Friday, November 17, 2006


No, it's not a wrong spelling of the Wall, although The Wall is absolutely stunning and great. Before leaving China I'll definitely get to Bejing and the Great Wall.

And it's not the wail of one of many stringed instruments you hear on the streets of Shanghai.

The wail doesn't come from a Erhu, which looks to be what I see many itinerary muscians strumming on the steps of subway stations.

And it's not the wail of the "One Family One Child" rule in China. Well, that wail could be coming from the parents or the child, many of which are starting to get McDonalded Sized.

No...The Great Wail of China comes from the horns of cars, trucks, cabs, scooters, motorcycles, and even the proverbial Chinese tractor. There is no rhyme, reason, or semblance of a logical reason why a car horn gets tooted here. They just are.

And I'm beginning to feel like I'm going to wail on the next driver that bleeps his horn!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Ride to Shanghai from Zhudi Town

I've come to realize I'm not gonna find a whole lot of scenics on bike rides in and around Shanghai.

A school teacher here in Zhudi Town (about 25 clicks from the center of Shanghai) commented: "You RODE into the city??? I'm so afraid of cycling here. These aren't my country roads."'s not " roads..take me home...." Thank you John.

What is interesting is the variety of what you see. The following photos were taken yesterday on a 30 mile round trip from where I live in Zhudi Town to downtown Shanghai and back.

Itinerant street vendors hawking wares.
Entered a park and found what looks to be a terra cotta warrior guarding tombstones.
Example of tombstone in the cemetary.
Two friends. Often see couples holding hands while cycling.
Seen this a few times. They burn trash all over the city.
A typical downtown street. It does get crowded. Kills the average speed.
Example of a "Bike Park". In certain areas you have to park your bike at specified locations.
Found a small park by acccident. Many parks have exercise machines or equipment and I've always seen someone using them. Often the older crowd.
A gentleman wrapped in his enjoyable isolation doing his TiChee (I'll get correct spelling)
My new MTN Bike for Friday beer rides. If I tell you how little it cost, Guido will fit you with a pair of cement shoes.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Chinese "FROGGER"

"Frogger" was an ATARI game I think during the 80's where you tried to get the frog across a busy highway without the frog getting squished. Seems the Chinese adopted this game in the city of Urumqi as you can see by the pic. Pedestrians will walk or run or hurry or sprint for dear life to one of the lane lines, wait for an opening, and continue ( least try) to the other side.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Silk Road

Urumqi, Turpan and Dunhuang: Three cities on the "Silk Road" which I got to see because one of the teachers leading a tenth grade "cultural immersion" trip go injured. They needed a last minute replacement. Who was I to say no? I did forget that taking care of teenagers is sometimes like herding cats.

I suggest you research each of the three cities to learn more of the vast culture of China. I figured all of China had that chinese look. Not to be. The area of Umumqi is the home of the Uyghur (weeger) people, who have a mongolian heritage and have a Turkish look: Dark, swarthy complexsion, sharp angular features and little did I know: a Muslim area.

A very busy five days with a lot of time traveling, including an overnight in a hard sleeper car: 30 bunks arranged in cubes of six with 3 bunks (lower, middle, upper) on the sides of each cube. You're right: I now know what sleeping in a submarine must have been like. Wish I could have taken pics of people getting in and out of the top bunk!!!

What the kids and I got to do during the five days:
Uigur Singing and Dancing Workshop
Erdaoqiao Market Shopping
Buffet Dinner with Uiger Singing and Dancing
Xinjian History Museum (With a host of mummies)
KFC: Yah..I didn't figure how this was a cultural experience. On 2nd thought it was and not a pleasant one. don't want to know what the chicken looked like. Then wasn't mutton.
Turpan Chinese Dinner
Sugong Pagoda
Karez Irrigation System (Look it up. Fascinating)
Jiaohe Ancient City
Overnight Train Trip
Sand Dunes: The fun part. Believe it or not many of these internationally traveled kids had never seen a camel up close and personal.
Magoa Caves (Incredible 90 feet Bhuddas carved out of stone. Only took 29 years)

A great trip in spite of about a seven hour delay on China Southern airlines. Gee, I felt just like I was flying in or out of Chicago!!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Silk Road: Urumqi, Turpur & Dunhuang

Due to an unfortunate accident to a school trip leader, I was a last minute substitute on a Shanghai American School cultural immersion trip for tenth graders. And yes, chaperoning tenth graders is akin to herding cats.

But what an experience. Three cities in a little over four days or Planes, Trains and Buses. The itinerary in four beat time:

Oct. 23 Fly a.m. to Hongqiao airport
Oct. 23 Transfer to bus and drive to Urumqi
Oct. 23 Afternoon Uiger (pronounce weeger) Dance Workshop
Oct. 23 Shop the market until you drop
Oct. 23 Buffet dinner with Uiger Dance Show

Oct. 24 Uiger Hat Workshop
Oct. 24 Lunch with local it was a KFC.
Oct. 24 Bus to Turpan
Oct. 24 Dinner in Turpan

Oct. 25 Sugong Pagoda
Oct. 25 Karez Irrigation System
Oct. 25 Visit Jiaohe Ancient City
Oct. 25 Visit Local Market
Oct. 25 Visit local Uiger family for refreshments and another dance lesson.
Oct. 25 Board overnight sleeper (as in cramped) train to Dunhuang

Oct. 26 Visit sand dunes. Camel ride. Sand dune sledding.
Oct. 26 Lunch at local silk road side road off the road and beaten path cafe.
Oct. 26 Visit Magao Caves
Oct. 26 Visit local market

Oct. 27 Wake up call at 2 a.m. morning flight cancelled.
Oct. 27 Scurry around to make flight arrangements.
Oct. 27 Spent a really long time getting new flights.
Oct. 27 Get home after midnight

A bit of commentary and some pics in me next blog entry. In the meantime, kids who grow up in an international environment grow up fast. At midnight dropping them at a hotel to be picked up by parents or their "driver", two of them had permission slips to "hail a taxi". Picture a 14 year old walking down to a city street, hand up in the air, whistles, hops in cab.

Fade to black.