BigWorldAndSmallWorld Blog

Into Africa’s Serengeti

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the December 4th, 2011

Located in Tanzania, Serengeti is Africa’s largest plain. In Swahili, Serengeti means endless. We saw and loved this typical African scene: animals rest and eat peacefully; powerful lions and meek impalas happily live together on the same land; sausage tree stands alone on a vast land under the sun; at sunset, Serengeti is so beautiful. This is what draws our human beings to Africa.
Two things are must when people enter Serengeti: open-top jeep and plenty drinking water. We bought 24 bottles of 1.5 liter water for five-day’s supply. Our tour package included a driver and a cook. The driver is also the guide. All vehicles entering Serengeti are modified Toyota SUVs either Land-rover or Land-cruiser. They are tough vehicles perfect for the rough roads. We had a good cook who cooked three meals daily for us. Considering he was cooking on charcoal at camping sites in the wildness, we were surprised by the delicious and variety of food the cook prepared for us. Lunch was usually something easy to take on the road such as sandwiches, fruits and drinks. For breakfast, we had eggs, sausages, toasts, coffee and tea. For supper, we had rice or potato or noodle, the main dish usually was a stir-fry dish with beef or chicken and vegetables. We had fruits like baby banana, mango, orange, papaya and watermelon. Eating under the African stars in the evening was a real treat for us. The meal service was English style. The cook set up plates, forks, spoons and cups on a table with nice table cloth. And he served our meals with polite manner. What a luxury! We would not have imagined this kind of service in the wildness. The cook also would put up the tents for us and we would help the driver take down the tents. The driver guide not only knew the roads well, he also was very knowledgeable about animals and plants in Serengeti. To be a driver guide, one has to go to special schools for a couple of years to learn.
Sleeping under the Africa sky was the most memorable experience for us. We chose camping on this trip so that we could be closer to the nature. At night we could hear animals’ sounds, it was wonderful but also scary at the same time. Knowing there is wildlife out there, I was afraid to go to bathroom at night. Clark said every time he went outside the tent, he would shine flashlight around to spot any eyes staring at him in the darkness:). Camping was also the cheapest accommodation among others such as sleeping in fixed tents, huts or in lodges.
Road conditions and toiletry conditions were pretty bad. Every day we were dusty from head to toe. It was hard to comb my hairs. Camping sites did have outdoor showers. We had to be brave to endure the coldness to take a shower. To our surprise, one place where we camped at the rim of a creator we even had a hot shower. It was the coldest place where days and nights were foggy. Africa has two seasons: wet season and dry season. We went there in August, it was their dry season and also winter. Morning and night were cool while daytime under the sun was warm. Travelers can enter Serengeti only in the dry season; otherwise jeeps would be stuck in the mud during the wet season. Human is not allowed to get out of vehicle in Serengeti. While we were at the bottom of the creator, a few hundred meters away from seeing a lioness under a rock, our jeep broke. It would not shift gears. The driver guide had to come out and work on fixing the car. We were worried. Time seemed frozen and we felt we had waited forever. Eventually we got a few other cars’ attention and they stopped to help us. Nothing bad happened and we were able to drive away with a temporary fix.
Africa is animals’ heaven. We saw baboon, zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, hippo, hyena, buffalo, crane, impala, wildebeest, cheetah, leopard, ostrich and many kinds of birds. We had a very close encounter with a cheetah lying on top of a termite mound. He/she was relaxing but seemed stay alerted. The thought of the possibility the cheetah would jump on to our jeep was frightening, but it never happened. A huge male lion was also in close view. We could see his strong body powerful and beautiful. This fearless creature indeed had the king of the jungle manner. He walked confidently away from us towards a few female lionesses resting under a tree. My favorite was zebras and wildebeests. They were in great numbers.
We also saw native Africa tribe people Maasai. Like American Indians, they love nature. Some sleep in the wildness with surrounding bushes and sticks as temporary shelters, some sleep in fixed huts. The huts were made from mud, straws and cow pup. The main foods they live on are cows and sheeps. The cows we saw in Africa all were very skinny. The Maasai people rarely take shower. They wear red or purple robs, holding a stick in hand. The guide told us even lions could recognize Maasai and the lions don’t normally get too close to Maasai people.
Kenya and Tanzania people look poor and live a simple life. They live in shabby houses. The roads were dusty, muddy and bumpy. The Chinese are building roads in Africa. Water is a precious resource in Africa. Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days where people can sell or buy all kinds of produces on the market. Our guide told us his monthly rent was $15 US dollars and his monthly grocery was $20 US dollars. Tanzania shilling is worthless. 1 US dollar is equal to 1600 Tanzania shilling. The largest bill in Tanzania is 10000 shilling and the smallest bill is 500 shilling. People there like to receive US dollars because they can get good rate by exchanging them to shillings. When the tour ended, we gave tips to the cook and the guide in cash. We also gave them our nice sleeping bag, ropes, blankets and flashlights. They appreciated these good camping equipments because they did not have much stuff.
Our Africa trip is the hardest vacation ever. We met three Chinese people from Guangzhou in the beginning. They were to climb Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It borders Kenya and Tanzania. I would think climbing Kilimanjaro would be a harder trip than our camping trip. They had to backpack everything themselves and sleep in tents on the mountain where base camps were set up. I asked these young people why they choose Africa and why climb Kilimanjaro? They told me they want to challenge themselves. What a terrific answer! Luckily after returning to USA, I was able to connect with one of the Chinese. They did climb to the peak and got a certificate. I liked one of their photos a lot where the moon seemed so close, the snow peak was within reach and the sky was so deep blue. Africa, you added another continent to our travel log. Kilimanjaro, we wish to climb you the next time we go to Africa.
You can watch our photo video Dailey’s Africa on YouTube at

