Day 114 in Beijing: Chaoyang Park, Part 2.

So we hopped off the bus and started walking towards the park. Like many parts of Beijing, there are rivers running through the city and it allows for a little peace and beauty in a rather industrial and busy place.

The Dragon Boat.  Guarding all the fishermen.

The Dragon Boat. Guarding all the fishermen.

The River.  Bruce Springsteen would be proud.

The River. Bruce Springsteen would be proud.

As we walked down to the river, we spied this dragon lounging in the sun. There were men fishing near it and the tranquility of the “old China” came rushing in to my mind. These people probably survive by fishing and being very frugal, especially in a metropolis like Beijing, and yet they seem content and flash smiles freely when I walk by.

Jill and I took our time and soaked in the atmosphere as we slowly walked towards Chaoyang Park.

As we neared the entrance we looked at the sign describing Chaoyang Park. It is 300 acres of grassy lawns, man-made lakes, sports stadiums and exhibits. Some of the Olympic events, including the beach volleyball matches, were located at Chaoyang Park. After deciding we’d go in and see some sights before meeting our friends, we noticed the price for entrance.

5RMB. This is about 75 cents American for a full days pass into a huge park. It was 8RMB, or about 1 buck, for a monthly pass but we had to buy it by the third day of the month and we were well past that so we opted for the 5RMB pass.

We walked in and were struck by the calm, quiet and peacefulness even though we were in the heart of Beijing. The traffic noise seemed to disappear into the clear blue sky and the crowds were non-existent. It reminded me of Golden Gate Park but cleaner, warmer, and more manicured.

Jill and I walked over to a nearby lake and were planning to walk around it and then meet our friends. However, we noticed a sign near one of the boats stating that for 10RMB there were boat rides around the lake. It was 9 am on a Sunday and this sounded like the perfect way to enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful park.

We paid our 20RMB and climbed onto the boat. There was a mother and her two children in the boat and a bucket of goldfish that the girls attempted to catch. They did seem to enjoy talking to the fish and seeing if they’d respond. Sadly, the fish were disinterested in being caught, or spoken to, to say the least.

We watched the elderly gentleman row the boat from behind and took our time looking at the park, the buildings with amazing architecture and the girls enjoying themselves. We passed one other boat during the 30 minute ride and it was wonderful.

After some prodding by the gentleman rower, the girls got up and started rowing as their mother took pictures of them.

I couldn’t resist and did the same. I’m glad I choose therapist as a profession instead of boat rower because all I did was send the boat in spiraling circles. At least we got some good pictures of me flailing away with the oars. The girls on the boat and the mom definitely got a good laugh out of it and kept giving me the “thumbs up” sign.

Day 107 in Beijing: Condoms.

I have, and this is a rarity, no words to write on this topic.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Therefore, this post is worth five thousand.


Day 102 in Beijing: This Ain’t Coming To America.

Black or white bun?  Your choice.

Black or white bun? Have it your way.

Literally and Figuratively.

Eddie Murphy, in his heyday, was amazing.

One of my favorite movies that he stared in was Coming To America.

It was pure comic genius.

It was also part love story.

Eddie’s love interest worked in the family business.

The family business being fastfood.

Now, the dad who owned the fast food restaurant needed a catchy name to sell his food.

So, he decided on “McDowells.”

He also used Golden Arches, red color for the uniforms and had food that seemed to be, coincidentally, exactly the same as McDonalds.

Well, this pretty much seems to fit the bill.

Because, unless I’m very mistaken, black buns for a hamburger, chicken burger or fish burger, ain’t Coming To America anytime soon.

Now, I’m not passing judgment on the taste of the bun because I haven’t tried it.

I’ve never been a big fan of fast food anyway so I’ll leave it to someone else to review it.

I’m just saying that there is an interesting mental construct about black buns for me that makes me queasy.  Maybe it is that it seems like something that is rotten and that makes me automatically makes me want to avoid eating it.

