Archive for the ‘Shanghai’ Category

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Shanghai Sacred Places

December 16, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

December is time for the Historic Shanghai Sacred Places tour. We enjoyed seeing a variety of religious buildings – some still in use, some turned into museums, and some repurposed to something completely different. To see all the pictures, 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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Playing Catch Up

November 5, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

I have been terribly remiss in posting to the blog. Procrastination is my forté. So, having looked through my photos to see what we’ve been up to since summer, I find:

  • Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
  • Yuyuan Garden
  • Quixia Garden
  • Soong Ching Ling home
  • A weekend in Tokyo

large jellyfish

In early August, we went to the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. We got there in the early afternoon and found that there was a very long ticket line. It is open until 9 pm, so we decided to come back later to see if the line would be shorter. Unfortunately, we decided to go to the nearby shopping mall and see a movie in the cinema there. We ended up seeing Time Raiders in 3D on the IMAX screen. The movie itself was horrifically bad. The sound was brain bruisingly loud. 3D always gives me a headache. I was so glad to get out of there alive.

Back to the aquarium, the line was very short by the time we returned, so we went in and found it very pleasant, since there were very few other people there and we could enjoy the exhibits at our leisure. If you want to see all the pictures, click here.

tree framed by a window

In September, we visited Yuyuan Garden for a second time. This time we were with Historic Shanghai and had a knowledgable guide (author of The Classical Gardens of Shanghai) to tell us about the history and symbolism of the garden. Despite the fact that the garden is surrounded by bustling city and crowded tourist shopping, it is amazingly peaceful. To see all the pictures, click here.

Chinese garden wall with vase shaped doorway

In October, we visited the Quixia Garden in Jaiding. We had seen it from the outside on our previous visit to Jaiding. It is a combination of a Daoist temple and three private gardens that were donated to the temple and united into one. It is quite beautiful and was very peaceful. Chinese gardens are not really about plants. They are an effort to bring the mountains (where the gods live) into man’s living space. Therefore, the garden design is more about the structures built and not the plants. Plants are an afterthought. However, this garden has far more foliage than most. To see all the pictures, click here.

framed picture of Soong Ching Ling

Also in October, we visited the museum in the former residence of Soong Ching Ling. If your knowledge of Chinese history is as sketchy as mine was before coming to the country, Soong Ching Ling was one of three sisters who were married to prominent and powerful men – Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Kai-shek, and H.H. Kung. Soon Ching Ling is called the mother of modern China. She was a highly educated and strong woman. To see all the pictures, click here.

Tokyo street

In mid-October, we made a quick weekend rip to Tokyo to crash the vacation of our dear friends Mali and Zarina. It’s hard to do or see much in two days, but here’s what I learned about Tokyo. It is very clean, although public garbage cans are few and far between. Drivers actually drive in the lanes and obey traffic rules. No one jay walks. No one runs red lights, so it is safe to cross the road. It is amazingly quiet, despite the large population.People are very polite. I had the best airport experience, ever. We had a great time being with M & Z. You can see the pictures here.

There. All caught up. I’ll be in Beijing for two days this week, but it is for work and not touristy pleasure, so I doubt there will be much of interest to share about that. Our next travel plan is to head to the U.K. for Christmas. Looking forward to the cold weather, shopping for sweaters (or jumpers, as they say), and visiting another dear friend.

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Parenting

September 25, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Witnessed this morning, Shanghai, China –

A little girl entered the restaurant, looked around, said “Momma!” and immediately began to cry and call out “Momma! Momma!” when she didn’t see Momma. The waitress tried to help her, but this just increased the volume of the crying. Daddy enters to save the day. He calms his daughter and picks her up. THEN he says, “would you like me to show you how to find Momma?” He takes her to the part of the restaurant where Momma and little brother are. It doesn’t end there, though. He carries his daughter back to the restaurant entrance pointing out things to her along the way. He takes her out the door. Then they re-enter and walk the path to Momma again. I am so impressed at the skills he is teaching her instead of just pacifying her and satisfying her need for Momma.

Travel back with me to 2014 on the beach of Fujairah, U.A.E. –

There is (was) a park along the beach in Fujairah where families go in the evening. I would say “to get away from the heat,” but there is no such thing as getting away from the heat. We were sitting in the park enjoying a cup of tea. There was a young family nearby. Father, mother and four young children. The mother spoke to her young daughter who did not immediately respond. The mother reached over, grabbed a handful of her daughter’s hair and pulled her close. I had to take a deep breath to keep my head from exploding. I wish I could have interceded for this little girl, but when you are in a country where a disagreement with a citizen can end in jail and deportation, it just is not an option. I did, however, think about my students. Maybe this was why they were so uncooperative and noncompliant. They might be used to being forced to comply instead of being taught to respect their parents or elders.

Big conclusions cannot be drawn from these two stories. It is not fair to paint entire cultures by two individual observations. But this morning I could say, “wow, what a good idea,” and two years ago I thought “wow, what bad family dynamics.”

