Archive for July, 2008

Hen Bu Tong; Hen TongYang

(“Much Very Different”, “Much Same”)

[In this post, we feature guest bloggers Michael & Amy Kennedy – Dan’s brother and Sara’s sister – who are wrapping up their visit from Richmond, Virginia, USA]

Standard family picture near Forbidden City

The Virginia Kennedys traveled from Richmond, Virginia, USA to Beijing and Tianjin in China – across 12 time zones, flying over the North Pole, as far as you can go “away” before you start coming back. We expected to be challenged and pushed outside of our quiet, comfortable “boxes”. We came expecting to encounter strangers, see a strange land, and be strange within it, unable to communicate.

Eating w/ chopsticks - skills acquired quicklyReading Signs

Taxi, anyone?Choosing something for Breakfast

We expected to be overwhelmed by the things we knew to be different in China – the language; the food – even the method of eating the food; the amount, nature (pedestrians, bikes, bike/cars, cars, buses, trucks and every combination of those), and rules (?) of Chinese traffic; and redefinitions of “personal space”, “comfort”, and “entertainment”. Even so, we were unprepared for the height, the breadth, and the depth of the differences in this land and people.

Michael and his small friend

Despite being completely separated from our “boxes”, we were even more amazed at how comfortable it is to live out of the box here. Even without grasping the language, we recognized everything we love at home: friends laughing, people working together, children playing, families and friends eating together, parents and grandparents loving their children, women singing, shopkeepers transacting business.

We thought to find strangers; we found only neighbors.

We have so enjoyed being welcomed by the warm Chinese people. We look forward to returning to renew our friendships.


Inner Mongolia Remix: Highlights of the Highlights

For those that didn’t get to view the slideshow on YouTube, I wanted to share a few pictures that provide a taste of our experience in Inner Mongolia, China in June.

From upper left: our bunks on the 27-hour train ride, sharing the facilities with roaming camels, unbelievable beauty, even more, one of the many Chinese classrooms we visited, one of the hundreds of ‘our’ spectators, traditional Mongolian wrestling.

I took about 2000 pictures, stop by anytime if you care to see them all…

– Dan

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Joyful with the Joyces!

Living in China is certainly a rich experience. What makes it richer is to be able to share it with friends. Last week we had the privilege to host the Joyce family (and a friend) we know from our DC days. They were such troopers! After literally traveling across the width of China for two weeks, they were still willing to venture to our fair city to spend a few days together. What a wonderful time of encouragement and re-connecting.

– Dan

Clock-wise from the upper left: ‘Jedis’ Adam and Noah spar with light-sabers (note the air Noah achieved); Ruth, Mia and Hannah = Super Sweet!; Zach and Noah demonstrate their version of yin-yang with their bellies; Mia discovers her favorite mode of transportation; repeat of pic above; Catan (of course!) with everyone – including bonus guest Chuck Liu!

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Back from Inner Mongolia – Super Slideshows!


We are back from our 2.5 week adventure in Inner Mongolia. The experience was unbelievable. 2 27-hour train rides. 2 weeks living in a Mongolian tent (called a ‘yurt’). Below is a short slide show with pictures and some descriptions. This should provide a quick taste of the last few weeks. Enjoy!


As the semi-official photographer, I took several thousand pictures during the trip.  Everything from the train ride to life at camp, to the weekend English camp with some local kids.  I put together several additional slide shows that shared every few nights with the team  They are all posted on YouTube –