Friday, October 26, 2012

how can i miss you if you won't go away?

last night as we were getting ready for bed, i looked at AWD and suddenly felt like it had been ages since i had seen him. really i have, of course, seen him every day even multiple times a day. but it felt like a long time since i had actually seen him. and i realized that i missed him. even though he was right there.

it was a curious and wonderful feeling.

i attribute the whole thing to the busy week we've had. AWD started a new job, which prompted the tearing apart of our house looking for his social security card which he needed to get his badge and his security paperwork for said new job. and that fruitless search prompted an impromptu road trip to his parents' house to pick up his birth certificate to act as a stand-in for the (hopefully just) misplaced social security card. the end of the story being that he didn't actually need either of them.

then there was cousin discussion group, canvassing for the obama campaign (i do not think i have a gift for this, but at least i tried), the ward halloween party and playoff baseball (during which AWD has a habit of falling asleep on the couch and staying there all night). plus lots of work for both of us.

all of which has left what turned out to be little time for just being together. and all of which meant that we went to bed at 9 p.m. yesterday, which was amazing.

so i think we'll have a togetherness weekend to make up for it. we might spend an hour or so just staring at each other. then maybe a movie, a road trip along skyline drive to see the fall colors, perhaps a few house projects and then frantic preparations for the coming "frakenstorm." i'm planning on eating everything in the fridge before sunday and then living on ramen noodles and canned goods until the power comes back on. after our power outage experience in july i am not holding out much optimism.

though if all that rain can get all that bird poop off my car, a massive storm might be worth it to me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

we left our hearts in shanghai

the morning after we got back from china, AWD announced that he was going to start looking for jobs in shanghai. and that sounded just fine to me. we completely fell in love with the city; it was by far our favorite stop of the trip.

there is something about cities that makes me feel at home. cities just make sense to me. i know how to get around in a city, i know how to find what i am looking for. i dig cities and i feel at home in them, and shanghai was one of those cities with a vibe that makes you feel at home right away. we got ourselves three-day subway passes, packed our map and we were good to go. we probably could have spent our whole trip there, honestly.

so, in summary, we love shanghai!

our hotel was right at the top of an area of old colonial buildings called the bund. and across the harbor was the ultra-modern skyline of the new pudong area. we took a nighttime stroll on the bund every evening, and it was a delight.

we were also really close to nanjing road, the times square of shanghai. in addition to being famous for its neon and it shopping, it's also home to any variety of street performers, including public karaoke, ballroom dancing couples and teenagers dressed up in panda suits dancing to chinese pop music. in other words, endless entertainment.

nanjing road is also the place to go if you want to be scammed into buying knock-off products. don't worry about finding them. they'll find you. just follow the people who sidle up to you and say, "hey lady. purse? watch? ipod? ipad?" we refrained, but if you give it a try let us know how it goes.

illegal knock-offs aside, shanghai is an excellent place for shopping. we got our haggle on at the dongtai lu antiques market, and did some non-haggle shopping as well. we strolled through a neighborhood where old tenement houses have been turned into shops, and we visited an artisan market tucked into winding alleys and old buildings.

we visited sun yat-sen's house, and spent a little while relaxing in fuxing park, where the locals go to fly kites, practice their ballroom dancing (it's everywhere!) and play mahjong and chinese checkers.

we ate the most delicious (fried!) dumplings you could ever imagine having in your entire life. we liked them so much we went back two days in a row. and our only regret was that we didn't discover them sooner so we could have gone every single day we were there.

we went to a propaganda poster art museum, and walked past the building where the communist party of china was formed.

we rode an elevator 474 meters up to the highest observatory in the world.

and we rode the world's first commercially operating magnetic levitation train (the maglev), which goes up to 400 kilometers on hour, though it only got up to 301 km/h for our ride.

we also took a morning stroll through yu yuan garden.

and an afternoon stroll around the confucius temple.

and at the end of it all, we felt pretty much like this.

which is probably how you feel, too, after reading this long, long post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the beautiful face of china

our china-savvy sources all unanimously concurred that guilin was one of the most beautiful places we would ever see in our lives. we planned on doing some hiking, some biking and other general high-adventuring while we took in the scenery, but i am sorry to report that several elements conspired against us.

one of them being that it rained for one-and-a-half of the two-and-a-half days that we were there. and the other being that, in the years since our china-savvy sources had been there, guilin has really built up into less of a sleepy adventure town, and more of a tacky tourist town. we couldn't find anywhere where there weren't hordes of other people, and it was in guilin where i confirmed my suspicion that chinese people will attempt to sell you anything, anywhere. even in the middle of a river as you float by on a bamboo raft.

but, all of that said, we did see some lovely things and have a lovely time. and our hotel boasted the world's tallest manmade waterfall, which was turned on every evening for about 15 minutes. so, there was that.

we explored reed flute caves.

and hiked to the top of folded brocade hill.

the big event was a cruise down the li river, during which we saw the karst topography that inspired the scene depicted on the back of the 20 yuan bill.

the cruise ended in a village called yangshuo, where we went on a bamboo raft ride and saw moon mountain and the big banyan tree, which is more than 4,000 years old. if you stand under the tree, you are guaranteed long life. if you walk around the tree, you are guaranteed a lot of money. and if you walk around the tree holding hands with the person you love, you are guaranteed your love will last for your entire long, rich life. we figured it didn't hurt to give it all a try.

the highlight of the whole day, though, was a big nighttime performance choreographed and directed by the same guy who directed the opening ceremonies for the beijing olympics. there were 600 performers on a stage basically built under the river. it was remarkable, and definitely one of our favorite things about our entire trip.

the show was so good, in fact, that we didn't even get mad when our driver got lost on the way home, turning an hour and a half drive into a nearly three hour drive. but i also don't think guilin is on our list of places we can't wait to get back to, either.