East vs. West

Posted in East and West by Administrator on the October 7th, 2011

In my life, I had the pleasure to occasionally notice the differences when Chinese culture crashed with American culture.
Once I went to YMCA to exercise. I was there a few minutes early so I started to chat with the instructor. She was a happy grandmother with seven children and three grandchildren. I was surprised to know she had that many children, but I was happy for her. She asked if I had any children. I answered: yes, three boys, two teenagers and one 3-year-old. And I told her my oldest and the youngest is about thirteen years apart. She replied that her oldest and youngest are also over ten years apart. Then to my surprise, she asked: is the little one from the same husband? I instantly felt very uncomfortable even though I knew she had no bad intention. Yes of course, in my case. I could not help but thinking such a question would never have been asked if she were a Chinese, no matter how curious a Chinese was. What if the child is not from the same husband? This question would cause a Chinese person to lose face which would be a big no-no in China.
Would you marry your husband because he was No. 1 in the class? Many American wives would not use this as their criteria to select a husband but Chinese women would. In fact this probably would be their number one reason why they marry their husband. My American friend has a Chinese friend who was married based on this.
My Mandarin Chinese class student asked me if somebody ask somebody else’s boyfriend the “男朋友boyfriend” implies intimacy in China. I would say yes. In Chinese culture it would be considered that way while in America boyfriend can mean just male friend. So when you ask a Chinese lady: is he your boyfriend? You need to be very careful. You don’t want to imply something more.
Even though I haven’t heard the saying in China: Grass is greener at the neighbor’s, but I know the Chinese are much more likely to compare themselves with others including their neighbors, coworkers and relatives. It is very common for the Chinese to think others are making more money than they do; therefore they like to ask how much you make when they barely know you. In this case, you might feel uncomfortable to answer. What would you do? Smile and not say anything, or give a rough figure that this type of job offers.
“你吃了吗?Have you eaten yet?” is a common conversation starter among Chinese people. It is often asked regardless the time of a day or how you may answer it. If you say No, it doesn’t mean the Chinese would like to go to eat with you. Remember this is just a conversation starter!

