How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


Shanghai, Part 5 – Nanjing Road

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Tummies full, when we left the restaurant around 12:45., the weather had become humid.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/west-nanjing-road.htm (what’s on offer)

The shopping area is pedestrian-friendly with an occasional trolley/mini tour bus. Prominent other than McDonalds and Haagen-Daaz, were expensive elite, famous brand-name stores. I wondered how the young couples afforded their purchases. Rich daddies, I suppose.

The English Group 8 turned down (yet another) museum tour which added more (boring) shopping time. This time Sue and I struck out together. Four hours to kill. My poor aching feet.

We decided to explore beyond the main street. On a shabby side street a couple of blocks from Nanjing Road, I bought a bottle of Dynasty wine in a grocery/variety store ($10.00 CAD / $8.00 USD). I had to borrow money from Sue again as I had scraped all the cash from my wallet for the silk-filled comforter and pillow before lunch. A corkscrew would be helpful, but the store had not nor any facsimile. I decided to worry about that later.

If we needed the Happy House while shopping, Jackie had advised, any large hotel would accommodate us. Timing is everything, isn’t it? We chose the Sofitel Hotel where we had to walk past a security guard. Nervous, but avoiding eye-contact, these fine western ladies strutted in as if we belonged and ended up on the garage level.How did we get lost? Ph-ew the gas fumes.

Sue headed to a glass elevator. A lanky Caucasian man, fisting his briefcase handle, joined us inside. He noticed our confusion and described the location of the closest ladies’ washroom. He had come from Michigan on business eight years before and considered himself a local now, his return to the U.S. doubtful.

Shopping Nanjing Road  (pictures galore)

Out on the street again, Sue spied a Haagen-Daaz restaurant. We were ready for a good sit out of the heat and a cold ice-cream. We had two doors from which to choose: one with a lineup and the other with none. A waitress stopped me at the door. Her voice raised, she said, “Wrong way!” The lineup at the opposite end of the restaurant was where we must enter. Oh?  Why had the other door been open? Back to the sidewalk and the other door we trotted to join hordes of others. It didn’t take long, though, before we were seated.

We waited—and waited some more. Three young girls who’d arrived after we had were already given menus. Not us, the only older Caucasians. We waited. With the earlier rush over, I chalked this up to bad service. Was this abuse because we dared walk through the wrong door? A girl finally came bearing glasses of water with lemon wedges and menus. We didn’t touch the water.

Good thing we weren’t in a hurry. A waitress toddled over and took our order. Finally. One scoop of ice cream (chocolate with pralines) cost 33 Yuan each ($5.50 USD). We waited and waited for our order to arrive, but I didn’t mind. It was a relief to take a load off and sit in the air-conditioned restaurant.

Our bill took forever to come, too. I wondered why not go up to the cash with our dish to show what we’d ordered and pay. At home, we’d have done this no problem, but Sue, usually outspoken about most things, wasn’t comfortable doing so. In the end, we did anyway, but the cashier appeared frazzled. His rhythm had been broken and he made us wait. Again. I now owed Sue 83 Yuan, (not quite $14.00 US). That’s what I get for leaving money in the hotel safe.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Two things I noticed while window-shopping. We had been discouraged from interacting with beggars, who were uncommon. Where were they hidden? I noticed only two: one a disfigured man shortly after the bus dropped us off; the second, a miserable old man who shook a rusty tin can in our faces wanting a donation while we sat in a park. He rattled the meager contents, but we ignored him. He scowled and moved on, sneering over his shoulder. I hoped he hadn’t put a curse on us.

Except for a handful of citizens over the age of 40 or 50, most everyone on the street appeared to be under 25 or 30.
~ * ~

Next on June 30th – Shanghai, Part 6: Dinner and a Show

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ *~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.

					
		
	


Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Workshop

I enjoyed another lumberjack’s breakfast. Afterward, we were treated to yet another factory tour. This one was about silk and the most enjoyable so far. Though impressed, I had no plans to shop or spend  as I didn’t need anything. I changed my mind when I examined the magnificent comforters, pillows, and other bedding. I’m sorry now I purchased only one silk pillow and a light density silk comforter. I’m puzzled I carried less money than usual when I needed it. My friend, Sue, was flush and I borrowed the difference I needed. I also picked my wallet clean down to the lint hidden there. (Yuan and Canadian money, totaling about $150 CAD). Who knew? The price was more than reasonable. Checking prices on the internet since then, I believe I did well. I’d been planning to buy new pillows in the spring anyway never dreaming I might bring home a silk one from China.

