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June Already!

Hi All!

Well, I can’t believe that it is June already! May went by so fast I am not even sure it was here. However, it was a bit of a rainy month, so that is probably why it didn’t seem to register on me! We are finally into some nice sunny weather again, although the humidity goes up and down all the time, so you never really know what it is like outside. I pretty much sit under a blanket with the A/C on inside, and then sweat to death when we go outside!

We have been quite busy with school this past little while. We have new students wanting to attend our school next year, as well as some new grade elevens coming in from a school that unfortunately shut down. These poor students can only try to get into another BC program, or find a Chinese school that will take them – but they would have to repeat grade 10, since there would be no English component for them. A little stressful for all involved, but they were a nice group. We also had to work this past Saturday, interviewing the potential new grade ten students.  We worked with another BC school so that we could be sure of how many new students we could expect for the fall. It was interesting meeting the new kids – some of them had a very good grasp of the English language, and some of them struggled a bit.  We will know more when all of their results are tabulated. We have only 2 more weeks of regular school, and then we are into exams and admin duties to work on. It’s going by so fast!

I am making a pizza/pasta lunch for our classes next weekend – we have to work Sunday – as these kids have the worst lunches I have ever smelled! The lunches are provided by the school, but they are charged for them everyday. No one likes the lunches but they have no other choice. A couple of students bring lunch from home, but they get into trouble if it gets found out by the staff! Some days, the smell is so bad that I have to cover my nose as I walk through the hallways! Something like burned cabbage…..no wonder they are so excited to eat western food! It should be interesting, since I am making lunch for 20 people on 2 different days! Oh well, it will be fun!

We finally made it to the Jing’an Temple on Sunday. It is actually very close to us, but each time we planned to go, it was raining or something else came up and we ran out of time. It is quite beautiful, and hard to believe it is right in the middle of the city, next to the skyscrapers and traffic!ImageWe spent about an hour inside, so here are a few more pictures. The carvings in the marble, wood and stone were amazing!

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ImageImageImageImageAfter the temple, we went exploring in the area around it, and ended up finding Cantina Agave, a Mexican restaurant that I had always wanted to visit. We sat outside and enjoyed a margarita(for me) and a pina colada(for Bruce) and shared a plate of nachos. It was so good! Bruce took a picture of me holding my drink, but I will not be posting that one! Let’s just say I look a little TOO relaxed – and I was only half done! Delicious and a great day!

We came back to our part of town and went for our weekly massage. I truly do not know how I will survive without them when we get home. I will have to do some research and see what I can find. First thing on my list!

Well, you have all read about our adventures with the Tower of Terror. We had a little bit of time where it seemed to be working just fine. One day, however, I got in and pressed the button for our floor……and it just stayed put. The screen showed the first floor, and no matter how many buttons I pushed, it wouldn’t go anywhere! I finally pressed the “open door” button, and I was still on the first floor, thank goodness! I got out quickly and tried to get another elevator, but I had to send TOT elsewhere. I reached in and pressed the last floor at the top of the building.  It finally left, and I was able to get the next elevator. Another time, Bruce and I were in TOT together, and it fell a few floors while we were going up. Scariest time ever! We got out as fast as we could and that was the last time we went in it. I don’t know why it hasn’t been fixed, because when it came down for us the other day, our building cleaning lady was there and she wouldn’t let us go in it! Other people are starting to notice it as well, refusing to go up in it when it comes down. At least we are not the only ones! (Our building cleaning lady is so sweet, but for some reason she thinks I speak Chinese fluently! When I tell her I don’t understand, she rattles it off again, only louder and faster. Of course, I get it now! I will have to get her picture before we leave). One last picture of the Bhudda before I leave you….it is made with 500 TONS of silver! Have a great week everyone! Miss you!!

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Happy Weekend!

Welcome to the week-end. Happy anniversary to my sweetie pie.  We had a pretty nice week-end despite the weather.  Friday night (our actual anniversary) we went out for a delicious dinner, great service, steak and lobster, crab cakes and lattes on the patio in the cool of the evening.  Finally a foot massage and then home to bed.    We stopped and got these awesome flowers on the way home.

