Tag Archives: China

Sunny Suzhou

China Memoirs #12

My wife and I just went on a trip to Suzhou, China.  This city is considered the venice of China because of all the canals that line the historic district and beyond.  Below are some pictures I took on my panorama application on the iPhone 4.  I am going to imbed them as flat images and then link them to the website so that you can view them also as a panorama image.

Times Square, Suzhou

Suzhou.Times.Square

http://360.io/7gRGPv

Blue and White Monstrosity (seriously LARGE…)

Suzhou.Blue.White.Monstrosity

http://360.io/bDR2xt

Ancient Wall

Suzhou.Ancient.Wall

http://360.io/TjyuCK

End of a random canal street

Suzhou.End of Canal Street

http://360.io/Mk4xtG

Isthmus, Suzhou Zoo

Suzho.Zoo.Isthmus

http://360.io/E6kBpb

Jasmine Tree? (sure smelled like it!), Suzhou Zoo

Suzhou.Zoo.Jasmine.Tree

http://360.io/MpYPVT

The Wife (main event)

Suzhou.The.Wife

http://360.io/ZktvZ5

Scholars Hotel Garden (awesome hotel…)

Suzhou.Scholars Hotel

http://360.io/Bd6g47

Humble Administrator’s Garden Part I

Suzhou.Humble.Garden.Part.1

http://360.io/H3a7un

Humble Administrator’s Garden Part II

Suzhou.Humble.Garden.Part.2

http://360.io/ce7CwM

Humble Administrator’s Garden Part III

Suzhou.Humble.Garden.Part.3

http://360.io/nxLpfT

Humble Administrator’s Garden Part IV – Pagoda

Suzhou.Humble.Garden.Part.4.Pagoda

http://360.io/wmc2QM

I should have a few more posts before we come back from China.  We have about 6 1/2 weeks to go!  It has been fun, but our time is running out here.  See you soon family!

Dr. Derek

 

Chinese 9th Grade Education

The China Memoirs #11

Currently I am still in China with my wife and I saw something really interesting today that I want to share with everyone back home.

Ninth Graders in China are currently preparing for a very large test that will allow them into high school… really? [High school goes from 10th to 12th grade in China.]  In the states we NEVER had an ENTRANCE exam into high school, BUT Chinese students can receive high school completely free until they graduate. Only the very best students can have entrance into high school as long as their grades are sufficient.  These students have to suffer through some serious rigorous examinations for both Chinese and English.  As English is a REQUIRED language in China for all students until and through 9th grade.  Just think if Spanish, French, or Chinese was a required language for all of Americans… all students then could claim bilingual status and everyone (I think) would get along just that much better 🙂

Here is a picture from the current middle school that we taught in Xi An Feng.

Xi An Feng Middle School
Xi An Feng Middle School

Here is another link to the same photo:  http://360.io/52RbLz

The above link is to a “panorama”-like photo that is taken with Occipital 360 application on my iPhone.  It works pretty good.

Here is a slew of other photos with the amount of books that they carry during their 9th Grade term… I feel like these kids think that this 9th Grade exam is insurmountable at best.

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Not gonna lie… these kids are quite adorable and really do work hard to get their grades top notch.

Anyways!  We will be back in the states soon enough!  Excited to continue  teaching, BUT the prospect of being in Chicago with my family (when it isn’t blizzarding outside) will be quite nice indeed!

~Dr. 😀

Dreams of a Father

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The China Memoirs #10

[He] dreams of a father long since past.  This father not many have met, but many know by association.  This father was Dennis Simpson Jr.  He was my father and this is his story.

What can one say, when they wake up from a dream, that seems so real that they could just reach out and touch it with a bare finger.  Well… that is how I felt, when I awoke this morning, finding myself with tears in my eyes wondering, “How did I get here again?”  Well that answer is really a complicated one, but for the sake of time I will tell you shortly and sweetly.

This is a story of the birds and bees between my parents.  First came my eldest sister, then came me, and then came my younger sister.  We were and still are a pretty tight knit group of kids.  Our mother raised us well to love one another well… whether we were stealing toys or pulling each other’s hair out, our love was fierce.  Our father, Dennis Simpson Jr., was a hard-working man and from what I could remember as a child, he worked ALL the time.  So much so, that I don’t really remember him very much.  From what I understand he worked the 3rd shift, which meant he was gone during the night and slept during the day.  Now this created tension with other people in the household, so there was lots of chaos in the house.  This lead to an eventual break in our family unit.