Lost in translation

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the September 27th, 2011

Often times we heard people say learning Mandarin Chinese is difficult. Indeed it is one of the most difficult languages in the world. Being a China native, I can’t appreciate enough of the beauty of the Chinese language until I have a need to translate it into English. For example, 杭州八景 the eight famous scenes of Hangzhou is perfectly constructed in four small but precise and vivid Chinese words. These Chinese words paint a lovely picture on my mind. How can I translate them into English that still maintain the same beauty as they are in Chinese? I can’t! It’s a sad thing, isn’t it? But at least this is the best I can do to translate the top eight famous scenes of Hangzhou in English.
1.断桥残雪 Remnant Snow on the Bridge in Winter;
2.平湖秋月 Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn;
3.阮墩环碧 Ruan Gong Islet Submerged in Greenery;
4.雷锋夕照 Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset;
5.曲院风荷 Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer;
6.三潭印月 Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon;
7.柳浪闻莺 Orioles Singing in the Willows;
8.南屏晚钟 Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill。

And then, it came the new ten scenes of the well known West Lake located in Hangzhou西湖新十景:
云栖竹径Bamboo–Lined Path at Yunqi
满陇桂雨Sweet Osmanthus Rain at Manjuelong Village
虎跑梦泉Dreaming of Tiger Spring at Hupao Valley
龙井问茶Inquiring About Tea at Dragon Well
九溪烟树Nine Creeks Meandering Through a Misty Forest
吴山天风Heavenly Wind over Wu Hill
阮墩环碧Ruan Gong Islet Submerged in Greenery
黄龙吐翠Yellow Dragon Cave Dressed in Green
玉皇飞云Clouds Scurrying over Jade Emperor Hill
宝石流霞Rainbow over Precious Stone Hill

How many of these scenes have you seen? Like the Chinese saying 上有天堂,下有苏杭Heaven is above, Hangzhou and Suzhou is beneath, Hangzhou and West Lake are truly one of the most beautiful places in China.

Chinese social media is a jungle

Posted in Chinese social media by Administrator on the September 14th, 2011

After three-month using the Chinese social media almost daily, I can say I am somewhat an expert. 新浪 new wave in English)has a twitter equivalent called 新浪微博weibo (means small chat in English); 人人 (means everybody in English)and 腾讯QQ also have a twitter equivalent 微博weibo. Facebook is not easily accessible by the Chinese people, however one can use any of the three medias I mentioned above to accomplish the same thing as Facebook or Twitter. All three Chinese medias have the capability to add friends, listen to friends’ broadcast and follow friends. LinkedIn is widely used by professional Chinese people as well as professionals all over the world.

Each media attracts different groups of people. For example, 新浪 is where professional Chinese people like to hang out; 人人 is very popular among college students; 腾讯QQ is where everybody likes to hang out and of course it has the largest user base among all medias. Some people overlap these medias. Another media I eventually gave up is 开心 (means happy in English), because this is the place where the Chinese people hang out and play games. I am not a game player. Knowing who frequent which media can help you decide which media is the best for your business. My business is travel and education focused; therefore anyone and everyone can be my customer, so I need to hang out in all three medias.

In order to use the Chinese social media, of course you need to read and write in Chinese. And your customers are Chinese. You may wonder: how much time do you spend on managing these medias daily? The three Chinese medias plus weekly update on my LinkedIn and two or three times on my Facebook personal page and business page Mandarin International, together I have six sites to maintain frequently. I would say on the average I spend two to three hours daily if I have something to say. This does not include the time I spent on blogging where I have both an English blog and two Chinese blogs. If I have nothing to share, then I would not even bother to log in to these accounts.

As I get more familiar with the user interfaces of all medias, I am getting quicker and better at it. Usually I write one Chinese twitter and copy it to all three Chinese social medias. It’s funny that I really liked Chinese 微博weibo (twitter) even though I refuse to use Twitter in US here.

Here is my sophisticated social media map:
English –
Chinese – and

微博Weibo (Chinese Twitter): search 陈琼 my Chinese on,, and QQ。

LinkedIn: view my profile by searching Katie (Qiong) Dailey if you already have a LinkedIn account, otherwise view my public profile at

Facebook: you must log in first, then search Qiong Dailey for my personal page; or for my business page.

