It has been a few days since I have blogged. Life has been a series of successes and failures. Yesterday we went to the Shanghai Museum, but the line was hours long and it was 100+ outside, so we decided to go have lunch and try the Shanghai Art Museum after that. Thing is we took a wrong turn on the way to the restaurant and walked forever. By the time we got there even our sweat was sweating. We were so exhausted after lunch we went home. The shining flower in all of this was that we found a great dumpling restaurant. Dumplings are our new “thing”!
Have I mentioned it is HOT! I thought we were just whimps from living in the UK too long, but I found out that it has been the hottest summer in 138 years, even the locals are struggling. It has been 100+ w/ 90+ % humidity for weeks. (Elaine W./Ellen M. you would LOVE IT-joke) We are learning to stay underground in the air-conditioned subways and planning things indoor to do.
The next day we got up very early and went to the museum again. We had a great day, only a 5 min line. We saw the Shanghai Museum in the morning, had lunch, discover the “jamba juice” of Shanghai, then went to Shanghai Art Museum in the afternoon. Fresh Juice is a critical food group in this heat!!!! They have all kinds of fruit, including dragon fruit, leech, asian pear, Jack-fruit and some even I don’t recognize. We now go every day. Big Glass is only $2.50/1.8 pound.
The Shanghai Museum is an ancient art history museum. They have permanent displays of calligraphy, painting, signature stamps, ceramics, etc, (Mark H. they have your Kiln as a diorama)plus they have temporary displays. At the moment one of those was on the Bronze Age and the development of design and writing on bronze. It was a key way they recorded information before the advent of permanent paper. My favorite was calligraphy and painting. They are very into calligraphy here! Check out the brushed below (Holly E. here are some shots. If you want more email me).
The Shanghai Art Museum is in an old western style building and is famous for the tea house at the top. This place has only temporary displays that change quite often. The day we went the place was mainly given over to a famous man who is now 90 some years old. He spent his life doing various kinds of modern art. We were not particularly impressed, but his commitment to his craft was amazing.
The other artist we really liked. Unfortunately the information on the whole display was in Chinese only. He did some amazing pictures that were an artistic version of “Where’s Waldo”. Except you have to find the beautiful women in them. He also did interested work, where he painted the whole canvas black and then used oil pastels to release amazing images of the peoples of the world. Many were Asian, but he has traveled as there were faces of many nationalities.
Kailin has been taking loads of pictures and collecting postcards to use for her art GCSE. She was in art heaven.
We went home feeling like we had a great day and that evening we discovered Sherpa’s, a food delivery service. Friends recommended it and we managed to get online, sign up, and have food delivered. This has been a blessing, as it allows up to stay home and still eat. Cooking in this kitchen is “interesting”. Apparently the Chinese don’t use ovens, toasters, dishwashers, garbage disposals, and since we are in a “guy flat” only 2 burners work and even dishes and cutlery are scares….but the air-conditioning works great which is most critical….This said we are going to give it a go. Leo proved it is possible. If I cook great meals camping, I do this….even if I must shop with sign language.
Friday, with idea of cooking a meal for everyone tonight, we took off to look for the big produce market Cort recommended. It did not go well. We keep forgetting it is just too hot to walk outside anywhere. We got lost and ended up at the Shanghai Museum of Science and Industry. We were so hot we dived into the subway underneath and discovered the famous “knock-off” market….but we were too hot to enjoy it, so we took a train to the Superbrand Mall near us; got emergency juice and went grocery shopping there. Lotus is the Central Market or Waitrose of Shanghai, except you can get all kinds of live creatures…not just lobster. They have all the US/UK stores here for clothing, etc. The prices are a bit cheaper (not much) but the style is different and the sizes are smaller….even if it says it is the size you normally wear. Also they only have 2 sizes of T-shirts….small and medium. When it says L, XL, or XXL…still M.
Another challenging day but we did manage to make a great meal and we discovered that palmello is really good when it has been tree ripened. It should be mentioned that there is a wonderful fruit vendor on our way home from the subway station. We have been living on fruit, esp watermelon.
On Saturday and we went to Rhett and Aurora’s. He and I spent hours trying to figure out how to advise Gary to transfer money to us and how to top up our phones. We were unsuccessful and he speaks Chinese!!!
Kailin played with Aja and Rhys while we ran around, then when we got back we all had dinner. While out ordering dinner we discovered a healthfood store….Loads of organic stuff, water purifiers, juicers and the VitaMix has made it to China!!! We meant a good friend of theirs, Amy. She helps people/companies adjust to life in Asia, and travels back and forth between Taiwan and Shanghai. I introduced everyone to Young Living Essential oils and Rhett taught us to juggle. We also sang and watched films…..Moving watching is a real “thing” here. They are cheap and subtitled in every language imaginable. Aurora has the whole “how to organize videos” figured out.
Sunday we gave up finding the produce market on our own and had Leo take us. Once we were there, and understood what “front gate” meant in Cort’s instructions, it really was easy and close. They have everything, including livestock! It is a classic old style Asian market…and very cheap. We are glad to know about it. This reminds me to mention the smell of Shanghai. I have traveled a lot and all big cities are noisy and smelly, (except Tokyo and Singapore: they are hermetically clean) but it has been awhile since I have been to a developing nation city. One really has to be ready for sensory over load that happens. I really can’t imagine living in a big city all the time. This is not to say that the country can’t be smelly….anyone who has ever lived down wind of a pig farm will testify to that, but in the country you can choose to be somewhere quite, beautiful, fresh and peaceful….It is very hard to combine all these qualities in a city. We are on the 27th floor and still I can hear sirens and smell the street.
The rest of the day we stayed cool, cooked and studied our Mandarin. The language is hard…we understand it in pinyin (letters) but we just can’t say it. They use lots of sounds we don’t have in our mouth and there are 4 inflections. The same word means 4 different things depending on the inflection…..trouble is they all sound alike to me and they all sound alike when I say them!!!! We are improving and gaining vocabulary. San, Er, Yi..Wa nan (3,2,1..goodnight)