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Saturday we packed up our winter clothes and mailed them off to Canada.  There is no way we are going to get home with all of the gifts we are bringing home.  We sent home two large cartons filled with stuff.  About 40 lbs. of stuff.  We hit Starbucks and then went home and cooked an amazing dinner (Kim cooked and I tasted and pulled seeds from the world’s largest watermelon)  We served up an amazing dinner for our friends Greg, Chen and Angela.  

They were very impressed and enjoyed every thing we served.  Kim is amazing in what she can do here.  We have a toaster oven and 2 burners on the stove and she turned out  stuffed mushroom caps, braised BBQ caked chicken, rice, beans with onions and almonds, and a apple-blackberry-blueberry cake for dessert.  Very yummy.

 

Sunday we stayed in and caught up with friends on the phone.  It was quite cloudy and we had planned on going to check out Jing’an Temple late today, dinner out someplace then a foot massage.  As it turned out we left for the temple, the skies opened and the rain and the wind started.  We head back to our apartment and relaxed.  We have some new grade 11 students coming to Lu wan High School next year and spent our Friday afternoon doing English Assessment testing.  Looks like some very good students coming in. Next week-end we do the same for our grade 10’s. 

 

Now for my favourite part of the blog, random photos with glib comments.

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This cyclist has a pretty hefty load.  It’s not the size of the load, it’s the fact he is carrying heavy wooden dressers on the back of his bike.  Most impressive.

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This fellow has a light load of styrofoam boxes.  I am not sure if they are empty, but he had a pretty hard time getting them all on his bike. Image

 

This is the chair guy who travels around Xie Tu Lu. We have seen him a lot, gut I never seem to have my camera when we find him. I finally caught him taking a siesta. Talk a bout a long wide load.  He pulls this himself.

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This cyclist’s load is neither heavy nor large, but it is a little weird. He pedals around Shanghai selling goldfish.  These are pets.  I asked one of my students what happens to these fish.  Do that many people in Shanghai have aquariums. Apparently parents by their kids a goldfish in a bag to play with and the goldfish is usually daed the next day because they don’t have aquariums.  

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This is an interesting shot.  It combines the old with the new.  The owner of this house couldn’t bear to have his house torn down for the new apartment building, so a deal was struck to have his home built on top of the apartment.  Pretty amazing story eh?  I thought so when I made it up.

ImageHere we are inside the mall at Metro City. This is a giant mall that kind of looks like Science World in Vancouver.  Our favourite Viet Namese restaurant is there.

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Here is our home.  The 4th apartment building back on the 20th floor.

 

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So I had to take a picture, just so that you know we aren’t making this stuff up.  (Except for that building on the high rise story.)   I try to be truthful in this blog but sometimes the hyperbole is just too good to pass up on.  I hope you recognize when I am pulling your leg.  It’s been a while since I had my haircut, so I am going down to get a haircut next week.  Here’s a picture of me sporting my new long hair and my new John Lennon prescription glasses. ($42)Image

OK Maybe it’s just us having fun with Angela’s new wig.   ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

These last couple of shots are from a dinner at “Lost Heaven.”  This is a delicious high end restaurant here in Shanghai!!!

ImageKim and I walked thru the streets of Xin Tandi.  

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We came across Rae’s Tea shop. Hi Rae!  We love you!

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Finally, another dog with dyed ears, tail etc.  TIC  Keep well my friends. Our journey home is just 5 weeks away! 

 

 

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Random Shanghai Summer

Hello All,

Kim and I are back from the depths of our flu.  This is the third flu we have caught this year.  Each one lasts about a week and a bit with the cough lasting for about a month.  We are now out of winter, 3 days of rain in a row with very heavy humidity 94%!  And now the heat has come.  Today it is about 32 degrees but the humidity is down to 74%.  It is AC at home and at school.  No one has told any of the Chinese people yet as they continue to wear jackets, hoodies and t-shirts underneath.  Image

 

Kim and I had a lot of fun at a photo shoot last week-end changing costumes and getting make up.  W3e ha=d 4 different costumes and about 150 pics taken over a 5 hour photo shoot. We will be coming home with a coffee table book with the best shots in it. Image

Mary Anne and Boyd were back visiting us.  We were two travel guides for a while.  We took them to beautiful Yuyuan Gardens.