Sweet and heavenly Chinese traditional music

Posted in Chinese music by Administrator on the August 2nd, 2011

As I studied the four legendary Chinese stories (牛郎织女Niulang and Zhinv, 孟姜女哭长城Lady Meng Jiang cried the Great Wall, 梁山伯与祝英台Butterfly Lovers, 白蛇传White Snake), I ran into Butterfly Lovers’ beautiful violin concerto It was so amazingly moving! The music led me to another sweet and heavenly Chinese music春江花月夜Blossoms on a Spring Moonlit Night Then I can’t stop, how could I resist such a pleasure to my ears? So I continued to find out the top 10 most well-known Chinese traditional music. Five traditional Chinese instruments are played in these music, they are古筝Guzhen,古琴 Guqin,琵琶Lute,二胡Erhu, and 洞箫Xiao.

For your enjoyment, I have put together a list of these ten most famous music from the YouTube videos:
高山流水Gaoshanliushui(古筝曲)- Mountain stream(高means high 山 means Mountain 流水means the running water):

广陵散Guanglingsan (古筝曲):

平沙落雁Pingshaluoyan(古琴曲)- Geese:

梅花三弄Meihuasanlong(洞箫曲)- Plum Blossom:

十面埋伏Shimianmaifu(琵琶曲)- House of Flying Daggers:


渔樵问答Yuqiaowenda (古琴曲):

胡笳十八拍 Hujiashibapai:

汉宫秋月Hangongqiuyue(二胡曲)- Moon Palace:

阳春白雪Yangchunbaixue (琵琶曲) – Spring Snow:
I hope you like them as much as I do.

Experience the little differences between China and USA

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the July 10th, 2011

Our Yahoo class group is exploded these days with views from our classmates who went back home to China for a visit and those who came to California for a US-visit.

Cost of living is really cheap in USA
One of my Chinese classmates took her family to California to visit Stanford with the hope that her daughter will carry on her unrealized dream to go to Stanford. The family took a vacation in CA, did some sightseeing and did a lot of shopping. Cheap is the one word that they described their experience. Indeed labor and IP property are the two things that US is more expensive than China, everything else such as food, clothes, even housing and car are cheaper in US. My classmate ate quite some blue berries, cherries, and raspberries, they were so good!

Beijing is a chaos, too many liars; Hangzhou is a paradise even though it has too many people
On the contrary, one of my classmates went back to China and visited Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and surrounding areas. Beijing was chaotic. There were many “black cars” and cheaters on the street try to trick people. Hangzhou was a beautiful place, definitely nice to live there. However the housing is so expensive that we among the group mocked each other that those of us who have lived in US for many years really don’t have the purchase power to buy any house in Hangzhou. The houses in Hangzhou are for the super rich or “the immortal beings” like the ones in books or movies. Hangzhou has a restaurant chain called 外婆家The Grandma’s. The food there was awesome. Zhuji 诸暨, a small place near Hangzhou, was quiet, off the beaten path and beautiful. The Zhuji ladies are famous for their beauties.

Our family does many things ourselves, one of the reasons is that the labor is so expensive. Three year ago we had a designer designed and installed half of our landscape. Why not the whole landscape? Because half of the landscape labor plus material cost us already $8000. So we learned from the design and finished off the rest half landscape ourselves one year later. Last week, our family also re-leveled our patio; it was a huge job with many steps. Even with the older boys helping my husband and me, it took us 4-people almost four full days to re-do the patio. Imagine what it will cost if we hire people to do this! So DIY is popular in US and it saves money.

Today there are many views on the internet on the differences of China and USA. To know the truth, one ought to live like the locals do to truly experience the way they live, shop, and get around.

