Monday, May 30, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 30, 2011

Walking the streets of Shanghai can be risky. The guy on the sidewalk was hit by a car, who was turning right, and didn't see this guy and his two friends. Even though both driver and pedestrian had green lights, the normal custom of letting the "pedestrian have the right of way" doesn't go over so well here in Shanghai.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 29, 2011

It's a little hard to tell, but above this restroom door is an electronic sign. What does the sign say, you ask? It keeps the time of occupancy, so that people outside can see how long you've been in the bathroom. It's a little uncomfortable if you ask me, then again, it was even more awkward for the guy that came out of this door after 10 minutes and 32 seconds.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 28, 2011

Only in China will you find a random chicken on the street going through garbage...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 27, 2011

Our dog search started when we began answering ads on Taobao.com in which puppies were for sale. The person on the other end of the phone told us that they had "plenty" of the dogs we wanted: Black Labrador puppies. When we arrived at their shop, miraculously, they had just sold the one that we wanted, but had many other puppies they wanted to sell us. This was the entrance to that lousy shop. The dudes sitting around smoking cigarettes while the animals sit in their own waste was a little frustrating.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 26, 2011

Practicing my archery skills at the Suzhou Calm Gardens was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Picture of the Day - May 25, 2011

One of the many water canals at the Suzhou Calm Gardens in Suzhou, China.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 29

Hi again everyone! Last week I ended by telling you guys about the end of our search for an Ayi (maid), when we hired a young lady named, Bonnie. Bonnie has been with us for a couple of weeks now, and is already prompting me to ask the same question I asked myself after I got my first cell phone: "How could I have ever lived without this before?!" Having someone here to take care of things around the apartment is great, but having her help us run errands that require a Chinese-speaker is fantastic! However, I would be missing the point if I didn't remind myself that the reason we hired her in the first place is because we decided to get a puppy. In fact, we decided to get a puppy about a month ago, and have since been searching for the right place to get it.

I am happy to announce that our search has ended, and we have a new addition to our household!! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Bao Bei (pronounced like "Bow Bay").


Following up on our dog search from Week 26, we were considering all our options in finding the perfect puppy. We decided adoption wasn't for us at this time and we were having problems finding a good breeder. The other weekend, our ayi, Bonnie, found us what looked like a great breeder online. So we made the long trip out to the location to once again be disappointed to find out that we had been lied to, yet again, and the conditions of the facility were terrible. As you can imagine, we were beginning to get extremely frustrated about being lied to and spending lots of time on our weekends traveling to far-away locations only to find that we had been once again duped by another breeder. However, I had heard of a large, reputable breeder, Jialiang (www.jialiang.com), close to where we were located at the time. 

Mike and I had no plans for the remainder of the day so we decided to make our way out to the Jialiang kennel. When we arrived, we were extremely impressed and loved the beautiful and expansive facilities. Jialiang is the breeder and trainer of many of the working dogs here in Shanghai. Their dogs work at the Pudong airport and they also train many of the police dogs. They have a large equestrian facility on the property (and for those of you who know me, you know I was very excited to see). They had a couple different litters of black lab puppies that we were able to see. The first group was very young and still being weened. However, they said that they had another litter (3 girls and a boy) who were a little older. In order to see them, they needed to bring them over from another part of the property.


So as you can tell from the video, we ended up purchasing a Black Labrador Retriever puppy and naming her Bao Bei, 宝贝, which translates to treasured object or baby. It's a common name people use for pets and children here in China.

Bao Bei and her two sisters being brought from their location
a little farther away on the property.

Bringing Bao Bei home in the Taxi

Me with Bao Bei on our trip home

One of the things that we're learning as new doggie parents is the concept of socialization. Introducing our new puppy to as many as 100 people in the first few months will help her get comfortable being around people, so we're trying to have as many friends over to our apartment as possible (since she's not yet allowed out of the house because she is still getting her vaccination shots). Though we're a long way off from our goal of 100 people, we got some help from two of our friends who were visiting from the U.S. over the last couple of weeks!

Gary and Rebecca are from Seattle, and the trip to Shanghai was their first to mainland China, so Tiffany and I wanted to help make their trip as memorable as possible. Given that we have been exploring the city and its surroundings for the past seven months, there were a lot of cool activities that we wanted to show them. The normal tourist activities were a must, such as seeing the Oriental Pearl Tower, going shopping at the various "fake" markets, and getting tailor-made clothes at the fabric market.