Business was brisk. No previous factory tour had ignited this much interest. One tour group at a time was welcomed in a separate room from the sales area. Once money changed hands, the purchased goods were bundled in a compact cloth and zippered bag with handles. These were black-marked with the buyer’s name. deposited on the floor of the entry room and covered half the floor space. You picked out your parcel upon departure.

Some advantages of silk fiber bedding:

  • Silk bedding is better than down
  • Half the weight of down
  • Bedbugs prefer down, not silk
  • Dust mites don’t like it
  • Mildew resistant
  • Strongest natural fiber
  • Keeps its shape / doesn’t clump
  • Fire resistant
  • hypoallergenic
  • You won’t sweat on it
  • It forms to your shape / stays springy
  • Lasts for years with proper care

Silk and Comforter Making:

The Life of a silkworm:

Lunch was at (Haioufang) The Seagull Palace Restaurant. Our group arrived too early. Seated at a table. we had to wait for the food. When it arrived, it was at once and the restaurant filled up and was soon packed.

Lunch:

Drinks as always: one glass of water, coke, sprite, or beer.

Appetizers:

  • Sausage slices (not sure about meat source)
  • Tomato slices
  • Spicy edamame beans
  • Something fish dish
  • Cubed cucumbers and sliced lotus root (crunchy, mild flavor and enjoyable)

Main:

  • Tea
  • Eggplant
  • Egg drop soup
  • Rice with eggs, beef
  • Spring rolls
  • Carrots, onions, and potatoes (stew?)
  • Panko breaded mild white fish
  • Fried and breaded lotus root
  • Cubed chicken
  • Potato and pineapple in sweet tomato sauce
  • Salad
  • French Fries
  • Watermelon slices for dessert

~ * ~

Chinese Saying:
Lazy child who lives at home and lives off his parents instead of working 
is called, 'China Little Emperor.'

~ * ~

Next On June 22, Shanghai, Part 5 – Shopping on Nanjing Road and Stories

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ *~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.


Shanghai, Part 3 – The Old Bazaar and More

 

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Chinese Saying

Keep your belongings in front of you. What’s in front belongs to you; what’s behind, belongs to someone else.

~ * ~

Whenever we left or entered the bus, our tour guide gave a reminder to check our personal belongings. At first, I felt we were being treated like children but soon realized how easy it is to become engrossed while surrounded by the distractions of China.

Old Shanghai Bazaar

What luck! Once again, we were given time to explore on our own. After the splendor of the financial district (The Bund), some in our group discovered another world a short distance away.  These are the real people we had little occasion to see. I thank RJ for sharing these wonderful pictures.

More day-to-day scenes:

The Ritzier Bazaar 

While a few explored the vibrant open market, others followed Jackie, our tour guide, to a more upscale sector where anything from floral teas to pearls; jade to cameras; clothes to emporiums and brand name, and best-quality knock-offs were secreted. One daring couple opted to check out the underground market. I had no interest in shopping but decided to tag along for the adventure. Led through masses of humanity, avoiding elbows and bodies, we entered an alley, made a turn and afollowed a short path to a nondescript door. Jackie must have knocked to gain entry, but I don’t recall. Before leaving, he expalined our route back to the group’s meeting place. Poof. I blinked and he vanished.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

We entered, were sized up, and drilled asked what was needed. I experienced a thrill of excitement and a chill of forebody. No one knew where we’d gone.

The room small and windowless, shelves on three walls displayed elegant purses, luggage, watches etc. Like a wolf waiting to pounce, the attendant pushed merchandise on the couple. A second man watched the proceedings. Nothing suited. How about this? Maybe you’d like that… The room shrank and grew smothering. Eyes to the door, my nerves hummed. Escape wasn’t easy. Like it or not, we were in for a hard sell. Special for you, I have … How about a fine watch. Ernesto bought a piece of luggage instead. Avid shoppers, he and his wife already needed another bag for their China purchases. We were free at last. Ernesto, husband of the well-travelled couple I’d shadowed, wasn’t impressed. “Might as well buy a real Rolex for the price they want.”

We hadn’t advanced further than a few paces when a young woman materialized from behind, promising another place, a better deal. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. We kept moving. The whole business became uncomfortable. Seeing us a waste of time, she took the hint, and melted into the crowd.

