A Travellerspoint blog

Final Days in Shanghai (最后几天在上海)

May 30 - June 3

Last blog post of this trip which means I get to go back home and eat American food! Yayy!

Since I've last posted, we went to Hangzhou (杭州) for a weekend getaway and stayed overnight Saturday into Sunday. We took a two hour bus ride to Hangzhou which is known in Chinese folklore as being one of the two heavens on earth (the other being Suzhou). Once we arrived in Hangzhou, we went to a restaurant and ate lunch. Afterwards, we went to Yellow Dragon Cave (黄龙吐翠). There we saw a "marriage market" which is when parents of single late twenty early thirty somethings take resumes of their children to local parks and try to find a suitable partner for their child. The resumes include everything from one's age, height, weight, major, skills, salary, etc. It was very interesting to see in person because it seems like it is similar to dating websites but in real life. Also, in America the parents don't really do the suiting for their children (at least as far as I've experienced). The rest of Yellow Dragon Cave was like a wooded park complete with mosquitoes but our trusty tour guide David had bug spray for all of us! There were many areas to explore but not enough time to explore them all. There was a waterfall in the one area where the water fell out of a golden dragon's mouth. I wasn't able to get even a decent picture because the lighting was so poor. After Yellow Dragon Cave we went to West Lake (西湖) which is one of the most famous lakes in all of China. West Lake was really pretty because there was fog / mist covering the opposite end of the lake and made it look that much more interesting. We walked around the lake for a little bit before taking a boat ride on the lake. After West Lake we went to a tea farm where Longjing tea (龙井茶) is grown. Here, we were able to walk through some of the tea plants and learned how the workers dry the tea. We also were given samples of the tea and had the opportunity to buy the tea. I decided not to buy any tea due to my previous experiences with bringing back tea in my luggage...After the tea farm we went to dinner and then checked in at the hotel. We then decided to go back to West Lake at night together as a group to see the lake at night. Originally, I was very tired and just wanted to take a shower and go to bed but I decided to go and boy was I glad that I went. West Lake at night is absolutely gorgeous; there was a musical fountain that was mesmerizing to watch. After the musical fountain performance, we walked around the lake again and I did some shopping.

The second day in Hangzhou was another busy day; we started off with going to Running Tiger Spring (虎跑泉). The water from the spring is supposed to be very healthy for your body. The elderly get special access to the spring to collect water for themselves. When we were there, we saw an elderly man carrying approximately 3-4 gallons worth of water containers to fill up at the spring. Our tour guide David told us that many people will wait in line for hours to collect the spring water. However, only the elderly and other people who buy a "membership" are permitted to collect water from the spring. After we saw the spring, we continued around the rest of the area and saw many different halls with different statues and such. After visiting the spring, we went to a shopping street, but we first made a loop around the local fresh food market in the neighborhood nearby. When we were walking around we saw the usual fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole pig heads, and fresh fish. Oh wait whole pig heads aren't "the usual"...There was a butcher in the market and they had apparently just cut up a pig and left the whole head in a bucket outside of their storefront. I can remember seeing my parents' pictures from when they were in China in 2001 of animal carcasses hanging in the market but this was my first encounter of this kind on all of my trips. In addition to the fruits, veggies, and fish, there were also bags of live frogs and freshly sliced eels as well as live turtles to buy for dinner. YUMM!! Many of the people in the group were disgusted by many of the sights in the market but as a third timer to China, I've been around the block and know how common these things are. After the market, we eventually ended up at the shopping streets and enjoyed the shops for about an hour or more before hopping back on the bus to take a 3.5 hour bus ride (due to traffic) home to Shanghai.

Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon a few other people and I went to Jingan Temple (静安寺). Jingan Temple is literally a Buddhist temple smack dab in the middle of Shanghai's city. It was raining all day yesterday so the smell of incense and rain made the temple that much more mesmerizing. Visiting the temple made me reminisce about all of the temples that I visited while I was in Tibet. Anytime that I smell incense now, I always think of my trip to Tibet and how beautiful it is. I dream of the day that I get to go back to Tibet.