 

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It was only 25 degrees out but sunny and humid.  We stopped at a Starbucks for a cold Green Tea! Yummy

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We missed the actual gardens as they had closed, but we went thru the shopping area.  The koi fish were feeding like crazy and of course Kim took many pictures of the little turtles swimming in the water.

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The Stinsons wanted to buy some souvenirs so this little cutie sold them a couple of engraved stamps.  Her English was excellent.  Note the glasses without glass.  Very popular here.

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An older fellow used this machine to  create the stamp with their names on it in both English and Chinese.  What a great gift!ImageWe saw this on the cab home.  I know this sign is supposed to let you know to drive carefully because they have a child in their car, but you can’t help but chuckle when you see a sign like this.

 

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So here we are, downtown Shanghai on a Saturday and what should we do.  The man and his wife bring their kitchen chairs outside, take off their shoes and have a snooze.  Why????  Because it’s China…. That’s why.

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We took our friends into the Peace Hotel where photography is forbidden. And of course we took pictures.  A very cool place that I can’t afford to stay at and neither can you.  (That last comment was meant for all of my friends except Bill Gates)

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Finally we went to People’s SquareImage

 

They had statues and these beautiful plaques.

 

 

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They also had a ton of people selling bootleg watches and bags.

My favourite was a fellow wearing a knock-off t-shirt.  He was wearing a CLAVIN KLEIN shirt.  Yes good old CLAVIN.  I wonder how many shirts they printed before someone realized that the name was spelled wrong.  Cracks me up!

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When in doubt, dye your dog’s ears and tail orange.  Why????  Because it’s China…. That’s why.

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How about visiting a hair salon where the stylists (all male) dress like pilots and the shampoo girls/massage girls dress like stewardesses,  Why????  Because it’s China…. That’s why.

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Finally, we read to day our favourite bottled water is under government investigation because they have not been getting water from the beautiful clear spring like they advertise but from a dirty drainage ditch and the water is filled with bacteria.  We have 32 litres of the water sitting in our kitchen right now.  Why????  Because it’s China…. That’s why.

 

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The week with Friends!

Hello again!! 

Well, after having friends visit for a couple of weeks, we are back to our routine. Mary-Anne and Boyd Stinson joined us here in Shanghai for a whirlwind of activities and sight-seeing. It was a very sad day for me to say good-bye to both of them, because we really had so much fun with them. I miss my girly time with Mary-Anne already! We became tourists in our own town again, showing them around the city. We were also lucky enough to go to Beijing for the weekend with them and share the experiences there – the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. Although we only had the weekend there, we packed a lot into our sight seeing! The Great Wall was so much more amazing than I thought it would be, and we met so many friendly people from all over the world. We easily could have spent the whole day there, we enjoyed it that much! However, 5 hours was pretty good for us, and one of the highlights was taking the luge or toboggan run down the mountain! They yelled at me to slow down, but it was too much fun to go fast! Mary-Anne let out a huge scream on her way down that got the whole crowd going in the line up! At the bottom, we had to go through the mandatory souvenir alleys. Think of every gift shop at the end of a ride, just like Disneyland! We picked up some dried fruit, and a few gifts for friends, but held off on most of the things. Surprising for me, I know! 

That afternoon, we walked down to Tian’anmen Square to see the lowering of the flag with the guards at sunset. We became instant celebrities, as everyone wanted a picture with the white people! It was pretty funny, and we got a taste of what it would be like to be famous, since once one picture was taken, a whole bunch of people wanted one done with them too! We couldn’t actually see much of the flag ceremony (especially me, the short one), but Bruce was able to hold his camera up and record some of the soldiers marching by. They were incredibly precise and in time with each other – they must practice marching for hours! After all that walking and climbing on the Great Wall, we were too tired to walk home so we grabbed two tuk-tuks to take back to the hotel. These guys were great, even though they took us home through all the back alleys. I got a bit nervous at one point as they showed us a camera mounted on a building, pointing right at us, and managed to tell us to be very quiet. We then went a different way, but it was kind of scary! Mary-Anne and I laughed about it later….we are such trusting Canadians! 

