Fresh from the road.

Flew out of Beijing this morning, yesterday — however you measure time when traveling overseas, backwards and forwards.  Got a ride with a very angry cab driver.  He was angry about our luggage, angry about going to the airport, angry with the guy he spoke with on the phone — and then he overcharged us by ten dollars.  At that point, I didn’t feel like arguing with him.

But the rest of the trip was smooth.  Chinese immigration is easy.  I was traveling with my daughter, which made everything so much better.  It’s nice having family with you on these long trips.  You can stretch out without feeling as though you’re imposing on a stranger.

As usual, though, it was surreal reaching Chicago.  You’re in China, and then suddenly you’re not.  There’s no transition, and the change can be a bit jarring sometimes.  United States immigration was relatively stress-free, though no one ever asks you questions when you enter China, and every time I come back to America, I feel a bit like I’ve got a white-hot light shining in my eyes when it’s my turn to talk to the agent.

Home now, though.  Home sweet home.


I met this older woman on my first trip to Xian.  She touched my heart — then and later.  I suppose everyone, at some time, meets complete strangers who are somehow familiar.  In this case, she reminded me of my mother.  Not in her circumstances, which were difficult, but in her warmth, and in her smile.

I don’t know her story.  It’s not something you really ask, though I would love to know why she has to sell things on the street.  I saw her on my second trip to Xian and she was just as sweet as I remembered.  It was during the bitter cold of winter, and she was bundled up as you can see below, but her smile was still warm and real.   I worry about her sometimes.

What happened to the weekend?

Beautiful weekend.  Played golf, and took a nice long walk around the neighborhood — which consists of a long, winding path through a beautiful garden.  There’s a pond, and in that pond are immense water lilies (as seen below).

On the road…

These two pictures were taken some years ago, north of Beijing. I’ll share the details in a later post, but we went out for a drive and ended up in a very special place that not many foreigners had visited.  I recently went back with my daughter, and found the town changed — not for the better.  So these old photos are very special to me, because that place will never be like that again.

Dog days in Beijing.

I took a walk through a neighborhood near East Gate Plaza (close to the 2nd Ring).  If you want evidence that people in Beijing love their dogs, then all you need to do is stroll through this heart of the city.

Shanxian Smile

Stopping for Snacks in Kaifeng

The Broken Lion of Shanxian

But his spirit is not broken.

Dancing in Xi’an

Forbidden City at Sunset