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Posts Tagged ‘China’

De Agony of De Feet

We've just completed the third quarter of the first year of the Wellness Challenge at the university. If I continue to do as I have been doing, I should end the year in the gold category. This summer on week days, I have no problem at all getting at least 10,000 steps a day with my work at IT Help Desk. One day last month I got over 19,000 steps in the course of my work. The total of my steps for the past nine months is a little over 3,250,000 steps! I should hit 4 million by the end of the first year of the challenge. Sensible walking shoes are a must!

A few weeks ago I got an interesting and at least mildly disturbing e-mail with pictures of some current and past shoe fashion rages in Japan.

Think your shoes are uncomfortable? Look at the latest (out)rage in shoes in Japan....

Japanese red high heels

Japanese black shoes

Japanese black shoes

Japanese black high heels

Japanese red boots

Japanese black sparkly shoes

Japanese black horse shoes

Feel better now about your shoes? How would you like sensible walking shoes like those?

Uncomfortable shoes seem to be a tradition in the Orient. Look at the kinds of shoes that were worn back in the day of the Chinese women who practiced foot binding....

hard to walk

Advanced age does not seem to be the only reason for her difficulty in walking.

hard to walk

This woman was apparently one of those who practiced foot binding.

coming unwrapped

Like many people, you may think your feet are ugly. You might not any longer after you see the next few pictures! Here's the woman's unwrapped foot from one angle....


Here's the foot from another angle....

what it looks like

Here's a close up...


Unbelievable, huh!?

Still think your feet are ugly? Here are a few more pictures that may convince you otherwise....

The heels of time (Time wounds all heels?)...

the heels of time

Time for a pedicure?

maybe a pedicure would be in order

Feel better now about your feet? Ugly feet aren't found only in Asia, huh?


house wren update...

It appears that the eggs have now hatched. They're at that oxymoronic stage - pretty ugly! Here's a picture I took this evening....

the baby house wrens

Want to have beautiful feet? Read on to find out how....


"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:15

=^..^= =^..^=

If your nose runs and your feet smell, maybe you're built umop-apisdn.

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Dangerous Hike and Freebies

Recently I received an e-mail with the subject line: Free lunch! Want to go? All our Thursday freebies and our thoughts about China that you'll read about below in our personal update made me take a second look at the e-mail. It was a series of outrageous pictures of a climb up a mountain in China, claiming that anyone who reached the top would eat a free lunch at a restaurant at the top. I checked with Snopes and found nothing to confirm or deny this claim. However, as I did other web searches, I found that there is quite a bit out there about the extremely dangerous hikes people can and do take on Mt. Huashan. Here are some of the pictures from the e-mail and from websites I found. I love to go hiking in the mountains, but I'm not sure this hike is my cup of green tea....

Here's a map to show where Mt. Huashan is located....

map with Mt. Huashan

Part of the climb is a pleasant ride in a gondola....

gondola ride on Mt. Huashan

Some of the sites I found stressed that the climb up Mt. Huashan is mountain hiking, not mountain climbing, which involves special equipment and knowledge. They also stressed that this particular hike is not for people not in shape, and Americans are surprised that the public is even allowed to do this - it's so dangerous!

Here are some pictures of what different parts of the "hiking trail" look like....

stairs cut into the rock

a walkway that seems to just float on the rock

Anyone care to go up this ladder...?

up a ladder

No one can say they don't warn the climbers....

standard disclaimers

Talk about walking the plank!

walking the plank

Watch your step! That's quite a drop!

girl walking the plank

guys walking the plank

I mean it - that's a really serious drop!

serious drop

Part of the climb is footholds cut into the rock and chains thoughtfully provided to hold on to....

footholds and chains

footholds and chains

footholds and chains

Be sure to stay on the staircase and hold on to the chains!

staircase to heaven

Since some parts of the trail make it difficult to pass people coming back down, someone has thought of providing two staircases - one for climbing and one for descending....

up and down stairs

As hard as this hike would be in nice weather, some people even take this hike in the winter, believe it or not!

climbing Mt. Huashan in winter

climbing Mt. Huashan in winter

Those who make it to the top of the five peaks are rewarded with some breath-taking views (as if they could still breathe once they got there!)....