Mom and Dad were just not getting along as well as they used to and alas had to come to an agreement.  A divorce was the only reasonable situation for them both.  I was only 9 years old at the time and really oblivious and removed. My older sister was either 10 or 11 years old.  My younger sister was at least 6 years old at the time.  We knew we couldn’t live in the house for much longer, because Mom couldn’t afford it by herself.  Somehow, as the fates would have it, Mom got remarried in a short time, and we were all off to a new adventure together.

But what happened to Dennis… his story, unfortunately ends a little sooner than we all thought.  My father developed stomach cancer which turned into a freaky sort of lymphoma leukemia in a short period of time.  In two short years, my father had passed from cancer and us kids were left to pick up the pieces.  Sure there was suffering on the part of us kids, but nothing in comparison to what my father experienced.  Bless his heart because he surely got the worst of it.

From then on, the only sort of peace I had, was the kind experienced in my dreams.  Often, after his death, I would dream about him still being alive.  (This is of course a common occurrence for all loved ones that are firmly planted in our subconsciousness.)  And as often as I would forget about his existence in my life, another dream would pop up again reminding me of his long-lost presence.  So here is the kicker really… if a person passes on, are they really gone?  No.  Not in the least.  In fact, this is just a transition state for them.  This is an upgrade.  An upgrade into a higher way of life, especially if they had suffered a lot physically (like my father).  His soul is probably somewhere… in a field of astral light, enjoying the astral sunshine, wondering WHY he would ever leave a place like that for a tour on earth once again to battle out the seemingly unending battles of physical change.  That is life, death, and everything in between.

But when I awoke this morning, with tears in my eyes, I remembered that this life is really impermanent.  That soon enough, when the next 50 years has past, and my body is old, gray, and wrinkly, I too will see his face again amongst the many other faces of people that have passed on.  I hope, however, I don’t see it any sooner!  This life offers too much happiness, joy, and love for me to pass up!

I hope that for every dream I do have of him, they just become more and more real.  That every time I see his face, I remember, really, that he is me, just in an older body.  I am a half-clone of his body and that I am reflection of him.  So, when I dream of him, am I really dreaming of myself?  Or… am I dreaming of the man that was my father?

This leads me to think that, what makes a father?  Because I have a stepdad, that I could never really call “Father” or “Dad.”  But maybe that is all really an illusion as well.  He is a father to the two boys that he created with my mother, so couldn’t I also call him “Father” too? He has really been my father for so many years and many people think I actually look more like him, then I do my biological father.  So once again… am I dreaming of my father long since past, myself, or my stepfather?  Maybe I am dreaming of all three?  We are all made in the image of the Creator SPIRIT and thus have IT’s ultimate destiny within each one of us.  To live and play in SPIRIT’s dreamland until we come to realize our truest nature in SPIRIT.  That I believe is the best dream to have.

:Derek

Eating Boredom: One Chunk at a Time

China Memoirs #8

The best and worst thing about being in another country is the onset of boredom.  No matter where you are, boredom can be a killer.  Currently it is morning in China, where I am teaching ESL.  My wife is passed out in bed and I… well I awoke with a feeling of being bored.  I mean… shoot!  I am in another country two days after the Chinese New Year!  Should I not be out having a gay ‘ol time enjoying myself raucously?!?  Frankly… I just have never been that type of man, and I am not going to start now :0

My wife and I decided originally to go to China to have a new experience with each other.  We literally got married the month before we left for China.  Most people thought we were off our rockers, but we took that as a sign that we were doing the right thing.  Being in China during one’s first year in marriage offers quite a bit of stories to be remembered.   We wanted to have an ADVENTURE.  I mean… our song for our marriage recessional (walking back down the aisle) was the theme song for Indiana Jones.  We knew what we were getting ourselves into.

