From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou

Eric
School: ebrown@isgdh.org

Home: ebrown2324@gmail.com

Jamie

School: jbrown@isgdh.org

Home: jkwbrown@gmail.com

Skype: "ericandjamie"


PICASA PHOTO ALBUM

MESSAGE BOARD


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh Air Canada!


Booked!

Jamie and I will be leaving China on the afternoon of June 13 and arriving later in the evening of the 13th in Atlanta after a brief layover in Toronto, Canada. Zaxby's, Chili's, Chik-Fil-A, and cheddar cheese... Here we come! The US's good friends to the north, aye, will be our guiding flight home. Let's hope the canucks on Air Canada can get us home. Aye, we will be excited to go home this summer. We'll stay until July 20, aye, and then head back to China with my parents and my, aye, niece in tow. They are coming for a 2+ week tour of China. Aye, it'll be great.

All Canadian accents aside, we are bogged down right now in a rather long stretch of no breaks and long days and weeks at school. We'll get a long weekend in March where we've decided to go to Macau. Then, we'll have all of March and April until we get to go to Bali, Indonesia.

We are excited to report we've ordered a couple of Kindle 2's for ourselves. Check out the Kindle 2 HERE. It is a pretty cool e-book reading device that has a ton of other features. Simply, the books have cost us a fortune as we travel to Hong Kong, pay almost double the price for a paperback and then figure in the travel cost and food. It is though we are paying 3x the amount for a book. Our reading has slowed down since we've both focused on writing our dissertations, but w are excited to be getting these devices. It'll make traveling easier for sure. When we went to Thailand, we took 15 or so books! With the Kindle 2, our packing will be much easier. Plus, we won't have all these books around the house we just have to give away anyway.

Hope all is well on the home front for everyone. Good luck to mom, dad, and my grandparents and uncles as they move my grandparents back to Tennessee.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

QSI MS Lock In

Since I am one of the sponsors of the Student Council at the Middle School, I helped prepare the Lock - In we had last night. Jamie and I ended up staying all night and it was a huge success. I finally went to sleep at 9:30 am the next morning and woke at 4:00. Kids had several choices all night of open gym (which they played basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and some badminton), open computer lab, video game room, board game room, and a movie room. Griffey even made a short appearance and was hit with kids! I am pleased with the results as we had over 90 kids there, 70 or so staying the night. It was the largest middle school social ever at QSI. It was great seeing kids from all over the world playing the games I used to play growing up. Perhaps the funniest was seeing some of our Asian students trying to sing Bon Jovi or the The Eagles while playing Rock Band. Yes, of course, I jammed out on guitar.

Work has really picked up, and it seems for the rest of the year there is some sort of "week" going on at the school - Book Week, Green Week, some test week, etc. I'll keep you posted on some of those events as I think you might be interested.

Jamie and I will be back to the grind writing our papers this weekend. We have a small trip to Macau planned for next month as a getaway, and they of course Bali in May. Months are closing in on this school year and our first year overseas. It has been a huge success so far and we are very happy and enjoying ourselves. We miss some American things and of course our families, but are staying active enough to keep ourselves busy.

All for now...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In the News...

Jamie and I visited Cambodia this last September and went to the Killing Fields and the S21 prison camp in Phnom Penh. In the news today, one officers at S21 is on trial for war crimes against humanity, nearly 30 years after the Khmer Rouge fell.

Interesting and sombering reading and here is the link. Check out the pictures in our photo gallery of the Killing Fields and the S21 prison camp and let us know if you have any questions.

Yahoo Story Here

Valentine's Day, Dissertation, and a Great deal

video

Lot going on the last couple of days, so I haven't been able to really write. Jamie and I both finished Chapter 1 of our dissertation. It is only a rough draft, but it is an accomplishment for us. We are on our way to completion and both are at least on the tracks even though the track is miles and miles long.

On Valentine's Day, we have a technology staff development. Jamie presented in a break out session a tutorial on the use of a Smartboard in secondary classes, and I assisted in one of the sessions. Afterwards, we both worked on our dissertations, but went out to a nice little restaurant here in town called Ricocco's for our Valentine dinner. It was great food!

This week, the students are taking the ITBS standardized assessment. Many school systems in the states use this test and QSI also uses it as a measure of student knowledge on basic skills. It is somewhat unfair for some of our students as some questions specifically mention things in the US. They still do quite well the cultural bias.

We are very excited about my parents and niece coming back with us to travel around China next summer. We booked their plane tickets and received an AMAZING deal on them. Saved about $500 per ticket.

Here is another video. Gary and Kathy walking on the Great Wall of China at the Mutianyu section around tower 15. I have figured out the whole video process, so I can start providing more of those. We aren't going anywhere until March 13 when we'll make another trip to Macau for the weekend. We'll then travel to Bali, Indonesia for our spring break at the end of April. Tons of pictures and videos to follow for that.