Going up to the Pearl Tower was pretty cool for all of us, since it was the first time for all of us. For those of you who haven't heard of this unique piece of Shanghainese architecture, it stands 1,500 feet high and is situated in the heart of Lujiazui, which is Shanghai's financial center. Although you can go all the way up to the top, we chose to pay a little less money and go up to an observation deck that was 777 feet up. Because of its location in Pudong, it has a great view of the Bund across the Huangpu River, and also allows for a 360-degree view of the entire Shanghai skyline. One thing we learned after going up, however, was that you can get a much better view if you go up during the day. This is because the floor on the observation deck is transparent, and the lights used to ornate the Pearl from the base cause a glare that makes it hard to see the ground. During the day, the lights aren't shining through, and we thought it would have been a better experience to see how far up we really were. Still, it was pretty cool seeing the city at night, which is something Rebecca really wanted to see.

We also took our friends to the fabric markets and "fake" malls, which they found to be a lot of fun. I think it's always a lot of fun for tourists to have clothes made and bargain with the vendors. They turned out to be savvy negotiators despite not speaking a word of Chinese, and returned home with a lot of cool stuff. Gary got himself a nice, three-piece suit with pink lining and an overcoat. Rebecca found a shop that made her a stylish coat as well. For all that, I think they paid the equivalent of about $250! Then it was off to the fake markets, where Rebecca found 4 pairs of shoes that needed a home, and Gary finally found the remote-controlled helicopter he'd been missing his whole life, haha. In between all of the shopping and sight-seeing, and because both of them are big-time foodies from Seattle, we also took them to get some authentic Chinese food and hot pot.

 Tailors wanted to charge Gary extra money for his coat, because he's so tall
they said they needed "extra fabric" to make it fit...he went somewhere else.
 Our new suits fit perfectly!!
 Rebecca trying on her snazzy new coat,
which should keep her warm when she gets back to the Northwest!
 The Chinese have a term used to describe a guy like Gary at the fake market, with his newly purchased suitcase and remote-controlled helicopter in tow, and that is "Laowai." You can look that one up and judge for yourself. Store owners take one look at this bearded lumberjack and think to themselves, "Cha Ching!$!"
 Tiffany, Rebecca, and Belle,
just before they rode the go karts at Stampede Karting.
 Us on the Huangpu River boat cruise.
 Rebecca doesn't know this guy,
which didn't stop him from wanting to take a photo with her.
 Hot pot dinner and a bottle of wine with friends,
not sure life gets much better than that.

Another cool activity they wanted to do while in Shanghai was visit Suzhou, a city just outside of Shanghai that is known for its serene classical gardens and silk trade. Suzhou is also one of the ancient water towns in China, so the city is bound together by a myriad of canals that function as tourist attractions and transportation for goods. I had never been to Suzhou so I was excited to check it out.



All told, I think Gary and Rebecca enjoyed their trip to Shanghai, and we enjoyed having them. Now that they're gone, it's back to life as usual for us. Well, not exactly life as usual, since we have a new puppy to take care of! We'll definitely keep all of you posted on the particulars of owning a dog in China. Until next week, take care people!

Things To Do in Shanghai

Order In

Is it a rainy Saturday night in Shanghai and all you want to do is watch a movie and have dinner brought to you? Well then I have the perfect solution for you: Call Sherpa's! Sherpa's is a delivery service that will bring you food from a large variety of restaurants near your place. They have all your favorites: Italian, Mexian, Chinese, Tibetan, etc. The delivery charge, you ask? A mere 15RMB (approx. $2). You can order through their website www.sherpa.com.cn, which makes it fast and easy, especially because it's in English. Your food will be at your door in 30-45 minutes, no cooking, no mess, no clean-up!!!


Maybe It's Just Me


I took this photo at the Hoa Lo Prison (a.k.a. The Hanoi Hilton), where American P.O.W. were held during the Vietnam War. If you can't tell, the photos above depict American protesters, against the Vietnam War, marching in the streets. What is interesting about this photo is the description that comes atop these pictures, which offers a competing interpretation of war protesters in the U.S. during the 1960's. Maybe it's just me, but if my understanding of history is correct, I'm pretty sure the main reason people in the United States were protesting the Vietnam War was NOT because they were supporting the "Vietnamese struggle for independence and unification of the country."