Monthly Archives: June 2015

Final Impressions

Well this is it. Our final blog from Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China. (Ed. Note: Not necessarily to be interpreted/confused as the final blog posting.)  I debated a long time about what to call this – The Final Chapter, #342 In The ListThe Last Hurrah, The Last Good-bye/Blog/Picture Show,  (Ed. note: Strangely enough, the last two times I have been into Shanghai, I have see two people wearing a t-shirt with The Last Picture Show on it. Anyone else remember that movie from 1971? Great movie!)  And That’s The Way It Was (Ed.Note: Almost the winner), Good Night Irene, Val, Ken, Rich, Petra, etc. etc,   The Final Farewell, Turn the Lights Out, The Party’s Over, Frankly, China, I Don’t Give a Damn, and Hey, Hey, Geoff (Ed. note: Final line from Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Honest!) While there were many many others, when I went back to the first blog we wrote in China, we had started out with First Impressions, so really, there was no choice, was there?

First some observations about the Jiaxing Express itself. We have been very flattered with the comments we have received from all of you. It has been fun writing over the past three years but even more fulfilling has been reading the comments you have offered and the encouragement you have given us to keep going. Thank you so much.

The blog has evolved from mostly text-based posts with a few short, to almost a 50-50 text and photos to a largely photo-based piece of work with a little writing and captions. Maybe it just took me a long time to realise that, yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. It has been fun getting the photos and sometime down the road I hope to do something with them. In our three years here between Jiaxing, Shanghai, China and travelling we have taken over 12 000 pictures. (Ed. note: Who wants to sign up for the August 1, 2015 Slide Show first?)

We have made some good international friends through the blog. If you happen to be coming to Jiaxing and you do a Google search, the Jiaxing Express comes up quite high on the list. Even if we didn’t actually meet Sherrie and Tim via the blog, the two of you have certainly added much to our time here and also to some of the posts! Thank you and see you in Charleston!  We will definitely maintain our friendship Cheryl and Andy from Australia – Perth is on our bucket list! and we do want to get to know Iloana and Richard from Prague even better! We hope that others who come across the blog in the coming years drop us a line to let us know if their experiences in Jiaxing/China are similar.

Fun stuff – in no particular chronological order

For three years we have heard fireworks and firecrackers at all times of day and night – the acceptable times seem to be anytime from 6am to 10:30pm. They have them for births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries, store openings, moving into new residences and likely many other reasons we haven’t learned about. The goal is to scare away evil spirits. We have no evil spirits around us, but on Monday night Sherrie, Terry, Becky, Dani, Jason, Andrei, Tim, Geoff and a cast of 10 or so neighbours gathered together in the courtyard outside Tim and Sherrie’s building to celebrate our departure. After one round, Sherrie, Terry, Becky, Dani, Jason and Andrei went up to the apartment to watch. Hit full screen, turn up your speakers and enjoy!

Our Last Saturday in Jiaxing

These three young ladies were off to lunch from their careers as “Hair washers” in the salon next to where we get ours cut, thus the similar uniforms/ They were big gigglers and kept looking over their shoulders at me, which is why I took the photo on the left. Then I thought – “What the hell, I only have two days left…” and got around to the front of them.

Not laughing now are you girls!

Not laughing now are you girls!

As we continued our wanderings we came across two municipal workers who had just got off the municipal truck to do some work on the street. As far as we know, there is no duct tape in China – Terry figures the truck was being held together with dirt.

Just another city truck...

Just another city truck…

Next up were the people trying to do their weekly shopping at RT Mart (Ed. note: Think Great Canadian) The scooters took up both sides of the sidewalk for an entire block and then went around the corner and up another block.

Scooters, scooters, and more scooters.

Scooters, scooters, and more scooters.

Then there were the cars trying to get into the parking lot. This was one of the two equally busy entrances which was being used.

With the line comes the cacophony of horns as per usual. I have yet to figure out why someone third or fourth in the line needs to honk. Both of these lines wanted in to the very full and very limited lot.

With the line comes the cacophony of horns as per usual. I have yet to figure out why someone third or fourth in the line needs to honk. Both of these lines wanted in to the very full and very limited lot.

Saturday night we had a very pleasant evening with Andy and Cheryl. Started off with a fantastic Thai meal at The Golden Thai, sitting at a table overlooking the Jiaxing Grand Canal. Overhead were several willow trees with thousands upon thousands of cicadas. Starting at exactly 6:15 and every 10 minutes their noise rose to an almost earsplitting crescendo then dropping off again. It was difficult to hear the person next to you. A couple of anecdotes.

The Jiaxing Grand Canal

The Jiaxing Grand Canal

1. Just after we finished dinner the healthiest, fittest, best fed, most suntanned middle aged beggar we have ever seen came to our table looking for contributions. We ignored him and he stood there jabbering away. I finally gave him 2 yuan to get rid of him. He looked at them and then gave me the most disgusting, disdainful look I have ever received in my long life. Then he looked closer and, unknown to me, realised that I had given him 1 yuan and 1 Philippine peso. He took it out of his plastic bucket, threw it back and walked away. Pissed off is an understatement.

