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Oriental Pearl Tower

Another check on the Shanghai bucket list, the Oriental Pearl Tower. After a quick bank trip in the famous skyline district of Lujiazui we elected to tour the magnificent Pearl Tower. Once again, we discovered that most tourists were not present in the afternoon. There was essentially no lines and we were able to go straight up to the top. It was a cloudy day but you could see across the skyline, at least until we got up to the top. The real surprise turned out to be inside the top sphere, there was a glass floor all the way around looking down on the minuscule cars, boats, people and streets. Additionally we were able to see out at some of the other spectacular skyscrapers within the city.

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Ni hao Shanghai

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Lujiazui

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Looking for boats

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Team selfie on the floor

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Looking straight down at the Pearl Tower

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Rolling around and laughing on the glass floor

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China Art Museum

Well it took nearly three years for us to do, but on one of our final days in Shanghai we spent an afternoon at the China Art Museum. We met three friends and their children to spend a day observing the art within this iconic structure. For those still remaining in Shanghai, we’d highly recommend a visit. The museum is easy to access, located immediately off the metro stop (similarly named), has a free admission, is air conditioned quite well, has a Starbucks inside, and if you go in the afternoon almost all the other visitors and tourists are gone. Overall, it was a pleasant experience and we enjoyed art depicting Shanghai and other regions of China.

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A view of the iconic China Art Museum from across the street.

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An empty entrance hall on a hot afternoon.

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Group picture.

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Ice cream break inside the China Art Museum.

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One last look from the exit.

 

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Shanghai Photo Shoot

Prior to departing Shanghai, we spent a gorgeous Saturday roaming around our neighborhood having ourselves photographed by Maja Kelly. The purpose of our photo session was to capture some parting highlights of our time in Shanghai, as well as commemorate our first year as a family of three. There were so many great pictures to choose from, so below we’ve only included a handful of our favorites (roughly 15% of all photos). You can see more pictures from our afternoon with Maja on her blog post, Team Timo.

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Shanghai Disney

Fortunately one of the last things we had an opportunity to do prior to departing Shanghai was attending the opening of Shanghai Disney. The park is an amazing place. It sits on more than 900 acres of land, has a distinctly new attractions along with some familiar rides and is home to the tallest and most interactive castle ever built by Disney.

We took advantage of one of our final afternoons to go see what all the hype was about. While T is too small to board many of the rides we did have a lot of fun exploring this sparkling new amusement park and meeting a number of popular characters. Highlights of our experience pictured below.

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Welcomed to Shanghai Disney!

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Family shot with the castle.

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Taking in the gigantic castle.

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Meeting the mouse, Mickey Mouse.

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Mickey and the fam.

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Saluting with the captain.

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Watching the parade from a shoulder seat view.

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A friendly dog T was not afraid to meet or pet, hello Pluto!

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Chocolate ice cream on a humid afternoon.

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Trying out the Mickey ears.

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Changfeng Park

Recently we spent an afternoon in Putuo District, wondering around Changfeng Park. It’s a huge park full of a variety of activities, boating, dancing, games, singing and other recreational activities.

Like so many parks in Shanghai, it’s full of cultural experiences and lively in pleasant way.

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T entering one of the many gardens.

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Taking a break with a sleeping elephant.

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Working out the core.

Changfeng Park happened to be the second park that we’ve come across where you can rent a boat. However, this particular park had a much bigger body of water and a variety of different paddle and electric boats. We opted not to charter one this particular trip but T did enjoy seeing them cruising along.

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Watching the boats.

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People enjoying the sights while playing cards and singing.

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Dancing.

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Running up and down the various bridges.

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Quiet inlet within the park.

In addition to the wonderful sights of the park, we have also started to appreciate T’s ability to jump in and assert himself among other children.

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Chasing bubbles with some other children.

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A surprise play space, this quickly turned into the highlight of the visit for T.

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A look at the water in Changfeng Park.

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Field Trip: Blueberries

Last week T’s class went on a field trip, B was fortunate enough to tag along. The class set off to visit a Blueberry farm on the outskirts of Shanghai. It was a hot and humid day to begin with, but the inside of the greenhouses reminded everyone just how hot it could be. T picked blueberries that he could eat and later his class made the three Js (jam, jelly and juice).

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T excited to ride the bus.

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Snack time upon arrival (pre manual labor).

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Ready to start with the essentials for picking blueberries, hat to protect him from the sun, boots for the wet mud and a cup for only the best blueberries.

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T demonstrating his gentle approach.

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He was a selective farmer.

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Placing a single blueberry in his cup (so selfless never took more than one at a time).

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The ridiculously scorching hot greenhouse.

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T and a classmate joyfully gathering blueberries.

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Of course what fun is it to pick blueberries if you can’t eat them.

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Class shot before getting on the hot bus.

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Guyi Garden Park

Yes, it’s ok to wonder why the title of the post refers to a park and the featured picture is a giant pile of dumplings, there’s a perfectly good explanation.

Ten stops north of Jiangsu Station on Line 11, where the Shanghai Metro first surfaces above ground, you will find Nanxiang Station. From the mall surrounding the metro you are just a short ten minute walk from a hidden treasure, Guyi Garden Park. It’s a bit of a trek from most neighborhoods in Shanghai but well worth the trip. Suggestion, go on an empty stomach.

The park is enclosed by nature and some man made cement walls preventing outsiders from really appreciating the beauty inside, but once you enter it is quite a spectacle.

Unable to read Mandarin we couldn’t quite figure out the significance of this first sight, but upon entering Guyi Garden the first display was an old car covered in flowers, parked in front of a traditional Chinese stone wall.

 

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This was the first, and last, thing out of place in the park. 

