Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marathon Man.

Jason ran his first marathon in China today! In spite of the poor air quality here, he finished with a personal best time at 3 hours 31 minutes!!!

It was an early start ... he left our place at 5:45. Sadly, I couldn't go with him to the starting line since one of us needed to stay here with our young charges until our Sunday coverage person arrived.
























I was able to go and wait for him near a half-way point. While I waited, I was appalled (although not entirely surprised) at some of the road rules for racing in Shanghai! At some points, officials stopped all the runners to allow traffic to go through and often even though police officers were telling scooters, bikes and pedestrians to stop they continued right through the running lane, forcing runners to break stride and run around them like a bit of an obstacle course!

















Is it a bad thing that my husband looks so happy to be running away from me???



































Our lovely friends, Natalie & Ed, joined me at the finish line to cheer Jason home!!
































Jason's found some new friends!



























Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being thankful for ... squat toilets?


















We've found Shanghai to be a city of many toilets. I have been amazed at the number of public toilets available (for free) throughout the city. Learning to use a squat toilet successfully has left me feeling quite proud of myself ... and now that I've also learned to never leave home without my own TP, I feel right at home :)

Here's a couple picts of one of our many public toilets:



































Even with the vast number of available public toilets, the below is an all too common sight. Men just use any wall as an available urinal - even if it is 10 feet from a toilet. While running one morning this week, I ran past 3 men all in a row relieving themselves and we find that we often have to be on the lookout for fresh "rivers" running down the sidewalks as we walk.
























On a more serious note, one of the biggest things I've been thinking about this year as Thanksgiving time has come and gone is how thankful I am to the many people around the globe who have adopted us in one way or another. I feel so overwhelmed by the unselfish love people have shared with us, often while we've still been strangers to them. This unexpected, gracious generosity is something we continue to experience and something we will never forget.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Taroko Gorge Day

Enplane from Taipei to Hualian ... the adventure has begun (with a 5:15 am start time - ouch!)




























We were excited to already see some wonderful mountains as we disembarked from our plane. Soooo beautiful!















































This narrow hiking path is the road to a local village!



































































Jason's already trying to decide if he could do a backflip into the water below.

































Enjoying some delicious coffee made with nearby mountain spring water.


























































Due to the number of rocks that fall here each day we were all required to wear hard hats and walk close to the mountain in the hopes that any plummeting boulders would bounce out and away from the mountain allowing us to live :)


























































































We stopped for lunch at a lodge/restaurant serving traditional Taiwanese Aborigonal food which was actually quite tasty!






















































Eternal Springs Shrine - in memorial to the men who lost their lives making the road through Taroko Gorge.









































Largest hot water pot I've ever seen ... I hadn't even noticed what it was until I noticed a staff member filling up his tea pot from it!


































Final tour stop at Chi Hsing Beach ... it was a tad windy!























































Our final destination on our Taiwan adventure, Taipei's tallest building - and the world's second tallest building - Taipei 101. Not a great shot, but we were in fact there :) Sadly, we got their too late to get up to the observatory for the view...but with the rain, it might not have been great anyhow.

























Our final thrill was getting to travel at 430 kilometers (about 260 miles) per hour on China's magnetically levitated (Maglev) train from the airport to a subway line. Whew! It was fast!















Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Taipei Night

We had a fantastic time exploring a few of Taipei's sites at night ... even though we were completely exhausted after our early morning travel, we wanted to cram in as much as possible into our two short days in Taiwan.

These first few photos are from one of the main squares in downtown Taipei that hold a concert hall and a memorial hall to Chiang Kai-shek.






















Afterwards, we decided to stop at the Shilin Night Market which was on one of the subway stops on our way back to our digs. It was raining which was a bummer, but it was still quite an experience. Once inside, we were in a mobbed food court of sorts ... although not all foods that we were interested in eating!