Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sore Cheeks & Laughter, Art of Staring, TV Crew Comes Again!, Meridian Poems & Love Professions to ‘Wei Zhi’

Greetings Friends!

Another China adventure is coming to a close. Gosh I find tears welling up in my eyes. I so love being here. I feel I can be of good, good service here and I feel so grateful to be gifted with a whole other “world” (CHINA!!) to explore so richly, so deeply and to develop such beautiful relations with so many people, especially my Chinese family. My time with Dr. Zhao and his beloved family has been short this time, but again so so so very rich and full of learning, adventures, laughter, surprises and so so many Blessings that enrich my soul and heart in immense love. 

This trip and my time with Dr. Zhao also had the added blessing of being with Carrie. Carrie and I met last fall and quickly became good friends. She heard about our Tibetan Plateau trip, and in her own intent and heart, she had been cultivating creating a long trip to Asia. When hearing of our Qigong trekking trip, it sounded like the perfect fit and springboard for her longer adventure. As Carrie also saw I teach qigong, and, like her, have an immense love for the wilderness, she reached out, we met for lunch and that was the beginning of a very, very wonderful friendship! Since we met up in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on Aug 15 for the start of our trekking trip, Carrie and I have been traveling and rooming together (when not in back country) since. :)
Pic taken by Ardai at Monastery in Litang, Sichuan

Sore Cheeks & Laughter Tears

It has been so so so so much FUN!! We are constantly cracking each other up and laughing so very much of the time! Carrie took 3 months of Chinese before our trip and she is doing just great! I so love this language and it’s so much fun to share with someone who is learning (and learning quickly at that!) As with studying any language, there is a steep learning curve, lots of blips and funny mistakes, which of course leads just to more laughter!! We’ve also developed a our own funny Chin-glish language of sorts that keeps us giggling and sometimes has my cheeks sore and my body stooped over in…yes, more laughter! :) And of course, there’s always recounting the day’s funny moments when we are tucked in our beds and are about to head off into dreamtime….haha!

Chin-glish: the Art of Language Learning & Hilarious Fumbling

So an example of our developing Chin-glish language comes from the other day when in the car with Dr. Zhao and Ayi. Ayi, Carrie and I were all in the back seat with Carrie seated in the middle. The fact that Carrie is a beginning Chinese student does not phase Ayi in the least. She chats merrily along to Carrie, yet often doesn’t think about giving a long enough pause for me to translate what’s being said, for Carrie to respond to me in English and then for me to relay her response back to her in Chinese. :) So usually after Ayi says something to Carrie, I squeak out a portion of her question or story and Carrie starts responding when Ayi then starts merrily chatting again and is on to the next topic. In these kinds of conversations, Carrie was doing her best just to at least pick out some words here and there that Ayi was using (and she’s doing great!!) At one point, Carrie said, “’shi bu da’ –what’s that? I keep hearing Ayi say ‘shi bu da’?” I explained that she was saying “shi bu shi” –which means, “isn’t that right?” and that “Shi bu da” wasn’t actually a saying in Chinese. Well Carrie kept laughing as she kept thinking she heard her say “shi bu da” and now, well “shi bu da” has become a part of our “own” Chin-glish language – a word we just randomly use now and then and of course ending up cracking up in laughter. :)

We also have some super fun Chinese-English lessons around Dr. Zhao’s desk at the clinic :). Dr. Zhao asks me how to say certain phrases in English, and I say them and he repeats until he gets it and then writes it down phonetically in characters. Then Carrie asks me again what the Chinese is for the phrase and there’s a mutual linguistic learning. Both of them laugh and joke that they are in language kindergarten together :). It’s so fun and fulfilling to have such a joyous cross-cultural exchange!!
Here I'm holding up the beautiful thank you letter my dear Mom had written to Dr. Zhao and Ayi - thanking them for being my wonderful Chinese parents, teaching me so much and taking such good care of me when I'm here. I translated it for them both -- I love how in her letter, Mom said it all comes down to 3 words: gratitude, thanks and love. :-)
Our first day back in Zhengzhou had 2 added blessings! :) One, it was Zhong Qiu Lie (Autumn Moon Festival) so Dr. Zhao had the day off and it was super relaxing :), and TJ, a most wonderful young man and awesome gongfu brother of my dear friend, Deb, was with us! :)

Fish with Black Bean Sauce, ‘Shilius’, Seasame Candy and ‘Pingguos’ – Yum!

