Tag Archives: Qingdao

Jimo Hot Springs


This post is a throw-back to last September, between Trent’s and my birthdays.

Several of our friends at QISS (Qingdao No. 1 International School of Shandong) had mentioned some hot springs not too far north of Qingdao in Jimo.  So for our birthday celebration (our birthdays are 10 days apart), we decided to go up and enjoy the hot springs for part of the weekend.  We asked our classroom assistants for help getting tickets and booking a hotel for the night (the websites needed to book said tickets are all in Chinese…).

Our plan was to go up after school on Friday and come back sometime Saturday- late afternoon or evening.  The hot springs are attached to a beautiful hotel where we intended to stay… until we saw the prices!  Yikes!  Grand Metropark Hotel was well over 100 dollars just for the one night, and that didn’t include our admission to the actual hot springs.  Luckily our old principal, Alejandra, who had been there several times before, came to the rescue.  We gave her a call and she put us in touch with a “friend” of hers that she met the last time she was in Jimo.  He told us that he would help us to find a hotel for the night and that he would pick us up and make sure that we got to the hot springs.  It turned out that the availability in the big hotel was very minimal and extremely expensive, so he ended up making arrangements for us to stay at another hotel only a mile down the road, which also had some “hot springs” inside.  He also offered to pick us up from the bus stop when we arrived in Jimo.

So, with an overnight bag packed, we headed to the bus stop about a mile up the road from our school.  We walked there, and caught bus 617 just outside of Ocean University (also knows as Haida).  By the time we actually got on the bus, it was already getting dark.  Honestly we were a little nervous about knowing where to get off the bus and about getting where we actually wanted to go this weekend.  Things are always a bit of a toss-up when you don’t speak the language well and you don’t really know where you’re going.  About 40 minutes later on a very crowded city bus, we arrived at the correct stop (we thought).  Luckily it was- we’d been talking to our friend several times throughout the journey trying to coordinate everything.  He helped us to get off in the right place.  He greeted us as we disembarked and told us about this other hotel.  He wanted to show it to us before he booked it, to make sure that it was up to par.  So we climbed in his car and chatted with him a bit while we drove the 5 minutes to the hotel.  Now, for the life of me I can’t figure out which hotel it was (sorry), even with all the help of the internet and Google maps… I have no idea what the place we stayed at was called.  When we arrived, we were given a quick tour of the rooms available and we decided that at only about 250 Yuan, this was a much better and more affordable deal.  He also got us into the hot springs that they have inside the hotel for a discounted rate, and he got us into their dinner buffet, which was already closing up.  We paid for the night and said goodbye to our friend for the evening before practically running to the buffet (not because we were excited about the food that they had there, so much as excited about food in general.  It was already close to 8:30pm and we were starving!!!).  We didn’t even drop our stuff in the room!  As we got a few plates full of semi-warm food, the atmosphere was boisterous with lots of very drunk businessmen (this is very common in China).  We ate while watching the spectacles they were making of themselves, all the while gambei-ing (gambei means “bottoms up” in Chinese… so essentially taking shots… of beer) each other in toast after Chinese toast.  We finished up our food as the help was cleaning up and watched a man run down the hallway to projectile vomit in the men’s room (gross…).

Then we headed to our room to drop off our bag and to check out the hotel’s hot springs. After changing into our bathing suits, we headed downstairs and paid for our entrance.  They gave us each a wristband that gave us access to a locker and then Trent and I met on the other side of the locker rooms.  I have to say, I was impressed with how nice they were, and clean too!  On the other side of the doors, we found several different pools, each with different temperature readings.  It wasn’t a huge area, but it had several options, and after the long day (and week) we’d had, we just wanted to soak and relax!  It was kind of awkward though, because even though we were the only people in there, the guard/worker on duty stared at us shamelessly the whole time (which, quite honestly, we should be used to by now).  We didn’t stay very long- maybe 40 minutes.  We took some photos of the inside.








After heading back to the room, we were exhausted! We both took quick showers and then headed to bed! Our friend would be picking us up at 8:30 the next morning!

The hotel, which I think was actually more of a business training center, was comfortable enough. The bed was still very Chinese… meaning extremely hard. But we slept well (that happens when you’ve had a full week of teaching 3-6 year olds). When we woke up, we got our first glimpse of really where we were. It was light outside and it was very beautiful. We enjoyed the view from our window until the grumble in our stomachs told us we’d better get a move on!




We headed back downstairs for breakfast. Again, it was very Chinese, but at least they had some hard boiled eggs, fruit and bread. Somehow, fried sprouts and other hot foods are not what my body wants to eat for breakfast.

Then we headed outside to meet our ride. Somehow overnight he had changed cars and came rolling up in this Pepto-Bismol pink car, with a big ol’ smile on his face. Trent has picked up on the Chinese way and is now unashamed to take photographs of the things we would consider ridiculous, this being among them. For your viewing pleasure…


He drove us to Ocean Springs Resort, which makes it sound like the springs are from the ocean… they’re not. We didn’t learn until later that these “springs” are just man-made ones (despite being RIGHT NEXT TO the ocean…). The place is beautiful, as is the hotel that we initially wanted to stay at. Here are some photos.




The inside of the Ocean Spring Resort was beautiful and very fancy (we would expect nothing less).


Then we made our way to the counter and showed them our tickets (which our assistants had been kind enough to help us order and print out). They gave us each a wristband that opens a locker containing flip flops, a robe, and a towel. Tickets were about 200 Yuan a person (about 40 bucks). We changed (in front of a million watching eyes) in our respective locker rooms and then headed to the springs. When we entered, Trent started snapping pictures, but about 2-3 shots in, he was told by one of the staff members that photography inside the hot springs was not allowed. Boo on you. Here are the few shots that we got.





The inside was HUGE. It was all in this massive dome-like structure with lots of natural lighting. There were tons of little pools, each labeled with their temperature. They had different themes, there were some with games in them, others with waterfalls or fountains, and there was a huge one for the kids with a massive ball pit in the center! There were hot springs in the “ruins” of an old ship, and all sorts of other cool pools. Trent and I made our way around the different pools enjoying the people watching and relaxing. After a while, we decided we needed a break. We were able to snap a few winning shots without detection…



We went back through the locker rooms and got these clothes that you are required to wear if you leave (kind of “scrub”-like) and then met upstairs, where someone had told us there were snacks! Indeed there were, but many of them were not necessarily appetizing to us. We stuck to fruits that we knew and recognized, and drank some juice while watching others playing in the springs.



After we’d rested sufficiently and eaten enough to tide us over, we changed and went back downstairs. This time, we decided to try out the outdoor springs. Here there weren’t any people watching. The weather was getting cooler, so there weren’t many people outside at all! We busted the camera back out and took some more photos out here where nobody seemed to care. You can see the ocean from some of the springs, although the view isn’t the greatest. It is through a chain-link fence that kind of detracts from the natural beauty. The hot water and the cool air were the perfect combination, and we spent the rest of our afternoon out here.








When we were sufficiently pruned up, we decided we’d had enough and we went back inside to change our clothes. But we’d seen how lovely the outside was, so we decided to go on a little walk. We ended up walking by the HUGE hotel we were going to stay at, and their lovely grounds, as well as out along the ocean. It was beautiful!







We figured out how to catch the correct bus back to take us back into Qingdao and enjoyed a lovely sunset on the bus. It was a great “end” to a great birthday weekend!


Overall impressions and suggestions:

It was definitely worth going to.

We know one person since our going who came back with an awful rash. Be careful!

You could easily make this trip in one day if you left early in the morning and came back in the evening. One day of hot springs is enough!

I would suggest staying at the hotel that is connected, simply for the reason that the hot water makes you tired, and it sure would have been nice to go back to our room to chill for a bit between our times in the different pools.

Book online for cheaper entrance! Most of the websites are in Chinese, but you can find a friend to help you!

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Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Chinese National Day- 2014

National Day

A year ago yesterday we celebrated Chinese National Day… in China. This holiday is always celebrated on October 1st and it commemorates the formation of the modern-day Central People’s Government. It was first established in 1949, although not on that very day, that the People’s Republic of China was born. Now, they celebrate with a week-long holiday called “Golden Week.” In addition to big parades and lots of extravagance in the capital city of China, there are LOTS and LOTS of fireworks… all week long, at all hours of the day and night (so much so that we may never be excited about fireworks again).

At QISS (Qingdao No.1 International School of Shandong), we got a week off for this holiday, and although I had DESPERATELY wanted to go to the Philippines with some of our best friends, the flights were way too expensive and we ended up staying in Qingdao. Golden Week is a huge time of travel for the Chinese, and therefore, prices for flights were SUPER expensive. Thankfully, we weren’t the only ones to encounter this problem. Several other families from our school also ended up staying in Qingdao for this holiday. Our friends, the Matthews, called us up and invited us out to Shilaoren beach (very close to our apartment) to set off some fireworks in celebration. We were excited to join in the festivities!

That night, we headed down to the beach. The weather was cool, but not cold and it was a bit windy; the tide was high. Piers and Lizzy brought sparklers for everyone, and the kids particularly loved these (“big” kids too). They also brought a HUGE box of aerial fireworks to set off. Piers took some cool time-lapse photos with his camera using the sparklers and we all had a great time!

A- sparkler

sparkler t


T sparkler

Trent and I

Now one thing about foreigners on the beach is that we tend to draw a lot of attention… People always stop and ask to take photos of us or simply stand uncomfortably close and stare unabashedly. This night was no different. Even on our tiny corner of the beach, we drew lots of attention. There was a family that stopped by and ended up basically handing me all their kids for a couple of photos. One moment we’re just having fun with sparklers on the beach, the next, we’re in an impromptu photo shoot. It doesn’t bother me so much, but it sure does make me shake my head…

all the kids

random people

A random baby that was thrust into my arms...

A random baby that was thrust into my arms…

After all the sparklers had burned down, we set off the big box of fireworks. The kiddos covered their ears while we watched firework after aerial firework shot into the dark sky.

me and the kiddos

After we finished, we all said our goodbyes and headed back to our respective homes. This, having been our first experience with Chinese National Day, was a fun way to celebrate with friends! Thanks for inviting us, guys!

whole group

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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A visit to the Huadong-Parry Chateau and Winery

winery cover photo

One of the cool parts of living in Qingdao was the opportunity to visit all kinds of cool things, even sometimes things that you would never expect to find in China, let alone in the “small” town of Qingdao (only by China’s standards… there are well over 8 million people living there). Now, being the end of September, reminded me of this little “getaway” just over a year ago…

Some of our best friends had previously visited a local winery and had talked about what a nice time they had. So when September rolled around, I suggested that we spend an afternoon at the Huadong-Parry Chateau and Winery celebrating the birthdays we all shared that month. Trent and I are both September babies, born 6 years and 10 days apart, and two of our closest couple friends also have birthdays in September… in fact, back-to-back birthdays. Justin’s is on the 27th and Zach’s is on the 28th. The three of us couples (Trent and I, Zach and Heather, and Catherine and Justin) decided on a Sunday afternoon, the 21st of September, to visit this place.

Trent and I had a hell of a time trying to get there. After church got out, we grabbed some fruit and cheese to share and headed outside to wait for a taxi. We waited… and waited… and waited… to no avail. We walked to the next street up, hoping that the change of scenery would gain us luck… not so. So after about an hour of waiting, and me VERY anxious to get there, we decided to get our scooter. We hadn’t wanted to ride it since we knew we’d be drinking wine and wanted to be safe, but after waiting for so long, we decided it was our only option. Trent headed back up to our apartment (which is no short trip) while I waited in the hopes that I would still catch something. Nearly 20 minutes later, I did manage to catch a taxi, but now the problem was how do I tell him to wait for Trent??? I told the cab driver in my (very) broken Chinese “hiyo yiga ren,” which meant to me, “There is one more person coming.” He must have understood me because he waited while I called Trent and he ran the half mile back down to where I was. In fact, this driver was very kind. We’ve had all sorts of interactions with drivers and most are grumpy and impatient (I guess who can blame them?), so this guy was a pleasant surprise. When Trent got there, we began driving. The next problem… the driver didn’t know where we were going and since we’d never been there before, neither did we. I called Justin and Catherine, who had already been there nearly an hour and a half by this point, and they put him on the phone with someone who worked there. Thankfully they were also very helpful and about 20 minutes later, we were making our way up this beautiful driveway in the mountains to the chateau. We thanked the driver and paid him and then got out to meet our friends.

We opted out of the actual tour of the grounds, on account of how much time we’d already lost, and made our way to our friends instead. They had already found a cute little pagoda and set up shop underneath it. They had brought in bottles of wine (you are allowed to do so as long as it is their wine- Huadong), cheese and fruit and nut platters that we would all enjoy together. Baby Elijah was comfortably laying on a blanket in the grass. Behind us were rows upon rows of grapes, many of which had just recently been harvested.





Catherine and baby Eli

Catherine and baby Eli


We enjoyed some time just hanging out, eating and drinking wine, and taking in the scenery around us. Somehow, being here didn’t feel like being in China. It felt like an escape. With the mountains behind us, and grapes and greenery surrounding us, the chateau seemed like a romantic diversion from the normal grind of Chinese life.






After a while, we decided to go explore and wander around. Catherine hung back to feed Elijah while the 5 of us wove our way through the endless rows of grapes… sauvignon blanc, merlot, chardonnay…







After a while, we wandered over to some statues…



I think this one may have had too much to drink...

I think this one may have had too much to drink…


…and subsequently up some stairs to another gorgeous trellised walkway where we had a clear view of the whole grounds including the iconic chateau.




While we were up there, we had a lot of good laughs and lots of great photos.



DSC05238 2



The view from up here was great too! There was a small lotus pond and it was quiet and serene.







The guys even invented a game… grape bowling. Yep, using our *now* empty wine glasses, we tried to roll grapes down the walkway and into the cups. It was harder than it might seem to get the grape to roll over the lip of the glass instead of bounce off of it.



As we were making our way back, the owners came to tell us that they were closing up, but we weren’t quite ready to leave yet. Fortunately, since Zach and Heather had been here several times and had good rapport with the owners, they allowed us to stay and pack up when we were ready. We stayed and hung out with baby Eli while the boys chatted.




As the sun was setting, we packed up and then wandered back down the road in search of (several) taxis to bring us all home. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long and were on our way back to reality.





We really enjoyed our time at the Huadong-Parry Chateau and Winery. We recommend it as a getaway for sure! Their wine is good too! We had a great time!

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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SHOWERed with love! Part 1

SHOWERed with love! Part 1

I have been lucky enough to have 3 baby showers thrown for me and baby Jedidiah (maybe a fourth to come with my old co-workers, too).

The first baby shower I had was while we were still in China. It was towards the end of our time there, but the timing of it all was quite tricky. Nearly every weekend for months before we left was taken up with school stuff or other plans, and all of our friends who worked at ISQ (International School of Qingdao) got out a week before we did for the summer break (which also meant that they would be leaving or travelling sooner). I also had some close friends leaving China (permanently) before school got out. When we considered all these things, we decided that it would be best to have the shower on a weeknight. We chose Wednesday, June 3 as our date. I would be 15 weeks pregnant and we had hoped to find out the sex of our baby before the shower (so that it could be a “reveal” party too), but the doctors said that it was still too early to tell.

The host was my wonderful friend, Catherine. She booked an upstairs room in one of the most popular downtown restaurants, The Canvas, for the evening (which is a restaurant that one of our student’s parents own and operate). We decided on a “Mommy to BEE” theme.


As the date drew closer, I got more and more excited. It still seemed awfully early for a baby shower… none of the typical “bump” games could really be played (since my bump was still very small), but at the time, it was “now or never” and I really wanted to celebrate with my friends in China before we left (for good) to come back to the US. Catherine had been planning for weeks but had warned me “not to get too excited”… after all, we were in China and access to hobby stores or craft places was nonexistent… even Pinterest was sometimes hit-or-miss.

When the evening came, Trent and I took a taxi to Canvas right after our weekly staff meeting. We cab-pooled with some other co-workers and headed downtown. When I arrived and went upstairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes! There before me was the most magical set-up, with lights, decorations, everything! It was gorgeous! Catherine had clearly spent many hours on all the little details. She (and her husband Justin) had hand-made little bees out of pipe cleaners and honeycombs out of Popsicle sticks. She had printed off all these cute little sayings and put them in some photo frames on the tables. Even the water bottles had cute little bee labels on them!

set up


gracious words are a honeycomb

pollinate the world with the love of Christ


Thanks for buzzing by

water labels

the whole setup

She had hand-drawn a beautiful bee-hive for “Baby L” where people could put their thumb prints (in yellow, like little bees) and their names. She had also made a beautiful book for people to sign and write special notes in- just like a scrapbook, with pictures and everything!

Baby L beehive

After I composed myself and picked my jaw up off the floor, I went into the bathroom to change, and Catherine dressed me up with a little bee headband. Then I came out to greet my friends.

cat and my belly


Kelly and Alexa

me and Liz


The beginning of the shower was very relaxed- people came in, we chatted, they ordered dinner and we all just socialized for a while.

Canvas workers

church and small group


my table

QISS table

Each person also added their thumb print to the beehive and wrote in my book. Another thing Catherine had them do was to write me a message on some newborn diapers so that when Trent or I are doing late-night changes, we can read messages of encouragement or laughter from our friends.

book, thumprint, diapers

late night diapers

Meanwhile, Trent was downstairs hanging out with “the guys” and the kids.

the guys downstairs

Justin and Eli


the kiddos

When everyone had pretty much finished eating, we began with some games. The first game we played was merely an “ice breaker” where we all had to go around and find people who matched certain criteria and write their names on the appropriate number. This was a good game since we had people from several different areas of life… some from QISS (where we worked), others from church (Laoshan New Spring), and others from our “rival” school ISQ. Some people knew others, others did not. The game got people chatting and introducing themselves. The first person who finished won a prize.

game 1

get to know you game

During the second game, I stood up at the front of the room with my back to all of my friends. Everyone began standing. As I read from a list of criteria, if anyone met it, they had to sit down (i.e.- if you are wearing red nail polish, sit down). The last person standing also got a prize.

second game

game two

The last game, to me, was the most fun. Catherine had e-mailed Trent’s and my parents (sneaky girl!) and had asked for stories about our infancy and childhood. Our parents responded with several facts and stories to share. Catherine read each of the stories out loud and then everyone, myself included, had to guess whether it was Trent or I who had done it. I got all but 3 of them right. It was pretty funny to hear some of the stories that were shared. I believe Kelly Pinyan won this game.

guessing game

guessing game me

After the games, we had cake. Haekyoung, the owner of the restuarant and the mom of one of my 4 year olds, had generously donated my favorite Canvas dessert, carrot cake, for the party (Canvas has DELICIOUS carrot cake). Catherine had made a cute little banner to go across the cake too. It looked almost too good to eat! In addition to cake, there were also cupcakes that Catherine and her mom Charmaine had made. They had cute little “Welcome Ba-Bee” toppers. Both desserts were wonderful!

carrot cake


me and cupcakes

Finally, after cake, was the last part… opening presents. Trent came up and took photos (he had actually been taking photos all night, but had also been hanging downstairs with all the dads and kids while me and the ladies were doing our thing). Trent and I got a lot of cool things for baby Jedi and in some ways, it made the pregnancy feel real. Other than our “Made in China” onesie that we had bought for ourselves and some cute little Chinese shoes and a “100 day outfit” (In China, they celebrate the baby’s 100th day of life) from our ayi, we really hadn’t bought anything for him yet. We had requested that people get things from our registry or that they ship gifts to our home in Texas so that we wouldn’t have so much to pack when we moved countries a few weeks later. We got lots of great gifts, cute outfits, cloth diapers, a jogging stroller and all sorts of other goodies. We are so blessed to have such awesome friends!

gift time


jogging stroller

socks from Raden

Spurs onesie

At the end of the evening, people started to head out. Catherine had made the most adorable shower gifts… little honey facial scrubs (fitting right in with the bee theme). She put them in little jars with bows and labels… they were perfect.

facial scrub sigh

facial scrub

We said our goodbye’s and then Trent and I helped Justin and Catherine take down all the decorations. Baby Eli was there too, in his own little bee costume.

kisses for Eli

Trent and Eli

I can’t even tell you how grateful I was for this amazing shower! Catherine really did an amazing job. I was totally blown away by how much love and time she put into everything and was truly blessed by all that she did. I am so thankful for a friend like her!

Cat and Eli

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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Pregnancy and Chinese hospitals: Qingdao

When we first found out that we were pregnant, obviously we were ecstatic! But later, the reality of finding doctors in China set in. What does that look like? How do things work? What the heck do we do? How in the world will we communicate? Thankfully, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had several friends who had already had babies in China, so they had some ideas of how to help me out.

Trent and I didn’t want to take any time off of work to visit the doctor, and for that reason, we chose a smaller clinic that is a branch of the big International Women and Infant’s Hospital in Qingdao. Both clinics are open on Saturdays, but it was anticipated that this one would be far less busy. I’d heard horror stories of people spending all day waiting at the International Clinic (because it is first-come, first-serve- they don’t really do appointments). Time is very valuable to us, especially with the job we were working at QISS… it kept us BUSY!!!

China is also different than the states in that you can go in right away, as soon as you think you might be pregnant; whereas in the States, they usually have you wait until 10 -12 weeks. I had conferred with my bestie, Catherine, who had Elijah here in Qingdao just over a year ago, and she suggested going to the doctor at 6 weeks. That is when you can first detect a heartbeat. Cat, her husband Justin, baby Eli and Catherine’s mom all met us at the clinic so we would know what to do, where to go and also to offer moral support.

That first Saturday morning Trent and I headed for Qingdao Congamarie Women’s Hospital (Marie Yi Yuan).


Most of our

Most of our “Cheering Squad” (all but Justin)

Cat and the gang were already there by the time we got there and she had already filled out most of my information for the nurses. I finished up a few small details, and they walked me up to a counter and I paid 20 yuan for the hospital card ($3). Then they had me do a urine test, which brings me to the topic of cleanliness at hospitals in China. Already you have to use a squatty potty (which makes things difficult, gross and smelly), and they don’t give you gloves or anything else while you’re peeing in this tiny, flimsy plastic cup with a sad excuse for a handle. Then, after you pee, there’s no soap to wash your hands, and you still have to carry the cup all the way back to the desk, hoping not to slosh anywhere. I was NOT impressed by the bathrooms in the hospital. (There’s also no TP… seriously, at a hospital???)

