Almost precisely a year ago, I found myself in the Far East for the second time in my life.
The first time was in 1988, when my family spent a year in
Taichung, Taiwan. Upon our return to the states, we all felt slight culture shock, but proceeded to live our lives where we left off until eventually our memories were relegated to boxes in the basement and scrolls hanging on the walls.
We all tried to keep up our new found beginning language skills, but that too eventually fell by the wayside. We were lucky enough to befriend an exchange student from Taiwan and were able to nod the occasional "Ni Hau" or butcher some more difficult word.
The only one of us who really followed through on his passion was my oldest brother, who moved to China four years ago.
After teaching English at a University in Hangzhou, he got a job with a translation company in Shanghai.
Last October, I spent two weeks visiting him. What follows is a collection of images from my time there.
With roughly 18 million people, Shanghai is host to a variety of sights, smells and sounds - many of which were familiar to me from my time in Taiwan. On an early morning walk through a local park, I witnessed everything from a group of elders exercising on curious machines that resembled toys, a couple taking wedding pictures and a few boats paddling on a pond. The sounds of birds could be heard as well, and I learned that every week a group of bird enthusiasts hang their cages of birds from the trees, filling the park with singing. We ended the walk with a stop by a street vendor, where we bought the most flavorful steamed pork rolls I have ever eaten.
After a few days in Shanghai, we headed to Hangzhou, a city of 1 ½ million people. It was a relief to be out of the big city, breathing fresher air and taking in a more relaxing atmosphere. Hangzhou is where many Chinese vacation, with attractions such as West Lake and nearby Meijia, famous for its tea - Long Jing (Dragon Well) - served loose in a glass, with an accompanying thermos full of hot water. I can say from experience there is nothing quite as relaxing as sitting by a lake in China drinking a cup of hot tea.
Huangshan is also a popular vacation spot. There is a tram you can ride to the top of the mountain, roughly 5,000 feet up, or you can opt to walk on the winding stairway trail. Once at the top, there are hotels and many more stair trails. Everything transported to and from the hotels (all supplies, including laundry, construction materials and food) is walked there by workers performing amazing acts of balance and strength. The landscape is the epitome of what most people think of as a Chinese landscape, and every picture you take resembles a painting.
Lucy Daigle is a graphic artist in the composing department at the Juneau Empire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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