The search for something big
Trip Start Aug 23, 2007
30Trip End Jul 31, 2008
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After getting acclimated the shopping began. Kevin was desperately seeking basketball shoes of an appropriate size after losing one pair to the concrete wear and tear and thoroughly thrashing his feet during a game played in borrowed and far-too-small shoes. For a while it felt like an exercise in futility constantly being laughed from one modern department store to the next. After a while a pair of Nikes and Adidas were availabe but at over American prices...the school was willing to go halfsies, but we continued our mission for something more suitable. Finally a pair of Li-Ning shoes, a famed Chinese brand named after the Gold Medal hurdler, fit the bill for less than half the cost. Interspersed in this shopping quest was a wander through the fish/flower/pet market which included some cramped animal quarters. This was especially true for the goldfish and crickets. Crickets in China are used for both sport (cricket fighting) and nutrients. The market offered a museum like display of boxed crickets ranging in size from mite-like to monstrous...only they were all living.
We were impressed by the contortionist aspect of the scene, with legs and body seemingly extending in the wrong directions. After the market we headed to the worthwhile Urban Planning Museum. The museum has the lofty task not only of keeping track of the warp speed development but outlining it for the viewer. The most impressive display is a scale model of the whole of Shanghai...big enough in itself to house quite a few residents. We also enjoyed some Xinjiang (Muslim-minority autonomous region in NW China) food in a lavish setting with mutton rightfully dominating the menu. We were happily surprised to find dinner accompanied by some ethnic dance and song (including one Italian song being belted out).
With the shopping and big-city behind us, it was time to relax a little. After a couple hour journey southwest we unloaded our bags at a beautiful canal side hotel in the old town of Xitang. The scenic area of Xitang consists of several criss-crossed canals spanned by gorgeous stone bridges and lined by wonderfully picturesque houses. While it's main income is certainly tourism (and films...it is where some of MI:III was filmed), it was refreshing to see local life ongoing