I have just finished having a string of wonderful guests and am looking forward to S1 and his girlfriend coming to visit soon. We will all celebrate S2’s high school graduation. Then I will fly back to the USA to spend some glorious weeks with family and friends. This will mark the halfway point of my sojourn in Shanghai. I can’t believe how quickly it has gone.
After a cold and dreary winter my best friend came to visit me! We have been planning it for so long (I think first discussions, over tea and cookies, happened before I even had plane tickets to come here in the first place!). Our time together was amazing.
Saying her flight here was delayed is an understatement. She took off from a major US east coast airport only to hear the captain announce, after some time in the air, that all but two bathrooms had failed and they had to return to the and would need to change planes. So after leaving home at 6:30am she finally took off at about 5:30pm for the 14 hour flight to Shanghai. Even after all that she was ready to go on every crazy adventure I had planned. On our first day out, among other things, we wandered through ‘old town’ which is partly truly old and partly built/rebuilt to look old. But none the less it is quite nice and busteling with a frenetic mix of tourist traps, local businesses, and the damp alleys leading to quiet by-ways taken by the Shanghainese and tourists who are lost or …..well, lost. But I have wandered these streets many times and have found the noodle man dependably parked on the corner. His three wheeled bike cart carries his entire livelihood. His propane cooker, all his prepped vegetables, noodles, sauce, giant beach umbrella, and tarp to block the wind. The menu choice involves spicy or not spicy. Other than that you get a generous portion of noodles stir fried with a mix of fresh vegetables. The dining room is two preschool sized tables with a few foot stools to serve as chairs. We ordered our noodles with a request of ‘a little spicy’ and were directed to sit. A few minutes later we had a delicious lunch under a tarp. Bellies full we headed to the ferry and enjoyed our sunny ride across the Huangpu River. On the other side we went up the Pearl Tower and took in the view of the city as the sun set and the city lit up. We had been walking all day and had seen many things. We were tired but our ticket in the Pearl included a museum tour on the ground floor. I had heard it was good and we wanted to get our moneys worth so we decided to take a look. We wandered the halls and looked at the displays. They were OK, but not especially wonderful and we were tired. We decided to find the way out. Alas, the museum was a one way hall that meandered in a most frustrating way. We were getting punchy and felt like we were trapped in Dante’s 9 circles of hell. The wax figures stared at us unblinkingly. The miniature dioramas started to seem ridiculous. We were giggling like school girls. Finally, stumbling out of the museum we took the metro home and collapsed. It was so wonderful to see the city through her eyes.
Her last night here another dear friend, who is also one of my husband’s co-workers, came to town. All four of us went out to dinner at a great restaurant called M on the Bund. The food was great, the view spectacular, and the company unbeatable. After dinner we strolled out on the Bund river walk and enjoyed the cool evening watching the ships float by. The week ended too quickly.
The next day my husband’s parents arrived. They had been touring China for 12 days and had seen Beijing, Xian, Wuhan, Changqing, the Three Gorges, the Yangzi River. They throughly enjoyed their tour but it was time for a rest and a quiet visit. Shifting gears I continued as tour guide. This time we took gentle walks through the local park, Century Park. We went out to the kids’ school and they had a chance to look around there. We went to a small water town that lies within the city limits called Qibao. The town holds a collection of small tourist sites but largely still remains a town where people live and work and go to school. This was a real treat since they had had the ‘tourist’ view of China. Qibao gave them a chance to see China outside of the regular tourist beat or expat bubble. Another highlight was taking them to one of my favorite spots, Lu Xun Park, about which I have written before.
Alas, another busy week came to an end. And here we are preparing for one son’s visit and another’s graduation. As the summer heat starts to roll in I can feel the pull back to the east coast of another continent. See you all soon!! 😀