2. As we were leaving I saw this woman wandering along the canal searching for something.

What could she be looking for?

What could she be looking for?

How stupid of me. Of course…

She was looking for the cicadas that had fallen out of the trees. She then collected them and gave them to one of the chefs in one of the many restaurants to fry up. Yum yum!

She was looking for the cicadas that had fallen out of the trees. She then collected them and gave them to one of the chefs in one of the many restaurants to fry up. Yum yum!

Off to Moon River Street for a beer, tea, whiskey etc. But first you get to the Chinese mime lute playing figure. Sure hope he got in before the torrential rain an hour later.

Just another painted mime playing the Chinese lute

Just another painted mime playing the Chinese lute

We returned to the Old Wood Coffee Shop and Bar. Started with a beer then I moved on to a whiskey. (Ed. note: Hey – they have Glenfarclas on the menu. I love Glenfarclas. “Can I have a Glenfarclas please” “Sorry we don’t have that. How about Glenfiddich” “No thank you” “Please wait two minutes.”) I went back to the table to see how they could make a 15 year old scotch in two minutes. What to do? Peruse the menu, perhaps.

Any ideas what spread the fish tofu is? And just how does pumpkin pie fit into this section?

Any ideas what spread the fish tofu is? And just how does pumpkin pie fit into this section?

After 2 minutes it turns out they sent someone to a nearby bar to get…a bottle of Macallan 12 year old. Not Glenfarclas, but for $9.00 a glass not too bad.

We have told you before about The Old Wood. (Ed. note: Watered down whiskey comes to mind.) However, one of the reasons we returned was to listen to David (Michael?). He is good, personable and desperate to learn more English. He even sang Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do” for us when he heard we were going back to Canada on Monday. Then he launched into his version Dee Clark’s 1961 “Raindrops”. Might need a little more work.


We encouraged him to get rid of Kerry Underwood strutting her stuff around the stage, but apparently the Chinese would rather watch her and listen to him but not watch him. TIC

Last Thursday the school took us out to dinner for a fabulous dinner complete with toasting, gambaying, toasting, gambaying, eating, gambaying, toasting, gambaying, toasting, eating, gambaying, gambaying – you get the picture. Then we left to go to Karaoke. Now in three years, this was the first I had attended. Before we got in we passed the ever-present women who dance and exercise at night on a street corner.

Inside we got down to some serious singing.


Have you no pride, Man!

How Jiangians Spend Their Day – Or Jobs They Do.

Authorise the cashiers at WalMart to accept coupons and then collect and hold them.

Authorise the cashiers at WalMart to accept coupons and then collect and hold them.

Sell hats on the street  - but be ready to whip up that sheet and all the hats if/when the police come by

Sell hats on the street – but be ready to whip up that sheet and all the hats if/when the police come by

Deliver KFC/Macdonalds/Pizza Hut etc. etc

Deliver KFC/Macdonalds/Pizza Hut etc. etc

Sell balloons on the corner of Main Street and Other Main Street in downtown Jiaxing

Sell balloons on the corner of Main Street and Other Main Street in downtown Jiaxing

Hook up a generator and a printer on the back of your bicycle cart and then print photos from iPhones etc.

Hook up a generator and a printer on the back of your bicycle cart and then print photos from iPhones etc.

Make and sell delicious hot bread

Make and sell delicious hot bread

Sweep the garbage off your one block - both sides - over and over and over...

Sweep the garbage off your one block – both sides – over and over and over…

Sell cigarettes and lighters of course, leaving you time to get your grandchild's new sweater knitted.

Sell cigarettes and lighters of course, leaving you time to get your grandchild’s new sweater knitted.

Specialize - sell only U-shaped bike locks

Specialize – sell only U-shaped bike locks

Be a butcher - trim the fat off the meat - but keep the cigarette (blue arrow) going above it.

Trim the tough skin off red onions – but keep the cigarette (blue arrow) going above it.

Sell combs from a basket - and business isn't good, have a nap.

Sell combs from a basket – and business isn’t good, have a nap.

In this case, pick up restaurant refuse and take it who knows where. They also pick up used deep fry oil and take it who knows where

In this case, pick up restaurant refuse and take it who knows where. They also pick up used deep fry oil and take it who knows where

The Shoe Blog

Well here we are. While there may be more shoes displayed perhaps, in possible future postings, it is somewhat fitting to show you these. They are Terry’s.

The Long Awaited Debut of Terry's Handmade Italian Shoes

The Long Awaited Debut of Terry’s Handmade Italian Shoes

Where Did The Time Go?

