Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shanghai at Night, World Expo and Great Wall, round 2

Having John and Kerri here gave us the chance to do things we haven't done yet (much like when my dad was in town).  And, since this is my last few weeks in China, we have to get everything on our list checked off.

First stop was the Shanghai Financial Center, which has the tallest observation deck in the world.  It was a really clear night (shocking since we're usually covered in an overcast haze of pollution), so we decided to go up.  My acrophobia tendencies made me wonder if this was such a good idea, but when else am I going to get to be up in the highest building?

Actually, it wasn't so bad, and the views were incredible. 

Then we hit the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, formerly known as the World's Fair, I think they are held every ten years.  Shanghai has been making a huge deal out of this event ever since we arrived seven months ago.  Everywhere you turn in the city there are signs promoting the Expo and it's motto of "Better city, better life." which is quite the hypecritical statement as they displaced thousands of people from their homes in order to clear enough space in the city to house all of the pavillions, but that's another story.

We decided we would probably never go to the Expo otherwise, so now was the time.

In front of the China pavillion

Kerri and I were celebrities standing in line for the New Zealand pavillion.  Some folks from Western China wanted their pictures with us.  Paparazzi alert!  This darling old man and I had our picture taken at least five times by people in that group.  He was having a blast and so were we!

Don't get me started on what was actually in the Estonia pavillion.  I am not allowed to publicly discuss my political opinions...  Gorgeous on the outside though.  Actually, most buildings were much cooler on the outside than the inside.  I think most countries could use some help from some professional marketers.

It was nice to have a choice between squatting AND a toilet at the Expo!

In the Lithuanian pavillion, I showed up a bunch of Chinese men by sinking a free throw.  They were dumbfounded and no one except Nick cheered for me.

Next stop - Beijing.  No trip to China is complete until you see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.  And, while we were in the former Peking, we also had to try some Peking Duck.  The restaurant we went to was really, really cool - very authentic.  It was in the hutongs, which are some of the older residences that are quickly disappearing. 

Nick and John both ate duck feet!

We ordered the full-on Peking Duck dinner which included duck meat and many internal organs.  I'm not much of a meat-eater to begin with, so I had a beer and cucumbers...

The bros share a beer at the top of the Great Wall

Next stop - the Great Wall!.  We decided to do a different section of the wall than we went to when my dad was in town.  It was fairly far out, but worth the ride.  Unlike the day we went with my dad and the horrible dust storm, we had great weather.  It was a good thing because despite going up in a cable car most of the way, the hike up was pretty steep.  This section, in Simatai, is much more rustic.  It has not been renovated like other sections of the wall, but it was still incredibly cool.

On our way down, we heard some commotion.  Being the Mrs. Kravitz that I am, I peered over the wall to check it out.  People were going down a zip line across a lake.  Again, despite my toe-curling fear of heights, I decided it was something I had to do.  So, Nick and I bravely lept of the platform and flew across the lake.  It was a blast and probably one of the coolest things I've ever done.  We are the small dot in the middle of the photo.  We have video on John's camera and I'll upload it as soon as I get it.  You'll hear a lot of screaming and it's not all from me.

photo by Kerri LeRoy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Showing Shanghai

We've had a great time showing John and Kerri around Shanghai so far - and much more on the docket.  They've both adapted to life in China very well, and are now pros at dodging spit on the sidewalk and using chopsticks.

Of course, we were all surprised to see the overt signage on this clinic (more of my obsession with signs).  Don't touch the doorknobs.

Yesterday, I took them to one of my favorite shopping haunts, an outdoor antique market.  I wheeled and dealed with John and Kerri and we scored some great deals.

On Sunday, we ventured over to our favorite place for brunch and then a great little artist area on Taikang Lu (also seen on The Amazing Race).  We also ventured into a wet market and saw a lot of people sleeping in their vegetable stalls, including a cute cat.  I love my kitties, but I don't want them laying in my lettuce.

I also tried to get a photo of a butcher cutting meat while smoking, but he dodged my camera before I could get the shot.
It was a nice day, so there was a lot of laundry being hung to dry.
And, apparently okra makes you sleepy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back in the saddle (or plane seat) again

After a grueling 24-hour trip to Shanghai (5 hour delay in Chicago), I am back for my last 7-week stint in China.  Even before I left U.S. soil in Chicago, I felt like I was back in the People's Republic.  I was waiting in line to get my airline ticket stamped with Visa credentials when a man very loudly burped behind me.  I knew when I heard it, he was Chinese, but I did have to confirm so that I wasn't stereotyping too much.  Oh - and yes, he was Chinese.

We have a lot planned over the next seven weeks to ensure we leave no stone unturned here or somewhere else in Asia (I am really hoping for a trip to Chendu which is the home of one of the largest Panda reserves in the world and to Tibet). 

But, we have big fun on the way from Utah.  Nick's fantastic brother John, and our awesome sister-in-law Kerri will be on their way to Shanghai in about three hours.  We'll have a week to show them all of the Shanghai sights and we will head back to Beijing for a few days, too.

We always have a blast when we're traveling with them, so I have high expectations for some good stories to report.