Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Winter Break Bigins

All college students finished up their finals around January 18th and headed for home. The biggest, most important Chinese holiday of the year is coming up...Spring Festival. In America we generally call it Chinese New Year. We will be doing a lot of traveling to see more of the great big, beautiful country.

FIRST STOP - Shanghai

We are traveling with a group of BYU China Teachers. Marvin Wu is an excellent China travel tour director and has planned a very full agenda for us.

Shanghai, China is a modern city with over 24 million people.  It is China's financial center and  has extremely tall buildings.  Including one under construction that will be the tallest building in the world. Taller than the one in Dubai. And the contest for the sky continues.  On one of the buildings, there has an observatory deck on the 73rd floor that allows you to walk beyond the building with a glass floor facing the ground that is a rather frightening but an impressive walk and view!  Better view than the glass platform at the Grand Canyon.

This view of Shanghai is on the "new" side of the river which only 20 years ago was all farmland. Most of the huge skyscrapers you see in this photo were built in only the last 10 years. A new, second Disneyland is proposed to be built on this side as well, several miles distant from the river. Currently, there is a popular Disneyland in Hong Kong.

That structure balanced on Roslyn's head is the one with the crazy glass floor observation deck.

It's windy like Chicago along The Bund which is the financial power boulevard of Shanghai and China. Like Wall Street in New York, China also has a signature bull statue in its financial district.

Chinese municipalities take a great deal of pride in their landscape. You'd think there was an unwritten contest between them in this regard. This is an incredible landscape feat. An huge flower garden is planted in the boardwalk wall along The Bund. Thousands of flower pots with full-blooming flowers are anchored on the wall in a stylize pattern. Those are purple decorative cabbages in this photo.

Across the street on The Bund, flower boxes beautifully frame the boulevard.

The lion is a ubiquitous guardian symbol all throughout China. This lion is unique because it is a British lion. The Bund was originally built by the British during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hence, the buildings all reflect the stately British architectural style including this lion. 

We spent an evening roaming around old town. Lots of interesting sights and smells. The Chinese are in the frenzy of their holiday shopping for Spring Festival which celebrates the beginning of the new lunar year.

Shanghai has one of the largest museums in China.  We particularly enjoyed the ethnic dress exhibit.

The carving on this chest is unbelievably intricate.

No self-respecting Chinese mansion is without an ornate tea table set.

Because of the nature of written Chinese, it is far more than mere communication. Chinese calligraphy is a high art practiced and honored by millions of Chinese. Calligraphy brush sets and calligraphy prints are found everywhere. I'm told this is more ancient writing which is not readily understood. All language evolves and so do Chinese characters.

This character has serious control issues. Interesting that is appears near the Chinese ethnic exhibit.

WO!! What you see in this photo is a....PILLOW!  Kind of explains why their beds are so hard...really hard. Today they only use what we know as the box spring section of the mattress set...never the mattress. Some of the nicer hotels we've stayed in might have an ever-so-slight pillow-top on the box spring section; but that is rare. By the looks of this "pillow" the Chinese have liked HARD beds for a very long time.

Everything is decked out in RED. That's the holiday color of Spring Festival. Red ribbons are tied on nearly every statue. This particular lion is an impressive wood sculpture from a HUGE gnarly tree trunk. 

Notice: she's holding on tight and standing on the bar....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

1st Day Semester -Break Excursion

Today was the first day of our semester break. Roslyn and I had a fantastic excursion day of exploring Jinan with shopping, walking and exploring the other side of Jinan. There are 72 different springs in Jinan and we walked along a beautiful river with many springs and many interesting, natural rock formations. It was a very relaxing day with lots of sunshine!  We ate lunch at a high-end Cantonese restaurant in a Beverly Hills upscale mall.