Three Cheers For Censorship!

 
With too few days remaining on our Chinese visa and realizing we were
days away by train from any place we were eager to visit, on Sunday
night we somewhat impulsively purchased a Monday morning flight to
Kunming.  By noon, we were comfortably ensconced in our $10 a night
hotel room in the heart of that city, the capital of China’s Yunnan
province.  Nearly 24 hours later, we still know relatively little
about Kunming, except that it has a Vietnamese embassy (essential for
procuring our next visa), it’s home to many of China’s few large
minority groups, and it’s a stone’s throw from some beautiful places.
And, if we’re lucky and can make it work, we’re close enough to the
Sichuan province to perhaps visit a panda preserve or Leshan’s large
standing Buddha.  We’ll see.

Our four days in Shanghai were a real joy.  After leaving Mongolia
fatigued and a wee bit malnourished, we were hopeful to find a few of
the comforts of home in China.  In Shanghai, we were treated to the
amazing pleasures of a Chinese family.  My sister-in-law Betsy
introduced us to her Bowdoin friend Jacob and his Chinese bride Sandy
(Not her given name.  As an aside, I wish I could choose my English
nickname as so many of the Asian folks we’ve met on this trip have.
In Ulaanbataar, we met a Korean guy named One.)    Jacob and Sandy are
both in the manufacturing business, men’s gifts and outdoor products
for him, men’s suits for her, and her doting and energetic parents
live with them.  So far us, it was a peek into the manufacturing world
as well a much-appreciated opportunity to eat home cooked meals and
get a sense of what it’s like to be a young professional in urban
China.  They treated us to any number of wonderful dinners, took us on
a brief tour of their offices and the manufacturing hub of Hangzhou,
and answered our many questions.  Most memorable certainly was the
traditional 90 minute foot massage we received at one of the many such
message establishments spread all over the cities here.  I’m not sure
how to describe it other than by noting that only 60 minutes or so was
devoted to our feet; our shoulders and necks received some attention
as well.  Thanks guys!

When we weren’t living it up with the two of them, we explored
Shanghai. Somewhat surprisingly, there aren’t all that many must-see
tourist attractions.  We marveled at the art deco architecture of the
Bund, the city’s earlier center of commerce, as well as the countless
skyscrapers plopped down all over the city.  We also enjoyed seeking
out the old home of my uncle who lived in Shanghai between the mid
1920’s and the end of WWII.  Not much still stands in the city from
those days aside from the Bund, but it’s just possible that 13 Sichuan
Road remains intact.  We await a review of the photographs for
confirmation.

Speaking of photos, we remain thwarted by the Chinese firewall and
needed my mother to post this.  (Thank you Nancter!) However, we have
just a few days left until we need to leave China and its prying eyes
behind, and CeCe swears to me that she’s just a few minutes of work
away from adding a good number of photos to the gallery.

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