How much money did we raise? Beijing Marathon Update

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the fundraiser for United Foundation for Children’s Health!

Participants raised over RMB 200,000, which was RMB 50,000 over the year’s target. Donations will be used directly to pay for the costs of three orphan’s surgeries.

Read more from the news piece on the Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics (BJU) website (which yes, I wrote).

(Internet being slow today; sorry I can’t post more interesting photos!)

Want to feel like a million bucks? Give $10 to charity!

GT's turning 25!

GT’s turning 25!

This month I’m celebrating a few cool milestones:

  1. I’m turning 25 (October 19)! 
  2. I’ve been in Beijing, China for a year and a half (October 6)!
  3. I’m running a half marathon for charity (October 20)!

Want to know how to celebrate with me?

Help me raise money for charity.

October 20, I’ll be running in the 2013 Beijing Marathon, aiming to complete the half marathon. A half marathon is 13.1 or 21.1km.

Why am I running?

To help raise funds for the United Foundation for Children’s Health (UFCH), which helps provie life-saving surgeries to orphans in China. I’ll be writing about individual cases in an upcoming post. My company, United Family Healthcare (UFH), supports UFCH by providing time, expertise, and 1% of gross revenue in medical services to treat orphans and other impoverished children in need of quality medical care. It’s a pretty cool group, and my coworkers and I running in the marathon are all running to raise funds for UFCH.

How do I donate?

If you’e donating in USD ($), follow these steps:

1. Click this link to go to PayPal.

2. Fill in preliminary information, for “to” email address use

3. Next page will ask you either quick register or put user ID (proceed accordingly).

4. Fill in all the required information to submit the donation.

5. Before you push “Send Money,” there is an option to send an email to the United Foundation (DO IT). In the spot, include the following information:

• UFCH BJ Marathon Charity event

• Name of person you are sponsoring

• Amount donated

• Transaction ID (optional)

6. Send ME (Ginny) an email, telling me you donated and the amount, so I can THANK YOU!


If you’e donating in RMB (¥), follow these steps:

1. Click this link to go to YeePay.

2. Scroll down the page until you see the fields to enter information.

3. Fill in all the information accordingly.

4. In the “我的祝福” – please have your sponsor include the following information:

• Name of person sponsoring

• UFCH BJ Marathon Charity event

• Donation Amount

5. Send ME (Ginny) an email, telling me you donated and the amount, so I can THANK YOU!


All pledging should be completed by October 23, but I’m looking to wrap things up by my birthday, Saturday, October 19!

If you miss the actual day, that’s OK, we still have until October 23.


2013 Beijing Marathon course

2013 Beijing Marathon course

This is the race course from the Beijing Marathon site.

Cheap Air Filter in Beijing: Day 6

Cheap Air Filter: Day 6

Cheap Air Filter: Day 6

This week’s Air Quality Index (AQI) has been a roller coaster, oscillating from the good-for-Beijing below 50 to well over toxic 300. Unfortunately today it was so bad, the US Embassy released this email (click to enlarge, toggle back to keep reading my blog), warning against “physical activity outdoors.” What an upper. Although when I told my two Italian roommates over breakfast that my embassy had issued an email warning, they were mad jealous.

US Embassy High Pollution Alert

US Embassy High Pollution Alert

With this high pollution day, I figured it was time to show my cheap air filter in action. Earlier this week, I made my own air filter for 200 rmb, or $32, through this workshop put on by Smart Air, the same guys who brought you Particle Counting. Cheap solution to a seemingly difficult problem (this problem being the expensive filters, not the air pollution itself).

Working at the 2013 China Open

Working at the 2013 China Open

Monday, the day of the DIY cheap filter workshop, I worked at the China Open for the Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics (BJU) booth. It was a fun day, practicing Chinese and playing games we offered at our booth, with mini-basketballs and foam darts. But before we left the hospital for the stadium, I insisted that the crew working at the outside booth all get masks to wear, as the AQI was hovering around 300 that day. Above you can see me and my coworker ZiZhang (nicknamed ZZ), pointing, unamused at the grey smog.

Here you can see me prepped to bike to work, normally one of my favorite parts of the day, but one I need to be careful about, if the AQI is over 200.

Find out more about N95 masks, and why wearing one with that rating is important here.

Biking to work: PM 2.5 Mask and all

Biking to work: PM 2.5 Mask and all

Cheap Air Filter? DIY in Beijing for 200 RMB

Beijing’s air sucks. Air purifiers cost upwards of 11,000 rmb ($1,800). The average Beijing worker gets 4,672 rmb ($763) a month.