The South Peak...

the South Peak

The West Peak (called the Playing Chess Pavilion)...

the West Peak

For those who can't get enough of this stuff, here's a website with stories from people who have done this hike (I'm not responsible for everything said on that site) - http://www.ssqq.com/ARCHIVE/vinlin27d.htm

So, anyone going to add this hike to your future travel and vacation plans?


Last Thursday we took advantage of several freebies or almost-freebies. First, we went to McDonald's for lunch. They were giving to each customer a free Southern style chicken sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large soft drink. We had eaten some vegetables before leaving the house to help round out our lunch. After lunch we took off for Costco - they were offering for several days the opportunity for non-members to get in for free. What I hadn't reckoned on was that the time of our shopping coincided very nicely with all the free samples of all kinds of things that further helped round out our lunch.

That evening after dinner at home, we made the mistake of taking Dunkin Donuts up on their offer for a free iced coffee. Dunkin Donuts coffee is one of my very favorite coffees, but their iced coffee was worth every penny I paid for it. The girls took only a couple of sips of theirs, but after doctoring mine up to the point it was palatable, I finished it off. After all, it was FREE, right?! I regretted it as I thought about that semi-wretched iced coffee off and on until 1:30 a.m. Did I mention that they weren't offering decaf iced coffee?

Did anyone else take advantage of any of these freebies last week?

Many have been asking if Becka and are going to China this summer to teach English again. Earlier this school year we rattled two different door knobs, thinking the Lord might open at least one of the doors. But that did not happen, so we know that He wants us here this summer. The dean at the university where we've taught two summers before said that they would love to have us come teach in 2009. So we will plan that way.

If you're new to my blog, you might want to check out some of our adventures from the summers of 2005 and 2006 that I chronicled on the blog. You can get to those posts by clicking on the China link in the tag cloud in the sidebar. There are many pages of posts to explore about our time over there.

People have been asking me for an update on the wren's nest in our bird house. Below is a shot I took this evening. You can see several little eggs in there.

house wren eggs in our bird house


"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book." - Ronald Reagan

=^..^= =^..^=

Sign on high school bulletin board - "Free: every Monday through Friday. Knowledge. Bring your own container."

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I have seen three things in the last two days about humorous situations that have arisen, thanks to people's trying to communicate in a foreign language. I pass these on with at least a little bit of trepidation since I'm currently trying to review what little Chinese I learned two years ago this semester. My wife and I plan to go teach in Asia again this next summer unless some door closes to show us clearly that that is not what we are supposed to do. Anyway, on to the miscommunications (or is it missed communications?)...

I'll start off with a story we received by e-mail from our friend Ruth with whom we have taught in Asia. She writes...

Cross-Culture Non-Communication

The following is a true story, however impossible it may sound.

After teaching for three hours, I asked a sophomore student to go with me to the language lab director's office to find out the name of a Chinese male teacher who had taught in the room next to me the previous hour.

Thinking my request quite simple, I told the student to ask the director to please tell me the name of the teacher who had taught in room 206 the previous hour. I know the student asked the correct question since I could understand most of the Chinese words used.

The answer?...

Director: No, you teach in room 208.
Me: I am not talking about me. I am talking about the Chinese teacher in room 206.

Student translates

D: You are not in 206 you are in 208.
Thought: Hello, is anyone listening to me?

In walks a Chinese English teacher. The director asks her to tell me that my classroom is number 208.

Me: I am not talking about me or my classroom. I simply want to know the name of the teacher in room 206.
D: But she is not in 206.
Thought: Would someone just listen to my question!
Me: There is a male teacher in room 206. His English name is Bear. I want to know his Chinese name.
D: OH, OH, OH. You mean the MAN! Is he a little big (meaning fat) and no hair on the top?
Me: Yes,
D: His name is __ __ __.

