4 am Start
Adventures this morning began with my alarm going off at 3:15 am. It was a calm morning with the predicted storms not materializing as I said goodbye to the cat and headed to the airport with my very heroic neighbor, who to my delight brought along his goldendoodle, one of the only creatures on the planet capable of producing explosive happiness and joy at 4am.
Airport security is something I almost enjoy watching and contemplating while traveling. I find it fascinating and a good source of information about human nature. Today was no exception and I learned several valuable lessons. As I stood in line with about 30 other people, a group of about a half dozen people pushed their way through the line to go to the head of the line. As I watched, I was completely mesmerized, not so much that such a thing would happen, but rather the patterns of assorted reactions people had in response. What I failed to think through (in my defense, it was 4:30am!), was that when one thinks rules do not apply, one thinks rules do not apply and I made the mistake of following part of this group through the personal check and x-ray part of security, where all of their bags and mine included were pulled aside for further scrutiny: theirs because of the number of items which are forbidden (full bottles of water, aerosol cans, etc) and mine (I’m guessing because of the thin metallic lining present in my packages of freeze-dried snacks I brought along to make sure I had something safe to eat on the trip). After pulling out all of the items which were disallowed from the bags of the people ahead of me, the TSA agent proceeded to handle my bags…except he forgot to change his gloves, so he cross-contaminated my things. To rectify this, he sanitized my things with alcohol wipes, tried to swab them a second time, realized he had sanitized them so wouldn’t find anything, then decided to run them back through the x-ray machine to rectify having an unsuccessful swab. This process took an extra 30 minutes and I was relieved when I was allowed to pass with minutes to spare until boarding–enough time to fill out my immigration card to Canada, fill in my water bottle and go to the bathroom. I know I feel so much safer knowing that freeze-dried okra receives so much security precaution, so the time spent was well worth almost missing my flight. All told, it took an entire hour to get through security, so instead of being upset, I am incredibly grateful that my flight was before there were hardly any people at the airport. I also will try to remember to look at the linings of food packages before boarding an airplane in the future, though TSA only picked out a few of the packages with metallic lining and not all of them (so I can only guess that the lining was the culprit), I had taken packages of food because I was afraid of cross-contamination in my food, only ironically to have been cross-contaminated by airport security.
United States – Canada – China
The rest of the day was spent on uneventful flights (my favorite kind) and chatting to fellow passengers, including a chiropractor from Springfield, who gave me a pen to fill out all of the paperwork to pass through various customs and immigration checkpoints. (Thank you for having the forethought to pack two when I forgot to even pack one! As soon as I find a postcard, I will send you one from China!) Immigration through Toronto, Canada, was almost pleasant and I was able to make a 15 minute connection in Montreal to my flight to China, which was incredible to say the least. I love Canadians!
Two other things I found fascinating were 1) the tinted windows which allowed me to watch outside during the flight without disturbing the other passengers from resting (yeah!) and 2) the now interactive map on the back of the seat in front of me which I could manipulate to see satellite pictures of the planet as we traveled. I found it somewhat amusing that I could only find St. Louis by following the Mississippi River north from the Gulf of Mexico until it met the Missouri River. Even then, as you can see on the map, it never named the place St. Louis. I played around with the map enough that eventually it named the area Florissant, which I’m guessing is due to relatively recent events. I have also added visiting Vulcan, IL, to my bucket list, a place I’ve apparently lived near but never knew existed until being on a flight thousands of kilometers away!
China: Above the Clouds
First Glimpse of Shanghai
Hongqiao Railway Station
Pikachu: Our Little Chinese Cat
View from Igor’s School
Outside of Igor’s School
On the Walk to Town
Ah, Slimy Vegetable, How I Love Thy Delicate Crunch!
