About Soo

In the picture above, I’m the first kid on the left, squinting into the sun with my home trimmed rice bowl hair cut and attitude. Even then, I was trying to convey my thoughts.

My family, like any other immigrant family, has stories to tell. My father and mother were born in southern China in the early 1900s. They were from the Hoi-San district, in the “country.” They had an arranged marriage and it lasted over fifty years.

My father once told me that when he was young, around 13, I think, he was given a camera. He loved that camera. Years later, that love brought a nicer camera with him when he was drafted into the United States army. I must have picked up my father’s love of photography because it’s very difficult to not stop and take photos of everything, from colorful festivals to the shadow cast by an empty potato chip bag.

BaBa and his camera went everywhere!
BaBa and his camera went everywhere!

I became a Christian through my mother’s consistency in taking us to church. BaBa placed a ceramic buddha with happy children hanging onto him in their bedroom, but MaMa enjoyed the friendships of other Chinese women who attended the chapel in our neighborhood.

MaMa once told me she was grateful that her parents didn’t drown her at birth. She was the firstborn and boys were much preferred. She remembered when BaBa’s mother came to meet her. The woman wanted to inspect her teeth and see if she would be an acceptable bride for BaBa. MaMa was frightened and ran off and the older woman had to come back another day. After they married, my parents moved into a separate floor of BaBa’s father’s home. His older brother’s family lived on another floor.

MaMa and the sister we never knew.
MaMa and the sister we never knew.

Years later, BaBa’s father was in America and sent for him. My father was working in the family restaurant and before he knew it, he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen and drafted into the army. It seemed that Chinese were considered “cook” material because my father had many Chinese friends with him in the kitchen.

Once his tour of duty was completed, my father re-enlisted as aircraft support crew with the 1st American Volunteer Group, AKA the Flying Tigers. He served in the then U.S. 14th Air Service Group, 407th Supply and Service Unit. He needed a way to get back to China. The Japanese were advancing and people were fleeing. My mother had left the countryside for Hong Kong with their young daughter, the sister I never knew. My sister became seriously ill. All of the medical services groups had left Hong Kong.  She, sadly, did not survive.

My father traveled to Hong Kong and brought MaMa back to Shanghai. If BaBa had not re-enlisted to be stationed in Shanghai, I and my siblings woud not be here! They stayed there until Baba was honorably discharged. My oldest brother was born during that time. He was born at the U.S. medical facility, automatically becoming an American citizen.

The rest of the children were born in the states. When people meet me and comment that I speak English quite well, I explain that I’m American born and admit that I struggle with my Chinese dialect. It is truly a blessing to be raised in the United States of America and I am so, so appreciative of the life God has given me.

17 replies on “About Soo”

It was a pleasure meeting you recently on the train ride. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the wonderful work!


Hi Soo
It was a pleasure to meet you in Guatemala. It was on Jan. 27/14. You were on the horse and I had 2 hats. We are back home now and I am sorting out email addresses. I like your blog but I only see it until mid January. I will log in again in the future to look for more.


That’s “Princess” to you! You called me that for riding a horse before I told you I was still taking meds for an upper respiratory infection and didn’t have the strength! The ash residue from Volcan Pacaya’s eruption the week before wasn’t helping either. I apologize for the slow postings. Came back late March and am also sorting – through thoughts, photos and videos to share. You & Jadwiga will be featured in a later post!


Hi Soo, This is JoAnn Pickering. We met on the La Paz Waterfall tour in Costa Rica. So glad to be a new follower of your blog. I’m wondering if you happen to have the email address for our tour buddy Karin from Stuttgart, Germany? Something spilled on the paper where I had it written and now it is eligible! I took some cute pictures of her that I know she wants to see. Thanks for helping me out if you can. Happy traveling, JoAnn


Hola, JoAnn! You’re the bubbly blonde who held my wind breaker while I went 250 steps down to take a photo of three waterfalls together. We’re overlooking the beach as we enjoy dinner in Ometepe, Nicaragua. Will search for your email or mail Karin to contact you. We’ve already corresponded. It was great spending time with you. Thank you so much for following me!


Soo, thanks for your wonderful and precious blogs on your travels; I greatly enjoyed reading your adventures onboard the Carnival Magic. We appreciated you and your husband sailing with us!

Yours in Christ Jesus our Lord & Saviour,

Jeremy Yam

ps. sorry I’m currently having issues with my jamsta email. My current email is jeremy_yam@hotmail.com if you’d like to stay in touch! 🙂


Your writing is so peaceful and the story of your family’s life impressed me very much. Your mother saying that she ” is happy that her parents didn’t drown her at birth” made me think how nice it is when people appreciate life. God bless you and your family.


Thank you and blessings to your family too! Your blog is a gorgeous view of the world. I loved the shot of a swan nesting on a colorful, messy pile of trash, showing how beauty can be found anywhere.


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