China Once, China Twice

What I had never planned to do

High end designer stores and shopping in China October 1, 2011

Xi'an - Ceiling in shopping center

As Bloomberg reports, two more developers have announced plans to build more of these high-end shopping malls and stores in China.

If you physically go out, there are two ways to shop in China.  You can price bargain back and forth with street vendors in the outdoor, or back-alley street market style of shops.

In high-end retail stores and shopping centers, there is no bargaining.

The retail rental space however, is based on a percentage of the store’s sales.

These same photos can be seen in an earlier post of mine here.  I have plenty more I might share later.  And by the way, only one  journalist has permission to use my photos.

Shopping mall in Xi'an

High end stores in Xi'an

A view from my hotel room

Again, another view from my hotel room

A shopping center in Xi'an


More of Shanghai April 10, 2011

Here's Shanghai

I’m behind in keeping “pace” with updates to this blog story.  Pardon my tardiness, life has kept me rather busy; it is about to get busier too.

So here is more of Shanghai.  Sure had no idea what to expect besides lots of cars, buildings and people.  When the Olympic Torch relay passed through while I was there,  I spent an hour in a cab that morning……going nowhere…from my hotel and right back to my hotel!  The only truly crowds I saw on my first trip to China.

Biking to work

The Biking Lot

Count Down to the 2010 Expo

View From The Bund

The Pearl TV Tower

Sam flew down from Qingdao, we had two last days together.  He had the opportunity to practice his skills in speaking & reading mandarin Chinese with our guide Felix.


Felix helps Sam understand the characters

Sam and Felix in a Buddhist Temple

The most difficult encounter was Felix’s arrival to take Sam back to airport.  All three of us felt the powerful parting emotion.  I had visited and spent time with Sam twice on this trip.  He was leaving now, neither of us knew when we would see each other again.

When would I see my son again? I didn't know.

I flew the next day from Shanghai to Beijing to the USA.

Wisely I accepted Felix’s advice to use a wheelchair escort throughout the airports.  My leg injury was too severe, I had no choice and changed my economy fare flight home to first class.   The 14 hour flight home turned into 17 hours.  Bad weather in New Jersey delayed the landing, but  I was home and safe.


Xi’an and The Terracotta Warriors May 15, 2010

The Terracotta Army

Imagine digging in your own backyard and you accidentally find over 6000 life-sized  terracotta figures.  It happened near Xi’an in 1974.  An army of warriors with weapons and horses were uncovered.  Buried underground for over 2000 years, each figure is unique.  For an in-depth history, visit  ChinaHighLights.

I have to wonder….  is there more of something not yet discovered?   I’ve seen the world’s longest wall in China and now this army found buried underground.

Here are the photographs I took that day.  Notice how umbrella’s are used, not for rain, but for protection from the heat.

Let's exit now, after viewing this beautiful tree


From Qingdao now in Xi’an May 10, 2010

Xi'an - Ceiling in shopping center

Xi’an was the next stop on my first trip through China, chosen because of its archaeological dig site.  Over 7000 terracotta warriors had been discovered in 1974.

The word “archaeology” had conjured up my imagination.  I expected the actual city itself to be old and archaic.

I was 100% wrong!

My three star hotel was surrounded by very high-end stores.    I did need to add some clothes to my wardrobe.   The cruise I had added onto my itinerary would require a bit of more formal evening attire.  I am the rare female who hates clothes shopping.   It was great when I found a nice small shop.  Two sales women simply put together the outfits I would need.

Crossing the big intersections in Xi’an was very easy too.  They have gigantic underground pedestrian cross overs, likely called cross-unders.  There was no fear of getting hit by a car or getting lost.

I went to bed my first night, and got up at around 11:00 pm; there was noise outside.  I found music, dancing and partying going on for hours right across the street!

Here are photos of the city I expected to be old and archaic.  You must click to enlarge on some of these!


The Earthquake April 25, 2010

Qingdao, China

It was another beautiful clear day in May 2008.  Sam had an appointment in downtown Qingdao.  We took the 10 cent bus ride down again, I did my usual, took pictures!

The parents of his friend invited us over for dinner, two others joined us.  I spoke no Chinese, the parents spoke no English.  It didn’t matter, body language is universal.  It was a great evening, again I laughed.  His friends interpreted.  I looked too young to be Sam’s mother and sorry, USA folks reading this……..again……. Chinese people think all American parents are fat.

