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.
My friend, Iris, has given me three incredibly memorable Shenyang experiences. First and foremost, in 2010, she introduced me to a new school full of amazing Chinese people. Five years later, I am still volunteering there. Second, she invited me to visit her friend’s tea shop where I learned more about tea in two hours than at any other point in my life. Most recently, Iris told me about a photo contest going on at what is affectionately called the Diamond building. For one afternoon, they opened up the Shengjing Grand Theatre for photos inside. The promotion for the contest was exclusively in Chinese. Being an educated illiterate in this country, I would have never known about it if Iris didn’t encourage me to go.
Many times, I’d seen the sun and skyline reflected in the mirrored facade. I had never thought about what it would be like, feel like, inside. It took my breath away how the light and shadow came alive, like we were breathing them in. Oh, and the design, the architecture, the consistency of it all … there were facets and angles everywhere.
Yes, it had some odd design elements, as one might expect in China, but many diamonds have flaws. They remain beautiful and unique. Shenyang’s diamond is just that. Enjoy.
Last month, I was back in the U.S. for about a week. I spent time with my independent eighty-six year old Mom. I saw friends I’ve loved for more than twenty years. I lit piles of stuff on fire with my brother. I enjoyed blue skies and a warm afternoon stop at the local dairy bar. And I had the privilege to travel to the fabulous city of Chicago with three teenagers (two nieces and a nephew).
We made a museum tour, tried some excellent pizza (at my favorite, Gino’s East), ate plenty of other great food, enjoyed that gorgeous skyline and the bluest skies, and learned a little more about each other. Such a lovely trip. Enjoy some pictures.
This time of year, I usually write a post about the changes on our familiar skyline. The beautiful diamond building showing progress year to year. That diamond now plays host to concerts and shows, a far cry from the hole in the ground it was a few years ago.
Last May, we moved from that south & east facing apartment with the diamond view. We got a new outlook on life and on Shenyang. My favorite daily view is the Ke Pu Science Park. It is a wonder, a living thing that moves and changes every hour of every day. Tai qi, basketball, ping pong, balloons, pond life, walkers and exercisers, kite flyers, dancing clubs and walking clubs, bird statues that light up at night … Public parks all over China are a wonder.
Here are some recent shots of our views in Shenyang, plus one more recent sunrise in the Instagram feed to the left. Enjoy.
To walk this city
at my pace
I see me.
I am glorious blue, and polluted gray, shades among.
I am determined and loud, lost and exactly in place, silent and moving,
I belong and I don’t. Who knew?
It knew. This city knew.
This is what 110 stories looks like in the early stages. A massive hole in the ground. Cranes constantly moving. More scaffolding than you could imagine. Trucks driving in and out at all hours. Workers, workers, so many workers.
After a walk in Qingnian Park (post to come later), I ventured up to the lobby of Grand Hyatt Shenyang. It is one of the best views on a very good day, not only to see our TV tower and the big city, but it has the best view of the pit.
Bao Neng is bringing 110 stories to Shenyang. In a city where construction is constant, this one is king.
When the glaring white fills too many skies of our Shenyang and China days, we learn to fully appreciate the blue. Stand at the window and stare. See skyline details you’ve never seen before. Take your pink bike or sneaks out for a spin.
Do not forget that THIS is Shenyang too.
It is not just the staring, the spitting, the crazy, the chaos, the failure to understand and be understood. It is different, and that is okay. It is China, and we have accepted the privilege to live here for a time.
Shenyang is also the river, parks and greenery, locals out for the day, “hello” said from a distance, those enjoying the sunshine and shade. It is the kids who laugh, the workers who work, the riders who ride, and, yes, sometimes, even the skies that shine.
After 4 years in 10D, we have a new view. The diamond is slightly obstructed now, but look what we get in return. A different skyline. The 72 story Maoye building. The gorgeous Kepu Park. The tai qi ladies in their blue and red silks making their moves at 6am. Kites flying in the library field. At night, we can see the K lit up on the Kempinski Hotel 3km up Qingnian. And 2km past that, that circle building with cranes sticking out the top. So despite a new upstairs neighbor who wears high heels at home, and the feline issues with shifts in sunlight, all is well.
Call it a cultural experience. When a couple gets married in China, it is the husband’s family that is responsible for a place to live, maybe a car, the wedding, etc. More than a year ago, our landlord’s son got married. With their baby on the way, the landlord will give our old apartment to his son and daughter in law, and the soon-to-be grandchild. They were apologetic and appreciated our care of the old place. They wished us well, and were happy to know we would stay in the neighborhood. In fact, we now live in the same building as the landlord’s mother. Maybe she is one of those tai qi ladies?
A new view or a new outlook are sometimes forced upon us. Sometimes, we have to find a new place to sleep in the sun. We could look at it as a pain the ass, or we can just accept it, deal with it, do it. And who knows what we might get in return.
Another year has passed, so make that 4 in Shenyang. Once again, here are some comparisons of our view. No more cranes over the diamond. A few more buildings to look at. Same traffic. Next year, our view will be different, but we’ll get to that.