Return to the Museum

Saturday we returned to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, bracing for the same thick crowds we encountered the week before when we came with our friends Zhenmei, Bin, and Oliver. Probably half the number people were there as compared to the week before. This meant we didn’t always have to push and shove our way through to see the exhibits.

There had been some kind of event held on the plaza in front of the museum having to do with delivering “harmonious energy.” I assume this came from the Chinese electric companies.

With two healthy kids, we raced through the Animal Kingdoms, then saw the exhibit on spiders, followed by robots. One exhibit that attracted a lot of attention featured a robot solving a cube that looked and operated just like a Rubik’s cube but was not an actual Rubik’s cube.

Another popular exhibit demonstrated voice recognition by displaying an animated scene in which a dog responded to your commands. A nice museum volunteer switched the input to English so that Henry and Meredith could try. But the dog almost never did what it was supposed to do because at least eight or nine children were shouting commands at the same time while trying to take the microphone away from whomever was holding it. It was a loud chaotic exhibit.

We ate a late lunch at the cafeteria. Even it was half-empty, whereas the week before it was beyond full with nowhere to sit. The kids ate French fries, with Meredith also eating some white rice and Henry some popcorn. Yeah, the kids are really into adventurous eating….My wife and I suspect they refuse to try new foods as a way to define themselves wholly different from us, who love all kinds of food.

Stephanie ate something from the cafeteria that we’re still not sure what it was. We called it Mystery Meat because it resembled beef in color but not necessarily in taste and most definitely not in texture. The latter could be described as glutinous soft. She had ordered it thinking it was beef. She liked it, but the texture still threw her off because it was far from what she had expected.

This kind of thing is not unusual for us these days. My wife has on occasion asked me what it was I’d brought home from some restaurant and I’ll say, “some kind of pork thing.” My Chinese menu reading skills are still lacking. In general, we’ve eaten very well, but there are always those times when we get something and we don’t like it because it’s not good or it’s simply not to our taste, or we like it and we’re not even sure what it is.

One app on my Android phone that has helped immensely with this (and learning Mandarin) is Hanping Pro. You can type in English words or Pinyin and it will give you a translation. You can even draw Chinese characters and it will give you the definition of the character. It’s been a very useful app.

After lunch we saw the Earth Science and Space exhibits. Henry wanted to ride one of the exhibits, one that simulated the effects of hypergravity, but he was under the height requirement for the ride. He was pretty disappointed. But we saw lots of rockets.

In case you haven’t noticed, we really like this museum. It’s huge and has a lot of things for kids (large and small) to see and do. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went back there at least one more time before we leave Shanghai.

We left the museum in the late afternoon, later than we had expected, already tired, knowing we needed to get back to the hotel to rest up and rise early for our big day trip to Hangzhou on Sunday.

Chinese Paparazzi Count: 3


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