Luxury in China

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the June 3rd, 2011

Chinese people love luxury, wealthy Chinese even more so. The word luxury came from Latin word “Lux” meaning light. What is luxury in China? It is Louis Vuitton, Lamborghini, Chateau Lafite, Lexus and La prairie. I like how the Chinese define the characters of luxury goods: they must have long history, profound meaning, superb quality, excellent shopping environment, excellent service, and of course super expensive. So how expensive are these luxuries in China?
For examples, one bottle of 1995 Chateau Lafite, without import tax, the price is RMB11,846 (~$1,825) in China. In Hong Kong, one bottle of 1869 Chateau Lafite can be auctioned up to 430,000 British pounds.
A limited edition of Lamborghini sports car, the price is as high as RMB5,000,000 (slightly less than one million US dollars).
LV bags in China range from one thousand to several thousands of US dollars. I was told the security guarded store in Shanghai only allows a few customers enter the store every hour.
Indeed outrageous prices, you may wonder is there any Chinese buying it? The answer is quite some people. Obviously it is not too pricy for the 950,000 rich Chinese who are multimillionaires. It is said that in Shanghai alone, there is one multimillionaire in every one hundred seventy five people you meet. Oh my hometown Shanghai, I don’t know what to think about you. I am happy to see the huge changes in the recent years. However I will never shop luxury goods when I am back in Shanghai, simply because I can’t afford it and I don’t care for luxury either.

Top 10 China attractions for foreigners

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the May 11th, 2011

• Beijing the Great Wall of China长城
Built in 210 BC by the first emperor Qin Shi Huang, the Great Wall stretches for more than 5500 miles.
• Beijing Forbidden City故宫 and Tiananmen Square天安门
Forbidden City (also known as the Imperial Palace Museum) was commissioned by the third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yong Le. Built between 1406 and 1420, the total area of the complex is 183 acres and all together there are 9,999 1/2 rooms in the Museum.
• Xian Terra-cotta warriors and horses 兵马俑
With a history of more than 2000 years and covering an area of over 23290 square yards, more than 8000 terracotta warriors and horses and more than 40,000 bronze weapons have been excavated from the 3 excavated pits in the burial site of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb.
• Sichuan Jiuzhaigou四川九寨沟
Also known as the Nine Village Valley, Jiuzhaigou is a natural reserve located in the North of the Sichuan Province. Ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, Jiuzhaigou is extremely famous for its mirror-like lakes with amazing blue colors and crystal clear waterfalls.
• Three Gorges, Three Gorges Dam and Yangtze River Cruise 长江三峡
Three Gorges are spectacular. There are many archaeological and cultural sites along the Yangtze River, and also the world’s largest hydroelectric power station: the Three Gorges Dam.
• Anhui Huang Shan 黄山
This is the Holy Land of Taoism since ancient times. It’s amazingly tranquil and it is such a natural beauty. Many Taoist relics and temples can be found on the mountain. It is said that the Chinese immemorial Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) used to refine his elixir on the Yellow Mountain.
• Picturesque Guilin 桂林山水
Li River is one of the most famous waterways in China. Along the riverbanks, you will see beautiful rock formations, caves, numerous hills and mountains.
• Beautiful Jiangnan watertowns 江南水乡
Zhouzhuang, Xitang, Tongli, and Wuzhen are among the top four water villages. They are typical ancient townships south of the Yangtze River delta. There is a lot more than the ancient bridges, canals, dykes and magnificent garden villas. Here ancient dwellings sit encroaching on each side of the canal that passes through the city. You will see rich and amazing history and have a feel for how ordinary people live their lives along the canal.
• Tibet Potala Palace布达拉宫
Potala Palace is a huge treasure house for materials and articles of Tibetan history, religion, culture and arts. The Palace is widely known for the precious sculptures, murals, scripture, Buddha figures, antiques, and religious jewelry.
• Hangzhou West Lake西湖
“Ripping water shimmering on sunny day, Misty mountains shrouded the rain; Plain or gaily decked out like Xi Zi; West Lake is always alluring.” These are the words composed by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127) when he compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, the most beautiful woman in ancient China. These poetic sentiments leave one in no doubt of the glory of the scenery.

Here is a link to CCTV’s video series on China’s world heritage sites: -> click the video(s) you wish to view.

