Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Full Circle

Looking at a globe today, we traced the route to Kunming from Michigan. So many miles! It's hard to believe, that only one year ago, to us, Kunming was only a small dot on a map. Now, it's a place that represents many memories of good times, friends, and places that are dear. A year ago, we were in the process of stepping into the unknown - a bit nervous, a little scared, but fully excited about the possibilities. And we're glad we took the plunge...

The adjustment to coming home certainly has been much easier than adjusting to life in China! We're in full swing - playdates, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc. The biggest adjustments? Where is everybody?! And those we do see are so tall! The stores and streets seem so empty. Traffic is orderly - and omg! - everyone obeys the traffic laws! And the very best - we can now read everything!

Two things I miss most about living in China:
  • walking. I love to walk, but I need a specific destination. In China, one walks everywhere, everyday. Up and down and in and out.
  • good, cheap food waiting for us at one of the university dining halls, a dumpling dive or at a choice of restaurants.
Thanks to everyone who joined us throughout this journey. It's much appreciated. I tried to show our everyday, nothing fancy life. A goal of ours was to live a simple life on a Chinese teacher salary. We purposefully didn't mega-travel and limited our Western "needs". A main goal was to give the kids a language immersion experience by attending a Chinese school. We are so thankful that C. and E. had a wonderful, fun-filled school year of making friends while becoming quite proficient in Mandarin. That, in itself, was worth any "discomfort" experienced.

Now it's time to end GACE in China, but not an end to blogging. Please join us at our new blog - www.gaceathome.blogspot.com starting soon. It'll be mostly photos (with a small amount of text) updated once or twice a month for family and friends. Please do visit!

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July

It's good to see friends Nic and Alex again!

And Jeni and Mike, too!

The kids are on week two (already!)of swimming lessons:

Do come back! I ain't quite done blogging just yet...

Right where we belong

The girls in their kitchens...

and the guys with their tools.

The Long Ride

The day that seemed to have no end: We began traveling around midnight, left for Chicago at 11am, and about 15 hours later, arrived Chicago at 11am the same day, and it was still June 24.

Craft activity at the Incheon, Korea airport:

Our ride home:

At DTW - all luggage (and people) accounted for:

Bye-Bye Kunming...

A tearful good-bye to Li Laoshi:

Our favorite jiaozi makers:

Now this we'll surely miss!

Our last real Chinese meal. Good stuff!

A send-off surprise at the airport: the Dean of the English Department, Dora (left), and our friends Hua, Jin and Xue Xi

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hello USA!

"Jackson, Michigan once again," sighed C. as we entered our home Tuesday night. It's wonderful to be back. Just a quick note to say we have arrived and are still shaking off the effects of jet lag. We're not quite sure if it's day or night yet - seeing the sun or moon isn't helping us!

Today is the first day having the internet back on. I'll be posting again soon about our trip home, the first few days back, and some final happenings in China. Please check back!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zaijian China!

The journey is the reward - Chinese proverb. Thanks for the memories! China will always have a special place in our hearts.

Enjoying a final cup of delicious Yunnan coffee at Salvador's this morning:

This is it. After nearly eleven months (10 months in Kunming, three weeks plus in Shanghai), we are saying our last goodbyes and will be leaving for the airport in a few hours. We depart Kunming around midnight, get into Seoul about 5am, leave for Chicago at 11am, arrive Chicago 11 am the same day, then arrive Detroit at 4pm. Whew!

Thanks for coming along this crazy ride with us. We enjoyed the company. But please check back. Once we're home and have the internet up and running, I'll be posting some final thoughts. Off to pick up the kids from school and prepare for take off...

Still Stuffed on Sunday

Our final dinner in Kunming was very fitting - Yunnan's specialty - Over the Bridge Noodles at a very popular Bridge Nooodle restaurant.

Here's all the "fixings" that one puts in the broth to cook:

Aileen made sure the right ingredient entered the broth in the correct order:

That stack of little plates and bowls ended up in the big bowls. Delicious and a good deal - total cost for three huge bowls - under $9:

And a bonus - entertainment!

That mural tells the story of the origin of Over the Bridge Noodles:

Stuffed on Saturday...

That's the feeling we have had the last two days. Seems all we have done is eat!

Here we are having lunch on Saturday with friends from the Kindergarten. We also attended a dinner Saturday night for the foreign teachers at KMUST. No photos. We went to thank the directors of the international office for all their help throughout the year. Since the other five (single) foreign teachers are on the other two campuses, we have only seen them at the welcome and holiday dinners this year. Thus, we don't know them! So it was basically a dinner with "strangers"!

Lunch on Sunday with our New Zealand friends Lew and Chris:

This is James and Aileen whom we had dinner with on Sunday. (See next post.) Back in September, it was these two kind souls who helped us through the maze of the Chinese hospital system to obtain the kids' school physicals.

Here's a video of the Saturday lunch gang wishing Li Laoshi a very happy birthday: (Hope it works!) I've been really wanting and trying to get a video of the kids speaking Chinese, but everytime they see the camera, they clam up - arrggh...!

Lookin' Spiffy

I'd like to say we all got haircuts so we'll look neat and trim when we see family and friends soon. But the real motivation, of course, was the low cost of a haircut.

E. loves to have her hair washed:

Snip, snip...

Buzz, buzz...

My nail lady since September - Li Xin: