Friday, August 19, 2011

Basketball, Friends, Rest... :)

Exercise is an important part of life, right? After Kathy and I and our daughters moved to California in 1986 I began playing basketball with friends every week or so. I love playing basketball. I love the competition. It's a great outlet for a person to do their best and face challenges. I love the exercise. It's a great help in staying healthy. I love the mental aspect.... making plays, using each player's strengths and skills to the advantage of the team, and getting the mind off all the problems and issues going on in life. I love the fact that a team with less skill, strength, and coolness can beat a team loaded with talent and fame by using smartness, experience and the element of pure desire. As in many aspects of life, victory can so often go to those who have the bigger hearts.

Mongolians love basketball. But there are not many places to play. I have played at outdoor courts, but the style is quite different. I have had some great times with the Horton family and another friend named Oyuma. I have found an indoor court, which you can see in a few photos. Some of you may be able to guess where it is :)

Kathy and I have found time to take walks and do some Tae Bo in our apartment (of course you would laugh if you watched us!), and recently we have used the workout facilities at a nearby hotel for a few dollars. Jogging for exercise is difficult because the roads are bad, the open manholes remain a challenge (!!), and the crowds and their manners are so different.

Anwyay, it's been good to rest a bit. This past week I began working in the office at the university. Lots to do in preparation for the coming semester. I look forward to it! Take a look at the photos of friends we have spent time with. Always great to be with people.. :)

Can you guess where these photos were taken?

Our friend Nasim! He is from Afghanistan, and is studying at MIU.

Our friend Zaya, who graduated from LEI and will be attending MIU.

Here is a random photo of Ulaanbaatar (at the left)  that Kathy took after takeoff from the airport on our way to China.

Baaksa, our friend we met at the grocery story at our apartment building.

Student orientation day at MIU this week. Our friend Noel is speaking

A recent view from our apartment. Despite so much to the contrary, there are times when the city looks beautiful.

Our friend Chimgee :)

A couple more photos Kathy took after takeoff from UB on route to China.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Time with Russian students at Terelj :)

Friday was the last day of the summer course at Language Education Institute in MIU. Along with many other students who took the summer course, 16 students from Russia came to study. On the final day the teachers and I took the Russian students to Terelj National Park. Great time, despite the rain.

I love the fact that LEI has students from all over Asia. Our department is looking to expand to have branches in Russia and a few other places. The Russian students have gone back to Ulaan Ude, their home town in Russia, not far from the northern border of Mongolia. Most of them look very Mongolian to me. They were excited to be learning English at LEI.

I had a great time, despite being tired from the trip Kathy and I took to China. The fall semester will be starting soon at MIU. I look forward to it! We are in the process of hiring a few more English teachers. I trust it will be a good year for all of us.

Me with the LEI teachers, Ricardo the LEI director, and the Russian students who finished the summer English session

Some of us in a cave in Terelj

The teachers and me

This Mongolian girl lives in Terelj with her family. She is an expert horseback rider already!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Last Week in China - 2

Here are some more photos of the last week Kathy and I spent in China. The first photos are of our time with our friends Shakira and Wang Feng in Shan Yin, the hometown of Shakira. 

Remember you can click on any photo to open up the larger original photo.

The government building in Shan Yin

Looking out from the house Shakira's grandma lives in

The alley way to Shakira's grandma's house

One of the doorways in the alley

Kathy and I with Shakira

Shakira and Wang Feng's "second wedding" for Shakira's hometown

Kathy and I took a train from Shan Yin to Hohhot. You can get a look at how the countryside looks. It reminded Kathy and I of Montana or Idaho in many parts. As we neared Hohhot, which is north of Shan Yin and Beijing, the landscape got dryer.

Factories looming in the distance...

Train loads of coal...

Here are some photos in and around Hohhot. 

The new train station at the east of Hohhot

There is an incredible amount of construction going on...

One of the largest milk products plant in China is outside Hohhot

We took a prop plane home. Cool views after takeoff from Hohhot