivers, huge pots in the road. It was exciting. We listened to our music, we read the book Holes, and we enjoyed the scenery. It did take us 7 1/2 hours to get there, though. By the time we arrived, Nicole was NOT feeling well. She climbed straight into bed, and was throwing-up. Poor thing. Our heater didn't work, so the first 2 hours that was a little miserable, but they moved us, and it was nice after that. Luckily, the town had one KFC in it that we could walk to. Nicole ended up sleeping in our bed with us. Mike, me, and then Coli. I was snug as a bug :-)

Nicole woke up feeling at least well enough not to want to stay behind. We ate really cold eggs at 6:15 and then rode the bus to the mountain. It was beautiful, and totally worth it. I think we all had a good time, and ended up doing 10k in stairs. It was a good work-out! We planned on doing 7k more down the mountain, but between Nicole, and my hip, we decided to ride the cable-car down. Eli was a trooper! I bought these lovely medals that we saw some of the kids wearing and gave the children awards on the way home. Rachel got the guide and helper award-she was always helping with Eli, and asking different guides to tell us where we were on the map. Nicole got the trooper award, for not feeling good at all. Caitlin got the sneaky photographer award, she took some great shots. Jay got the off the beaten trail, and when can we watch a movie award. Eli was the trail blazer, always up front and a really good hiker! We had a great time. The girls took some awesome photos with their Christmas cameras. It was a great adventure. Here are some photos of our trip:

One of our many "potty breaks".

You may not take the following items with you while hiking Yellow Mountain:

First they congratulate you on the growth of your child, then they charge you more. How polite is that!

You could pay to have men carry you up the mountain. Each section is 100rmb, and there are 6 sections. Crazy!!! I have to tell you that there were parts I would have been scared to death having someone carry me! Let alone, well, just the thought of having people carry me!

There are a couple of hotels on the top of Yellow Mountain. Men carry everything up the mountain that the hotel needs. Believe me, it's hard enough to just get yourself up there!

We were a little worried about this chilly little bum! It was REALLY cold up there on the mountain!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Nanjing Mascot

The Chinese New Year is here. The whole city is busy gathering the supplies to celebrate by cooking millions of special new year's dishes, and stock-piling fireworks to set-off every 6:00am and 12:00am for the next 2 weeks. Many shops will shut down, and every type of transportation will be taken advantage of, to over-flowing. Everyone must get home. 1.3 billion people moving at once. China is welcoming in the year of the ox, who from what I can tell looks like daisy, the Disney cow. The finest Chinese traditional clothes will be worn, and red envelopes are being stuffed for the big event. And in the middle of all of this, stands this little fella, oblivious to it all...

I've decided he is the animal that represents everything I love about Nanjing. First of all, you can't deny the special style, one unique and, well honestly, not in the mainstream of dog fashion. Then there is the quiet proud attitude of this little furry friend. Last but not least, he's no stupid dog. He knows what kind of stuff is on the sidewalks here in town, and he frankly doesn't want his paws to come in contact with that! So, why not do that with style? And so what if he lost one of his shoes, he can improvise. Now, look at our city, here on the Yangtze River. It has a style all it's own. Everyone in town is proud, but friendly, just trying to find a way to make it in this new expanded world they know. I love the ingenuity of our Chinese friends. They think so differently from us, but they are very clever! All that now said, I name this dog the Mascot of Nanjing! (Well, I haven't ever seen a Nanjing Lion roaming around, so I'm appointing my own)

On the seventh of January, I turned 37. Yes, that's getting up there, but Mike is still older :-) I had a wonderful birthday with lots of friends. They all donated to my favorite charity, yes, Hopeful Hearts. Julie, my good friend hosted a nice morning get-together. Then Mike surprised me and took the day off! What a great birthday. It snowed on my birthday, so the walk we took was beautiful. The family made a nice meal for me, and gave me really nice gifts. I guess I'm OK with turning older if I get to have fun days like that!

Life is busy, and good. We are excited because the children and Mike get the next week off for the New Year holiday. It will be nice to hang out together. We are thinking of taking a road-trip to Yellow Mountain. Should be exciting!

The birthday walk:

My Man:

Another hike with the whole crew: