Upon taking a visit to the Shanghai magnet elementary school, where the children are immersed in English most of the day, truly gave me hope for the new generation of English learners. Most off the Chinese people that I've encountered (for some reason I'm still not sure of) have a very difficult time pronouncing and using English. However the 5th graders that I visited truly spoke great English, without effort. It made my heart smile to see that, if it is possible to conquer a language like English after learning Chinese... then the inverse must also be true ;) They put on an array of performances demonstrating their English speaking ability, as well as little dances and such to welcome us to their school; it was so cute! Of course( I don't know how I get myself into these types of things) the children started playing American music and asked my classmate and I to dance... which I can't do, haha! But I do do Kung-Fu ;) at least well enough for the children to not "boo" me off the stage. My dilapidated Kung-Fu show seemed to placate their desire for performance, we were thanked with cheers, hugs, and a flurry of English and Chinese sentences. I have high hopes for these kids in the future.
After this fun visit, a friend and I saw Kung-Fu Panda 2 in the Super Brand mall, at a very good price ¥50 ($9 or so; usually it's about ¥150)... and ya it is totally worth seeing :)
Shanghai Urban Planning center-6.16.2011
The next day, in the advent of our last day in Shanghai, we went to the Urban Planning Museum. I have to say though, after seeing the way Shanghai is laid out, these guys had, and still do have, their work cut out for them! It was a pretty cool sight though to see a model of the city and their idea of what Shanghai will look like in the future. I have a theory as well, because just as the Olympics left Beijing, the world Expo was revived... and forgotten in Shanghai, leaving all these advancements and amenities, on a cliffhanger. What's next? How will the city change?
It is my belief that Shanghai will(after it's post-expo lull) will go into a renaissance-creative boom. Just like Beijing did a year or two after the Olympics. Obviously these observations are just that, and not necessarily founded on anything concrete... but that is my hunch, and my intuition has usually been quite correct. Regardless, here are the pictures of what the city is supposed to look like... or will. :) Who knows...
After our perusal around the Shanghai Urban Planning museum, we went to an agri-business company named Chic. It was an absolutely intriguing exposé on a company that is dedicated to quality assurance, best practices in mostly farming, but also in medical, real estate, and manufacturing. Their sustainability and eco-township models were beyond impressive, and basically a bunch of jargon that you non-business majors wouldn't understand ;p haha just kidding! It was inspiring though. Especially since the Chinese government has reformed its economy, it is still struggling with problems in the farming country. Companies like these are the future for areas that are still developing in farming, and for eventual mega cities like 重庆(Chongqing) and 成都(Chengdu). If you're interested in information about this company, I invite you to visit their website, here
. Miss you all, love you all. See you soon :)
As always, I can't really go anywhere without meeting new people and mingling with others. Apparently, as my mother says, I've been that way since I was a baby. We met with two professors who collect antiquities from different dynasties earlier that day, and they showed us an entire museum's worth of bowls, paintings, calligraphy, and antiques from all throughout China's history...They were a terribly nice couple who then took us to a lunch of scrumptious dim sum(点心); I'd say one of the top 5 lunches I've ever had! After our amazing lunch, the ever scheming Lilly Cheng instantly told my classmate and I to prepare for a martial arts performance, because we were going to a community center for a cultural exchange, and it is considered rude if we did not reciprocate. Needless to say I was a little nervous, but I can say that I'm glad that I don't have any videos of that performance. But I do have plenty of the Xinhua Community Center's Cultural event though :). The best one was the cowboys... the best thing I've ever seen, which also of course is the very video that I haven't been able to upload for the last week and a half!!!!! Also as a side note, most of the performers were elder citizens, which gives me hope for our over- 50 population ;). Enjoy what measly pictures I could upload!
So, so far I've liked everything we've done on this trip. The last few days we've visited an old house museum named Shikumen(石库门). The name stands for the word "stone entry way" as these traditional, traditional Shanghai villas had an authentic entry way made with stone and sealed with heavy oak doors( similar to ones we've seen in movies). As Shanghai grew, it's population swelled making these dwellings and their prevalence in the city, rather sparse. You may encounter these traditional courtyard and room houses in the country side, but in the city, it is a rare treat. We learned a great deal about the mysterious Cultural Revolution and some very personal stories of the people who hosted us.