The next day we went to the Forbidden City. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people in one area at a time! Yet, when we went inside, it was so huge that the crowds were not really that bad. I know that Bruce talked about this on the last blog and posted pictures as well, so I will not bore you with the same stories! However, it was a beautiful, amazing place to see! It’s incredible to think of how long those buildings have been standing, and although some were covered with restoration equipment, it was still easy to see the grandeur of them all. Unfortunately, duty called us, and we had to make our way back to Shanghai to get back to work the next day. Mary-Anne and Boyd stayed an extra night and then went on to Xian the next day to see the Terracotta Warriors and the rest of that beautiful city. They absolutely loved it and said it was worth the trip to get there! 

When they returned to us, we were just finishing a seven day work week (which nearly killed us, but we survived!). On one of the days we were still working, our wonderful friend Wen Juan took Mary-Anne and Boyd to Hangzhou for the day. She was the best tour guide and translator and they had a great time with her! We then had three days off to show them around our favourite places, like the French Concession area, the Bund and Pudong. We had great weather for the most part, and Mary-Anne and I took our chances and went and got a haircut together. Luckily, Wen Juan translated for us over the phone for the price, but they spoke no English at all……I showed them a picture of what I wanted, and he nodded that he understood. However, both guys cut our hair so incredibly short! I have never had my hair this short in my life! I look like a boy!! Mary-Anne and I laughed the whole way home, thinking that if we were on the Bund together, we would definitely get propositioned! Good thing our hair grows fast! Mary-Anne and Boyd are now in Thailand, spending a couple of days in Bangkok before they go to Koh Samui for some r’n’r. After spending time with us, they may need it!

We are starting the countdown to come home – only 8 weeks left before we are back! I will definitely miss many things here, but am looking forward to being home. That’s all for now, but more pictures will come as our weather is getting warmer and warmer each day.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”(Dr Seuss). Miss you Mary-Anne and Boyd!

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Beijing (Part 2) The Forbidden City

The blog is a little late this week.  We usually have it out by Saturday, but this week we had to work Mon -Sunday in order to have a Mon-Wed holiday the following week. We are looking forward to our 3 days off with MAry Anne and Boyd.  They leave for Thailand on Wednesday.

Our second day in Beijing started with an early breakfast at the hotel. This was a delicious smorgasbord of Chinese and Western style food.  I say western style because it’s the Chinese idea of Western food. For example they know westerners like to eat a lot of bacon so they put lots out but they barely cook it.  Given the recent outbreak of bird flu and the Jiaxing pork catastrophe, you figure they might go for brown.  But no Translucent bacon is the order of the day and no one seems to eat it.  Breakfast over, our hotel is about a block from the Forbidden City.  We have to walk however to the entrance at Tian’anmen square which is a hefty 4 blocks.  We were still a little sore after our five hour trek along the Great Wall, but we were pumped to see the home of all of the Emperors.  This whole place can only be described as huge.  A moat surrounds the entire city and each court yard within was gigantic.  Image

Here is the bridge that crosses the moat.  It is quite large and the locals come and fish in it.  I am not sure what they catch.   It’s probably not marlin or tuna, but they feel the need to have the largest fishing rods I have ever seen in my life.

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The city is also surrounded by  a huge rock wall.  There are 4 gates to enter, the main gate off of Tian’anmen Square in the south, two smaller gates on the east and west side and a gate to the north to exit out.  In order to get to the Emperor’s Palace soldiers would have to attack thru 4 separate court yards.  These are gigantic affairs that are equivalent in size to a Disney parking lot.  Each courtyard had its own huge high walls and giant gates that could be closed when attackers showed up.Image

Even though the walls were so high you could always see the roofs of the buildings inside.  This was because they were all so tall as well.

ImageHere is the entrance way.  They charge you 60 RMB ($10) to get in.  It is well worth it.

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During the times of non-war, these courtyards would be filled with merchants selling food and other wares.

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You can get a sense of the size of this court yard.  The big building in the back is not the Palace of the Emperor.  It was under repair.

