Thursday, May 2, 2013

China and the Newmans

Tom, Kathleen, Davis, Luke and Carly Newman with Jim, Liana and Josephine Gao.
We arrived in Shanghai on Sunday …21st…after traveling all day on Saturday.  Our flights were uneventful..and we were glad to stumble into the Newman home very tired but safe around 11 pm on Sunday.   Tom and Kathleen are such real people. Spiritual. Easy to talk to.  Fun.  Interesting.  And so willing to share their home and life with us for the next week.  Kathleen and I laugh a lot when we are together.  We feel very blessed.

On Monday Bob, Wayne and I took off to a 900 year old water town.  ZhouZhuang. We walked through old alley ways, shopped, took a boat ride through the canals, watched a Chinese Opera, watched bamboo carving and cracker making and ate lunch at an outside restaurant.  It had windows in places and no windows  in other places.  Bob pantomimed the washing of a window on the no window side and created quite a spectacle.  The Chinese people thought he was so funny.  They even clapped.   The smell of stinky tofu filled the air.  We went to a Buddhist temple and wandered through the gardens.  It was very interesting and very pretty.

We explored downtown Shanghai at night.  We took the Subway down to the Puxi side of the river.  Saw the Pearl Tower and ate dinner at Bellagio—a Taiwanese restaurant in a big Super Brand Mall.  The food was delicious and the desserts were especially fun.  Flavored Mango Coconut Snow ice—my favorite.  And a Red Bean Bing which is a mountain of shave ice covered with smashed red beans and then like a sweetened condensed milk poured over all with large tapioca and glutonous rice.
Tuesday morning we walked the River Trail by Kathleen’s home.  It’s beautiful and old… there were some bamboo fishermen on the scene.  They have these large bamboo contraptions shaped with 4 pole that meet at the top and the bottom has a square net that stretches between the poles.  This is submerged and when brought back to the surface there is hopefully fish in the net.  These fishermen are so patient with this routine.  It was great to watch.  On another day Wayne actually saw a fisherman catch 2 fish and he was so excited he offered one to Wayne. 
We headed to the Fabric Market to order Sunday Suits  for Bob and Wayne ($80) and a jacket ($50) for me, and to the Eye glass place to get me some new prescription eye glasses and prescription Sunglasses  ($60)   There is traffic and people EVERYWHERE
We went to YuYuan Garden … a famous landmark pagoda/temple looking place that has been turned over to shops and restaurants.  It is famous for Xia long boa—a steamed bun dumpling filled with sausage or ground vegetables and broth.  They were so good.    
To get around the Newman’s have a driver…Jasun.  This really is a worries about parking spaces –because there are none—or weaving through the traffic.  The traffic is amazing.

Bob and Wayne flew out to the Canton Fair Tuesday night.
Wednesday we went to Fuxing Garden.  It’s a park that is filled with people all doing something.  Every 20 feet there was a new group doing their thing.  I found this so fascinating.  There was a group of people with a boom box tied to a tree, western line dancing..then you walk 20 more feet and there are kite people, then there are chinese yo yo’s being played with, artists, a woman taking people’s blood pressure,  bad mitton playing, some people doing Tai Chi exercise, a newspaper spot where the newspaper is posted and people are standing around reading it and loudly discussing  politics?, then there is chinese karaoke  and tables filled with card playing, little kids in strollers and more singing groups, or small combos playing their instruments, a chorale group with a singing teachr/director in the front leading,  a bunch of people doing the waltz, a group of 100 atleast, playing maracas in tempo to some music and singing.  None of this is done so someone will put money in a hat…all of it is just being done.  It was amazing…and I loved it.

We headed to the Propaganda museum.  It’s a historical collection of posters and memorabilia from 1946 to 1978….it covers the rise of communism an Moa tse Tung and the Cultural Revolution from 1965 to 75….it’s so interesting the pretty face they tried to convince the world of while so many of the people were starving.  The cultural revolution was about the overturning of western ways and many people had to “tell” on their family members and neighbors if they did something against the government..then these people would be taken away.  All art and intellectuals were destroyed, or taken away.  A very dark time for China.   
We had lunch at a quaint shopping’s an old tenement that is left in tact but converted to restaurants and shops and then people live above it.  Wires and laundry and bicycles and scooters everywhere.    Then we went shopping at the KeJiGuan—a copy market—filled with shoes and hats and scarves and electronics and anything you can think of to copy and buy.  So crazy.
For dinner we traveled in Newman style…that meant we got on their 3 scooters and traveled through wild traffic intersections to a restaurant and a grocery store and back.  I love going to the grocery store.  There is so much there that we don’t have.  Full tanks of live frogs and fish and snakes and lizards…all for the eating.  A lot of the fruits and veggies are unknown to me as well.  Fascinating

Thursday was a family day.  When I asked Kathleen if I could come and spend the week…I really meant, just be her shadow and do what she does.  It’s a lot to have a visitor for so long…so I’m glad to not be entertained.  We walked the mansions by her home,  stopped at a golf course and saw so many pink clad ladies with mosquito netted caps on…they are Caddies.  So cute.
We got foot/leg/back/neck massages.  We were being rubbed by two very strong women.  Felt like crying.  When Kathleen admitted this to me as well..we couldn’t stop laughing.  It was like a torture chamber….that we paid for…but well worth it once they stopped at the neck and back and moved to our feet.  
I got to see Tom’s office and the canal where Kathleen got into to pull out her son, Luke’s Longboard when they first got here.  That is a great story of a mother’s sacrifice and love. 
We went to a middle school to watch Luke play basketball for his school team.  And then off to another high school to see Beauty and the Beast.  There were 2 kids in the show in Kathleen’s branch. 

