Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to China

Our good friends - Cathy, Dave, Collin, Brennan & Maeve - are living in Shanghai for 3 years for Dave's job. We decided to take advantage of having built-in accommodations and tour guides, and headed to China for the 2nd time. This time we took the kids. They did wonderfully on the 14-hour flight. Ella didn't squawk at all, and Ian told me he was just "too prepared" (I wonder where he gets that from?!) with a whole backpack full of snacks and time-consuming games.

Our friends' house was like an oasis in the big city of Shanghai. The neighborhood was quiet, lawns manicured, and goldfish lazily swimming in the canals behind the houses.

After a couple of days getting over jet-lag, both families (5 kids age 11 to 2 and 4 adults) flew to Guilin in Guangxi Province, which it the province that Ella is from. We drove about an hour south of Guilin to the town of Yangshuo and stayed at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

The hotel was beautifully located along the Li River. The scenery was breathtaking. Even though it was the rainy season, quite hot and humid and very overcast, we hiked through the local villages. We had planned on rafting on a bamboo raft down the lazy river, but with all the rain, the river wasn't as 'lazy' as we'd hoped, and they cancelled all rafting trips. The next day we had planned on biking through the rice paddy country, but again it was raining, so we just hired a van who drove us around the countryside, through the rice paddies, and to a town with the 600 year-old Dragon Bridge. Yangshou was definately one of the highlights of our trip to was so beautiful and gave us all great memories of the province where Ella is from.

Back in Shanghai for a few days, we toured the city...the World Financial Center (tallest building in China with a glass viewing floor), the Bund (area along the river where the British settled), the markets. The highlight of this part of the trip was a personal tour of the French Concession by a Chinese friend of Cathy's. She took us in a lilong, which is a old-style Shanghaiese neighboorhood. It is basically an alley with walk-up apartments on either side. The children play in the alley, and all neighbors take care of one another. We went into the house of a 78 year-old woman and her husband. The main living area was about 10 feet square, and she raised 3 kids there. Every square inch of space was used.

If you would like to view more pictures from our trip, click on the More Pictures link at the top right of this page. Then click on the China June 2010 folder.