To Sum It Up

We lived in Beijing, China from August 2014-July 2016 with just a few days of travel outside of China (5 days in Thailand and Cambodia in Dec. 2014, 5 days in Hong Kong in Dec. 2015 and Brandon on his own for a few days to the US in Feb. 2016).

Was it hard? Yes.

Was it scary? At times, yes.

Was it fun and exciting? Yes.

Would we do it again? Maybe. For the right job and the right money. And the right political situation. And the air quality… that still worries me because there’s no quick solution to that.

Will we keep learning Chinese? Brandon is still studying Chinese at the university he’s teaching at now. The kids are still working on Chinese on their own with apps and videos and mp3s and books, etc. As homeschoolers, we plan on this being their foreign language to fulfill various high school requirements (only our oldest is in high school right now) and to make them appealing as college applicants.

Am I glad we did it? Absolutely. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Living in a country is so different than visiting.

This is it. It’s been fun. I’ll come back if something changes and we move back to China!





When the mall opened by our apartment, it slowly filled with shops. One of the last to move in was a hair cutting place. You take a number, wait your turn, pay Y10 (less than $2) and get your hair cut and the loose hair VACUUMED up! I told B that our boys needed to try this. He took them one day and sent me a text that said they looked like $2 haircuts, but it went okay. Ha!

China Life – the western end of line 1

We lived 5 stops from the western end of line 1, and way off in the distance we could see a pagoda on the hill. Before we moved, I wanted to ride to the end of the line and see how close it got. We thought about making a trip to the actual pagoda, but it was one more difficult place to get to without a car/driver and another place that would require great air so we could really see the view toward downtown. So we settled for getting a little bit closer.

We rode to the end of the line so we could say we rode the whole line. It takes a turn, so we rode back a few stops so we could see the straight shot through the middle of Beijing, east to west.

 Looking west.


 Looking east.. you can just barely see the tallest building downtown.



And then some typical Beijing sights…


 to cool off.


 Ice cream. I’d actually never scene this before.

I think this is the only stop sign I ever saw in Beijing.



There’s a fake Disneyland out that way, we walked part of the way home so we could walk past it.





Typical fire extinguishing set up. Axes and buckets.


Cantaloupe on a stick.


China Life – pet alley


B and I together, and B with Buddy (to get a belt) have explored this weird alley a few blocks west of our apartment full of animals, but I had never taken all the kids. It was on my list of stuff to do before we left, so one hot day we headed over.

Apparently in order to upload videos anymore, I need to upgrade my account. Since we’re back living in the states and I only need to blog another month of China… that’s not happening.


Crickets chirping

China Life

 Walnut delivery bike (each basket is full of walnuts and in the center is a scale).





In China, not only is 13 bad luck, but so is 4 (so also 14).



Once spring and summer roll in, Chinese men wear these utility vests all the time. Usually they are older than this guy.


 The Xu family from church had us over for dinner and she made us homemade jiaozi! AND, she got stuck eating the mis-shapen ones I made.

 Chocolate ships at an import shop. That’s almost $7USD. I just use M&Ms or chop of candy bars when I make chocolate chip cookies.


This is not the same dog. Two dogs in red shoes.




Right down the street from us is a Chinese Uighur Muslim restaurant. The other day we bought some flat bread from them. I loved the way it looked.


A friend took his picture of a sign. We think it means “no spitting,” which would be a novel idea in China.

A desk in the lobby of B’s building. I want a school desk like this on wheels!


I see bikes like this and I can’t help but think that these were around during the Cultural Revolution.


Matchy matchy couple (and sharing carrying a bag).


 Paul Frank monkey detailed SUV.

A clear day. Further west than I normally take pictures (this section is called Shijingshan Road.) Above, toward the pagoda west of town. Below, toward Beijing, you can see the tallest building.



Buddy’s hot dog lunch from Tous le Jours


 Outside Carrefour… a French grocery store chain, the emergency fire cart. :/


Can you see the long hair growing out of his facial mole?! I’m not sure what it is, but people here seem to keep hair that I would pluck in a second.



Waiting for the train to come home from church, PS took this picture. I guess it’s a little A/C booth.

China Life


 Mid day, I find groups of men like this gathered around watching a Chinese chess game.

 Lionel Messi chip aisle!


You can’t tell by my picture, but the woman in purple is wearing tights as pants. They have a polka dot design up to the upper thigh where it stops and by the seams, you can definitely tell these are tights, not pants.


This guy was smoking on our subway train late one night. He moved from car to car so at each stop, when the subway employee came looking for him, he was sneaking past them into the next car and they couldn’t spot him. He seemed obviously inebriated with something (not sure if drug use happens here in China) or mentally unwell.


No one old enough to be in a romantic relationship should also have a giant bunny backpack.

 Grocery shopping: At our local grocery store, in order to buy something from the office supply section (ie: a 28 cent roll of tape) you have to get this ticket and wait in line at a register across the store from the office supply section. Mostly, this encourages me not to buy office supplies at our grocery store. On this particular day, I had to wait in line behind four people in order to buy tape. Tape!! It was a bad China day for me.