Friday we attended a birthday lunch for Kylie Erickson…a new girl in the branch who’s husband works with Tom at Orbit.  Our plan was then to have our bags packed and head to the subway/ train station to get to Hungzho…a lake town with scenic hikes up to pagodas and rice fields.  We thought we would bicycle around the lake and have a wee girl’s trip then be back on Saturday.  Our best laid plans went arwy when we spent 2 1/2hours on the subway just trying to find the right train station and get tickets….we just finally had to abort.  The fun part for me though truly was the journey…so many interesting people.  We had one little 7 year old chinese boy practice all of his English words on us.  He sang us 3 songs  including “we wish you a merry Christmas”, and gave us every bit of his vocabulary…dog, cat, nose, orange etc...  I loved it.  Kathleen says that doesn’t it was pretty sweet.  He had a lot of courage.  

ON the Bund...looking across to the Pearl tower...and me infront of the flower wall 
We climbed up out of the subway…remember the joy was in the journey…schlepping our bags to the Bund on the Pudong side of the river.  The Bund is  a beautiful river walkway that looks across the river.  We stopped at the Peace Hotel..which survived WW2 and is filled with Art Nouveau architecture.  We ate at a great restaurant called Lost Heaven.. yuanan cuisine.   The funny part was our bags …we pulled them with us for 8 hours all over Shanghai.  We laughed that we could go and change into our pj’s at any moment.   We ferried over the river at night and took the subway/taxi home.  Lesson:  It’s not easy or fast to get places in China, but atleast do it with some one who makes you laugh and tells a good story…..Love you Kathleen.

Saturday the boyfriends came back from their work and we shopped and shopped some more..back to the fabric mart for fittings and the eye glass place and the Kujiguan for more shopping….  We ate street food…didn’t get sick, which is a plus and went into a Walmart….so interesting.   We had food at a spicy rib place…my lips were on fire…and more subway home.  It’s fun to sit around and share stories and talk with the Newmans.  Davis, Carly, and Luke –their children have all adapted so well here, and they are all so nice.
Sunday we went to the Branch for church.  They meet at a large convention hall.  They are a group of 125 saints.  I loved it.  They have to read over the pulpit each week that only foreign passport holders can be a part of the congregation and the 12th article of faith.  The only thing I was asked to do was say the closing prayer in Relief Society.. I said the first line and started crying.  Could not get it together.  I was Praying in China.  The Gospel is pretty great.
.It’s a lazy…nap…regroup kind of day.  We had dinner Jim and Liana Goa… a non member family that Bob and Wayne met last time they were in town.   Kathleen is such a great cook and every meal is gourmet and fresh and … we are eating well.
 Monday, Kathleen and I went  to Century park for our morning walk.  It's like Central Park in NYC... beautiful lakes and green spaces, then back to Yu Garden for souvenir shopping and saw so many wonderful sights and sounds.  This night we went to the Chinese acrobat show.  So amazing!

 I have loved my time here.  Kathleen is amazing.  I knew it the first moment I was able to rub shoulders with her and serve under her in YW.  She is fearless! I’m blessed to be her friend.
I could go anywhere and be gone for a long periods of time, as long as my Wayne was with me.  Where he is, is home.  I miss my Laila and sweet boys. Can’t wait to hold them and see their awesomeness.  I know they are taking care of themselves and all is well in Bountiful.


Brooke Shoko said...

I loved this post.

Si said...

Awww the Newmans. Love them. Kathleen is the best.
Thanks for recording your trip! loved reading this.

SILLYA said...

HI! you dont know me... but you and I have had alot of the same experiences in Shanghai! I met a gal (from the US, living in Shanghai) 2 years ago by googling "LDS Shanghai Branch" and sending an email--Just prior to going to Shanghai with my husband for a business trip. I have been back 2x since then and she has come to visit me 2x in the US-- we have had a great time together. -- I love that the Gospel brought us together. We are getting ready to take our family (3 kids) to Shanghai for 8 weeks this summer. I cannot wait to have new experiences and see so many amazing things. I too was in awe as I was asked to say a prayer in RS.. such a Spiritual opportunity. .. Thanks for your post.. I found it by googling: Kejiguan-- (such a crazy place, isnt it!!?) ps.. my friends husband is the Brnach Pres in one of the 3 branches.. Larkin?