Jogging on the Bund 11-2-2011

November 2, 2011

Last Thursday Jeff had a great idea. I often get up at 6:00 to run on the sidewalks in a pretty place called Xintiendi. I have to be done by 7:00 because the streets start to get too crowded for running by then. Jeff decided we could take a taxi to the Bund and run on the wide walkway by the river where the old European stone buildings line the West side of the river, and the modernistic skyscrapers line the east side. He woke me up at 5:50 and said, “time to go run!” My alarm was set for 6:00, so I ignored him until 6:00. Then he told me the great idea to go jogging on the bund. It was beautiful. We saw many kite fliers with their lovely large kites way up high. Kite flying is a hobby not of children, but of men here. They have big round professional reels of string. The kites are large and beautiful. They go way, way up high. We also saw some other walkers and joggers, including one old man in his pajamas. Local folks think pajamas are great leisure wear. You will see pajama clad people in the stores, walking around, and on the sidewalk in the morning doing tai qi (slow motion exercises Jeff calls “mystic motions”).

After we jogged on the bund, we left the elevated wide boardwalk and went to the sidewalks, intent on taking a taxi or the subway home. On the way we had some “pancakes” which are fried, salty, and sometimes have green onions in them. It was a yummy breakfast, and a great idea to go jogging on the bund!

I had a Bible study group with some of the women in our congregation. It takes me about 45 minutes to get there. I take the metro for about 30 minutes, then walk about 15 minutes. It is worth it, though. The ladies are very kind, and we had a great lesson by my visiting teaching companion.

After the Bible study, we all piled into cars and went to a wholesaler who specializes in imported foods. We were so excited to see items we can’t easily find in stores, like cheese, butter, tortillas, cocoa powder, coconut milk, pasta, maple syrup, and Raisin Bran! We shared wheels of gouda and mozzarella. The small shop was in a sort of warehouse. All ten of us filled it up. Since we were joining together to buy wheels of cheese and cases of tortillas, it was somewhat complicated The shop workers were certainly glad to get rid of us! It will be less confusing next time because we will know the prices and collect orders ahead of time. The shop was a goodly drive south of the city, but it was worth it! I got one fourth of a wheel of gouda for about $10!

After the trip to the wholesaler a few of us went to the fabric market. It is a three-story building where you can pick an item of clothing and a fabric and they will make it for you. I needed a winter coat, so I went to the market and picked a coat style and a gray cashmere cloth. Now it is a week later and I picked it up. It fits really well. You have to bargain with them when you order the coat. I got this for about $75.

Friday and Saturday, Jeff and I went to Suzhou to see some more gardens. He has only seen the Humble Administrator’s Garden, and a temple/monastery/pagoda complex. Suzhou has many more gardens. We stayed overnight in downtown Suzhou. There are lots of great hotels there with large rooms and great reviews. I picked a Holiday Inn, which was really good. Large rooms right near a folk village next to the canal. There were lights on the buildings and lots of shops. It was fun to wander through them. I needed a purse, and found a nice one that was about $21. Jeff found a Jeep coat. It’s a casual brown coat with ARMS LONG ENOUGH! We were pretty happy. It is an XXXL . The arms are long enough, but it definitely would not fit a big wide man. I don’t think wide people can find anything ready made for them here.

Saturday we went to Lion’s Grove garden, which has huge rockeries, including a very cool labyrinth of rock passages. We also saw Lingering Garden, Tiger Hill, the Silk Museum and Beizi Ta (a pagoda). Last time we went we spent all afternoon on one garden because Jeff loves to take pictures so much. This time we decided to step up the pace so we could see more . I liked all of the sights, but the Silk Museum was most interesting. The cocoons that the silkworms make are soaked for 8 hours. Then, to find the end of the thread, a brush is gently swished among the cocoons. Like magic, up come a bunch of the thread ends from the cocoons, stuck on the brush. The thread ends are hooked to spindles, one for each cocoon. The spindles turn, and the thread from the cocoon slowly unwinds. I was also interested in the double cocoons. Sometimes, two silkworms are in one large cocoon. The threads are impossible to unravel because the two thread lines are intertwined. The silk from these cocoons is used to stuff quilts. We bought just such a quilt in ZhiuJiajiao, a water town Frank and Ruby took us to. I thought it was a terrible waste of silk, but we only paid either 180 or 280 yuan (less than $50) These quilts are supposed to be warmer and nicer than down comforters.

