29 June 2011

Every Sunday

Some of our favorite people in Baotou are the English Bible Study Group.
Every Sunday afternoon we meet at the nearby Christian Church.
About a dozen people attend the bible study; we serve as the English speaking experts but the group is led by some very dedicated men and women.
William often prepares the lesson and keeps us on task.
When the enthusiasm exceeds the language, the group slips into Chinese for a real exchange of ideas.
We're saying our farewell this Sunday as we prepare to leave; these people have been our real church home in Baotou.

21 June 2011

Everyday Walmart

These are some of our favorite things as we stroll down the aisles of Walmart.

Pig snouts
Pig ears
Chicken feet, crunchy and to improve women's complexions.
Pick your soy sauce
Or your noodles
One of the many types of dried mushrooms (S = safe).
And who could pass up marinated duck tongue?

16 June 2011

Hometown and Gown

Diane made a quick trip back to Houston to welcome our newest grand-daughter, Zell Persson Hollrah, born May 12.
Britta with Annette, Nils with Isabel, Diane with Zell, and Sophia with Dogie. Zell is wearing the family baptismal dress worn by her mother and grandfather.
Each week we've met our colleagues for a facilty development session, on topics from research methods to the U.S. social situation.
Daniel with two of our favorite English teachers, who like us were new to Baotou this year.
A new graduate of the Baotou Teachers' College, Inner Mongolia University of Science & Technology. 
Foreign teachers (us and Kelly from Oklahoma) enjoy dinner with Chinese English teachers Susan and Jenny.

10 June 2011


Transportation here in Baotou is a mix of the familiar and different, the old and new.
Sometimes we get so focussed on the unusual that we neglect the ordinary, like this tree-lined street with cars in the morning rush hour waiting for the light to turn green -- it could almost be Houston, except for the sign in Chinese.
Electric bicycles are very popular here and more are sold every day.  Typically, the rechargeable battery is good for about 20 km and there are also pedals if you run out of juice.
Bikes and e-bikes here are transportation, not recreation.  Dressed for work and with high heels -- you'd never see this at home.
The bigger scooters are also mostly electric, and we sometimes see a whole family riding -- father and two children wait for mother to finish an errand and hop back on.
Tricycle carts move some incredible loads here, and most are also electric.
And there's still an occasional donkey cart in the mix of traffic.  Taxis are very common, and you never call for a ride, just flag one down -- affordable too, short trips about $1, about $3 to the train station and $8 to the airport.  They run on CNG to keep the air clean. 
But people aspire to high-end SUV's, and there are plenty of those here too.  So old and new, familiar and different, China is on the move.

06 June 2011


Daniel turned 63, and the students surprised him with a birthday party in class.
A 3 layer cake, no less, decorated as a cup of coffee -- these students know my weakness.  Coffee isn't so popular here, and what there is is mostly instant, but there are real coffee restaurants which tend to be expensive relative to usual Chinese fare.
The cake came with a goofy hat which of course I had to wear for a class photo.
And it was my job to cut the cake, a messy business but it did all get eaten, albeit with some second helpings.
Well, not quite all eaten exactly, the icing was popular for smearing on faces, especially other's faces, and naturally this escalated.  I managed to get photos, but with sticky fingers and a sticky camera.
The students said this was the first party like this they'd had since coming to college, and it got pretty energetic -- I wondered what the people passing in the hall must have thought.
But eventually everyone washed up and we got on with the lesson, which included a student group teaching a segment on an updated Lady Godiva story, with discussion questions for their classmates.  We're impressed with how much more sophisticated these students are now than when we first saw them last fall.