Sunday, August 30, 2009

City views, dumplings and communist memorials

As we've gotten into a bit of a routine, we've started using our days to explore Shanghai which has been a blast!

These photos are all taken from the park surrounding People's Square.

We tried out our first Chinese fast food place ... ordering by pointing at pictures. Delicious! (And unbelievably cheap! I think our meal was around $3!)

We found a beautiful park with some enormous statues ... the entire park was a memorial to some early communists who had been killed for their beliefs. I am not sure if I will ever get used to the complete glorification of communism here ...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Longhua Pagoda

Yesterday, we checked out this pagoda which was built in the 10th century! It was pretty incredible to know just how long it has sat in this exact place and that it still has a community of resident monks at the temple.

When I got home and looked at these photos, I realized the temple is either somewhat crooked or my camera work was really bad as it certainly looks to be leaning!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our First Panda

On Sunday, we decided to head to the Zoo after church (Yes! We can go to church here ... sadly by government mandate only foreign passport holders can attend, but we are thrilled to have a body to worship & fellowship with on Sundays!). It is fairly close to where we live. I was pretty excited to see my first Panda in China!

I must admit I was a bit disappointed ... I had imagined them outside in a pen surrounded by bamboo, instead they were inside these dimly lit cement cells behind thick, smudged glass. Bummer. They were still pretty adorable though!

A few of the other animals ...

Our favorite part of the zoo was that there were actually some really nice green spaces with ponds in them. It was so nice to be somewhere and see mostly just green trees and grass ... very rare in Shanghai.

On the walk home, we got caught in a torrential downpour and ducked into a bakery while the worst of it passed. Once it had we headed home - through flooded streets with lighting flashing across the sky and thunder crackling and crashing above. It was fantastic!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A few more house photos

Thought I'd share a few photos of the rest of the dorm house ...

We were super excited that it has an actual yard area (although right now it is absolutely stifling outside, so not quite as appealing).

Shoe changing area right inside the front door ...

And, shoes for visitors to wear inside the house ... a bit different than the US?

Girls room ... all pink :) There are 5 sharing this one room, but they have the absolute best bathroom in the house!

And, one of the boys' rooms ...

Our views from the house aren't real wonderful (a few tall buildings and other houses within our complex), but then I don't suppose anything will ever come close to last year and I wouldn't want it to. We have been able to see fireworks being set off just down the street though, so that was pretty sweet!

A Chinese Medical Exam?

This past Wednesday, we had our first experience with what healthcare might look like during our stay here ... luckily for us, our school provided us with an HR rep to help guide us through the process.
In order to get a longer-term working visa here, we needed a complete medical exam.
We started the process just before 1 pm and after queuing for a short while (our guide got us a very good spot in line), were directed to room 102 to complete some brief paperwork, then directed on to a series of 6-8 additional rooms ... we had blood drawn, chest X-rays done, ultrasound completed, an eye exam, an abdominal exam, and EKG completed and more. We were done in less than 45 minutes! We could hardly believe it! Now, it wasn't exactly a pleasant process nor were the staff exactly gentle as they went about their business, but we were DONE, so we didn't care! When it came time to pay, we were astounded once again ... it cost around $100 USD. The results will be ready in a week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's not a cupcake, but ....

... it is still delicious! We've been pleasantly surprised at the number of bakeries we've found here. So far, we haven't found any that are making cupcakes, but there are a lot of other scrumptious treats to choose from! Perhaps a new Sunday tradition??

The last of the USA tour: Washington State

We had a great time visiting Jason's family in Spokane. It was a very short visit, just 9 days, but we crammed in some memorable activities.

We spent one splendid afternoon at Plummer Point, Idaho on one of the banks of Coeur d'Alene Lake. This is one of Jason's favorite spots as it was a place he often went for his birthday when he was younger. It was really, really beautiful!

We got to spend some wonderful moments with Jason's family ... his nieces are growing up so fast! We even had time for an impromptu family photo - we haven't had one of everyone on this side of the family since we got married!

For Jason's birthday, we headed to Franks Diner for breakfast ... it is a beautifully restored train car that has won "best breakfast in Spokane" for 12 of the past 13 years. I can attest to how good it is!

Our birthday date included an annual visit to the scene of Jason's proposal to me - Riverside State Park which is always beautiful.

And, once again Jarvis & Marilyn hauled us to the airport at a very early, early hour to send us off on our next adventure!