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I studied about the history of the magnificent Great Wall of China during my elementary school year, but never dreamed that one day I would step onto this ancient path. What a surreal experience for me to finally walk on this wonder of the world!

The most visited Wall is the popular Badaling Great Wall. It is an hour away from the city, so it easily attracts lots of locals and tourists.

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Badaling Wall is divided into two sections from the entrance: the northern side and the eastern side. The northern side is always congested with people due to access of cable cars and trolleys from the bottom of the hill to the steepest top. We opted for the eastern side which is the road less traveled.

People told us that the gorgeous time to visit is around mid-Oct where the vast surrounding ridges is decorated in vibrant red.

The time we went, most of the leaves were withered and the landscape were left with naked and bare bushes; nonetheless, it has its own charm of beauty.

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The day was filled with delightfully warm sunlight with gentle crisp wind under a clear blue sky, which is rare in this cold autumn season.

The pavement is easy to walk on with gentle winding slopes here and there, and we hiked to the very end where the trail is blocked off even though the wall continues to stretch for miles and miles.

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As I strolled along the wall, I couldn’t help but appreciate the hard labor the workers of long ago put into building this architectural masterpiece originally designed for military defense.

Along the way, we encountered more than a hundred energetic and fun-loving elementary students chasing each other and having their first experience on the wall as well.

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They appeared to be on a field trip with an assignment to ask passers-by about their experience on the Great Wall. The sights and sounds of the giggling children made this leisure walk an enjoyable one.

After we arrived back at the entrance, we decided to explore the northern side; Indeed, there were a lot of people, young and old, buzzing with excitement.

After much searching, we finally spot the monument that everyone longs to take a picture with to prove that they indeed have reached the Great Wall!

The monument is a stone engraved with this famous Chinese writing: “If you have never been to the Great Wall, you are no hero”.

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The idiom basically means that courageous people can overcome adversity… the background of this saying is that a long time ago, it was impossible to access to the Great Wall, so whoever tackled this difficult task and arrived was a true hero/heroine.

After we had accomplished our mission to climb the Great Wall and proved to be “heroes”, we are ready for a feast!

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For our late afternoon snack, we enjoyed mouth-watering food on skewers.


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A Peking duck delicacy, which one should not miss when coming to Beijing, was our evening meal.

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For a midnight snack, we went to explore this famous street that never sleeps, called Gui Jie. There we tried spicy Szechuan seafood which included crayfish (aka mini-lobsters), escargot, crab and frog dishes to our heart’s content. The food was numblingly spicy and deliciously satisfactory.



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Looking up, I imagined the gentle playful white clouds twirling like ballerinas in the pretty blue sky!

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While marveling at the sight, I remembered a friend who studied abroad told me that the place where she lived was so polluted that there was rarely a day where she could see a clear blue sky.

At first, I couldn’t comprehend how that could be! But recently I experienced the muggy, scorching weather myself.

Due to the severe forest fires in the neighboring cities, the weather has been so hazy and smoky that it has been days since we last saw a clear blue sky. Now, I finally understand what she means.

This experience has helped me to appreciate a lovely blue sky, which I have so often taken for granted.

Taking a moment to remember the spectacular blue skies I encountered in the past month.

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Peeping through the tall grasses and looking into the blue sky is most delightful.

I love the sky!

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The sun is shining, the tide is receding, and I am enjoying a sabbath by the sea.

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The gentle whisper of the wind and the rhythmic sound of the waves, echo the soothing voice of the Creator of the Universe.

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The glistening light illuminates on the surface of the sea, looks like millions of sparkly stars dancing on water.

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Sabbath-ing by this splendid scenery, my soul recounts the oceans of blessings that this Lord of the Sabbath has bestowed upon me…

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indeed they are as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore!

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The incoming tides splash over my feet; and I frolic joy-freely with the swirling waves…

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on this day of relaxation by the serene seascape in front of me.

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The weather is wet and windy and my mood has turned gloomy, especially after days with a bad flu; And the trees outside are groaning and hoping for more sunshine to stream down so their naked branches can once again be adorned with budding leaves.

Out of the blue came a sunny sky!

With the sun sneaking in, I quickly grab my camera and scurrying out to take advantage of this lovely spring weather; And the first tree that catches my breath is the magnolia tree – what a pleasant surprise!

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Standing under and looking up the tree is most delightful — branches decorated with bunches of pink flowers against a background of clear blue sky with fluffy pearly-white clouds; I feel the presence of God and His gentle love liberating me from my gloomy self.

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Since Good Friday and Easter celebrations are round the corner, I stand beneath the pretty pink tree and reflect on the joyful season; and this beautiful poem by Carol Wimmer came to mind:

~ ~ ~

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost sometimes
That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble –
needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed
and cannot ever pay the debt

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When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache
which is why I seek God’s name

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I’m loved

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Yes, beneath the beautiful blue sky and the blossoming pink, I’m feeling loved!

