Well the good ole’ rents plus sis sis have arrived in Shanghai. The last few days have been an exhilarating but exhausting rediscovery of Shanghai’s tourist spots. I’ve been checked out the insides of some places for the first time. Jing’An temple and the Shanghai World Financial Center are amazing! SWFC is one of the most fantastic spots in Shanghai ! Anyways, I will be keeping an old-fashioned pen and paper journal during the travels and documenting it all with my camera. (Flicks or it didn’t happen!) So everyone don’t worry I will be back from hiatus with plenty of travel in China info and stories along with further coolness in Shanghai. I know you can hardly wait but don’t worry soon enough you will be sick of my posts! So enjoy your 9-5 summers!

-Ciao Ya’ Portabellas

Dragon Boats and Plum Rains

Well it’s here again.  The east Asian rainy season known as the Plum Rains are have reared its gray drippy face。 Just in time to rain for the Dragon Boat national holiday. My original plan of heading down to, previously written about, Mengqing park was thwarted by the steady drizzle that started early early morning and has still not let up. Not a hard rain at all , just constant. My enthusiasm for sitting in the park and watching the dragon boats race down the Suzhou river evaporated as the rains condensed. I was really looking forward to hanging out in the park all day and there was even supposed to be a food street set up with all kinds of delicious food. Street meat , brew, sunshine , trees, and dragon boats , arghghhhhh stupid rains!!!!!

Okay let’s go into some details. Apparently the term “Plum Rains” comes from ancient China , the rains would start every year just around the time the plums were ripe.  When the rains fall on the ripe plums, there follows 40 rainy days. Maybe it’s all made up, but it sounds reasonable and I sure as hell haven’t noticed any amethyst hue to the water. Maybe a slight sludge color from all the air pollution getting pulled out of the sky but that’s it. Haha kidding but the air does seem really fresh right and I am definitely liking that. Anyways , these rains last anywhere from a month to two months or so. I wasn’t yet in Shanghai this time last year so I can’t tell you how long this weather phenomena went on before but I will make note of it for everyone this year. Perfect timing for my parents to arrive, no?

Now we will focus on the parade (or race) that these rains fell upon. The Dragon Boat Festival or 端午节 Duanwu Jie as it’s known in Mandarin occurs every 5th day of every 5th lunar month. This holiday has many different theories about its origins but the most common one I am encountering and the one told to me by a Chinese friend is the story of a poet’s suicide. Supposedly the poet Qu Yuan decided that in the year 273 B.C  he had enough and leaped off in a bridge into water to commit suicide. The villagers raced out in their boats in an attempt to save his life but unfortunately they couldn’t make it in time. They couldn’t help him in life but in death they could. The villagers threw glutinous rice wrapped with bamboo leaves into the water so the fish would eat them and spare Qu Yuan’s corpse.

Due to Chinese influence throughout Asia in ancient as well as modern times the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in Japan , Korea , Vietnam , Singapore , Malaysia , Hong Kong , and Taiwan. On an interesting note, this holiday is a brand new one to China! (the People’s Republic of China that is) You may be wondering ,”how this is possible?” considering how I just stated the ancient roots of this festival. Well due to the pure genius of events occurring after 1949 traditional holidays were ignored in an attempt to… uh well …….. I have no idea. Thankfully though this holiday was reinstated in 2008! Woo hoo! Yes opening up and reform! I have the day off now because of you! Weird to think that during my first visit to China back in 2007 this holiday didn’t exist and now it does again. Kinda cool. Ok folks I’ll leave you with some pictures.


Century Park (世纪公园)

Ah yes another park review , don’t worry everyone there will be plenty more to come! If you find yourself out on the Pudong side of town consider checking out Century Park. This park is a massive green space featuring a gigantic lake in the center. Originally it was named Central Park but the big guys in Beijing decided the name wasn’t aight and it was changed to Century. There are many activities to partake in such as : renting bikes , flying kites , setting up tents , picnics ,paddle boat rental, fishing , and having a dedicated concert area. This is one of the largest urban parks in Shanghai with around 140 hectares in the park itself.If a big music festival comes to Shanghai it’s pretty much guaranteed it will be here. A fantastic sounding (I was slow on getting the info about the concert but people told me it was quite awesome) festival spanning three days with bands from all over the world just happened a few weeks ago.

I know I’ve written about a few parks before but greenery is one of the things I really miss about living in Ohio. Slowly but surely I’ve become accustomed too and have really started to love city life but let me tell you it sure is nice to hop in a car and drive anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to find yourself in a dizzying array for different lush green zones. Lush green zones with dirt trails and few to no other people. Parks here in Shanghai are usually busy and bustling (even during the days those old people are crooning out songs , ballroom dancing, and loudly play card games. The parks are definitely vastly different but still much enjoyed by myself. When I come back to Ohio to visit expect to hang out with pretty much exclusively in the wonderful parks spread out over northeast Ohio.

This is one of the parks in Shanghai where one can find a quite little spot and partially forget where they are. There are some dense patches of trees and flowers where you can’t see any of the ubiquitous skyscrapers that characterize Shanghai , some peaceful sculptured gardens , and we can find examples of Eastern and Western landscapes. One little patch of the park was designed and given as a gift by the city of Montreal. I’m only mentioning this because my roommate is from Montreal and he confirmed that in fact it does remind him a lot of Montreal , kinda cool me thinks. One can spend hours wandering around the paths and checking all the different areas in this park. Enjoy it now before the insanely hot humid summer arrives folks when it can be difficult to drag yourself away from the cemented position on front of the A/C.

I guess I should put out some of other important details about the park , maybe such as how to get there yea? Fortunetly its pretty easy everyone don’t worry. Century Park is located on metro line 2 Century Park station and if you can’t managed to find the park after leaving the metro well its hopeless for you my friend. This metro station is one stop past the Science and Technology Center I wrote about previously, and is very easily walkable from the Science Center. Just go down Century Avenue.  Admission to the park also costs 10 yuan , around a $1.55 USD at the time of writing.

I’ve been to Century Park quite a few times but don’t frequent it so often considering it’s such a long hike from my house via the metro. My pictures from it are from when I just arrived in Shanghai as a traveler with my friend Lindsay , who was visiting me from the U.S.A , at the time. I especially love the fisherman picture with the highrises in the background. Enjoy folks!