Bus Ride to Taizhou
Through the Mountains
Crossing into Taizhou
“Change the Mouth”
“Fetch the Mouth”
Peppa the Pig
Mural of the Wall, which is up the street from here
Purchasing an Erhu
A Displeased Pikachu
Almost Overflowing Canal
Breakfast of Mangosteen
Today has been a lazy day: slept in late and had a breakfast of Mangosteen, second derivative coffee and chocolate and almonds I brought from the US. The rain seems to have stopped momentarily, allowing for beautiful hazy views of the mountain and clouds that appear to be rain moving upwards. Over the past couple of nights, I have become convinced that Linhai is where the sound editors captured the soundtrack for Jurassic Park. I’m not sure what animals are actually making these sounds, but I can perfectly picture hatching baby velociraptors and screeching pteranodons. I’m not sure if I should be concerned, but thankfully these creatures only make noise at night, so I will hope China has limited its cloning program to only include human babies and sheep.
View from Kitchen
Pikachu Hanging Out
Nice Walk Before the Rains
I woke up early this morning and walked with Igor to school. I took a long walk, though most of the shops were not yet open. I managed to make it home just before the rains hit.
I must have managed to poison myself with something, though I have eaten nothing except what I brought with me and fruits, vegetables and rice. Igor suspects it is the water, though we thoroughly boil it before consumption. Igor is less affected than I am, but it does have an effect on his energy level. I wonder how the Chinese manage to cope with this their entire lives. I spent the rest of the day in bed, completely exhausted and trying to hold really still to keep from being in pain. I pity those who cannot escape this feeling!
Walk by Fields
In the morning I forced myself to stay in bed, though by noon my headaches and bodyaches had dissipated…for the most part. I managed to fix lunch for Igor as well as wash and hang laundry. There was absolutely no access to the internet–on my phone or otherwise, so after lunch I probably drove the neighbors crazy trying to play all of the songs off of my playlist on the erhu: Gloria Gaynor, Glenn Miller, Lale Andersen and Bylat Okydjava, among others, never sounded so Chinese. 🙂 We spent the evening having a nice long walk and grocery shopping. It was a pleasant day all in all.
Pikachu still has not made peace with the erhu, but at least he has not hunted it to extinction…yet.
Chinese Washer: Source of United Hands Poster?
Return of the Internet
We figured out why there was a complete shut down of access to the internet yesterday: it was the 30th anniversary of an event the vast majority Chinese to this day have no idea even happened. (Supposedly only 15% are aware of the event that virtually everyone knows about outside of China.) One is simply not allowed to speak of it. And, while Igor and I are here, neither will I.
Pictured above was our dessert of Lychee and Longan.
Into the Mountains
Today is Gaokao for the entirety of China and a day when Igor is not allowed anywhere near the school campus. (Gaokao is the college entrance exam.) We had thought to travel somewhere during this time, but found out that this year gaokao corresponds with the Dragonboat Festival, making travel anywhere a crowded and unpleasant event. So, we spent a lazy day sleeping in, talking about education, calculus, physics, e, i and pi, then went on a walk to discover the entrance to the mountains our son had found during the winter. What we found was actually mountaintops filled with yaomei orchards and beautiful views of the mountains which surround Linhai (ancient Taizhou). Today was quite possibly my single favorite day of all of my combined time in China. It is the closest to nature I’ve come in China as well as the closest I was able to see what old China may have been like prior to the revolution. (My second favorite day was the day we spent on the Great Southern Wall, also here in Linhai.) We discovered a mountain spring whose trickle leads to a small waterfall, several different kinds of dragonflies, and surprised many people who worked in the orchards tending the trees, who when greeted with a “Nihao!” turned their astounded expressions into broad, genuine smiles.
Beginning of Pathway into the mountain
Ducks of a Feather…
A Lonely Goatherder
Between the Rains
This weekend has been filled with rain. We managed to get out a couple of times in order to get some groceries, but for the most part we stayed at home and enjoyed our time together while discussing Igor’s new research project.
China: May 26 – June 13, 2019
In accordance with my own experience and the research I have read which highlights the negative effects of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, I have closed out virtually all social media accounts. This page has been made due to requests made by students and parents to share pictures and experiences from my trip to China.