Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bye for now...

Hi everyone,

Many of you might know that starting about one month ago, a new chapter in our lives began. Janie was diagnosed with a rare and very serious cancer. We left Shanghai immediately and will remain in New York where she is scheduled to undergo treatment for the next 9 - 12 months.

As we're no longer in China, this website will not be updated until we return. Our heart and desire are still to return to Shanghai, but it remains to be seen as to when or if that will happen.

We are completely open about our situation and this difficult time we are facing. We have started another blog to welcome you to walk with us through this storm.

Please read it and don't hesitate to reach out to us, as your love, prayers, and encouragement are so helpful to us at this time.

 Alan and Daisy

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shanghai Zoo

posted by Alan
click on picture to see them full size

We had been meaning to take Janie to check out the Shanghai Zoo once the weather got warm enough. Located just 6 subway stops away from us, we finally had the chance last week. The Zoo was more like a large park with animals scattered throughout, but it had pretty much the animals that you'd want to see. Giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, etc. But with pandas and at 40RMB ($6 USD), still a pretty good deal. I remember the Bronx Zoo costing more than $6 just for parking, plus you have to get all the way up to the Bronx. As Janie gets older, I'm sure she'll enjoy the Zoo more and more. Right now she prefers Elmo, Minnie Mouse or Pooh singing instead of gazelles chewing on grass.

Last month was also Daisy's birthday. I surprised her with a trip to the Yun Du Hot Spring Hotel, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's about a 25 minute taxi ride outside of the center of Shanghai, but not a bad trip to make and definitely worth it. In most bathhouses (and there are many in Shanghai and China) the hot tubs and amenities are separated by sex and communal areas are limited to food and foot massage/relaxation rooms. The Yun Du has a large swimming pool, three different soaking pools, a saltwater pool, super hot pool and outdoor hot spring that both men and women can enjoy together (in provided swimwear of course). I have a feeling we'll be back sometime...

Monday, April 9, 2012


posted by Alan
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Last month I was asked to write an article for TALK Magazine, a magazine for expats here in Shanghai. With Easter coming up, they wanted a piece about bring a Christian in Shanghai and some of the difficulties we face. As the Community Life Director at Shanghai Community Fellowship, the largest international Christian church in Shanghai, I deal with hundreds of people who are here living away from home, in need of community. When we came to Shanghai, I never planned or even really wanted to work for the Church, but how often does our life actually turn out the way we plan it anyway?

I don't often share too much about my job on this blog, but it's my passion and it's what I do. So (with lots of help from my amazing and supportive wife) here's the article:

“SCF started in 1996 but we still have people tell us 'How did I miss you?" Sometimes people come here with the expectation that they will not be able to find a Christian community thinking that because they are in China such a thing does not exist. They are often pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant Christian church in the heart of Shanghai”
Dale Cuckow, Senior Pastor
Shanghai Community Fellowship

As Easter Sunday approaches, we at Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF) continue to search for new ways to reach out to the international community to let them know we’re here.

The ways that people come to us vary. A quick search online for Christians in Shanghai will bring people directly to our website and many Christians who are actively seeking a church are in contact with us before touching down at Pudong Int’l Airport. For others, it may be through a personal relationship that they are first invited. But for many, the pressures of life in a city such as ours have left them battered and in search of support.

The difficulties that stem from being a Christian in Shanghai lie not in a lack of a strong Christian community, but in every vice, desire, and temptation being readily available. As with anybody, succumbing to them can have devastating effects on careers, relationships, families and lives. To face these pressures, we rely on God’s provision in the form of accountability, support, and love through our church family. And this is what it looks like: A community made up of people from over 60 different nations committed to glorifying God by transforming lives. SCF strives to extend God’s love by providing such a community, not only at our Sunday afternoon services, but through small groups, educational resources, service opportunities and prayer. We even offer a course for non-Christians to ask questions about the Christian faith.

While occasions such as Easter tend to draw many non-regular church attendees, it is the desire of Shanghai Community Fellowship to see every individual who walks through our doors experience the lasting love of Jesus Christ through the church body that he has established here. Our doors are open to every foreign passport holder in Shanghai who is seeking solace amidst the chaos of city life. God’s intention in bringing us here is not merely for us to survive, but to thrive. And in order to thrive, a strong, loving community is vital.

I’m looking forward to personally welcoming you to ours on Sunday.

Alan Gong
SCF Community Life Director

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Date Night

posted by Alan
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Every Wednesday evening, our Ayi (Nanny) comes at 6:30pm to watch Janie and put her to bed for the night and Daisy and I head out on our weekly Date Night. With Shanghai being such a busy place, it's so necessary for us to have designated time where we can just focus on us and our marriage, especially after having Janie, when so much of life can seem to revolve around her. It also gives us a chance to continue to explore what is now officially the world's largest city. Sometimes it' a simple night of dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and a movie (Wednesday is free for ladies) or a massage, but we usually try to think of something new and different to try.

This 'column' will become a regular subject every once in awhile, to highlight some of the places we've been or things we've done on our Date Nights.

I feel like I've posted this before, but this was definitely one of the more unique dates we've been on. Underground in a former bomb shelter, lies the East Shanghai Shooting and Archery Club. For $15 USD you can pick up a regulation size bow and shoot 10 arrows at a target. Not the most efficient use of time or money, but an interesting experience still. For even less efficient spending, you can shoot some real guns. We opted out of that option.

Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse
Our friend Graham (thanks dude) surprised us with a gift certificate for 1500RMB ($238 USD) to one of the best steakhouses in Shanghai. 1500RMB is an exorbitant amount for a meal here in Shanghai, but at this place, it wasn't hard to spend it all. While we wouldn't eat here under normal circumstances, it was definitely a treat, as we got steaks, a burger and all the sides we could handle. You'll pay a premium to find a good steak here in China, but they DO exist.

Cha's Hong Kong Restaurant
One of our normal standby's for date night when we're feeling lazy and just want some comfort food, Cha's is close by, well priced (abt 45RMB or $7/person) and serves up food and atmosphere that really capture mid-century Hong Kong. And the HK milk tea really tastes like HK milk tea.

Oh yeah...Janie walks!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Linsanity in China

posted by Alan
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JLin in the CBA, 2011

I'm pretty sure you've all gotten your fill of Jeremy Lin media coverage (especially since most of you are in New York). But Linsanity is also alive and kicking over here in NBA-Crazy China too. Actually, Lin Shu Hao(林书豪), as he's known here, has been a topic of interest since last year when he first entered the NBA, but since it all started, his Sino Weibo account (China's twitter) has jumped from 100,000 followers to over 900,000. CCTV5 (the official China sports network) has shifted it's schedule to show more Knicks games, although they've just recently pulled back. You KNOW something is big news when it spooks the Gov. Unfortunately they didn't show the reigning King-of-the-NBA-in-China, Kobe Bryant go against JLin, but video was up on youku(China's youtube) faster than it was on youtube. I've been using Slingbox to keep up on Linsanity. Here are a few other Jeremy Lin in China facts taken from (an awesome basketball-in-china-from-the-eyes-of-an-expat site):

- While the NBA was locked out, Lin practiced and played a few games with the Chinese Basketball Association’s DongGuan New Century Leopards.
- Jeremy Lin reads and writes a little bit of Chinese and speaks Mandarin well enough to be interviewed, which Chinese fans love.
- He considers Yao Ming to be a mentor and a close friend and says they speak after games often.

Speaking of Chinese basketball and Knicks resurrectors, newest Knick, JR Smith was also the CBA's leading scorer this year (36 points per game), playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. They were in Shanghai a few weeks ago, so we went to check them (him) out. $20 USD will get you courtside seats here. Sharks owner Yao Ming was also in attendance. Smith scored a disappointing 29 in a loss to the Shanghai team, especially after he scored 60 while hitting 14 three pointers the week before. But the huge gap in ability was still huge in watching NBA guys go against the Chinese pros and it was also quite obvious that Smith had his mind on his NBA return and not on taking the Golden Bulls to the CBA playoffs.

Monday, February 13, 2012


posted by Alan
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14 months ago Janie was born. She's been strong willed since the start and is full of personality. The way she puts a smile on people's faces, from her grandparents to a stranger on the street, I hope will never change. Watching her develop and grow has been nothing but amazing and we're so thankful she's in our lives. We held a small party here for her with a bunch of her little baby friends. Daisy regularly holds playgroups with other expat moms here in Shanghai.

Click here to see more pictures from Janie's Birthday Party: Janie's Party

Chinese New Year also came a bit early this year. It's one of the two most insane travel times of the year here in China. Because we only got back from the US a couple of weeks before, we decided to make it more of a stay-cation and went with a few friends to a hotel not far from the city to just relax and hang out. We were home at midnight on New Year's Eve though, and because we live on a pretty big street in a central area, we were treated to some insane fireworks right outside of our bedroom window. Janie LOVES the fireworks, but unfortunately, midnight is a bit too late for her. See below for video of actual Chinese New Year fireworks in China:
Chinese New Year 2012 - Shanghai

Friday, January 20, 2012

And We're Back

posted by Alan
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Taken by Daisy on the way to Brooklyn

Back and almost recovered from our bi(tri?)annual trip back to America. As we discovered in July, flying from Shanghai to California is much shorter and easier on jetlag than flying directly back to New York. It also gives us a mini-vacation in the process. So I think that's what we'll be doing now whenever we visit home....actually, Hawaii is on the way too....hmmmm....

Click here to see more pictures from the Bay Area: Bay Area

As I told my friend Pat, it's not weird coming back to New York anymore. It no longer feels like we're visiting one place or the other. It more just feels like we have two homes now. It's actually a great and liberating feeling. But I do believe that wherever you're supposed to be, you'll feel and know purpose there. It's not something you have to convince yourself, it's something you'll know. And at that time, that's where you belong. Chew on that one for a bit.

Click here to see more pictures from NYC: Christmas in NYC

Our trip was purposeful, fun and completely exhausting. It's always a blessing to be able to go back, because proper perspective is really hard to see until you step outside of where you're at. But it's also when you learn not to compare and just embrace different. I think only then you can really appreciate both.