Archive for the ‘China’ Category

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Spring Break

April 8, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

white blossoming tree

Normally we travel during spring break. We had planned to stay in Shanghai and explore some more of the many historical sites here. However, there was a death in the family that necessitated DaddyBird taking a flight to the states. I would have gone, too, had it not been for the fact I was in the midst of food poisoning. I stayed home to recover and to cat-sit.

white cat and tabby cat

Cat sitting can involve the neighborhood strays, too.

a white cat and an orange tabby

This is Smudge and Zippy. I usually feed them on my way to work each morning.

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This is Scamp. I usually run into her on the way home. She doesn’t care much for being petted. Last time, she didn’t seem very hungry or interested in eating, but she rolled over to show me her tummy. However, she didn’t want it rubbed much. She is a tease.

a beige corgy mix dog

This is The Dog. I don’t know what it’s name is. It belongs to a member of the apartment staff. It runs around the compound unattended and is the bane of my existence. It wants to play with the stray cats, or chase them if they will run, but the cats are not too excited about that. I suppose it is cute, for a dog, but I have never been a dog person.

My big adventure this week was going to the US Consulate to renew my passport. The website has all the information and forms one needs and if one reads all the instructions and has everything prepared, it goes quickly and easily. It is a bit astonishing to witness people who did not read those instructions, whether it is the guy at the door that did not make an appointment and cannot get in or the guy who did not bring a photo or does not know his China address. He, of course, is in a big hurry and is stressed out.

I encountered this fun statue in a pleasant little park.

historical building combining Western and Chinese style

A quick photo taken out the rainy taxi window of the Chinese YMCA building, one of my favorites. It was built in 1934 and combines Western and Chinese style.

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Guyi Garden Tour

March 19, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Chinese garden, building structure on the edge of a lake

We visited Guyi garden in February two years ago. We went again this month with a Historic Shanghai group, guided by Shelly Bryant who has researched the classic gardens of Shanghai and published a book on them.

Garden entrance with people posing in front of bamboo crane sculptures

The three main symbols in this garden are bamboo, cranes, and plum blossoms.

a pink blooming plum tree

The gardens are full of symbolism in the buildings, the walkways, and the artwork. I see something new every time. The gardens are peaceful and beautiful. They are meant to be used for music, dance, art, and poetry.

To see all the 2017 pictures – click here.
To see the 2015 pictures – click here.

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Friday Market

February 26, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

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Just around the corner from a beautiful little mosque, is the Friday Muslim street market.

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meat on skewers near a coal fired grill

We found great food. Plenty of lamb and beef, as well as breads and pastries.

fried noodles, cake, bread twists

While standing in line for some “lung and sausage” this man noticed DaddyBird standing next in line, reached over and patted DaddyBird on the stomach and then gestured to his own stomach. The comradery of portly men, apparently.

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So, first his wife took pictures of the two men, but that wasn’t enough, so I ended up taking pictures of all three with their camera and my camera.

We ate some lovely meat filled buns, but the “food adventure” of the day was eating lung. It looks like white cheese. It has a soft texture. It is not something that I would want to eat often, but it is not as weird as it sounds.

We went home to drop off our purchases and then headed out again to go to the Joy City mall where there is a large ferris wheel on top of the building.

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Here is a bird’s eye view of the intersection below and the elevated walkway around it.

large city intersection seen from above

There is an old neighborhood next to the mall that is being demolished. This sometimes takes years because the residents refuse to leave and try to negotiate better compensation for the loss of their homes.

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The missing roofs give you a peek inside.

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For additional Friday market pictures – click here
For additional mall pictures – click here

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Chinese New Year!

