Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Last week we had a beach party with a class of students. The day started out rainy, but cleared up and was just a little windy. The students (post graduates) were so excited to have a day on the beach. We played volleyball and tug-o-war with a long piece of material they found which they held up for a net and used for the tug-o-war. They are so happy with simple little pleasures. They are so gracious and accommodating to us. It was really enjoyable. We then spent the weekend traveling to QuFu and Mount Tai. This was the home and burial place of Confucius. We went to the Confucius Temple and then the cemetery. Mt. Tai is one of five famous mountains in China and probably the most famous. Many emperors made pilgrimages there. We took a mountain bus partially up, then a gondola and then hiked some 2,000 steps to the top. It was cold....until the hiking began. The views were breathtaking. The legend is that you can see all of China from the top. The locks in the picture signify "locking in your wishes." You can purchase a ribbon (wish) and a padlock to "lock it in." There was a temple at the top and much incense, praying and wishing going on. We wish all the best for our wonderful family and friends!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well, I guess we have three anniversary dates to remember now. We just renewed our "vows" as part of the Qingdao Annual Beach Festival. They called on us, the token Americans, to join the wedding celebration part of the festival. It was quite the event--held at Bathing Beach No. 1. The festival included dancing boys and girls, speeches, kung fu, ancient Chinese dancing, sand castle/sculpture building and the wedding celebration. We marched onto stage to "dum dum da dum" and then they had the officiant do his speech and popped confetti firecrackers around us. There were then speeches from two gentlemen--a famous Chinese spokesperson and our own, Joe Goodrich, from BYU. We all took hands and went down to the sand for a circle dance and photos. Back up on stage for flowers and certificates and then more photos with the governor and mayor and a special tour of the sandcastle/sand art. The BYU boys had purchased huge, "diamond" rings for us and got down on one knee in the sand. I think we caused quite the stir. We were then driven to a nearby hotel for a special banquet including duck (w/head), fish (w/head), shrimp (w/heads), etc. We even got a special wedding gift--commemorative plate with stand, tee shirts and sheets. That night we watched the fireworks from the balcony of our apartment. Well, I did as my cold finally caught up with poor Terry and he was in bed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Last Stop: Xi'an

In Xi'an we went to the City Wall and rode bikes 9 miles around the top. Xi'an is famous for the Terra Cotta soldiers that were buried during the Qin Dynasty about 200 BC. They are excavating more than 6000 Terra Cotta soldiers, horses and chariots. The last evening we attended a dumpling banquet and a Tang Dynasty music and dance performance. The music and dance were wonderful, but very different from American entertainment.

Next Stop: Dunhuang

This famous city has over 1,000 caves that the Buddhist Monks inhabited nearly 1700 years ago. Inside some 300 caves are Buddhist Statues and other paintings and murals. This entry inside the door has a five-story Buddha in it. This incredible sight could not be photographed. The Chinese are recently learning how to preserve these artifacts and will not allow photos. There was a Buddhist Monk chanting outside of the Mogao grotto, known as the 1,000 caves. We were at the edge of the Gobi desert, where we rode camels out to an Oasis. The Camel ride was very gentle. Going up and coming down is an adventure! The largest sand dune is called Sound Sand Mountain and at the base is a small lake called Crescent Lake--in the shape of a crescent moon. You can tube or sled down the sand dunes as if it were snow. They were using the same tubes that we use at Magic Mountain.

Silk Road continued...

Next City we visited was Turpan, China. This is one of the most ancient cities still inhabited by Chinese. It dates back 2000 years.

The Silk Road

China's National Day (our 4th of July) is October 1. The nation takes a week off (including schools) to celebrate. Terry and I joined other BYU China teachers for a week's tour of some great sights along the ancient Silk Road of China. We had paid our money and reserved our seats, but we were in doubt as to going until two hours prior to departure. The school was having problems getting our “resident visas” and they had taken our passports to the police station to get the paperwork done. We made daily contact to see if they'd speed up the process, but no results. We packed our bags and two hours before the bus arrived to take us to the airport we received a call that our passports and visas were back. Off we went to check out the Silk Road of China (ancient road transporting silk across China to Europe). We flew six hours to the farthest northwestern province of China (bordering Russia and Outer Mongolia) and worked our way down through the Gobi Desert, visiting ancient desert villages and ending up in Xi'an, the eastern end of the Silk Road. Our transportation included airplane, bus, train, donkey-cart and camel. All methods of traveling were enjoyed without mishap. On the train we were in sleeper bunks with four to a room (I use the term “room” loosely). At one point, we had over eight folks in our room laughing and having a party. I’m sure everyone who knows me knows how much I enjoyed riding that camel. It was my highlight! Very interesting when they are getting up and down--hold on!It was a glorious six days getting more acquainted with the people, geography, history and customs of these wonderful Chinese people as well as the great BYU China teachers who shared the journey with us. Our flight home was delayed about four hours so we got home, had a couple hours of sleep and went back to teaching classes. Exhausting, but worth the adventure.
Urumqi is 90% Muslim population. This is one of the many mosques in this city.

We started our journey in Urumqi, China at this beautiful lake appropriately named Heavenly Lake.