Celebrating Chinese New Year for the First Time

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God is so good and I can express only thankfulness to all He has provided this January. After twenty years, something amazing happened and I was able to celebrate Chinese New Year for the first time in Shanghai with my family. He brought me to home in time for the one rare week of the year in China when relatives and friends from across cities, provinces, borders are brought back together.31788059114_ce7f27f79f_k_zpsfouvb3xd

And of course being me, I accidentally left my camera behind when coming across the extravagantly decorated Cheng Huang Miao (City God Temple of Shanghai) that lights up every night for the new year holiday.  😦 31788066104_9e4ce06012_k_zpsvkjvngriNevertheless, Cheng Huang Miao was more beautiful and crowded than ever with everybody wearing headbands with little chickens to celebrate the new year of the rooster.

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Water Lily Season at Guyi Gardens

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On this humid day in Shanghai, the sky is the color of sea foam and the air hangs heavily on our shoulders, we feel it as we walk down the street, eyes hungering after ice cold water and the breeze from the neighboring convenient store’s open doors.

(Apologies again, this is one of many belated posts regarding my summer in Shanghai)

img_1877_zpsrxxgfolgWe arrived at Guyi Garden in the midst of the summer heat. It was morning yet the sun had already emerged in full bloom along with the garden’s water lilies. img_1826_zpscln3n6wb

Located in Nanxiang of the Jiading District, Guyi Garden has been around since the Ming Dynasty when it served as a private garden to a magistrate. Through the dynasties, the garden continued to expand and transform into what it is today: a public space for enjoying nature, conversation, morning exercise routines, and gatherings of retired friends playing cards.

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Local Shanghai Style Breakfast

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There is no other way to start off the day than with a traditional Shanghainese-style breakfast – passed on from generation to generation. They call it Da Bing You Tiao (大饼油條) or Chinese Sesame Bread & Fried Dough because these two popular breakfasts foods are simply one of the most genius combinations out there. The crunchyness of the You Tiao with the savory green onion flavor of Da Bing.

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7am in Pudong. If you look close enough, lurking behind shiny residential buildings and corporate offices, what do you find? Only if you are as lucky as us, an old-fashioned marketplace thriving with customers and flavor.

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The menu! Everything is so cheap yet so delicious. I might be extremely biased but I think it definitely beats the local IHOP. In terms of USD, everything on the menu is selling for less than 50 cents. As a poor college student, I wish we had one of these in rural Indiana (please?).

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Shanghai’s London Inspired Town – Thames Town

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Out of nowhere, in Shanghai’s Songjiang new district, you may stumble upon this extraordinary British-inspired “village” – Thames Town, whose name is derived from London’s River Thames.

We came here during our day trip to Songjiang and almost, for a second, I got all flustered thinking somehow I had been dragged back to the western civilization against my will.img_1651_zps17y0qvai

The relatively new Thames Town was initially constructed in 2006 as part of a One City, Nine Towns plan under the watch of a British architecture firm. Many of the buildings are exactly modeled off of existing establishments in England, including the church in the image above.

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Now, Thames Town has become extremely popular for wedding photography (we saw countless grooms & brides running around with their photographers) and also hobbyists, arms filled with spare lens (I can relate to this feeling).

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Returning to Shanghai (终于回到上海 )

 

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Somehow its 5am in the morning and I’m clumsily stumbling into a plane, hair messily tied in a bun and luggage squeaking behind. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been back to Shanghai but the routine still remains the same – skyscrapers and fields transforming into specks of colors before my eyes, entering into the evening black of the Pacific, 15 hours above the clouds…

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I’ve always thought of distance as a physical representation of separation. 7,233 miles between the USA and China – add in the language barrier, time zones, and strikingly different cultures… its always surreal to wake up from a nap and end up on the other side of the world.

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Winter Taobao Stationary Haul

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Oh Taobao, the most wonderful place in the world! I just wanted to share my 2015/16 Taobao Stationary Haul. Taobao is such a great place to get cute and quirky things at low prices. If anyone needs any Taobao shop recommendations, I would love to help!

These are some of my favorite shops:

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Japanese Minimalist Black Gel Pens – 29 cents each

Assorted Cute Notebooks – 19 cents each

Japanese Transparent Stickers – $1.15

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Bye Bye Shanghai

(above: exo’s D.O. came to give me his best wishes, what a sweetheart)

With anything, comes one’s time of departure. The pastry egg tarts, the boom of construction sites rising and falling, dancing grandmas and their fans, will all reside into memories of days past. I’ve been so blessed this whole way through for my experience in China.

This last post is about a fun local park adventure – packed with cute dogs, dancing old ladies, and slice-of-life Shanghai. Continue reading