Photos by Ben Straus (Johns Hopkins University) Student Correspondent, CET Shanghai Summer 2019 相亲角 (xiang qin jiao), a pretty interesting phenomenon in China, was our first destination this Sunday. Roughly translated as “blind date corner”, this event involves parents/grandparents/companies (yes people hire agencies for this) coming to People’s Square and setting up umbrellas featuring their child/grandchild/client’s information in order to find them a husband/wife. Quite an interesting concept. Information includes name, birthyear, occupation, future plans, notable possessions (car, house), schooling, skills, and what they look for in a potential match. It turns out to be mostly girl’s information on display because of a phenomenon of a lack of men to marry. This happens because of the tendency in Chinese society for men to “marry down” (i.e. a women of a slightly lower class). So, the women at the top (those with successful careers, etc) have no one to marry. You may wonder then, where are the men at the very bottom who likewise don’t have anyone to marry (because there are no women with less success than they have). The answer is they are often in the rural areas. I found this phenomenon particularly interesting because it shows that even today there are these patriarchal and “feudal” characteristics present. Our second stop on this Sunday’s exploration was the Shanghai Science and Technology museum. (Yes, we finally made it!—See my previous post). It’s a large museum with sections on Earth, the body, animals, technology, and more. Most notable was the illusions area which had many cool contraptions, pictures, and exhibits that mess with the mind. After this museum, we went to dinner nearby (actually in the fake market, but I assure you the food was real), then went to our next museum (see the next picture). But before we got there, we passed a group of people dancing in a courtyard. I was feeling pretty energetic and so I joined in for a while. I’m not always in a dancing mood, but considering I was this time, it was pretty fun. This photo is from the Shanghai Jewish Refugee museum. Did you know that during WWII, Shanghai was one of very few places that Jews could live? I didn’t (until now). And even more surprising is that over 20,000 Jewish people lived here in that time! This museum is on the site of one of the temples (still intact) and houses an exhibit about Anne Frank (a famous diarist), mentions of Victor Sassoon (a successful Jewish merchant who owned a lot of real estate in Shanghai), and many others who had an influence on Jewish people in Shanghai. This was a very cool exhibit to see as I had already seen the Embankment Building (a home of many Jews during WWII) and now I had seen a temple and learned a lot more about the history of the Jewish people in Shanghai. This photo might not be the one you expect from a tall building, but nonetheless it’s pretty cool. This is of the inside of the JinMao tower, an 88 floor building in the financial district of Shanghai. While this building isn’t the tallest of those in the financial district, the line for the Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠) would have us wait until the building closed to go up. So Jinmao it is! The Jinmao tower’s 88 floors and consists of offices, a hotel, and an observatory. The photo here is from the conservatory looking down into the hotel (which takes up the top 30ish floors). It’s pretty cool that the floors of the hotel all look into this central space. And if you think this is a far drop, just imagine what it would be if it included all 88 floors. As well, the spiraling overlooks make for a cool effect. If I had a lot of money to burn on a nice hotel room, this would definitely be a place of consideration. While the Jinmao tower is know! for it’s “walk the ledge” activity where you can walk around the edge of the building (on the outside) with a harness, this activity was sold out for the night. Our next best option was to experience it in VR! The picture here show the real life setup and what you can see in the headset. The most terrifying thing is that though you feel as though you are walking on the edge, you can still safely jump off. This completely goes against your intuition as the experience was rather life-like. It took some courage to make the “jump”. While it’s not probably nothing compared to actually walking the edge, this experience offered its own cool aspects. I thought I was running out of places to go in Shanghai. But, after asking my coworkers, it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. I have a long list of places now still to go. Anyway, this is one of them called 龙腾大道 (Long Teng Avenue). This is a rather newly constructed attraction in Shanghai. It’s an avenue that runs along the Huangpu river south of the bund. Not only is it a beautiful place to walk (take a look at the pictures) but many people come here daily for exercise. I asked some older people who were walking along with me how often they come here. Their answer was everyday. I can see why with how beautiful it is. Aside from walking, there were people dancing, playing basketball, doing yoga, rockwall climbing, playing soccer, playing basketball, and skateboarding. It’s a pretty cool place with all its different activities. In addition, it’s beautiful. Once we got to the monastery in Rui’an (which included a 40ish minute hike up stairs), our first stop was the top of the mountain (another 15 minute stair path) to see the sunset. Unfortunately it was a bit too cloudy for a nice view, but it was still beautiful to “be in the clouds”. Unfortunately it was a bit too cloudy for a nice view, but it was still beautiful to “be in the clouds”. Included is a cool time lapse of the clouds from the top of the mountain. This photo was taken during a bike tour I went on. We started off going to a noodle shop where we tried some Shanghai foods (specialty house-made noodles, pickled vegetables, fried pork steak, and more). Then we went to the old city which is actually soon to be demolished. It’s really an interesting place with houses that very early in history were single family houses, then became communal houses during communist times, then were in flux between these two states, and in less than a year will be completely destroyed! We then went to a traditional Chinese medicine (中药=”zhong yao”) store. You can actually see their traditional Chinese medicine doctors there and they will prescribe medicines. One difference between these and western medicines is that these are longer term medicines (for example, you may take one for three months rather than a week like you might in the west). This was followed by some lamb skewers from a very good place that I actually went to before on an outing with Nova. Clearly it’s a well-known place if I’ve been taken there by two locals! Overall this tour was pretty great, but what made it even better was that my tour guide was both knowledgeable and incredibly friendly. This resulted in her inviting me to her house to learn how to make wontons with her family. Pictures of this to come! Here they are (following from the previous picture)! 瞿康俐 (Charlie), my bike tour guide, invited me over to learn how to make wontons (馄饨=”hun tun”) from her mom! It was an incredible experience just to learn this, but I also got talk with her and her parents about everything from their daily life to China’s development. I also got to see what a home looks like in China. Their house/apartment is similar to an apartment in a big US city like New York. It had a rather small kitchen, a nice living and dining area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. The view out of the 10ish story window was also very nice overlooking the nearby residential community and let in a lot of light making it a very cheerful home. I am so grateful for her opening her home for this opportunity. I really recommend seeing an actual home and family whenever you are traveling. It helps to get a sense of the non-tourist life in your place of travel. But, you have to get pretty lucky to meet someone as nice as 瞿康俐.