Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 4 - City Tour Day


March 23. Today we got to tour some of the city. Vivian has been such an excellent translator, guide and host. Her enthusiasm for China is contagious. We love hearing her insight and have been so impressed with her loyalty and devotion to her country. For example, we were asking her why they can’t use Facebook and Google. She told us that the government thought long and hard about this decision and that they did not feel it was right for their country, so if they want to honor the decision then they don’t use those things. She said it is easy to download a VPN and use them anyway, (now we feel guilty) but that most people don’t because they are respectful of the government’s decision. One thing that feels different here is the sense of community that people have. Little community parks are all over and they are always packed with people. The typical retirement age in China is 45, so in the morning the parks are full of retired people and kids who aren’t in school yet. They come out and dance/stretch/exercise to music together. I love watching it.

Brady getting some exercise with his smog mask.

Typically grandparents live with their child and his/her spouse. They take care of their grandchild when he/she is not in school while the parents who are working age work. Everyone goes home for lunch. Later in the afternoon everyone is back at the park. Groups of women talking and lots of men sitting around in groups playing a game that looks kind of like chess. Also around the outskirts of the parks there is a little trail so many people walk laps around the park. When the kids get done with school around 5:30 the parks are really hopping with people for another hour but then they all go home for dinner and things quiet down. At our hotel we are on the 22nd floor, I love looking out the window at 6:30 to watch all of the people streaming out of buildings and heading for home. Many walk but there are also thousands of bicycles and scooters and of course lots of cars too. Almost every bike is equipped with a basket and all of the scooters have built in gloves stuck on the handle bars, and a built in blanket to keep them warm during the cold season. We drove though some different parts of town. There is an Italian section and a European section. We ended up at an old Chinese market place around a Chinese temple. We had fun wandering through the market place trying Chinese candy, looking at carvings made out of Jade, picking out fans and souvenirs for the kids and of course people watching. Cooper seemed to have fun at the market place too, he liked looking at what everyone was selling and he especially liked it when we’d pass an animal.

In the evening Cooper and I went over to the park. He love playing on the slide. A group of kids around Brynlee’s age kept come over and staring at me. They would say “hello” and then laugh and run away. Finally one of the boys got really brave, he said, “Hello, do you speak English?” I said yes. He said “How are you? Do you like my shirt?” I responded and he ran away but it broke the ice. The whole group started showing off their English for me. It was so cute. They told me their American names and they knew a lot of words and sentences about their clothes and the colors of their clothes. I don’t think they could understand much of what I said though. It was pretty funny. We were having a good time but it started getting pretty loud when they all started chanting a rhythm about a tall man and a short woman together. An older lady came over and said something to them in Chinese and they all stopped and ran off. No one really has biological cousins or aunts and uncles here, so maybe that is another reason why the communities seem to be so connected. I don’t know but I like this place.

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