Amy Irving


Amy Irving

Before 2008 I had never really been outside the continental United States (I don't count Toronto or Key West, even if its only 50 miles from Cuba!). Liang's job, though grueling at times, has given us the wonderful opportunity to travel often since then. In one year I was able to visit him in Hawaii and the Netherlands (followed by a weekend trip to Paris). Last year we spent Christmas in London (I would highly recommend visiting this city during the holidays- beautiful!) and this year we are spending it in China! I am very excited to meet my "new" Chinese family while we are here and learn more about Liang's culture and heritage. I am also very thankful that we are able to visit such amazing places together. I hope you enjoy coming on my journey with us!

North America » United States » Wisconsin » Madison January 6th 2012

Some say the grass is greener on the other side. Others say there’s no place like home. I’d say that two cultures are better than one. Of course that is more easily said now that I am home, sweet home, but I really do believe that something beautiful emerges when the best of many worlds are brought together. Coming to this realization is tough when you are 6500 miles from home (or about 10,500 kilometers to “do as the romans do”) but looking back I can now see that there are some things I will definitely miss about Chinese living and culture.But there are also things that I am thankful for here at home. Culture Shock #1: Traffic, Traffic Everywhere With a population of about 10 million people, Shanghai has as many people as New ... read more
Traffic Barriers
A Shared Meal
Try something new

Asia » China » Beijing » Chaoyang district December 30th 2011

“Oh crap!” This is what I woke up to Liang screaming at 4:30am. This morning was supposed to begin at 3:30am so we had time to get ready before our 5am departure. Not so lucky. Bleary-eyed from a not-so-great night of “sleep” (the congestion I am suffering from is legendary) we loaded up the caravan for the trek to Beijing.We stopped at a grocery store yesterday to stock up on food since we would not have time to stop on the way- I think we over-stocked. The first few hours we mostly slept. Well, everyone else slept (except the driver, of course). I suffered in agony wondering how I was going to fare with this congestion tomorrow on a 13-hour flight. I decided to hop out during our first pit-stop and the cold air helped clear ... read more

Asia » China » Liaoning » Yingkou December 29th 2011

I decided to sleep in today in an effort to try to shake this cold (if you can call sleeping until 9:15am while on vacation “sleeping in”). We stopped by Liang’s mom’s brother’s house which is across the street from our hotel. It was similar in layout to the house we saw in Benxi, but larger and much newer. Generally, several generations live together in one home or apartment in China. Here, Liang’s uncle lives along with his son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. Two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, kitchen, dining room and family room.Quite nice and cozy and covered in toys belonging to the two-year-old, Yangyang. We were then picked up by our host and taken for a tour of the city. We saw a river and the sea it leads to, the Bohai Sea. We also ... read more

Asia » China » Liaoning » Yingkou December 28th 2011

Today I awoke feeling sub-par. I am definitely about ready to pack up one more time, jump on a plane and head home. This has been an event-filled trip but its time I return to recognizable food and my own bed.And smoking bans. This morning we went to visit Liang’s mom’s family cemetery in the country near Yingkou. I have especially loved the drives through China- however rough and unsettling- because it gives me a great opportunity to see many communities, especially those that American eyes rarely, if ever, see. The last bit of the drive to the cemetery was interesting as we turned our cars down an alley that looked more like a footpath than a road. We squeezed our car between buildings and through part of a corn field. At that point we decided ... read more

Asia » China » Liaoning » Yingkou December 27th 2011

Another night with little rest, but I am ready to head to our next destination. We have spent 6 hours flying (not including the 24+ hours to and fro the US), another 6 hours sitting in airports (not including the 13 hours of layovers to and fro the US), and somewhere around 20 hours sitting in traffic or driving between cities during the time we have been in China.I almost feel like I am going to need another vacation to recover. We stopped for a quick breakfast at a little hole-in-the-wall (literally). Four of us ate for about $3 USD. Cheap, but I would have preferred Cocoa Puffs. Its all about the experience though. And I guess giving everyone else the chance to stare at an American. If I thought Beijing had fewer Caucasians than I ... read more
Shenyang to Benxi to Yingkou

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi December 26th 2011

By the time you read this post, I should be back from the edge of civilization. Ok, not quite, but probably as close to the edge as I have ever come.Today we are flying from Shanghai to Shenyang and then driving to the small village where Liang’s Dad is from, Benxi. We are staying at a hotel where I have been told to “expect the worst and hope for the best”. Not encouraging. Liang has been hording water from each hotel we have stayed at during the trip like its going out of style. His checked luggage bag is so heavy with water its been a pastime for us to see the reaction each time a cab driver or airport worker tries to pick it up. They usually end up laughing and turning to someone to ... read more
Benxi is surrounded by mountains

Asia » China » Shanghai » Huangpu December 25th 2011

Good morning and Merry Christmas! This morning we said goodbye to our villa and our hosts (including the resort owner and Mr. Chen and Mr. Na who have been with us since Beijing) and climbed back onto the bus to head to Shanghai. At least traffic is a lot better today on Christmas.The trip that took us 4 hours into Zhangjiagang several days ago should now take about 90 minutes back into Shanghai. Shanghai is a bustling city similar to Beijing but more modern and Westernized. The pollution here is also quite bad as witnessed from the window of our 53rd floor hotel room. We arrived in the afternoon and decided we had time to do one thing today and chose to visit the Yu Yuen Gardens and Baazar. This is a famous spot for shopping ... read more
Shanghai Pollution
Old vs New Shanghai
Shanghai at Night

Asia » China » Shanghai December 24th 2011

With a good night’s rest under my belt I am ready to roll! Another Chinese breakfast, where the food seems a little too heavy for a morning meal- stir fry, rice, soup, on and on- topped off with some Chinese yoghurt (mmm) and oranges (perfect, tiny oranges where the peel falls right off). We then visited a museum depicting the art history of the local area. It combined artistic displays, dioramas of scenes of daily life in the villages long ago, different types of music, and beautiful outdoor vistas. Unfortunately, the admission tickets we received and nearly all the writing was in Mandarin so I do not know what the museum was called. However, it is in an area rarely frequented by travelers and I don’t think I saw another Caucasian all day. I feel lucky ... read more
Temple Pagoda
Temple Pool
Zodiac Figures at Temple

Asia » China » Shanghai December 23rd 2011

We have finally left the “hotel of a thousand smells”, as Liang called it. No more pickled turnip smell. I hope. I also decided that I think the problem with the bed was that they forgot the mattress and just put sheets on the box spring. That must be it.I pray that at least the quality of the bed is better in the next hotel as I am in sincere need of a good night’s rest. After breakfast we loaded all our luggage into several cars and headed for the airport. The drive from our hotel to the airport was about an hour or so but gave us a good chance to see the city in daylight. We took several videos while we were driving of traffic (still not nearly as good as we will get ... read more
Airport Ad
Master Hot Spring

Asia » China » Shaanxi » Xi'an December 22nd 2011

This morning I “awoke” to find I had not slept at all. Throughout the night the smell of cigarette smoke wafted through the walls and into our room. Smoking bans- another thing I am thankful for in the US.At least the shower was hot and I also awoke to two photos of my kitties back home (thanks Tammy!)- I bet they had a better night’s sleep than I did (and in a better bed too!). This was the first completely Chinese breakfast that I have had since I have been here. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not- we will see how I feel later. I always thought Chinese cooking would be healthy but there is a lot of fried food here and a lot of use of oil. A salted ... read more
Hot Spring
Dumpling Dinner
Xi'an at Night

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