Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Impressions of Shanghai’ Category

Shanghai is a large city of about twenty-three million people. Though it’s the most westernized city in China, the vast majority of those twenty-three million people are…wait for it….Chinese! White or black people are the obvious exceptions in the sea of Asian faces.

In preparing to visit China I was told to expect people to stare at me, a non-Asian, in public. About all I have in common physically with the Chinese are my dark eyes. My silvery hair used to be dark brown, but no longer. I certainly would never be mistaken for an Asian. I’m an introvert and do not enjoy being stared at, but as a larger woman close to 6 feet tall, I have rarely managed to engage stealth mode and slip in and out of a group unnoticed. Even so, I was still not looking forward to being stared at every time I went out into public

Then had an interesting idea. Instead of letting all that staring make me uncomfortable, I decided I would simply smile at everyone I noticed staring at me. Guess what? Most everyone smiled back! Some shyly, some warmly, and some with a broad grin as if to say, “Aha! You caught me looking!”

I’m not a xenophobe, and my guess is that many people from other cultures are not either. But be honest, don’t we tend to do a double take when we notice someone very different from us? Those glances are often simply borne out of curiosity or an awareness of something different.

There was one thing, however, that made me jumpy and particularly concerned about getting around in Shanghai, the possibility of being targeted by pickpockets in crowded places. I was warned by several people to be aware of pickpockets who often work in pairs and follow foreigners or get especially close to potential targets in public places. Great. So be aware of anyone getting particularly close to me in public places.

Have you ever observed Asians in crowded places? They have a different cultural norm for respecting personal space, so close crowding and jostling are perfectly acceptable to them. How was I supposed to sort out pickpockets from the non-threatening Chinese shopper? What if someone stole my passport? My credit card? My camera? Several of my new acquaintances regaled me with their stories of being pickpocketed or targeted for pickpocketing. I was so nervous about the possibility of being pickpocketed that I wouldn’t even take my cross-body purse or my camera out with me the first few days we were in Shanghai. (And my husband would tell you that my purse is surgically attached to me so that I am never without it.)

As we prepared to visit some famous sites of Shanghai I realized I was being ridiculous. Yes, take precautions. And yes, be vigilant. But stop being overly imaginative and take both camera and purse and enjoy observing a new culture.

On our whirlwind tour of Shanghai, we stopped at Yu Garden, wandering through the shopping area first, then stepping outside to learn about some of the amazing ancient Chinese buildings. My husband exercised his excellent bargaining skills to purchase some gifts and mementos. He drove such a hard bargain that one of the shopkeepers grumbled and said, “You make me poverty!” as he closed the deal and wrapped up the parcel, a broad grin on his face.

One of my favorite things to do in a new location is to find a place to sit, observe, and absorb the atmosphere of a place. I love to look through my camera lens and snap images of things that impress me. An interesting architectural feature – click. Busy intersection – click. Sun-dappled flower- click. Fascinating people – click.

While perched on a low wall outside of Yu Garden I used my camera to capture snippets of the busyness of the place. An older Chinese gentleman sat down near me and, after observing me quietly for a minute, greeted me in excellent English. We went on to have a conversation about Canada and oil and economics. He stood up and said, “It was nice talking with you.” Yes, I thought, it WAS very nice to chat with this stranger in a city of 23 million people.

Near the City God Temple we stopped to take some pictures when three older Chinese people accosted us. They crowded close to us grinning broadly and loudly repeated, “Heh-low!” Were these some of the infamous pickpockets we had been warned about? Cautiously we replied, “Hello” which produced even broader grins and more enthusiastic “Heh-lows.”

My lovely daughter-in-law speaks Mandarin quite well. She learned these three were from another province in China and were tourists in Shanghai just like we were. They asked my daughter-in-law if they could have a picture with my husband, and then with my husband and me. She told us they vigorously debated among themselves whether my husband was 2 meters tall or not. They practiced their one English word, “Heh-low!” over and over with us, and delightedly thumped my husband on the back and pumped his hand in thanks for the photo. They tried saying “Canada” and we tried to say the Mandarin word for thank you. It was a fun cultural exchange, with no pickpocketing involved!

We learned from our son that the Chinese are gift-giving people. Before flying to Shanghai we had consulted our family about appropriate gifts to take for the special Chinese people who have blessed and befriended our loved ones in China. We wanted to thank them for their help and kindnesses to our son and his family over the years. Instead we found that we were blessed and honored that so many regaled us with special gifts and meals during our stay.