What if I really had an emergency? I would be dead before anyone listened to me.

This evening we received the following short e-mail from Ruth:

The story I wrote about non-communication has a second chapter. The original story took place last Thursday. Yesterday, Thursday, in class my little translator sweetly came to me and said, "The reason the lady could not understand you last week was because you were giving her the wrong room numbers." UGH! There I had to swallow some pride and repent. So my whole story just lost its punch line and I learned a good lesson.


The following is an excerpt from a blog post by a man named Dave, who is currently teaching English in Asia.

He entitled it: I don't know what it is, but it likes ESPN2

I gave my first test last week, and as bonus questions, asked them to write a sentence using one of the slang phrases that I've taught them. A few students got them right. Many more failed in spectacular ways. Most of the difficulties centered on the phrase "couch potato." Seems simple enough, right? Maybe to you. A few of the (erroneous) attempts at capturing this phrase follow.

- He is a couch tomato.
- I was a sofa tomato.
- We should not be couch pasta [I know it's some kind of starchy food!]
- We are sofa and Pomato on the holiday.
- My sister likes laying Tomato, she always sitting on sofa.
- Tom A Couch Plato [These are not the ultimate Doritos, but merely shadowy copies of the true form].
- you watch TV, you will be crouch potato [Looks like the three-point stance to me]

And, in a guess at "baby boomer:"
- After the 2th World War, many boom babies borned.


The following is from the blog of Carol who is living in Asia with her husband Hal and their three kids. Carol and Hal are both former high school students of mine from way back in the last millenium. Carol's parents are there visiting them right now. Anyway, Carol writes...

Today I thought I would share with you YET another language blunder. This one took place last week while my mom and I were shopping. Here we have markets that we shop at where we have to bargain for our items and that involves speaking. Well as you know I am new to this language so I am learning all the time how to say things and new words to add to my ever building vocabulary.

When I am out and about I try very hard to use each word I can possibly use. Personally I detest having to have someone help me anymore. Perhaps that is my slightly stubborn side coming out but I am at the point where I want to say it and do it MYSELF. SO that means I have to put it in high gear and start getting more words under my belt. Practice times for me are often found at the market because I have to speak to them in order to make a purchase and people are typically very willing to let me try my words on them. 🙂

My mom and I were shopping last week and looking for some 'wedding lanterns' that would be sent back to the states for a wedding shower of a Chinese woman and her American fiance. I had a bit of a hesitation when I was shopping because I was unsure exactly which lantern was for wedding and which for New Years. They look alike to me except for the characters written on them. I am still not able to read them so I have to ask. I figured that was no big deal...I would just tell the worker that this lantern was going to be for a wedding and make sure it was the correct one. That is not out of the realm of my meager vocabulary. I had learned all of those words and could readily ask those questions. The problem came when I got one key word mixed up. As I was describing why I wanted to purchase this lantern I repeatedly use the word "divorce" instead of "marriage/wedding". OOOPS big mistake there. The fun was as follows:

(Ok, so imagine yourself hearing some weirdo foreigner say this to you:)

"Are these lanterns used for the divorce of a man and woman?"

HMMM....no response...just odd looks....so let me try this again.

"I would like to purchase a lantern to celebrate a friend's divorce."

Ok, so that didn't go over real well...they are now just staring at me...one more swing at this...let's rearrange the sentence a little and see if it flies....

"An American and a Chinese person will be getting divorced and we would like to have 2 lanterns for the party."

Ok, I am talking Greek or something so may be I should describe the event...here's another feeble attempt...

"In America we give gifts, eat food, talk and celebrate 2 people getting divorced."

