Sunday, January 27, 2013

Things I saw in Shanghai this week…

Here are some very random things I've seen recently in Shanghai..

Disney Chinese NY decoration
Disney Chinese candy
sugar cane straight from the field - if you want to buy,
the old lady comes out with a really scary looking machete and shaves it for you
Huge tangle of electrical wires wrapped around street light.
This is across from the Four Seasons in Puxi.
Chinese vodka with glass dragon blown inside
Emily: I want to be just like you Mama, and can I have an iPhone
Lucy: Nice try

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chinese New Year

Xīn Nián Kuàilé!

     Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is celebrated for most of the month of February.  The girls and Chris are off school and work February 9th - 15th.  This is the biggest holiday of the year for the Chinese, and most spend this week with their families.  For many migrant workers, the trip can take them a week of travel each way.  It also may be the only time they see their wives and children all year.  Chris said they expect many of their current workers on the Shanghai Disney construction site will not return after the holiday - this is very common - but a headache for the Disney managers.
     The stores are packed with packaged gifts for people to take back home.  Since there is often long journey, the most popular gifts are individually wrapped candies, nuts and dried fruits.  Yesterday at Carrefore, big boxes of Ferrari-Rocher candy were loaded into carts as fast as the workers could get them on the display.

The store was also filled with lots of traditional and non-traditional decorations for New Year.  Of course I bought some!  We now have a "Double Fish"hanging from our front door - the symbol for ample food and abundance.  Also two hangings of red coin purses, with the symbol of "Fu" or wealth, and strung with gold drums (the sound to ward off bad luck), and gold coins (to bring good luck).  The tradition of giving red envelopes, or "lucky money" to those who have helped you through-out the year shows gratitude.  I am officially going native.

     Shanghai Daily (Expat newspaper) warned of travel congestion during the month of February.  Lots of people on the roads, extra buses running and probably more accidents and traffic.  So we are staying in Shanghai during the break and will possibly do some easy day tours.
     The additional road travel will also cause added air pollution.  Shanghai is known to have poor air quality, and sometimes it is actually hazardous.  We have (4) air purifiers in our house that run all day - one downstairs and one in each bedroom.  Chris has changed the air filters in them and it's pretty disgusting.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Half day tour of Shanghai

The Lambs had a very busy Saturday morning.  We took a tour of the city, with an English speaking guide

Shanghai Cultural Museum
We saw traditional clothing worn by all the different ethnic & regional cultures.  An entire wing of Jade sculpture, gold figures, hand-carved wood furniture and panels. I thought the most interesting was a room depicting the evolution of the Chinese monetary system.  Our guide explained how coin minting was created, and how it evolved into the origin of paper money.

necklace of coral and turquoise 

hand-carved wood and lacquer chair of 9 dragons
hand-carved wood cabinet
Pearl Factory and Showroom
We were given a demonstration of pearl harvesting.  A guide asked Katie to select a fresh water oyster from a tank.  She explained that the fresh water oysters were seeded, but there was no telling how many pearls if any were inside until it was opened.  We watched as she opened the oyster, and were happy to see a pearl!  She then opened a small sea oyster that was 3 years old.  This oyster also had a pearl.  She showed us the difference in appearance, and explained that the sea pearls sometimes were different shades depending on the mineral content of the water.  She also said that pearls that were harvested, but irregular shaped, were ground down and made into face cream! 

Jade Buddha Temple
When entering the courtyard of the Temple, the incense smell is very strong and it is very crowded.  Chinese Lunar New Year will begin in a few weeks, and many people come to the temple to burn incense, and leave offerings for good fortune in the year ahead.  They leave sweets and oranges, and pray to the huge golden Buddhas.  The Jade Buddha is on an upper floor, and we were not allowed to take pictures in that room.  It is a large White Jade Buddha, all carved from a single stone.  Really beautiful and very impressive.  All throughout the temple, there are statues of animals that guard the temple.  If you leave a coin in the mouth of the statue, you can make a wish and it will be granted.  There is a Koi pond that is overflowing with fish.  The fish actually came up to girls to be fed and petted.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


     The snacks here in China reflect the different palate of the Chinese people.  I know that this is the largest market in the world, and US snack companies are trying to get the Chinese as hooked on junk food as we Americans are.  Even some "plain" potato chips taste different than they do back home, less salty.

Numb & Spicy?
 There are lots and lots of European-style cookies available.  Not only because there are many German and Swedish people here (the bulk of the European expats), but also because they are eaten with tea.  The cookie aisles are full of imported cookies in large tins that are given as gifts when visiting other families.  Very few American cookie brands, I've seen Oreos and Pepperidge Farm brands only.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

      It is very wet and cold this week.  The high this week is 40 degrees.  Overcast and drizzly, no snow but no sun either. The girls are still home from school this week and all they want to do is stay in their pajamas all day.  Funny, but that's all I want to do too.

      Last week we visited the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.  Lots of interactive exhibits for the kids.  They both played ping pong with a machine that kept returning their balls.
      I loved a "plastique" creatures of the deep display.  It was an entire wing of sharks, rays, whales, etc that were dead, but embalmed in plastic.  They were partially dissected so we could see inside the stomach and skeleton of the animal.  We saw the inside of a shark, and all it's babies inside it's stomach.  Gross and cool at the same time.
      The best part was the indoor rainforest. Once we entered, we hiked up a hill and there are waterfalls, lots of foliage (real and fake), and hidden snakes (fake).  We commented on how this would never open in the states because OSHA would insist that the steps were too moist and slippery and there would have to be hand rails and handicap access.  Chris commented on the good rock-work.
      There was also a "disney-like" dark ride through the body's digestive system.  We rode in a slow-moving car on a track, and began at the mouth (literally, with teeth and everything), slid down the throat, and into the stomach.  There we watched smiling bacteria churn and bubble.  Did I mention this ride was in 3D?  We then went into the intestines, and occasionally an animatronic (lame) figure would slowly pop out of the corners and try to scare us.  The final stop of the ride was in the bowels where there was lots of action.  A cartoon character explained what was happening, all the while holding his nose (I get it).  I had to assume this was the breakdown of the waste matter -- forgive me, the whole thing was in Mandarin.  Then in the end (heh, heh), the characters fling balls of poo at the riders in the car.  The final screen shot is a cartoon of the rectum spewing in 3D.  EEeeewww.  Of course the kids thought that was the best part.
      There is a brand new high-speed train that goes from Shanghai to Beijing in 8 hours.  The train opened the day after Christmas.  There was an engineering display of the train in the museum, and tracks that run all through the bottom floor.