All for now. Hope all is well. Someone drop me a comment and let me know if these videos are showing ok back home. They are a little slow to load here, but the Internet isn't as fast. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finally! Videos on the Blog

video

Finally! I have figured out how to show a compressed video clip from our video camera. This video was 118 MB because we are recording in DVD quality, but I got it down to 16 MB. Quality obviously won't be as good, but it'll be fine for Internet viewing on the blog. Give it a little while to buffer and load up. I'll continue fiddling with the file size and see if I can get it to load quicker. Someone please drop me a comment and see if it is just my Internet connection; or in fact, it does load slowly. It is kind of a long process, so I won't be sharing too many, but this one was pretty cool because it is the entire performance at the top of the Drum Tower in Beijing. Jamie filmed and did a great job. I'll try and put some more on here as I continue to play with the video a little bit.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Be on the lookout...

We spent this weekend watching The Office episodes since we haven't seen it in quite sometime. That show if amazingly funny and well written if you haven't seen it. The humor is extremely dry which might not appeal to some people. Check it out if you want...

I spent this time going through Jamie and Kathy's pictures from Beijing. I will try and get them posted soon as they have some great pictures. I also downloaded all of our video from our video camera and will provide you with clips once I figure out how to get them to upload onto here. My first attempt was not a success. I might also use Google video to store my uploads. Anyway, we have some great footage of some our our trip to Beijing, and I'll get that to you soon.

It is going to be a pretty busy week for us as school is not back in full swing, and we will both be making a large push at writing chapters 1 - 3 of our dissertations. I now have a deadline that needs to be met by the end of May, and I fully intend on meeting it this time. It'll take some discipline which frankly is something I have zero of right now. Lately, my only motivation for anything is getting through the days so we can go on our next trip. Dog days of winter perhaps.

Well, keep on reading and watching for those additional pictures and videos. Some people are keeping up with me on Facebook, but I hear from few of you on here. Thanks for those who submit comments every now and then.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

From Chinese New Year Day 3


Jamie and I returned back from our Beijing trip wiped out. Griffey was taken care of by our AYI, and some other house guests. He was excited to see us, but promptly went outside and found some Chinese street food and ate a few whole chicken on a stick (bones included). He was up most of the night with a tummy ache, which meant I was up too. As a friend said to me, "the joys of parenthood."

Having arrived from our trip to Beijing, we are gearing up for another trip this summer throughout China. We aren't exactly sure of the itinerary, but the trip will include my parents as well as my niece. We plan to go to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, Xi'an (to see the terracotta warriors), Guilin (beautiful scenery and karst landscape), and perhaps either Chengdu (to see the pandas) or a Yangtze river cruise. All this we'll try and fit into about 14 - 16 days. Obviously more to come later on this wonderful trip. I'm excited because my parents will get to come and my niece will see things that will simply blow her little 12 year old mind. She will actually turn 13 while she is in China. Talk about a birthday to remember!

We have settled back into a decent routine here at school. We have both filed for and received extensions on our dissertations and will be continuing to write those. I actually have until May 27 to finish Chapters 1 - 3. This is certainly doable if I will just sit down and start writing, a task that has become quite difficult for some reason. My motivation right now is simply non-existent, but perhaps I can trudge through it.

We have started our sessions of the Rosetta Stone program for Mandarin Chinese. We hope this will enable us to at least get by with some basic Chinese in the city and throughout China. Once again, you have to force yourself to do it and we've already missed 2 days. We'll try and be more disciplined. It is nice learning new phrases and using them with the locals here. They certainly appreciate it.

All the news for now. We are both already looking forward to our next break at the end of April where Jamie and I will go to Bali, Indonesia to the beach. We are excited, but it is simply not close enough. We do get a mini break in March where we might make a short trip in China.

Bye for now... As my old Latin teacher use to say... "H.A.N.D."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009 - Day 9

From Day 9 Temple of Heaven Departure


Our last day in Beijing, so we decided to take it a little easier. The only thing on the schedule was lunch and the Temple of Heaven. We wanted to do a little bit of shopping so we went to a pearl market and another large knock off shopping center. Gary was in awe at how much stuff there was in the 5 level shopping center. Lot of junk, but some of the stuff was decent and I'm sure would last for a day or 2 at least (just kidding). I decided to wake up and go to Jingshan Park which was right next to our hotel and overlooking the Forbidden City. The Chinese retired people were in the park doing their exercises, singing, dancing, playing games, and having a good ol time. I climbed to the top and overlooked the Forbidden City. It is truly a shame that Beijing is such a hazy city. A co-worker of mine told me today that it is part pollution, but also just part of the city being in a valley and the dust from mountains and deserts blowing in constantly. Not much the city can do I suppose.