My thoughts on reading the book “Oracle Bones”

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the May 2nd, 2011

“Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present” was written by an American journalist Peter Hessler. China from 1999 to 2004 was a period that sounded so familiar and yet so distant to me. I can very much relate to many things in the book.
Thought 1: When I first came to the US, I used to say “peasant” all the time because that was what I have learned in school, rarely did I say “farmer”. So when I said peasant to my husband whose parents were farmers, he said: “Do you mean farmer?” There are big differences between Chinese peasants and US farmers especially in the areas of education and farming tools/methods.
Thought 2: It is very true that false/fake (假的jiade) products are everywhere in China, so be cautious in things you buy or people you deal with. In China from the food we eat, to clothes and accessories we wear, to diploma and official documents, all can be faked. Even the author Peter himself had to write a false resume in order to get a journalist visa. Is it the Chinese system’s fault that makes people do what is necessary in order to survive?
Thought 3: About the Uyghur. My first encounter with the Uyghur language was at the Urumqi airport during our Silk Road vacation in 2010. My husband saw the language was written everywhere but he did not know what it was. I told him it looked like Arabic. Later, our guide told us it was the Uyghur language because Uyghur is the biggest group in Xinjiang province. I also discovered on the trip that Uyghurs look more like foreigners than Chinese. I know Uyghur is one of the 55 minority groups, other than that I know very little about this unique ethnic group especially its political and religious beliefs.
Thought 4: The Movie Red Sorghum and actor Jiang Wen. In the book, the author talked about visiting a movie set in the Gobi where famous actor Jiang Wen was shooting a movie. I remembered watching the movie Red Sorghum in 1989 when I was a senior at Fudan University. The movie was a huge hit because it was the first kind that was brilliantly directed by the director Zhang Yimou, and Jiang Wen and actress Gong Li truly captured the audience with their brilliant acting. Jiang Wen’s personality is so characteristic both on screen in all his movies and off screen in his real life, surely he is well liked.
Thought 5: How ironic! As I ended reading the book today, I found out at the news time that Osama Bin Laden was killed. In the book the author described Chinese people’s Anti-American feelings for the war American launched against the terrorists after the September 11 attack. I am eager to find out what the Chinese think now that the Americans are celebrating the big victory after nearly ten years. The Americans finally did what they set their minds to.

My American dream came true

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the March 14th, 2011

As the first generation immigrant from China, I was asked to speak at various events because people are fascinated by my story. Twenty one years ago when I came to this country, I had only $40 in my pocket. Against the odds of being laid off from a very large company in 2008, I came a long way from an engineer to be a business owner today. And the best of all, I realized my dream of doing something I truly like.
I would summarize my American journey in two milestones. The first milestone was ten years into living in the United States, I had a very nice job with Eastman Kodak Company, a nice family with two boys, and a big house with no mortgage and no debt. The second milestone was twenty years into living in the United States, I lost my job but found my own company, our family grew with another addition: a baby boy, and financially we were doing very well.
I contribute my success to my strong personality. If somebody gave me a lemon, I would say: watch me, how I turn it into lemonade. It was this kind of attitude that kept my head hold high in difficult circumstances. With hard work and some talents, I was able to acquire wealth through good jobs and investment. And I am a saver. Ever since I started working, I have always maxed out my 401K contribution. Over the years, it grew to be a nice big egg. So when the job was not there, I am able to create my own job and weather off years of no income.
But my success did not come easy. Ever since I was 10 years old, I went to the most famous boarding school in Shanghai. It was from 6am to 9pm daily 6 days a week this kind of study in school and hard-working prepared me for my long journey to achieve my American dream. I am grateful that my parents insisted to send me to the best schools in China despite the fact we were very poor at that time and they had to borrow money to do so. Thirty years ago, my mother as an elementary school teacher was making $10 a month in salary. My parents were not “Tiger Mother” (this is a very controversial topic today both in China and in USA). I simply knew what was expected of me and I wanted so much to live a better life, so I automatically did everything they expected of me and I made them very proud of me by bringing them many “faces” (Chinese are big on saving faces). All of my brother and sisters went to colleagues and received very good education. Today all of us siblings are either USA citizen or Canada citizen and we are doing well. I can certainly relate to the documentary “Last Train Home” (归途列车) about Chinese parents’ unappreciated sacrifices in their children’s eyes. When I was young I may not have realized that but as I grew older and had my own children, I really appreciated how much my parents have sacrificed for me. My Chinese family certainly contributed to my success too.

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