Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shanghai River Cruise and Hangzhou, China

Shanghai would not be complete without a night time river cruise.  The glittering skyscrapers display a  spectacular display of lights.  My eyes never rested.  Huangpu River, a branch of the lower Yangtze River, has an outstanding display of architecture flanking its banks.  The famous Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is the tallest TV tower in Asia and the third highest in the world, is breathtaking.  The two suspension bridges on each side of the tower appear to arch over the tower and if you let you mind play, you will think you are seeing two dragons playing with a ball.

From Shanghai we took a day trip by train to Hangzhou.  The train ride in itself was an adventure.   The speed of the train was about 200 MPH and I do not believe that the train ever touched the tracks.  The seats were oh so comfy and stretched out like a recliner.  All too soon, the train pulled into the station.  Hangzhou, known for its scenery, is home to the famous West Lake, located in the western area of Hangzhou city.  West Lake is not only famous for its landscape, but it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes, and martyrs.  It is the epitome of Chinese culture.   In this scenic area, one can see the Six Harmonies Pagoda as well as the tomb of the famous General Yue Fei, who is considered a national hero.  The Temple of the Soul’s Retreat lies to the northwest and is noted as one of the most famous Buddhist Temples of China.  The temple can be traced back to 317 – 420 AD when according to legend, an Indian monk came to the area where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery. 

Tom and I could not resist a boat ride on the lake.  The lake is so tranquil and we could see a silhouette of the city high rises on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround the lake on three other sides.  Visitors can bike around the lake, walk or, as we did, take a short boat ride.  And, the three stone pagodas, acting like beacons and built over 800 years ago, are the centerpiece of the scenic spot called “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”.    You can see the pagodas in the pictures as well at the building that holds the Legend of Lady or Madame White Snake.  The basic legend is that of a young scholar who falls in love with a beautiful woman, unaware that she is a thousand-year old white snake that has taken on human form.  A monk supposedly intervenes and cast the white snake into a deep well at Leifeng Pagoda.  Our friend Wing told us the story and I cannot match his story telling so I have just given a short version.

Next, we will travel to Hainan Island and Chengdu

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Catching up and China

Lots of things have happened since my last post here.  Firstly, perhaps the most dramatic change in my life, besides two children getting married and the addition of a new grandson this year, I retired.  Yes, I got tired of the hustle and bustle and the midnight maintenance windows and not having time to do diddly squat.  The weddings were in June and July (yes, a month apart) and little Wesley arrived in on Mother's Day.  Lots going on in 2012.  And, August 17, I hung up my Rock and Roll shoes after 24 3/4 years working for a telecommunications company in Atlanta.  My time there was great, I loved the people, especially my beautiful and gorgeous sister (well, she is my sister in my heart) India.  I miss her but I just met her at Costco yesterday, so all is well.  We will continue to meet and have our little lunch journies.  Yesterday, when she called, even though I am 30 minutes from Costco and my hair was wet from just getting out of the shower, I through it up in a ponytail and met her there.  Love my sis! 

So, anyway.  here is the first excerpt from a series of articles that I am writing on my visit to China.  I kept pinching myself while on the airplane to China.  No, not to stay awake but to say to myself, "I cannot believe that this girl from Larkinsville, Alabama is on her way to China.  Oh, yes!  And, I loved China.  Loved loved it!  And, I want to add that being retired, I am having to fight hard to do all of the things that I want to do.  Paint, write, wow!  I have completed several paintings since August so all is not lost.  And, for all of you retirees out there, keep the exercise up! 

My husband’s business travels takes him to many interesting places and when he asked if I wanted travel to China, I was elated.  I could just see Ingrid Bergman marching the Chinese children across The Great Wall as they sang “This Old Man”. (Ref. the movie “The Sixth Inn of Happiness”).   Too, I have always been fascinated with “The Last Emperor”.
I quickly spread the word among family and friends that I was going to China.  Their reaction was perhaps what one might expect.   Comments ranged from, “Really, China?” to “China is a communist country, right?”  Well, well well!

Friends and neighbors, I would hope that one day you would have the opportunity to visit China.  And, if you do, toss out any pre-conceived notions that you might have.  Keep an open mind and do not listen to others.  I want to tell you about my incredible journey.


We left Atlanta and some fourteen hours later, landed in Tokyo where we had access to an airlines Sky Lounge with food, laptops, Wi Fi.  That helped to erase the weariness of the long flight.  Shortly, we boarded our flight to Shanghai.  We landed around midnight which did not allow for much sightseeing between the airport and the hotel.  One thing that I did notice was that the highway was lit on both sides by street lights which was pretty cool.

We stayed in the fabulous Shangri-La Hotel East Pudong.  Upon our late arrival, we were greeted at the door with “Ni hao.”  After a good nights rest, I opened the curtains to a breathtaking view of the Shanghai Pudong skyline that towers over the Huangpu River.  We could see the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower from our room.  It was the tallest structure in China until the Shanghai World Financial center was built.  At night the tower is lit in different LED sequences.

The wives of my husband’s business associates took me on a tour of the city.   Old City of Shanghai still has parts of the city wall which was built in 1554 in order to protect the town from raids by pirates.  The City God Temple is located in the center of the Old city.  Old city had to be my favorite of the day. 

We visited a local arts and crafts district where artisans displayed everything from Chinese paintings to beautiful QiPao pronounced “Chee Pow” which is the traditional Chinese dress. 

 I might add that the hospitality of these two ladies was beyond anything that I have experienced ever.  Their English was better than my Chinese and that is not saying a lot.  Thank goodness for the app that translates English to Chinese and Chinese to English.  Lunch was an incredible feast where my skills with chopsticks were put to the test.  By the time I left China, I could pick up an English pea with a chopstick.   We ate a fabulous lunch of fish soup and , of course, drank lots of tea. 

Stay tuned, Shanghai at night, coming next.