Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great Wall at Mutianyu

We chose the section of the wall at Mutianyu (moo-tian-yeo-oo) because according to Fodor's it is away from the crowd and more scenic.

They were right. We're sure glad we picked this one.

The ticket office is divided in two. Surprisingly they were in competition to sell tickets to us. One side offers sky chair to the top, and back on a toboggan. The other side offers cable car ride back and forth. For safety reasons we chose the cable car.

But if you love toboggans and don't have small ones tagging along, you might want to try it.

The great wall is, well, GREAT.

And hot this time of year. But at least there are some peddlars selling 10 Yuan ice cold mineral waters up there (say, "ping suey" = cold water). So if we're out of ammo, there's still hope.

Also there are bees the size of a thumb. They seem to like hovering around the middle of the path on the great wall. We avoid them. Careful with bees. When we slap them their juice will attract their comrades to attack you in hordes. So just ignore them, please.

My son ran up and down the wall pretending to be a soldier at war. He had fun. There are holes at the bottom along the wall facing out, I suppose for the soldiers to shoot arrows from.

It's really a wonderful close to our trip. We saved the best for last. I love the scenery, the old stones (some new bricks were added during renovations), the old steps.

Praise the Lord.

Lunch at Mutianyu

We found a wonderful, tiny restaurant very near the Great Wall at Mutianyu called Xiaolumian. It's rustic. But it's a very clean place. Very hard to find, too.

As the name suggests, it is located in a small road. Very small road. Xiao=small, Lu=road, Mian=noodle. Thank God for a kind and resilient taxi driver who keeps using his handphone to ask for directions from the restaurant.
We finally reached the place and was delighted with the smiling waitress who is a local living in Mutianyu. And... speaks english!

The dumplings are tasty. The noodles fresh and, mixed with the sauce, is wonderful. I also enjoyed the freshly cut vegetables they prepared for us.

What a unique, traditional chinese meal. Kudos to my hubby who found it when he researched the internet.

Summer Palace

We went to the Summer Palace on Saturday. Phew! Crowded!

But we love the hike up and down the hill through narrow passageways. Rocky steps lined with christmas trees. I guess I mean pine trees.

Occasionally we spotted beautiful plump birds the size of a chicken (but not chicken). They sing. They went down the path to take a sip of water or peck at the ground. The back is blue but the wings are black. We love spying them.

The stairs leading to the temple on top of the hill is magnificent. You can see it on the photo above. It zigzagged up and up and up. We felt like Po in Kungfu Panda (coming up soon to a theater near you!) when he had to climb the stairs up the mountain.

But the view from above is very rewarding. We could see the Beijing skyline.

For lunch, we sat under a shade of trees on top of the hill. It was very quiet there. We could peek at the lakeview in between the trees. The plump blue bird came back for a visit. But she did not eat bread or anything we entice her with. In fact she declined to stay. (Hence, no photographs of her.) That's nice, I thought. They are independent. Not used to begging people for food like city birds in other places.

Ritan, then Tiantan

On our third day in Beijing my son and I planned to visit Tiantan Park (Temple of Heaven). It's south of the city and it's huge. (My hubby went to give training at his office on Thursday and Friday.)

But in the morning the taxi driver accidentally dropped us in Ritan Park. He must have heard the doorman wrongly or whatever. But my son and I decided to check it out anyway.

It's a public park so entrance is free. There is one small pond near the front. Very serene.Little children with their mums or grandparents play around it.

The park goes deeper where there are many corners for people to exercise. An old couple sat together under a gazebo, the husband was playing a chinese string instrument while the wife turned the musical sheets for him. No one was watching. They didn't ask for money either. They were just playing it.

We spotted beautiful grey colored birds jumping from tree to tree. My son had fun trying to get as close as he could. But the birds seem to anticipate his next move all the time.

In the middle of the park there was also a big circular mound used to give sacrifices. It's a big area and was deserted because it's all stone.

Finally after a short lunch and coffee, we got the correct temple of heaven. It's where the emperor gave sacrifices to the God of heaven to appeal for good bumper crops.

It's a beautiful park with lots of ancient cypress trees. and very green at this time of year.

We came out right on time for... rush hour. Thank God for sending a taxi driver for us in that middle of nowhere (it seems to me!). The taxi driver also endured at least an hour of driving through massive traffic jam along the highway. He didn't complain at all. Amazing. And all the meter charged me for all that distance and jam was less than 8 singapore dollars.

At night we had peking duck and some sichuan dishes for dinner at the hotel's restaurant. I wish we could go to the famous peking duck restaurant in a hutong somewhere in the city, but the traffic jams was a major deterrant for us. So there.

I am thankful for God's protection and His mercy that day, that I could reach the hotel back safely.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Php 4:6-7

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just outside of the Tiananmen Gate on our first day in Beijing (21 May) we witnessed a quarrel between an old man and an old woman who collects plastic bottles to recycle. Obviously they were fighting about the amount of bottles that belong to them. Maybe they happened to count it next to each other or something, we didn't know. But it really saddens us that they were fighting over mere cents. These people really are poor.

