Umpiring in Beijing in 1999 at the Li Ning China Open was Marc’s first taste of Asia. He was the only non Chinese umpire that year, and was quite surprised at the amount of TV coverage that “Ma Ke” from “Jiānádà” generated. He certainly had never been asked for autographs before !!!
The highlight of the trip though, was meeting with fellow umpire (and tour guide / translator) Zhao Xiamao. Marc and Xiaomao became great friends, and Xiamao and his wife came for a visit to Canada a few years later.
Fast forward to 2007, and Marc was invited back to umpire at the Olympic Test Event. This time, there were plenty of foreign umpires, but Xiaomao was still there, and this time he met Deanna, who had come for her first taste of Asian experience.
We had an amazing time, taking in the Great Wall of China, discovering parts of Beijing we would have never found if it wasn’t for Xiaomao, enjoying restaurants and meals only he could find and order from. He also took us shopping to the Silk Market, where he helped us get real bargains, but we realized too late we should have REALLY stocked up on silk ties and clothing …