Our guides name is Huang. Actually that is his last name. Everyone goes by their last name to honor their ancestors. After his introduction, he told us some of the Chinese customs to help keep us safe. In China direct eye contact among strangers is not acceptable, so if a Chinese person looks directly at us, beware. One of the common tricks is to come up to us and then tell us they want to practice their English and could we help them. That means while they have you distracted look out.
We then took off for the Yuyuan Gardens which means Happy Garden. It is believed to have built during the Ming Dynasty over 400 years ago. What a fantastic place. It is exactly what you envision when you think of ancient China. It is located in the center of Shanghai’s Old City, just a few blocks from the Bund. Tom has some great photos of the food in the many shops and explained how they make “dim sum” which is a Chinese dumpling. I definitely have to have some before we leave China. Huang explained the garden in great detail. Every garden must have a pool because water is extremely important part of life. Confucius tells us that we should always follow the example of the water which seeks the lowest point. That is the reason for being humble because being humble makes us powerful. Think of the ocean and its immense power. It is low because all other water flows into the ocean. So I will try to be more humble in the future.
Jade is humble because it is not shiny like diamonds. Diamonds are show offs. When the jade stone blends with the oils in your skin, it changes its color so jade becomes very personal.
For lunch we had Mongolian BBQ. Now I have eaten it in the states but not like this. You go down the line of food, picking all of the veggies you want because they are going to be cooked. For meat they had chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. It is frozen and then shaved paper thin. Then you add the sauce you want. They chefs then use really long chop sticks to cook your choices on an extremely hot large cast iron flat circular disk about six feet in diameter. They cook it Japanese style and the whisk it back into your bowl. It was pretty good. However, if that is how we will eat the rest of the trip, no problem on gaining weight this trip.
The Mongolian BBQ restaurant was connected to a silk shop where they made silk embroidery. The animals look so real when created with silk. They had an osprey that would have looked super over out fireplace but we passed it up, probably because of its $7,000 price tag.
We learned how silk was discovered. In the 27th century BC a silk worm’s cocoon fell into the tea cup of the empress Leizu. Wishing to extract it from her drink, the young girl began to unroll the thread of the cocoon. That is also how they learned that you can create single threads of silk with hot water. Like many Chinese, the owner of the beautiful garden we visited became rich because of silk. At that time Chinese were allowed to own land, but when Communism entered the picture, no one owned the land that you live on anymore, and that remains true today.
We were told for tomorrow not to drink too much liquid at breakfast, because we have a long bus ride to the ship and to bring our own toilet paper. Toilet paper is not included in public restrooms.
We live in a world full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.Jawaharlal Nehru
Confucius say – It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
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Tom & Holly