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You can get the sense of the height of the buildings and gates.  Those gates were 20 ft high.

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Here is another building under construction.

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The doorways that connected courtyard to court yard were relatively small.  This would stop invading armies from getting thru too quickly.  This is the first of three courtyards before the palace.DSC_0733

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There were lots of ramps for their horses to move wagons and carriages around.

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The doors were huge and heavy.  Once locked they would be very difficult to break down and open.DSC_0736

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Most of the buildings were closes to the public, but you could peer into the windows to see the ancient furniture etc.

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All of the roofs were pagoda style architect.  They were very ornate and beautiful.  The roofs are built not by construction workers but artisans.

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This little sweetie rented the costume so her parents could take a picture of her.  I couldn’t resist asking and she was delighted to pose with a tourist!

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There were large cauldrons everywhere in the square. Not sure if these were for fires to keep warm and cook or for water.

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Here we have the Palace of the Emperor.  He may have sat in that throne.

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There were a ton of tour groups going thru the Forbidden City.  They were all wearing their own coloured hats.

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Here are the gardens just by the north exit.  Lots of cool rocks.

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In some of the smaller courtyards it reminded me of every Kung Fu movie I have ever seen.  I had to do my Kung Fu Crane pose! DSC_0830

Here we are outside of the north exit after leaving the City.  You can see the moat on this side.  The whole city is about the size of Stanley Park.  We only had 4 hours so we didn’t get to see a lot of it, but  the city probably housed over a million people during its hey day.

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We checked Mary Anne and Boyd into a new hotel as the rate went up a huge chunk in the hotel we had booked for the weekend.   Kim and I left them and went to the Beijing South Train Station. As you can see it is a lot smaller than Shanghai’s Hongquoa Train Station. We travelled Second Class as it was much less expensive, very clean and lots of room.  It was a lot like being on a plane with the same little trays that fold down from the seat in front of you and the cute little hostesses dressed in 1960’s uniforms.  We had a nice ride home this time making about six stops on the way.  While the ride was pleasant enough we had to put up with the food that was sold on the train.  It did not have such a pleasant smell.  When you have a train that moves at 300 km./hr.  there is no way to open any sort of a window.  We were trapped inside a fishy smelling dinner car for four hours.  After a while our noses just shut down and it wasn’t too bad.  Maybe we should have bought a First Class ticket after all?  We arrived at the station and splurged on a taxi because we were both exhausted.  The subway would have probably been faster ,  but the taxi took us door to door.  It was worth it!

Our Beijing trip reminded Kim and I how much we enjoy travelling.  Going back to school and seven days in a row of work was a tough pill to swallow.  Look for our blog soon about Mary Anne and Boyd’s adventures in Shanghai!

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The Trip to Beijing – Part 1 – The Great Wall and Tian’anmen Square

Kim and I have saved our trip to Beijing for when Mary Anne and Boyd came to visit and this week-end we finally made it into the capital city of China.  Beijing, (formerly known as Peking) is somewhat smaller than Shanghai  with a population just over 20 million people.  While there are lots of skyscrapers in Shanghai, Beijing appeared more traditional with older buildings, and a little more spread out.

This was from the Disney store in the Hong Qiao StationImage

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Yes, even Mickey is wearing those glasses with no glass in them.

We left Friday afternoon and took the subway to Hang Qiao station and caught a fast train to the Beijing station.  We travelled 1200 km. In 4 and a half hours.  The train made 2-3 stops on the way at Nanjing, Tian and one other place.

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Boyd mastered the art of sleeping while travelling at 312 km/hr.

Shanghai (pop.28,000,000) has over 750,000 taxis in the city.  In Beijing their fleet of cabs is only 50,000 so finding a cab at the train station was difficult.  We bargained and ended up paying a black taxi (not licensed) 120 RMB for a 40 RMB trip.  It was about 10:00 pm when we got in.  We were tired and it was not worth waiting in line for an hour for a metered cab.

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Our rooms were beautiful and spacious, but the bed was quite hard.  Note again the glass between the bathroom and the sleeping area.  There is a privacy curtain.   We were up at 6:00 am for a delicious Chinese/Western breakfast.  We hired an English speaking cab driver to take us to the wall as it is an hour and a half drive from the city.  We wanted to leave good and early to avoid the crowds.  It was a great idea.

