Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh, it's a Jolly Holiday...

Last week, my water cooler arrived, I got a textbook for learning Chinese, and my roommate bought a toaster oven to make cookies. Good start.

Friday began with a trip back to the Nanjing Massacre Museum to take pictures of the things I did not get when my camera died. I sat at the base of the Peace Statue for awhile and people watched. It was very peaceful.
Peace Dove Park @ Nanjing Massacre Museum
Peace Statue

Then I bought train tickets for my business trip to Shanghai and my fun trip to Hangzhou. My trip to Hangzhou was my first over-night trip in China. 

Monday night, I left work to go to Shanghai. The meeting was okay, but my hotel was right by the Bund, so I got to see a night view, which I hadn't done while I was living there. Very pretty. 
The Bund @ Night
Pudong @ Night
The next morning, I got on a train to Hangzhou, then took a bus to meet up with my friend, Carol, with whom I was staying. We ate lunch; she went to work, and I headed over to the West Lake. Hangzhou was one of the 2 top places I wanted to be placed with DisneyEnglish, but when I was hired, I was told there were no openings. When I got off the bus and started walking towards the lake, a Chinese person asked me for directions there! (After thinking about it a little more, she probably could have been asking me if I was going to the lake, but I like my original version better. I think she was a tourist, too.) Hangzhou was the capital of China during the Song Dynasty, but most of the historic buildings were destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion, so the West Lake is now the big attraction. It was the one big thing on my list to see; everything else was secondary. It's one of the most scenic places in China - the grass is ultra-green, the leaves are changing colors, and it's surrounded on 3 sides by mountains. It's recommended to visit in the spring, but it is fantastic in autumn, too. It's beautiful. I walked the whole thing (3 square miles) and saw many of the touristy scenic places. The next day, Carol and I took a boat to the island in the middle of the lake.
View of West Lake
Autumn on West Lake

On a side note, though the Communist party may run China, but capitalism is alive and well (at least in the big cities) as evidenced by the abundance of Starbuckses, KFCs, tourist shop stands, and gambling. (While in Hangzhou, Carol and her roommates taught me to play cards, which you can always see people playing and betting on in parks or the streets.)
Chess Statue at West Lake

Also on Wednesday, before I had to head back to Nanjing, Carol and I spent the morning/early afternoon finding Feilei Feng - or the Peak that Flew from Afar. (The cab driver didn't want to sit in traffic, so he dropped us off "10 minutes" - read 30 minutes - walk from the peak). It's mountains and caves to the west of West Lake where 100s of Buddhist images are carved. It's also near Lingyin Temple, which has a large wooden Buddha, but I've seen a lot of temples, and Feilai Feng was amazing. It was nice to have Carol there, also, to explain some of the writing and some of the significance of what I was seeing. 
Feilai Feng - Peak that Flew From Afar

Back at the train station, there was a very nice Chinese woman who started talking to me and asking me about my time in China. She told me about when she studied in the States and about how helpful her "American mother" was to her. I told her I was having a very good time, and most people, especially my AT and roommates, were being helpful to me. When she decided to let me get some sleep, a new passenger got on the train and had the seat next to me. We proceeded to talk about our jobs, sports, make-up, US government, and the pronunciation of English words. 

Then, at work yesterday, we received the exciting news that beginning January 1, DisneyEnglish is giving all their employees additional days of each year! They are fixed days around Chinese New Year, but that means that we get almost 2 weeks off in January, which is very exciting, especially since you only get 5 days of annual leave. Now I need to figure out how to do things with those days. 

SP - I took this picture for you.

Ice & Fire - dessert @ The Grandma's in Hangzhou

1 comment:

  1. OMG!!!! Potato smiles in China!!!!!!!!! I guess the smile is really a universal language! When I visit, we HAVE to get potato smiles.

    Also, I think it's awesome that you're getting to see all these things and places. I can't wait to join you, even if it's only a week!