On Saturday, we took the standard city tour. It was an interesting mix of business and sights. They were kind enough to take us to the supercenter to buy a phone, then to China Mobile for the sim card and service. That’s how they do things here. They also took us to the Metro superstore, which requires a membership, so that required some navigation. We could not have done this without the guide/ translator. Angela and Michele (their western names, of course) were lifesavers.
Among the sights we saw was the Shenyang Imperial Palace, built in the 1600’s, the only other Palace of its kind outside of Beijing. It was a quick view so I’m sure we’ll go back and see it again for a closer look. While there, we passed by a gorgeous little girl on a pedal bike. Angela translated when the little girl’s Grandmother told her to send me a flying kiss. So sweet. So I blew one back and she posed for a sassy picture.
There is so much construction going on in this city. It seems to be apartment buildings, for the most part, but there are hotels going up too. That, and the wind off the desert, makes for a dusty city sometimes. That, and a booming economy, make for a haze in the sky most days.
For my fellow foodies out there, you will be happy to know there has been some traditional Chinese dining since we arrived. On our city tour, the guides took us for lunch at a large local restaurant. We had three kinds of steamed dumplings (egg & tomato, egg & leek, and pork & vegetable), fried dumplings of vegetables, soup with mushrooms and tofu, fried pumpkin slices, and sweet and sour pork. They chose wisely and we were not disappointed. Michele also wrote out the names of the dishes in characters so we could order it again if we wanted to, or we could just point and be surprised.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things we observed on this city tour was the traffic. In a city of 7.5 million people, where the statistics say they are adding 400 new cars per day. We have seen everything from the Chinese brands to Buicks, a Camaro and even a Bentley. I guess I expected a lot of small cars like there are in Europe, but the newer cars are all full size. Oh, and speaking of Europe, where I hated to see a moped coming, or rather, hear a moped coming, the mopeds and motorized bikes in China are electric. They are not adding to the cacophony of noise on these crazy streets. The Michelin folks had told us that we would not be able to drive here; they said it was because the rules are relatively the same, but the methods are very different. Yeah, very different. Tim believes that there is a system to all the honking, but I’m not sure. Red lights seem to be only a suggestion for some. And there is an unspoken accord between drivers, pedalers and pedestrians that one will not hit another. Be aware, cars come very close when you are crossing the street, and you are expected to keep walking because there is timing to the whole relationship.