One thing, I think that everyone forgets, that no matter where you are boredom can always sneak it’s way in. This time in China was to be considered like a cheaply paid vacation.  We’re not getting paid much here, but it is like 7 times that of most teachers and people living in China.  Essentially we live like kings and queens in some way.  Go on… be mildly jealous of us 🙂  On top of that we are paid a month’s salary during our one month vacation in China, plus travel bonuses if we stay the entire 9 to 10 months.  We traveled to the south of China where it was warmer on our vacation away from our teaching-ESL-vacation.  Now we are back having a vacation away from South China vacation on our teaching-ESL-vacation.  That third vacation can really offer some huge levels of boredom.  However, it is Sunday here in China.  We are currently 13-16 hours ahead of everyone in the United States.  If they had the Super Bowl here in China I would even have a party, but we have no TV to speak of… well we do, if you can fluently understand Mandarin Chinese 🙂

So now my dilemma is what do I do, now that I am bored.  Don’t  worry.. I could do:

  1. Taxes:  not sure if I will be able to file them in April, now that I am in another country… so that one may have to wait and file an extension
  2. Preparing for new standards of medical practice when I arrive home to the U.S.:  Not looking forward to this.  May have to wait for a sweet little seminar to give me all the goods on this one.  I could talk to friends.  However I need to wait at least 4-5 months to see how Obamacare really turns out!
  3. Traveling: the wife says no for now.  She is content with staying in our apartment, playing solitaire on the computer and watching movies.  We really are two old fogies… if only I had a cane and some serious gray hair, I could really complete the ensemble.
  4. Meditation: When you are bored, it is much harder to meditate… especially when you go to sleep at 2am in the morning and wake up at 10:30am.  Go ahead, feel bad for me… all you workaholics out there are really diggin’ that one, aren’t you?!?
  5. Eating:  This is ultimately what I was coming to.  I eat, when I am bored.  I usually eat so much that my brains pop out the other end, leading to buyer’s remorse and a really upset stomach.

This is where the challenge arises for me.  Boredom isn’t so bad when there really are things to do.  Eventually, a person like myself (being a physician with 2 doctorates) will find something to do.  I am not tooting my own horn, but it takes a serious amount of motivation to complete one medical doctorate, let alone two.  I am just a academic-glutton-for-punishment.  All-in-all, I will find something to do, even if it causes mild destruction to my body.  For me, it was eating foods to the extreme.  Thank God that I am strongly intolerant to wheat and gluten.  I also have a moderate allergy to milk and other milk products, so that eliminates a lot of foods that I can gorge myself on.  Also, any MSG products that are named in this list…

http://www.msgtruth.org/avoid.htm

OR in this list… http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html  This is my favorite list, as it points out all of the food one wouldn’t think would have MSG in it.  The food industries of the world try to sneak it into everything!

OR in this list… http://www.msgfacts.com/nutrition/what_foods_are_glutamate-rich.aspx  This one is special in a way where it literally points out all the major foods with “free” glutamate.  These foods generally cause people problems with food intolerances. I would say, all those foods on this list are probably not the best for me, save for a few.

Ultimately, there are a lot of foods I won’t eat, because this body just spits them right back out.  BUT… there are still a lot of foods I can eat, and those I eat in ABUNDANCE.  It takes a man of true self-realization to maintain that balance (I am unfortunately not there yet, otherwise I would not be talking about this…).

So… what do I do when I get bored?  I eat.  Those that know me, understand that for me to eat, means nothing, because there is not much there.  If there is something sweet or salty to eat, those I eat first! Fortunately for me, everything salty in this country has MSG in it. That includes potato chips and other salty morsels of the same.  Those I can steer clear of. Things that are sweet in this country, primarily include Chocolate. Mmmmmmmm. Chocolate….  Gotta watch out for that chocolate.  Some has possible MSG in it, like Kinder Bueno.  My gut had a field day after eating that junk.  Dove does pretty decent chocolate here, so that isn’t too bad, unless one eats like 3-4 bars at time, plus other things.  It generally leads to a no-good situation and lots of abdominal pain.  There is also fruit… the fruit is abundant and fills up my tummy… FAST. Which is a good thing, but can still mess with my blood sugar.   Uh… woe-is-me.

Alas, here I am in China, debating on the food I will eat today.  Is it because it is Super Bowl Sunday here in China and I am already sensing my comrades-in-arms ready to do battle on their chili-bean dips, tortilla chips, guacamole (which does not exist in China), pizza, and every other delectable thing conjured by man?!?  That… could… be.

I am very sensitive to my family back home and picking up their vibrations is commonplace.  But could I also be picking up their desires to eat mass quantities of foods while watching men in seemingly iron-clad uniforms beat up on each other for the pure enjoyment of others???  This could be as well.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday Family!  See you soon!

:Derek

Wo ai cha!

1024px-China_-_Chengdu_22_-_green_tea_(140902695)

 

China Memoirs #7

“Wo ai cha!” means, “I love tea!” literally in Mandarin Chinese spelled in pinyin.  Green tea is a popular drink in the land of China, both mainland and the associated regions of Hong Kong and Macau.  There are many varieties, 80% of which comes from the mainland of China itself.

