Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Catching Up...

Sorry for the lack of blog posting, but when we’ve been in town, we’ve mostly been laying low. Shanghai doesn’t have all that many cool and fascinating things to see, so much of our time has been spent hanging out and exploring neighborhoods:

Or doing normal things like attending school related events:

This past Saturday, for example, we met up with the Bournes (who we met on the Ningbo trip). They introduced us to a cool new neighborhood (to which we returned on Mother’s Day for some shopping and a fabulous lunch – the cocktails were to die for) and then had us over to their spectacular house. Let me just say – if their home is any representation of what the expat lifestyle is, you could easily sign me up. We also had a bunch of boys over in the afternoon for Berkley’s birthday. If the morning exposed us to the highs of the expat lifestyle, then the afternoon exposed us to the lows as several of the boys were not very happy with our low key, Dartmouth style birthday (read – lots of running around and hanging out).

Of course, we have still managed to explore some of the sights of Shanghai during our down time here; we visited a few art museums in People’s Park. While there, we also got to witness the marriage mart, where parents of unmarried children hang out with bio sheets (few pictures though) and attempt to arrange for a future mate for their offspring. Totally fascinating and great for inducing good behavior in the boys – don’t do that or we’ll take your info over to the mart and find you a bride!

We also visited some Shanghai Expo (held in 2010) related sites, including the site from the main event (a total ghost town now):

 and a sculpture park that was created for the event (much livelier - probably due to the fact it was much more interesting!).

My favorite place of those we’ve recently visited was the Natural History Museum. Opened in the early 1970s, it was probably the pride and joy of the post-Cultural Revolution Shanghai. It also probably hasn’t been touched since, lending a wonderful air of general creepiness – think dim lighting, peeling paint and strange displays. It also illustrated how the Chinese haven’t quite fully grasped capitalism, as the interesting looking gift shop closed before the museum actually did – the boys were quite disappointed.

The boys’ favorite place we’ve recently visited would probably be the World Financial Center. China is a land of superlatives (everything is the tops for something– biggest, fastest, longest are favorites), and this was no exception as it had the world’s highest observation deck. Complete with glass floors, it afforded stunning views of both buildings and the streets.

Aside from soaking in Shanghi, we’ve also spent a lot of our normal blogging time nailing down our final trips for our last two months here (hard to believe that’s all we have left!). As we’ve mentioned before, we’ll be spending 5 days in Yangshuo staying at the Yangshuo Mount Retreat at the end of May. Then, we’ll hang here for a while my mother visits and the boys finish school (and Doug and I furiously try to finish off some research), after which we depart for a one week trip to the Sichuan province. We’ll spend some time exploring the sights around Chengdu (including hopefully the world’s tallest Buddha statue and the biggest panda center in China) before moving on to Jiuzhaigou, one of China’s largest national parks (note all those superlatives in that sentence!). We’re particularly excited as we’ve arranged a home stay in a local village (take a moment to check out this link - it's a YouTube video from a Lonely Planet correspondent who stayed in this home) while we’re near the park. We’ll come back to Shanghai for a week to pack up and make arrangements before heading off on our last hurrah –two weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, with a brief stopover in Kuala Lumpur on the way back. As you can imagine, all of this traveling has involved extensive logistical planning. I know – cry me a river; I mention this simply to excuse the lack of posting.

Things will probably be slow here for the next few days as there’s not much going on, then I’m off to Chongqing on Sunday for a couple of lectures. If all goes well, I’ll get at least some fodder for the blog, but hopefully it won’t be as eventful as my last lecture trip. Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck! And is that a picture of fetuses in jars?

  2. Why yes - yes that it a pictures of fetuses in jars. Stuff like that (and the picture of Berkley next to the bike with all the Styrofoam) is part of the reason why we weren't all that surprised by the Buzzfeed pictures that I shared on FB a while back. While we thought they were funny, we also thought that some of our pictures were crazier than theirs!

  3. There are fetuses in jars at the Science Museum in Chicago.