While in Shanghai I was treated with great kindness, even by strangers. My fibromyalgia and arthritis sometimes prevent me from walking very far so we used taxis to get around. Some of the cabs were a tight fit for me and I would have to maneuver my leg carefully to get seated. Several times a cabbie or worker where we were staying would see me struggling to get my sore leg in and would run over and help lift my leg into the taxi. I was really touched by those gestures of kindness.

The Chinese are like any other people group. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are beautiful, some more ordinary looking. Some are short and some a little taller. From our observations, they seem to love their children and respect their elders. Like in any large metropolitan area, a small criminal element exists, but many people we interacted with were kind and thoughtful. Our encounters with people in Shanghai were mostly positive and provided us with good memories of this city of twenty-three million people.

Heh-low!

Heh-low!

City God Temple

City God Temple

Near Yu Garden

Near Yu Garden

 

Fresh fruit treats at Yu Garden

Fresh fruit treats at Yu Garden

Tea House

Tea House by Yu Garden

Wall of flowers by the Bund

Wall of flowers by the Bund

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

fff-delicate-leaves

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends. And yes, I realize I am once again posting this on Saturday. 🙂

Break in the weather After a couple of very cold weeks, we’ve enjoyed a week of unseasonably warm weather. A lovely break for Albertans in January!

Christmas banquet in January Our church’s Christmas banquet was held last Saturday. (Yes, we know it’s after Christmas, but people are not as busy in mid-January as they generally are in December.) Several ladies in our church did the catering this time and the result was fantastic! It was the best catered meal we’ve ever had at the church.

Word with Friends all time high score for one word – crimples – which crossed both a triple and a double word tile with the ‘m’ on a triple letter tile. I was trying to clear my letter tray and rearranged the letters until I saw the word. I tried to play it, unsure if it was even a word, but it is!! It means to crimp, curl, or wave, but can also mean to wrinkle or crumple. The score for that one word? 191 points. That will likely stand as my high score forever!

 Finishing a big project I have the majority of the work done on a research and writing project I have had on my ‘to do’ list on for several months. It needs only final editing to be complete. Yay!

Answer to prayer A friend had brain surgery last July to remove a tumor behind her ear. She has recovered well, but had the ongoing side effect of double vision. Many have been praying that God would resolve that problem and this week he did just that!

I haven’t done much with photography or cards the past few weeks. Here are a few fun pictures with friends and family from our trip to Shanghai last month.

Jade figure in store window

Jade figure in store window

Future chef

Future chef

My favorite Minnie Mouse

My favorite Minnie Mouse

Fetching the wheelchair for Granny

Fetching the wheelchair for Granny

day-13-23

Happy baby

 

My very own Mad Hatter

My very own Mad Hatter

Shanghai sycamores

Shanghai sycamores

Read Full Post »

fff winter buttonIt’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

We had the joy of traveling to China to visit our son and his family for Christmas. This is my first FFF in a month so my blessings this week are compiled from the past few weeks. I’m writing specifically about our Shanghai experiences on my blog, PurpleGrandma.com, so check them out if you are interested in my Impressions of Shanghai series.

Good trip Because of my health issues, traveling can sometimes cause problems. Our trip to China produced only minor issues, both concerning mobility and food sensitivities. I was treated like royalty by family and the wonderful people we met along the way.

Family For me the highlight of our trip was spending time with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. It was a joy to meet the newest member of the family and spend some granny time with him.

New friends Meeting and spending time with the team of teachers my son works with was fabulous. What a wonderful group of dedicated teachers these folks all are!

Cultural experiences Visiting and spending time in a new culture was so interesting! I enjoyed observing and taking pictures of life in Shanghai. Next time I won’t be so skittish about the possibility of being pickpocketed and will carry my camera with me everywhere.

No place like home This week we had some bitterly cold temperatures. A well-insulated warm house is a great blessing on these winter days.

46

Newest member of the family

112

At Shanghai Disney

27b

Fruit on a stick

19

East meets west – Chinese and English signs

23

The Bund

85

Family, teachers, and students at Christmas

50

A perfectly normal family Christmas picture

Read Full Post »

Impressions of Shanghai: It’s not fun to parbreak at Disney

This is the second in a series of posts on my observations of Shanghai from our recent trip to China.

