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Published: June 25th 2009
This is 6 and 8! You think you know how to count? Wait till you get to China! Whether you are shopping, buying tickets to the bus, train or to a concert, or simply asking for a table for your group.............you need to know how to count "the Chinese way". As in, there is absolutely no other way!
You want to buy 6 pieces? Or get a table for 8 pax? This is how.........(thanks for the correction, lee)
I visited Shanghai and Zhou Zhuang 2 times in the last 2 months. My 3rd visit to Shanghai in 2 years. Was here on my way back home from a trip to Turkey and Greece last April. And then a second time around, on my way back again after meeting up and traveling with friends from Beijing through Xi'an and finally here in May. Yet, it has taken this long for me to realize that the Chinese count with their fingers in a way altogether different from the way we do. Counting 1 to 5 is easy, and is no different. But counting from 6 to 10 is another story. The Chinese ingenuity of just using one hand with a set of 5 fingers to count all the way to 10 holds logic. Since it is hard to explain how this is done, I
One to 5 is the usual, but 7 and 9 is this way!
The idea is to 'show' 1 to 10 with just 1 hand. So, to show 6 to 10, you don't need 2 hands!
got my two young travelers showing you how in photos. Check it out.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about our reunion with family and friends here (Patricia and Martin Eat Xiao Long Bao in Shanghai
). A month after that, I found myself booked with my friends who traveled with me to Beijing (A Story of Friendship
) and Xi'an ( The Mistress in Xi'an
) in the same condotel in Shaanxi Road. After over a week, we have enough clothes to laundry, so we put the washing machine and dryer to good use on our first night here. The following day , we just sort of rested "while shopping" and spared ourselves from any sightseeing chores. As if shopping is not a serious chore. . . .
As with shopping, eating was also taken seriously.
We found time to enjoy a stroll around the Xin Tian Di area in Shanghai as we were early for a lovely dinner with friends. Looking around, we found how cosmopolitan this place is. The young Shanghainese in very modern suits and dresses, those expats enjoying a chat and a cup of brew in the many coffee shops in the area, those food outlets with an international range.
We repeated the dinners in Bi Feng
We were lucky to be here during the Dragonboat Festival.
Tang and Din Tai Fung, as well as the lunch in that restaurant by one of the bridges in ZhouZhuang. A case of de javu
as I found myself relishing the same experience all over again. In Zhou Zhuang, we were lucky to be there during the Dragonboat Festival. There was a day long spectacle of music and dance in the square just before entering the water town. The colorful costumes and the Dragon Dance and Boat Dance made for some lovely photos. As I have already blogged on Zhou Zhuang's lovely alleys, stone bridges and gondolas plying its river, forgive me for repeating myself here (with a few modifications to suit this blog).
Zhou Zhuang This 1,000 year old water town is China's Venice. For 100RMB, one has the entire village to explore. And it is a lived-in village! The entrance to this Water Town is punctuated by stores selling silk products, ti pan or stewed pig knuckles, various dried and preserved fruits, sugar floss candies. As one enters , the water lanes and stone bridges greet the visitors right away. Gondola-like river boats glide through the river .... laden with camera-strung tourists happily snapping
Taken at the entrance to the Venice of China ---Zhou Zhuang.
away. The lady "gondolier" sings Chinese songs with a good melody , notwithstanding that we don't understand the lyrics. It was a lovely sight. Think Venice with an Oriental accent. There are red Chinese lanterns adorning many windows with oriental carvings. Viewed from any of these windows, the picturesque rivertown is framed even better than many of the postcards available on sale in zhouzhuang's stalls.
We finally reached one of the old houses. The ticket allows you to enter some of these houses belonging to the Yuan, Qing or Ming Dynasties. One of the most interesting of these public houses is the Hall of Shen. Built in 1742, Shen's Residence has more than a hundred rooms and was built by the son (Shen Wansan) of one of the first silk tycoons in the province. The arcades and courtyards within the Shen compound speak of the decadence of those times. There were signages along the aisles which caught our attention, and provided some amusement. The intricate carvings on the windows maybe very Oriental, though I detected a likeness to the Greek "eternity" patterns. Out of the Shen Residence, and once more along the street canal, we passed a number
of eateries with live seafood in aquariums. I even found some turtles and I dare not guess what wonderful Chinese dish it would make. Since the tourist season has already set in , the street canals and alleys are now crowded with snap-happy travelers. ZhouZhuang must be a favorite out of town destination for those visiting Shanghai as it is only an hour and a half drive from the city. Not too far away is the Hall of Zhang's Residence, right before the Fu'An Bridge. Built by the Xu Family in the 15th century, and later bought by the Zhang Family, this residence has fewer rooms than the Shen Residence. Like the other ancient houses, the river flows underneath the Main Hall of the Zhang's Residence.
We had lunch in the same restaurant we dined in a month before. Almost the same menu too. After all, this is ZhouZhuang, and it would be a sin not to try the "ti pan" and soy-marinated, slightly sweetened pork cubes. By the same table, near the same window from where you can view the many chinese gondolas plying the river, we took our table and took our time deciding what else
Les Belles in ZhouZhuang
After Beijing and Xi'an, we continue to enjoy our holiday in ZhouZhuang.
to eat. While others in our group tried the gondola ride , we ordered some "novel" appetizers. Forgive me for not being able to write what these dishes are, as we were simply going by the pictures when we ordered these items. There was this dish that reminded me of those German aspic dishes. Pork cubes encased in this gelatinous stuff, which by the way, is very very good. Another appetizer was this serving of dried and sweetened fruits, which looked so delectable, and actually tasted very good. And there was this fish dish which looked simply fried with breadcrumbs, but tasted more than any other breaded fish. Gosh, I am doing a bad job here. But at least, I made sure I took good photos of the dishes we ordered. So , please do check them out.
