It was a beautiful day for a picnic and hike. We went up to Ma’oer Shan to share the day with great friends.
If you’ve never been to China, you might be surprised by the activity in the parks. Parks are recreational centers and meeting places for everyone, but the older generation are the ones who really take advantage of them. At the park near our house, in the courtyard in our complex, and in every city I’ve visited retired men and women are enjoying the parks. They dance (often in large somewhat organized groups), play music, exercise, play games together, or just sit and watch the fun.
Because we live just 2 hours from the Russian border, and because there are many Russian tour groups that come through this city, the Chinese assume we are Russian. It probably doesn’t help when we respond to their greetings with “Priviet.” Many locals have a hard time believing we are really Americans. They don’t understand why Americans would want to live here.
Through conversations and friendliness opportunities often arise. On this day, we were treated to a concert. We offered the men cookies after they sang and played several songs. We thought, they will take a few and share them with their friends. One man took the entire container and began circling our area of the park asking every Chinese person if they wanted a cookie made by the Americans. He disappeared with several dozen cookies before our kids got any.
We just counted it as lost and laughed it off. But our kids went up to where the man was distributing his “stolen” wares and jumped in line. There were just enough cookies left for all 11 kids to have one.
Many mountains/hills have man-made paths for hiking, great for those who enjoy nature but may have some physical problems roughing on slick, narrow trails. Some places, you are required to stay on the wooden sidewalk, but this mountain had trails to explore all throughout the park.
The Min Hang crew. The 6 additional kids are our wonderful neighbors, literally next door (as in walk out our front door, take one tiny step, knock on their door). The Etter and Stirling families don’t just draw a crowd, we are a crowd.
Eventually the trail starts going up, and up, and up some more. Until we reach a tower that stands above the tree line and allows us a beautiful 360 view of our city and a neighboring city.
Not sure Mom R. nor Mom E. would have loved the tower, but we all thought it was pretty amazing. We looked down on the trees and got to sway in the wind.
Crazy kids. Rocks and trees just begging to be climbed.
So the adults might have been a little crazy, too.
Frodo and Sam, I mean Torie and Rachel, hiding from the scary black rider, I mean their dad.
The Min Hang Crew oldest to youngest, definitely not tallest to shortest.
So blessed by awesome friends and neighbors. We will miss y’all while we are on the other side of the world.