Carrie and I also have a blast exploring and enjoying new yummy treats (which we will promptly tell the other about if one of us discovers a new treat on a solo outing or something). Some of our fav after dinner snacks include tahini (we found it!!—one of my all time favorite foods), ‘lao jiang tang’ -ginger candy, a yummy dried fish with black bean sauce, sesame sticks, ‘shiliu’s’ – pomegranates, and ‘pingguos’ – apples, and of course we each have a bite of our treasured dark chocolate from the states). It’s also been so lovely waking up and practicing qigong together each morning too. :)

The Art & Gift of Staring

In addition, in being a “lao wai” “foreigner” here, it’s fun to have another person to share the experience of being an anomaly. Even though Zhengzhou is the capitol of Henan Province and a major transit center, in the area where Dr. Zhao is and where Carrie and I spend all our time, there are very few other “waiguorens” -- another word for "foreigners”. Actually, neither of us has seen one yet and this is my 5th time here!! So that really makes us stick out! At various times throughout our day, we will inevitably have elder grandpas, grandmas, 2 year olds, 10 year olds, teenagers, young mothers and their kids who will unabashedly stare at us. Yet, while most people have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of being stared at, this is different. Yes, you can still feel people’s eyes on you, BUT the energy is one of curiosity, delight, surprise and often times a desire to connect. Oh, in this way it is really such a joy and an opportunity to share and spread Joy!! And I love how Carrie, when she feels someone’s eyes on her, she turns to them with a big smile and says an enthusiastic “Nihao!!!” “Hello!” Haha! That results in almost instantaneous giggles, smiles and is really a great conversation starter here in China! :) 
Yay! Here's a whole inter-generational family of clients! The woman in the middle is someone I gave several treatments to this past spring. She was so excited to see me again, as was I. So great to meet her mother, daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law! :)

The Dynamics of Clinic Harmony

It also means so so so very much to me to share my amazing experiences with Dr. Zhao and his family and in the clinic with another good friend. In past blogs I’ve shared much about clinic dynamics, the harmony Dr. Zhao, Junling and Lijun all hold and maintain in there throughout the day, the amazing variety of patients, -- ages, occupations, and conditions –who come to see Dr. Zhao and how he treats all of them with the same mastery, confidence, and utmost care, and also how whole families, girlfriends and boyfriends, groups of friends, a group of neighbors will all come to make a visit to the doctor together. :) Sometimes it’s just one or 2 in the group that gets a diagnosis, and others it’s the whole group! :) The waiting room is small, no appointments are necessary and people just come….from all over China.

This time, to facilitate Carrie’s study with Dr. Zhao, I haven’t worked much in the “herbal dispensary” area with my ‘sisters’, Junling and Lijun (though I have a couple of pics of me with them below :)); instead Carrie and I have sat on stools next to Dr. Zhao’s desk, observing him work with patients while I translate to Carrie what’s going on. We’ve also been getting a lot of practice in reading pulses and comparing pulses among patients and looking at tongues. :) While Dr. Zhao has shared some on pulse-taking with me before, this time we’ve been able to dive into it more, and it’s awesome to have Carrie here so we can both share what we’re feeling,… rather than me mumbling to Dr. Zhao each time I feel a pulse as to whether it’s fast, slow, floating, deep, slippery or bumpy, tight, wide, etc…when these are such rudimentary observations compared to the immense subtleties his well-trained fingers with over 47 years of pulse-taking experience have developed. :)

And I LOVE observing Dr. Zhao work with patients. I feel like a big sponge…well actually like a small sponge that then keeps expanding and growing bigger and bigger to absorb as much as I can intellectually, energetically and spiritually! And I feel my Chinese getting better too!! Yay! :) I so so so so so so so so LOVE translating and being a facilitator in people’s communications and learning/sharing, and that’s exactly one of the big roles I play when in China. One of the challenges in clinic work/translation with Dr. Zhao, though, is that many people speak in the Henan dialect. My first time here, it was super hard for me to understand what people were saying, and now I’m finding I understand so much more. Yay!