Plastic bottle collectors, usually old people, were in every park and public places we visited. It's nice to sometimes see a group of people purposely stopping by them and drink up their mineral water so they can give the bottles to these people.

At the base of the Great Wall at Mutianyu my son ran a distance to give his bottle to a very old woman, no taller than himself. She looked ancient even from afar. I waved goodbye to her and gave her the most loving eyes, from afar. To my delight she burst into a big smile and waved and waved back at me for a long time.

That really touched me. Not only that her eyes are still good , but also it makes me think that though I may not know the language perfectly I can still show them Christ's love. I know He loves these people. I know He is pleased to show it through me.

I just pray that these people that touched our lives on the trip, whether taxi drivers, waitresses, or bottle collectors, will in turn be touched by Christ and find Him.

Philippians 1:6

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Php 1:6

Last night my son and I attended a concert by Steve Green.
He enjoyed it very much. I'm so glad.
Steve Green did not just sing, but also teach us God's Word through it.
We came away comforted by God's sovereignty, Christ's Lordship and our Blessed Hope: His Second Coming.

Every song ministered to me immensely. But I want to share just one.
The title is "He who began a good work in you".
I'm sure some of you know the song. The lyrics are as follows:

He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
He'll be faithful to complete it
He who started the work, will be faithful to complete it in you

If the struggle you're facing
Is slowly replacing
Your hope with despair
Or the process is long
And you're losing your song
In the night you can be sure
That the Lord has His hand on you
Safe and secure
He will never abandon you
You are His treasure
And He finds His pleasure in you

It comforts me that the Lord GOD is faithful to complete the work He had begun in me.
He had saved me from my sins. He had delivered me to a new life in Him. He also will continue to mold me and shape me until I see Him in heaven again, looking eye to eye with Him, perfect as He is perfect (for no one less than holy can see Him or be in His presence).

It means that He is also faithful to complete the work He had begun in my son.
I know my son loves and believes in Jesus, a saving faith. Yet which mother can really be sure?
This verse through that song comforted me. That God also will be faithful to complete HIS work in my son.

Oh, such peace to be in my Shepherd's everlasting arms!

Friday, May 23, 2008

To get around I have to ask the concierge to write the name of the destination on a piece of paper just so that there will be no misunderstanding. After all, it is my first time to Beijing. Plus, my mandarin is non-existent and javanese infused .

Thanks to my mom and dad who spoke mandarin at home when I was growing up, I could still at least survive in communicating the basics. It got me around in taxi, it got me food (when ordering), it helps me to communicate with people to show them love and concern. But really it is little more than "tarzan" gestures sprinkled with mandarin words.

But of the few caucasians I met in restaurants, etc, I overheard them speaking to the waiters in fluent chinese (mandarin). Wow. If they can do it, I should be able to do it better, right. (Maybe they have a private tutor. Heheh.. jealous.. )

So come on, people. Let's learn this beautiful language.
Now if only I have more time... (... excuses...)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today we went to Beijing Zoo to see the pandas.
It's quite a big park. Sadly, the animals are mostly in concrete enclosures.

But we enjoyed ourselves exploring the vast ground.
The highlight for my son was getting a cute panda as a new friend.

The sandstorm was gone.

Then we went to Malls of Oriental Plaza for late lunch. It has a terrific food mall downstairs, with a food court filled with chinese and japanese style food.

Dinner was at Crystal Jade Palace.

Another perfect day.

Missing Indy

If in Singapore what we see everywhere yesterday was the poster of the new Indiana Jones movie, in Beijing all we saw in the past two days is big screen tv's showing CCTV channel's earthquake updates. Whether it's at the airport, the malls, or even at road junctions. Big LCD screens show rescues going on. The solidarity of the people is wonderful.

No signs of Indiana Jones yet.

May the Lord bless everyone affected by the earthquake. May His purposes be fulfilled for His glory. May He grant salvation to the people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Beijing is beautiful. Except for the sandstorm.
Light yellow dust covered everything. Trees, cars, buildings, us...

But we were undeterred. We trudged on through miles of sidewalk in search of the Dongximen subway station. Good thing we walked through mostly leafy embassy areas.

My son was coughing a couple of times, or sneezing. So was I.
But the weather is nice and cool compared to our sauna Singapore (that I really missed today because of the sand). Overall it's not so bad. People could still breathe, albeit slightly sandy.

Finally we reached Tiananmen square. A really big place.

It so happened that there was a protest of some sort, we didn't know what it was all about. But it was loud and involved quite a number of people. Turns out it was a show of support for the earthquake victims. People gather together under the hot sun of Tiananmen Sq to shout out encouragements to the victims as if they can hear them. I think that's really touching.