After that, we were taken into another room with what I think was the doctor and a nurse. Neither one of them spoke English, although the nurse had a bit more than the doctor did. We explained that we wanted to have an ultrasound, but not a blood test, since I already knew I was pregnant, and obviously, if for some reason I wasn’t anymore, the ultrasound would also show the same thing. One thing that always seems to happen in China is that they make up rules that don’t really make any logical sense and then they refuse to break them. So they were very confused when I made this request. Essentially the translated conversation (via our iphones) went like this:

Me- “I only want an ultrasound”
Them- “You have to have blood work too”
Me- “But I only want an ultrasound, not the blood work.”
Them- “But you HAVE to do them together.”
Me- “But why? I already know that I’m pregnant. I just want the ultrasound.”
Them- “No, they can ONLY be done together.”
Me- “Why???”
Them- “We can’t do the ultrasound by itself. Take the blood test.”

Eventually I got tired of arguing and decided just to do the dang blood test even though one is clearly not contingent on the other. They had me sit on a stool while the blood technician took a few vials of blood (without using gloves by the way!). But after it was done, I would have to wait for 2 hours for the results. Also, where you gave blood was just a few feet away from where people were bringing their urine samples back… aren’t they worried about cross-contamination???

Then they took me back to the front to pay for my ultrasound. All the while they are just leading us around and we have no clue where they are taking us… nor did we really have any idea what we were paying for. Once we’d paid, they brought me back to a room where they instructed me to take off my pants (at 6 weeks, they do the ultrasound trans-vaginally) and lay down on the bed (this took a bit of miming for me to understand exactly what the heck they wanted me to do). They wouldn’t let Trent come in the room at all, and they wouldn’t let me see the screen. Thankfully, Trent was right outside the (open) door and was able to listen as we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. This made the visit entirely worth it! Now… what to do for an hour and a half while we wait for the blood work?

One of the best parts of going to this hospital was the fact that across the street was Wanda Plaza, a big mall, so we decided to take an early lunch and we ate at this amazing Indian restaurant! It was so good. I have no idea what it is called, but we had all sorts of delicious food! We spent a while there, knowing that we still had time to kill. Eventually we wandered back down the road to the hospital. They gave me my blood results and then brought me back to the doctor and nurse.

The test did indeed show that I was pregnant (duh), but it was the source of much consternation later on. The results showed levels for Estrogen, progesterone, and HcG- the three major hormones in pregnancy. All of them seemed normal, except for my HcG which was abnormally high. Instead of picking on that number, they decided that my progesterone was too low and not only would I have to take medicine, but I would have to come back the following Saturday for ANOTHER blood test. Now I know that in the States blood work is not cheap… not so much in China either. Whereas I only paid 100 Yuan for my ultrasound (like 17 USD), I paid nearly 350 Yuan for the blood (about 60 USD). The entire time we were communicating, it was through Google translate, so that made it even more difficult. Eventually I bought the dang medicine, although I wasn’t certain I was going to take it, at least not before I had done more research.

Finally, after most of our afternoon was spent, our first visit was done. On the way home, I meticulously searched for what normal levels of Progesterone should be for 6 weeks pregnant. Every chart I found said that I was well within the “normal” range. So I decided that I would talk to my Ob GYN back home and ask his opinion. You can read all about my decision and the weeks that followed in the post {Pregnancy} Walking by Faith. Anyways, after doing some natural things to try and boost my progesterone, I went back the following weekend.

Trent and I did another round of blood work with basically the same results. My estrogen and HcG had both doubled (now my HcG levels were WAY off the charts) but my progesterone stayed the same. This time I had no “cheering squad” with me, just Trent. So when the ladies asked if I had been taking the medication, and I told them no, they scolded me in all sorts of Chinese. They told me to take the medicine this time and come back AGAIN the following week to compare levels. Now it should also be noted that each time I went to the hospital it was around noon, and progesterone can fluctuate during the day, so who knows how accurate the results were anyways.

After all was said and done, Trent and I decided not to go back until 10 weeks, at which point we would request another ultrasound (NO MORE BLOOD!).

The next time we went back it was just the two of us. We accidentally forgot the book that they usually give you for your medical records (they literally glue things in the book and write notes in it… but all in Chinese). By the time we realized it, we didn’t have time to turn back around to go get it. In China, when you have to take taxis everywhere, there is no “going back.” The hospital is already across town and it takes us nearly 40 minutes to get there. Going back would have entailed us trying to explain to the taxi driver that our destination had changed and we needed to go back to our apartment, after which we would have had to walk the quarter mile back down to the main street to try to flag another cab, just to begin the entire trip over again. It would have added an hour or two easily to our day. Anyways, when we walked in, they wanted to know where my book was. I had already prepared my translations in the cab so that when I went there, I flashed them the screen shots I had taken of “I left my book at home, sorry.” And “I am 10 weeks pregnant; I’d like to have an ultrasound.” I also flashed “I don’t want any blood work” just in the hopes that maybe this time they wouldn’t press for it so much.

