(Ed. note 1: Please accept my apologies. We were waiting for photos. Happy New Year wishes are belated by real.)
(Ed. note 2: Before Terry gives you some valuable information, let me tell you that on Dec. 20th the 5 staff of BCOSP plus Kris (Andrei’s girlfriend and Geoff) had the best staff Christmas party ever. We laughed, drank, ate, drank, played Charades – Kris’ first time and she is GOOD!, drank and exchanged gifts. We also had an ugly sweater contest. Now I am not biased, but I think I should have won! What do you all think?)
A great Shanghai Christmas spent with friends, Rob, Shelley, Matthew and Xander. Real turkey and stuffing for dinner, our first traditional Christmas meal in three years. Wonderful meal, wine and company!
Thanks, Rob and Shelley, for including us on this special day — and Christmas Eve.
We decided to stay an extra night in Shanghai to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary with a hot stone massage at Dragonfly Spa and dinner at Bukhara, an Indian place in Hongqiao. Nice!
In Jiaxing, I have taken to riding the community bikes, back and forth to work, to the market or just for fun on the greenway or downtown. The weather has been perfect for it, bright and sunny most days. I find myself thinking, “Here I am riding a bike around a city in China and feeling quite at home.” It is still surprising after all this time and yet so common. I ride up to my orange man who parks his truck loaded with fresh mandarins along the sidewalk and he gives me a bag full of oranges for Y5–$1. I have to park to go into the fresh market to buy the rest of my vegetables and the people there also know me. It is surprisingly easy to get by with almost no Chinese but lots of smiles. RT Mart (Da Ren Fa) is madhouse on weekends so I try to get there after school to buy fresh pork (Ed. note: For an interesting and disturbing article on China and pork see “Swine in China” – thanks Ken) —our man there catches my eye and gestures to the tenderloin and ground, which he knows are our staples. Lately, they have had scads of fresh clams of many varieties, which I scoop up and dump into a bag, sans ceremony, unlike the local beside me who examines every clam with care. From there, I loop around and ride home, depositing the bike right outside the gate to our complex. Pretty handy, and since I have had to park and re-rent, I haven’t used an hour so no charge at all. Pretty nice!
One day I rode downtown and discovered that half the main drag is closed for about 10 blocks for resurfacing. Imagine doing that in winter when the roads aren’t clogged with tourists! It might not work on most of the TransCanada or the I-5 but it’s as cold here as Vancouver in winter and seems to work. Give it a try, Gregor.
I am still continuously amazed at the old juxtaposed against the new in China. High end imported cars drive by vendors selling baked yams out of old portable ovens stoked with wood.
Workers in a sparkling new mall sweep their areas with self-made grass brooms and wash their clothes in the sinks of the modern washrooms. Horrendously heavy trucks pull up to our park piled high with small bundles of turf tied with plastic which they drop to the sidewalk so women pushing ancient wheelbarrows can take them away and pat into place. Old people eschew the community bikes for their old beaters, which are inevitably rusty and nearly brakeless but reliable. Every sunny day, modern apartment buildings bloom with colourful quilts hung out the windows to air and street-side, undies and bras share make-shift lines with jeans, shirts and sometimes, fish. It is to wonder.
We still can’t use our TD Visas anywhere in Jiaxing – and many places in in the international cosmopolitan city of Shanghai!
We are taking a beating on the Chinese Yuan. When we arrived, we got 6 to a dollar. Now we are down to 5. Ouch! What’s going on? Is the CAD tanking or the RMB going up? (RMB, Yuan, Kwai—all same same. Like dollar, buck, bill.)
And finally, I have realized that all property in China is in fact “borrowed earth.” When an area gets run-down and is in the way of the modern, people are moved and their building destroyed. Slums disappear overnight and wait for the next round of structures but I still marvel at the incredibly green gardens that are in full flight in December all over Jiaxing, wherever there is earth to be planted. It is a way to ensure that all people are fed but I like it for the beauty and ability of the Chinese to be self-sufficient. Hard work is part of life for the elderly, for it is always they who work the hoes to break up the clay-earth for planting. Life is hard, we say in Canada, but it seems a lot harder here if you are our ages. If not gardening in public spaces, you are raising grandchildren. It is your duty! Yikes. “Sorry, I’m going golfing.”
The Shoe Blog
These puppies were on the subway. We went four stops and that right foot never moved. Must have some strong calf and thigh muscles…