Well, after only one month of school, we got a week off for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We had planned to take a few days and go to Beijing, but as you can see from the picture we posted(from a newsfeed), we made the right choice to stick around and enjoy Shanghai. We had great weather, braved crowds like I have never seen before, and just generally hung around and played tourist. On Sunday, we went and spent the day at The Bund, walking up and down admiring the sights – apparently we were one of the sights to see as we got our picture taken quite often. Some of them were up front about it, so we joined in with their families and friends, and others tried to pretend they were taking a picture of the scenery, so Bruce caught them and insisted that they get in the picture too! We were approached by two women who wanted to take us for a tea tasting, down a long somewhat dark alley….Bruce luckily said we had to meet friends and politely declined their offer. Their English was very good, and they sounded very nice, but we later found out that they are “working”, getting tourists to come with them and have some tea, and then they excuse themselves and go to the bathroom. Then the unsuspecting tourist is met by their boss who produces a whopping bill for all of the “tea” you drank, and you have to pay. The friendly Chinese women are nowhere to be seen, off to find some other people to deceive. Dodged that bullet! However, we went for lunch at a hotel cafe where we had two sandwiches and shared a bottle of water (750ml). Got the bill and they charged us 95 Chinese dollars (just for the water!) – which is almost $20 Cdn! We had already finished it, so we paid it. When we asked the waitress about it, she couldn’t even look at us, she was so embarrassed. Geez, dodged one bullet but took another! Sunday was also the day we saw so many people walking along the streets that they had to bring out every available policeman, and truckload after truckload of army personnel. It was kind of scary, because we didn’t really know what was going on. There have been many protests about the island the Chinese and Japanese are fighting over, so we thought that maybe that had something to do with it. In reality, they were only there for crowd control! The amy guys lined the streets and the crosswalks to ensure that no one got hit by a car, basically forming a human gate to get the crowds through. The policemen stood on every corner, watching for cars and closing some streets, and there were so many people that they actually closed one of the subway stations because it couldn’t handle the capacity of the crowds. Bruce and I locked hands and never let go for an instant or we would lose each other immediately! Who knew that so many people would be down there at once?? We walked for a long time, finally reaching the next subway station to get ourselves home! Exciting but a little scary to be in a crowd that size!
The next day was an errand day, getting a few groceries and just relaxing. Tuesday, we met up with one of our teachers and his wife, who is Chinese. They came with us to help me buy my camera, and we got a great deal! Now I just have to figure out how to use it! I got a Nikon D3200 DSLR, and downloaded the manual. Only 210 pages! Each night I try to read a little more so that it looks like I know what I am doing!
On Wednesday, Brent and his wife, Wen Juan, joined us for a day at the Shanghai Zoo. Although I am not a fan of zoos, people told us it was a beautiful place and that we should go to at least see the pandas. Well, apparently half of Shanghai decided to go that day too! It was just crazy in some places. Some of the animals have great enclosures, with grass and trees, but really, most of them are in small cages with cement flooring and hardly any greenery. It was actually kind of a sad day for us all, as so many people ignore the zookeepers and the signs advising people not to feed the animals. I actually stopped a girl from trying to feed pizza to the red pandas, and Brent told a father to stop feeding food to another animal. The man told Brent that it was good to feed them because “then they would grow to be big and strong like us”. They seem to have no clue that feeding the animals would hurt them more than help them. At one point, people were throwing water bottles at the sleeping lion to make him raise his head. These poor animals looked so sad, under-nourished and neglected. The hippo pool was full of garbage, as was the alligator pond. I was filled with such a sense of sadness that I doubt that I will ever go back to a zoo again. We have pictures posted on facebook if you want to see some of the animals, although our one picture of the Giant Pandas was taken through a window, and I was tossed around in the crowd as if I was in a washing machine! It was worse than being in a mosh pit at a concert!
Thursday we went back to The Bund to go to the fabric markets, and we also went to a street that is pretty much dedicated to music stores. Bruce got his fix playing all the pianos and guitars and finding out about renting an instrument for our time here. He is going through withdrawal not having an instrument to play so enjoying an entire street of music made him very happy! I’m pretty sure I could have left him there for the whole day! At the fabric markets, you can get any type of clothing made that you want. You just have to make sure that the place is reputable and that they have good seamstresses. Luckily, we have some friends who have already done this, so their recommendations will come in handy when we are ready to get some things made. I can not find shoes/boots to fit me, since I have giant western feet, so hopefully next weekend I can go and get the ball rolling! Bruce is getting very good at bargaining, so I won’t go without him. I’m basically suckered in when they look sad!
Friday we met some other principals and teachers and went for a delicious Thai dinner. I think Thai is becoming my favourite food here, since they cook with so much more flavour than cantonese style food. I could eat Thai everyday! Saturday was another errand day, as we are on the hunt for a few essentials – a can opener, for one! I mistakenly bought a can of beans to make chili, not realizing that we didn’t even own a can opener. Thank goodness we had a screwdriver and a hammer, because that’s what Bruce used to get it open! That’s my guy!
Here we are at the end of the week already, getting ready for school tomorrow. That 6am alarm is going to kill me, I’m sure! Today is laundry and, of course, our weekly foot rub and massage. No matter what is going on, we always make time for it! I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We are thankful that we have all of you as friends and family to support us in this adventure! Until next time!