Monday, February 18, 2013

Pat and Rich Come to China! Part One

For the past 7 months I have wondered,
            “What would my parents say if they could see ___________?”  That question was answered when they came to visit for 11 days over my winter break.  Here are some of the highlights of their visit. (Thanks Dad for letting me steal some of your pics!)

My mom's first priority when heading to China was to find the perfect pearls, so we set out to Hongqiao Pearl City.
While she found many lovely strands, she wanted to shop around to find the perfect necklace.
On Saturday night, we celebrated my Dad's birthday at Mr. and Mrs. Bund.  He had no clue his desert was going to be so explosive; his birthday was in November.  Even at my age, punking my Dad is fun!
After almost 40 years of marriage, it is nice to see my parents are still happy!
On Sunday morning we went to mass at St. Ignatius Cathedral.
Then, we continued our search for the perfect pearls at the pearl market under the Science and Technology Metro Stop.
On Monday morning we headed to Beijing for some sight seeing.  At lunch Chris trained Mom how to use chopsticks.
She's a fast learner!
After lunch, we took a stroll through Tiananmen Square.
Despite her smile, Mom was not looking forward to eating Beijing Duck at our favorite duck place.
I think the duck hearts on the table grossed her out.
I managed to capture one of the three bites of duck that Mom ate.  Dad was a big fan of duck!

Mom was still hungry after dinner, so we headed to Hagen Dazs for desert!
Tuesday morning, we made a trip to the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China.  We were scheduled to go to a different section, however snow closed the roads.  

Mom and I take time to greet each other on the wall.

Mom celebrates her climb.

Mom wanted a "romantic" picture on the wall. 
Chris and I take a rest from climbing the steep, uneven stairs.

After lunch at Jade City, we headed to the Ming tombs.
Dad poses with a statue of Emperor Yongle

After the Ming Tombs, we headed to Dr. Tea for a Chinese Tea ceremony.

Dad was not a fan of the fruit tea.
After dinner and a good night's sleep, we started Wednesday's activities at Tiananmen Square.
Then, we took a quick tour of the Forbidden City.
Female Chinese soldiers patrol the Forbidden City.
Then we took a frosty trip to the Temple of Heaven.

This is the Temple of Heaven.  I don't remember too much about the temple, because I was freezing.  It was at this point when we decided to cut our tour short so we would not become hypothermic.

After a rather lousy lunch, our tour guide took us to a pearl store/ pearl trap where we shopped for overpriced pearls. Our guide at the pearl store showed us where pearls come from.

Our oyster had 23 pearls in it.
A salesperson showed Mom some "Hong Kong" diamonds.  After the hassle, we were ready to head back to Shanghai.
On Thursday morning, we hung out with the puppies.  Ditka and Leia LOVED having Grandma and Grandpa around!

After days of searching, Mom finally found the perfect pearls!  However, she will not be wearing them until her 40th wedding anniversary.

Part Two will be coming soon!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Chocolate Land

My name is Anne-Marie and I am a chocoholic.
As a young child I did not like chocolate; but after I was introduced to M&M’s, I was hooked.

When I found out Shanghai was opening a theme park named Happy Chocolate Land devoted entirely to sweets, I knew I had to go visit my Mecca.

My first trip to Happy Chocolate Land was a little disappointing.  Purdue had just lost their bowl game, and I needed some chocolate therapy to ease the pain.  So we traveled to Happy Chocolate Land only to find that it was not open yet.  Rather than going Griswold on the sign, Chris and I headed to a barbecue lunch.  

Fortunately, yesterday Chocolate Happy Land was open and ready to fulfill all of my chocolaty dreams. 

Bring on the chocolate!!

After paying the 120 RMB admission fee, I scurried into the first building to find little kids baking cookies. 

Don’t get me wrong, baking cookies is fun, but I wanted to see some chocolate goodness!!  So Chris and I headed to the second building. 

Baking cookies can be fun, but I am here for the chocolate!!!

Building two was a wonderland of white chocolate featuring Hello Kitty, Garfield, and the Transformers. 
Say hello to a white chocolate Hello Kitty!

Chris poses next to white chocolate Garfield.
Whoever created this white chocolate Hello Kitty flower shop had a steady hand and a tremendous amount of patience.

Building three contained eerily accurate chocolate replicas of Chinese artifacts. Many of the displays were breathtaking. 

This picture of a tiny portion of the white chocolate Forbidden City does not do the display justice.
This building also had chocolate replicas of the zodiac animals!

These white chocolate chinese slippers looked real.  Check out the embroidery work detail.
This is not porcelain; it is more white chocolate!

The chocolate replicas of these emperors are HUGE!  They are standing on chocolate shavings.
This candy replica of a Chinese porcelain doll is precious!
Building four was devoted entirely to fashion!

As you walk in the building you are greeted by a life sized white chocolate car.
I wish I had a non candy version of this bag! :)

I want a candy perfume bottle.

I wish they had these in my size.

This gives a new meaning to candy necklace.

This kiddo was doing what everyone else wanted to do...smell the roses and touch some chocolate!

Building five was a plastic, acid inspired replica of the Garden of Eden. 
I am sure there were this many shrooms in the Garden of Eden.

Feed us chocolate!!!

At least the chocolate waterfall was real.  I felt like I was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
The final building was chocolate heaven!  All I could smell was pure chocolate goodness!!!
This building was made entirely of chocolate bricks.

A white chocolate gladiator drives his chariot on milk chocolate shavings. 
In the back of the building I made my own Valentine’s Day Chocolates!!

Step 1:  I fill the rose mold with chocolate.

Step 2:  After the chocolate is dumped out to create the shell, I fill the molds with chocolate truffle filling!

I make a quality inspection!!!  Yummy!

Step 3:  I top off the mold with more chocolate.

Step 4:  After a 15 minute trip to the freezer, the chocolate is popped out of the mold.

Step 5:  The friendly chefs package the chocolate for consumption!!

I want to give you a couple of heads up about Happy Chocolate Land.  First, most of the signs and demonstrations were in Chinese only, so I had no idea how many of the items were made.  Luckily, the candy chefs pantomimed chocolate making instructions so I was able to participate in the fun. 

Also, the building is located in the old World Expo area so we had a lot of trouble finding a cab when we wanted to leave.  Luckily, Happy Chocolate Land has a shuttle that will take you to the Yaohua Metro station. I suggest taking the shuttle even if you are planning on taking a cab home.  It is MUCH easier to find a cab around the metro station. 

Overall, Happy Chocolate Land was a blast!  I highly recommend a visit, especially if you have kids.  Now go eat some chocolate!