Um, it is January 18. I've already spent a week in China and ruined a major appliance! I am on a roll, people! I've already mentioned the appliance thing so instead I will talk about China. Hey, we went to Shanghai!

It was a great trip, but my feelings about China are sort of hard to summarize. I was there for 6 days, Kyle for 4. Shanghai wasn't in top form, unfortunately. The weather was kind of gross. It stayed right at freezing the whole time we were there. We were actually looking forward to some cold, so that wasn't bad, but then it rained two days straight and cold and wet is pretty yuck. Especially when your goal is to be walking around exploring. Probably a combo of pollution and weather, but everything was gray, gray, gray.

Shanghai is hosting the World Expo this year, so the Bund, which is the road along the Huang Pu river lined with the banks and trading houses of old Shanghai, was closed to pedestrian traffic as they completely overhaul it for the Expo.

Shanghai is the most international city in China and we have several friends that have lived and worked there. In some ways it was really easy to get around. They have a nice subway system with English signs, the road signs have English as well and are marked north/south or east/west, so with a map it's easy to know where you are. But it's a pretty big city and they could use maybe 3 times the subway stops they have now. (They know this apparently, because they're in the process of installing NINE new subway lines, I read. That's a lot.)

We did get to see our fair share of sights though. I visited the Shanghai museum, People's Park, and the site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party before Kyle arrived on Friday. Together we toured Old Town, Yu Yuan gardens, the fabric market, and the French Concession. We saw Chinese acrobats perform (um, wow) and ate really great food. (FYI, Chinese people don't eat General Tso's Chicken. Chinese take-out as we know it is pretty much a Western invention.)

us in Yu Yuan gardens

We chatted with a nice couple from Western China that was visiting. They took our picture on the one little bit of the Bund that still had its sidewalks intact.

us and a bus

They asked how long we'd been married and why we didn't have children yet. Are we trying to have a child? Don't we want children? Don't we like children? Ok, chill out Chinese couple.

The site of the first communist congress was really interesting. It was a nice museum in the row house where the congress met. There were pictures of young Mao Zedong drinking tea around the table with his like-minded friends (not all Chinese, by the way). The odd thing was that the museum covered from about 1915 to about 1975 (Mao's death). The congress was held in 1921. The first several rooms of the exhibit have excellent English signage. But after about 1945 or so, there are no more English signs. The entire rest of the museum is exclusively in Chinese. Hm.

The Chinese acrobats were definitely entertaining and amazing, a highlight of the trip. We saw contortionists, feats of strength, an illusionist, tricks involving 12 girls on one bicycle, plate spinning (which was way prettier than I would have ever guessed), diabolo, juggling, and 5 motorcycles in a spherical cage. That one made me nervous.

The fabric market was a suggestion of both Caroline and Emily and we loved it. It's a huge building filled with stalls filled with fabric of every color, texture, weave, etc. They have several made things on display and (I guess because of the season?) most things were coats. SO many cute coats!! If I didn't live in a one-season country, I would have been in trouble! They'll make anything you want apparently, but we didn't have time this trip.

As far as food goes, we ate at a couple of Taiwanese restaurants based on recommendations. You can see us here enjoying one of these meals.

We also ate dim sum-like dumplings for lunch near the Yu Yuan gardens, and found a couple of cozy cafes and even a microbrewery with very good food in the French concession. And we would be remiss if we did not also proudly display the finding of a Krispy Kreme. Mmmm, a fresh hot donut on a cold and rainy day.

Another highlight was traveling to the airport on the high-speed mag-lev train. It covers a lot of ground quite quickly. I believe it was an 8 minute train ride, essentially accelerating to top speed (see photo) and holding for perhaps a minute before starting to decelerate again.

268 miles per hour

(All the pictures in their monochrome glory can be found at the top of the blog in the "I just come here for the pictures" section. Everyone knows how that works, right? Hover over a thumbnail, and it will tell you where those pictures are from. Click on any thumbnail to be taken to the full album. Easy peasy.)