Our Flat

Mom has been waiting way too long to see the photos of the new apartment. But I’ve finally gotten around to posting some shots. And I thought other people might find it interesting to see what a pretty typical middle class apartment in China is like. Although most Chinese apartments have Chinese style furniture, and we have Western. Chinese furniture just kills our backs. In our first apartment we had chronic back problems. So when we moved, we bought our own furniture.

This apartment is a pretty good size – about 80 m² (850 sq.ft.)….biggest we’ve had in China. Your money will just get you a lot more in Lijiang than it will in Chengdu. We were able to get a three bedroom place so that we can each have our own office. Most of the three bedrooms we saw here in Lijiang were entirely too big for us – around 120 m² (1,300 sq.ft.)

For those that are interested you can see photos of our first flat in China as well as our second Chinese flat, in their galleries. The first flat was approximately 70 m² (750 sq.ft.) and the second less than 40 m² (430 sq. ft.). Honestly, the small size was perfect except for the fact I didn’t have my own office and so I used the dining area for my desk. We really missed having a dining table though, and are glad that we have one again. You can see what this apartment looked like when we rented it in this gallery.

WordPress just creeped me out….

cell phone reception at 12,000 ft

I just read the Daily Prompt and noticed something either really, really funny or really, really disturbing on the Daily Post. I’m trying to make up my mind. Take a look at the screencap below.


Notice that little slogan right above the social media icons? “Sharing is caring.” Sounds nice, eh? If you think so, you haven’t read The Circle by Dave Eggers. It’s a good, if somewhat disturbing and thought provoking, read. But I wonder, how long has that little slogan been there? I never noticed it before.

I have to admit, it gave me pause. Did I read the novel and think that I’ve somehow risen above the craziness, because I’m not addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest, Instagram, et.al., only to discount the sinister influence of WordPress? Does being a blogger make me, like Mae – the protagonist in the novel, a participant in mass social destruction?


Hmmm…well, if so, tomorrow I’ll have the antidote administered. I’m heading out to the plateau. Welcome to the past. No internet, no running water, no electricity. Cell phone service is iffy. If not for cell phones, I would think I’d time traveled to the 1100-1800s – pick a century – time has pretty much stopped up there. Except for the cell phone addiction. It might be the end of civilization after all.

I’ll probably return in a week to ten days, weather permitting, wearing the same clothes I had on when I left. I may not have bathed, between now and then. A small cup of hot water in the morning to brush my teeth may be the limit of my personal hygiene routine. The facilities will be a field or valley, perhaps with a bush or tree to give a little privacy. Perhaps not. Perhaps sharing less, is actually caring. I’m sure you could live without knowing the intimate smelly details of my immediate future.

Oh, yeah – the Daily prompt – the cell phone addict above is a perfect stranger to me. I guess her story is that, even though she pretty much lives in an ancient world that time forgot, she is just like Mae. And me. And you.

Well, if you’ve read the book, and have thoughts, I’d love to hear them. When I return from the Middle Ages, that is. If you haven’t read the book, maybe you should. Zai Jian.

Rainy Days Reading

Lijiang coffee shop

With all the rainy days, I’ve had a lot of good reading. There are plenty of nice spots in Lijiang to sit and drink Yunnan coffee and read my Kindle.

July was busy with our big move, getting settled and then starting school. So I didn’t read as many books as normal. The list for July:

Songs of Willow Frost – Jamie Ford
White Oleander – Janet Fitch
State of Wonder – Ann Patchet
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
The Circle – Dave Eggers
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht
Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

I’m currently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. First up for August will be The Secret History by Donna Tartt. What are you currently reading or finished lately that you’d recommend?

in season

In season right now: 山竹 shān zhú, mangosteen. I think they are lovely. Wade thinks they are tasty. We thought they were supposed to be quite healthy for us, but now it seems that isn’t really true. Still, it’s lovely having a bowl of the “queen of fruit” on the table to enjoy.


tiny kitten with big blue eyes Today, this little guy sat on my foot for most of lunch at the pizza place across from Jade Spring Park. The waitress said they found him on the street a week or so ago, and adopted him. Poor little guy was so flee bitten and mangy. But still so adorable. I’d love to adopt a kitten of my own, but I’m pretty sure I’d have to chose between the kitten and Wade. No contest. Kittens are cute, but not as cute as Wade. And they don’t do dishes or give back rubs, or listen to me, or buy me chocolate, or take me butterflying, or…save my life.

Torch Festival

Fire, pouring rain, crowds, umbrellas, kids, night…fun for the participants, challenging for a photographer.

the silver lining

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 玉龙雪山 (Yùlóngxuě Shān)Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 玉龙雪山 (Yùlóngxuě Shān) Lijiang, China – the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere

It’s pretty dang tough being a blogger when you live behind the Great Firewall. This Spring has been the worst so far. I finally just gave up altogether, and quit trying. You can only bang your head against the Wall for so long before you end up with a headache. And you can waste an awful lot of time waiting, waiting, waiting…only to get “connection timed out” which is code for, the Wall wins, you lose! So I stopped waiting and got busy with life.Since I last posted, we’ve been to Bali for two weeks, made a trip to Lijiang and rented a new apartment, packed up everything we own here in Chengdu, and arranged all the details for a move to a different province! The train picks our stuff up Tuesday morning and we follow it shortly thereafter. I am so excited! I love Lijiang. I can hardly wait to introduce you all to our magical new home. The photo above is our new view. I think it’s a big improvement from the view here in Chengdu. What do you think?

But there was one other benefit I rediscovered while the internet was beyond my grasp. Being offline gives you a gift of more time to read. I also discovered another wonderful thing: I can borrow books from my local library in Washington through Overdrive, and have them delivered to my Kindle for FREE!! Free books is the best thing since sliced bread. I had missed the library so much. Now the library goes with me wherever I go! What a fantastic innovation!

So far this Spring I’ve read:
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
The Sense of An Ending – Julian Barnes
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
The Great Santini – Pat Conroy
I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith
The Book Theif – Marcus Zusak
The Cooked Seed: A Memoir – Anchee Min
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch
The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Room With a View – EM Forster
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
Death Comes to Pemberly – P.D. James
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Aviator’s Wife – Melanie Benjamin
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel – Neil Gaiman
The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman
Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
The Dinner – Herman Koch
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
All That Is – James Salter
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
I’ve already downloaded books for the long train ride South:
The Circle – Dave Eggers
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
White Oleander – Janet Fitch
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

Our last train trip to LJ, I read 8 books, so if you have a suggestion, I’d love to have it quick! Or check out my Reading List and give me your recommendations or reviews. The to read section is still fairly healthy, but now that I’m on Overdrive, I’m whittling it down at a pretty good clip. And hopefully, the Wall will be less formidable in our new home and I’ll be back in the blogging business just as soon as I’ve unpacked all these boxes and settled in. I missed that too.


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