It’s Wei Zhi calling….again!

The other day, when Dr. Zhao was in the herbal room calculating the cost for a patient’s herbs on his abacus (yes!! he actually knows how to use one of these things and doesn’t use a calculator!! :)), his cell phone rang and he said, “Kailun, ni bang wo jie dianhua ba.” “Karen, answer the phone for me please.” “Oh!” I was surprised. “Gosh, wow, maybe he thinks my Chinese has improved too and even trusts me now with answering the phone – which is probably one of his patients calling. Oh this is great!” So I went to pick up the phone and I also thought, “Oh, I should see if I can also read the characters of the person’s name who is calling. That will even be more helpful for Dr. Zhao!” So I looked before saying “Wei” (the Chinese way of saying hello on a phone) and saw the characters 未知 “wei zhi”. Hmmm….I hadn’t seen those characters together before as a name but I was pleased that I recognized them. So I went on to answer the phone, gave some directions to the clinic to the caller and then eventually handed the phone to Dr. Zhao…along with proudly announcing that it was “Wei Zhi” calling. Dr. Zhao looked a little perplexed but took the phone, had a short conversation, hung up and that was that. Well, I decided to just look up those 2 characters in my nifty iPod dictionary since I hadn’t seen them together as a name before…and found out it means “Unknown”!!! Haha!!! I had thought “Unknown” was the person’s name! And had even announced it so proudly!! No wonder Dr. Zhao looked a little perplexed for a moment!

I had tried to share this story with Ayi later on, as I found it hilarious but she didn’t quite get the humor in it.:) Carrie, on the other hand, also found it hilarious and we have laughed so much about it since. Dr. Zhao got a new cell phone since I was here in March and I’ve now noticed that each time it rings, it always says “未知 “wei zhi” as I think maybe he hasn’t entered many contacts yet. So while we’re sitting with Dr. Zhao at his desk and his phone rings, I often peak over and whisper to Carrie, “ah, yep, it’s Wei Zhi calling again!” We now have all sorts of jokes about Wei Zhi and have even given “him” a gender and made up many stories….all that contribute to our daily doses of abundant giggles, guffaws and laughter! :)

Meridian Poems – Gejues - & Love Professions to Wei Zhi

The other day when both Carrie and I were filming Dr. Zhao reciting the “gejue” meridian poem for the small intestine channel (okay, a side note here…these gejues are SOOO COOL!!! I’ve mentioned them in the past but they are Chinese poems for each major meridian, and there are 2 poems for each one. One of the gejues just states the channel and then lists all the points in a rhyming cadence that makes it easy to remember. The 2nd gejue is a longer rhyming poem that again goes through the meridian points but also describes exactly where each point is!! Genius! This way, it’s like learning a song, which is much easier to remember than just rout memorization. I remember my first summer with Dr. Zhao when he was in Seattle in 2009 and I was working with him as his interpreter. When we had some time between patients, sometimes he’d start reciting these poems as a way to share and start teaching me. Yet, then I had no idea was he was saying! :( I hadn’t studied any of the channels yet except for a few points that we frequently use and speak about in qigong. Now that I’m learning all the points in Chinese, I actually understand and it’s bringing this medicine alive in a whole new way!! So cool! I’ll be posting some of these videos once I’m on fast internet again. And later doing some translation of these gejues :).

Okay, that was a long side note…so the other day when Carrie and I were filming Dr. Zhao reciting the Small Intestine channel gejue, we had all sorts of interruptions – kids and patients coming in and out of the clinic, an herb delivery man,…and Wei Zhi called too! Dr. Zhao’s phone rang and I whispered to Carrie that “hey it’s Wei Zhi calling again.” Dr. Zhao answered the phone and we both kept giggling and started saying softly to each other “Wo ai Wei Zhi” “I love Wei Zhi.” I bet our love professions to Wei Zhi will be captured in our video recordings! :-D

The TV Crew Comes Again!!

