Guest blogger Tim Parenti reports for the Heinz Chapel Choir as they tour China...
I must start today's post with very sad news (although in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad). If you're someone who's been following my personal blog since well before this trip, you'd know that I've been working with a half-broken camera this whole time (and I bet you didn't even notice). It's been tough at times, but I've made do for several months now.
And so, it is with regret that I must inform you that my camera is, for all intents and purposes, dead. It started acting weird mid-morning and died at lunch on Thursday, and though we tried other batteries and just about everything we could think of, it just wouldn't work. It took about five minutes and a lot of patience just to get the lens to close. Sadly, it doesn't look like it will be coming back anytime soon, if at all.
I'm half-tempted to just buy another camera here in Shanghai if I get the chance, but who knows what cans of worms that could open? Besides, our tour guide says that for electronics, despite how many of them are made in China, they are much cheaper in the U.S. for the same quality.
So, although I know that a lot of choir members' parents having been playing "Find My Child!" with my photos, I'm afraid that will have to wait at this point until something can be figured out. My apologies.
Nevertheless, it is still my duty to tell you what we've been up to, so here's a short narrative:
Day 10 – Thursday 7 May 2009
We started Thursday by heading to the Lingering Garden in Suzhou, a five-acre traditional house that was owned by a wealthy family. The small entrance to the huge house proves the humbleness of the Chinese people despite this family's wealth. Designs on the pathways symbolized the balance between spending money and earning it. If you're always earning money and never spending it, then you don't get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you're always spending but never earning, then disaster occurs.
After spending some time lingering in the Lingering Garden, we made our way to a local silk factory, where we learned how silkworms are raised, how silk is extracted from them, and how that silk is then turned into the silk products we use. We also learned how to differentiate between real silk and fake polyester "silk."
We walked around the gift shop area of the silk factory for a time before walking upstairs to a restaurant in the building for lunch. Some people were freaked out by the snakes in jars that welcomed us along the sides of the entryway, but everyone was able to get through okay and eat.
Outside the factory, we discussed the museum issue from Wednesday. Did everyone want to go? The consensus was no, we'd all like to go directly to Shanghai, and so we did.
Once in Shanghai, we went to Nanjing Road, which is basically one big shopping district, 5 km (3 miles) long. We walked around many shops, and although a few of us bought things, most of us just soaked in the atmosphere and looked at what there was to be sold.
After an early dinner, we then made our way to an acrobatic performance, entitled "Era: Intersection of Time." Ironically, photos and video weren't allowed at this performance anyway, but I can link you to their website. Everyone was amazed at all the different acts, some with trampolines, some with bicycles, others with pottery, and ending with eight motorcycles in a spherical cage.
Yes, that's right. Eight.
It was mind-boggling, and everyone loved it. We talked about it all the way back to the hotel.
Coming up: On Friday, we travel to Yu Garden in the morning, spend the afternoon in another Shanghai shopping area, and conclude the evening with our final performance of the tour (and of the year), at Shanghai's Conservatory of Music.