If you were to ask my children two of the things I dislike most they would probably shout in unison, “Noise and crowds!”

You might want to add to that list amusement parks. Most people go to amusement parks (noisy, crowded amusement parks I might add) for the rides. All my life I have had a serious problem with motion sickness so even the thought of riding zippy rides is not appealing to me on any level. And in my mind all amusement park rides ARE zippy rides.

My experiences as a child include (and I will be delicate here and use a wonderful Balderdash word) parbreaking after riding almost any ride. Cedar Point had a log ride that basically soaked you as you splashed down the incline in a dugout, and for some reason I never got sick on that. But beside that one happy memory (Oh yay! A ride that doesn’t make me sick!!) Cedar Point, King’s Mountain, the Lake County Fair, and Conneaut Lake Park all produced unpleasant childhood memories, at least where rides were concerned.

Add to that my tendency to get pounding headaches when walking around in the hot sun and you can perhaps understand why the thought of visiting any amusement park is not on my list of, oh say, the top million things I would like to do.

So when my daughter-in-law excitedly told me there was a now a Shanghai Disney (yawn) and that the family had a season’s pass (that’s nice) and wouldn’t it be so much fun to take the kids to Disney for a memorable day with their grandparents (arrkk…red alert!!) my primary thought was, “Fun! It’s not fun to parbreak at Disney!”

But my husband, who typically has no interest in amusement parks, thought it would be a nice family outing. So I swallowed my objections, loaded my purse with ginger chews, and off we went.

We visited the park on a Thursday in December. The sky was overcast, so no sun, the temperature was chilly, so no heat, and visiting on a week day in the winter meant that while it was busy, it was not crowded or exceptionally noisy.

But the ghost of amusement park rides past still haunted me.

It was with some trepidation I stepped onto the ride, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. “Hey! It’s in water, so maybe it won’t be so bad!” We fought pirates! We survived the Kracken! We found treasure! And best of all, not even a whisper of nausea.

Next we tackled the Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, an interactive ride where we “rangers” use our pulse blasters to shoot at targets to fight the evil Emperor Zurg and save the space aliens’ home. My competitive streak surfaced and I found myself keeping a sharp eye out for the targets and blasting them with great gusto. All too soon the ride was over and I had a respectable score to show for my target shooting. And again, no nausea.

I suddenly realized I was having fun and enjoying myself immensely!

Next we visited the interactive displays at Tron Realm in Tomorrowland where my grandson was absolutely captivated by the driving simulator. The futuristic vehicles and technology were truly amazing. I was even tempted for an instant to line up for the Tron roller coaster ride. It really looked spectacular! But when I saw it plummet down the track and do a 180 roll, I quickly dismissed that thought.

Before the day was over we toured the Enchanted Storybook Castle, threaded our way through the Alice in Wonderland Maze, enjoyed a colorful parade, and watched our son and grandson line up for 45 minutes to enjoy the Jet Pack ride which lasted 80 seconds. The look of utter joy on our grandson’s face while on that ride made the long wait seem insignificant.

Shanghai Disney has done a wonderful job of bringing together east and west to provide an enjoyable family experience. The park is clean, the costumed personnel are friendly and helpful, and the park is much, much more than simply zippy rides.

On our way out we stopped briefly at Starbucks and at the wonderfully imaginative Lego store. It was time to leave and we barely scratched the surface of things to see and do. Would I go back to Shanghai Disney? Absolutely! (But maybe not on a crowded, noisy, hot summer day.)

And best of all? No parbreaking at Disney!

Shanghai Disney

Shanghai Disney

Interactive delight

Interactive delight

This WOULD make me parbreak!

This WOULD make me parbreak!

Defeating the evil Emperor Zurg

Defeating the evil Emperor Zurg

A day at Disney Shanghai

A day at Shanghai Disney

Parade

Parade

The utter joy

Utter joy

Lego meets Disney

Lego Snow White

Goodbye, Shanghai Disney

Goodbye, Shanghai Disney

A note about accessibility: Because of my mobility limitations we rented a wheelchair and my family took turns pushing me around the park. Disney Shanghai is very handicap friendly. The park’s Guidemap clearly indicates which areas are wheelchair accessible.

Details on Shanghai Disney taken from https://www.shanghaidisneyresort.com/en/

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: