China Assignment (Suzhou) bio picture
  • Welcome to my Suzhou blog!

    For the next two years (starting on Feb 14, 2011) I will use this blog to chronicle our travels while on assignment in Suzhou, China. My wife and I (OK, mostly me) consider this a great opportunity to get to know one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. We are excited about the opportunity and hope you will join us as we explore this amazing land and it's surroundings. We encourage you to add comments as you see best.
    Thanks for visiting!
    My assignment ended on March 8, 2013. If you like to follow our next adventure click HERE
    Carlos & Bethe

    IMPORTANT: If you like to know when new posts are added click on "Follow Us" tab on the upper left side of of the blog, and then click on "Subscribe".

  • Sort Posts by Category

I am back!

I am so glad to be back home and able to update you briefly on where I have been. Firstly, thank God for his helping hand throughout this whole ordeal, thanks to my wife for being at my side every minute, my sister who joined us in Hong Kong, the many friends that kept in touch with me as I was battling my ailment, the company I work for and all my coworkers for their excellent support while I was out. I am happy to report that after a bit more than two weeks in the hospital I was able to return home. While I am still on antibiotics and will need some additional follow-up, my long-term prognosis is a full recovery.

Thanks to all who sent me notes, thoughts and prayers; they really made a difference. I always have my camera with me, so being in the hospital was not going to change that. Of course did not take many pictures until the later days, but below I am posting some I took.

A view of the Honk Kong Sanitarium Hospital tower. This hospital has a 90 year history and it is one, if not the best, hospital in Hong Kong.

The view from my temporary room...not bad...below you can see a horse race track with several sporting venues in its inner field. The next day I was moved into my permanent room, but before then got to see a couple of night races.

A view form one of the hospital corridors on my floor. Must say, this was by far the cleanest hospital I have ever been in. The cleaning staff was ever-present and were very helpful and all looked happy.

For the little that I saw of Hong Kong, it is filled with very tall and skinny buildings. Most appear a lot taller than what they actually are since they have been built around the many hills surrounding the areas we were at. This view was from the end of one of the hospital hallways I was in.

The beautiful flowers the team I work with sent me. They were a real picker upper and lasted until the day I was released.

A view of my permanent room. Before this 16 day stay- my longest stay in a hospital was one day. While I am glad I was able to be taken care of as good as I was, I certainly hope will never need this kind of care again. I am sparing you a picture of myself in the bed; you do not want to see that. What you can see in the background is my companion for the 16 days I stayed in this hospital; the intravenous contraption - had many encounters with sharp needles to the point that I was starting to run out of viable veins in my arm and hands.

The medicine patrol during one of their two daily rounds. For me this meant a saline flush and more intravenous antibiotics. Did not like it one bit, but thanks to them I am able to say I feel soooo much better.

The night before I was released. We got the news from the doctor and my wife could hardly keep from smiling. She was as supporting and caring as a wife can be and more. Was very happy my sister joined us, she kept us company and was also a big help keeping our spirits up.

Doctor Edward Lai and I. Doctor Lai was the specialist that took care of me from day one and his treatment was right on. Considered myself very fortunate to have him assigned to me.

Finally, the nurses that took care of me throughout the 16 days. The were all truly fantastic and I let them know each time I saw them. As pleasant and competent as they come. Thank you ladies!!!


Peter LiaoMay 24, 2012 - 10:06 PM

Carlos, Nice to see you getting well. Like your photos.

BrendaMay 23, 2012 - 4:21 AM

Carlos – So happy you are 100% recovered! You have the most darling wife to have by your side too! I have to say, it was refreshing to see nurses in white uniforms, with matching sweater, smiling and friendly-looking!

Dota 2 GuideMay 22, 2012 - 5:02 AM

I havenâ??t checked in here for some time since I thought it had been getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend:)

Jordan LeeMay 21, 2012 - 12:06 AM

Carlos, So glad to know you are feeling better, and provided us a picture of you with a smile to demonstrate this – it is good to see you and know that you are getting well. The prayers and good wishes for you continue from Warsaw.

gail watsonMay 20, 2012 - 9:15 AM

you AMAZE me!! Those pictures were dare I say beautiful and told a story!! Only you could make pictures of a hospital worthy of a frame(love the one through the blinds!!) I also love the one with the nurses……….flash back to the days when nurses wore dresses and nursing caps… scrubs are more practical no doubt but it is refreshing to see. AND BETHE the smile on your face was priceless !!!! love you guys xxxooo

ccausillasMay 20, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Rafi, the two procedures were minimally invasive so recovery is a lot quicker. Thanks!

RafaelaMay 19, 2012 - 10:53 PM

You look really good! you don't even look like you had surgery :)

I Shall Return!

Dear family and friends, I will be out of commission for a couple of weeks addressing a health  issue from which I expect to fully recover. Until then, I will not be posting any updates, but God willing I will restart it soon thereafter.
Thanks for your continued visits.

Fish Market – Busan

Our last stop was Jagalchi Fish Market — the largest fish market in all of South Korea. It is located along the waterfront in the Nampodong District of Busan. The Jagalchi Market is a very popular attraction for people traveling to Busan, the second largest city in the country. It is also quite a major part of the culture and economy in Busan. You can find virtually everything that swims in the sea served at either the restaurants or the fish market. If you are a fan of sushi and sashimi, this is going to be some of the best you’ve ever eaten (the second floor has many restaurants, but we did not go up since we were short on time). Fresh may not even be the word to describe it (fresh killed maybe more accurate), as the customer selects the fish from small tanks, they are then filleted right there on the spot. It is a must-see attraction if you are making the trip to this southeastern city in South Korea.

Most of the people who sell fish are women, and these women are called ‘Jagalchi Ajumma,’ ‘ajumma’ meaning middle-aged or married women. This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market. Even these days you can see women selling mackerel, sea squirts (ascidians) and whale meat on wooden boxes along the road.

The main dock where the fresh catch of the day is unloaded. Was told that this spot is at is busiest early mornings. This was taken around 5 PM.

Not sure, but this seems to be a coaching session for the young man on the right. as with any other trade, good training, practice and supervision makes for perfection down the road.

One of the many Ajummas selling their fresh catch. Told that this women are considered very tough and hard working as they handle heavy cases of fish, chop fish heads and are very direct with you.

As mentioned before, we toured this market towards the end of the day. Looks like the busiest time was long gone. These two ladies are just catching up - notice the nice octopuses in the tank to the right. Yum, love a good octopus cooked to perfection with some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Yum, yum.

Wonder was this gentleman was doing close to the market. Waiting for some lady perhaps? who knows, but he was impecable as you can see.

Taking care of a customer by killing and filleting what looked like flounders.


Definitely the slow part of the day. This lady is probably sick of people like me taking their picture all day long. She was nice, but her facial expression did not give me the warmest feeling.

Oyster looking mollusks, if I had time I would have loved to try one with some of the sauce you see on the upper right. Love fresh seafood.


Not sure what kind of crabs these were, but they were big.

This market is very large indeed. Probably hundreds of stalls all selling similar products. As the day winds down some are getting ready to close and start cleaning their stalls. Some just chill and rest for what surely be another busy tomorrow morning.

As we left I took this view of one of the many isles in the indoor portion of the market. It is a big place.

Once again, thanks for visiting. Next week my wife and I will be traveling to Ireland. Be sure to come back in a couple of weeks for some pictures and comments of our tour of Southern Ireland.

Bulguksa Temple – South Korea

We only had one day in South Korea so we decided to take a bus tour. While not always the best value, we find if you only have limited time it can be the best option. Our tour took us to one of the most famous temples in South Korea; the Bulguksa (불국사, “Temple of the Buddha Land”). Bulguksa is a Buddhist temple in the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea. Although much-restored, it is an important example of Silla architecture and is home to no less than seven Korean national treasures.

Bulguksa temple was designated as a World Cultural asset by UNESCO in 1995. It was originally founded in 535 A.D. by King Pob-hung, for the use of his queen to pray for the welfare of the kingdom. The small wooden temple was given the name Hwaeombeomnyusa. The present temple layout dates back to 751 A.D., was burned to the ground during the 1592 Hideyoshi Toyotomi invasion. It was partially reconstructed during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) and fully restored under President Park Chung-hee (1961-1979).

Tourist life can be hard on you; Devin taking a quick snooze, while Luke...well, just being Luke.


Temple entrance, my wife having a great time - I like that.


Two of the Sacheonwang, or Four Heavenly Kings, guard the entrance to the temple. They are to protect the world and fight off evil.


The Beomyeongnu pavilion at Bulguksa.


Detail from the top center of the Beomyeongnu pavilion. Need to research the meaning of some of these heads you see all around the buildings. As in previous Buddhist temples, the detail is familiar and beautiful.


Different angle of the Beomyeongnu pavilion. The foundation you see dates back to the original building (751 A.D.).


From a text I read, this is a Dabotap ..."Dabotap (Many Treasure Pagoda) it is 10.4 meters (34 feet) tall and dedicated to the Many Treasures Buddha, who made a prophecy about a miraculous funerary tower in the Lotus Sutra. Its image is reproduced on the South Korean 10 won coin. In contrast to Seokgatap, it is highly ornate and symbolizes the complexity of the universe. Its carved stones are held together without mortar and some are carved like stalks of bamboo."


More beautiful details from the temple ceiling.


A large drum resting on a turtle... wonder what was it used to announce.


The are a total of ten large structures in the temple area which is quite large.


While this the Bulguksa temple is the most visited and oldest temple in South Korea, it is still a working temple. Here we see a monk saying his daily prayers.


Entrance to the temple detail shown in the previous picture - see the monk in the far center?


Another detail of what I find to be fascinating architecture.


We came across an area where there were many small rock piles. They were everywhere and not sure about their meaning. Looked it up, but come up with nothing more than speculation. Some say it is a form of worship and asking for favors, others say it is an expression of how individuals balance their life. One thing is sure, the practice of piling stones is very old and it goes back to Old Testament biblical times.


Detail of a couple of the piles we saw.


This is indeed a very big bell. Wish we could have heard it.


Not sure if this guy was a visitor or a monk living in the temple area. Does not really look like a monk and seemed happy to pose for the many tourist that went by the stream he was contemplating on.

F o l l o w   u s