Currently my wife, Jessie and I are imbibing a scrumptious and delectable drink called lucha (lew cha).  This the essential Chinese name for green tea on the mainland and specifically in Mandarin.  It also has Jasmine flower mixed in, to sweeten the bitter edge that can be associated with green teas.

My wife still loves her guihua (gway hwah) or osmanthus tea so much more, but when we decide to mix both the guihua and lucha together… well that is a party no one would forget 😉

Well… today is a day of relaxation.  With that I bid you adieu.

:Derek

Chinese New Year Meditation

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The China Memoirs #6

What is it like to try meditating during Chinese New Year?  It isn’t easy, if that was what you were thinking… 🙂

The Chinese have a long history celebrating Chinese New Year with big and loud sounds emanating from bright lights shooting up into the sky.  Yes, yes.. I am talking about fireworks.  They are a huge part of the North America’s celebration along with being a large part of many nations’ celebrations.  You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireworks if you are interested.

The Chinese especially have had fireworks as a part of their festivities since the 7th century when they were originally written about. Apparently the Chinese have ALWAYS known how to have a good time!  It is obvious when one is in China during these New Year celebrations, because for miles around in larger towns and cities (I am currently in a small town called Baoying, Jiangsu which is about 1 million people), fireworks can be heard for the whole day before Chinese New Year and the days following Chinese New Year.  Now… I know it is ONLY Chinese New Year’s Eve, but I have HEARD that the following days will be just as much as a ruckus.

As I was riding my bicycle to a supermarket today called, Lotte Mart, I saw stacks upon stacks of fireworks boxes along many roadside businesses and homes.  All I thought to myself was, “God, please protect me and my precious little ears!”  These fireworks are equivalent to the big boomers heard in the United States during 4th of July celebrations.  They are not just simple bottle rockets. They could easily equal that of a quarter stick of dynamite!  These Chinese don’t mess around!

As for my meditation in the mornings and evenings… one needs great concentration when attempting such as feat.  I am lucky that I have various techniques that my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, has taught me as I would not have a chance in heaven of maintaining any sort of bodily peace without them.

Here is another picture I would like to share of Guangzhou, Guangdong out of a hostel’s window when we went on our own vacation during this Chinese New Year.  http://360.io/ZVCadm  It is an interactive panorama site, so enjoy!

I know that in all things, meditation is the fastest way to reach the highest plateaus of self-realization.  I say plateaus because once you are there, nothing can tear it away from you.  Although peaks will be achieved in meditation, one still needs to operate successfully in this material world.  The plateau is still enough to maintain a blissful perspective on God’s eternal love.  All this is possible even if loud sounds are piercing your delicate eardrums.

Chinese New Year fireworks is not only to celebrate with families, but also to show God that thunder isn’t the only thing that can make a loud noise!  I think that God has given us these gifts of fireworks, family, and fun to help us to continue to release the past yearly tensions that may have arisen.  Let us make a new tradition… every time a firework is lit, let us think of it as a release of our past transgressions towards ourselves and others.

Peace to the Asian East on this Fantastic Chinese New Year’s Eve!

:Derek

China Memoirs #5

Today I want to talk a little about Osmanthus fragrans.

This is a little known flowering plant of Japan, China, and, surprisingly, the United States.  It has many properties that help detox the body and strengthen its constitution.

The reason why I want to say a little diddy about this plant is because it is VERY popular in China.  The Chinese people put it in cakes and other sweet treats, besides the average use as a tea.  It can also be put into stews, soups, and mixed in with facials for the ladies (or the men that want exuberant-looking skin…).  Currently I am drinking it as a tea mixed with some Jasmine and green tea to help flush my own liver, whiten my teeth, and to improve lung health. China’s small and large cities/towns are polluted with either dirt or industry pollution and our lung constitutions are constantly being challenged.  These teas are considered essential living as a laowei (foreigner) in Asian cities.

This website: http://www.divineglowinghealth.com/the-amazing-benefits-of-osmanthus-flowers/ does a nice job of explaining its benefits.  The Wikipedia sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanthus and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanthus_fragrans do this plant little justice.  However, this is what one can expect from an herb that is little researched in the western world, because it is traditionally used as a folk medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  On the second wikipedia site, there are two research articles done to show some of its benefits.

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Hope you enjoy reading this!

Peace to the Asian East!

Derek