Last weekend we had 5 days off work because it was the Chinese Festival of Qing Ming. THe holiday was Thursday and Friday,with Sunday being designated a makeup day for Friday’s classes.However since we don’t teach Wednesday or Friday this meant we effectively were free from Tuesday night until Monday afteroon! We had originally planned to go off to Guangzhou and Huizhou,two cities where we have been offered jobs for next year (still having heard nothing from XMUT) but after I read the weather forecast calling for thunderstorms and heavy rain we decided to give that a miss. We also had trouble getting our passports back from the police station in time to buy train tickets. In the end,I discovered that the weather was forecast to be much better up north,so we hit on going up to see our friends Renee and Barry up in Shanghai,a splendid city which we know and love. Fortunately Barry was due in from Hawaii on that Wednesday evening, so we would be able to see him too.We bought train tickets on the fast train from Xiamen North Station to Shanghai Hongqiao Station which left Wednesday morning at 10am and arrived a mere 9 hours later at 19,20.It was a lot cheaper than flying and the train station is 10 minutes by bus from our house,whereas the airport is down on the island and you always have to check in at last 2 hours before the flight so we figured the journey would be ok and we would be able to look at the view on the way.In fact the train journey was pretty comfortable and I managed to sleep a fair bit of the way,as on Wednesday morning I woke up with a flowing nose and head cold. On arrival in Shanghai we attempted to get the metro straight to our old friend the Asset Hotel which we have stayed in twice before. However due to my cold we got off the metro at the wrong stop and ended up getting a taxi.No matter,The hotel is pretty cheap and comfortable and has free internet and wifi,and even a safe in the room and free breakfast.Tried to call Renee on her Chinese cellphone unsuccessfully.Later found out that she had tried to call me too likewise. Next day we managed to get hold of each other and they came over our hotel and we went together to our favourite haunts in Shanghai East Nanjing Road,People’s Square and the Bund.We walked around chatting and snapping and then hit a local place for lunch.Then we went back to our neighbourhood together and walked around there a bit and then found a great place for supper in the upscale shopping mall near Shanghai Stadium right near our hotel.It was a Korean barbecue place and we just had barbecued vegetables which were delicious.Had an earlyish night as my cold was still plaguing me somewhat.
Next day we met up again and this time went to walk in Tianzifang Art Market where we met Yossi Sedbon, the former Chief of Tel Aviv Police,whom we recognized from the TV. This market was too crowded and so we decided to head off to another area, the famous Shanghai neighbourhood called the French Concession.It is great,with some lovely architecture and an almost European feel to it.We found the beautiful Fuxing Park which had the most wonderful trees,a lake and people doing Tai Chi and couples doing ballroom dancing.The whole place was serene and gorgeous.We headed back to the Bund in the evening and went to the Peace Hotel as we had done the previous visit with Renee and Barry and again enjoyed the Jazz there.
European Style house in French Concession
Tai Chi in the Park
Now we are back in XIamen looking forward to Renee and Barry’s visit here next weekend.Tomorrow our department is taking us on a trip to the Botanical Gardens followed by a Buffet Lunch on the island.The sun is shining but everyone at XMUT is just gossipping about who is going and who is staying next semester and nobody seems to know what is true.Some have definitely signed and some have just started looking for work elsewhere.The atmosphere is pretty weird.We are leaning towards staying even though only I have been offered a job. We feel that we are not done with Xiamen yet.We feel comfortable here in the apartment and the city is great.WE have made friends here.Time will tell…..