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I am most alive when I am outdoors; I feel more happy… more free… and more me!

A group suggested to go hiking at Mount Baker National Forest; my heart… uttered with unspeakable joy!

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On the day we headed to Mount Baker, the weather was exceptionally cooperative – not too hot and not too cold – a perfect day for a hike with a bit of autumnal breeze in the air to cool us along the way.

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The amazing view up here was phenomenal — Everywhere we turned our eyes feasted on a bonanza of snow-capped mountains, vast valleys and glacier lakes.

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The delightful folk song “Happy Wanderer” always rings in my ears whenever I hike:

“I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track,
and as I go I love to sing with my knapsack on my back…”

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At times, these beautifully breathtaking views made me felt like I was in the movie scene from “The Sound of Music” where Julie Andrew roamed the open space on the mountain high and burst into: “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”.

The splendid scenery we pleasantly experienced under the clear blue sky was indeed lively!

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The mesmerizing looming snow-covered Mount Baker and the towering jagged Mount Shuksan;

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the blossoming alpine flowers that grow wild and free on the meadow that we stumbled across;

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and the glistening emerald glacier lakes; — all proclaiming the splendor of their majestic Creator.

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Their delightful echo, from the mountains to the valleys, must have caused many happy wanderers to slow down, admire the breathtaking nature, and be in wonder of who this great Creator might be.

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“…Oh, may I go a-wandering until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing, beneath God’s clear blue sky!”

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I have been on this scenic country road many times.

With speedy traffic coming towards us or passing us by during the peak season when we traveled, it was impossible to fully enjoy the beautiful scenery in such a rushed pace.

Today I decided to head up to the road early, hoping for minimal traffic so that I could take in the majestic view along this road; and my wish came true.

With little to no traffic I was able to roll down my car window, turn off the stereo, and simply cruise slowly as the endless road led me to the horizon.

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To my delight, I could even park the car by the roadside and hop out to revel in the breathtaking landscape before me.

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 In the moment of sacredness on this crisp morning air, I embraced the calmness of the crystal clear water,  the blue ridge mountain ranges, the gentle swaying soft glasses,  and the  melodious  tune of the early songbirds chirping out from the nearby serene slough.

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In my quest for beauty and quietness, the Maker of heaven and earth drew me to humility, as I traveled on this road less traveled.

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I enjoy singing hymns because the lyrics are often descriptive and full of images of God and His wonderful working.

Take for example, a line from one such hymn is “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace“:a strong image of God’s peace.

I have experienced God’s peace in my Christian journey but sometimes it’s hard to express the feeling I was experiencing.

I am thankful to song writers who were attuned to God, and were able to attach vivid words to express their sentiment with God.

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While on a river cruise recently, I experienced the metaphor of a river representing the peace of God that the song speaks of (主所赐的平安…仿佛江河流).

Our team was on a tour to scout the proboscis monkeys (long-nosed monkey) in the wild. This trip was like a safari to see wild creatures of the jungle; instead of travelling on a Land Rover, we were on a river cruise.

There was no guarantee that we would see the monkeys. For if the weather is too hot, the monkeys will be in the hiding; and if the day is cooling, they will play by the water.

As we traveled along the water, we were all excited to spot some monkeys dangling on the branches and swinging from trees to trees in family units. Its like watching a circuit show outdoor.

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Since we were in the open jungle, we could only watch the playful monkeys in the distance, not up close and personal, like at the zoo.

Drifting along the swampy river in the open raft, and marveling at the scenery of local villages on both banks was restful and pleasant.

After a while, I found myself more interested in the crystal clear water in front of me than the acrobatic monkeys up on the faraway woods.

While taking in the soothing and breezy cool air on my skin, my eyes continued to mesmerize by the calming flowing water, and it was glorious — just like what the hymn writer, Frances R. Havergal, penned:

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
*Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

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As it was near sunset, many of the river boats started to head back to the docks.

Our awesome tour guide however motioned our boat guy to cruise further down the stream to the mouth of the river… where the river meets the open sea.

He stated that since it was such a great sunny evening, he didn’t want us to miss the rare opportunity of experiencing a fantastic sunset by the swelling South China Sea!

There, we were allowed to step on the secluded shoreline, dip our feet into the warm water and soak in the orange sunset for a good half hour.

As I stood in front of this alluring sea and listening to the soothing sound of the waves rolling in gleefully from afar, I seem to hear their gentle whisper: The Lord may calm your storm, but more often He’ll calm you(quote taken fr. Our Daily Bread).

Indeed *Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

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Painting by my artist friend Phoebe Wang.

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