And so this is the last blog that I have to type up from when I used blog.com
If you are a regular reader then I am sorry I haven’t blogged anything original for a while… and if you are a new reader then I hope you will still read my new stuff – or indeed go back through my archives and read from 2015 onwards.
The last blog was written by husband, and this blog was written by my mum. Neither of them have blogged since!
We were greeted by Alison and Eleanor, a welcome sight after 10 hours on a plane from Frankfurt (they started their journey in Belfast!)
Over the last three and half weeks we have met a very different culture.
We met our first difference on leaving the airport, taxi drivers tailgate, speed, constantly blow their horns and weave around other cars. More on taxi drivers later.
Within 5 days of our arrival we had been to Eleanor’s school, where we became classroom assistants, helping with the artwork, and also Martin’s school for an open day. Both schools very modern and well equipped.
Other experiences included me going to the tailor and being measured for a suit and dress (both of which turned out very well), visiting a shopping mall, a 6 year old’s birthday party, lunch in a “fast food” Chinese restaurant. Here Mac chose a meal that was quickly created and Alison and I choose our own ingredients for soup, which again was quickly cooked and was full of flavour. Alison was surprised that we were able to locate and buy in the local fruit and veg. market (I must have let them out on their own!)
We were taken to a supermarket where we saw live toads, eels, terrapins and fish all ready to be sold for cooking.
one experience that will last in our memories was a visit to a restaurant where we cooked our food at the table (hotpot). After being shown to our table, our coats were placed over the back of our chairs and then given protective covers, we were given aprons and Martin was given protective sleeves for over his shirt. The Alison, Eleanor and I went walking round the restaurant and Eleanor and I were given candy floss. During the various stages of the meal Eleanor was taken to a play area and we were able to see her on the iPad that was brought to our table. Alison and Mac had their shoes cleaned and Alison, Eleanor and I had a hand massage. We were also entertained by a dancer who magically changed his face masks. Throughout all of that we cooked and ate our meal. At the end I was given a gift box containing chop sticks.
After 3 weeks Mac and I are getting a little better at using them. At the start of our 3rd week Mac and I went first to Shanghai then Xi’an.
In Shanghai we “did” the main shopping area and then The Bund both during the day and evening. The Bund is an area with some magnificent buildings, most of them from the income from opium in the 19th Century.
As we were going to the gardens and market area I was asked to take a photograph of 2 cousins, we got talking and they invited us to a tea ceremony with them. (I heard about this and thought they had been shanghaied). The cousin from Shanghai was taking his cousin from Xi’an as a treat. After some consideration we decided to go and had a great experience tasting 6 different teas.
On to Xi’an to a very wet day. I had the cheek to try to get an umbrella for less than £1.50 (I didn’t succeed). In the centre of the old city of Xi’an is the Bell Tower, it is a roundabout at the junction of what was once the Silk Route. Our hotel was on the edge of the roundabout and we were able to watch and hear the traffic going round the Tower. We even watched some people meander their way across the traffic and feared for or even admired the people on bicycles and e-bikes who wove their way through the lanes of traffic. (one of our colleagues went here at Christmas 2018 – and this was the most fascinating thing he saw!)
Thankfully there was an underpass that pedestrians were able to use.
At the Bell Tower I was handed a 7/8 month old baby, the Mother wanted a photo of me with her son. Not only did she take a photo, but there was a complete bank of Chinese who decided to take the same photo.
Later we had our photos taken by random people on the city walls, a most unusual experience.
Alison, Martin and Eleanor joined us at the weekend and we had a marvellous and unforgettable experience of seeing the Terracotta Warriors. We took the overnight train from Suzhou to Xi’an, arrived about 9am and then took a tour of the museum and onto the Warriors. We took a flight back on the Sunday – Xi’an to Wuxi. Now there is a fast train to Xi’an!
Crossing roads in Chinese cities is not for the faint hearted. Zebra crossings are there to be used but you must be aware that you will be sharing it with the traffic as the vehicles will drive around you. At junctions do not be fooled into thinking that the red light means stop – cars, e-bikes and buses can and do turn right. Once you have mastered everything you can fairly confidently cross the road. If you are of a nervous disposition don’t use the taxis. Any we were in did arrive safely but the driving is at speed and somewhat jerky. From our hotel room in Xi’an we watched a taxi driver and another driver having a punch up. Cars drove round them and a policeman stood and watched them.
White lines do exist but at times we were unsure if the drivers took notice of them. When we were stuck in a traffic jam (a common event) Alison counted 7 lanes of traffic (with no white lines to be seen), trying to get into 2 lanes.
The past 4 weeks have been great we now know where the family live and it means that when we are facetiming we know where they are and what they are talking about. As well as that, we had some great experiences.
Well that is it from Blog.Com. I hope that WordPress is around for sometime because I don’t fancy typing all this again and more besides.