Tuesday I took a day trip with the Shanghai Expatriates Association to Zhujiajiao Water Town. (Don’t ask me to pronounce that.) This group is mostly comprised of non-Americans so I met women from Sweden, Poland, Holland, Singapore, Japan, etc.
We left from Shanghai Centre where I live, (nice!) and drove to Qingpu museum which is in the old part of Shanghai. This museum has artifacts (lots of pots in various shapes and sizes) dating from about 6000 years ago to present.
The most interesting exhibit was about the Ho Family, who over 29 generations has produced 350 physicians! A few were poets to begin with, but finally succumbed to the family destiny to become a doctor. Wow. Pressure, much?
Next we went to a park that had been created by Ma Wenqing in the 20’s. This park might have been featured on MTV’s Teen Crib’s if such a show had existed back then. Ma Wenqing had included everything in his park:
So, these doorways have puzzled me for years. Frankly, I find them pretty annoying because they tend to trip me up. My thought was that maybe the builders didn’t know how to build a door without putting this tall door step in for support–kind of like the way it took awhile before people figured out how to do interior stairways. In Europe you’ll sometimes see stairs running along the outside of very old multi storied houses.
Turns out there’s two reasons for these stumbling blocks. The first is that they are a status symbol–really! The idea is that when you step over them, they force you to bow, so the taller they are the farther you are forced to bow. Thus people with more money and higher status will have taller doorsteps. Thus, the Forbidden City has the tallest doorsteps of all–nearly up to your knees. The other reason has to do with feng shui and evil spirits. Apparently evil spirits are quite stupid and clumsy and will trip over tall doorsteps (Hmm…I’m stupid? clumsy? evil?) and won’t be able to enter the house.
We then went back to the water town to take a ride on the river boats and explore the town.
There were lots of ladies knitting booties but they didn’t want their pictures taken. One lady was knitting something different, and as I happened to have my knitting with me, I decided to stop and show it to her. She loved it. She counted all the stitches and rows (it’s a hat for Meredith) and discussed it with another woman. I modeled it for her and then she showed me what she was making which was a cabled sweater. I think we totally bonded. I didn’t want to ruin the moment and ask for a picture, but I did get a picture of her from behind later.
A few of us ended the day with kafei or shui (coffee or water) at a little shop and got to know each other better, while others did a little shopping. One of the best purchases I say, I think, was a queen size 100% silk batting for about $30 USD. They are absolutely gorgeous. Almost makes me want to quilt. Except I have no material here…or a sewing machine…and I brought too much yarn :). I’ll keep it in the back of my mind.
This greeted me at the door when I came home: