Monthly Archives: June 2009

Day 12 – Sunday, June 28th, Shanghai


Sunday was a free day, so Russ, Roger and Doug ( the men) all decided to take a ride on the Maglev (magnetic levitation) train to the airport and back.  It goes over 400 miles per hour and they wanted to have this experience at least once in their lives! James, our guide went with the men on the train to be their Chinese interpreter, just in case. Nick (who was feeling much better), Lisa, Athena and Justin (the kids) decided to go bargain shopping with their babies. They didn’t need a guide because after Beijing they were pros!   Ellen, Sylvia and Jackie (the women) decided to go shopping as well but took Anvar with them as a guide.


Well the women had a great time.  Anvar took them to a knock off market that was 3 or 4 stories high with many little shops selling their wares. They expected you to barter and Jackie was so great at bartering, Sylvia and I had Jackie do all our bartering for us. It was great fun watching Jackie at work!! We bought all kinds of things at unbelievable prices.  $350 Canadian dollar for a Pandora bracelet with just a few beads; we bought for  $15. dollars with 14 beads!  Poor Anvar left us at this point because we spent a couple of hours pouring over which beads we wanted and he was bored with us.  At one point Jackie and I bought three purses then later Jackie noticed that a clasp on her strap was weak.  So we went back to exchange the purse or get a better strap. The store girls said that they didn’t have any more straps.  So Jackie said no problem she would pick a different purse and exchange the broken one. She asked where their Gucci bags were because last time we were there they had all kinds of Gucci bags.  (Oh I forgot to say that most of the shops are all fronts and the good products are in the back behind a secret door. I had wanted to take a picture and they said no).  The shop girl tells Jackie that the police were walking around so all the Gucci bags had been moved upstairs and one of the girls would take her up there to look for a new bag.  So off Jackie goes with a little shop girl while we wait at the purse shop.  Next thing I know Jackie comes storming back into the shop saying she was going to call the police and the little shop girls are hopping up and down trying to keep Jackie quiet.  They ended up giving her two straps for her purse and off we go happy.  It turned out that the shop girl who took Jackie to the elevator asked her how many purses she was going to buy?  Jackie said none because we had already bought three, she  only wanted to exchange one that had a weak clasp.  The shop girl said you no buy; I no take you upstairs; you waste my time and she walked away leaving Jackie standing in the middle of the floor surrounded by people looking at her.  Jackie was furious (for good reason) and stormed back into the shop threatening to call the police.  They really helped us then; we were their best friends by the time we left!


As we walked along we bumped into the kids and they had been shopping up a storm.  Apparently Justin was their barterer.  He would ask what is your best pricing, joking aside.  They would say a price and he would start laughing and say I told you no jokes.  That is so funny, I would never pay that.  Justin has such a nice way about him that they just kept coming down in price. All four kids had a great day and bought up a storm.


We women went to lunch at a Japanese restaurant down on the bottom floor and shortly after Nick, Lisa and A.J. arrived for lunch.  As we were looking through the menu, Jackie noticed a table across from us with four Caucasian  women.  She asked what they were having and they said that they were from Air Canada and that all the food was safe at this restaurants.  Apparently, all the flight attendants and pilots from Canada eat at this restaurant.  That was good news as Nick was still cautious with food.  Anyway they started talking about the Grouse Grind.  And we asked where they were from?  Turned out all four girls were from Vancouver and a couple of them were from Ocean Park where Russ and I live!  How is that for being a small world?  They wee the crew that would be working on the kids flight home!


For dinner we ended up having Italian again at our hotel.  It was very good but we had to eat in a hurry as we were off to the Circus!  Then we rushed out to attend a Chinese circus.  Well this circus was amazing.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!  The acts they did probably wouldn’t be allowed in North America!  One act was motorcycles driving around inside a big globe like cage at top speed.  The motorcycles went so fast that they jumped off the walls and they put 8 motorcycles into this big cage all at the same time.  We had a hard time watching, expecting an accident to happen at any time.  Another act was a man and women spinning in the air holding onto silk fabric with no safety wires or anything.  The acrobats were amazing! The whole crowd was going Wow, you couldn’t help yourself from making noises the acts were so surprising.

One guy juggled huge ceramic flower pots (they weigh a lot) and he threw one up in the air and caught it on his head! Ouch! It was a great show, lots of surprises and lots of energy!!! I highly recommend watching a circus performance when visiting China!

Day 11 – Saturday, June 27th, Shanghai

And Nick makes three! Yes, it was Nick’s turn to be sick in the Saklas family.  Apparently, everytime Nick ran to the bathroom in the middle of the night he managed to flick all the lights in the room on so Lisa and AJ were woken up as well.  Too bad, they must have caught a bug and shared it around them. They spent all of this day in their room so Nick could sleep.

The rest of us took a tour around Shanghai. We went to the Jade  Buddha Temple, where there are two white jade statues of Buddha.  One is sitting and the other is in a reclining position.  They are very beautiful, look much like glass but are carved out of one jade stone, each!  The temple also had lots of wood carvings of Buddha’s.  The entrances into all the temples have a high lip (threshold) which you have to step over to get inside.  The more important the Temple the higher the rise.  The reason for this threshold was to keep out the evil spirits.  Evil spirits do not have knees, they walk straight-legged, like zombies, so they can’t get through the threshold which keeps everyone inside safe. Interesting!  I always thought there was just one Buddha but it appears that Buddhism has lots of gods both male and female.  Some look downright scary, with mean faces. Also some are white and some are black faced.  When I get some time I would like to read up on this religion.  I really liked the laughing Buddha figurines because they make you want to laugh as well.

Next we visited a garden made up of rockeries, pools with coy, little buildings and bonsai trees. It was on three acres alongside the Old Chinese Town made of lots of tiny shops for Tourists.  The garden is called Yuyuan Garden.  The pathways had small round river rocks embedded into the ground which is used as a foot massage when you walk through the gardens barefoot.  The buildings have decorative animals and people hunting, fighting or fishing on their roofs.  The doorways had round and square entrances (Ying and Yang).  Round represents heaven, round like the sun and moon; whereas square represents the earth.  The tops of the walls are curved like waves in the sea and over the entrance is a large dragon with a pearl in it’s mouth and a three clawed foot (Only Emperor’s dragons can have five claws!) So I guess in Shanghai anyone could have dragons unlike the areas near Beijing. Or it could be different guides, different stories.

We had lunch at a typical Chinese restaurant, upstairs with a set menu ordered by James and our Shanghai guide Jenny. Sometime during lunch or it may have been in the gardens, Jackie Olive got a few spider or mesquito bits on both her thighs.  She was a trooper and continued on the tour without saying anything but by the evening these bites had swollen up to about 8″ in diameter! I’ve never seen anything like it!

After lunch, we went to a Silk factory which was very interesting!  Each worm spins silk to make their cocoon. A thin strand comes out of the worm’s mouth and each thread is over a mile long.  The whole cocoon is just one thread spun around and around to make the worm’s little house.  They had a bowl of these little worms which are green and bumpy but not gross, they looked kind of cute.  When you touched them they are cold to the touch, so no wonder they spin a cocoon around themselves, the poor little guys are cold.  I was surprised to learn that they spit the silk out of their mouths. Sometimes a cocoon will have two pupa’s and will be a double cocoon.  Double cocoons are a problem because you can’t find the start of the silk thread which is needed to spin the silk into threads.  Eight threads are spun together to make one thread used to weave into fabric.  Anyway the doubles are all woven together and you can’t find the start so they use these double cocoons for making the silk batting used to stuff quilts. One other thing about silk, it doesn’t really burn (which polyester does) it sort of melts and then quickly quits burning, much like hair and it smells like burnt hair as well. Okay I admit it, I am sold on using silk from now on.  Silk duvets, silk bedding, silk dresses, silk scarves you name it, I like it. Yes, they had a store above the silk factory and we all bought a few things!!

For dinner we decided to go Italian at a nearby mall for  a nice change. After dinner we had a Chinese fire drill trying to catch cabs for all of us.

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