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The Greatest Mystery of the East

I read somewhere that the people of Shanghai, China are 3rd on the list for best longevity.  That is to say they outlive all the other cities except 3.  The average age of dying here is something like 86.  Now I am not 100% sure of all my facts, so one of my incredibly smart children will look this up on Wikipedia so they can have the pleasure of correcting their dad.  But seriously, there is some truth to this.  Can it be their diet?  They eat a lot of rice, is that filled with good cholesterol?  How about all the green tea that they drink.  It’s loaded with cancer preventing anti-oxidents, right?  Or maybe it’s the fact they very small amounts of meat and limit their protein intake.  Vegetarians live healthier and longer, right?  OK Krisztine, you can stop clapping and cheering!  Let’s take a second to talk about our week-end and we will return to this topic.

KIm and I went exploring this week-end.  However, we went exploring with a difference.  We stayed pretty much in our own neighbourhood and just went walking. Sometimes the biggest rewards in your life are right in your own backyard.  So we set out Saturday morning and instead of taking a death defying cab ride to the French Concession or to the Fake Mall, we stepped out of our apartment and crossed the street, which doubles on the week-ends as an Nascar race track for crazy cab drivers, and we started down the street in search of something interesting.  

The first noteworthy item, was a car getting towed.  Yes, it was the regular flat bed tow truck putting the family car on the back.  I’m sure you have seen this before.  The truck pulls up in front of the car and the flat bed lifts up on hydraulics. The broken down car is hitch up and pulled onto the flatbed.  The flatbed then returns to the correct position and the car is 4 ft above traffic on the back of the truck.  The interesting thing here is that when we watched the tow truck pull away, the family was still inside the car, riding up high above the traffic.  Mom, Dad, Little Brittany and Skipper too.  I’m not sure, but Lulu the dog may have been in the car as well.  We were amazed!

Next we came across a cyclist.  Now riding a bicycle is as common as the head on a shrimp in a Shanghai restaurant.  However, they also use the bicycle for a number of businesses.  I once saw a bike transporting about 8 birdcages, all filled with birds.  Another cyclist was carrying a large tool kit and about 8 TV satellite dishes.  Where does this end?  Well today we had a special treat.  We saw a cyclist who was clearly in the recycling business.  His load was 4 feet long and about 4 feet wide and was easily about 8 feet higher than the ground.  There was no way he could see what was behind him, so changing lanes was an act of faith beyond anyone’s imagination. Now, you might wonder, “Wouldn’t that load be a little light on the top and possibly be blown off in the wind?”  Well my fellow bloggers, the answer is no.  Perched on top of the recycled cardboard was a young man who was hanging on and balancing as his friend cycled through the busy streets of Shanghai.  The acrobats in the Chinese Circus could not have pulled this off.  It was a feat of balance and concentration that you had to see to believe.  I apologize we have no photos of this, but we have vowed to carry our camera with us at all times from now on, in the extreme hope we will see this man again, God willing, providing he actually made it to his destination the last time we saw him.    

Crazy taxi rides, crossing the busy streets, riding on the backs of tow trucks and performing a balancing act on top of a bicycle carrying an 8 ft tall stack of recycled cardboard.  Here we are out for a Saturday walk and we see these death defying stunts!  Which brings us back to the topic of today’s blog.  The Greatest Mystery of the East.  How can the people of Shanghai live to the average age of 86 when they are doing stuff like this all the time?????  And on top of that they smoke like crazy!!!!  I am thinking that these wonderful and friendly people have a cultural gift of universal luck.  It seems to follow them wherever they go.  We are really starting to enjoy our lives here as we cross at non controlled intersections at eat our rice with vegetables for breakfast.  To a long and interesting life!  

**Author’s note**  Everything in this blog is true, including eating rice and veggies for breakfast.


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