Friday, March 8, 2013

Chinese New Year - Part II

I am very sorry for the long break I've taken from this blog. Life has caught up with me and I have been distracted with many other tasks. I feel very guilty for not posting these last few weeks. This post is continued from my pervious post about our stay in downtown Chongqing for Chinese New Year. 

To finish off our already exciting weekend we spent a beautiful afternoon at Nanshun Park. The park, located on top of a mountain, was in eye-sight from the Sheraton and it didn't seem far way. Looks can be very deceiving. All four families loaded up into four taxi's (chuzeche). The path up a mountain is not a straight road, instead it's many curvy and windy roads. The taxi's raced up together weaving and passing each other like we were in an Indy race. Thirty-five minutes later they dropped us off in a crowded and busy courtyard. It took us about five minutes to regroup all four families and count heads. We've learned to stick together when out on new adventures. 

Nanshun Park has spectacular grounds with walking paths that go on forever and it also has a botanical garden area. For this visit we only had time to walk the grounds. We let the kids lead us through the park. Since it was still the winter season in Chongqing much of the landscape was not in full bloom but it didn't matter, it all still looked amazing. We could see the potential of what it would be like in April and May and we'll return again.


After a few hours of exploring we decided it was time to get back to the hotel. It was easy to wave down a taxi at the beginning of the adventure because we were in city limit. Now that we are on top of a mountain flagging a taxi was much more difficult and we needed 4 of them. After 10-15 passed by many of us in the group were considering getting on a pubilc bus and see how far it takes us and figure it out as we go. I wasn't ready for that adventure (just yet). Luckily one of us waved down a taxi van able to take us to the Sheraton. Except it could not fit ALL of us. It was most important to get the kids back safely so we crammed 4 adults and 7 kids in a 7 passenger van. At home we would never do this, but when in China, you do what you gotta do. There wasn't any room for Chris and I so we sent Jake and Casey off in good hands with the other moms (and a Dad). Chris and I stayed back with Mark and Paul. After 10 minutes of waiting for a yellow cab we decided desperate times all for desperate measures, we crammed into a three-wheeler cab. During the ride down the mountain our taxi driver tried explaining in Chinese that he couldn't take us all the way to the Sheraton (that was out of his territory). When we got 1/2 way down the mountain and he dropped of us. Yet again we found ourselves trying to flag down a taxi. This process took another 15-20 minutes when we finally flagged down a taxi van. It was a feeling of relief when we turned the corner and saw the golden towers of the Sheraton just ahead of us. The adventure of getting to a new location is just as exciting as the adventure getting back home.

For the rest of our time off the week of Chinese New Year we visited some new places. On Monday we went to a Hot Springs Resort. This was one of the many activities on My List that I wanted to do when we arrived in China. Our tutor, Takila, joined for a day of relaxing and soaking in the tubs. It was located just 5 minutes from the Sheraton so it was very easy to get to after we checked out. It was located in the city (there are other natural hot springs outside of the city as well). At the resort there were many warm pool. Some big some small. Some specifically for soaking and relaxing. Others for swimming and playing. The temperatures varied between them. The coolest was similar to a luke warm bath. The hottest was similar to sitting in a "hot tub" back in the States. It was not crowded and we almost had the place to ourselves. We had fun bouncing in and out of pools trying out as many as we could. It was a very relaxing and peaceful location. Everything I envisioned it would be. We ended the day with a light snack at the resort. I don't have any photos to share cameras were not allowed in the hot springs. We came home feeling calm and rejuvenated.

On Wednesday we headed out of city and drove for 1.5 hours to a Wild Safari Park. You can drive your vehicle through the park (I had visions of Jurrasic Park) to get a close-up look of the animals in their habitats. The Wild Safari Park was a popular place (being the week of Chinese New Year) and we waited 45 minutes for our turn to enter the park. When we got in we were grouped with 10 other cars and given walk-talkies to listen to a park guide as she explained about the animals at each exhibit (it was all in Chinese). Mr. Xiang helped us and would give us the Chinese names for all the animals  as we passed them (tiger - laohu, wolf - lang, camel - luotuo, lion - shizi, brown bear - ma xiong). At one point while in the giraffe exhibit we were allowed outside of our vehicles and had a chance for an up close encounter with the giraffes. We purchased leafy branches to feed the giraffes. Casey was especially excited about this.

After the Wild Safari, while on our way home, we made an impromtu stop at a park in the same city as the Wild Safari. From the side of the road we could tell it was a place we must stop at. We walked around the beautiful grounds and took in all the Chinese architecture. The kids enjoyed climbing the many stairs up to pagoda (baota).

We ended our Chinese New Year week with a Poker Run. Chris and I coordinated it and 4 other families who recently arrived in China just like us. The idea was that we stopped at each house for only 1 hour for a chance to tour their homes, enjoy a drink/snack and before leaving we each received a poker card. After each stop we all loaded into our vehicles and drove to the next location. Five hours later we ended at the Ly's house for evening of hanging out and getting to know each other better. At the Ly's house we each had five poker cards and could trade in 1 card of our choice for a new card before we played our hands. The winner of the Poker hand was: ME. I won with three Ace's. Nick (Ly's son) came in a close second with three 2's. It was an very eventful evening with good friends and good food and a great way to end our Chinese New Year week.

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