Alyssa Dolan, Shanghai, China 3/27/2008
I woke up early today and just looked out the window and watched the city for a while before taking a shower and heading down to breakfast. I tried a few new things including, what turned out to be, fermented goat cheese, which I didn’t like very much. (actually fermented bean curd (TC) .I love the dumplings, which are much better than those we make at home, of course, because they are made by “pros.” We drove to Zhujiajiao after breakfast, about an hour and a half drive outside of Shanghai. It’s fun to look out the windows on the bus and watch the people drive. It’s also fun when they notice you watching or taking pictures because they will point us out to whoever else is in the car and smile and laugh and wave at us. One car had four guys all pointing, yelling out the windows at us. One of them actually stuck his head out the window and waved both hands, yelling.
Some people don’t notice us watching but they’re fun to watch anyway. One guy sat there eating and spitting seeds out the window. One girl had lime green seats in her car and was talking to her friend and waving her hands around everywhere. Her hands obviously were not on the wheel but she didn’t crash. It is surprising how many accidents there aren’t considering the fact that so many drivers are talking on cell phones, spitting seeds out windows or turning all the way around looking at us, waving and not paying attention to the road.
The first thing that happened at Zhujiajiao was that a crippled beggar came up to us and went from person to person asking for money. There were lots of beggars. At one point, the same old woman came up to me four times. “I really don’t have any money, I’m sorry,” I told her as I started to follow my group. “You have, you have!! Please” she shouts” following me. “No, really, I don’t.”
We haven’t changed money yet so I really wasn’t lying. The next thing we saw was the guide, Dillon. “You may call me Dillon,” he told us. “D-I-double – L – ON” Dillon!” The first thing he showed us was the most famous bridge at Zhujiajiao, “built by a monk a very long time ago,” Dillon said. “I forget the year,” he said. It was hard to pay attention because everyone was excited, talking and taking pictures. It was hard to hear him over everyone else. The little microphone he had didn’t have much of an effect.
We walked through lots of narrow streets and saw some shops. Many people came out of their shops; “Come have a look.” There were also lots of dogs and many little kids running around with their mothers or fathers. They are so cute. I took lots of pictures, of people, mostly. The ones of the kids are my favorites.
The parents are so excited to have their child’s picture taken. They would push them in front of the camera. There was one little girl who was asleep in her stroller and I took a lot of her. Her father woke her up and told her to wave to me as I took another one.
As we walk on, we see many, many people doing different things. One man is making neat little birds and things out of grass, leaves and bamboo; a man is playing the bamboo flute; a woman is sitting with two baskets of fruit. These people are still sitting here playing or weaving hours later when we come back through.
We pass a wall that reads in both English and Chinese “The shop belongs to the disabled who want to make living. Welcome any one of you to devote your charity. Thank you.”
There are people in boats on the water. One family, not Chinese, asks us where we are from “Vermont,” Carol tells them. “Oh, we’re from Canada.”
We saw more bridges. As our guide in Shanghai told us,” You have not really been to Zhujiajiao if you have not crossed the bridges.”
We saw the pavilion of Lion, which happens to be a “rockery area.” ??
There were lots of signs saying funny things, such as “rockery area”, “Way Out, “Caution: Danger” or “No Touch.”
We ate lunch at some point where I tried many new foods such as Tofu, Lotus, some spicy things. Tom has been insisting that every spicy thing that we have had is mild compare to what we’ll eat in Chongqing, our next city.
Tom told us many times as they brought out dish after dish that “this is the last thing.” But then they would bring out more and more and more. There was so much food.
Later, we saw some trees covered with red ribbons; “people’s wishes,” Dillon told us.
We went through a park, filled with people watching an opera. I couldn’t understand it but it looked really cool. I would like to have stayed but we could only watch a little bit. The costumes were really nice and the stage was lit mainly by sunlight. There were also four big spotlights, a big cloth backdrop and a little scenery.
On the bus home I just took a lot more pictures of people driving or on the sidewalks. There were people working in the rice paddies, more crazy driving a more waving, happy faces. Lots of bikes, motor bikes on the roads, sidewalks, everywhere; crazy.
Back at the hotel we had an hour to rest before we headed to the park down the road for a rehearsal where we sang “Country Roads, Take Me Home,’ “Wasted On The Way” and “Stand By Me.” We didn’t sound very good but drew an audience, nonetheless. Guess we need some rehearsal time before we perform.
Dinner on Thursday night; Taylor and August had a hot pepper eating contest. They each had about five and looked ready to cry. They called it a tie. Again, “mild compared to Chongqing.” I’m getting scared about Chongqing; the first time I’ve been scared this whole trip. Oh well.!!