While I was at the park, Jamie, Kathy, and Gary treated themselves to a full body massage last 1.5 hours. The masseuses came to their room and the total cost was just under $55 US for all three massages. Pretty amazing.

After I returned and they finished up, we packed up and were picked up by our guide an driver and taken to the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is "a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism" (wikipedia). They renovated it in 2005 - 2006, so the paint still looked great and the temple complex was very nice. Again, the Chinese retired were there in full force. Kathy and Gary particularly like the their dancing. Some were juggling and doing ribbon twirling too.

We ate lunch at a restaurant that was a mix of Thai and Chinese food. The restaurant was based on Dai minority in southwest China which gives it a Thai flavor. There were dancers on stage for entertainment. Gary caught a good luck incense from the dancers. Food was more like western Chinese food, but it was very very good.

Afterwards, we did some shopping and finally had one more final drink and appetizer at Hard Rock Cafe before we headed toward the airport. I have never been on a private guided tour with a tour guide like this before, I can I safely say it was very good. I can't imagine how you could afford such service in the States. Our guided ended up walking us into the airport and checked us in. There was a problem with Gary and Kathy's tickets and he even took care of that for them. Extremely nice and professional. He was very candid about answering our questions concerning China's one child policy, abortion, laws, crimes, health care, retirement, etc. He didn't smother us while touring yet gave us some valuable information. We highly would recommend this for anyone taking a Beijing tour. Just ask me for information regarding it.

We parted with Gary and Kathy because our flight was domestic and was in a different departing terminal. Great visit from them and we already look forward to seeing them and the rest of our family this summer. Beijing is an amazing city with a lot to offer anyone. We learned so much and found out about more places in China to visit. I feel more fortunate now that I am able to work in China so I can visit the wonderful places. Living in the U.S., we have many places to visit, but the cost is so extraordinary. Here, we are able to travel like this and still save money. I'll get some pictures posted soon of Day 9. I think my folders are messed up in the gallery, so I'll get them fixed to coordinate with the blog.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009 - Day 8

From Day 8 - Olympics and Summer Palace


After breakfast, we went straight to see the Bird's Nest and the Watercube, the sites of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The entire city is very hazy. I'm guessing that it is a mixture of pollution and some element of the climate. Nonetheless, it is difficult to see anything as is evident in the pictures. We just walked around for about 30 minutes. They do offer tours, but we declined. All of us have been inside stadiums before. I'd like to know more before booking a tour.

Our next destination was the Summer Palace, "originally a royal garden and a temporary dwelling palace for emperors of Qing Dynasty." The entire lake was frozen which was pretty cool. People were walking on the lake. We did not dare actually walk on the lake, but we did find a small canal that was completely solid and we played around on it. The summer palace is beautiful and would be even more so in the summer. An interesting highlight was of a rock (the Chinese have a thing for rocks). It was said that the Emperor brought the rock into the palace and the dynasty collapsed. So, it is bad luck to your home, so no pictures were taken. Pretty neat story. The long corridor on the Summer Palace was beautiful as we stood in awe of the hand painted ceiling that stretched for a half of a mile. Amazing.

We then stopped by a Pearl market. They were pearls that are harvested (if that is the word for it) right in the Summer Palace lake. Fairly inexpensive. We went back to this market on the last day where more purchases were made by both families. I can't tell what we bought because someone reading this might receive a present. Will you be that lucky one?

After lunch, we head to Capital Museum Beijing, "a five-storey building allowing for a maximum of 13 concurrent exhibitions." The most interesting of the exhibits for us was the one on the first story which explained many of the customs of the Chinese New Year. We each had our picture taken by our zodiac sign. Eric and Kathy are both snakes, Gary is a horse, and Jamie is a rooster. It was a great museum, but we were tired and probably didn't get out of it what we could have. Certainly something to skip, but it was a decent side trip.

We had dinner at a dumpling place before heading to the Laoshe Teahouse. Built in 1988, it has now become a rather popular spot for tourist and locals to enjoy Chinese shows. The shows we saw included "interpretive tea pouring, a Chinese opera (not what you think), acrobatic show, kung fu show, the long spout tea pourers (I'd just have to explain it to you if you want to learn more information), and finally the best part was the famous Sichuan Face Changing performance. Look it up if you have the time, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip.

The teahouse was an experience as the entire performance was in Chinese. The actual opera part was very different and interesting. Imagine someone coming to the U.S. and watching something the Grand Ole Opry or going to Dollywood. Hard to explain unless you just know what it is.

We were exhausted from the day as the teahouse performance ran late. Great day and rather tiring in what appeared to be a rather relaxing looking schedule.

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