John’s English and driving were excellent.  He advised us to take the ski lift to the top of the wall, about 800 meters up and then take the luge down.  We took his advice.  Image

Mary Anne and Boyd in the chir lift on our way up into the mountains to see the Great Wall.  Words can’t describe the Great Wall.  There is nothing like this in Canada.  It is between 6-8 meters wide and over 20,000 km long.   The wall was built to keep out the hordes invading from Mongolia.  We’re talking Gengis Khan and his boys from the hood here.   Every 500 meters or so there is a tower.  Some had cannons, all of the towers were fascinating to look at.  Check out the pictures below to get a sense of what it was like.

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And so we started our climb up the wall.  Not too sure how far we went.  Conservatively we climbed at a rate of 5/km an hour, so maybe we went 20km.

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Can you see the white tents in the background.  We were there.  It was a long walk!  There and back!

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Coming down from our climb was a lot faster.  A four hour climb up, one hour to get down again.  Instead of taking the ski lift down to the parking area, we took the “Land Luge.”  This is a little wagon you sit on with a stick.  Push the stick forward and you go fast.  Pull it back and you brake.  This was a lot of fun.  Kim and I got red flagged on every corner as the old Chinese men yelled at us and waved red flags to get us to slow down.  It was very safe and I highly recommend it.

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Now this guy asked if we wanted to take pictures with us and and we thought this would be fun.  He was quite a ham.  I wondered how he made his money.

 

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Soon into the photo shoot this second guy joined in and Boyd and I got into the picture as well.  After the photo he demanded 40 RMB for the picture.  We gave him 10 which was very generous, but he was unhappy because we did not collapse under his ardent protest!

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Like every good attraction, there must be a gift shop at the end.  The Great Wall is no exception.  T shirts, hats, fridge magnets and warm sodas were the order of the day!

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It gets a little crowded here so we manage to wiggle through the crowds. We rode back to the hotel and decided to check out the Street Food Market just down from our hotel and then wander over to see the Changing of the Guards in Tian’anmen Square at 7:00.  Mary Anne seemed very keen to try some new and weird food in Beijing, but we couldn’t believe what they were selling here.  No one was up for this!  See below.

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Merchants sold a variety of very interesting food.  How we even ate near this place was a wonder!

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Would you care for some delicious snake?

 

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Here we have a vendor selling prawns and raw squid.  Yum Yum!

 

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Starting at the top left we have some sort of grasshopper, giant spiders, beetles, cockroaches, some other tasty bug, then the huge centipedes (everyone gets a leg!) water snake and grass snake (Skinned)

 

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Let’s get a closer look at those spiders and beetles

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These centipede were huge.  The water snakes had their heads chopped off.  (That’s where the poison is stored)

 

 

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Beetles, cockroaches and 2 types of snake!

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Starfish on a stick!  Juicy and tasty!

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We couldn’t decide between the big meaty scorpions.

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Or the little crunchy scorpions!

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Testicles from bulls and other assorted animals.  Did we have fun at dinner?  Yes sir, we had a ball!

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Here we are munching on our spicy noodles!  Yummy!

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Crab Dumpling – Fairly bland and unexciting.  We also tried Gelatine Potatoes (Yuck – one bite)

Chinese Cheese Casa Dia? Crab Dumpling, Fried Banana, and for dessert a fabulous Fruit Stick (Strawberries, pineapple, Kiwi fruit)

After dinner, we walked the 2-3 km to Tian’anmen Square, where we became yet again movie stars and had our photos taken with so many people who had never seen white people before.

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Mary Anne and Boyd came well prepared with Canada Flag pins and everyone we met was walking around wearing a Canada Flag by the time the ceremony was over.

 

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We had people taking pictures of the people taking pictures of us taking pictures with our new friends.  It’s tough being a celebrity!