Oh yes! On the topic of video recordings, somehow Dr. Zhao had been in contact with Henan TV station before Carrie and I arrived to Zhengzhou and their film crew came yet again!!! Oh my gosh!!! This time they came to film both Carrie and I in the clinic, as well as making Chinese food in the kitchen :). At one point they did a long interview with me and then one with Carrie in which I translated for her. I thought it was going great, as I could see Dr. Zhao smiling off to the side. Afterwards, Dr. Zhao said, “Kailun, lai lai.” “Karen, come, come.” I thought he was going to say something about the interview and how well it went, when,… smiling, he took a piece of hair that had been sticking out to the side of my head and kindly, gently put it behind my ear!! Oh dear! :) I’ll post the whole TV broadcast when I get it and hopefully my hair sticking out didn’t look too silly! :)
So part of my and Carrie's "cooking" experience was learning from two Master chefs, Dr. Zhao and Ayi! :) They demonstrated how best to prep the veggies, then we'd do some, and then how best to stir-fry, and then have us do some :)
Our TV camera fellow :)
And! Our final product!! :) It was a delicious meal!! :) Now the real test is to see if I can duplicate this in the States! :-D
Here's a pic of us with the TV reporter and our camera man-- this, of course, was taken after the interview and after Dr. Zhao had kindly fixed my hair! :)

Later in the week, the TV filmer also came with us on an outing to Gui Gu Zi’s (teacher of the famous Sunzi who wrote the Art of War) home and school rooted in Daoist practices that are up high in Yun Meng Mountain with a history of over 2,000 years. This is an amazing place. You can see the Daoist temple, one of Gui Gu Zi’s whole books carved into a mountain stone wall, the main classroom cave, and caves that students had as their “dorm” rooms, the stone beds, and how one famous, studious student had even rigged up a hook on the cave ceiling. This is where he tied his pony tail (men had long hair back then – part of the Daoist tradition) in case he got sleepy and started dozing off. Having his hair pulled would wake him up! So many stories and history here…I have some pics below…

This is one of the stone beds in one of the student's 'dorm' caves!
OMGosh! This is the student who would hang his braid on the ceiling so that if he dozed off to sleep, the feeling of his hair being yanked would wake him up!! :( I think I'd rather sleep!!
Ayi by the main well for this school in the mountains -- over 2,000 years old!
This is one of Gui Gu Zi's books etched into this stone wall...

I must also mention, though, that besides having the TV camera man follow us around, this outing to Gui Gu Zi’s home and Yun Meng Mt. was no ordinary outing. It was hosted by one of the government officials in the nearby town of Hebi. Actually it was the official Dr. Zhao took me to see with him on a night visit in March that helped organize it! He is so generous!! In the spring, we had left clinic ~4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, drove 2 hours there to diagnose this official, and they had then treated us to a wonderful dinner. Later in March this official came to Zhengzhou for a follow-up visit. He is the one Dr. Zhao had me also do an acupuncture treatment on. Well, he organized this special Yun Meng Mt. outing and when we saw him, he was quite pleased and then turned to his 2 secretaries and said, “Oh this is the lady who gave me a treatment in Zhengzhou. Very good!” Yay! :)

The generosity of these people is just amazing!! After our tour on Yun Meng Mt., these 2 secretaries took us to a restaurant where the head of the county treated us all to a most delicious lunch!! Oh my gosh!! Here’s a pic of Carrie, Ayi and me with him below. 

Haha!! It was so funny, on our way home from Hebi and our outing at YunMeng Mt., when we got into town, Dr. Zhao pulled over at one point, said he was going to take a short rest and Carrie and I were to get out and help Ayi pick cotton. "What?!!" I thought. "Maybe I heard him wrong, but it sounds like he just said we're to help pick cotton. Hmmm...but, ...that can't be right...we're in the middle of the city?! And cotton?" But alas, that is precisely what Dr. Zhao did say :). Ayi took us down a little path and lo and behold, it opened into an empty lot where the 2 of them have been growing cotton for years! They use it to make their bedroom comforters. :) It was my first time to pick :)!

Stories of generosity abound in China, and especially in Zhengzhou! It’s been so great again to be able to share this experience of generosity with Carrie. The other night at dinner with the hotel staff (we eat dinner each night with all the staff and they are so awesome – it was fun to be able to come back again so soon – only 6 months later – we were all delighted!), Carrie had me share with the staff, that of all her travels around to many countries around the world, the people here are truly the friendliest, most kind and generous people she has met yet! I wholeheartedly agree!

