上海 Blog #24
Saturday June 13th, 2015
Local Time: 23:12 Shanghai Time
Even though it was 4pm in Wisconsin when I got up this morning at 5am in Shanghai, it still pretty much sucked. An early morning train ride to HangZhou was the occasion and let me tell you I slept pretty much the whole three hour commute, first by bus, then train then again by bus. I’m not going to say it wasn’t worth the trip though, because the Chinese weren’t kidding when they said in the sky there is Heaven and on earth there is HangZhou and SuZhou. Lakes, streams and all sorts of natural scenery and wild life amidst a bustle of domestic tourists were in store.
A wooden motor boat gave us safe passage from a pagoda filled park to the other side of the enormous, mountain enclose lake. The second all fifteen of us Americans walked onto the boat, a little kid began screeching in the back, “外国人，外国人，外国人！(Foreigners, foreigners, foreigners!)” At that we all had a hearty laugh and all be honest, I wasn’t quite sure for the duration of the boat ride if the Chinese tourists were more interested in the gorgeous scenery or us.
Lunch was on CIEE at what was reportedly the most famous restaurant in all of HangZhou. There were a few strings attached, however, given our free lunch. Basically, it all came down to really pushing our comfort zones with the food. So, in addition to our staple rice side, our meal most notably consisted of:
- Pickled jelly fish
- Some sort anchovy like fish that still had eyes, bones tail and everything
- Duck tongue (yes, literally the tongue of a duck)
- Fried eel
- Pork that was more fat than meat
- Vegetables I couldn’t identify
- Some sort of egg mush porridge thingy
- The fan favorite whole chicken
I forced myself to try everything from the jellyfish to the duck tongue and while I’m not going to sit here and tell you any of it was bad, it’s nothing I’d bother to purchase to eat on my own. At least now I can claim I’ve eaten eel.
After lunch we made our way to, can you guess?, another temple! Except, this one was the craziest, most intricate, nature involved, giantest one I have seen yet! The first indication the place was serious business were the stone statue carvings inlaid into the rocky mountainside. There were a ton of them and they were all very detailed, their radiant patterns reflected in the crystal clear water below containing fish and turtles. Walking up the stone marbled “driveway” the water basin became a stream that flowed away from giant gates behind which the temple courtyard was hidden. This place must have had no less than a dozen buildings, each with their own unique statues that ranged from six to forty feet. Mammoth laughing Buddhas or serene Siddharthas where among the treasurers not quite so hidden all around. To top off the coolness factor, everywhere the smell of incense followed us and prayerful songs could be heard as hundreds of nuns and monks gathered for some sort of ceremony none of us understood. I felt a bit intrusive but privileged to witness the ordeal for a while.
Once we’d satisfactory explored every inch of every building, we began the so named “dangerous” hike to the so called “peak” of the nearby unaptly named “mountain.” We made friends with a few pigeons, a couple of caterpillars and way too many mosquitos as we climbed stair after stair, all the while joking about one of the signs on the path which had been translated in English as “caution danger, caution slip.” When we finally reached the top, we found a bunch of really big rocks, trees blocking our view so we couldn’t see anything, and a little old man selling all sorts of trinkets and more strategically, liquids.
I had to continue working on my international studies relations essay on the train ride home which was sort of meh. Being a CS/Econ major means this is my very first paper I’ve ever had to write for college. I’m a bit out of practice considering it’s been about a year for AP Lit, but at least the topic of China-US relations interests me.
Sometimes it amazes me how utterly nice Chinese people seem to be. I played basketball with one of my Chinese friends tonight who seemed completely comfortable to ask a father with his son if we could use their basketball for our game. The father was more than happy to hand it over to us, stop his own game with his son, and let us have free reign. Basketball（篮球） seems to be the game in China and it seemed only appropriate that I should play on the courts of ECNU at least once while I’m here.