While we were in Beijing, I found "four season paintings" of this stone bridge and a passing chinese gondola. I reminded my friends that such scene in four seasons is found right here in Zhou Zhuang. Now, they know why I bought those 4 paintings in Beijing. I just know my young travelers back home (who knew how to count the
And this guy just suffered a stroke 2 months before this trip!
chinese way) would love it. We did some pretty good shopping here too (ahem.....) , where I ended up with two dozens of silk scarves. What to do with them? Please don't ask. The men bought some silk shirts too, and they looked quite happy with their purchases. Hmmmm, they are fast learners.
On our way out, we found a number of ladies selling various food stuff. We were curious to check them out. Mostly, they were dried seafood. Like dried shrimps, or dried fish, or dried squid. The pungent smell told us they were heavily salted. Walking out, we passed the same stalls selling the "ti pan" or stewed pig knucles. We had to literally look away. Good thing , there was an ongoing spectacle of the dragonboat dance right by the entrance gate.
Back in Shanghai
Back in Shanghai after our out-of-town excursion, but not without visiting the Fabric Market. There were stalls selling everything from watches to silk dresses to bags. Of the three, guess which ones are genuine.
Some of us had clothes custom-made, ready in 2 days. I contented myself just eyeing those silk Chinese outfits and prayed
silently that one day, I can fit in any one of those cheongsams. I wish, I wish. They come in bright blue, shiny red, shocking gold, canary yellow, sky blue, even glossy white. I can imagine myself struggling to put one of those on. Or even struggling out of it! Lol. My 2 lady companions were more seriously considering the bags though, while the men were into watches. Having purchased a number of bags in my last shopping episode here in Shanghai, I excused myself to sit somewhere and read a book. A half hour or so later, Eve and May were giggling their way out of the store. Between the 2 of them, they bought 5 pieces. Should have been more, but May decided to drop the others. Why? They did not have enough money between the 2 of them. Thinking the leather goods were priced at almost the same bargain prices as most imitation designer bags you'd find around the city, they greedily had their hands on about 7 or 8. After some time, they realized that imitation bags come in "grades" ---- that what they found in their hands are of superior grade, and made of real
Shop........till you drop?
leather. So unlike the imitation bags made of synthetic leather, and so unlike their selling prices too. I had to laugh as these 2 were in stitches, as they made out like they were no longer interested in the other stuff, but were actually short of funds! That explains why we were so keen about finding an ATM to replenish our wallets. By the time May stepped out of the ATM booth, she was ready to shop again. Oh, women!
In between our trip to Zhou Zhuang and our shopping spree, we were happy to just be around for Gabriel's graduation and confirmation. We readily assumed our roles as unofficial photographers and cheerfully snapped away. We were all so proud of Gabriel. I think I should start calling him that now...... and not Gabz or Gabzie. Nah, it's got to be Gabriel from hereon. The party to celebrate his graduation and confirmation was held at the Eton Hotel in the Pudong Area. On our way there, we passed the Pearl TV Tower and that building which looked like a bottle-opener. (Sorry, I forgot ) The hotel restaurant served buffet dinner and we took at least 2 hours to
Casa Regalia: Our Home in Shanghai
This 3 bedroom condotel has a good-sized kitchen and heavy duty washing machine and dryer. Buffet breakfast is basic continental. Highly recommended!
enjoy our sumptuous dinner. The Moven Pik ice cream was a bonus. As a big fan of ice cream, this is really a good way for me to end a great dinner.
On our last night in Shanghai, we visited the Bund but unfortunately, the promenade was closed to the public. Most tourists crowded this bridge where one can take photos of the skyline across the river . Those neon-lighted buildings are the same buildings we passed in the Pudong area, and look so awesome all lighted up at night. From this very short photo op stop by the bridge, we proceeded to the People's Square. As we strolled around, we found another outlet of Olympic souvenirs (2008) and bought a few as souvenirs. Mon got this commemorative coin , along with some Olympic shirts. Not to forget, we earlier passed by Carrefour to shop for some Chinese delicacies like dried and preserved fruits to take home. You can imagine the range of preserved fruits here. Trust the Chinese not to leave anything to waste!
We spent the remainder of our last night packing our bags. Each one of us has a new suitcase to take home,
Buffet dinner at Eton Hotel
Eton Hotel has a superb buffet dinner. This is where Gabriel\'s graduation party was held.
all filled with silk scarves, silk shirts , Beijing olympic souvenir items and foodstuff. We all woke up early for our farewell breakfast together. Mon and May have mid-morning flights back to San Francisco, while I am traveling with the Guerrero family back to Manila in the afternoon. As planned, we took the Mag Lev to the airport in Pudong. We struggled with our roller bags and suitcases up the escalators, through the gates, into the train, out of the train, all the way in front of the check-in counter. But no one is complaining. It felt almost sad to break up, having enjoyed nearly 2 weeks of traveling around Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, and then meeting up and leaving our good friends who served as our hosts here in Shanghai. But I am confident we will be doing this a lot more times, perhaps a lot more often. We'll see. "Friendship is a collection of hearts ready to give, share and understand. It never fades and never ends, it only reminds us that life is not perfect without a friend. "
Thank you Weng and Mario, Mon and May, Eve and Boy, for the friendship
that has tested time and distance!
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