Ok...you you get the picture, huh? Those poor people just kept saying "no" and looking at me all weird and, I am sure, wondering about all of us sicko Americans out here that celebrate a divorce this way. They kept stepping back from me and shaking their heads and looking at me REALLY oddly.

THEN...it hit me. I realized I was using the wrong word for "marriage" and instead was saying "divorce". So I told them "oh I am sorry, I forgot the word" and when I fixed it and told them "wedding" they immediately took me to the correct lanterns for THAT occasion. AMAZING how one word can change the whole situation!!

SO...I have now given them something fun to go home and disuss at the dinner table. 🙂 When I told an Chinese friend here what I said/did, she said, "They will now tell all their friends what the crazy American woman told them today." 🙂 Guess I will be the talk of the town...me and my divorce celebration.


"What a cheap imitation of glory is living for what will soon pass away!" - Dr. Tony Fox

=^..^= =^..^=

When the seed store was robbed, the authorities suspected that the evidence was planted.

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You Know You’ve Lived in China Too Long When…

Our friend Ruth with whom we have taught in Asia the last two summers has been here in Greenville on an extended leave to help her elderly parents and is now preparing to go back next week. One month before her scheduled departure, her university there informed her that since her passport would run out in 5 months, she would need to get a new one. We were all amazed that she was able to get her passport renewed and then get the necessary visa in it in 18 days! She loves the confirmation that Someone wants her there this school year. One evening this week our little team of teachers from last summer is taking her out for Asian food before her return next week.

Recently Ruth forwarded a list of ways you can know you've lived in China too long. My wife and I have lived there only two months, so we had not experienced all the things in her list, but we saw enough to know that nothing in the list is out of the realm of likelihood.

You Know You've Lived in China Too Long When...

You think a 30-year-old woman's carrying a Hello Kitty lunch box is cute

All white people look the same to you

You like the smell of the bus

You no longer need tissues to blow your nose

You find Western toilets uncomfortable

You think it’s OK to throw rubbish, including old fridges, from your 18th-floor window

You believe that pressing the button 63 times will make the elevator move faster

You aren’t aware that one is supposed to pay for software

You are not surprised to see your tap water run dark brown

You think that a $7 shirt is a rip-off

You started to buy an XXXL T-shirt in a store when you returned home

You think it’s silly to buy a new bike when it’ll get stolen soon, and stolen bikes are half the price

You feel cheated if you don’t receive a full head and shoulder massage when getting a haircut

You blow your nose or spit on the restaurant floor (of course after making a loud hocking noise)

You no longer wait in line, but go immediately to the head of the queue (=the line)

You no longer wonder how someone who earns US $400.00 per month can drive a Mercedes

You regard it as just part of the adventure when the waiter correctly repeats your order and the cook makes something completely different

You accept the fact that you have to queue to get a number for the next queue

You are not surprised when three men with a ladder show up to change a light bulb

You honk your horn at people because they are in your way as you drive down the sidewalk

You have a pinky fingernail an inch long

You burp in any situation and don’t care

You have absolutely no sense of traffic rules

You start cutting off large vehicles on your bicycle

You go to a local shop in pajamas

You think - pollution, what pollution?

Someone doesn’t stare at you, and you wonder why

You wear out your vehicle’s horn before its brakes

Forks feel funny

Chinese remakes of Western songs sound better than the originals

You get homesick for real Chinese food when away from China

Your handshake is weakening by the day

You have compiled a 3-page list of weird English first names that Chinese people of your acquaintance have chosen for themselves

Your collection of business cards has outgrown your flat

The last time you visited your family, you gave each person your business card

You and a friend get on a bus, sit at opposite ends of the bus, and continue your conversation by yelling from one end to the other

You cannot say a number without making the appropriate hand sign

You start recognizing the Chinese songs on the radio and sing along to them with the taxi driver

You feel insulted when you enter a restaurant and only three greeters welcome you

Signs like the one below don't look odd to you...

bilingual signage


"We have a low estimation of how much prayer can change our circumstances." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.

