Monday, March 31, 2008

Tourist Traffic Dodge

Cara and Shawn are in town with us for the next few days, and so we took them on a punishing ride to West Lake, and taught them how to dodge the maniacal Chinese drivers.  Here we are at West Lake... ALIVE!

Hangzhou 005

The spectators were watching us as usual, so I turned my camera on them, to their surprise!  If they only knew they are famous now!
Hangzhou 006

Some wedding pictures being taken - we did catch a peek under her gown and she was wearing blue jeans!  We took Cara and Shawn down to feed the fish and see the blossoming trees.
Hangzhou 008 Hangzhou 070

Some very brightly colored flowering trees...
Hangzhou 011

Here's a flowering boy...
Hangzhou 012

The boys posing for the camera.  It's much cooler to say, "Thumbs DOWN, Dad!"
Hangzhou 016

A Japanese Maple in the park.
Hangzhou 019

... and a flowering Peacock!
Hangzhou 021

My sister's favorite shot... Why?  Because it's PINK of course!
Hangzhou 027

The Leifeng tower in the background and one of the arching bridges, a part of the Su Causeway.
Hangzhou 031

More flowering cherry trees on this misty day...
Hangzhou 032

Some Chinese tourist, taking a picture of his girl...
Hangzhou 037

And here are some more males, trying to impress their girls!
Hangzhou 041 Hangzhou 062

Cara found ANOTHER flowering tree.  Come ON CARA!!  It's time to go!
Hangzhou 067

This lady was a tourist who got dressed up to have her picture taken by her family.  She was nice enough to pose for me too!  Two fingers up!
Hangzhou 068

Here's her little girl!
Hangzhou 075

And the two together. So cute!
Hangzhou 078

Another peacock we saw, prancing in the park.
Hangzhou 079

Another Japanese maple in the park.
Hangzhou 081

Now we go to the Police Station to register Cara and Shawn, and where they're staying.  If you don't see a blog entry tomorrow, maybe we're all in the klink!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sister Arrives in Hangzhou!

After 15 hours on the airplane, Cara and Shawn arrived in Shanghai - still smiling after all of that time!
We took the MAGnetic LEVitation train into Shanghai - where the top train speed was 279 miles per hour (450 KPH)!  We all enjoyed the SPEED!  After going that fast, when it decelerated to 100 MPH it seemed so SLOW in comparison!

 Hangzhou 002
Then it was to the Shanghai South train station for the ride to Hangzhou.  Here are Cara and Shawn in the midst of China!
Hangzhou 004 Hangzhou 006

And here we all are together (except Sue, who's taking the picture, Thanks Sue!)  with all of the loot they lugged halfway across the world. 

Hangzhou 054

Shawn holding Sophie with her new teddy-bear, and the rabbit.
Hangzhou 056

While I was off in Shanghai collecting Shawn and Cara, Sue took Sophie to the flowering gardens near West Lake.

Hangzhou 028

Some folks in the park having BBQ's.  Plenty of raw meat and veggies waiting to go into brick lined pits.
Hangzhou 037

A small pagoda at the Guo Village, which was built in the 1800's (Ming Dynasty) by a silk road merchant.It was restored in 1991 and is a beautiful park with rock sculptures, gardens, a tea house, a coy pond, and views of West Lake.
 Hangzhou 041

Several wedding photo shoots were taking place!
Hangzhou 047

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Riding (and Sleeping) in the Rain

We had some of the other American teachers over last night and they stayed in the 2nd apartment.  They played video games with Peter and Jack, and THEN they went out to dance at a club.  They returned about 2:30 in the morning.  Sue on the other hand went to bed at 9pm. I guess that's the difference 20 years makes!

Today, Sue, Sophie and I went on a bike ride to geta cup of coffee.   Here's Sophie at the coffee shop, squatting on the floor, Chinese style, and smiling at the customers.
Hangzhou 001

Sue, and Sophie with her lollipop.
Hangzhou 002

Jack let his bunny wander the apartment today - he (or she?) is getting big fast.  Sue thinks it is a) a girl, and b) PREGNANT!  We shall see.  I think rabbits have a pretty short gestation period so we'll know soon, one way or another.