As everywhere else, knock-offs are illegal in China. If you are caught, off to the police station you go. Your tour group continues as scheduled and you have to find your way back to them on your own dime. Of course, you don’t get to keep your loot either.

Dinner Sunday night  

  • Tomato soup with egg
  • Rice with egg
  • Lightly breaded white fish
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Greens
  • Eggplant in a sauce
  • Beef in sauce
  • Sliced curry potatoes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Watermelon slices

Shanghai Quick Facts:

  • Home of the (open air) Bird’s Nest, capacity 80,000
  • Popular sports: ping pong, table tennis, basketball and soccer
  • World Financial Center, 2nd tallest in the world
  • Houses used to cost $1,000 / square foot; now up to $5,000 / square foot
  • Kindergarten parents pay about $1,000 per month
  • School free grades 1 to 9
  • Live-in maid service pays $1,000 per month
  • Twice-a-week service pays $10. per hour

~ * ~

Next on June 16, Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Factory and More

 

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.



Suzhou to Shanghai – Part 1

At home, my regular breakfast consists of a small container of yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, and coffee. From the first morning after our arrival in China, I ate breakfast as if it were my last meal. I even sampled more than one kind of roll although I rarely eat bread. An extravagant buffet breakfast is not easy to ignore, but I believe I burned all those calories during our days of walking and climbing and walking some more. I bet hoisting myself up into the bus consumed 1,000 calories, easy.

Sue checked her rash but it still had not improved and her legs and feet were still swollen. There was no pain and she was satisfied with that.

We started the day early to avoid crowds at Liu Garden, which Jackie, our guide, called The Lingering Garden. Upon entering the grounds, instructions about time and meeting location were dispatched immediately.

“If you need the Happy House, it is there.” Jackie waved in the direction of a low building. We squinted with pinched brows. What?

 “Happy House is toilet.” He checked the screen on his cell phone and was gone. We were on our own to wander as we wished. Again.

The garden was small, neat and clean. It seemed there’s no such thing as early. Paths and passages were tight in spots and we had to wait for a turn to pass. We rubbed elbows with lots of other visitors. Lorena lost us when she stopped for a photo opportunity. Not successful in finding us, she headed back to the parking lot where the buses were parked. She saw the French Group’s guide, who then called Jackie and he joined us up together again.

Back on the bus, we settled in for a two-hour ride to Shanghai passing the time napping or talking, sometimes asking Jackie questions.

Once again we were treated to a tourist wonderland of Cashmere / Pashmina factory shopping. The sweaters, shawls etc. didn’t interest me. I noticed the men’s pained faces as if they’d been lined up for a firing squad.

Before we left the factory, a museum stop on the schedule was voted down in favor of more shopping time at the bazaar in the afternoon. Jackie suggested this was a great place for picking up knock-offs which are illegal everywhere. The men’s faces drooped.

Silk Embroidery Shop:

This work is amazing embroidery anyone shall ever see. Some work is done in 1/64th thickness of a silk strand. Hard to imagine. I wonder if the workers have good compensation when they go blind. Even with my nose an inch from the finished product, I could have sworn these were paintings. Some were three dimensional; the fur on some animals was ultra realistic and breathtaking. I couldn’t help reaching for it.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The following  is the best link I could find for silk embroidery display (Some Jade images are included)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/sets/72157607927737804/

Chinese Saying:

He (or she) has a jade face (means: is good looking)

Jade is highly valued, therefore this is the highest compliment you can pay someone.

 ~ * ~

Next on June 2, Shanghai, Part 2  Huangpu River and the Bund

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Our first stop in Suzhou, a quaint, little town with a population of 3.8 million, was at the Old Town Market. The bus parked, we followed close behind Jackie to a busy crossroad where he pointed to either side of the busy street. On one side we could visit the old town market. On the opposite side was a more modern, touristy shopping area. At last, we were allowed to roam as we chose for a couple of hours. We were to meet at a designated area at 6:00 p.m.