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It’s Great to Be a Guy!

Some of the following is so true, and some of it, I can only wish it were true. Anyway, enjoy!

It's great to be a guy! Here are over 50 reasons for that assertion....

You know stuff about tanks.

A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.

You can open all your own jars.

You don't have to learn to spell a new last name.

You can leave the motel bed unmade.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

Wedding plans take care of themselves.

If someone forgets to invite you to something, he or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is $10 for a three-pack.

If you are 34 and single, nobody notices.

Everything on your face stays its original color.

Old friends don't care if you've lost or gained weight

Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.

You don't have to clean your apartment if the meter reader is coming.

Car mechanics tell you the truth.

You can quietly watch a game with your buddy for hours without even once thinking, "He must be mad at me."

Gray hair and wrinkles only add character.

Tuxedo rental - 75 bucks. (Wedding dress - $2,000)

You don't pass on the dessert and then mooch off someone else's.

You can drop by to see a friend without having to bring a little gift.

If another guy shows up at the party in the same outfit, you just might become lifelong friends.

You are not expected to know the names of more than five colors.

You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

You almost never have strap problems in public.

You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.

You don't have to shave below your neck.

You never have to clean the toilet

At least a few belches are expected and tolerated.

Your belly usually hides your big hips.

One wallet and one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.

You can "do" your nails with a pocketknife.

You are free to choose whether to grow a mustache.

Christmas shopping can be accomplished for 25 relatives, on December 24th, in 45 minutes.

Your bathroom lines are 80% shorter.

Dry cleaners and haircutters don't rob you blind.

When clicking through the channels, you don't have to stall out on every shot of someone crying.

One mood, all the time.

You don't have to lug a bag of useful stuff around everywhere you go.

You can go to the bathroom without a support group.

When your work is criticized, you don't have to panic that everyone secretly hates you.

The garage is all yours.

You can be showered and ready in 10 minutes.

None of your co-workers have the power to make you cry.

Chocolate is just another snack.

Flowers fix everything.

The remote is yours and yours alone

You don't care if someone notices your new haircut.

If you retain water, it's in a canteen.

You don't need to pretend you're "freshening up" to go to the bathroom.

If you don't call your buddy when you say you will, he won't tell your friends you've changed.

If something mechanical doesn't work, you can bash it with a hammer and throw it across the room.

New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

You don't have to remember everyone's birthdays and anniversaries.

Your pals can be trusted never to trap you with "So ... notice anything different?"


This past Sunday was Chinese New Year's Day. I emailed my students from the past two summers, several teachers, and several personal friends to wish them each a Happy New Year. I've heard back from many of them, but one reply in particular was simply amazing! Here's what Nancy wrote:

Dear Professor Loach,

Thank you for your greetings!

Actually I am celebrating the Chinese New Year in Florida with my parents
now. I have recently published a fantasy novel, SWORDBIRD, and I was on the
Martha Stewart Show just a few days ago.

Happy New Year to you and your family!


P.S. I enjoyed your teachings in Hainan!


I did some searching and found out that what she told me was all too true! When I taught her in 2005 she was a middle school student in a group of mainly university students, and her English was head and shoulders over theirs! After doing some Google searches and learning more about her background. I learned that when I taught her she was only 11 years old, but she had lived for several years in the USA. Check out Nancy's googlepage to learn more about her and/or her books.

Another thing going on in my life this week is attending the Family Enrichment Conference at our church. Dr. Greg Mazak, a colleague from BJU, is the speaker to us adults. If any of you who are local to the Greenville area would like to attend the remaining evenings (this evening and tomorrow evening - Feb. 20 and 21), you would really profit from what he has to say. Sunday evening, as an opener, he read a list he'd received by email - reasons of why it's great to be a guy. Several people accused me of being his source for that. I really wasn't, but since I had it on file and it's so fresh in mind, I thought I'd share it here on the blog.

=^..^= =^..^=

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks!

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