They brought me in a different room this time with two different doctors and nurses. I think it was by God’s grace that we forgot the book- they simply started a new one and didn’t even argue about the blood work- maybe since I was already 10 weeks along, it didn’t matter so much. They led me around again, bringing me to pay first, then to get my official fapiao (receipt) and then finally to the exam room. Again, Trent wasn’t allowed in, but this time they just did the ultrasound on my stomach. I still didn’t get to see anything, but the picture looked like a baby (a very little one, but a baby nonetheless), and they didn’t seem to find anything else wrong. We brought the print out back to the doctor and nurses and they looked at it and told us everything was hěn hǎo and that there was only yiguo (one) baby (we wondered if we might have twins since my HcG was so high). That was the only Chinese we understood anyways.

After the ultrasound, we went back to Wanda Plaza for some more yummy Indian food- we were not disappointed! Then we wandered around the mall a bit. We ran into Baymax (Big Hero 6) while we were there and of course, Trent had to give him a fist bump (blu-ba-luba-luba-lu).


Our overall impressions of this hospital:

Less expensive
It was super hard to communicate
Not very clean
Not foreigner friendly (unless you speak fluent Chinese)
Friendly staff
A bit frustrating, not knowing what we were paying for or even what tests they wanted to run
It was more traditional and followed Chinese laws more closely. It was disappointing that they wouldn’t let Trent in the room during the ultrasounds and that they wouldn’t let me see what was going on either.

The next time we went to the hospital should have been at 14 weeks, but we decided to hold off until 15 ½ weeks, in the hopes that we might be able to find out the sex of our baby. The odds of us finding out the sex of our baby at Congamarie hospital were not very good, but some friends had found out the sex of their babies at the Qingdao Women and Infant’s Hospital. Apparently they still won’t tell Chinese women (or men) the sex of their babies (because it is against the law), but are more lax with foreigners. So we opted for a switch this time around.


We went again on a Saturday, this time even further across town (all the way by the pier), and thankfully were greeted by an English speaking nurse, who helped me get set up with a new hospital card (thankfully they are cheap!) and listened as I told her that we were hoping for an ultrasound and if possible, to find out the sex of our baby. She took my blood pressure and weight and then brought me back to the doctor. Thankfully the English speaking doctor was there that day (I guess she’s not always there). They asked us a bunch of questions about ourselves and whether we wanted a boy or a girl… I think they were trying to feel us out. After it became clear to them that we really didn’t care either way, we just were excited to know, they told us that they would “try” to see the baby’s sex. I had to do blood work again… but this time it was for a different test… who knows what for. I tried to tell them that I had already done blood work, but they said that this time they were looking for different things.

They took me behind a curtain, and let Trent come along, to hear the baby’s heartbeat using the fetal heartbeat monitor. Then they brought me, much like the other hospital, here and there and everywhere to pay and get the fapiao and then to have the ultrasound done. We paid a LOT more at this clinic (like over 1000 Yuan), but this clinic had a much nicer facility. When it was my turn, they let Trent in the room, although there was a curtain separating us. At the foot of the bed, hung on the wall, was a big screen TV where both of us could clearly see what they were doing on the ultrasound. It was the first time we’d seen our baby move around! It was pretty overwhelming seeing our baby, really, for the first time. After the technician was finished, she informed us that she couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, that it was still too early and the genitalia wasn’t obvious yet. We knew that this was a possibility, since usually the earliest it can be detected is 16 weeks. But our baby shower was that Wednesday so we were hoping to possibly do a “Gender Reveal” at the same time, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The doctor told me to come back at 20 weeks, but after we explained that we wouldn’t be in China anymore (which even with English speaking doctors was hard to get across), she said that we could come back at 18 weeks, right before we left Qingdao. She told me that I would have to do ANOTHER blood test the next time (for something different again) and that I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink before my next appointment.

We left with a much better impression of this hospital. It still wasn’t the cleanest- they still took my blood without using gloves (don’t they know that it protects THEM?!?), and the bathrooms still didn’t have any soap or TP… (c’mon… soap?), but overall, we felt better about our experience there… at least we could communicate and knew what was going on!

I actually ended up going to the hospital again at 17 weeks, by myself, because I had a round of diarrhea that lasted nearly a week. I was afraid it was a bacterial infection, so I thought I had better get it checked out. You can read all about that embarrassing experience in my ‘“Bumpdates:” weeks 14-18’ blog post.

Our last visit while we were in China came at 18.5 weeks, 3 days before we left China for good. We returned to the same hospital, this time early in the morning. Even though we only arrived a few minutes after they had opened, they were already busy and we had to wait much longer than the last time. I was starving and super thirsty and I couldn’t wait for them to take my blood so that I could eat or drink something! Thankfully I only had to wait about 20 minutes or so before they got the blood work going. This time they were checking for nutrient deficiencies, I think. Anyways, they drew the blood (again, without gloves) and then brought me to the waiting area for the ultrasounds. My nurse (a different one than the last time) whispered to the technician about us wanting to know the sex of the baby and then we waited our turn. When it finally came, Trent and I again got to watch the entire ultrasound on the big screen (and Trent video recorded it on his phone). This is when we found out that we were having a BOY!!! We were so happy by the time we left, we were on cloud nine.

We left for breakfast (this hospital doesn’t have any good Indian food… just a Burger King down the road). But we realized that we had forgotten one important thing: Chinese airlines require an official, stamped document that permits you to fly when you’re pregnant. It seems kind of ridiculous, but it was necessary, so we had to go back. When we left the mall we were in, we walked out into the Chinese version of “Drum Line” except with a much older crowd. You can always find random things like this in China… people dancing to choreographed songs along the road or outside of businesses, Chinese dragons and masked actors on the street, or a Chinese drum line. Thankfully when we got back to the hospital, the nurse had our document prepared in just over an hour and then we were ready to go!


Overall impressions of this hospital:

More expensive
Much more foreigner friendly
Still dirty in the most basic ways (no soap, gloves, etc.)
I had to poop in the tiniest, flimsiest cup ever and then carry it through the “walk of shame” down a floor and all the way back to the counter (which again, was right by where they draw blood…)
English speaking nurses (Hallelujah!)
Overall, a much more comfortable experience

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The best part of living abroad

Living abroad is certainly an adventure: you get to experience new cultures, new languages, different foods, see all sorts of different places, and meet so many interesting people. But to me the best part of living abroad has been being a part of the local expat community.
Last Saturday, Trent and I headed out to our local grocery store, Leader, to pick up some things for our houseguests to eat when they joined us that evening. From the moment we stepped in the store we saw people we knew: students, co-workers, friends from fellowship and other people we knew. We must have run into 35 people we knew on our short little trip to the store. It was such a delightful time to chat and catch up with so many people we don’t get to see so often. We got to say goodbye to Phoebe before she flew out to Saipan for a semester abroad. I even got to see my friend Brian Sobas (finally) who I went to college with and who recently moved to Qingdao. Our little trip quickly lengthened to several hours, but it was fantastic! It was like having a party but not having to do any of the work. We got to see so many people in a short amount of time. And this isn’t unusual living in our “small town” (Of nearly 8 million people…) of Qingdao. When we visit local restaurants, go to the beach, go out riding on our scooter, etc. we constantly see people we know. In the states I could go weeks without seeing anyone because we are always so busy and if we’re not intentional about maintaining friendships, they can easily fall by the wayside. Here, the expat community is so small that nearly everyone knows each other or at least knows of the other person. We all have mutual friends and the small world connections here are mind-blowing.
For example, 2 other people from my tiny Christian college in St. Paul, MN live here in Qingdao. Not only 2 people from my college, two people that I knew, spent time with and hung out with. That wouldn’t be so strange except that my college only had about 2000 people in it. How we all ended up in Qingdao, China is still a mystery to me.
Trent has found a relative in China. Yes, at a different International school in Qingdao there is another Logsdon. Not just another Logsdon, an actual not-so-distant relative of Trent’s family. They can both trace family lines back to the early 1800’s to “Bulger Joe” Logsdon, of Illinois. He was an acclaimed Indian fighter and contemporary of George Washington, very famous in his day.
Katie Peters and I played against each other in College Soccer, Carrie Thorpe ran the Great Wall Marathon with a friend of mine, Rachel Rust grew up just miles away from Trent and they went to rival high schools, Melissa went to Trinity College where some of my best friends went; somehow there are a ton of Minnesotans and Texans here in Qingdao. We run into people we know even on vacation (like A.J. in Suzhou). It is crazy how many people randomly know people we know.
Anyways, living abroad is not necessarily easy, but the camaraderie and friendships we’ve developed here are second to none. I love our friends here!

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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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