Chinese ‘Nan Pengyous’ Boyfriends

So I have another funny story to share. :) When still in Chengdu, our friend Ardai helped us figure out a system to use to bring wifi into our hotel room in Zhengzhou, since Carrie has an iPad and can’t connect to the internet through the Ethernet cable in the rooms there. Well, we weren’t able to get it to work when we first arrived and kept missing the IT guy at night, so in the evenings while I was working on the Ethernet cable in our room, Carrie would go down to the lobby to use the wifi there. Well, even though she’d be ‘inconspicuously’ sitting quietly on a couch typing away….given that she was 1 of the 2 “waigorens” “foreigners” in this area of Zhengzhou…she…well, stuck out! And also, as she likes to write and type into the later hours of the evening, there often would be a few fellows who had a bit too much to drink that would be coming back through the lobby on their way to their rooms. Well one or more of these tipsy men would inevitably see Carrie and Oh my!! How excited they were to see a “waiguoren”! They’d come over and sit next to her and want to take their pic with her, etc. I heard many, many funny stories from Carrie and we’d laugh about her and all her Chinese “nan pengyous” “boyfriends”. Later when we finally met up with the IT guy and he immediately got our WAP (Wireless…oh I forget what it all stands for!!) working (YAY!!), Carrie and I joked that he was now her new favorite “nan pengyou” “boyfriend”!! And since then many other various nice lads we have met have also become one of her new “nan pengyous”. :)

Well this is a very, very long update!! There is just so so much to share in each and everyday :). I needed to leave Zhengzhou a few days before Carrie to head back to the States for a conference, so she and I have been writing to see how things are going (And it’s been POURING rain there too…Carrie had joked one night that her IT boyfriend was going to build a boat so they could take a ‘romantic’ float around Zhengzhou since is was too wet for a leisurely stroll). Here’s a bit of a letter I wrote once I arrived in Beijing…

Carrie, nihao!

I know you're at clinic now but I just wanted to say I'm thinking of you and just had a few important questions.... uhummm...

1) Has Wei Zhi called yet today? If so, please be sure to tell him I love him. Wo ai Wei Zhi. 

2) I'm wondering if you're having a "shi bu da" type of day? please report soon.. ( :) !! )

3) Any new "nan pengyou" news for tonight? Has the IT guy fixed his boat yet to take you down the Zhengzhou road in the rain? If not, please tell him I think he should really get on it! ( :) )


Gosh, once again my heart is so so so very full from all the treasures received on this yet another amazing journey to the Lands of the East – meditations, re-unions and teachings at Shaolin Monastery, lunch with Dr. Zhao and Ayi and napping giggles with Wenqing, an amazing 2 weeks of trekking in the Tibetan Plateau, hiking and horseback riding in Siguniang Mt area, and treasured times of study, sharing and adventures with Dr. Zhao and his beloved family! Oh yes, I also must report that Dr. Zhao’s granddaughter, Wenqing is a future yoga guru in the making! Watch out America! :) One morning in clinic, she requested my filming services to record her doing some of her yoga routines she’s learning at school. :) So I have them on film -- If you’d like to see them, I can arrange private and group viewings.  :-D

YAY Wenqing!! :) I love being her American Auntie :)

Thank you, thank you, thank you ALL again for joining me on my journeys East. By sharing the love and adventure through these pics and written word, this goodness spreads and grows and expands and can touch and bless many, many!! Thank you!!! Till the next China adventure….
I just flew back to the States in my Tibetan dress as a surprise :-)! I'll be mainly in CA for a bit and back in Seattle on 10/1. Yay!

So much Love and Joy to you ALL!!!


Kailun 凯伦

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Face-Kissing Sunflowers, Cheers & French Fries, Siguniang Mt. Magic & an Unexpected Rescue

Greetings Friends!!
Oh gosh! So much to share! Even with only a few days going by, there’s so much in each and every day! :)

So first, after completing our 15-day trek and flying from the highest airport in the world (in Daocheng Yading) to Chengdu, several of us from the trekking trip enjoyed another day of rest, laundry, and….mango lassies! :) Yes, the hostel we stayed at, Holly’s Hostel, I think has the best mango lassies in China (well, I guess it’s the only place in China I’ve had them….BUT they are quite delicious….and was one of the top 2 things on my list when we got back to Chengdu (#1 do laundry, #2 drink a mango lassie! :))

Others in our wonderful group continued on to the next part of their journeys …Ting to Taiwan, Bond to Australia, and Ardai (after another day with Carrie and me) to London. Carrie, one of my good friends and also a fellow Qigong teacher, and I are continuing the next 2 legs of our journeys together. (We’re having so much fun traveling together too!! Carrie took 3 months of Mandarin before this trip and she is doing great!)