This is my cultural bias, and I admit that, and yet i’m still not going to eat at McDonalds.  Or McDowells.  Or any fast food place that has a black bun and compressed meat of some unknown type.

Call me sheltered, call me boring, just don’t call me late to dinner.

Unless you are having white or black buns.  Then don’t call me at all.

Day 100 in Beijing: The Whirlwind.

100 days ago I left the Bay Area for Beijing.

It is all a little surreal.

I started a new life.

In a new city.

With a new job.

With new friends.

It has been mostly amazing and fun.

There have been some hard times trying to figure out issues with the apartment, a few travel issues, and other small things that really amount to almost nothing.

I just want to thank everyone that has made this transition so easy, so fun, and so positive. That includes my brother Robert, his wife, Shan Shan and her family, my boss, my family back home in the states, my friends here and back in the States, and last but not least, my girlfriend, Jill.

I actually don’t think I can thank Jill enough: Her sense of self is excellent.  Her sense of humor is joyous.  Her sense of what she wants, how she can attain it, and how easy things are if you just keep at it, is real.  We make a wonderful team and our support of each other makes life so much easier than it would be if we were alone.

And to think that we met only 8 days before I moved to Beijing.

Jill helps reduce the whirlwind to a soft and gentle breeze.





Day 96 in Beijing: River Walk, Part 1.

Weeping Willows cover most of the walkway.

Weeping Willows cover most of the walkway.

The roundabout stage.

The roundabout stage.

I live in a slightly suburban part of Beijing.

Actually, closer to the truth to say I live in an area of Beijing that doesn’t seem to have a lot of expatriates living in it.

Fishing for dinner.

Fishing for dinner.

Below the hustle and bustle of the city.

Below the hustle and bustle of the city.

I like this because it allows me to feel like I’m living in a foreign country and forces me to expand my boundaries and take risks.

I enjoy smiling at people, saying “Ni hao” and having small conversations that are full of gestures because of my misunderstandings each day.

A peaceful meeting.

A peaceful meeting.

A bridge not too far.

A bridge not too far.

I’ve started to walk along the Yuandadu Chengyuan Ruins Park, and the Xiaoyue River that flows through it, and document my daily excursions.

There are always new people, new interactions and new visions to see.

I feel incredibly lucky to live in Beijing.

I am able to work at a job I love.

Live close to my brother.

Travel to parts of the world I’d probably never otherwise visit.

Meet people I’d never meet.

And have experiences I’d never have anywhere else.

I often forget how easy it is to travel and change your viewpoints on life.

I get stuck thinking that one way is the right way and travel allows me to remember that there isn’t actually any correct way of living.

Everyone has a right to live a life that is their own and be in control, as much as one is able, of their own destiny.

Choice is always an option and it is up to each of us to make a choice and then deal with the consequences.

Consequences meaning the results.  Those can be good, bad or an infinite amount of results in between good or bad.  In fact, I don’t really know of any definitively good or bad results.  They are all learning lessons and help me to accept what I can change and accept what I can’t change.

And them make choices on how I want to deal with those consequences.


Day 89 In Beijing: Energy Efficient Clothes Drying.

Resourceful.  Use a tree as a clothes rack!

Resourceful. Use a tree as a clothes rack!

I grew up in the little wine town of Healdsburg and we would use a clothes line to dry our clothes when we needed it.  It would be hot enough during the summers that they often dried in one day.

The weather is very similar to Beijing’s weather during the summer season.

The main difference is Beijing gets amazing thunderstorms while Sonoma County usually did not.

Living in Australia in 1990, and Japan in 1996, I would only dry my clothes by hanging them out on the balcony or on a drying rack inside the house when it was too cold outside.

After living so long in America, I forgot that most the world doesn’t use drying machines.

Moving to China has reminded me how wasteful and unnecessary drying machines are if I just plan ahead a day or so for what clothes I need.

