Sunday, December 09, 2007

Shanghai: Adam in mainland China

For a special treat, Adam and I (sans the girls) travelled to Shanghai where we met my mother for a day while she toured China with a larger group. While I knew Adam was excited to go on a special trip and to see Grandma, I did not really expect him to be excited about Shanghai but he was. I sort of forgot that he has taken over a year of Chinese language lessons and heard mainland China referred to many many times in conversation. I also think that he was anticipating a Chinese resort, similar to our vacation trip to Hainan Island, an island off the southern tip of China. Regardless of the motivation, when our airplane touched down in Shanghai Adam yelled, “Is this mainland China? It looks like Paris!”

Shanghai seemed like old hat to me, a hat I misplaced in Eastern Europe years ago. The infrastructure, the endless paperwork, the registering of passports with the local police, the cash deposits for hotel linens, the corn for sale on every corner, the constant smoking. It all seemed very similar to post-communist Ukraine 10 years ago but with commercialism and consumerism kicked into hyper drive. When I asked Adam what he noticed, he immediately pointed out the ad hoc taxi service, with many different colored cars, private cars,vans and trucks all working as taxis. Again, the Shanghai system bore a strong resemblance to Ukraine’s transport many years ago. Adam and I both loved a traffic sign that Shanghai had and Ukraine did not which showed which of Shanghai’s six leveled highways were open, congested or stopped with traffic.

We joined my mom’s tour group for a day’s worth of sights around Shanghai, including the Bund, a historic downtown promenade, a silk factory, China town and the Shanghai Museum. Adam (and me too to be honest) loved the ease and security of travelling with the tour group. We had a bus. We had a guide. Towards the end of the day, when we started deviating from the group, Adam got a little nervous. He was very happy when we reconnected with the group for a final activity- a visit to a modern style circus with acrobats, live music and motorcycle show!

Really, we had a wonderful time together and with my mother, though of course we missed the girls. When we were thinking back about what we saw on our flight back to Hong Kong, Adam noted that “people in mainland China love silk and they love me!” From the perspective of a little blonde boy who went to a silk factory and who was hugged and photographed repeatedly all weekend by Chinese folks ( in addition to mom and grandma), that pretty much sums it up.


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