On to Siguniang!...& a Surprise Police Adventure
So our next stop on our journey was to travel over another set of mountains to the small village of Rilong at the base of beautiful Siguniang Mt (4 Sisters mountain). And that journey in and of itself is a whole other story!!! Just as we got to the base of the mountains to start winding up on the mountain roads…from ~1,800 ft to 14,000ft!, we came up to a check point. Carrie and I were in a van with a driver, Wang Shifu, who often travels back and forth between Chengdu and Rilong and 5 other Chinese men also getting a ride (and no, it wasn’t a very big van…even though we had 8 people in it! :)). Once at the check point, our driver hopped out and told Carrie and I specifically to stay in the van. We thought that a bit odd, but I thought, “Well maybe that’s to avoid an annoying passport check or something.”  Well, then our driver basically disappeared. A few minutes later, a police came up to our van, hoped in and started driving us away up into the mountains on a very, very, very rough dirt road. “Well, this is odd!” – I thought. Carrie looked to me for an explanation as maybe I heard some talk in Mandarin to explain this, but I said I didn’t really know what was happening. I asked the kind gentlemen sitting between us and he first said, “Oh, we’ll met up with the driver later.” But then 5 minutes later when this police was still roughly driving this van down this horrific road, I asked again and he sheepishly smiled and said he actually had no idea what was happening. Oh dear! Well, I won’t go into all the details here, but after about a 30-minute crazy, bumpy, jerky ride on what I wouldn’t even call a road (and 3 unfinished tunnels!), we did get to another small village and a paved road (phew!), and this police man hoped out and our driver somehow re-appeared and hoped back in his own van! Later Carrie and I both shared that while on the outside we remained calm-looking (as to not get the other one nervous!), we were both saying prayers and mantras and calling on all sorts of protection on the inside during this rather jarring 30 min segment! But alas all was well and we eventually arrived at the beautiful village of Rilong at the base of Siguniang Mt. :)

Face-Kissing Sunflowers! :-D
Upon arriving, we explored the old town, hiked through some fields and along the river and admired the many beautiful flower and veggie gardens (we were finally at a low enough elevation (still 10,000+ft) where veggies could be grown :)). Below are some pics of this area in town...and some most beautiful sunflowers! But look! Be careful - if you get too close to these flowers, they may just kiss your whole face! :-D !!

Carrie! :)
Yum!!! So many fresh veggies!! :)
I love how people just built walls and gardens around these massive stones that dotted the valley landscape here! :)

Huang Hao & French Fry Cheers!
We got to stay with a most welcoming dear family who are good friends of Szu-tings, Xiao Zhang, her husband (I didn’t get his name :(..) and their darling 2 boys, Huang Hao (3 yrs) and Huang Yi (8 yrs).  They are so adorable!!! The older one Huang Yi was in school in the neighboring county during the week, so we just got to see him on the weekend, …BUT Huang Hao, the young one, is a vocal, feisty and joyful little one who would delightedly come running to us when we were around in the evenings and having dinner with the family. One night, his mom, Xiao Zhang, made Carrie and me a batch of French fries (thinking this is a favorite snack food of all Americans :)), and Huang Hao came up with an ingenious (and exhaustless) game of “Gan Bei” with these fries! :) So, “gan bei” in Chinese basically means “cheers”. Yet it literally means “dry cup”….so when someone says “gan bei” (cheers) and raises a cup with you in China, it also means to drink the cup until dry as a way to fulfill the “full” cheer. :) So, in Huang Hao’s ingenious game, even though Carrie and I already had very full bellies from dinner, we were to do the same thing with fries. Huang Hao would instruct us to each get a fresh yummy French fry in our hands and then we’d “Gan Bei!” – tap them together and pop them in our mouths in one bite…followed by giggles and laughter and another enthusiastic demand for yet another “gan bei” with another plump, freshly fried French fry! :) It was a delicious and hilarious game,…despite my very full tummy! :)

Here’s a few more pics of these two -- and some of the whole family and one of the yummy dinners Xiao Zhang made :). These boys are sooooo CUTE!!

