Thursday, 23 November 2017

Shanghai City Zoo

We’ve been in China for about eight months now. That is crazy. It doesn’t feel like eight months, but instead like forever and like no time at all. In other words, it feels relatively settled. I survived, barely, one of the hottest summers on record with almost no air conditioning. I managed to get my own phone number. I know and sort of pronounce the following words:

谢谢 (Xièxiè) – Thank you
你好 (Nǐ hǎo) – Hello
再见 (Zàijiàn) – Goodbye
美式 (Měishì) – Americano
奶茶(Nǎichá) – Milk Tea
煎饼 (Jiānbing) – the ultimate crepe, stuffed with crispy wonton, pickle, greens, hoisin, chilli sauce, and possibly meat. If you visit me I will make you try this. They are made fresh to order while you watch.
月饼 (Yuèbǐng) – mooncake, ie a small pie with a custard, dried fruit/nut, or meat filling.

It’s a pretty small list, I know, but the Chinese tones throw me for a loop every time. I can also recognize various characters that I only know the English meaning of so my reading comprehension is a little higher than my speaking ability. My dad used to tell me that by 6 months in a foreign country you can gain enough of the common tongue for basic fluency. He hadn’t reckoned with Chinese!

One of our favourite things to do in Shanghai is to go to the Shanghai City Zoo. We’ve already been three times. The admission price is very reasonable and the zoo is a giant green park with lots of space for the kids to run and play. There’s even an amusement park, although our attempts to go on a ride “up high” to celebrate Ascension Day were a bit of a bust due to panicking children.

It’s hard to say what the kids’ favourite part is. The usually like to run to the aquarium and reptile area, because they recognize some of the fish from Finding Nemo and enjoy the good creepy thrill of seeing crocodiles and deadly snakes up close. 

Emily really enjoys the monkeys but Walter views them as competition. Last time we took them he very pointedly ignored the monkeys and was heard to say “I can run and climb better than a monkey so I don’t understand why everyone is watching them”. He mostly stumped about, scowling fiercely & swinging a stick. Meanwhile Emily and one of the orangutans shared a special time of bonding of their shared sense of humour, laughing at Emily’s capers. 

The bear area is, of course, one family favourite. The zoo has pandas and both children adore them, although I prefer the smaller red pandas to the giant ones. When we feel homesick we cheer up with a peep at the Grizzly, brown, and black bears. The bears stay true to insolent form and we always get a laugh from seeing their blatant disregard for good public manners, although it does sadden me to see these great beasts penned up. Funny that I do not share the same sentiments for the lions and tigers…I suppose it is a reaction to what you’ve seen free and wild.

We always pack a picnic lunch as there are tonnes of nooks & crannies in which to sit down and eat, either by various animals or just overlooking some of the water features or meadows. There is even a bit of a goat farm where you can feed veggies to the goats or play on the playground – a great space to get the wiggles out prior to the long trip back home. And, of course, no visit to the zoo is considered successful unless the small ones get an ice cream.

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