The silk for the inside of the comforter is stretched out in flat layers. Many layers make the inside of the quilt. Here’s how they make the thin layers of silk. The double cocoons are soaked for 8 hours. Then the worker removes the two dead silkworms. These are used to make face creams (ugh). Then she puts her fingers inside the cocoon and gently stretches it over a flat shape. The fibers separate a bit. Then she takes the fibers off the flat form and puts them over a bigger flat form. Finally, she takes the fiber mat off the bigger flat form and stretches them over a final biggest flat form. This makes the layer very thin. The thin layer of fibers is laid on the other fiber mats, and they put it in the quilt. Lovely! I bought a silk scarf at the museum store. Later, my Chinese tutor (who used to be a tour guide at the shop) told me the scarf is only a silk blend. She can get that quality of scarf for 40 rmb (less than $7.00). I paid 180 rmb (about $30).

This week Jeff went to Indonesia. I wanted to go, but his boss thought it wouldn’t work this time. Fortunately, he will be able to go back, and I should be able to go the next time.

We have a temple trip this weekend. We will leave tomorrow evening after work (Friday) and fly to Shenzhen, which is right next to Hong Kong. Flights and hotels in Shenzhen are much cheaper than in Hong Kong. We have a nice five star hotel for about $75. The flights only cost us about $250 each. Of course, that is still kind of pricey for a temple trip. I think there are only four families going from our branch. The youth will do baptisms, though. That will be a wonderful experience for them. We come back Saturday night, so it will be a whirlwind trip! I’m excited to go to the temple again. I always get a lift from the spirit that is there.

We have been having high temps about 70. It has been really nice. Tonight we went to the ultra modern Xintiandi area for dinner. It is only one subway stop away. It’s actually walking distance, too. It is where I run in the mornings sometimes.

Beijing 9-18-11

Yesterday we went to our district conference. Elder Sam Wong is the area authority who attended along with our district presidencies. President Dyer is our District president. He showed a picture of his favorite scripture story. It is a picture of Christ from Mark 2: 1-12 where a man sick of the palsy is let down through the roof. President Dyer likened it unto us. We are all charged with bringing our friends to Christ. When there were difficulties, the friends went to extraordinary lengths, even taking up the roof tiles and lowering their friend with ropes. They were not discouraged, they persevered. We cannot physically bring our friends to Christ like these men did, but we can help them find Him in their prayers. Elder Wong added to the story, noting that the men had to be perfectly unified as they let the man down with ropes. If one of them were too slow or too fast, the man would fall. He likened that to the Relief Society, the priesthood, and the missionaries all being unified.

Our district includes several cities around Shanghai. There were a 46 BYU students from Nanjing who sang two songs for us. Suzhou, Hongzhou, and Shanghai are also included. There is even a virtual branch for those in remote areas where there are no organized meetings. What a blessing technology is! When we were in Beijing, I found out that there are parallel meetings for Chinese nationals in Beijing. They can’t attend with the expats. They are not allowed to talk to each other about the church, but there are Chinese members who can attend meetings run only by other Chinese citizens. The members I talked with said they thought the same might be true for Shanghai, but they must meet in a different building from us. In Beijing they use the same facility. I forgot to ask at church, but I will try to find out.

We had a lovely time in Beijing last week. We flew instead of taking the train. We stayed at a five star hotel for only $100 per night. It was the International Hotel. It is in the financial center, which had no business since the weekend was a holiday. That is probably why we got such a good rate for a lovely hotel. The other hotels in the tourist district were all more expensive for dumpy hotels. We were just a five minute walk from the metro station. We took the metro all over. We went first to the forbidden city. It is a large complex of beautiful buildings. We also went to the great wall at Mutianyu, which is a mountainous region. We climbed up to the wall, and could see it snaking over the mountain peaks. It was a lovely place. We went to the summer palace, which is where the emperor’s family could go when they got bored with the forbidden city. It is a large garden with a lake and many houses. The last empress spent all the money earmarked for modernizing the navy and the military on building new fancy houses and a marble boat (stationary) That is why she was the LAST empress! As soon as she died, the military was overthrown by the next leader. I can’t remember his name. When he tried to make himself an emperor, the people threw him out. Mao eventually took over.

We saw the temple of heaven complex last before we flew home. There are actually lots of temples in China, just not the right kinds! That reminds me, we need to buy tickets to Hong Kong for our temple trip on November 4-5th. Hong Kong is 771 miles from Shanghai. It’s kind of an expensive trip! I wonder if there are overnight trains like there are to Beijing. They are sleeper trains. You sleep in them overnight and arrive in the morning to Beijing. I’ll see if we can get them. They are in some ways preferable to flying because they are cheaper, and you arrive earlier in the morning.

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