Here’s how to make your own air purifier at home for $32:

Take a simple household fan (120 rmb/$19), strap on an inexpensive HEPA filter (80 rmb/$13), and you can remove over 90% of PM 2.5.

DIY Air Purifier

DIY Air Purifier

I attended a DIY air purifier workshop, by SmartAir, a few individuals that just want to breathe better air in Beijing, who started by counting particles to see how well their first DIY ghetto filter worked. Turns out pretty well.

Check out my air filter. I’ll be comparing picture week-to-week, to see how bad the circle of black becomes.

My filter at home in Beijing.

My filter at home in Beijing.

Find out more about which masks are the best if you’re living in Beijing on Dr. Richard Saint Cyr’s comparison of pollution masks on Dr. Saint Cyr works for Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics, where I work, but I happen to think he’s compiled a lot of great information. Try it out for yourself, and let us know!

Lean In Vietnam

Truc on a tuk-tuk.

Truc on a tuk-tuk while traveling in Cambodia.

Let me tell you about my friend Truc.

A master’s student studying hospitality in Singapore, Truc is from Vietnam. The tourism and hospitality industry is booming in the rapidly developing South East Asian country, and by studying in the influential city-state Singapore where she can fine-tune her English, Truc has more opportunities and a better chance of getting a good job when she returns to Vietnam.

Like my Chinese friend Olivia, Truc is crazy talented, and as a passionate foodie and traveler, she’s previously traveled throughout South East Asia as a travel writer, and never turns down a chance to try somewhere new.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch via email and Facebook with Truc after we worked together in Ho Chi Minh City, and I was thrilled to see she’d emailed me to respond to my recent post about my Chinese friend Olivia and what she thought of the book Lean In. Many of the links are in Vietnamese, but you can figure them out if you use a Google Chrome browser with the built-in translation on.

What I’ve appreciated the most about reading and sharing Lean In are the stories and genuine exchanges shared with friends and family–all over the world. This international exchange has meant a lot to me, and if you’ve gotten something out of this story, I would love it if you could share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter (@GinnyTonkin), or LinkedIn.

A little piece of Truc’s brain.


Ginny oi, how are you doing? Just finished reading “What do women in China think of Facebook coo Sheryl Snadberg’s book Lean In?” Great piece of writing and lots to think about actually. It made me run straight to the keyboard, and yes had to write something to you.

I’ve read some articles recently about women in China who were trying to get married to rich old men by signing up for a “contest” in which they would be interviewed or have to perform some basic skills in housework such as ironing, washing clothes, sewing etc. So is it proving that “Most Chinese women look for money, appearance, a house and a car?” and they’ll try every way to make it become reality? Thinking about that makes me sad. Sad because that society with such a narrow mindset has pushed the women in the maze of doing what people want them to do instead of doing what they love to do, and more importantly “focusing on what’s really inside.”

I’m attaching a link (Sorry this is written in Vietnamese, no English versions) which describes the “contest,” the way young ladies in a part of China take part in the “contest,” and wait to be picked to become wives. I don’t think that’s how a marriage starts off. Are ladies just like items in the market that men can stop by, start to choose the suitable one(s), bargain and then just grab one if the deal is made?While reading all those words in your writing, more or less I’ve found a shadow of Vietnam’s society in which women in the countryside still have to follow the old path of their parents and listen to whatever they tell them to do, getting married at a very young age in particular. Here are some other links. Men from China looking for partners in Vietnam’s countryside.

But it’s not just about marriage, women should be equally treated even in their families, in the workplace and everywhere. They can be primary earners but still, have the right to receive an equal responsibilities and salaries as well. Simply they just deserve it.

Being different is not acceptable as well… in most Asian societies. At school, at work and even worse in the family, it’s hard for others to accept that you’re different, especially if you’re a girl. I mean different in your own way, different but not weird.

When all of this will end and stop negatively influencing the generation nowadays, I don’t know, but I’m giving high hopes that there are still people like you, Olivia and Sheryl (Sorry but I haven’t got a chance to read Lean In, they don’t have it here in Singapore : )) who will be able to keep inspiring people to live their life and and “find the value of love and life.” : )


What is the pollution today in Beijing?


Underneath this happy face mask is a frown; Beijing’s AQI is an unhealthy 200, with unearthly milky white skies. Not a happy camper.

I’ve run out of my usual 3M masks, and this one will have to do in a pinch. This post details what masks are best in Beijing and why (disclaimer: Dr SaintCyr works at the hospital I do, but this is one of the most comprehensive posts on masks I’ve seen).

Biking is one of my favorite things in Beijing, and I’m not going to stop anytime soon. But I’m itching to get a new masks that protects more than this flase smile.