Later on we proceeded into Forbidden City.
My son's complaints, due to his fatigue, only ends when he saw the exit sign from that huge complex that was forbidden to all but emperors and their immediate families and servants for centuries. I've got to give him credit, though. He did last a whole morning and some of the afternoon quite cheerfully, despite we just got off the plane this morning.

Room service for dinner, please.
Tomorrow I'm checking the weather first before I'd venture out.

Thank God for today. For the lovely Terminal 3 both in Singapore and in Beijing. For a good night's sleep on the flight. For the sandstorm, that we could have a chance to experience it. Hope it will go away soon. ;P
Signing off for the day,
3 (sand)stormtroopers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beijing Trip prelude

Here I am on my way to the land of my ancestors.
I'm thrilled cos I've never been to China before.
Part of me is sad, too, remembering victims of the earthquake that just happened.

We're going to take the red eye flight.
My son is famished cos now is nearing midnight.
He's eating pepperoni pizza with his dad at the bistro in Terminal 3. What a nice terminal, to say the least!
I'm enjoying the cappucino. Superb.

I can't wait to see what's in store for me in the next few days.
Oh, yeah.

My son who usually never converse with us in chinese, suddenly already spoke quite a few sentences with me in the taxi. Just a light banter. Wow. I hope this trip will awaken his passion for the chinese language.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

what clues will our children find about our lives after we die?

We're pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

Sunday, May 11, 2008


It will always give a Christian the greatest calm, quiet, ease, and peace, to think of the perfect righteousness of Christ. How often are the saints of God downcast and sad! I do not think they ought to be. I do not think they would if they could always see their perfection in Christ. There are some who are always talking about corruption, and the depravity of the heart, and the innate evil of the soul. This is quite true, but why not go a little further, and remember that we are “perfect in Christ Jesus.” C.H. Spurgeon.

Perfect is not on the outside, but on the inside.
Perfect is not about temporal stuff (for then it is not perfect), but about eternal.

We women love to fret and nurture their anxiety. We complain a lot about our imperfection. It's what we talk about all day! Well, almost, given the chance.
This Mothers' Day, here's to our hope to change our mindset. Let us not worry and fret about our imperfection anymore. For if we belong to Christ Jesus, we are perfect in Him. Only in Him.

So come to Him daily, for He promises rest.

Look forward to our future in Him.

To Him who is timeless and eternal, the future is already here. We are perfect in God's eyes, because we are IN His Son Jesus Christ.

Oh what a wonder. Amazing love, how can it be? That Thou my God shouldst die for me!

If we understood this, know that this knowledge does not come from ourselves. But the Holy Spirit gives us this understanding.

Happy mothers day, all sisters in Christ. Even though you are no yummy mummy, you are perfect in His eyes. He loves you with His everlasting love.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


When parents are around, we feel safer. We feel taken care of. We feel loved.
Sure, they're getting older. Sure, sometimes we need to take care of them more. But what a privilege to do that, since they have been taking care of us all our life. No, more than that. Since it is God's command to do so: to honor them.

Our parents will always be our parents. They never stop caring. Never stop loving. Just like my child will always be my baby. And I will never stop loving him, even when he goes astray. He knows he is always, absolutely always, loved by me and his father.

Now, on their stay here, my parents are also caring for my son in their own sweet little way. Almost unnoticed. My mom never forgets to iron his little uniform and laid it out complete with a pair of socks on school nights. Here my dad is coaching him chinese.

We should always be thankful for our parents.
They are God's blessing for each of us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Eph 6:1-4

Monday, May 5, 2008

Catching Up

Now I almost cannot catch up with my son on his reading. He reads so fast!
This is exam week and he still managed to finish this wonderfully thick and classic book, thanks to the Silent Reading times every morning at his school.
I gave this book to him middle of 2007. He didn't want to touch it at first. Then he started the first page and was hooked, for a while. Afterwards many, many other books distracted him for a long time.

He only continued this book last week when I purposely dropped it into his bag to read. Everyday he was so busy studying with me after school, that I'm surprised he finished it today.

I need to catch up with him.

Well, I gotta stop blogging now and start reading.

Oh, what a Friend!

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886

So often I'm struck by anxiety. Which in itself is no sin. It becomes sin, however, when one is consumed by it. Oh, may He have mercy on me!

Yet as the words of the hymns remind me, I forfeit tremendous peace if I continue to try to carry my own burdens. What a privilege to carry all, ALL, to my BEST FRIEND Jesus in prayer.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


It was my sister's birthday.
But lo and behold, one thing leads to another, and she ended up giving me a gift. (The next day I proceded to encase it lovingly in the red leather case!)
Oh, thank you, sister! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It's not only beautiful, but useful.
Turns out iTunes is also very easy to use. I have the feeling that the rest of the world are iTuned already except me up to a few days ago. Hahah. Better late than never.
I love downloading podcasts from and among others.
I can listen to them whenever I'm cooking and cleaning, on the road, etc.
So cool.
So blessed.