Farewell 2014

School holidays continue and so does our exploration of art – this time we went back to M50 – which we visited about a year ago – which is a collection of little galleries of which we managed to visit a handful. The favorites were ‘Fat Mouse’ by Yu Honglei (probably because there we sun lounges to sit on whilst watching an animated film of famous art works flying across the screen)

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…and Island6 gallery with amusing pieces such as metal origami birds dancing to music and this one:  ‘Seen and Heard and Felt the Words’ Liu Dao Art Collective:

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….I’ll be trying this experiment of synesthesia this week.

And then I was recently re-aquainted with an Australian – whom I had met shortly after our arrival here in Shanghai – and she talked me into going with her and the kids to ‘Wells Jumping’. I was actually dreading this large space of 3 trampolines (and more!) but as I was allowed to jump, climb, kick and dance too (and as it was pretty empty as it was a ‘school day’), it turned out to be 3 hours of fun – and insured that the kids slept soundly on Christmas Eve.

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This friend also gave us a great address for tree climbing as my daughter had been craving some suitable trees…and although I did feel a little awkward – being in the grounds of a fancy hotel (Okura Garden Hotel)-…..it was worth it for the smiles on the kid’s faces!

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Tai chi is still practiced here BUT only by the older generation. The younger generation tend to scoff at it.

 

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We celebrated Christmas with a morning swim, strawberry tart (yes strawberries – glass-house and no doubt chemical ridden- are in season now) and some other goodies and an afternoon stroll. Followed by lots of LEGO time.

 

 

Shanghighs‘: Our driver Ben made us a batch of shao-mai – which he assured us were much better than those sold in the street … and he was right. He can’t believe that the kids are STILL on vacation.

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Steaming shaomai

Shanglows‘:  –  Farewell to Isabelle. I met Isabelle soon after our arrival and thought she was exceptional (friendly, intelligent, open-minded…). I was kicking myself at her farewell dinner this week that I’d not made more efforts to see her more often over the past 1.5-years. Seize the day!

Shangunusuals‘: Many people have said that 2014 was a tough one. I’d have to agree and am looking forward to a 2015 that teaches more gently (or that I learn more quickly with more serenity!)

Christmas without the hype.

I mentioned in a previous post that Christmas decorations have been  everywhere in Shanghai since late October-November…………but that is as far as Christmas celebrations go here. Today as the kids and I explored another great Art Space and Sculpture Garden (Red Town) on our first day of Christmas vacation/holidays, I was asked by some mothers why the children weren’t in school.

IMG_5039Red Town turned-out to be a very child-friendly location with colorful statues, grass (all be-it dead), sticks and dirt. IMG_5162

We spent over 2-hours roaming around despite the cold.

 

Here the kids are sliding down huge metal fortune cookies. Incidentally, fortune cookies are not at all available here in China……being a recipe originally from Japan and then modernised in The United States.

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Last week as I stepped out onto Renmin Lu/Road I noticed that the cranes on the top of world’s second highest tower had been removed. Shanghai Central Tower has been hailed as a symbol of ‘China’s boundless future’ (Daily Mail) and is due to open in the middle of 2015.

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Height (occupied): 1,841ft / 561.3m

Height (to tip): 2,073ft / 632.0

128 floors above ground and 5 below.

After gazing at it for a while, I nipped into Yu Garden markets for the first time. This market consists of 5 floors of specialized stores each selling only one particular item: Christmas decorations, or embroidery kits or telephone accessories or drink bottles or buttons or wigs……………

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IMG_5011IMG_5017These waving statues -known here as ‘Chinese lucky cats’ – are very often seen in stores and restaurants……..they originate …….. from Japan.

 

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Shanghighs‘: The opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas full of connection, reflection, ….. and good digestion!

Shanglows‘: Not being with family (physically!) for Christmas.

Shangunusuals‘: Timeoutshanghai magazine featured some excerpts from books written on China written this year. Here are two:

– Age of Ambition (Evan Osnos) ‘Thirty years ago in China, daily life was controlled by the Communist Party. Your danwei, or work unit, had the final decision on where you lived, where you worked and whom you married. Mao Zedong ruled over millions of people in identical uniforms, an army taught to live, work, and die for the greater good”..Evan “Examines the birth of an era of aspiration and introduces the people who have jumped, in one generation, from worship of the collective to worship of the individual“.

– Myth-Busting China’s Numbers (Matthew Crabbe) “Just when you think you understand what is going on in China, you learn that everything has changed and you have to start learning all over again”.

So true!

 

 

Precision.

olympiadeMy daughter’s school participated in it’s first inter-school sports day last week. The opening ceremony was of ‘Olympic standard’ – and I wondered whether as much effort had  been spent on preparing the girls and boys for sport.

imageThese children know how to march in unison. The French-section of the school was …..well…. less ordered..but perhaps that was part of the act…they were dressed as Gauls after all (think Asterix and Obelix).

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Then my son’s school put on a 3-hour (I kid you not) Christmas show. As I was watching each class perform 2 acts (one in Chinese and one in English or French) and yawning – just a little – I was wondering just how many hours had gone into preparing this event?

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Here he is! – far right – singing at the top of his voice in Chinese.

DSC_1382The costumes were elaborate and the music VERY loud. Come to think of it, Shanghai is a pretty loud place generally …with horns blaring, people talking/shouting at each-other, bicycles with loud-speakers attached to the handle bars advertising their services (from heater repair to collecting old electrical goods).

The highlight of the concert had to be the teacher’s rendition of Snow White. It was hilarious to watch the enthusiastic school staff perform for the students and parents, each reciting their lines in their native language.(Chinese/English/French). It was also refreshing to know that after putting the kids through hours of rehearsals, that the teachers were doing the same.

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One of the MANY delivery scooters piled high.

I don’t believe I’ve posted about deliveries, but I simply must because a huge proportion of the population in Shanghai buy their goods on-line and receive their goods in a couple of days – if not on the very same day….amazing!. A large number of people use a site called TAOBAO on which you can find absolutely everything (I challenge you to try looking for something obscure). If I enjoyed shopping I would have probably mastered this site which requires being able to read Mandarin or spend hours running everything through a translator…not to mention risking buying fake goods and dealing with the bank.

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I wanted some shelves installed in our new apartment and when the maintenance guy arrived brandishing only an electric drill I was a little worried. Our last book-shelf installation left us with crooked shelves… and so when he held the shelf up to the wall and started drilling I cringed. Where was his spirit level? (‘spirit what?’….. I’m still not sure if they actually exist here as I’m yet to spot one). When he left I was convinced that the shelves were not straight and thought that there must be an ‘app’ for that. Sure enough there were several ‘spirit levels’ and so after downloading one, I placed my phone on the shelves and to my surprise, they were absolutely horizontal. Talk about precision! (luck?)

Shanghighs‘: Got ourselves a Christmas tree. I went to a flower market and found someone making wreaths and asked if I could buy a couple of big branches – voila for around $8.00 (slightly better than the options in my previous post)

Shanglows‘: The weather has ‘turned’. Some nights drop to 0 degrees.

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Shangunusuals‘: Can you see the funny contraption between this guys feet? It’s a Solowheel (or more likely a Solowheel copy). A ‘one-wheeled, self-balancing personal transport solution’, these are becoming more and more common around the city. Yes, he is in the middle of the road without a helmet.