I had my last day of Chinese class today and it was really nice to know that all of my classmates (同学们) were sad to see me go so soon. We took many group pictures at the end of class and I received many text messages from my classmates telling me to let them know when I am in their home country! I told them that they are all welcome to come visit me in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (宾西法尼亚州匹兹堡市). Tomorrow morning I have my final exam for ECNU as well as my final for OSU. The ECNU final will cover all of the material that I have learned in the past four weeks but will not be counted towards my final grade for OSU because it is more for an assessment of how well my teacher taught me. The OSU final will consist of reading menu items in Chinese and translating them into English and will count towards my final grade for the course. I'm more worried about the ECNU final than I am about the OSU final haha. I know it should be the other way around but the menu reading will be really easy for me to do.

My selfie stick has gotten its fair share of use on this trip since I bought it about 2-3 weeks ago. I must say it was one of the best $3 purchases that I have made on this trip. Many selfies have been taken on this trip as well as many beautiful pictures of the sights of Shanghai and the surrounding areas. I'm not a fan of the way that this blog posts pictures so I am going to wait to upload the pictures to my Facebook (脸书) once I return to the states.

We have a farewell lunch on Friday as well as two papers due that day. My flight leaves at 3:45pm Shanghai time on Saturday and I'm ready to come home and earn back all of the money that I just spent on these past few weeks. I'll never forget this trip as it was truly different than my prior trips. I'm excited to come back to China and hope that I get the opportunity to go to southern China in the near future and fulfill my dreams of holding a panda. I've been to China three times now and have yet to see a panda in its natural homeland. Someday I will see a panda in China...someday.

Posted by ruixueinchina 05:15 Archived in China Comments (2)

最近的事 (Recent happenings)

May 23 - May 29

It's been a while since I posted; it's been a super busy week with writing an abstract that was due Monday, catching up on readings, finishing up our tours of the city as well as studying for my weekly exam that I have every Friday in my language class. The exam that we have every Friday takes the first 90 minutes of class and then we continue with the rest of class. Today's exam was the second exam that I have taken. The exams are challenging but I know that they help to reinforce the material and grammar structures that we go over in class. The sentence structures tend to be challenging for me because I haven't formally studied grammar structures since my freshman year of college. However, the sentence structures are very useful because they form a different way of phrasing sentences in a more formal way.

Since my last post, we visited Suzhou on Saturday, I visited with my host family from my 2011 trip on Sunday, we went to an American burger place called Beef and Liberty on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day, we visited Tian Zi Fang (田子坊) and saw the Shanghai acrobats on Tuesday, I met with Amber who was a girl that my family hosted in 2008 on Wednesday evening, and we went to the Shanghai Urban Planning Center and a vegetarian restaurant on Thursday afternoon and evening. More detail on these trips below...

Saturday morning we woke up and took the two hour bus ride to Suzhou, the silk capital of the world. We went to a garden in Suzhou as well as a silk factory. At the silk factory, we were given a tour of the facilities. All of the machinery that they showed us was over 50 years old and was really fascinating to see the way that they made silk back in the 1960s. They had multiple stores at the end of the factory. I decided not to buy anything there as nothing was sparking my interest.

Sunday afternoon, I met with my host family from my trip in 2011 with NSLI-Y. We went to a Western style restaurant and I ordered a glass of pineapple juice with my spaghetti. When my drink came, it looked like whipped pineapple juice, it tasted delicious but had a weird consistency. The spaghetti was delicious and was a nice change up from the normal Chinese food that I've been eating for the past three weeks. After the restaurant, my host family took me to their friend's house. The family friend's Border Collie dogs had puppies about a month ago and just recently opened their eyes. The puppies were adorable and made me really happy! :)

Monday evening we decided to celebrate Memorial Day by going to a restaurant that one of the other students found. The restaurant was called Beef and Liberty and was similar to a Burgatory back in the states. I got a cheese burger, fries, and a vanilla milkshake. Everything was ABSOLUTELY delicious and was totally worth every penny that I spent that evening.

