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I’m happy to report that things are MUCH better since my last post! We now have internet in our apartment, I figured out how to turn the A/C into a minimal-heat producing machine, my roommate kindly taught me that we should be using the fridge in the living room instead of the kitchen because it actually works (how silly of me to think we should use the one in the kitchen) and my various positions here are going great. I am doing marketing for a western bakery, charity events for a chinese cultural center and teaching English at an international school on saturdays! So far I have worked 7 days a week for the past two weeks, but it beats the heck out of sitting around the apartment or going to an endless amount of interviews and networking events. David has been in the US on a business trip for almost a week now, and apparently is doing a great job getting new partners for his high school study abroad organization.

We still don’t have a light in our bathroom which is a bit of a challenge, but overall I’m actually enjoying Beijing. I also just spent a lot of time touring and eating dinners with the Jacobs, and I think their Beijing portion of the trip was practically ideal. Per usual I’m a little behind with posting…but today I wanted to share some photos from various food spots around the city. We ate in the Wudaokou (university) area with our friend Caroline, who I owe greatly for introducing me to the owner of the bakery. (BTW, did I mention I got a macbook as part of my new position?! My old computer couldn’t even open documents, so I am relishing this thing like a newborn baby. It’s so beautiful, and fast and helpful…thank you Lin!!!) OK, back to food. Caroline picked a Korean BBQ place, where they bring out a huge platter of fresh food on a large skillet and cook it all in the middle of the table. We had major ordering problems because they literally would not serve any dishes without meat because they said it wouldn’t cook right…and when the food arrived it looked NOTHING like the photo in the menu. The oh-so-understanding waiters pointed us to the disclaimer on the menu which stated, “Actual food may be different than pictured.” Considering exactly HOW different the photo was, David asked if they thought it appropriate to bring a plate of meat even if we had pointed to a plate of veggies. They were not amused.

We had a more successful dinner with another new friend, Betsy, on Gui Jie or “Ghost Street.” The street looks awesome at night, filled with lanterns and bright lights. They also do a lot of bbq and seafood here, but we opted for a more traditional Chinese location. Below you can also find many photos of our neighborhood in Shuangjing. We live in a foreign-friendly but still very Chinese part of the city, about a 20-minute walk from Guomao and the Central Business Distracit (CBD), so there are lots of skyscrapers and overall congestion. The view out the window is actually from our old apartment, sigh. The other place was more updated and had a great bathroom with marble and a western tub, but our new place is still pretty good. We are located across the street from the Viva mall which has a big food court and movie theater, and are around the corner from an almost western grocery. The square in front of the mall is very lively, often filled with Chinese line-dancing women, salsa classes, in-line skating, men’s singing groups and various other events. We don’t have a good, cheap, food street nearby which David especially misses, but I’m happy that most food is very convenient.

OK, I’m crossing my fingers that uploading these photos works, as the internet has been super-slow tonight, but here goes nothing. Oh, and I almost forgot, I wanted to give major shout-outs to my tough and caring friends who all recently completed the longest fundraising endurance events of their lives. They each raised thousands to fight cancer AND all managed a major wipe-out before or during their events. Um, is that a requirement to compete or something?! Allie Bouton finished her first marathon in Chicago to benefit Fred’s Team, Lisa Galik walked a marathon and a half to benefit the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and Amy Anselmo also finished her first marathon in Seattle to benefit Team in Training. I’m so lucky to have awesomely caring friends! AND…coming up, Jenny Lou has signed up for her first-ever marathon with Team in Training; I could not be more proud of her! I will be updating you on her progress as I live vicariously through her efforts. Yeah Jenny!!!

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Good morning to all of those in the Western Hemisphere, I assume you are reading this with your Monday morning cup of coffee. Its been a rainy two days here in Tangshan, and our plans to visit the nearby city of Tianjin were foiled by the weather. Tianjin isn’t known as a large tourist attraction, but it’s the sixth largest city in China and is known for good food, large building and a few unique streets. Our friend and Chinese teacher, Candy, has a sister who lives there, so she has offered to show us around at some point! In the meantime, I will probably watch some movies, go to the gym, and stop back at the massage store (I wouldn’t really call it a spa because it looks like a typical storefront with table beds) to get a foot and shoulder massage. Last week I went there and got a 30 min neck and shoulder massage and one-hour foot massage for 70 RMB, which is $10 USD. That was also expensive because I didn’t buy a frequent-customer card, which I will do next week! Although you still have squat toilets at this spa, it’s a pretty clean place. They also practice traditional Chinese Cupping, which I will probably try after reading some more about the methods.