I joined up with Bonnie and Russ and we headed to the market and a whole different world: open stalls, sidewalk displays; elbow room only and brisk exchanges of money and goods. No health concerns were in evidence. We saw small squirmy fish; large fish in shallow tubs of (cloudy) water; frogs; eel; cut-up pig parts with skin on and live chickens, As well, there were shoes, fabrics, and all types of outdated (to us) clothing. If you were hungry hot food was available as well as unrecognizable vegetables. These people were poor.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We walked through the market and crossed over an old bridge to the other side of the canal. Talk about being thrown back to another time: a world of bicycles and mopeds, old shops, dank houses with peeling paint hanging over the river, some with neither a stoop nor steps. I imagined someone opening the back door and falling into the water. Oopsie. The water wasn’t clear and inviting.

 

IMG_0458 IMG_0459

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

IMG_0465

Small river boats were kept busy as one after another appeared.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                   © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We wandered into a shop and found paintings and hangings of the same bridge we’d crossed, as well as many recreations of past times at this location. With a little time to spare, we wandered across the road to the newer, touristy section but it was of little appeal.

Pizza Pizza, McDonald’s, KFC are not plentiful but not unusual. I had to take a picture of this, though, my first sighting.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

On our way to the bus and the hotel, I realized how much we’d covered this day, including the flight. My stomach rumbled and my feet wanted a rest. Thirty minutes late, we food was ready.

Dinner: 

  • Breaded and fried chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and white kind of fish
  • Breaded pork
  • French fries
  • Cauliflower with bacon and young beans
  • Green vegetable (mystery)
  • Rice with fried egg
  • Soup with tomato
  • Watermelon for dessert
  • Tea and the usual drinks
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Our hotel was gorgeous and the room attractive, but the shower leaked. The sink and toilet were Koehler brand and I noticed either the door or the door frame in the bathroom were not plumb.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Chinese saying:

Chinese will eat anything with legs except a table; anything that flies, except a plane, and everything that swims, except a boat.

 ~ * ~

Next on May 26 –  Suzhou to Shanghai, Part 1

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


Suzhou: Part 1 – Jade Tour and a Flight

The day began at 5:00 a.m. and not on a good note. Sue hadn’t slept well and we had no hot water for showers. I didn’t bother, but Sue did. My hair needed washing so I stuck it underneath the tap. Brr. Cold.

We’d been instructed to leave our luggage outside the door before 7:45 a.m. As Sue pushed hers against the wall I rolled mine over the thresh-hold and—slam—locked us out. Down to the front desk and back up again. We were relieved to return with the assistant manager and her life-saving master key. Our purses with passports and money were still there. Whew. We reported the cold water situation to save the next visitors the headache.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Taken from 10th floor on our way to breakfast)

The pieces carved out of jade were fascinating; the workmanship astonishing with delicate and intricate detail but too expensive for me. I don’t need jade jewelry either and certainly don’t have room for anymore dust collectors. I’m trying to down-size collectibles. Bonnie and Russ bought a tricky jade piece featuring five (or seven) balls, one inside the other, which were all movable, but do not come apart.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Jade carving)

        Click for stupendous photos of  Jade Carvings in Ancient China

We headed to the airport after the Jade romp to catch our one-hour-and-forty-five-minute fight to Souzhou. At securit,y two suitcases from our group set off alarms. Jim had one of the problem suitcases and Russ the other. Scanning revealed 15 or so ‘A’ batteries stored in his luggage were the culprits. The last flight he’d been told to store them there. This time, they were pulled out and he was advised to them into his carry-on. I’m not sure what problem Jim had. A screaming baby must have fallen asleep. We finally boarded at 12:30 p.m., taxied and lifted skyward.

Lunch was served on the plane. The Stewart threw (not dropped) the boxed meal onto my table. He moved so fast, some noodles spilled into my lap and he didn’t even notice. Not a good day for him either. Other than the spilled noodles, I don’t remember eating.

Upon landing, I reached for my carry-on in the overhead. By accident, my hand landed not on top of the seat in front of mine, but on the head of the man who sat there. What a fuss he made. You’d think I’d assaulted him. The Chinese language, when the speaker talks loudly sounds enraged to me. I used my most soothing voice to apologize. He didn’t need to understand the words. Wouldn’t you know, I had him on my radar all the way into the airport. While Chinese people appear to invade your space in a crowd and fill any available space, they do not touch anyone around them.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We were met by, Jackie, a new guide, a tall, attractive man of thirty-eight with an easy going style and a great command of English. The bus ride to Souzhou took a couple of hours. The city is known as The Garden City or Venice of the East because of its many canals.

~ * ~

Next on May 19 – Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market (lots of pictures).

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


Xian: Part 2 –The Real Terracotta Warriors

 

Before we visited the Terracotta Warrior Factory, Sue asked our tour guide, Steve, if he recognized the rash she had on her ankles. In the past few days the eruption had changed from mild to a full-blown inflamed mess. It had spread like fire from her ankles half-way up her calves and shinbones. As well, her legs were swollen and she had a liquid pouch beneath the skin above her toes. We all checked our ankles and legs. All had a similar rash, but it was mild compared to Sue’s. Carolyn had none.

Steve, bless him, took her to a Pharmacy for a solution. None was given. Either this was a mystery or the pharmacist didn’t want to take any chances with a foreigner. Time wasted? I don’t think any of our group minded.

When the bus arrived at the Terracotta Warrior Museum we encountered hustlers offering wheelchair assistance. What? How old did we look? Sure we were all over 60 and younger than 75—hardly decrepit. I rolled my eyes at Sue, and skipped like a schoolgirl to prove my agility. Later when I thought of it, I hadn’t noticed anyone else in a wheelchair all afternoon.

Inside the Museum:  Horses and Chariot

 © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

                        © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

Cavalry Men

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

Lots of figurines and tourist merchandise on sale again. Hordes of people along the walk from the parking lot, to the museum, and to each of the three pits, which were housed in separate buildings. I scanned the crowds surrounding us and noticed people from all over the world. At one point we met university students from Alberta, Canada. We chatted but only for a second to exchange where we lived.

Standing Archer

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

                © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

Standing Archer Plaque

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

                    © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

My first view of the warriors took my breath away. They looked so real, as if they waited with eyes closed. No two faces were alike. This army had prevailed for two millennia, row upon row, facing the same direction, lines straight, prepared and intent to protect the tomb of their emperor. I expected they would be red but over time the color had leached out into the soil they were buried in.

© 2014 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                              © 2014 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

 

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

 I was shocked to learn none of these warriors had been found whole. Think of all the reconstruction work. The mystery continues whether the compacted ground overhead might have been responsible or if the destruction was by calculated intent. As well, fire in some areas was also evident by the blackened portions of unearthed wood pieces.

Do watch this. It is fascinating and well worth your time. I stumbled onto this documentary after my trip.

I witnessed my first child’s tantrum. Between three and five, arms swinging, the boy hit his mother and screamed at the top of his lungs and wouldn’t stop. This was the only public demonstration of a disorderly youngster during our time in China.

Tired and overwhelmed, we met Steve at the allocated spot. He waited, dough-faced, on a bench in the shade. I wondered why he soldiered on. Might the reason have anything to do with employment or tour guide rules?

Steve’s tummy continued to give him trouble. On the way to dinner, the driver pulled over at a gas station. We hadn’t seen many, and it was weird to see one when one was needed. The parking was tight and next to impossible, but our driver backed into a spot with ease. I expected scrape, crash and let’s-get-the-hell-outta-here cringing!  Click here

Before Steve exited the bus, he warned us, “Do not follow me. If you have to go, hold it. You will not like this bathroom.”

We couldn’t help wondering what he meant. I’m glad we didn’t experience any of these.

Dinner:

  • Lotus root, sliced (delicious)
  • Cucumbers, sliced
  • Rice
  • Beef, cubed with onion and red peppers
  • Orange chicken
  • Beef with onion
  • Fish and celery
  • Cooked cabbage
  • Greens Eggplant
  • Vegetable soup
  • Sliced melon for dessert
  • Do-nut-type dessert (1-1-/2” diameter) with additional icing sugar for dipping

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Arrived at hotel at 7:20 p.m., the earliest night yet. At last time to read, relax, and sort our luggage again

~ * ~

Next on May 12th –  Shanghai: Part 1

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


Xian, Part 1 – Old City Wall (and more)

Before leaving for the day’s tour, I exchanged $100.00 Canadian to 547 Yuan and paid no commission. A Bank of China specific area was available at the reception desk. The man was pleased with my brand new polymer Canadian bills unlike the ones I’d converted at a machine in a previous hotel. The machine didn’t like polymer bills. Too slippery?

Our first stop of the day was at the old Xian City wall, which stands 12 meters high (13.1234 yards). A lot of stairs to climb to the top surface (15 meters or 16.4042 yards wide). We saw pedestrians and bikers, but it wasn’t crowded at all. Due to the short time allocated to look around, we didn’t walk far. There wasn’t much to see on top where we’d entered anyway.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                        © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall – bikes for hire)

On one side we looked down on modern buildings and the other a market in progress. Buyers and sellers moved in and out at a brisk pace. The location made me think of a wide alley. Old buildings had been removed and continued to be knocked down.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (bright weather for market day)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (brisk shopping and selling)

Next we visited the Shaanxi History Museum: thousands of artifacts, too many people, and stifling.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (entrance in museum)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (magnificent wall)

Steve, our tour guide, felt ill and stopped at a pharmacy for something to settle his stomach. Instead of leaving us for the day, as I’m sure he might have preferred, he soldiered on, lime-white faced.

 Our third stop in was the factory where the Terracotta Warriors were made. Reproductions of the originals (we will visit next week) are made by way of molds. No two faces are alike. The dedication to fine detail is incredible.

Warrior Wannabe

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (A tourist warrior wannabe)

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Life-size, headless and eerie)

Lunch:

  • Eggs and tomatoes
  • Beef with onion
  • Rice
  • Vegetable soup with spinach(?)
  • Noodles
  • Spicy chicken with celery and hot peppers
  • Tofu
  • Cubed potatoes with caramel
  • Sweet and sour fish
  • Mystery meat on a stick (delicious)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Sorry this is fuzzy. Too much beer?  lol

Xian Quick Facts:

  • Total population of China 1.4 billion
  • 200,000,000 Chinese still living in poverty
  • Floating population, living in country-side live on $2.00 a day and scavenge cardboard, paper etc.
  • Some farmers built rooms out of scrap on their property to accommodate the scavengers
  • Scavengers collectively work together to afford a room like this
  • If you own an apartment, your kids inherit it after you die. Cannot sell for profit.
  • If you are a real estate developer, or magistrate, you’ll manage to sell it
  • $300,000 USD + four-unit apartments were given to farmers moved off their land (so the story goes)
  • Some farmers did so well in new environment (new location), they became millionaires (so the story goes)
  • First day of Sweeping Festival begun (April 5-7)
  • Now more people are cremated
  • Traditionally one day for Sweeping Festival bit extended by government for travel to grave sites of dead relatives and loved ones.
  • http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions278.html
  • Cars with 7 or less passengers go free because of Sweeping Festival
  • Vehicles with more than 7, still have to pay toll
  • 6 billion trips are taken around the country during holidays and New Years
  • Our bus driver’s father is a millionaire farmer. Why is his son driving a bus?

~* ~

Next on May 5th, Xian, Part 2 – Terracotta Warriors (at last)

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Shaolin: Kung Fu Training and Shaolin Temple

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Already I was confused regarding the day. My iPad said Thursday but its calendar highlighted Wednesday. My laptop also showed Wednesday. Sheesh, different time zone. The reason for my disorientation was our itinerary had been flipped and I could not keep the changes straight.

This is where we slept the previous night. Pretty swanky hotel, but we saw no other guests.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

From the hotel, we drove to the Shaolin School of Kung Fu. Our guide, Lisa, told us the attendees were 95% boys with 5% girls. I saw no girls.

Lisa wore the same clothes as the day before: red track pants and a red quilted jacket. Too warm for the humid weather.The forecast for the day: 20 degrees.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We sat inside for a thirty-minute-plus Kung Fu performance. The place was run down inside and out, needed paint and refurbishing. I took a couple of videos but deleted them because they were too blurry.

The little guy in white, the youngest but a rapidly advancing pupil, demonstrated clutching a bowl-shaped object to his midriff by muscle control. To prove authenticity, a pole inserted through a hole in the object (was it a bell?) allowed two young men to lift it shoulder length and carry the boy as he hung firmly attached, belly-up.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4-s8TBB6dw  (4.49 min) A peak at Kung Fu training.

Quick Facts:

  • Shaolin Home of Shaolin School of Kung Fu
  • Established 495 A.D.
  • 10,000 students
  • Ages 3 to 18 (complete education here, equivalent to finishing high-school)
  • 95% boys / 5% girls
  • Half-day school / half-day Kung Fu training
  • This is a private school (parents pay for room, board, and tuition)
  • One month holiday in February during Chinese New Year
  • Parents can come to visit on weekends
  • Costs (10,000 Yuan) under $2,000 U.S. per year
  • Attending this school is good for finding a job later
  • Can open own Kung Fu school in other countries instead of finding a job
  • Famous personalities from this school: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan

Pagoda Forest / Shaolin Temple

A short distance away we visited the Pagoda Forest. Rain drizzled as we walked around. Young girls giggled and stared, and begged to have their picture taken with the foreigners (‘the big noses’).

