Sunday, March 11, 2007


So, how was my month off? GREAT! So great that I did NOT want to go back to school. Still don't, but I'll have to get over that pretty soon, eh? My month in Shanghai helped me to realize that I LOVE Shanghai (that's the title of this post). I didn't get to leave China, but I did get a pleasant surprise. My godsister came to visit for two weeks. Yay! I spent a lot of time exploring this wonderful city, making new friends (great folks, really good people), visiting nearby towns and generally enjoying myself.

So, here are the highlights:

Chinese New Year - was GREAT! Maybe I need to tap into my extensive vocabulary and use a word other than "great". Naw. LOL. For the eve of Chinese New Year, I went to the home of one of my students. It is the way that the Chinese spend New Year (with family), and it was a good way for me to bring in the new year. We ate LOTS of food. Including a few traditional dishes for luck and prosperity. There was also lots to drink, and I watched a 22 year old small Japanese girl out drink every single person in attendance, including her dad. And she was chillin', her father was so proud of her, talking about how well she holds her liquor. And the firecrackers! Oh my gosh. EVERYONE sets off firecrackers, in order to bring luck and wealth to their households. Then, most people sit on their balconies like we did and watch the multitude of fireworks displays and shows. There were the official ones sponsored by the government, ones put on by companies and businesses, fireworks at the temples, and, of course, the ones from the neighbors (big fireworks are a demonstration of wealth, because everyone knows how much they cost and so people often use them to inform the community that they had a prosperous year). The sky was blue and yellow and orange and green and red and gray. The noise was deafening, often compared to a war-zone, though that has entirely different connotations, I'm sure you get the point. And they went on for over a week. Fireworks going off at 6:00am, 6:00pm and any hour in-between. You can only imagine what the sky, street and Shanghai streams looked like, from the smoke and firecracker casings/wrappers. Nasty. But they got it cleaned up. The city was FULL of tourists here for the holidays while a lot of the residents were in other cities/towns with their families. As a result, the tourist spots were insanely crowded while the local haunts were deserted. So, I avoided the tourist spots like Japanese Encephalitis and went to the places I'd love to have all to myself (including the museum and a few restaurants that are usually crowded). I discovered new places to eat and shop and occasionally wandered aimlessly around the city, talking to random people, trying to practice my Chinese (most frequent topic of conversation: my hair). And I went out with some friends that I don't get to see often, as everyone had the week off. It was a wonderful time. Can you tell I thoroughly enjoyed my Chinese New Year week? It was stupendous.

The beginning of the month - Great also. There's that wonderful vocabulary. Truly. It was the best kind of vacation.I slept late, enjoyed the sunshine, and learned more about this wonderful city that I live in. I sat in People's Square for an entire afternoon, enjoying watching and talking to people. I went to Shanghai Museum and took pictures. I went out to lunch alone and to dinner with friends. I watched a lot of DVD's. I read three books, maybe it was four, no wait, five. LOL. I read four books before Chinese New Year, and one more during the last week. What else did I do? I went to Zhujiajiao, a nearby water town, which was a nice day out. Oh, and I went to work, of course. I took new routes to old places, and sat on buses from the first to the last stop, just to see where they went. I throughly enjoyed almost every minute of it, and was quite content.

The end of the month - Having my godsister here for the last week of it (her second week was my first week back in classes) was wonderful. It was fun to show someone else around this city that I live in, to share my favorite spots and general knowledge. And bargain! She is a good bargainer, and we had great fun yelling (me, in Chinese "WHAT! That is too expensive."), claiming discrimination (me, in Chinese "If I was Chinese you would give me a better price", "I want the Chinese price, not the foreigners price", "I'm not a foreigner, I'm Chinese - can't you tell?" LOL), walking out to be summoned back ("okay, okay, I give you"), having the shop owners get angry ("I loose money for you"), making faces (pouting works well for me, because I look like I'm 17) and finding cool things and good deals together. We went to Beijing for two days, which was great. Yup, GREAT. We also took a public bus because it looked like it had the longest route and rode it to the end and back. That was a wonderful way to see the city and we didn't spend a lot of money to do it. We walked through a hutong area, which was interesting. I learned that I am NOT hostel material (go ahead, laugh, I know all of you knew that already, but I tried), and that I am so glad I live in Shanghai. Beijng is nice, but Shanghai is fabulous. We went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which was awesome. Quite an adventure getting there, but worth the frustration in the end. It is dramatically less "touristy" than the Badaling section, and quite picturesque. Hard work though, the Great Wall reminds me how out of shape I am. Now I've been to the Great Wall twice, who would've thought? Not me, I tell you that.

And now, being as school is back in session, and they are providing my visa, I need to STUDY Chinese. I'm working towards fluency y'all, slowly but surely.

And in case you missed it -

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