Tuesday, we went to Tian Zi Fang (田子坊) which is a shikumen style housing area with lots of little shops and restaurants. We spent about three hours there shopping and eating. The shikumen style housing was very beautiful to admire. The fact that they have turned the shikumen housing into the shops and restaurants. It is always interesting to see what cities turn historical sites into. The restaurant that we went to for dinner was decently expensive so I ordered a plate of bruschetta which was decent, not great but okay. After Tian Zi Fang (田子坊) we went to the Shanghai acrobats. I've seen them on both of my previous trips. I think I'm at the point where I've seen it all and it's not as impressive to me anymore. However, I found it very amusing how amazed everyone on the trip was with what the acrobats could do. It's very interesting watching the other students on this trip be amazed by everything on their first trip to China.

Wednesday evening I met with Amber for dinner with my friends and two of her friends. It was very fun to meet up with her again. It has been about seven years since we first met in Pittsburgh. It was so nice to catch up with her and find out what she has been up to recently and in the past few years.

Thursday after class we visited the Shanghai Urban Planning Center which I visited in 2011. It's one of my favorite museums here in Shanghai because of the models of Shanghai that they have on display. It also has displays about the development of all of the areas in the Shanghai area. After the museum, we went to an all vegetarian restaurant. The carnivore that I am wasn't too interested in the food at the restaurant so I only nibbled on a few dishes and a bowl of rice. When we returned to campus, we went to the little shop outside of the main gate called Sugar (refer to my previous blog) and got french fries and popcorn chicken for my REAL dinner.

As you can tell, my week was very busy and I'm off to Hangzhou (杭州) tomorrow morning at 8am. I was told it's about another two hour bus ride to Hangzhou (杭州) so I will most likely be going back to sleep on the bus ride there. This trip is our one and only overnight trip so we won't return to Shanghai until late Sunday afternoon or sometime later in the evening. This next coming week we have our last few days of class and then final wrap up and papers on papers on papers to write before the end of the trip. It'll be another busy week but not in the sense that I would like to be busy. I'll be spending lots of time studying for the last few assignments in the next few days. Hopefully, I'll be able to post another blog early next week after I return from Hangzhou (杭州) to give you another last update before I leave to return to the states.

Until next time.

Posted by ruixueinchina 03:54 Archived in China Comments (0)

上海的美国菜 (Shanghai's American Food)

May 21 - May 22

So this is gonna be a different kind of post. I'm not gonna talk about what I did the past two days because nothing exciting happened and I don't want to bore you. So instead, I'm gonna talk about the American food here in Shanghai and how it has changed since my first visit to Shanghai in 2011.

Today, I had to give a presentation of my experiences so far in Shanghai and mine was quite different than everybody else's simply because this is my third time to Shanghai. During my presentation, I discussed the modernization and westernization of China, specifically Shanghai, and American food was one of my examples.

When I was here in 2011, I had a very hard time finding food that I liked to eat. Because of this, I ate very little except for rice and the chewy bars that I brought from America. When I was with my host family, I was apparently eating so little that they insisted upon getting me McDonald's, Pizza Hut, or KFC every night because they knew that I would eat it. Back then, these were the only American food places that I knew of.

But now, every corner and every block has a place where you can get American food. Just around campus, there is a place called Sugar where they serve popcorn chicken and french fries. I have been to Sugar twice now and it has yet to disappoint me. Except for the fact that they don't use Heinz ketchup, but that's just the Pittsburgh ketchup snob in me. A little way down the road from Sugar is a dive bar / western restaurant called James. Not James's. Just James. We've been to James a few times in this past week and their food is pretty good. They also have popcorn chicken (personally, I think that theirs is better than Sugar), french fries, burgers, among some other American bar food. One of the other guys and I went to a pizza place down the street from the main gate called Pizza Cut. It's a small little restaurant where you can buy pizza by the slice as well as whole pizzas. I had their "Diavolo" pizza (pepperoni) and their Hawaiian pizza when we went and they were both very tasty. Pizza Cut may become my new go-to place when I'm tight on time and need a quick bit of food.