January 31, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Our experience of Chinese New Year in Shanghai (2015) involved an amazing amount of fireworks. It started about a week or so before the actual date and kept right on going for another week or so after. The actual eve of the New Year the fireworks sounded like a war zone and went on for at least an hour. Fireworks were invented in China, as you may know, and they are  integral to Chinese culture. Fireworks are used to celebrate everything, all year round. It is not like it is in the States where there are very limited types of fireworks that are available to the public and they are only sold for a limited time prior to the 4th of July. The fireworks sold to the Chinese public are big ones that shoot up into the air and make a great deal of noise.

Click here for video from 2015 (Be forewarned, it is loud.)

Unfortunately, during the Gregorian calendar New Year’s celebration 2016, many people were killed and injured in a crowd incident. As a result, fireworks are now banned in most of Shanghai, even for New Year. It has been a very quiet year. Therefore, this year we traveled up to Jaiding which is outside the banned zone to see some fireworks.

There is another tradition, a very long television show. I do not know exactly what time the show starts, but it runs right up to midnight. We watched several hours of it. It involves a variety of performances – singing, dancing, comedians, and skits. Some of the grander performances are done on location in various cities – Harbing, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. It was quite spectacular and interesting even though we do not understand a word.

The next morning we went into the center of old town Jaiding to the Daoist temple and Quixia ancient garden. We arrived in the afternoon. It appeared that we missed the crowds who had been there earlier to make prayers and offerings to start the year off right.

We spent a little time in the garden and checked on the kittens we had seen four months ago on our previous visit.

Not a lot has changed except size.

One of the greatest features of Chinese gardens, in my opinion, are the cave structures. I am very jealous of the kids who grew up in playing in these gardens and caves.

I made Daddybird watch my bag while I walked through. A young family with a little boy came along and debated whether to go through. The boy wanted to do it, but was unsure, so Daddybird encouraged them to go. Carpe diem! The boy came back by and said “thank you.”

We called it a day, took the bus to the metro station and then home.

To see all pictures, click here. To review our previous visit to the garden to compare foliage and cats, click here.

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So Rude!

December 11, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Rudeness is a topic that has been ruminating in the back of my mind for a while. Having lived outside my home country for 8 years now, I endeavor to avoid using the word “rude.” Unfortunately, it is a frequently used complaint by expats and vacationers.

I recently watched a Youtube video by a young Irish woman who had a terrible vacation experience in China. I’m a little surprised that I was able to watch the whole thing because she was painting all Chinese people and the whole country with a broad brush based on her bad experience. I think her accent helped make the story palatable. That, and watching her wretch in reaction to the habit of spitting. As the story (rant) went on, it became more and more humorous. I am not posting a link here because I don’t think she really deserves more views.

She did have a truly unpleasant vacation experience and the company that arranged her travel and hotel ripped her off and she did not get her money’s worth. However, that doesn’t mean it is okay to say all Chinese people are rude, cheating, etc.

Rudeness is a culturally defined concept. What is rude to one culture is expected or overlooked in another. Expecting your cultural standards in another country is both stupid and, let’s face it, rude.

The unwritten rule in China (urban China) seems to be “keep moving.” For example, cars rarely stop, slow down, or wait. If the car in front of them stops or slows down, they drive around it. If there is a pedestrian in the cross walk, they drive around the person rather than stop and wait. Scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles do not stop for red lights. They just blow through the intersection, pedestrians and oncoming traffic be damned. In terms of pedestrians, the keep moving rule applies there, too. A crowd funneling into an escalator just keeps taking little steps and pressing forward and eventually everyone gets on. People getting onto a train or into an elevator don’t wait for people to get off. Keep moving!

I was waiting for an elevator once with a mother who had a stroller and a middle aged Chinese man. When the elevator came, I moved forward based on my American culture of “ladies and old people first” and the Chinese man moved forward based on his cultural rule. We squeezed in simultaneously. We exited the same way. The mother with stroller could probably call us both rude.