 Trash trucks.

 I was trying to capture the little girl in red sitting side saddle on the back of her dad’s bike, but they were too speedy for me.

 Electric scooter with a little seat.

 Toddler in army coat carrying a gun.

 When Princess Sparkley and I travel to youth activities on Tuesday nights, this guy is out in front of our store with his turtle on a lease. He rotates between two different turtles. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, but one time he had a plastic tub full of small turtles, so maybe he’s selling turtles?

 For a youth activity, they did a photo scavenger hunt at Solana mall. They had to get a picture of a weird translation sign.

 A few weeks ago they tore up the sidewalk in front of our grocery store and re-tiled it. Then a week later this tractor came in and tore it all up to retile it again.


Paining characters on the sidewalk with water.

 My favorite candy bar (milk chocolate with sea salt and caramel) is only at one of our stores now. And for some reason, it’s Y12 (about $2) while all the other flavors are Y9.60 ($1.50). Not a huge amount of money, but I’m already justifying 1) buying candy and 2) buying a more expensive chocolate when I could have a Snickers for Y4 or a Dove milk chocolate for Y7.


Mmmm… this is one of my favorite street foods. Breakfast at our subway stop. It took awhile, but I figured out it is called Jidan guanbing 鸡蛋灌饼. A bread, fried with an egg cracked in it. Then a hot dog-like sausuage and potatoes with carrot and peppers. Oh, and some sort of sauce painted on… probably fermented soy bean paste or something similar.

More street food info:


A fun infographic of Beijing street foods:


Yes, this is an adult woman with a cell phone case that looks like a baby bottle.

 After going to the Ancient Observatory (which is just above this station), I finally understood the tile art of the Jianguomen station.

 This is not a car accident. This was deemed a successful parking job by the driver of the black car.


I like that the Max. 3 Persons sign looks like they are dancing.

 My new favorite orange (tangelos, I think) because they peel easily and are 99% seedless.

The white fluff in the stroller… this is a dog.

Notice the little girl riding in front of her mom’s legs. (Three gals, on a scooter.)

China Life

 PS wants to buy all these fish and set them free… the problem is where to set them free?!

 Now that it has warmed up a bunch, these bird cages are hung out in trees and we see them when we go out to run errands.

 Saw this tiny excavator leaving the Beijing Automobile Museum.

 Getting all the vegetables cut and ready for breakfast/lunch/dinner at the restaurant.


I see men carrying their significant other’s purse quite often.


 This may look like a rescue mission. In actuality, it’s a guy, trimming tree branches, with a chain saw.

We transfer from line 1 to line 2 every week at Jianguomen station to get to church. It wasn’t until after visiting the Ancient Observatory and the Planetarium that I understood the murals above the train tracks. This is the station beneath the Ancient Observatory. Further down the track, it actually depicts the observatory. This specific mural is the Chinese interpretation of the big dipper, which I saw at the Planetarium.

 All of a sudden this is in our stores… no idea what it is. Ideas?

 Crowded transfer from 1 to 14 at Dawanglu subway station.

 Below: Shopping at Miniso… it’s a Japanese or Korean dollar store type shop. We love it, but some of the stuff is a bit crazy!

And in the Tour Le Jours Bakery next door… (ie: croutons).

I’d mentioned to my friend Becky that I wanted to try to find a Mooncake mold to bring back to the States as my souvenir. She found me one in Tianjin when there family visited!! The characters are for Double Happiness.

 PS thinks this Tinkerbell candy gun is hilarious.

 Granddaughter riding on Grandpa’s shopping trolley.

 Pet fish? Dinner?

 I want to take the boys here. For Y10 they cut your hair and vacuum you clean. At first, I thought it was a vacuum cut place.

Popsicles. Based on the picture, it looks like a stack of haw fruit frozen in water.

 A few days after Easter, our grocery store had this display table out front with markers and eggs.

 On the way to church, right before boarding the line 13 train, there are an especially large amount of red banners.

 Our church district had a dinner followed by viewing the General Women’s meeting. Afterwards, walking to the subway, one of the street food vendors was selling “grilled” jiaozi! Yum! This was fuller, we’d eaten some before I took the picture. And it only cost Y10… less than $2 USD.

B took me to the Alley Market down the street to get Jian Bing. He’d tried it on his way home from transferring money at the bank and said it was yummier than the Jian Bing we had in Tianjin. It was good. Bu La means not spicy/hot. That’s helpful for me to remember. It sort of tasted like a Taco Bell burrito that was heavy on the lettuce… and crunchy. The guy makes a crepe like shell… but it’s crunchy. Then he cooks an egg on it. Then his wife paints spicy stuff on it, adds green leaf lettuce and a fried dough stick, folds it up and chops it in half. Super filling. Y6, about $1 USD.

Here’s someone else’s video: