Chinese morning markets

Blog #24


On our last trip to Leiyang, I enjoyed going out of my mother in law’s house in the morning and picking up breakfast. It is very active in the morning on the streets. There are many different shops and vendors just outside her complex along the road.

我们上次去耒阳的时候,我喜欢早上从我的岳母家出门去买早饭。早上街上有很多活动和 人。一出门就有很多不同的小卖店和摊子。

There is a colorful vegetable market there where you can pick up fresh vegetables. I saw all sorts of things and have no idea what they are. Sometimes, my wife and mother-in-law also don’t know what these are and have to ask. Variety is the one constant in Chinese cuisine.

这个地方有一个很热闹的市场,有各种颜色的菜。你每天可以买到很新鲜的菜。我看了很 多菜但是不知道它们是什么。有时我的太太或者我岳母也不知道是什么菜,需要问卖菜的 人。各种各样的品种是中国菜的唯一常数。

I enjoy to see all the varieties of vegetables and also the traditional measurement scales used to weight out your purchases. Chinese don’t use metric or English units but have their own Chinese market units to measure weights. For example 1 jin equals to 500 g. You can read more about all of the Chinese measurements units here:

我最喜欢看很多不同的菜,还可以看到传统的测量尺度。中国人不用公制或者英制,他们 有自己的测量单位。例如,一斤等于500克。

You can even pickup freshly butchered meat – pork from this person:


You can pickup everything for a day’s meal here for a few dollars all fresh from the farm.


A Shared Dream

Blog #23 – A shared dream


We were traveling in China around Thanksgiving last year. We tried a new travel method to fly to Toronto early in the morning, hang out in the airport for a while, and then fly direct to Shanghai. In Shanghai, we got a hotel to stay one night in a real bed, then woke up to have a nice breakfast, and took  “gao tie” (China’s amazing high speed train system) down to Leiyang.


When we were sleeping in Shanghai, something quite interesting happened. We were sleeping with one kid and one parent per bed in our hotel room. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by our seven year old, who started speaking in his sleep rapid-fire Chinese.


I don’t recall what he was saying, but at the end, he asked “do you remember that???” And then our five year old in the next bed sat bolt upright, and emphatically said “yes, I remember!!!”

Neither of them was awake and didn’t speak a word after that.  Just peacefully sleeping.

我不知道他说什么,但他最终说:“你记得吗? ? ?”



Were they in the same dream? Whose dream was it? How do brother and sister cross into each other’s dreams? How interesting!



哥哥和妹妹会不会穿越另外一个人的梦 ?


Ginger treatment

Blog #22 – Ginger shampoo


One of my trips to China, I once again had a head cold. My wife’s family is very fantastic and always want to help us out.


One idea was to get a ginger head treatment to open my sinuses. I thought it sounded good and so off we went to the hair salon.


We went to the hair salon. I laid down and the hairdresser brings over about three large knotty bunches of fresh ginger for me to see and inspect. I gave her a nod OK, and she then brought out a food processor and put ALL of that ginger in there along with a few other minor ingredients. Now, I already knew the taste of ginger, but I was about to learn how truly spicy pure ginger is.


She washed my hair with water, and then begin to apply the ginger purée with a spatula onto my head. At first it tingled. Very quickly it got hot. She was not done applying that blender full of ginger. By the time she was done, the top of my head was encased in ginger paste. Then she left me to marinate.

她开始用水洗我的头发没有问题。然后她开始放姜酱在我的头上。刚开始我只是感觉有点刺辣 马上变得非常非常辣。但这只是一小部分,等她把所有的姜酱都放到我头上以后, 我的头顶盖上了一层厚厚的姜酱。然后她离开我腌制。

It felt like my head was inside a blazing oven.  Very strange experience. The feeling of heat was almost unbearable. I thought about my high school job at a pizza place, and thought of sticking my head in that big pizza oven.


The service person returned, and rinsed the ginger out of my hair and off my head. Instantly the heat was gone. What a strange experience. Unfortunately, the cold was still there.


The “standard treatment”

Blog #21 – the standard treatment


I was in China a few years back in my wife’s hometown. At that time I could speak probably at the HSK 2 level of Chinese, which is to say, not much.


I was sick and so my wife and her “sisters” and their husbands decided we could all go to the spa together so I could use the steam room. I was not really interested in spa, but steam room sounded great for my head cold.

我感冒了,所以我的太太和她的姐妹和她们的老公决定我们都去一个spa. 我太太告诉我在SPA有一个桑拿室。桑拿室听起来很舒服,所以我决定陪她们去。

That evening we all showed up at the spa, or rather my wife, two sisters and me showed up at the spa. Their husbands were not able to join, but no problem, I told them I would be just fine by myself and said just give me “pu tong de” the standard treatment. As long as it includes steam room. The girls went off to their side and I went into the men’s side by myself.

那个晚上,我和我的太太到了SPA的门口,我发现了姐妹们的老公不能参加。我告诉她们“没关系!没有问题! 我就要一个’普通的’男士的服务项目。“我想我只要有桑拿室就可以了。然后,我的太太和她的姐妹去了女人的一边,我一个人去了男人的一边。

There was a minder with me. I put everything into a locker. He tells me, first take a shower.  I take a shower and then return and asked “now what?”. He says “go here” and walks me to an area with a sign that looks like massage. It has a table and a bucket under a water faucet with a dirty mop in it. He points to a massage table. I ask him “is this the standard treatment?” He answered yes, so I lie down.

里面有一个服务员。他告诉我:“先洗澡。”我洗澡以后,问他.:“现在做什么?“ 服务员送我去了一个地方。 这个地方有一个牌子看起来像按摩。我问他“这是普通的吗?“ 他说:“是。“然后他指向一张按摩床。按摩床边有一个水龙头 和一个水桶。 水桶里有一个脏的拖把。服务员指向这张按摩床。我问了他“这是普通的吗?“


A minute later, another guy comes out and starts throwing water on my back and rubbing some object. Every time he throws water on my back I am thinking about that dirty mop water. I ask “is that clean water?”

He says “yes”.

过了一分钟,来了另外一个人。 他开始在我的背上扔水。他还在我背上擦了一个东西。每一次他在我背上扔水,我就想起那个脏拖把水。“这个水干不干净?“我问他。


Then I notice this stuff flying off from my back. It looks like tiny pieces of dirty mop. I asked him again “is that clean water?” And again he answered “yes, very clean.” – so I picked up a small piece of junk from the table – I said “then what is this??”

He said “that is your skin!”

“My skin??”


“Is this the standard treatment?” I asked. “Yes, very standard” was the answer.



所以我拿起一个小拖把片给他看, 问到:“那这是什么???“




“这是普通的吗?? ?“ 我问。


So, he continued to apply 100 grit sandpaper to the rest of my body. Afterward, my minder returned, I asked “now what?” he said “take a shower”.



After my shower I again asked my minder “now what?” He said “that’s all.”

“Wait wait wait, what about the steam room” I asked.

“It’s broken he said”





Then he brought out two sealed robes, one red and one gold. I asked him “which one is better?”

He looked at both, considered it, then handed me the red one, I put on the red one and went out and up stairs


他看了看, 想了想,然后给了我红色的。我就穿着红色出去了。

Sooooo, I went out the exit and upstairs where the men and women were all together.  Once I started seeing groups of women and groups of men sitting together it became very obvious to me that gold robes were for men and red robes for women. At that moment, I turn back for the locker room and my wife and her sisters are laughing and coming up the stairs with beauty masks on. They look so happy. My wife asks “how was the steam room?” I just ordered a beer.

我上了楼,楼上女人和男人都在一起放松。我马上发现了所有的男人都穿着色的长袍,所有的女人和我都穿着红色的长袍。 那一刻,我正想马上回更衣室换衣服,我的太太和她的姐妹来到楼上。她们笑着,贴着面膜,看起来很高兴。我太太问了我“蒸汽房怎么样?“


My first speech in Chinese


I actually enjoy public speaking. Ever since my first speech class years ago, I have enjoyed mastering a topic or subject and speaking about it from my perspective. Well, this summer I was invited to give a brief talk ***in Chinese*** for the seventh grade class at our Chinese school in October. It was great practice for me to write and practice Chinese for this talk, and I actually got laughs from the one funny bit of my talk. Hopefully it helps the students see that with enough persistence anyone can learn to speak Chinese. I really enjoyed the opportunity and answering questions from the students.

The full talk as I wrote it is below.

大家好!我的名字是Scott Stanley. 你们可以叫我Scott。你们好。




1) 学中文不容易,

2) 我的经验学中文和说中文,


1) 第一个话题,学中文不容易。

经常人们听我说中文的时候,他们不相信他们的耳朵,不相信一个老外人有中文在口里面。然后,他们问我:“你为什么会说中文?”我告诉他们我娶了一个湖南人,他们马上说:“啊 – – 当然,你的妻子教你中文!”

很多人觉得如果你和一个中国人结婚了,你自动会说中文。还有人觉得如果你的父母从中国来的,你自动会说中文。你们遇到过这种问题吗?我们都知道不是这样的。因为学中文真的不容易。其实,我的太太不教我中文。那么,为什么我要学中文?因为我们孩子们小时候,他们花了很多时间跟他们的外婆在一起。外婆只会说中文,所以我的孩子们开始说很多的中文。然后我很紧张 – – 我害怕我将来听不懂我的孩子们说话。所以我开始很努力地学中文。这是为什么我要学中文,但学中文不容易。


我觉得最重要的事情是多开口说中文。例如,我记得,第二次我去中国,是和我的太太去她的老家结婚。当天有差不多两百多人来我们的婚礼。我站在台上,台下有所有的客人和家人。我想说一点的中文。所以我慢慢地说:“大家好。我是老婆。我爱我的老公。谢谢。”他们都觉得很好笑。以后,我用了很多不同的办法学中文。Rosetta Stone, Apps, 书,等等。我觉得对我最有帮助的是私教。过去三年,我每个星期用Skype跟一些老师学中文。我已经通过了HSK一,HSK二,HSK三。今年我开始写一个中文博客。我的博客是很简单的故事,目的是帮助我学中文。


3) 第三个话题:说中文有什么好处。








Checklist for flying with small kids

Blog 18-19 combo

In our 50% Chinese 50% American household, we often travel with our young kids to China.  We have taken some long international flights, for example, getting back to my wife’s hometown can take 25-35 or more hours door to door.  Through these experiences we have learned a lot.  So, for this blog post, I wanted to write down some of the tips and tricks of travelling with small kids internationally.  These tips are focused on our own experience with kids that are 1 year up to about 6 years old.  We won’t cover the obvious (like requesting the bassinet for kids under two) and this article will probably change and evolve over time as we travel more and kids get bigger.

1. Food

Food is the first item because it is the most important one.  Every time the plane takes off or lands, the pressure change inside the plane causes kid’s ears to hurt.  However, if you just give them something to chew on or swallow, that allows kids to equalize the pressure in their ears, and makes their inner ear comfortable.  The ideal thing is something chewy they can eat a lot of that will not fill them up.  We find that Gerber puffs are excellent for this; the kids can eat a ton of them and never get full.  Beyond this, single serve snacks are great (whether you prepare them yourself in ziplocks or buy single serves).  The types of things we bring are: Cheerios, raisins, rice cakes, stuff like this.  Single serve is super convenient because you don’t have to worry about spilling and the unwrapping of each item is an activity for the kids.  We actually have a backpack that is almost totally filled with food for kids on these longs trips.

2. Toys 

We also bring a small number of cheap toys.  Because we bring cheap toys, we don’t mind if they get lost during the trip (which will invariably happen). For example: hot wheels cars, small puzzle, a small LEGO box set, all are good.  The dollar store is perfect for picking up small and disposable toys for taking on the plane.  If they get lost, no problem.

3. Pen & Paper

We have found that simple art supplies go a long way with children. For example, small stickers are cheap and light and will keep little finger busy for a long time peeling and sticking stickers onto paper.  For crayons, it’s worth it to find and buy these triangular cross section crayons as shown below.  They are super handy on the plane because they don’t roll!

4. Games

We don’t like electronic games and iPad for kids. Maybe I will write a separate post on this topic. A deck of mini uno cards can keep kids busy for a long time. Uno is also good because it doesn’t matter if you lose some cards here or there, and two, three, or more people can play together.  We also like to pickup game books that have coloring, tic-tac-toe, word search, connect the dots, and other games inside.

5. Inside the airport

During layovers, we try to find a children’s area if they have one nearby.  If not, an excellent toy to play in some open space is an inflatable beachball.  This packs flat, weighs nothing, and after blowing it up, you can play all sorts of games with it.  It’s been a super helpful on all of our layovers and delays.

6. Medicine

You can and probably should bring all types of medicines along for kids, especially when travelling abroad and not knowing what you will be able to get your hands on, what dosages, etc. For our kids, a key must have on the place is something for their nose like Vaseline.  Our kids both get nose bleeds, and the dry air on the plane really exacerbates it.  I can write a future story about this . .. but for now, I would just recommend bringing Vaseline or Ayer for the nose.

7. Other helpful items

There are tons of other little things we have found very helpful, for example: babywipes (out of diapers and still using these) and clean empty ziplock bags.  Ziplock bags are super helpful for when you kids takes two bites out of that apple and is full, you can just pop it in a bag and save it for later.

That’s it!  What types of tips do you have for travelling with kids?  Please let me know in the comments!


1)食品。食品是第一个因为食品是最重要的。每一次飞机起飞或者降落的时候,压力变化让孩子的耳朵痛了。如果给孩子们吃喝东西,可以降低对孩子耳朵的压力。让他们耳朵舒服。大多他们需要一些东西咀嚼和吞咽。我们发现小宝贝的饼干是最好的。Gerber的泡芙饼干是我们最喜欢的,因为很好吃,吃很多也不会吃地很饱。我们也带很多小吃。我们觉得分开装很方便,可能买或者自己准备:葡萄干,Cheerios, 米饭糕,等等 … 所有的小吃多很好吃。我们准备好的小吃放在食品背包里面。

2)玩具。我们也带一些便宜的玩具。因为带便宜的玩具,所以我们不担心玩具弄丢。例如: 小车,小拼图,小乐高积木(LEGO)盒子,都可以。你可以在两元店买很多便宜的玩具带到飞机上。如果玩具弄丢了没关系。




6)药.  你可能带很多种孩子需要用的药。对我们孩子们最重要的是凡士林(Vaseline)。在飞机上空气很干。我们的孩子们经常鼻子出血,所以我们总是带一些凡士林(Vaseline)放在鼻子里面,保护他们的鼻子别太干了。

7) 其他物品。例如:婴儿湿巾, 纸巾, 自封袋,都很方便。我们孩子们吃一般的苹果吃饱了,我们会放在自封袋里,等一会儿孩子饿了想吃了。可以从自封袋里拿出来给他们继续吃。这样可以别浪费食物。


Hold it right there!

Blog 17


I have always wanted to be a dad and have kids to raise. I can remember even as a small child planning things I would do with my own children. I guess I just like to plan ahead!


However, some things you cannot plan for. For example I never planned for the situation I had last week with my six year old son. You see, normally, my wife takes the kids to school in the morning and I pickup in the afternoon. My wife had some work training, and so I was taking kids to school all week.


Monday, it was a bit crazy, and everyone was late. Tuesday was a little better, but I was still late getting to work. Wednesday the same. By Thursday morning, I am pretty frustrated.


It is a situation any parent can identify with. I was pointing my finger at my kids and saying “you guys had better eat and I don’t want to be late to work again!” In that moment, I was frustrated and my tone of voice was not good. I had had enough.

这个情况所有的父母都可以理解。我指着我的孩子说:“你们最好吃早饭,你们不要再让我迟到了!“ 在那时候,我很沮丧,语气也不好。我受够了。

Suddenly, my six year old holds up hand. He looked me right in the eyes and with a calm voice said “Hold it right there Dad. What is more important to you…” then he held out his two little hands, palms up, like a scale.



He then said “What is more important to you Dad, being late to work … or … having a family where everyone loves you?”




This is either the most clever or the sweetest kid ever (maybe both). In all my planning, I never imagined such delightful children.


Beijing 798 arts district

Blog 16


798 is a cool area I visited recently while in Beijing. You can read about my other adventures here.

798 used to be a military factory, one of the biggest in China. The buildings there were designed by a German designer and have a cool industrial look to them. The top of each building section is curved with big windows which lets the light in. The whole place is now divided up into many studios, cafes, and shops.

Beijing 798

Beijing 798

I shared in a previous post about the Hyundai gallery. They also have a neat air filter display which was titled “Cleanest air in Beijing.” It consists of a large glass walled air filter system with five filtration stages. It also included a long video screen showing different colored dots representing sensor data on measured pollutants flowing into the air filter system from outdoors. Cool!

Beijing 798 cleanest air exhibitMultistage air filterParticle counter display

We also saw the beautiful sculptures of cast metal shown below.

798 arts district

Crafts people are also selling various goods, including these neat sounding and colorful steel drums.

Steel drums

All in all, a bit commercial, but worth a visit I think.








Blue skies in Beijing and the power of deciding.

Blog 15


One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Beijing was the sky – totally blue skies! Unbelievable! In the past, every trip to Beijing meant me getting sick from the pollution. Why are the skies blue now?

Back in November the Chinese government banned coal burning for all areas around Beijing. Just like that, the terrible pollution problems of Beijing are solved. This is one of the most amazing things about the Chinese government. When they make a decision to change something, it changes immediately. It is unbelievable. I don’t think any other large country in the world can make changes like this.

Another good example: I remember about 10 years ago, both China and USA both said they were going to invest in high speed rail. USA debated and talked about how and where to build rail, whereas China got to work building. China now has 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of high speed rail connecting the entire country built over 10 years. How much does the US have? In the US we have zero.

That’s the characteristics of a decisive government. It can be a good thing or a bad thing but you are guaranteed things will happen.





Stone lions at Forbidden City

Blog 14


I was revisiting all the big sights on my recent trip to Beijing, including the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City has lots of dragons, but I like the guardian lions as shown in the picture above best. There are usually a pair of them guarding various palace entrances. And once you see them, you will begin to notice them all over Beijing, bronze lions and stone lions. One has a ball under its paw and the other looks like it is crushing a baby lion. Looks pretty scary. What are they? What do they mean?

The first lion is a male, and has his paw resting on top of a ball or sphere.  That is supposed to represent the yang male force and the paw on the ball represents dominance of the world. The second lion is a female and has her paw resting upon or restraining a child lion cub. This is supposed to represent nurture and the female yin force.

There is a famous Chinese tongue twister about stone lions

四 是 四 , 十 是 十 , 十 四 是 十 四 , 四 十 是 四 十 , 四 十 四 只 石 狮 子 是 死 的。

Pronunciation: sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí, sì shí sì zhī shí shī zì shì sǐ de.

Translation: 4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40, 44 stone lions are dead.

Can you see why it’s difficult for foreigners to learn Chinese?