Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival Weekend (6/5-6/2011)

Sunday, June 5, 2011
This blog is not as exciting as the title may make it sound.

The Dragon Boat Festival, on the fifth day of the fifth month in Chinese Lunar calendar, pays tribute to Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE), a poet and patriotic minister in the State of Chu. Qu was exiled for criticizing the king for his corrupt rule. Upon hearing that their capital city had fallen to the invading Qin army, Qu was so sorrowful that he drowned himself in the Miluo River. Villagers rushed to the spot in small boats to save their beloved poet, but in vain. Later, they threw "zongzi," rice dumplings wrapped in reed leaves into the river in the hope that fish would spare his corpse. Today, boat races and "zongzi" are highlights of this traditional festival. Unfortunately, the boat races are in Beijing and Hong Kong, but Shanghai has plenty of the rice dumplings for sale!
Another grey day, but since it was not raining, we went for a walk in the Changning area. Found the former Wang Mansion down a side lane at #31:
The stories are: The impressive four-story, concrete framework house was built in 1930-1934 by Wang Boqun, the Minister for Transportation in the Kuomintang government. Wang built this house for his second wife (or concubine) Bao Zhining, who had asked Wang to make three promises before the marriage: 1) to give her a large sum of money (in a foreign account), 2) to send her overseas to study (or provide a grand wedding), and 3) to build a grand house. However, their love story did not last long. Wang was accused of corruption and fell from power. He died in 1944 , leaving four small children and a pregnant Bao who later moved her family to New York. Another story has Wang’s first wife getting the house. In 1953, Song Qingling (she was Sun Yat-sen's wife who was an advocate for women and children during the Communist era) opened a Children’s Palace here as a performance arts learning center.
We had a peek at the Gothic-style building through the gate:
Returning to the main street, we continued on to find we had another view of the front of the mansion. Now it was truly impressive:
And its use as a Children's Palace was evident:
Farther along, this building seemed to be tipping over:
The Renaissance Hotel Zhongshan Park.
Curving wall:
Hopped on the Metro to go to Hongqiao, the area near the secondary airport. Our destination was Bubba's Texas Bar-B-Q:
That's right! We could almost feel like we were in Texas...
Lunch of a hamburger and pulled pork sandwich:
Bubba grows his own tomatoes and peppers:
A men's softball team was having beer and pizza there, and we could understand everything they said (because they were speaking English)!

Afterwards we went to an amazing shopping center, crowded with vendors selling knockoffs and souvenirs. Kent was looking for a tie, and because the starting price was so reasonable, we didn't bargain much!

Monday, June 6, 2011
Today was the Monday holiday for the Dragon Boat Festival. It was raining and most museums are closed on Mondays. So we went to IKEA. Never having been to an IKEA before, we don't know how it compares to the U.S. Too bad we weren't having to outfit our apartment, because things were so inexpensive here. They even have a restaurant, and a small market of Swedish foods.
Wandering through two floors and checking prices was the adventure for the day!

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