We've also seen the typical McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut. However, something that was new to me this time around was the Outback Steakhouse that we saw and a Tex Mex place called Salubre. We've eaten at Salubre twice and I have concluded that the cheese quesadilla is just the fix for any Mexican craving. We've decided that we want to try the Outback before we leave. I never would have thought that Outback would be that worldly to have a restaurant in Shanghai.

It really amazes me how much has changed in the past four years in regards to the Westernization and modernization of Shanghai. When I was here in 2011, there may have been more American food places than I was exposed to but I would not know since I wasn't able to explore the surrounding areas like I am now.

The past two trips I've lost about two pounds per week because of the amount of food that I was eating as well as how much walking one does in Shanghai. However, on this trip with all of these yummy American style places I may actually gain weight this trip.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I'll try to take some pictures of the American places and post any good ones that I get.

Posted by ruixueinchina 03:55 Archived in China Comments (0)

在上海看的事情 (The Things One Sees in China)

May 18 - May 20

The things that happen in China still amaze me, even after two previous trips. Within the past few days, I've experienced a few things that have amazed the other students in the group, as well as myself.

On Monday, we went to search for a place to eat lunch. The original place that we wanted to go to was closed so we went to search for another place. We ended up at a restaurant on the side of the street and sat down, looked at the menu, and decided that we couldn't read any of the menu. So we decided to just order simple bok choi and rice, however after trying to communicate with the waitress, we discovered that the restaurant only served hot pot and we didn't have time enough time to eat hot pot. We then walked out of the restaurant extremely embarrassed that we had caused that big of a scene. We eventually went to a place called Sugar that served popcorn chicken and french fries. The one kid that I was with ordered the "Big Mac" meal. He thought that the meal would include a hamburger and french fries but it only came with french fries, popcorn chicken, and hash brown triangles. But no hamburger. Later after class, a few of us were sitting in a coffee bar called 520 right outside of the front gates. While we were sitting there, a homeless person approached us and asked us for money. Normally, I wouldn't be surprised at this but the fact that it was inside of a nice establishment astonished me. The employees eventually came over and ushered the homeless person out of the coffee bar. Later that night, we went to a hot pot restaurant called Chongqing Chicken (重庆鸡). I have eaten hot pot before so decided that I would be able to try the hotpot that we ordered. We ordered ours with chicken, potatoes, celery, and some other various vegetables. When it was brought to the table, it looked absolutely delicious. The chicken had bones but that was manageable. The thing that wasn't manageable was the chicken feet that were included. Once we saw the chicken foot, we all lost our appetites and were unable to eat much else after seeing the foot in our food. Two of the brave men in the group tasted the chicken foot and all decided that it tasted just as gross as it looked.

Yesterday, when I was in my Chinese class during our break time, the kid sitting down the row from me was eating his lay's chips with chopsticks which was funny, but also kind of expected in a way. I was impressed that he was able to eat even the small broken chips at the bottom of the bag. After our language class yesterday, we went to Yu Garden which I have visited before on both of my trips. The gardens are so peaceful to walk around and have beautiful scenery to take pictures with.

This past week, our group hasn't been able to take group pictures easily and we have seen many groups using selfie sticks. I broke down last night and bought a selfie stick and decided that it's okay to buy one since I'm in China where everyone has a selfie stick. I was able to haggle the price down to about $2.50 for my selfie stick and it's definitely worth the $2.50. It's not only useful for group pictures, but also for a very short girl that can't take pictures over everyone tall person's heads. The Shanghai skyline pictures on my Instagram were all taken with my selfie stick.

That just about sums up everything that we have done during the first half of this week. Tomorrow we go to Xin Tian Di as well as the First Chinese Communist Party Congress site and then a day trip to Suzhou on Saturday. Look for a new blog post hopefully around Friday!180_IMG_5571.jpgIMG_5557.jpgIMG_5551.jpg

Posted by ruixueinchina 03:05 Archived in China Comments (1)

外国人回来了 (The Return of the Foreigners)

May 9 - May 17

Greetings from Shanghai, China!

