Years ago, I posted about my daily walk in Shenyang. I made that walk so often going to Chinese class and the gym. My view is different now that we’re back in South Carolina. I still think of that vined archway that isn’t there anymore, the guitarist playing for small bills in the tunnel under Qingnian Dajie, and the way the buildings tower above. I miss it.
Within a week back in the US, my friend D told me that I would grow tired of the question, “Are you glad to be back?” Well, of course we are. We’re glad to be back in a country where we can read everything and understand. We’re more capable of navigating the politics and bullshit. But people don’t ask that question in the same way we answer it. People ask as though it’s a comparison. “Glad” to be back here rather than still in Shenyang, as though the last five and a half years were tragic somehow. A hardship. And being back is better. It’s difficult to be with people who don’t think about or appreciate our life there, and that we miss it from time to time. But at least some people ask something.
This is part of culture shock. Or maybe it’s just part of every day life. Folks go on about their business. Maybe they ask questions so they can answer it themselves. Or they ask questions about only that which they know. Many just live their lives in a state of comparison.
I’d rather live this life than that life. I’d rather be a country mouse than a city mouse. I’d rather be like me than be like her. Well, you know what? I’d rather Daniel Craig acknowledge that he is my secret boyfriend. I’d rather peanut M&M’s were actually good for you. I’d rather be sure that Glenn is still alive.
So, yes, I am glad to be in the United States, where life in Smalltown, America is pretty darn good. I am glad that my morning walks are highlighted by blue skies and red brick. I am happy to drive my little car down highway 29 every morning, saying hello to the cows on my way to work.
But I would be happy there too. It isn’t a question of rather.
Blue and Red
Sign on the Door
Yeah that sky
Ace is the place
Old and Red
On the Corner
When a friend says, “I’m coming to China.” You say, “Let’s meet in Shanghai.” Let the fun begin. For me, a last jaunt on this side of the world.
We checked off a wonderful tourist to do list. We rode the Maglev Train from the aiport. We visited the Bund, Yu Garden, the gorgeous and quiet Longhua Temple, the ornate and busy Jing’an Temple, and the Tianzifang neighborhood. We strolled through parks, watched dancers and taiqi groups, talked to people, took pictures with them, received welcomes, recommendations and good wishes for our stay. We sat in a small room and had our feet massaged by perfect little hands while watching “China’s Got Talent”. We ventured over to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang, two of the gorgeous water towns west of the big city. We ate noodles, dumplings, and street food, and even a little Mexican food just for a change. My friends visited the financial district for a journey up in the bottle opener and views of the second tallest building in the world (Shanghai Tower, 2073 feet, 120+ stories). We walked in the rain, and then some more rain. It is Shanghai, after all. Enjoy.
For more about the Shanghai Tower, check this out. http://n.pr/1H9Aopn
We had avoided many destinations in China during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). We had heard and seen the throngs of people who travel during that time. This year, being perhaps our last in this big country, we have quite a few cities left on our list. So we took a chance and got lucky.
Suzhou is a city in Jiangsu Province, just west of Shanghai. It is in the Yangtze River Delta, which lends itself to beautiful views on many canals and ponds. It has more than two thousand years of history and is sometimes called the Venice of China or Venice of the East. The meticulous gardens are, together, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with those in the other water towns along the canals.
It was a quick trip down to Shanghai, then a full day along the canals, and a trip back to the tundra the next day. On our water town excursion, we spent a rainy morning and midday in Suzhou, then went on to an overcast Tongli and, finally, some sunshine in Zhouzhuang. It is a touristy area, yes, but lovely, just like all the pictures I’ve admired for so long. And, because it was the weekend before the Chinese New Year, perhaps many other travelers were with their families. I hope they had a lovely time because we certainly did.
Enjoy some of our views in the water towns.
The Long View
New Year Greetings
View at Pan Men
Stones and Buildings
I love a blue sky. On a recent trip to Beijing, we were lucky enough to have a few days, including one on the Great Wall. Living in China, or anywhere, one must appreciate the blue sky when you’ve got it. #gooutside Enjoy.
That blue sky
Haircut, two bits
The Great Wall
A Few More
Check this or this to see how pollution is effecting China. For a different perspective on Blue Sky, check out this from South Carolina.
– Nice hotel close to NanLuoGuXiang – Beijing Traditional View Hotel. Also try the Indian restaurant and visit Pottery Workshop just steps away.
The 1st graders at school have a little trouble with certain parts of English grammar. For example, when they want to say they ate too much, or that they like something a lot, they say, “I ate so many lunch.” or “I so many like it.” As teachers, we find ourselves using this phrase to express the same gleeful satisfaction. On my December trip to Jiangxi Province, someone may have asked, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Yes. So many beautiful.
Before and After
Come on in
Wonderful hostel for about 150rmb/night: Jingdezhen Youth Hostel at the Sculpture Factory – http://www.yhachina.com/
Fantastic Guide & Driver (and he can show you the best coffee in JDZ): http://www.tojingdezhen.cn/home.html
Helpful Webpage to learn more (Thanks, Time Out Shanghai!): http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/features/Travel-Weekend_breaks/8873/Weekend-break-Jingdezhen.html
Beautiful shop and residency available from The Pottery Workshop (shops located in other cities too): http://www.potteryworkshop.com.cn/Jingdezhen.asp
Beautiful retreat to visit and residency available from Sanbao: http://chinaclayart.com/index.html
Beiling Park is one of the most beautiful places in Shenyang. Fall is beautiful, and I already plan to go back in winter to see it with a light blanket of snow. The park is home to the Zhaoling tomb complex as well, a reminder that Shenyang was a favorite of the Qing Dynasty. Enjoy.
Cotton Candy as big as your head. No, bigger.
Of course, a statue
Afternoon Boat Ride
Until another day
History & Beauty
Address: Enter at the intersection of Beiling da jie and Taishan lu.
Phone number: +86 (0)24 8691 0461
Price: 6 yuan to enter the park, another 30 yuan for the tomb
Read more: http://www.synotrip.com/shenyang/tourist-attractions/beiling-park-and-zhaoling-tomb-1883.shtml#ixzz3HxPtFIfC
Fall is a beautiful time of year. Is it that so everywhere in the world?
This fall, we saw Indiana and many family and friends. I wish we could have packed the blue sky to bring it home. Enjoy.
Down the Tracks
Pumpkins in the apple orchard
Must Take That
Apples for Mom
Rosedale Covered Bridge