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagoda_Forest_at_Shaolin_Temple

This is what the tombs look like. The size depended on the monk’s life achievement and the number of  financial contributors.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

Quick Facts: 

  • Graveyard with 248 tombs for important monks
  • Depending on life’s accomplishments = size of tomb
  • Depending on number of supporters (donations) = size of tomb
  • Tombs built during an eminent monk’s lifetime, not after death, and added to till he died

Some highlights at the Temple

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. (The well is picture below)

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.  (This is the preserved well.)

Protectors of the Temple

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

An Altar

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

~ *~

Next on April 28:  Xian

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Luoyang Part 3 – Dinner and Stories

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

At 5:00 p.m., it was still 25 degrees Celsius when we left the Longmen Caves. All around us, the Chinese people dressed in sweaters and wool leggings. Our tour guide, Lisa, wore red sweat pants and a fleece jacket. We foreigners sported shorts or cargo pants and short-sleeved tees because we were hot. The boulevard back to the bus was again another l-o-o-o-n-g walk and the air was sticky.

Our driver turned into a pot-holed dirt road in the middle of no man’s land. What? I don’t recall buildings or much of anything that looked like civilization for a short while. We rounded a tight corner on the bumpy road and like an oasis in the desert came upon the strangest sight–at least to me. Two long buildings materialized meeting at right angles at one corner. I can only describe it as a motel—with a second story.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8 The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8
The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

Dinner was served through Door 111 in the front room barely large enough for a round 6-foot diameter table and us squeezed around.

IMG_0351

IMG_0352

Dinner:

  • Noodle soup
  • Fritters
  • White rice
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes
  • Cooked sliced potatoes and ground beef
  • Pork and scallions
  • Garlic sprouts with sliced red peppers and fungus
  • Greens

This time we were served—count them—two baby glasses of drinks. I had beer. Twice.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles No doors

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
No doors on outside washroom

The bathroom was an open-ended building across the yard with six or eight stalls. No outside doors or plastic against the elements did I see at either end. All were squats but someone had taken a card chair, removed the seat and stuck a toilet seat on it. I opened the door and slipped inside. Afterward, Sue grumbled because I had lucked out somewhat with the only ‘throne’.

Along the way to the facilities after dinner, we passed two young ladies with a plastic container filled with cutlery (forks). I saw no soap in the water, no sponge or wash cloth. Agitation seemed the customary /accepted practice to clean the flatware.

Maybe this was a restaurant after all. At the end of the building opposite the facilities, we heard kitchen noises and a teen in a not quite pristine kitchen jacket appeared. He ran to the washroom and out again without stopping at the open sink. Had he touched our dinner?

Another man (not from the kitchen) washed his hands with the liquid Palmolive soap before entering the facilities and washed them again on his way out. Sue and I gaped at the scene and then each other.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels of any kind.

A large fat bug floated in one plugged sink, legs pointed heavenwards, sunning himself, unaware he was dead.

I asked Lisa about the building. The year before, she had brought a tour bus of visitors when only the ground floor had been finished. The second floor had just been added and was just a decoration. What did that mean? I noticed a couple of large windows revealing cardboard boxes stacked high and wide inside.

I asked her again what we call this place.

“A restaurant. A different type of restaurant. I think this is a different experience from other restaurants.”

What? Never mind.

We arrived in Zhengzhou a couple of hours later. The time: 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. in early spring. Is this how dark it is at home in the spring? The hotel was attractive but appeared empty and quiet. The interior design cost more than the building. We dragged out luggage inside. Lisa went to the desk with our passports to get our room keys.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

I asked why the furniture was so big since the people were not. Answer: It was a sign of wealth and prosperity.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Quick Luoyang facts:

  • Population 2 million
  • This is a tourism city
  • Copper mining, glass factory
  • Heavy industry: tractor, first built in 1959
  • The Peony is the city flower (blooms in April)
  • This is an old capital city
  • Buddhism  popular

~ * ~

 Next on April 21:  International Shaolin Kung Fu Training Center and Shaolin Temple

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.