I could gripe constantly about the “keep moving” practice, especially the scooters, but that just wears at the soul. (If I do go off the deep end, it will probably be because of the scooters.) The “that’s so rude!” attitude isn’t constructive. On the bright side, when we return to California (famous for bad driving) we get to look around, pleasantly surprised, and say “the driving here is so considerate!” It’s all relative.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkangayayaroo%2Fvideos%2Fvb.186200120%2F552899724223%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

Update:

front loader tractor on city street

I see your rural tractor and raise you an urban front loader.

 

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More Big Bus Tour

July 7, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

makeshift restaurant in an alleyway

We got up late, so our first meal was more of a lunch. We picked this alleyway eatery just a block from our hotel. The waitress didn’t seem too happy about serving foreigners, but it worked out.

view from a ferry boat in Victoria Harbour

We crossed the harbor on the ferry in order to take yet another Big Bus tour, the blue line this time which traverses the Kowloon part of town.

long subterranean tunnel for pedestrians

A word about using the metro train system in Hong Kong — be prepared to walk, a lot. After finishing the blue line tour, we needed to get back to the other side of the harbor and foolishly thought it would be easier to take the metro than to walk back to the pier and take the ferry. Unfortunately, the metro system required a long long goose chase walk through underground tunnels. Would have been shorter to walk to the pier.

toy boxes, one of which is a Star Wart version of the Millennium Falcon

We also took the Big Bus night tour. We got off at the night market stop and walked through the night market. It was mostly disappointing and nothing we would want to buy. Although, the Star Wart Millennium Falcon was tempting (we also saw a Star Wnrt version). It would not fit in our suitcases, so we skipped it. We can probably find this in Shanghai anyway.

sweet and sour pork with pineapple and onions

So, after another metro ride back to the island side of Hong Kong, we stopped into a restaurant close to our hotel and had a third meal. This is the sweet and sour pork, which we technically did not order, but it was very good.

Friday is our last day and will be mainly packing and getting to the airport. So, to sum up our Hong Kong experience and advice:

  • Come when it is cooler, not in the miserable summer months.
  • Be prepared to walk and walk and walk, sometimes at a steep angle.
  • The Big Bus red and green line tours are worth it, but skip the blue line and the night tour.
  • Eating can be very expensive unless you head for the alleys and eat at the scroungy looking places where locals are eating.
  • The Butterfly Hotel on Wellington is a good choice.

See all the pictures here.

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Big Bus Tour

July 6, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

bamboo steam baskets full of dim sum buns

We started our day with breakfast at a dim sum restaurant just down the street from our hotel. A tasty and a fun adventure. About half-way through our meal a family sat down at our table. It was a local family with a teen daughter and her caucasian friend. It was fun to watch them tell her how to make tea. As you can see from the picture above, we were given a teapot. This is not the local way. The covered dish (gaiwan) in the upper left corner of the picture is used to make tea. It is filled with loose tea leaves and water. The first tea is poured out as it is thought to be too bitter (and possibly other ceremonial reasons). The father showed her exactly how to hold the gaiwan with the lid tipped to pour the tea into her cup. The first tea is poured out into the larger bowl (center top of the picture) and then the waiter has to come back to pour more hot water into the gaiwan. The waiters at this restaurant were quick and sloppy, so it wasn’t long until the table was wet.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Next we went down to the waterfront to get on the Big Red Bus tour. As you can see it was a sunny day. Later it was the exact opposite.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel and heavy rain

We took the Green Line route first which took us to the opposite side of the island to Repulse Bay, Stanley, and Aberdeen. We got off at Stanley to do some touristy shopping and have a little snack. When we got back on the bus, the lower level was full, so we had to go up to the top deck (which is uncovered and not air conditioned. It was extremely hot while we were at Stanley (I have a sunburn to prove it), so we weren’t too happy to be going up top. However, it started to rain, no, I mean RAIN, as soon as we got up there. That took the temperature right down, which was nice. It did make it difficult to see much or take pictures, though.

vehicle windshield obscured by rain

At the end of this tour, we took a short break and then got on the Red Line bus for more.

You can see all the pictures here. I hope you like looking at sky scrapers.