For your daily dose of charity wrap-ups, I have some exciting news! David’s St. Baldrick’s event in Hong Kong ended up raising $37,819 and he personally raised $670. Thanks again to all that donated! There are some great professional pictures of the event posted online. David and I are on the first page, and David alone is on page 6.

Walkers in the May 1st-2nd Washington DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer raised over $6.5 million this year! I think that’s an amazing feat given all of this craziness in the financial world and am so impressed by these incredible participants.

I am also a strong supporter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their endurance events. Did you know you can participate in the half-marathon training programs as a walker, run-walker or runner? If you are thinking about making a difference in an incredibly fun way, I would really suggest checking out the LLS Team in Training Programs. The money you raise helps fight cancer, and also provides you with a really great training program, incentive to be healthy, ability meet other like-minded do-gooders and experience the incredible atmosphere of a race-weekend. I have told many people that even if you donate the funds yourself, it’s worth the training and trip that the event entails (seriously.)

And finally, my former co-worker and good friend, Allie Bouton, is competing in her first marathon in October! She got a spot in the Chicago Marathon through agreeing to fundraise a LOT of money for Fred’s Team, which benefits the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Allie is running for many people, but specifically Mrs. Merry, who is battling a brain tumor. If you would be willing to support Allie, Mrs. Merry and Sloan-Kettering, please make a donation here.

And NOW back to Hong Kong! The day after our trip to Macau started with an incredible Japanese-style lunch at Miso, a restaurant tucked away in the IFC building with great sushi that David had read about in the guide book. The prices for the fresh seafood were excellent and so was the ambiance. Pictures provided! The day was really beautiful and sunny, so we decided to hike…and hike we did! On the way we were really confused to find thousands of Filipino women camped out on the streets and in the subways at every turn. We thought maybe there was a protest or that they had all come from the for sales during the holiday-weekend, because we saw lots of huge boxes that were being packed to ship to the Philipines. What made the scene even more confusing was that many had brought food, pedicure and manicure kits and even laptops to this sit-in. Well, upon futher questioning with some of the participants and HK locals, we found out that this is pretty common on many Sundays with nice weather, and that these women were just getting together for some bonding time! I’m still somewhat confused as to why they decided to stay in places like hot subway halls, but it’s very obvious that the have a strong community in HK.

Well, we started from sea-level and hiked the 1,811 feet to the top of Victoria Peak (the second tallest mountain in HK). A significant part of this hike is literally straight-up, and although we saw lots of people coming down the hill, we only saw one or two going up. It was the steepest grade I have ever encountered, but I was feeling good in the new Mizuno running shoes I had bought the day before! ($65 instead of the normal $100 in the States, not a great deal but I was happy!) At the shopping hub of the peak we got a gelato and headed onward to the Victoria Gardens, which is the tallest point of the Peak and offers some good views of the surrounding land and islands. There seemed to be a ton of cute kids playing in the gardens around the million-dollar communities atop of the peak, which was an added benefit! The cars parked at all of the apartments ranged from Mercedes to Ferraris and were all in perfect condition. We read that this was one of the most expensive places to live in the world, based on square footage. It seemed like a really beautiful place to live…but not really ideal if you want to want around, since the community is built on a massive, steep hill.

After the gardens we walked the 2-mile Peak Loop trail around the circumference of the mountain. This was a great walk because it was like hiking through a mini-jungle, and included many spots to view the incredible Hong Kong skyline. Many runners were jogging along this path, and although it gets a little crowded at points, this has to be one of the best running routes I have ever seen! After this walk we went to the Hong Kong Cafe, which specializes in Hong Kong style diner food. This style of restaurant came around during the 1960s when prosperity and contact with the west was really flourishing in Hong Kong, and the natives began offering menus that would appeal to both the Cantonese and foreigners alike. One of the best-sellers was Hong Hong tea, which is 1/2 coffee and 1/2 tea! I also tried HK french toast, which is two pieces of thick bread, held together by peanut butter, fried in eggs and topped with a light-honey syrup. It tasted GREAT after a long day of hiking and I have since made it for the teachers in Tangshan! David also got a curried vegetable dish, which was also very good! After food we paid to visit the top of the Victoria Peak building and viewed the city all lit-up at night. Needless to say, the views were one-of-a-kind and we got some really excellent photos.

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