The group that I am with on this trip to Shanghai is a study abroad program with The Ohio State University. There are a total of nine students and one professor with us. The nine of us on this trip all come from diverse academic and personal backgrounds and most of us have taken at least some Chinese. However, there are three students that have never learned Chinese before. The students who have never learned Chinese before have been trying really hard to learn some basic Chinese and I've enjoyed helping them out and translating for them throughout our travels. It's been entertaining watching them try to order food or ask for other things when we have been out. They're very proud of the limited Chinese that they know and I'm very proud of all of the progress that they have made in just one short week!

In the week that we have been here, we've been very busy every day. Whether it is reading and doing homework for our language and Shanghai history classes or touring different sites throughout the city, we have been moving and grooving every day of our trip so far. Our language classes are every morning for about three hours and then on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, we have our history class where we discuss the development of Shanghai throughout its history. The language classes have been challenging for me but I know that they will greatly improve my language skills in the short time that I will be here. The history class has been the most interesting class for me that I have taken while a student at Ohio State because even though I have been to Shanghai twice before this trip, I have yet to learn much about its history.

Coming back to East China Normal University brought back so many memories from my first trip to Shanghai in 2011 with NSLI-Y (Go check out those blogs…they’re pretty entertaining and demonstrate all of the culture shock that comes with being in a completely different country). On Sunday, our first full day on campus, we had orientation followed by a welcome lunch and then a campus tour. I quickly realized that I was still able to navigate campus relatively easily even after four years. I remembered that the Trustmart (aka Walmart) was right outside of the main gate when I was there in 2011 so Sunday afternoon me and two other girls went to Trustmart to buy some things that we all needed. When we got there the Trustmart was gone as well as all of the memories associated with Trustmart and by memories I mean all the times that I bought jelly for my PB&J sandwiches.

This past week we had two scheduled tours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and then a few unofficial sightseeing trips after our afternoon classes. On Tuesday afternoon, we went to the Shanghai Museum. I had been to this museum both times that I have been in Shanghai before so there wasn’t much for me to explore but I was able to explain some Chinese history things to some of the other students that I had learned on my previous trips. Afterwards, we were supposed to go to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center but we did not have enough time after visiting the Shanghai Museum so that trip will be saved for a later date. I’m really excited to go back to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center because it was really fascinating seeing it in 2011 and the plans that they have for the city.

Thursday we went to the Shanghai History Museum which is located at the bottom of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. This was another repeat museum for me but it is a very interesting one except for the scary wax figures that freak me out. The museum displays the various influences in the Shanghai area throughout the years, especially the British influence near the Bund region. Afterwards, we were going to go up the TV Tower but decided that it would be better to go up on another day when it wasn’t so cloudy. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is one of my favorite buildings in Shanghai because of its history with the development of the city, the architecture, as well as how unique it looks against the city skyline with its three pods. Later that evening, we explored around the Bund and Nanjing Lu which was very pretty at night. On my prior trips, I didn’t have as much free time to explore the city so it is definitely nice to be able to get out on our own and explore.

Saturday we went to a water town for the day. On my first trip to Shanghai, I went to a different water town called Zhou Zhuang (周庄古镇). I knew how pretty the water towns are here and was very excited to explore this new water town called Zhu Jia Jiao (朱家角古镇). When we got there, I realized that Zhu Jia Jiao was a lot smaller than Zhou Zhuang but was just as beautiful. Both of these water towns had the small shops that you can bargain at so it was fun to bargain again and also to encourage the students that were just learning Chinese to use their language skills and practice saying numbers. I bargained for a few bracelets and a necklace all for a total of ¥21 or about $3.50. The water towns resemble the canals in Venice and have more than 1700 years of history. I think that it is remarkable that something can still retain such history throughout that long of a timespan in an age that is so driven by technology.

I hope to blog more frequently in the next three weeks so that they won’t be as long in the future. We were just so busy with everything that I had to take care of my school work first! Keep an eye out for more blogs in the next few days! 再见!

Posted by ruixueinchina 03:55 Archived in China Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]