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October 19th, 2014:

The Foreign Service can create some strange relationships

When I was at the conference in Beijing last week, I met an officer who served in Shenyang about four years ago. As we were talking about her tour in Shenyang, I learned that she lived in the apartment that I currently live in. We decided that we are roommates, separated by four years.

Trip to Guan Men Shan 關門山

Shenyang is located on a very flat plain. There isn’t a lot of interesting topography here. That isn’t very different from the landscape in East Lansing, so I should be used to it. However, after living in Taiwan, I got used to seeing mountains, and being near water. Shenyang has neither.

About a two-hour drive from the city, however, the terrain gets more interesting. Yesterday a group from the consulate community made a road trip to Guanmenshan 關門山, a national park. It’s a beautiful mountain gorge with mountains and water, my two favorite landscape features.

We were hoping to see some color from the maple trees in the park, but we seemed to have missed most of the color. However, we did get to see some.

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The mountains were especially striking. There was a lot of haze in the air that day, which added a classical beauty to the mountains. It was like looking at a giant Chinese landscape painting that had come to life.

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We took a bus up to the top of the trail, then walked down 8km (5 miles) to the bottom.

Nice trail in the park

Nice trail in the park

Proof that I was there.

Proof that I was there.

One of my coworkers has three young children. As he was taking pictures of them, some other Chinese tourists also took pictures of them. Here’s a picture of me taking pictures of them. It was very meta.

Hey look, there are some foreign people! Let's take pictures of them, even though we don't even know them and haven't asked permission!

Hey look, there are some foreign people!
Let’s take pictures of them, even though we don’t even know them and haven’t asked permission!

Significant Civilization Manners

It’s hard to argue with that.

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Taiwan Beer

Taiwan Beer is one of my favorite beers. For a while, it was the only beer that was available in Taiwan. When I visited Taiwan earlier this month, I saw that Taiwan Beer has started to diversity by adding flavors to appeal to a wider audience than your typical beer-drinking customer base.

Sweet Plum

Sweet Plum. This is a typical Taiwanese flavor, there is a tradition of adding dried plums to rice wine.

Mango!

Mango! I’ve had mango beer before, it’s pretty good.

Grape

Grape. This one is a little confusing.

Pineapple?!

Pineapple?! That’s it, I’m done.