Tuesday, April 27, 2010
We ate homemade yogurt with raisins, shredded potatoes, green beans with chili peppers, tofu cooked in a clay pot, sesame flat bread, and a cold tomato and onion salad. To drink, we had tea and Tsingtao beer. And, for dessert, we had toffee apples - caramelized apples that are served hot and need to be separated right away before they harden. What a feast! I'll definitely miss this place. Luckily, there are a few Xinjiang-style restaurants in the U.S., so I may have to seek those out. More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4632.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The Expo mascot, Haibao, also seems pumped. Haibao is everywhere, from stuffed versions being hawked on the street to the large-scale versions in parks and public areas. (Even our school has a large Haibao at its gate.) Though he looks more like Gumby than anything else, Haibao is modeled after the Chinese character for the word "ren," meaning people. Enjoy this picture of Beth and me with Haibao at the Xujiahui park yesterday.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Last night, our good friend Beth arrived from Minnesota for a visit. We're so excited to get to show her around some of our favorite sites and to venture with her up to Beijing next weekend. China must be excited to have her here, too, as the weather was the best we've had in months today. We took advantage by having a very full day, starting with a neighborhood tour, then heading to Nanjing Road and the Bund, then to Yuyuan Old Town, then Taikang Lu, and finally ending with dessert at a bakery in Xiantiandi. Whew!
The first picture is of Beth munching on a cucumber. I took her to our local wet market where one of the vegetable vendors I frequent was so excited to see a new face that he insisted that we both take a cucumber (for free) and peeled them right there for us to enjoy. The second is of the three of us on the newly restored Bund, with the PuDong skyline in the background.
Can't wait to see what we get up to next!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Better three-quarters of the way through the year than never... here's a picture of my office. I share it with five other 9th and 10th-grade "foreign" teachers (all Americans.) Across the hall, there are another twelve foreign teachers. And, throughout the building, there are similar offices for the Chinese teachers. My desk is in the bottom right corner of this picture - covered in preparations for the next unit. (It's midterm week here, so the teachers have more free time for grading and prepping.)
Look forward to Jeff's office in a future post...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Today, we enjoyed our hotel breakfast buffet (now the third time since being in China that I've had cereal and milk. Yum. Also, they sprinkled a little cinnamon on the cappuccinos. Excellent.) Following that, we visited the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre, a difficult but essential stop on any city tour. Nanjing was invaded by Japanese soldiers in 1937 and over the period of a couple of weeks, 300,000 Chinese were killed. The museum pays tribute to them and also is home to a mass grave of thousands of the victims. Though the museum eludes to the difficult history between the two countries, it does urge visitors to work for lasting peace. From there... off to the train station and back to real life.
More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4420.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Final trip recap: Before heading back to Shanghai, we spent one more night in Hangzhou and enjoyed a beautiful Monday off wandering around. We've been to Hangzhou a few times by now, but were able to find parts of the city that we'd yet to explore. These included the Qinghefang Old Street, which was full of street vendors and colorful stalls (including the portrait artists picture above) and the maze-like Xihu Tiandi, which is a series of coffee shops and restaurants connected by bridges jutting out onto West Lake.
The weather was absolutely perfect, leading to one of the prettiest days we've had all year. More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4293.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Third installment of the trip recap: Before leaving the mountains, we had a delicious feast (mostly of veggies and tofu) at Mr. Cheng's restaurant. His daughter joined us for the whole meal and had fun teaching us Chinese words and correcting our pronunciation. From there, we hopped on a bus to Hangzhou. The four-hour ride, largely through Anhui Province, was beautiful. Canola fields were in full bloom on both sides of the road, often terraced up the mountains, interspersed with fields of tea.
More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4258.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Here's the second installment of our trip recap: In Tongkou, we stayed at the Sinotrans Hotel, which was a large, mountain-lodge-y feeling kind of place. It was the perfect launchpad for exploring the mountains, which we did on Sunday. We took a bus to the base of the mountain and then a cable car up. The cable car ride was eight minutes long, traveling up, down, and over multiple peaks. Shortly before we got to the top of Huangshan (the Yellow Mountain), we were completely enveloped in fog. The mist stayed with us throughout our few hours of hiking around the peaks, which made for mystical (pun intended) views of nearby peaks and trees.The sun was starting to peak through and burn off the fog by the time we headed down from the mountain, giving us a few gorgeous parting shots.
More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4094.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Weekend Trip Recap Part I: We started our trip with a night in Hangzhou, at the eccentrically decorated Milan hotel (carpeted doors and walls?) From there, we took a bus to the city of Tongxi, at the foot of the Yellow Mountain area. The ride was smooth, with the exception of the three people throwing up the whole way in the seats in front of us. (Something they ate?) From Tongxi, we got on a minibus to Tongkou, which sits near the entrance gate to the mountains. We showed the bus driver our hotel information there. He responded by pulling to the curb and telling us to get out soon after we'd gotten into town. We were confused, as our hotel was nowhere in site, but then we saw that we'd been dropped in front of "Mr. Cheng's Restaurant," with its welcoming "English Speaking Tourist Information" sign. Mr. Cheng himself came right out to help us and before long, he'd gotten us bus tickets for our return trip, driven us to our hotel, and taken us to the Emerald Valley scenic area.
The valley was beautiful. It was the site of some of the filming of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and had great hiking through the mountains, along some of the clearest water I've seen in China. There were sparkling blue pools of water and waterfalls every few meters. Along certain bridges and gates, padlocks were hanging. These were put up by couples who, following tradition, threw the key away so their love will always be locked in place there.
We finished the day with a great dinner (and Huangshan Beer) at Mr. Cheng's. More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4024?size=All&startIndex=0 and more of the trip to come soon.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Monday is "Tomb Sweeping Day" in China, a national holiday meant for getting together with family and remembering loved ones who've died. (And, quite literally, cleaning off their graves and offering gifts.) It's a national holiday, which means our first day off of the semester. We're celebrating by heading to Huangshan, China's "Yellow Mountain." Huangshan is part of a mountain range in nearby Anhui province that is the subject of many iconic paintings and images.
To get there, we're taking a train to Hangzhou tonight and will then take a four-hour bus ride from there to the town of Tangkou tomorrow. Not a bad place to celebrate Easter!
(Picture stolen from wikimedia.org.)