Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Week 17

Hello again everyone! We are in Week 17 of our trip to China, which means our next mandatory visa leave is upon us. For those of you who don't know, everyone on a tourist visa to China must leave the country every 60 days to maintain tourist status. If you don't leave, your visa may be revoked and you will owe the Chinese government a lot of yuan. Not fun. So, instead of going down that road, we are on vacation in Japan!! Haha. It seems like we just went to Hong Kong (our last visa-leave destination) a few weeks ago, and now we're back on the road again. With all that has been going on with Chinese New Year, we neglected to plan our Japan trip, except that we knew we were going to Disneyland Tokyo. We'll give you guys the low-down on what's good in Japan next week.

A couple weeks ago we had a chance to go down to Yuyuan Gardens, a classic tourist venue here in Shanghai. Since all of our tourist books have this place listed, we knew this would be a great place to check out. We headed down there the day after Chinese New Year. Apparently there is always a crowd at the Yuyuan Gardens because there is, in addition to the Gardens, a bizarre outside and it's where a lot of people go to shop. Although it's not as popular as the Gardens, the bizarre and market outside is just as much of an attraction in our opinion. There are so many little trinkets to look at that one could spend all day walking around outside. Clothing, musical instruments, antiques, furniture, and other random stuff. Getting through the crowd at the bizarre is definitely a cool Shanghai experience, so we took some video so you guys could see for yourselves.

Once we were able to get through the sea of humanity outside, we finally arrived at Yuyuan Gardens. If you haven't had a chance to come to Shanghai, but are thinking about coming, we definitely recommend checking this place out. Established sometime in the mid-1500's, the Yuyuan Gardens was built by the son of a government official of the Ming Dynasty for his parents. He wanted a place for them to be able to enjoy their old age, which is partly how it got it's name: One of the older meanings of "Yu" in Chinese is pleasing or satisfying. If you were able to see this place in your mind without all of the tourists roaming about, you might be able to imagine how peaceful it would have been 400 years ago. There are many old trees and rockery, ponds to sit by, and details on the structures and grounds that make you wonder how long they must have spent building. Each hall still has a lot of furniture from the Ming Dynasty period, and it is set up to mirror what it would have looked like back then. The Crown Jewel of Yuyuan Gardens is the Exquisite Jade Rock, which you can see in the next video.

In the next few days we will be finishing our trip with a stop in Tokyo. Look forward to seeing pictures and video in next week's post. We just want to thank all you for reading our blog and taking an interest in our trip, we hope you continue to enjoy it. We'll see you (virtually) next week.

Maybe It's Just Me

I finished up my temporary job last week at the web development company, and really enjoyed being able to see what it's like to work in China. One amusing part of my day was riding the subway with people who push and shove. I understand that people need to get where they are going, but one incident last week made me think that people here just simply like to be close to each other.

Like any normal morning, I was moseying to the headache that we call a subway with my morning cup of Starbucks (not to be confused with my afternoon cup of Starbucks). As the train pulls up, people start crowding around the door, shoving other people out of the way and getting one step closer to a train that everyone is going to get on anyways. When the doors open, I was standing in front of a couple of guys who looked up at me confused, because I let them go ahead of me. So we all get on the train and I walk over to the aisle where it's less crowded; I had my cup of joe and didn't want to spill it. I was a little curious why most people crammed themselves next to the door just inside the train, since there was plenty of room in the aisle ways where I was standing. They were bunched so close together that one guy was holding his briefcase above his head. I just thought they might be standing by the door so they could get off at the next stop, but no one did. In fact, a second group of people, waiting at the next stop, got in the train and started pushing people out of the way so that they could stand next to the door. The guy with the briefcase accidentally hit a woman on the head and she pushed him for it, which then forced the guy in the aisle where there was much more room. Of course, the guy was pretty mad, since this woman just totally disrespected him in front of everyone. So what does he do? He walks right up, presses himself against the crowd standing next to the door, and then gets off 4 stops later. As I'm sipping my coffee and enjoying my elbow room, I couldn't help but laugh and think to myself, maybe it's just me.

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