Saturday, November 24, 2007

Trek to Shaoxing

We spent our Saturday on a visit to a nearby town called Shaoxing (shau-shing), which is about 1 1/2 hours away by bus.  We ran into a traffic jam on the way there, so we spent 2 long hours on the tour bus visiting with the locals.  We also hired an English speaking guide who was a lovely girl of about 24 years old.  It was a Chinese tour company, so she spent a lot of time translating what the Chinese tour guide said, since she didn't know a lot about Shaoxing herself!  So, trying to listen to her, navigate crowds, schlep all of our things around and keep an eye on the kids was exhausting!

Lin Xun's Residence

Lin Xun (1881-1936) is one of China's most famous modern writers.  He's known for writing over 10,000 poems, as well as stories and books that were at one time considered too dangerous for the general public to read.  Because of this he had to hide out in Shanghai's French Concession in 1927.  Some scenes from his housing compound below.
The drawing room...
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Around every corner, this guy was taking pictures of us (and Jack in particular, I think), so I aimed the lens at him for a change!
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These plaques hanging in the main hall are the family rules.  There were 12 plaques in all.  I think we should get some of these for around the house - once I figure out what our rules are!
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The bedroom area...
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A nice big kitchen with a 7 burner stove!
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Hanging out in the gardens...
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... a look into some of the inner courtyards of the house.
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Some of the garden areas under cultivation...
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This little boy and his family were on our tour as well.  They were on vacation from Wuhan, the same city that Sophie came from!  So, he took to calling her "mei mei" which means little sister and they were fast friends.  They both have the same outgoing personalities!
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The boy did some martial arts posing for the camera that Sophie was trying to imitate.
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The two goofballs, goofing off :)
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Shaoxing Garden

Next, we took a short walk through Shaoxing to a garden on this warm fall day.
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Sophie, going her own way, as usual!
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Some workers repairing the waterworks under the street, the old fashioned way!
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One of the little waterways that meanders through the city.
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Peter and Jack enjoying the garden...
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Some small buildings surrounded the pond of expired lilies, making this a very autumn looking scene!
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East Lake

Shaoxing 080 In Hangzhou there is the famous West Lake, and in Shaoxing there is an East Lake.  There are many high cliffs and carved out stone grottos along the finger shaped lake.  We had rides in small boats run by the locals. 

There were only 3 allowed per boat, so Sue, our English speaking guide, Sophie, and another tourist were in one boat, and myself and the 2 boys were in the other boat.  Girls in one boat - boys in the other!

It was interesting to watch them row the boats.  They row a giant oar with their feet , and use a smaller hand oar as a tiller.
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Sue giving the Chinese "peace" sign as they all do in their pictures!
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Some gorgeous scenery by the lakeside.
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The boys had a fun time on the boat but they wanted to rock it.  When they started, they got a scolding from the boatman :). 
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Lan Ting (Orchid Pavilion)

Next we visited a wonderful garden called the Orchid Pavilion.  It's the wrong season for orchids but it was still a great place with streams and natural surroundings that we all enjoyed.Shaoxing 120
Sue and the kids found some geese, and where there are geese, there are peddlers selling goose food!
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The peddler told Sue to go across on the rock bank, past the Be Careful sign, to feed the geese.
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I think any of these geese would outweigh Sophie!
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In this little brook, the woman floats a small cup of yellow rice wine.  The scholars would sit on pillows on the bank.  If they took the cup of rice wine and drank, they would have to think of a poem to recite or sing a song.
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Here is scholar-Sue, sitting on a pillow made of some sort of organic wicker material.  She looks like a coat-holding Mom here!
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... and here's Danger Girl, standing on the VERY EDGE of a pond of water.  Can she back up 2 or 3 inches?  No, she must be on the VERY EDGE or it's no fun.
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"Hey Sophie! Let's get away from the edge and go look at some bamboo!"
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We ran into a tour of deaf Chinese and they all motioned for a picture of Jack.  He must have had at least 15 pictures requested.  He needs to start charging money.  He was a good sport and smiled for all of them.
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The Incident of the Bus

After a long day of touring, we climbed back on the bus and were on our way home for the 1 1/2 hour bus ride when we were stopped by chance at a checkpoint.  The bus driver had forgotten his license so they would not let him take passengers any further!  They made us wait for a second bus to come get us out in the middle of nowhere.  After an hour wait we climbed onto the second bus, and passed through a toll station.  The toll operator saw all of us crammed into the much smaller bus and told us to pull over!  Two of the tour guides got off of the bus so that we had enough seats for everyone.  Very strange, since on city busses, standing room only is the normal mode of transportation!

Here's Jack entertaining himself by making a raft out of sticks and grass while we wait for the new bus.

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Here's our old, comfy bus that we had to vacate due to improper paperwork.
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This woman was stuffing rice into a bag that she had laid out to dry.  Sophie and her new boyfriend rushed over to help her.  She politely said that she didn't need ANY HELP!  But Sophie and the other boy continued to help her anyway. They are so thoughtful!
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We're definitely ready for today to be over, although we ended it the Western way by eating sandwiches from Starbucks, with a latte to go!

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