Hangzhou 004

Left: Sophie and I in our little apartment at breakfast time.  Right: We followed this girl on the back of her mother's bicycle, who had just gotten a hamster or some such creature.  She was enamored with the creature and totally oblivious to being on a bicycle!

 Hangzhou 006 Hangzhou 012

Sophie was also oblivious to being on a bicycle today - she fell asleep within 5 minutes of being in her seat, She looked like a Chinese bobble-head in her pig-tails!
Hangzhou 014

Sophie having a snooze on Sue's pink bike.  She looks so comfortable!
Hangzhou 016

I have had my bike for 7 months now, and ridden it for miles and MILES, and today I had my first flat!  Luckily, there's always a bike repair shop around any corner, so I pulled in to the shop below.  My bike is the one in the background with the purple bicycle seat.  Husband is supervising, wife is removing the tube.  The restaurant workers next door came over to look at the foreigners with the Chinese child.  What a wonder we are!
Hangzhou 022

Tomorrow morning I go to Shanghai to pick up my sister from the airport - her first time in China!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Made our Mark in the Park

Sophie really wanted to ride her bicycle today, so she rode ALL THE WAY to the park, while I walked behind and guided her away from traffic.

After a couple of hours riding in the park, she informed me that she had to go "pee pee"!  "Now!" There's not much of a warning period with a 3-year-old.

"No problem," I said, always the calm father. We rode over to the park bathroom.  LOCKED!
Home was a long ways away, so mortified as I was, we did the Chinese thing and I had Sophie squat in the nicely mowed park grass.  I had seen other kids do this,so I thought, "Why not?  When in Rome..."  Sophie has none of the social hang-ups that I have, so she was pleased to be able to pee-pee some place novel and public.
Of course I only allowed her to go there after Phase 1 -  PROMISING that it was ONLY "pee pee".  Just to make sure, I made her promise again 2 times.  She looked very earnest when she was promising. 
We moved onto Phase 2 - the Pulling Down of the Pants in Public, which made her laugh, and caught the ear of several people as they walked by on the path.
Finally Phase 3 - the making of the pee-pee while I held her little arms so she wouldn't fall backwards in her squat position. 
As I gazed into her face, firmly grasping her arms, I noticed tears in her eyes, accompanied by a little grunt. WHY? 
When she stood up again, I was shocked to see the biggest PILE that I have seen her make in weeks - right there on the lawn of this nicely groomed park.  The people on the path were nice enough to avert there eyes while I cleaned her up, and made a quick exit.
If I had been Chinese it wouldn't have been so bad, but everyone knows the white guy with the Chinese daughter, and I'm sure they'll be talking about whose pile that is for weeks to come.  I'm not going back there until after the next big rain.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Less Crowded West Lake

The boys were hankerin' for some pasta today so we went back to the Xihu Tiandi to have some, after their home-school lessons were done.  Being a weekday, the lakeside wasn't one tenth as crowded as it was yesterday!  While we enjoyed less people, we commented on how it was fun to wade through, bumping shoulders with humanity yesterday!
Hangzhou 008

I think Jack's growing - we had to order him two plates of it, and he polished off both!  Jack picked some willow branches and made himself another crown - which he wore all over town!
Hangzhou 005Hangzhou 007

Hanging out outside in the warm weather with the boys...
Hangzhou 006  

Afterwards, it as off to the local import store, Carrefour, to get more baguettes, and they devoured one within 15 minutes of entering our apartment!  I think our food bill will definitely be going up once we get back to the U.S.!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beishan Mountain Hike

Now that Spring has arrived in earnest, we used the opportunity to hike over the mountain on foot, down to West Lake.Hangzhou 039

Sometimes, Sophie forged on ahead.  Other times, she had other ideas and would pout until one of us carried her.  This is her typical pouting stance. OK, I guess it's back on the shoulders!
Hangzhou 034Hangzhou 186

