Stir Crazy in Shanghai

Entertaining sick kids is hard. It’s even harder when you’re in a Shanghai hotel that doesn’t have a single English language station and you only brought a handful of DVDs for the portable DVD player and several small toys. The kids have found a Chinese TV show that we found out is called The Monkey King. They can’t understand the words but they can understand the action, and the moods thanks to the exaggerated-acting.

(There is one non-Chinese station. It’s Spanish. From Cuba. The last two Communist powers are sticking together in Broadcast Solidarity.)

First Henry caught some kind of virus and he ran a fever for a few days. When he was feeling better, on Tuesday, we took a short trip down to the Bund. As always it was hot and the kids wanted to be in some shade after the walk from the Nanjing Dong Lu subway stop to the Bund. Though they were excited for a view of the Oriental Pearl Tower. They REALLY like the Pearl Tower, especially at night when it lights up and they can see it from our hotel room.

Chinese Paparazzi Count: 11

We sat under some trees and they snacked on Oreo cookies and drank some water. It was then that a large group of Chinese tourists, led by a microphone headset-wearing guide who was talking nonstop, waddled up. The Chinese tourists immediately began chattering and taking pictures of Henry and Meredith.

“Come, look! It’s not often you get to see white children out in public here in China! Here on the Bund, many white tourists with their white children like to walk and look at the magnificent skyline on both sides of the river. You can take some pictures and then we’ll move on.”

I told the kids to help me keep track of how many people took their picture because I was going to include it in the blog. The kids tolerated the attention pretty well. They were the only white children there. When they were done with their snack we walked up the steps to the promenade along the river to take in the view and take some pictures.

Before we had left for the Bund I had discovered that the Auto-focus feature on the lens of our Canon camera had stopped working. #$*&^@!

I took about a dozen pictures of the view from up, down, and across the Huangpu river, using the Manual Focus. As someone who is not a professional photographer and who is not adept at focusing a camera, the results were a collection of pictures slightly sharper than a Monet canvas but with none of the artistry of a Monet. One of the few pictures to come out halfway decent was this one:

Which made this short excursion worth it.

The next morning, Meredith woke up with a fever, saying she felt “wobbly.” This kept us in the hotel room all day yesterday. The kids watched almost all the movies we brought with us on the DVD player. I kept busy updated the blog, researching electronics stores in order to buy a replacement lens, and learning some more Chinese characters. For the latter, I’ve decided to focus on things that are on restaurant menus. I don’t have any illusions about becoming fluent in Mandarin or in reading the entire collection of Chinese characters. Our Chinese friends told us they spend six+ years learning the characters in school. Reading a menu can come in handy on a daily basis, since we have to eat out for almost all of our meals.

Last night Meredith woke us up at about 3am, crying. Her fever had come back in the night and she was very uncomfortable. We gave her some ibuprofen and soothed her back to sleep. This morning she said she still felt “wobbly.” So it’s another day inside.

We’re all a bit bored, confined to the hotel room for yet another day while my wife teaches her classes. We’re frustrated, too. Out our windows we can see this giant city full of so many things to see and do, and yet we can’t see or do any of them.

But we’re hoping this cold/virus follows the same pattern as Henry’s: two days of fever followed by one day of tiredness and then gone. I’m glad we’re here for an extended stay instead of say a one week visit. Otherwise, we really would be missing out. We’re lucky; we still have plenty of time to explore.

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