Thursday, June 25, 2009

Camping In China

posted by Alan
* Click on the link at the bottom to see a full album of pictures at full size.

Google and Gmail are blocked in China. I didn't think it could happen, but it has. I don't expect it to last for long, but the mere fact that they blocked sites that are so internationally huge is pretty scary. I'm not so sure what they're trying to prove.... and I'm waiting for my computer to explode from just typing this. China is #1! (there, maybe that got me off the hook.)

We had our camping trip to ZheJiang Province this weekend. Nobody knew what camping in China would be like, but we were all ready to find out. Living abroad does that to you. It makes you more willing to just put yourself out there and try something completely new and unexpected, and just adapt to the situations you find yourself in. I think it really forces you to experience more of life in that way. I like it.

Anyway, we hired a guide to take us on this weekend trip. A guy named DaBao and his wife run these outdoor camping excursion trips. They provided the bus, tents, sleeping bags, food and equipment for the weekend. All for $75 US dollars. Highlights from the weekend were:
- Rappelling off a 130 foot bridge on a rope into a river
- Rock/river scrambling in pouring rain
- Lake swimming
- Lakeside BBQ and campfire time
- Waterfall park (not really fun, but something we did)
- Pre-meal football/frisbee
- Setting up tents on the bridge in the dark
- Spending time with 33 good and fun people

This Tuesday, we went to the midnight premiere of Transformers 2. 12 hours before it premiered in the US. Buying movie tickets here are like buying concert tickets in the states. Assigned seating, you just look at a seating chart and pick which seats you want out of the empty ones. Eliminates all hassle of having to line up 3 hours early to get decent seats at a premiere. I don't understand why the US doesn't do this. Transformers 2 was a fun movie to watch. Weak storyline and even weaker script, but the CGI and action scenes were amazing. If you have a chance to see it on IMAX, i'd recommend it.

Click here for pictures: PICTURES OF CAMPING IN CHINA

Response to comments:
Gloria - you may collect your 1RMB when you come visit us.
Faith - we miss you over here. What in the world are you doing in Connecticut?
Beutz Research - ....who are you?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Da Beach

posted by Alan
*click on the link at the bottom for a full picture album with full size pictures

Last sunday we went to the beach. That prompted 80% of the people we know here in Shanghai to say, "There's a beach?" But yes, there's a beach. Shanghai is right on the Eastern coast of China. Actually "Shang Hai" literally means "On The Sea." Just for reference, it's not IN shanghai, it's in a coastal town called Jin Shan. Take the subway 10 minutes and then jump on a bus for an hour and you're there.

This being China, I didn't know what to expect, so I was picturing litter, naked children urinating into the water and dirty sand. I even wore my underwear under my board shorts because I wasn't planning on going into the water. But we were pleasantly surprised. Not only was the beach nice and clean, but it was even more serviced than beaches back in New York. Beach volleyball courts, drink and food stands right on the sand, they even rent jetskis and kayaks and a whole bunch of water sports activities. One difference is that there was a big sandbar or something that blocked all the waves, so the water was more like a big lake. Really comfortable temperature though and I haven't grown a third arm or anything yet, so I think it was clean. Felt great just lying there in the sand, chilling in the water and relaxing for a day. We'll definitely be back there this summer.

It's now entering the dreaded hot and humid summer here in Shanghai. I suppose it's better than the constant rain thats swallowing up New York these days, but at least the rain will end eventually. "It can't rain all the time." 1 Chinese RMB for anyone that can tell me what movie that line is from. I'm not really dreading the weather so much. I'm a hot weather person anyway. Air conditioning and water.

Tomorrow night we leave for a weekend camping trip in Zhejiang Province somewhere. 33 people. Should be alot of fun. Pictures and recap next week when we get back.

Click here for pictures: PICTURES OF JIN SHAN BEACH

Response to comments:
Calvin - Good book huh? We're actually studying it in one of our B Studies over here now, so Daisy is reading it now too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


posted by Alan
* Click on the link at the bottom to see a full gallery and full size pictures.

I know many of you have been waiting to see pictures of our apartment. It's starting to feel like home now, so it's time to show you. These are just a few shots of the inside. Click the link at the bottom of the post to see more in depth pictures.

I've already mentioned the location in an earlier post and we've come to appreciate the great location and proximity to the subway more and more everyday. It's right down the block from the place we go every Sunday, and its also in a really central location, so pretty much anywhere in the city isn't too far. Tonight we just had people over, watched Taken on DVD and ordered in pizza.

A friend brought up an interesting point today that rang very true. She mentioned that when we're living in our hometowns, we have family and friends around that even if they're not checking on us, there is some accountability there. But when they move here, that is missing and they can kind of do whatever they want and get away with it. And I've seen plenty of it already. I'm wondering whats the tipping point where some foreigners fall into that and others dont. Donald Miller wrote in the book, 'Blue Like Jazz', "intrinsically, the soul of a man unwatched, is perverse." It's a scary, but very sobering thought. I'm glad I have a wife.

Response to comments:
Robbie: Does that mean I'm getting skinny or you're getting diesel?....or fat?
Gary: It was actually as much fun as Mohonk... but even more fun cuz we got a house and stayed over.
Sung: The Chinese soccer fans were cheering like crazy. And yeah, they had one section where they had a couple of people leading all the chants. The germans chanted just as loud it seemed though. As for travelling, as Calvin says, "It's a magical world out there, Hobbes ol' buddy...Lets go exploring!"

Click here for pictures: PICTURES OF OUR APARTMENT

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fresh Air

(posted by Alan)
* Picture posting is still limited, so click the link on the bottom to see a full album at full size.

This past weekend we took a trip with 16 other people to Moganshan. Shan means mountain in chinese, so it can be called Mogan Mountain...but Moganshan just flows better. Anyway, Moganshan is known as a nature's oasis away from the dirty, busy, chaotic world that is Shanghai. Its about three hours away by car. It was a getaway spot for Chiang Kai Shek, Mao Ze Dong took a nap there, and lots of wealthy and powerful chinese and foreign figures built fancy villas and resort-like homes in and around the top of Moganshan. Today, its used as a retreat for many foreigners looking to just get into nature, fresh air, friendly and relaxed locals who live on the mountain and away from the hectic life in Shanghai. Sounded awesome.

We rented a house that actually fit all 18 of us. There are these crazy stone pathways and stairways winding randomly around the mountain. Its incredible that they built it all. The landscape is all bamboo forest, like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The second we stepped off the van that took us up the mountain, we all took a deep breath and were like WOW this is AWESOME. We only got to spend 1 night there, but it was a ton of fun. Hiking and exploring the mountain by day, homecooked dinners and games at night. We even had a chance to have a small sunday morning service on the porch. Great fun with great friends.

I got the chance to go to my first soccer game last week as well. I definitely wanted to experience a soccer game outside of the states and turned out, Germany was playing China here in shanghai as a "friendly." basically an exhibition. But to fans, theres no such thing as an exhibition game. I seriously have never been around more Germans in my life. The crowds at soccer games are unlike anything i've seen. Imagine everyone at Citifield switching between the "Jose, Jose, Jose" chant and "Lets Go Mets" continuously for 90 minutes. Only everyone is also waving flags and swaying side to side. The game ended as a 1 - 1 tie, which is actually an upset. Germany is ranked #2 in the world and China is ranked #97. We were supposed to get blown out of the water. Definitely look forward to going again sometime.

Weight update: I was down to 75 kg (165lbs). So thats a loss of about 5 lbs in 6 weeks. but i've been hitting weights harder and getting more protein (we've been cooking alot of chicken), so I think im creeping back up.

Response to comments:
Corey - Twitter is blocked here too.
Johnny - Dude, china is all about the glass floors in places they shouldnt be. Check out the pictures album. Glass floors on a platform hanging over the mountain.

Click here for pictures: PICTURES FROM MOGANSHAN