The illustrious Dr. Cheng then took us to the Park Hyatt which was 92 floors above the Pudong river, overlooking and dwarfing the already giant Pearl T.V. tower. In this unprecedented event, our entire group became closer and bonded while overlooking the illuminated Bund. I named the vlog because my good friend had some Laboutin shoes on.
This morning, needless to say after being on top of the world all night long, the come down was anything but graceful. However upon our descent, we made our way to another traditional part of Shanghai called the Yu-Yuan gardens. This entire street and neighborhood is all 18th century Chinese architecture with shops carrying every imaginable item you could possibly think of :). From there we walked to the central garden where you could walk through and view the main garden of supposed unsurpassed splendor( I did not, because I was about to faint if I didn't eat). So my friend and I then decided to wonder around the quaint and mystic alleyways, eat some dumplings(饺子), and get some ice cream to top off our stroll through history. I can only hope the pictures can do better justice than my meager description.
Pearl T.V. Tower, Pudong Shanghai
So I know I said I'd update every few days or so, but my memory is starting to fail me as we continue to move at breakneck speeds and pack in more and more activities each time ;). We went to the biggest mall in Asia, The Super Brand mall(super Asian name I know), and it was about 10 floors of shopping and eating madness; ya it was gargantuan. Dr. Lilly Cheng, our faculty guide, also showed us what I would consider to be the future of China: a Thai store named Lotus that essentially is a perfect blend of Walmart and Fresh & Easy. Sounds odd, but if you think about it, that is precisely what the Chinese populous needs. Anyways besides all that neatness, we walked across to the Pudong Shangrila Hotel, which was (needless to say) breathtaking. My powers of description can do nothing but fall short of explaining the amazing structure, fengshui, and luxury of this hotel. After, we got probably one of the better massages I've ever gotten; We were all walking on air after: full body, full foot, and I even threw in a pedicure( ya my feet were nasty!).
To add on even more to our eventful day, we then had dinner at the Sichuan performance theater, for a show called "Changing Faces". As you can see in the video, his faces changed faster than a blink of an eye, which has a remarkable similarity towards how I feel life is right now :) Miss you all!
I just got back from the world-renowned city of Hangzhou(杭州). It used to be the capital of China a long, long time ago, before they even established one emperor for all of China. It is known in China as the garden city and truly is, one of the most tranquil, beautiful, and scenic areas I've had to have ever traveled to(not sure if that's even English...my language degrades as my others improve ;p). We went to what I believe is called Flying Mountain in Chinese: There was a monk who supposedly imported rocks from the south part of China to build this temple, however when you look at the monastery today, it's as if all the rocks(which are geologically confirmed to be NOT from Hangzhou) are infused to the side of the mountain. Very curious no? It was an amazing place and my meager(and poorly edited) sentences will never do this place enough justice. I hope the video is a perfect taste of how amazing and green this place is.
They make 90% of China's silk here in this city, as well as harvest, grow, and sell the world-renowned Dragon Well tea (龙进茶) which has special healing properties and antioxidants. Really cool place, we went to the Emperor's tea grove(where he would derive all HIS tea from) and then went to Silk Farm museum, which sounds boring but was FASCINATING!!!
On a more personal note: after I got done freaking out and adjusting(like a typical American), life is okay and beginning to take a perspective which I sincerely wish to incorporate into my already growing view on this life :). I believe when you hit hardship, you must simply continue breathing and find a solution around it.
So far, life is frustrating but amazing. This society truly is a wonder. My Chinese is getting better day by day and I'm enjoying the wonderful scenery as life flashes by, seemingly at 230 something miles an hour. I rode my first bullet train. Had an amazing, authentic meal. And overall had a great trip to the "Venice of Shanghai", a small water town named Wu-Zhen. It was off the Grand Canal a long time ago when it was built in 458 B.C.(my numbers could be wrong), and at that time the most popular form of transit was boat :). As you can see, it was truly a great experience and fun time, walking through, literally, the past.