After parent teacher conferences on Wednesday, our school year is officially done. We've started packing and have already said goodbye to many of our friends here. We don't leave for India until Sunday night, but have sent our laptop home with a friend (instead of dragging it through the 110-degree Indian summer heat) and are turning in our other, school-issued laptop today. So, the end of this year is definitely in sight and feels suddenly very real.
We're soaking in all we can of these last few days. We visited the Expo again yesterday, are going to visit the Bund one last time this weekend, and are gobbling up all of our favorite street food treats. Sunday we take off for India and the following week we fly to London. We may update this blog while we're on our trip, but aren't sure at this point what our Internet access will be like.
Last night, at the Expo, we sat to watch the nightly parade and were surprised to see the USC marching band at the tail end. Then, on the Metro, a Chinese woman was wearing a "Property of Milwaukee College" t-shirt. Fictitious college or not, Jeff remarked that it felt like two clear signs that it's time to head home!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Between very inexpensive cabs, the extensive Metro system, and buses on every corner, it's been easy to live here without a car. I'm going to miss that!
Friday, June 25, 2010
ziran paigu) are the restaurant's best known dish and come covered in whole cumin seed, chili pepper pieces, and other spices. They are best eaten with a washcloth (provided) and a tall, cold beer.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
We had a great trip to Xitang last week. It's an ancient water town (meaning lots of canals and bridges) a couple hours outside of Shanghai by bus. The entrance to the town opens into a wide open park before snaking into a maze of narrow alleyways, bridges, and shops along the canals. The water is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is pretty well set up for tourists. But, because we went on a Tuesday, the villagers were busy going about their normal lives, hence the pictures of all of the laundry hanging out to dry. It was a great town for wandering, which we did a lot of. We also enjoyed an incredible lunch in a small restaurant with a view of the water.
Despite its hundreds of years of history, Xitang is currently best known for being the site of some of the filming of Mission Impossible III, and large signs with Tom Cruise's picture can be found all over town. The movie actually tries to pass off this sleepy little town as being residential Shanghai. Certainly idyllic, and definitely far from the truth.
The most exciting part of the day was getting home, though. We were told when we bought bus tickets there that there would be ample return tickets available for sale when we get into town. However, it being a national holiday, the tickets sold more quickly than usual and were gone by the time we got there. Instead, we spent a long time haggling with private cabs before finding one who would drive us to the nearest Metro stop (thankfully, Shanghai's system stretches far beyond the city itself.) It was the most expensive, and longest, cab drive we've had here, though. And, our driver went out of his way to avoid the toll road, which meant a lot of meandering through tiny country roads, past curious farmers and their fields. At one point, the driver got lost and had to retrace his steps to get his bearings. All in all, not too unpleasant, but we were both very happy to make it to the stop!
More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/5651.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Oh my! On Wednesday of last week, which was our last day of vacation for Dragon Boat Festival, we went with a group of friends to Shanghai's Wild Animal Park. It was 35km outside of the city and it took some haggling with a mini-bus driver to get us there. Worth it, though.
This country does not have the best reputation when it comes to zoos, but this park was highly recommended and lived up to that. It had a large section that could only be accessed by "safari vehicle," where lions, tigers (white and orange), bears (grizzlies), gazelles, giraffes, etc., each had their own massive area to roam. The rest of the park was more like a traditional zoo, which could be walked around to see the other animals. There were stations where you could pay to take your picture with an animal - usually baby tigers or bears - that seemed a little sad, but otherwise, the park was very well done.
Definitely an interesting way to spend an afternoon! Plus, I couldn't have left China without seeing a panda!