Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exploring The City With Parents: The Return of Pat and Rich

Approximately two days after I returned to Shanghai from my home trip last summer, I got some exciting news from my mom.

“One year is way too long to not see you.  How would you feel about us visiting Shanghai over Chinese New Year again?”

“That sounds great Mom! Would you like to see some other cities in China?  Maybe take a hop over to Japan?” I asked.

“I think we would like to stay in Shanghai this time.  There’s a lot to see in the city, right?” she asked.

“Sure Mom!”  I immediately started to panic.  How was I going to keep my parents entertained for ten days in Shanghai?  Many places were going to be closed for Spring Festival.

I am happy to report seven months later, Mom, Dad, Chris and I had a great time visiting some old favorite sites and some new places I had been meaning to visit.  Here are some of the highlights of the trip.

It was great to see my parents.  We had not visited in person since last July.

A Ride on the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
In my opinion, all visitors to Shanghai need to experience the tackiness of the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. 

Eerie music, lasers, and flowery narration make the Bund Sightseeing tunnel a delightful way to cross the Huangpu river.
A Trip to the Pearl Tower
Even though it was relatively cloudy, we had a great time catching a panoramic view of Shanghai.

I no longer fear hanging out on the plexiglass floor. 
Shanghai Municipal History Museum
If you want a quick history of Shanghai, the Municipal History Museum is a great place to explore. 

The museum is located in the basement of the Pearl Tower.  This museum had been on my list for some time. 
Mom and Dad had a great time checking out the artifacts.
Hongqiao Pearl Market/ Science and Technology Metro Stop
Mom was in hot pursuit of some gold pearls, so we headed to the Hongqiao Pearl Market and the Science and Technology Metro Market. 

Mission accomplished!

M&M World
We had a great time taking the Nanjing Dong Lu shuttle to M&M world for a sweet treat.

It was fun to hang out with Ms. Green!

Chinese New Year at Yuyuan Gardens
As per our family tradition, we headed to Yu Gardens to check out the crowds on Chinese New Year Day.  Even though there wasn’t a big lantern display this year, we had a great time ducking into shops.

After the tragedy at the Bund, the Lantern Festival activities were greatly scaled back at Yu Gardens.

Fortunately, there were a few lanterns on display.

Shanghai Urban Planning Museum
The Urban Planning Museum is a great place to see how Shanghai has evolved over the years.  We had a great time walking among the dioramas and checking out old photos of Shanghai.

If you are interested in maps, and dioramas the Urban Planning Museum is a great place to visit.
We had a great time finding our apartment in the third floor diorama.

Jing An Temple
My parents aren’t big temple people, but they enjoyed visiting the Jing An Temple.  The gold lions and other statues made beautiful pictures.

We had a nice time wandering through the Buddhist temple.
JingAn was decked out for New Year.
ERA Intersection of Time at Circus World
Since it was a wee bit cold and rainy, we decided to check out the acrobats at Circus World. 
I couldn't take pictures for copyright purposes, so I stole a couple of shots from their website. 

I am always amazed at the acrobats' flexibility.

My favorite part of the show was watching seven motorcycles in a steel cage.
Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party/ Shikumen
My Dad is a history buff, so we figured my parents would enjoy a visit to the birthplace of the Chinese Communist Party.

The display of the first congress was creepily fascinating. 
It was nice to see the inside of a Shikumen. (A Chinese Lane home)
Whenever I’m around my parents, I tend to eat a LOT more food than usual.  This holiday was no exception.  While my Mom and Dad aren’t huge Chinese food fans, I was able to get them to try a couple new places.

We ate a yummy western Chinese New Year's Eve meal of spoedinis, salad, potatoes, oranges and macaroons. 
Xiaolongbao Lunch
Every person on this earth should try Xiaolongbao, so we had an amazing lunch at Din Tai Fung.
My Dad was a HUGE fan of xiaolongbao. He audibly approved.  
Mom thought the dumplings were tasty too!
High Tea at the Fairmont Peace Hotel
When Chris was at work, Mom and I had a tea party at the Fairmont Peace Hotel.  Dad tagged along for the yummy tea and sandwiches.

The pastries and sandwiches were delicious.  Dad had a great time at the tea party!
The lobby was beautiful!

Hot Pot at Haidilao
My parents are not exactly adventurous foodies, so I figured a non-spicy hot pot dinner would be fun. 

Dad enjoyed the hot pot.
Mom wasn't a fan.

While they have Haagen-Dazs in the States, Chinese Haagen-Dazs has pretty deserts so we made a couple of ice-cream runs.

The berry Valentine's Day special was yummy! 
The ice cream made up for the hot pot.
There were many other places I would have loved to show my parents, but we ran out of time.  Some other places we missed or previously visited are:

The Shanghai Museum
A Huangpu River Cruise
A Big Red Bus Tour
The MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)

It was wonderful to give my parents a peek at our Shanghai life.  I miss them already!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Green Hat Scandal

If you are a man in China, don’t wear a green hat.  You will be mocked, ridiculed, and teased to the point where your man card will be indefinitely suspended.   You will look like a fool and your buddies will laugh behind your back. 

After explaining St. Patrick’s Day traditions to a male colleague, he insisted,
“I WILL NOT WEAR A GREEN HAT!” When asked why, he just wilted away back to his work and mumbled something about wearing green hats. 

I did a little research as to why. 

If you are a man sporting a green hat in China, you are announcing to the world that your woman is cheating on you.  Not only is she cheating on you, you are stupid enough to stay with her while she is having her affair(s).

There are many theories as to the origin of this belief.

One site claims that back in the olden days, a businessman and his tai tai (housewife) lived in China.  The tai tai would have flings with a local tailor when her husband would travel on business for extended times.  The tailor wanted to know when he could hook up with the tai tai, so he made the businessman a green hat.  The day before each business trip, the tai tai would make her husband wear the green hat (because it looked so good on the businessman) and the tailor would know she was available the next night.   Subtle, huh?

Another site claims once there was a bored housewife who would hire men to keep her “entertained” during the day while her husband was at work.  One day the husband came home early, so her entertainer slipped quickly out the back door and forgot his green hat.  The next morning, the husband left the house in a daze and accidentally wore the lover’s green hat to work.  Many of his colleagues figured out the scandal pretty quickly.  Talk about bad luck.

I also read in ancient times, family members of sex workers had to wear green scarves.  

So, if you are male and plan on living in China, don’t wear green hats.  Also don’t give men green hats.  If you do, it may be seen as bad news rather than a kind gesture.

Fortunately the green hat rule doesn't apply to women, so I will continue my St. Patrick's Day tradition of shocking my kids with a green wig.  May the luck of the Irish be with everyone!