This area is just gorgeous!! In addition to Siguniang Mt., there are some national parks, including Haizi Valley (which we did a horseback riding adventure in) and Shuangqiao Valley. This area is still at a high elevation (10-12,000ft) but not as high as our Genyen trek (14,000-15,000ft). And gosh, it is so so so beautiful here! Carrie and I loved it right away! The energy is much softer than Genyen, yet these expansive valleys are also lined with high, snow-covered granite peaks. 

Pink Fluffy Blankets & Bonbons :)
Our first full day there, though, actually ended up being an unexpected rest day. Getting up early, we both packed our bags and a lunch and hopped down the stairs to wait for the local bus that Xiao Zhang’s father just cheerfully explained how ride to take us to Shuangqiao Valley for a day of hiking in the national park. BUT! When we walked out the door, we felt big drops of water falling us, looked up at the grey sky with a bit of dismay and then to one another and said, “Oh no! It’s raining!” :( !!! After hiking, trekking, camping, cooking in the rain (and even some snow and sleet!!) while in Genyen, we both felt we had just barely dried out…and now it was raining again! Hmm!!! At about the same moment, Carrie and I both had a similar thought of getting and staying warm and dry in the super soft, VERY fluffy pink and red roses (and did I say fluffy?! :)) blankets on our beds upstairs, and …in about 2 moments we both verbalized our thoughts and agreed to change our minds on our day’s plans and trotted back upstairs, hopped into our fluffy blankets and had a delightful rest day while the rain poured down outside! We dedicated the day to writing, picture sorting, sipping sweet tea and eating bonbons….oh, I mean rice crackers and yummy sesame stick candy! :-D Haha!

Meet Xiao Qing…a Horseback Riding Adventure
The next 2 days we were blessed with magnificent weather, and took a magnificent horseback riding adventure into Haizi Valley (see pics below and meet my sweet white horse I rode, Xiao Ping :)) and the next day hiking in Shuangqiao Valley.

Me and Xiao Qing :)

PIGS!!! :-) so cute!

Shuangqiao Valley ~ A Yak Bathing, Snow Peaked & Larch Tree Wonderland
Shuangqiao Valley is just magical! Carrie and I agreed it’s like the Yosemite of China! As mentioned, there is a special softness to the energy here, yet also a grandness in the expanse, magnificence, and immense size and presence of the surrounding jagged snow-capped peaks and glaciers. The trees glowed and shimmered softly and the roaming yak bathed so nonchalantly in the frigid, swift and gorgeous blue-green glacial river waters flowing through the valley. 

At this park, one must enter in one of the park buses. Each bus has a tour guide and the bus will stop at 5 scenic spots, first driving 35-40 km in and then making stops on the way out. There are also trails so visitors can hike part or all of the way and hop on a bus later in the day. Carrie and I were eager to hike so our tour guide recommended a stop to get off at to start hiking, though she warned us that the buses would be few that day and reminded me we needed to be out of the park by 4 p.m. “That should be easy enough,” I thought. Carrie and I left our “tour group” and started our hiking. It was grand!! And after a while the weather began to change, and I was feeling a bit tired so we went to the road to make sure we’d catch the next bus. Well! We walked 1.5 hours and as it approached 3 p.m. and we were still 19 miles from the gate and we hadn’t seen a single car or bus!! :-( “What?!” we both thought as it started raining, “This is China for heaven’s sake! There are so many people here…why do we feel like we’re the only people left in this big national park?!” We started walking down the middle of the road just to make sure we didn’t miss an opportunity for a ride….and to make sure they didn’t miss the opportunity to give us one. :) At one point, an elder woman in a little 3-wheeled putt-putt/tok-tok bumbled past us and we thought –“Oh! Maybe we can ask her for a ride!”… But then she pulled over and disappeared into a cozy hut with a smoking fire coming out of the chimney and seemed in no rush to come back outside. Hmm… so we kept walking. Eventually around 3:15 p.m. a packed bus did come bumbling down the road and Carrie and I waved enthusiastically (standing in the middle of the road!) and they did stop and managed to squeeze us on the bus. :) All these people on this park bus were visiting on an organized tour and when we all got dropped off by the park entrance, they so generously offered to give Carrie and I a ride all the way back to our place in Rilong on their big tour bus!! That was so sweet of them! :) (And Xiao Zhang was very surprised to see us appear --- hopping off of this big bus that stopped in front of her place :)!)

