Monday, October 13, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

"Methinks I see the sky over yonder!"

Yes, this Sunday there was indeed clear, blue sky. It even had puffy white clouds! I cannot even describe what these rare days do for me!

I always knew I was a big weather person. I mean, I used to watch the Weather Channel for
entertainment. "Whoa look at that radar! The red part is heading straight towards us!" Not only that, but I talk about the weather, not because of small talk scenarios, but because I actually like to talk about sunshine and rain and temperature drops of 30 degrees at a time. I also remember the weather. As in, my Junior year of college, the first weekend of November was in the 70s, while the next weekend was down in the 30s.

I am a bit weird, I know.

So anyway, for a girl who used to take walks, not for health but for
sunsets, I am delighted at lovely weather. This is doubly true now that I live in a city known for smog. Ugh. Smog. How I hate thee.

I have recently let a few beautiful days slip by unappreciated, so this time I was determined to get outside. So I convinced David that we should check out Century Park, which is on the other side of the river. It's supposed to be pretty big, comparable to Central Park in scale, although it's pretty new and therefore more man-made feeling. (Get it? Central Park/Century Park? Designer bags aren't the only things the Chinese copy!)

So we rode our bikes to the subway station south of our house and took the 4 line over to Pudong and then switched to 2. Line 2 goes straight to the park, so it's really easy. There were many food vendors outside and we were hungry, so we tried it out. We bought some corn on the cob, which was edible, but not even close to Ohio corn. Plus, it needed butter! Then we bought some skewers of meat from one of many guys selling such things. We had it once before with a Chinese friend of ours after some beers one night and it was pretty tasty. This time, well, not so much.

"It's all fat!" David declared as he slid a second piece off the skewer with his teeth. I remembered that the mutton we had the last time was pretty fatty, but he was right. It was almost exclusively fat. "Aw man," he said, scrunching his nose, "I'm not eating this!" I nibbled, tempted only by the spices to search for bits of meat, but gave up quickly. It was indeed pretty disgusting.

David and I have developed a new phrase that we now use quite frequently: "Brace yourself for disappointment!"

A few examples:
"They have pizza!"

"Brace yourself for disappointment!"
"Are those brownies? They look a lot like brownies..."
"Brace yourself for disappointment!"
"Is that a real live..."
"Brace yourself..."
You get the idea. It just keeps our expectations low enough so as not to be crushed when the truth is revealed. Adding punchlines is essential to survival in this world.

So we threw the fat skewers away, neglected to try Chinese cotton candy and went into the park. I enjoyed it all thoroughly just because it was gorgeous outside and I could actually see the sky! Pudong is more spaced out than our side of the river, with wider streets and fewer trees. While I really like the charm of our neighborhood, it is still nice to get out in the "open" such as it is, once in a while. There were trees and my goodness, stretches of grass! A lack of benches was disappointing, but there were a great number of multiple person bikes and bike cars rolling about and I daresay I saw some Chinese people actually having fun! But for me, the best part, or at least the most endearing, was the occasional small tent set up amongst some wooded spots throughout the park, sometimes complete with a pair of feet sticking out. It struck me that this was the closest thing that most of these folks will ever get to camping. So sad. I think a campfire with s'mores would blow their minds.

David and I had the blandest Chinese food ever for a late lunch, complete with a strange pile of pink discs. I think they were rice based and fried. I think.

Then we enjoyed a stroll by the "lake" complete with a washed out sunset and loads of the slowest boats you could possibly find, all filled with Chinese folks in bright (and I mean bright) orange vests. They looked like stranded rubber ducks in a huge pond.

We only saw half the park before the evening got too dark to see anything more. David said he liked other parks in this city better, citing better layouts, etc. (Oh, engineers!) But for me it didn't matter much. It was green space without too many people where I could almost believe that I could smell fall in the air. True, my vivid images of a lush natural wonderland are a bit diminished now, but oh well. This is China after all. I mean, what were you expecting, really?

I had braced myself, but this time, I didn't find it disappointing at all.


  1. Hey Sarah,

    Hope you are well. Enjoy your writing style, but the English teacher in me had to point out that it is "fewer trees."

    Take care,


  2. Thanks Kevin. Boy, I tell ya the pressure to present perfect English given the fact that I am friends with so many smart people, and not only that, a great number of English majors, is intense! But at least I have awesome editors to keep me on the right path to grammar nirvana. ;)