In May, 2012 I had a unique opportunity to go on what I refer to as the “Three-Kids-Three-Weeks-Three-Countries” tour. Circumstances had all three of our adult children living in Asia, and there was a window of opportunity to spend (more or less) a week with each of them. While I had been overseas to Europe before, I had never been to Asia.
It was an opportunity too good to pass up, and it was spectacular!
So, in more or less chronological order, let me share some of that trip’s photos with you. (Have I ever mentioned that I take a LOT of pictures?)
After a twelve hour, non-stop flight from San Francisco to Shanghai, I arrived about 18:00 local time, just before sunset. My body, on the other hand, was adrift, its circadian rhythms demolished by the crossing of eight time zones and the international date line. I’m not sure I could have told you the time, the date, or the day of the week if my life had depended on it.
I was met at the airport by my daughter, who has lived in Shanghai for three years now, teaching English at an international high school in the Xuhui District there. She did an excellent job of getting me to my hotel, dragging my bedraggled butt out for some dinner, and giving me a quick tour of the extremely bright lights, neon, and chaos in one of the city’s many commercial districts.
After passing out for a few hours and regaining my balance (if not my bearings), I spent some time touring the grounds of the school where she teaches, waiting for her classes to get over so that we could go off sightseeing.
In the distance, a few times an hour, all of the time, I could hear what sounded like gunfire. When I later asked if there was a firing range nearby, one of my daughter’s friends said something like, “Fireworks. They were invented here, right? Chinese families will shoot off fireworks to celebrate anything. A birth, a death, a wedding, a promotion, Wednesday, a really good cup of tea — it doesn’t matter.” As someone who loves fireworks, I could get used to that kind of an attitude!
It doesn’t take you long to really notice that you’re not in Kansas (or Los Angeles) any more. Despite the groomed and manicured landscaping on the grounds, most of the plants are distinctly different from most anything in North America.
The school is extremely focused on college prep and has an emphasis on scientific and technical subjects. I don’t know how often they use the telescope, how big it is, or how much they can see through the perpetual haze and smog, but the dome’s big enough to have a pretty decent sized instrument.
You may have heard about recent issues with severe smog in several Chinese cities, including Shanghai. When I was there it wasn’t particularly smoggy, but every day it was hazy. Most days it was grey and dim for the bulk of the day, which is to be expected for a city on the coast in a semi-tropical climate.
Many of the buildings at the school pre-date World War II, and their architecture reflects that. The school was used as an internment camp during the war. Also notice the flag. I always try to get a picture of the country’s flag when I’m traveling abroad.
There are koi in every pond and lake, and there are a lot of ponds and lakes. I never had any idea that they came in so many colors, sizes, and types. It’s very tranquil sitting and watching them. Of course, the second they see you they start schooling in front of you, anticipating food. I had no food to share, for which I apologize to the koi of Shanghai.