An Unexpected Rescue
At the end of this part of our journey, we got a ride back to Chengdu with Xiao Zhang’s older brother (I’ll just refer to him as Gege). It was a rather small car for 7 people, but it was a sunny, beautiful day and we made several stops as we drove over the 14,000+ft pass to head down to the city. After our 3rd photo stop, we started our descent. I was sitting in the back and Carrie was seated in the middle. All of a sudden I heard Carrie say, “She’s not okay! Something has happened to her. She’s not breathing and she’s not okay!” Being that no one else in the car spoke English, I started translating what Carrie was saying immediately and looked up Gege’s wife in the front seat. She was limp, her lips were blue and she was completely slumped over! Gege, at first, was just saying she was sleeping or that she had a bit of a reaction to the elevation, but then he too saw her face and blue lips, and was scared. She had just been eating a piece of bread and then started coughing. Carrie watched her and then saw her go limp. She thought that maybe she was choking, and jumped out of her seat to start the Heimlich maneuver. Gege started hitting her back. Carrie then lifted her head and in a few moments she started breathing again, though slowly. Her pulse was down to 15 beats per minute!!

Carrie is a licensed physical therapist, Feldenkrais practitioner and master Qigong teacher. Once the other riders also saw there was a problem, there was a lot of discussion going on, so I explained Carrie’s medical background and what Carrie was saying. With a pulse at 15 beats per minute and her going in and out of consciousness, Gege’s wife was in a critical state. The others quickly got on board to support Carrie’s direction, given her medical background and let her take the lead. Carrie had Gege keep driving as the she knew his wife would do much better the quicker we got to lower in elevation. Carrie made it her job to keep Gege’s wife awake and at least in a semi-conscious state so she did not drop back into unconsciousness and stop breathing. She kept tapping her cheeks slightly, keeping her head up and putting cold water on an extra shirt to place on her forehead. If she tried to slump over again, Carrie would pinch her and get her at least to semi-consciously respond, all while talking softly and gently to her with much, much care. While driving Gege mentioned she had had heart pain once before when going up to such high elevation, but never such a strong reaction to altitude as she was having today. His face was tense with worry for his beautiful wife, though he stayed on task and drove us swiftly and safely down, down, down. As we got down to 8,000 ft, 7,000 and 6,000ft, Gege’s wife became more and more conscious and her pulses back to normal (72 beats/minute). She was very weak and had a pounding headache, but she was alive and breathing. Carrie, I believe, saved her life.
By the time we got to Chengdu and said good-bye to our “rescue team”, Gege was very, very grateful to Carrie, as was his wife as we had all taken turns telling her what had happened (she didn’t have any recollection other than her massive headache). I am so thankful Gege’s wife is alive and well and we all made it through that part of the journey safely and well!!

So after another evening (and of course mango lassie -- Carrie had 3! :)), we hopped on a plane and headed to Zhengzhou to study and be with my beloved Chinese family, Dr. Zhao, Ayi and their whole beautiful family! :) It's so great to be back here!! :) Here's a few pics and many fun stories to share in my next update!! :) Below Dr. Zhao is happily wearing a beautiful belt I gave him hand-crafted by Mick Dodge's (Barefoot Sensei) friend Karl in the Hoh Rainforest. :) My friend Jean and I introduced Dr. Zhao and Mick when Dr. Zhao came to the states in 2012 -- they immediately became like dear brothers - they love and respect each other so much! And there's one of Ayi proudly wearing a beautiful necklace my dear Mom gave her. Mom was thanking them both for being my dear Chinese parents and teaching me so much and caring for me so well when I'm here. I agree!I I too feel so much gratitude!!! :)

Thank you again for joining me on my journey!! So much, much LOVE and bright Blessings to you all!!! More soon! :)

Much LOVE,
Kailun 凯伦