As I start writing this, we are 212 hours from taking off for the last time from China (Ed. note: Air Traffic Control willing). Where have the three years gone? Perhaps more importantly, has it really been three weeks since we last published a blog? Even then, the last two were about Ireland, not Jiaxing.

So what have we been up to? Truly, not much. We have commented to many people that what blew our minds three years ago is now so commonplace that we barely notice, let alone feel it is worth commenting or writing about. From parking to driving, from hawking to spitting, from shoes to outfits, from house sets to mini mini skirts, it has become just our normal world. How will we ever acclimatize ourselves to the quiet and sedate Port Coquitlam world? We may not know for sure but we are sure as hell are looking forward to it!

And now some photos as we drift toward June 29.

Aaron and Mae are our next door neighbours. Geoff gave Aaron his English name and Terry named Mae.

Aaron and Mae are our next door neighbours. Geoff gave Aaron his English name and Terry named Mae. They are adorable. 

A new high end mall has just opened up in Jiaxing. (Ed. note: There must be four or five of them now.) On a Saturday afternoon at 1:00 this is the view:

People, people - uh ... nowhere.

People, people – uh … nowhere.

This store should be a maternity store, don't you think? Well it's not - just another women's clothing store.

This store should be a maternity store, don’t you think? Well it’s not – just another women’s clothing store.

Any ideas on what they might sell?

Any ideas on what they might sell?

This is a men's clothing store - are you an intellectual or a traditional nobleman.

This is a men’s clothing store – are you an intellectual or a traditional nobleman.

This fellow (the one on the right) was welcoming people to the mall. I don't his lovely pink suit had ever been cleaned.

This charming fellow (the one on the right) was welcoming people to the mall. I don’t believe his lovely pink suit had ever been cleaned.

The Shanghaiites come to visit. The Bevis-Jackson family was out to deliver some wine to us a couple of weeks ago. We met them at the hotel and when we entered the lobby, the bridal party reception line was in full swing. We had a drink and 45 minutes later left to go to the restaurant. They were still there – Matthew, with a little coaxing, was all over it in my tradition of getting in as many photos with strangers as possible!

When I can no longer photo bomb, Matthew will be taking my place. Way to go Buddy!

When I can no longer photo bomb, Matthew will be taking my place. Way to go Buddy!

We took four of the five bottles they delivered to the Teriyaki Francaise Restaurant. None of them left – but we did go back to their hotel and consume the fifth. Poor little Zander fell asleep while we were having a drink at the hotel –  Rob carried him to the restaurant, laid him out on the two chairs for the duration of dinner, then carried him back and put him to bed. He never woke. I think I remember that kind of sleep.

The sleep of the innocent

The sleep of the innocent.

The next day we went to the Jiaxing Aquarium. It is underneath the local mall and goes on forever. We had no idea it was there. Pristine fish tanks, a real mermaid show and a seal duet. Who knew? (Ed. note: But as almost everything else in China the people part was a little tacky, dirty, dusty etc.)

This mantra ray had to be five feet across.

This mantra ray had to be five feet across.

This was the most amazing crab. It is lying on an armor shell but when it swims it flips over so the shell protects it from predators above.

This was the most amazing crab. It is lying on an armor shell but when it swims it flips over so the shell protects it from predators above. (Top right)

Sharks, huge sea turtles and even a semi comatose crocodile kept the boys thoroughly entertained.

Sharks, huge sea turtles and even a semi comatose crocodile kept the boys thoroughly entertained.

Matthew, Donald and a third.

Zander, Donald and a photo bomber.

These guys are one of three similar sized schools in the water feature that runs through our complex.

These guys are one of three similar sized schools in the water feature that runs through our complex.

Terry continues to have nocturnal varmint visits to her office. She asked me to pick up some kind of trap to catch them. The trap is like the cover of a kid’s book. It opens up flat and the two sides have glue on them. You sprinkle some small multi-coloured pellets (Ed. note: just like sprinkles on a donut!) on them to attract the mice and when they get on it they stick to the glue. Nice little present for Terry on her desk when she went in on Monday – a slightly decomposed mouse.

Not sure Tom would approve.

Not sure Jerry would approve.

Ashley's has move from United Boulevard...

Ashley’s has move from United Boulevard…

And finally: (Ed. note: Except of course for the Shoe Blog!)

This woman was wandering around the Shanghai Railway Station. I am quite sure that she had no idea what it says.

No words

No words

The Shoe Blog

The first pair  are quite nice, but I’m not sure they work with the nylons.

The shoes were quite nice - just not sure they go with the nylons.

The shoes were quite nice – just not sure they go with the nylons. I took this at breakfast our last day in the hotel in Ireland. Those feet are as close to vertical as you can get, I think.

There are no shoes in this photo – the woman in Shanghai was carrying her 4 inch heels.

"I'm not taking one more step in these"

“I’m not taking one more step in these”