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Security was tight and there were many people there to watch the changing of the guard ceremony.  These guys sure know how to march.  I will try to put up my short video on Face book so you can see it.  It’s very impressive.  We were all exhausted by the end of the night and managed to flag down two bicycle tuk tuks to take us back to the hotel.  While the ride wasn’t as scary as the motorized Shanghai counterparts thru the main streets of the city, we were a little nervous because these two fellows took us through the back alleys (now pitch black) to get to our hotel.  We had no idea where we were.  There were no shops or entrance ways here.  We were waiting to be met by a gang of street thugs who would rob us and then cut us up into meat pies for the next day’s food.  Alas, nothing like that happened.  It was very safe.  China is such a safe place it seems.  There is very little evidence of any violent crime.  There were cameras everywhere.  Including the back alleys!  We made it back to the hotel about 9:00, chatted for an hour then went to bed early.  Tomorrow we were going to the Emperor’s Palace located in the “Forbidden City!”

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Some News and A Visit from Home!

Hello everyone! 

At long last, we have warmth here in Shanghai! The sun has been out (well, it is brighter…..you can’t actually see the sun, hahaha!) and the temperatures are climbing. Apparently, we are going from shivering to sweating, with no in-between! However, I am not complaining, because everywhere, people seem a little happier, and we are all looking forward to some warmer weather. 

As many of you know, we have been asked to return for a second year to teach here in Shanghai. After many sessions of back and forth, pros and cons, we have decided that when we are finished at the end of the school year, we will return home for good. As much as we love the lifestyle, the students, and the friends we have made, we feel that our adventure is finished for now. We miss our family and friends back home – and the clean air! We have had so much fun here, and tried so many things that I never thought we would try – ever! We had a dinner party here in our tiny apartment last week – we managed to squeeze in 13 people! I use the term “dinner” loosely, since I actually only made finger food – we don’t have enough dishes nor table space to fit everyone for a sit-down dinner! We invited the Chinese administration staff to join us so that we could tell them in person that we won’t be returning next year. To our amazement, there were tears, and actual crying as well as hugs and well – wishes! They are not very vocal about how they feel about us, so we never really knew. They really enjoyed the food I prepared, which was good, because it almost didn’t happen! I made beef spring rolls, vodka infused cherry tomatoes, shrimp and tatziki cucumber cups, crab and cream cheese roll ups, stuffed mushroom caps, carrots wrapped in prosciutto with parmesan cheese, Greek marinated tomato and bocconcini skewers( well, actually on tooth picks because I couldn’t find longer skewers!) garlic bread and chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzels for dessert! I had planned more meat dishes, but there was a ban on chicken from the avian flu, no one trusts pork yet from the 16,000 dead pigs that were dropped in the water, and I couldn’t go to the wet markets(think Granville Island) because that’s where they had the live chickens! I was near the end of my rope, fighting a head cold and trying to think of substitutions that I could make instead. However, it all worked out, and we had an enjoyable evening with all the staff, even though they were so sad when they left. Anyway, kind of a long winded story for all that, but now you know that we will be home sometime on July 1st, and Canada Day for us will mean so much more than you know! 

Our other exciting news is that tomorrow, April 16th, our good friends Mary-Anne and Boyd will be arriving for a whirlwind tour of Shanghai! We are so excited to have visitors from home – we can hardly wait for them to get here! We are taking them off to see Beijing this coming weekend, so expect some more pictures after that! Then we have so many things that we want to show them, there may not be enough hours in the days to get to them all! Unfortunately, both Bruce and I have to work during their stay here, but our good friend Wen Juan, who is married to one of our teachers, has graciously accepted to be their tour guide while we work. Lucky them! Shanghai has so much to offer, it’s hard to pick out what to see and what to let go……I’ll see if I can talk them into doing a guest blog, as our friends Geoff and Terry have done with their visitors on their blog, “The Jiaxing Express”. It’s always great to get a different perspective from visitors who haven’t been here before. I highly recommend reading Terry and Geoff’s blog; it is so funny and you really get a sense of what it’s like to live here and experience the things we live through! 

We will fill you in on all of the mini adventures we have over the next few weeks as we take on Shanghai once again as a tourist! Look out, Shanghai, Kim and Mary-Anne are coming to get ya!! See you all after July 1st!!