I do not have a relevant picture to go with this, so here is a totally irrelevant one. The internet needs more cat pictures.

cat bathing in Chinese garden

 

 

 

 

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Catching Up – Lazy Blogger

December 19, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

I have been terribly lazy about posting our adventures. So, I will try to catch you up on the last 2 1/2 months.

ballroom set with formal dining tables

We went to a fancy dinner held during the World Congress on Art Deco at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. Everything was lovely. The food was based on a menu from the 1920’s. Everyone was dressed up.

blue Nanjing metro token

We took a quick weekend trip to Nanjing.

two cats, one white, one tabby & white

Where we met Oliver’s and Bert’s doppelgängers.

statue of Sun Yat Sen

Sun Yat Sen

We spent the day trying to see as much as we could of the Presidential Palace grounds. It is amazing as it contains structures from hundreds of years exemplifying the different styles from the Ming Dynasty to the Republic.

small lake surrounded by Ming dynasty buildings

Ming Dynasty

yellow building with a colonade

Republic – Provisional Presidential Office

This brings us to December. We went on an Historic Shanghai tour of religious buildings, including Daoist temple, Buddhist temple, Islamic mosque, Jewish synagogue, Catholic cathedral, Anglican church, and Protestant church. You may be surprised that these buildings still exist after the Cultural Revolution. Worship was disallowed during that time, but the buildings were kept and repurposed (as storage facilities or factories). Now, the five major religions are allowed to worship (although proselytizing is not allowed). So, the churches have been refurbished and are currently in use.

front of a Jesuit Catholic church

Cathedral of Tungkadoo

inside of the Grace Church

Grace Church

At Grace Church the choir was practicing. They were singing the Hallelujah Chorus in Chinese. No matter what the language, this song brings tears to my eyes.

8 large Christmas trees in the hotel lobby

The tour ended with walking down the Bund to see the Christmas decorations. The Astoria Waldorf had 8 huge trees in their lobby. (Real evergreens, not artificial.)

So, this brings you up to date. We are about to embark on a nine day trip to Xian, the home of the Terracotta Army and the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

To see all the pictures from Nanjing – click here.

To see all the pictures from the tour of religious buildings – click here. The pictures are a bit out of order because I was using multiple cameras.

 

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Traveling the World Within China

September 29, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

You may have heard of the “ghost towns” of Shanghai. These are suburban developments with European themes that have not necessarily been big successes. We visited Thames Town a while back and found it very interesting and charming. It was also not a “ghost town.” It was clear that there were people living there and businesses operating.

We recently visited Holland Village in northern Pudong, although it wasn’t our intention to do so. We were headed to a music festival to hear Ajinai, a Mongolian folk rock band that we love. We were running late, caught a taxi, showed him the address of where we wanted to go (in Chinese), he said “ok,” we got in and he began to drive — THEN he motions that he wants us to call someone who can tell him where to go. There isn’t anyone we can call to give him directions in Chinese. Thus began the worst taxi ride we have had. He was a terrible driver, weaving all over as if he couldn’t keep the car in the lane. I came very close to telling him to pull over so that we could get out, because I didn’t want to die in this taxi.  He also chose the worst possible route, driving through the heart of the city instead of taking the outer ring elevated road. So, the trip that should have taken 40 minutes took 1 1/2 hours. He then drove right past the destination. We got him to pull over to a bus stop so we could get out and kiss the ground. (I kid. We didn’t, but we heaved a sigh of relief at still being alive.)

During this 1 1/2 hour ride we came up with a Plan B, because it was obvious that we weren’t going to see Ajinai that day. Holland Village, one of the 8 or 9 “ghost towns” was not far away and we plan to visit as many of them as we can, so we hopped on a bus and traveled north to find Holland Village.

New Holland coat of arms on a two story restaurant building

We took a stroll down the street.

Dutch style buidings

Crossed the draw bridge to the island in the river where there is a non-functioning windmill.

a Dutch style windmill

We walked back to the restaurant and had a lovely dinner. A rather pleasant day, despite how it began. We took the bus back to the metro and the metro back home.

To see all the pictures click here.

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Tailor Made, Part Two

June 7, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

man in black linen Chinese tunic

We went back to the South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market to pick up DaddyBird’s new shirts. He looks very dapper in the black linen traditional Chinese tunic.

entrance to the mall

Across the street from the South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market is the Shanghai Zhongfu Soft-Spinning Material Mall. I was curious to see how they compare. So, in we went.

hallway lined with clothing shops but no customers

Compared to the hustle and bustle of the South Bund market, this was the opposite end of the spectrum. Very few customers. Much more pleasant to walk down the aisles without having your personal space violated constantly. The clothes of the first floor were quite formal – tuxes, gowns, suits, traditional Chinese dresses (qipao).

Chinese restaurant

Next, it was time to eat, so we just dropped in here.

menu showing "slobber beef"

The menu English translations were quite entertaining. So, we ordered some “slobber beef.” The Chinese characters are “mouth water beef meat.” We suspect that it was tongue or maybe it is just mouth wateringly good beef. (Also pictured – jellyfish in vinegar, fried jellyfish, a chicken goose, local guild roast duck, wine ??? little yellow croaker)

"cuts the mutton in vain"

“Cuts the mutton in vain”

"the palace explodes the shrimp ball"

“The palace explodes the shrimp ball”

"grandmother red-roasted pork"

“Grandmother red-roasted pork”

"the salty egg yolk stir fries before stewing the taro"

“The salty egg yolk stir fries before stewing the taro”

set of dishes wrapped in plastic

When we approached the restaurant I noticed that there were plastic crates of dirty dishes on the sidewalk. The dish sets come like this on the table. I assume this means that instead of washing the dishes in house, they use a service that picks up the dirty dishes and delivers clean sets all wrapped up in plastic and ready to go. We have seen this at other restaurants as well.

landscape painting of autumn forest and river

Over our table was a painting with “happy trees.”

dishes, two beer large bottles

A couple of tall beers and we are ready for the slobber beef.

plate of buns and mixed meat and vegetables

First to arrive was the “pork burgers.”

bun turned over showing the hollow underside

We are not certain how to eat this, but we decided the most likely plan of action was to fill the hollow underside of the bun with the meat and veggies. The buns are different colors due to slightly different ingredients, but the taste was not significantly different.

two dishes, one of salted egg taro and the other of beef

Then came the slobber beef and the salted egg taro. The slobber beef turned out to be wickedly spicy, so I used the rather bland taro to put out the fire on my tongue.