Once we rounded the corner the park opened up to a series of attractions from ponds, Bonsai trees, little waterfalls, zig zag bridges, stairs, caves, rock structures and plenty of ancient architecture.

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T taking in the sites of Guyi Park, he fell asleep before we arrived.

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As is common in most Shanghai parks, people were there to relax, eat, dance, exercise and take in the sites and sounds of the park. Of course, no trip to the park these days is complete without the chance to finish on a playground.

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However, this particular park had one special attraction. Being so far out from the city center it was impressive to see how many people ventured to Guyi Garden. Though the little secret is out, people travel out here for the food. At the far end of the park is the Guyi Garden Restaurant. They serve a famous version of the Shanghai specialty, xiaolongbao, Chinese soup dumplings. Following our stroll through the park we stopped for lunch and conquered numerous pork dumplings before returning home.

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Patrons sit at family style seating arrangements in the dining hall at Guyi Garden Restaurant.

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Additional seating is available out back. 30 RMB gets you 16 pork dumplings. 

The Adventure Continues

Life itself is a never-ending adventure. As much as we plan we never really know what will come next or how our lives will change. Every once in a while though, we actively decide to change things up and try something new. Three years ago we took the chance and accepted jobs in Shanghai. The past three years have been filled with many challenges, unbelievable joy and more small precious moments than we can count. We experienced so many firsts, traveled to seven new countries (taking multiple trips to a few and revisiting others we had been to before living abroad), and learned a lot about ourselves. Beyond all that, the size of our family grew too, with an addition last June.

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Down on the Bund during our first October in Shanghai

In June we will be saying goodbye to a city we have come to love. We will miss many things about Shanghai. It is a vibrant city that continues to surprise us with its combination of older traditions and international glitz.

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Little man pointing out at his favorite skyscraper in Shanghai, the Pearl Tower

Our next stop will be. . .

Beijing!

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A visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing during Christmas 2014

We are excited to extend our stay in China and move to a new city. T will get the opportunity to learn Mandarin in another place where it is used every day, and we will get to deeper our understanding of Chinese culture and improve our language skills. We are looking forward to all the new challenges and joys that are ahead of us. It will be hard to say goodbye to Shanghai, but luckily we will be just a short plane or high speed train ride away. Oh, and in other good news if you haven’t had the chance to visit us in China there is still time!

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Climbing a forbidden section of the Great Wall outside of Beijing

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Langkawi (Part II)

In addition to sitting on the beach at Cenang and playing in the pool, we also took a couple of excursions during our stay on Langkawi Island, Malaysia.

We took an afternoon to visit the island’s largest tourist attraction, Sky Bridge. A short taxi ride from our resort was the base of Sky Bridge. After two thrilling cable car rides to the top you can access the single suspension bridge and walk across. It includes a couple of glass panels that you can look down through. We went late afternoon so it wasn’t too busy, but it was plenty hot. Even on a somewhat hazy day the view is still breathtaking.

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A view from atop the Sky Bridge in Langkawi. This angle doesn’t do justice to the distance below the bridge but does offer a good look at the single suspension walking bridge.

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Family fun on a hot afternoon of sightseeing.

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Walking the bridge. He’s screaming to be funny but looks like he’s crying.

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A the top of the cable car ride to Langkawi’s Sky Bridge.

Separately we spent a day at both Tengkorak and Tanjung Rhu beaches. These two beaches were located on the other side of the island from our resort but only about 30 minutes away. We went during the morning on a week day and both beaches were relatively vacant, leaving blue water and soft sand to ourselves.

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A perfect example of being left alone on what has become the standard looking cloudy day during our last two vacations.

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T and the tire swing at Tengkorak Beach.

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The crowd (T and A) at Tanjung Rhu Beach.

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Nap time.

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Destroying castles while getting in some exercise at Tanjung Rhu Beach.

After contemplating the idea most of the week we decided to rent a jet ski on our last day. We were not sure how well T would do for a three hour tour so we elected to just rent it for an hour and cruise around freely at our own discretion. Turns out, we should have done it earlier. T called the jet ski a “boat”, loved wearing his “jacket” (life vest), watching for bubbles and though his face didn’t project the same level of enjoyment every time we paused he would shout out, “one more!”

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Riding three man on the jet ski.

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Why have we stopped? One more!

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Boat!

We also visited Kuah, the port city of Longkawi. While it didn’t have too much to do, it did have one giant statue that welcomed all ferries and boats to the island. T came to enjoy this attraction, a large and colorful eagle.

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Eagle! T spreading his wings.

 

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Langkawi, Malaysia (Part I)

Last week we celebrated spring break, which for us in Shanghai actually surrounds the Chinese national holiday, Tomb Sweeping. Our last chance to take in some R&R before the summer we elected to travel to the small Malaysian island of Langkawi. We were fortunate enough to stay at a great resort right on the beach in Cenang. Turns out it was low season for tourism so we often had plenty of space at the pool and a beach seemingly to ourselves. T enjoyed the slides, the kiddie pool and playing in the sand.

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Close proximity to the airport allowed for entertaining flights to captivate T’s attention

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T and A watching the sunset from our beach

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Dinner at the beach

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White sand, blue water, blue skies and a cap =)

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Playing in the sand as the sunsets

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Family selfie

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Finding seashells

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Making friends at the pool with a local Monitor Lizard 

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Just checking the status of the bubbles

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T first to the beach

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Family shot

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A swimming in the Andaman Sea

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Playing ball in the sea and gaining confidence about playing in the water

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The smile you make after convincing your parents to stay at the pool

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Confident and comfortable 

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Racing on the dual slides

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Preparing for the big splash

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Enjoying the water zone component of the resort

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Final sunset of our vacation