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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shanghai - the Modern Face of China

There is a saying that says "If you want to see the China of the past, go to Xian. If you want to see the China of today, go to Beijing and if you want to see the China of the future, go see Shanghai."

I think this is true.
Beijing is a beautiful cohesion of ancient buildings, the Forbidden City, the mesmerizing hutongs.
Xian is amazing in its immenseness and how the terracotta warriors were ever made, let alone how they are being discovered and excavated.

But Shanghai. It's not my favorite place.
24 million people in one city...
It you like modern architecture, or if you like to shop, see haute couture, it will be a great place to visit. Skinny women in tiny mini-skirts, towering high-heels and dangling gold. Men in suits with smart-phones pressed to the ear. Children wearing the latest brand names, being pushed in the fanciest strollers you have ever seen. Bullet trains, elevated walkways. This is China, too.

I did not see any slums. Which is good. I'm told everything old has been bulldozed and people have been given apartments. This may be good.
But it's hard to look across the street because of air pollution.
Everything is constantly grey - as if it is very foggy. The top half of skyscrapers is erased in grey. I did not see blue sky or clouds. Just grey.
I loved the street dancing which happened on squares at night.
There is an air pollution index which people receive on their smart-phones Something like 'under 50' is OK. If it is more than 85, the kids have to have indoor recess. While I was there, this index hit 300. And that was not an exception.

I did notice, however, that every square inch is planted with trees or shrubbery. That should help. My hotel was across from Central Park and people jogged or walked there all day long. Even the sidewalk was half pavement, half running track. I enjoyed walking to school and observing people.

The food was great. Very kind teachers took me out for traditional Chinese food: homemade noodles, fresh tofu, soups, meats. I even ate a whole bowl of peanuts with chopsticks at one point!

The other best thing was massages: about 7 dollars for a one hour massage. Not as good as in Thailand but still... I love it.
Crazy traffic, wild taxi drivers. I loved shopping in local stores and brought back all sorts of packages of which I had no idea what was in it: crackers, cookies, fruit? Most turned out to be good :-)
I flew to Qindao to be in a school there. Wonderful kids and teachers everywhere. Emma the chicken came along: Emmapandemonium...

The rice isle in the supermarket!

The egg isle in the supermarket!

Monday, May 26, 2014

No Jet Lag? No Kidding!

Have you ever had jet lag? A week or more of not sleeping through the night, or falling asleep during the day after a long flight?
I was very skeptical when my son gave me a package of these No-Jet-Lag pills. But they are homeopathic... so I figured if it doesn't help, it won't hurt.

When I flew to Israel, I took them.
No jetlag at all. But then, I do all the right things when I travel: set my watch for the time at destination, as soon as we depart so I have several hours to tell myself it will be morning, or evening, or whatever. I mentally 'condense' the day or that night.
I close my eyes and relax, even sleep - if I arrive in the morning and should sleep during the flight.
Or I fight sleep, by watching a movie or reading - if I arrive late in the day and should go to sleep shortly after arriving.
I don't drink caffeine or alcohol during flying.

But still...
I took the tiny little pills when I returned from Amsterdam to Canada's west coast. No jet lag at all.
I was still skeptical. It could be coincidence.
But a friend, who had terrible jet lag last year, took them going home to England and she was fine, too.

Then I had to fly to China. I arrived on Sunday afternoon, having taken the no-jet-lag pills as prescribed: one on take-off, one on landing and one ever two hours in between. I slept through the night, got up on Monday morning and was fit enough to speak to 500 children.
Same story coming home: no jetlag.
So.. by now I do believe these homeopathic pills are making a difference. That, and all the right moves when you travel.
I hope they will help you, too, on your next trip. I know I will keep using them.