OK, I admit, this post doesn’t technically relate to any of the subjects this blog is about. But it’s also about pushing your boundaries and having adventures. And I did plenty of that during my tour of China! 

I just got back from 2 weeks in China where I was on a volunteering trip sponsored by First Hand Foundation, the charity my company, Cerner, started. It was an incredible trip through the interior of the country that most tourists never see. I think between the 4 different cities we were in we saw just 3 non-Chinese people that were not on our team. Even our team was made up of people from Hong Kong and Singapore, so the 7 of us huge, white Americans stuck out like a popsicle stand in Antarctica.

This was also my first trip to Asia, and I consider myself incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to experience an entirely different culture in a country with such fascinating history and kind people. As with any of the service trips I’ve done, I’m sure I got a lot more than I gave.

I could tell you lots of stories about the inspiring work, beautiful sights and amazing people of China and on the volunteer team… but not even my long-winded recounting (a specialty of mine, according to Elizabeth) could do it justice. So instead I thought I would have a little fun and highlight a few tidbits of the trip and subsequent 4 days I spent touring Beijing through Tweets. Of course Twitter is blocked in China (along with Facebook, Instagram and all Google), so here’s my 22 Tweets that never happened:


1. First view of #Beijing from the plane. Immediately noticed the big groups of identical high-rises. Central planning at its finest.



2. My first day in Beijing I saw blue sky. All other 5 days it’s had a thick blanket of gray – even at the Great Wall! #SmogIsReal #SmaugIsNot



3. Driving in China is beyond crazy – stoplights, lanes and pedestrians crossing mean nothing. I may have PTSD from constant honking.



4. #Beijing is nothing if not secure…security/military guards all over tourist spots and everywhere has an x-ray checkpoint.



5. Haggled 2/3 off the price of my off-brand #GoPro in the #SilkMarket to $60! Plus Chinese brand #FitBit for $20! #KnockOffCity



6. Finally found my Beijing #hostel, @365Inn! Hopping music, open-air bar, writing covering all the walls, 10-person room = #GoodVibes



7. In the Beijing #NightMarket with all the crazy eats – silk worm, scorpion, dog, spider – but the scariest of all…tofu!



8. Saw a huge crowd gathering around flag at #TiananmenSquare 2nite. Waited for 1 hr b4 discovering twas just the daily flag lowering. #Curious



9. Just counted 35 cranes in one view! High-rise construction is EVERYWHERE (and vacant) in interior China and no one knows why. #mystery



10. I gagged when I found this rag among other fine donated clothes. But I don’t blame someone for wanting rid of it 😛 #BorderWar #MizzouAlum



11. Love riding subway, but it is always so stinkin packed! But Beijing does get credit for phone signal strong enough everyone streams video.



12. Chartered taxi to #GreatWall & while stopped in traffic on the highway our driver got out and picked a flower for the gf he’s visiting because his wife is working. #Classy





14. If there’s one cultural thing I would take back to the US it would be meals. Delicious, variety, family-style, & slow enough I can keep up!



15. If there’s one cultural thing I would leave it would be bathrooms: squatting toilets, no provided TP and showers right in front of toilet. << no picture 😉 >>


16. On the sidewalk, porch, or anywhere ppl squat here with their feet flat. But I find it very hard and uncomfortable. It must be #genetics.



17. Visited the Lama Temple in #Beijing today and saw an amazing design of Buddhist sand art. #HouseOfCards anyone?



18. Big day – saw my first detached pig head. They were burning off the hairs to cook it up for dinner. Sadly, we declined the invite.



19. I expected a lot of things to be different here, but the bee hives?! However the honey our wonderful hosts provided was sweet as ever.



20. Bird’s eye view on the Bird’s Nest! #Beijing #OlympicPark



21. Can’t imagine climbing to the base of the #GreatWall, let alone fighting off defenders & climbing up to invade. I took a ski lift up 😉



22. When I grow up I want to be the emperor-You not only get the #ForbiddenCity, #SummerPalace & #TempleofHeaven, but buried in a jade suit.





Written by Cole

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Found your blog through a friend’s facebok page. Just wanted to say enjoy every minute, the mishaps make the best stories, and living for your passion and using it as a way to help others is the secret to life! You are lucky to be so wise at a young age. If you have never heard of Chris Guillebeau, you might like his blog and his book (your quest reminded me of it – “The Happiness of Pursuit”). Cheers!

Clarence Tong

Love your blog bro! I’m glad u had an adventurous trip in China lol..
I’ll be visiting Hawaii in Nov. also