When she pouts, I feel like I should use a sword like this guy's, and prod her along.  However, he was in the middle of doing some beautiful Tai Chi, so I didn't think I should ask him.
 Hangzhou 036

She did find a spot of water though where she could go "fishing", so she was instantly back to her happy self!
Hangzhou 040

Peter takes a breather on the way up...
Hangzhou 042

A nice flowery meadow interspersed with bamboo...
Hangzhou 044

Peter borrowed the camera to take a picture of Mom and Dad.
Hangzhou 046

Aah, finally near the top, and looking out over a portion of West Lake...

Hangzhou 049

Peter and Jack, enjoying the view.
Hangzhou 051

At the top!  Taking a break with the kids...
Hangzhou 187

Looking back at the big city, the way we came.  It's so nice to have all of this nature around a bustling city!
Hangzhou 053

Up on the hill, we came across a beautiful monastery.  Forty yuan later, and we were IN!
Hangzhou 056

An urn to burn incense...
Hangzhou 057 Hangzhou 058

Very clean, beautifully decorated!
Hangzhou 062 Hangzhou 072

Hangzhou 063

The staff took an instant liking to Sophie and showed her the local wildlife, including this dog, a talking Mynah bird and some caged rabbits.
Hangzhou 065

Hangzhou 077

A warm, sunny courtyard overlooking the lake and the city.
Hangzhou 069

Definitely a dragon motif at this monastery!  On the roofs! 
Hangzhou 073

... the door panels...
Hangzhou 075

... and even the edges of the buildings!
Hangzhou 082

The boys enjoyed exploring some of the monastery's passage-ways, and then descending the other side of the mountain.
Hangzhou 084 Hangzhou 193

Our hike finally dropped us down onto Beishan Lu, and we walked along the promenade on the north side of West Lake.  When walking along the lake, cotton candy is required nourishment!
Hangzhou 112

Sophie LOVES being carried by her big brother!
Hangzhou 091

The Bei Causeway was jam-packed with tourists and city-folk on this beautiful (Easter) Sunday!
Hangzhou 101 Hangzhou 108

The boys found some willow vines and made crowns for themselves.
Hangzhou 116

I caught these two girls taking pictures of us, the funny looking Westerners, so I took one of them in return which made them laugh.
Hangzhou 115

Some of the gorgeous blossoms that are blooming everywhere.
Hangzhou 119

The wind was whipping up, so all of the willows new growth waved in the strong breeze off the water.
Hangzhou 122

The waves from West Lake were washing over the pagoda's floor, so we all went out there to get our feet wet, and be photographed by hundreds of Chinese.
Hangzhou 126

More beautiful flowering trees at the Xihu Tiandi.
Hangzhou 128

Though a little hazy, the sun felt so good - about 72 degrees with a strong breeze today!
Hangzhou 132

A silhouette of the Xihu Tiandi bridge in the late afternoon sun...
Hangzhou 134

I don't often see people with Sophie's level of energy, but this girl was one of them!  She ran around and around and AROUND playing with this kite.Hangzhou 141

Here she goes, on the maiden voyage!
Hangzhou 148

Meanwhile, Peter and Jack took to the fun game of whipping each other with willow switches.  Peter's finally found purchase on Jack's flesh, so here's Peter apologizing.  They were whipping each other again 30 seconds later.
Hangzhou 144

Here's a little girl that Sophie met.  Notice the buns hanging out of the back of the pants, for the sake of convenience. Also notice that she is wearing what is akin to a snowsuit on a day that's in the low 70's.  So Chinese!
Hangzhou 147

Looking back across the lake towards the western part of the city where we live.  Did we walk all that way?  Whew!
 Hangzhou 162

More willow trees along the promenade, being pulled by the wind.
Hangzhou 164

The windblown willows, as they reflect the light of the setting sun.
Hangzhou 165

And finally, an end to a wonderful, sunny day in China!
Hangzhou 174