I did find one unusual Chinese cultural difference.  While dining with others, at home or in a restaurant, platters of food are placed on the table without serving utensils.

Everyone uses their own chop sticks for first, second and sometimes third servings.  With my background, I silently wondered if the CDC in Atlanta knew about this cultural difference.

Here are thumbnail photos of the pictures I took that day, click to enlarge.

We returned from dinner, and through emails from the USA learned an earthquake had struck China.

Recall from an earlier post, I had changed my plans, wanting to meet up with Sam again at the end in Shanghai.    There was no time before leaving the USA to complete all the changes.  I did that when I arrived in Qingdao, speaking with Angela from China Highlights .

From Qingdao, I was still going to Xi’an then would fly to Chongqing and board the Victoria Cruise.  I was indeed taking that romantic cruise “party of one, please”,  down the Yangtze River I had sworn I would never do  Four days, and three nights would cruise me through the Three Gorges Dam.  In Yichang I would disembark and fly to my last destination, Shanghai.

Here is a Reuters Alert regarding the China Earthquake.

Now look closely at this map of China.

Things looked “iffy”,  with alerts on “Quake Lakes” I didn’t know if I should travel heading closer to the epicenter.  I spoke with Angela and continued as planned.

As a note, I am writing this blog post in 2010.  My heart today, goes out to parents who have recently experienced an agony I was spared.  I didn’t know where Qingdao was, I knew very little about the geography of China.  What I know today, cultural differences are just differences.  I invite you to visit my own web page As Time Goes By.


Qingdao, the first apartment March 20, 2010

It looks ominous

This post will be a real treat for some folks.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Sam is an expatriate teaching English in the outer edges of Qingdao.  Part of his compensation included housing.  His was located two blocks from the school.  I call that the easy walk.

His housing is typical, where laundry is hung outside to dry.

The apartment complex

Beds don’t have what we would consider a traditional mattress, they are hard.  I still slept well everywhere I went.

The difficult walk, was going up seven flights of stairs.  Sam lived on the top floor with no elevator.  All apartments have two doors.  The first heavy metal door is tricky to open.

a stairwell, walk up 7 flights

The very tricky door

Once you learn the trick of unlocking it, the second door is easy.  I never learned that first trick.

I thought his place was fine.  The main bedroom has a curtained off area.  It essentially separates the laundry drying from the sleeping area.  It’s a good-sized room too.   There is a guest room, a decent sized kitchen, and a small living room.  The bathroom was the smallest sized possible. There was a toilet, sink, hot water tank and a shower head, no room for a shower curtain.  In a country with 1.3 billion people, the septic system is a concern.  Used toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet.  I did learn the trick of this cultural difference.  Used toilet paper is put in a plastic back and tied off for re-use.  When the bag is filled with tied off knots, it’s goes into the trash dumpster.  It may sound gross to some, but it wasn’t a big deal to me.

His kitchen appliances are different too, yet Sam and I are very much alike in this area.  I can survive indefinitely with just a refrigerator, coffee pot and microwave.  His kitchen included those essentials, along with a clothes washing machine, and bottled water.  There is no oven.  I think some places do have ovens, but his did not.  I recently had my own broken oven repaired after about 4 months.  I still have not used it since it has been repaired.

Within his complex, there was a little store for essentials.  I likened it to what we have here, as a downsized WaWa or 7/11, just not open 24 hours a day.  The owner was very friendly.

The small living room

refrig, microwave, washing machine

kitchen - coffee pot and water

Sam's bedroom, notice the curtain

Guest room - I slept just fine.

The WaWa

My next post will be about his students and the school he works for.  Stay tuned….


From Beijing to Qingdao March 9, 2010

I chose to travel by train to reach Qingdao.  Sam was teaching,  my arrival time would coincide when his work day ended.  A train gave me the opportunity to view parts of China inaccessible by car.  What a comfortable train too!  In the first photo, you might be able to pick out and see Vicky again.  She picked up my ticket, then escorted me to my reserved seat on the train.

Every guide from China Highlights, they have all been very good.  Vicky though, was that extra special guide.

There are many photos I took during this 5 hour  “moving train” experience.  What struck me, as I reviewed my photos, was the change in scenery and climate.  Beijing is inland,  a BIG city in a BIG country.  I was now heading east towards a peninsula on the Yellow Sea.  I was heading towards Qingdao, heading towards my son. It was May 9, 2008 , I would be here for five days.

The photos are in sequence, and  “A Bend In The Road”  is where I felt the dramatic change in scenery.