I truly enjoy hanging clothes, taking them down and folding them.

Strangely enough, I also like ironing.

Go figure.


Day 85 in Beijing: The River at Yuandadu Chengyuan Ruins Park

Serenity inside Beijing.

Serenity inside Beijing.

Simply a  picture of a part of Beijing that many people would guess didn’t exist.

This river is about 10 minutes from my apartment.

I walk over this river when I do my nightly exercise.

It is clean, beautiful and relaxing.

There are usually other people walking, eating and dancing on the banks of the river.

Today was quiet and serene.

I’m planning on walking beside this river and doing a photoshoot of the river, the park beside it, and people doing their daily exercises and community events.

It is a wonderful bit of nature inside the big city of Beijing.

Day 84 in Beijing: Streetsweeper Made for One.


A seat made for one.

A seat made for one.

I wonder if there are size limits to employment?

I wonder if there are size limits to employment?

Beijing is growing.  There are now massive 4 and 5 lane roads that encircle Beijing so that people can drive to their locations without blocking up the roads through neighborhoods.

There are still tiny streets that are barely large enough for a car to squeeze through.

Like the massive roads, they need to be cleaned and swept because of the garbage and debris that adds up in a city of 20-30 million people.



Cruising...on a Sunday Afternoon.

Cruising…on a Sunday Afternoon.

Keeping Beijing clean.  One tiny street at a time.

Keeping Beijing clean. One tiny street at a time.

If you have lived in a big city, you have probably seen the massive streetsweepers cleaning up.

I happen to prefer to miniature streetsweepers that are made for one.

They are just so cute and cuddly.  I want to take one home!

Day 82 in Beijing: What a Difference A Day Makes.

84 degrees at 10:32 PM.  Hot and humid.

84 degrees at 10:32 PM. Hot and humid.

"Very Unhealthy" at the Embassy.  "Heavily Polluted" closer to me.

“Very Unhealthy” at the Embassy. “Heavily Polluted” closer to me.

Especially in regards to weather and pollution in Beijing.

I took this screen shot of the weather and the Air Quality Index at 10:32 PM on August 16th, 2013.  The temperature was 84 degrees at that time and the humidity was around 95%.  It was rough.

However, that wasn’t the worst part.  The index showed 204 at the Embassy and 235 closer to my location.

Walking around felt like I was walking through a smoke filled room with no reprieve.


"Good" at the Embassy.  "Excellent" closer to me.

“Good” at the Embassy. “Excellent” closer to me.

Dry heat.

Dry heat.

There is only one benefit of incredibly hot and humid weather and pollution of this level being combined:

The next day is usually gorgeous because the rain removes all the pollution from the air.

There were taken almost exactly 12 hours apart.

It was perfect, gorgeous and a breathing was easy.

Such a rapid change and a delight not to have to feel like I was living in a smoke-filled room and going to die.  From what I’ve been told, this is nothing compared to the winters in Beijing.

Interestingly, the Chinese government has recently promised the equivalent of 375 BILLION U.S. dollars over the next few years to help reduce pollution and help the environment.  This has been mostly ignored by the Western media even though it is twice the Chinese military budget and China spends more money on environmental causes than the rest of the world combined.

Day 48 in Beijing: Buying Vegetables…Or Not.

Buying Vegetables…Or Not.


That was the question.

Or Not,

Was the answer.


I went grocery shopping and bought some fruit, veggies and other food.

I went to the check out counter and pulled out my Bank of China debit card to pay.

I watched as they the checker priced my food.


And her confusion when she looked at my veggies.

I realized that I had made a mistake.


I was to bag the fruits and veggies,

hand them to grocery store fruit and veggie attendant,

they would weigh it, put a sticker on it with the price,

and then the check out attendant would simply scan it during checkout.


I didn’t realize this until all of my fruits and veggies were put in a container to returned to their stands.

I ended up with some won tons, water and M&Ms.