Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stephen Skokos - Shanghai, China

Stephen Skokos is a junior in Economics at the U of U. He participated in a Hinckley Institute of Politics internship in Shanghai, China during the summer of 2010.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountains)
Huangshan was amazing. Pictures can not even touch how incredible it was!
We climbed well over 6,000 stairs, got up super early, ate PB J's for practically every meal and stood in lines (yes stood in line to continue hiking) hehe! It truly was a unique and marvelous adventure.The best part was that we were in good company.. Taylor and Jodi came, along with some lone rangers.. Tim and Frank from Taylor's internship.We were quite the sight, we definitely had many stares and smiles.

We got up at 4:30 am to see the sun rise. We were afraid that we would not be able to see it because of the clouds..However, the wind was on our side and blew the clouds giving us enough time to enjoy the incredible view.

We were amongst the clouds for most of the trip which just made everything more mysterious and fabulous. The white line on the side of the mountain is a mass of hikers. There was no escaping them...I do not know what I was expecting, I mean we were still in China. :)

Hands down my favorite thing that I have seen in China. It was mind blowing, majestic, incredibly beautiful and exhausting in every way... I couldn't ask for anything more.

This past Saturday we decided to go to Century park. A cool public park over on the Pudong side of Shanghai (all that really means is that its on the East side of the river that runs through Shanghai....)

Any who, now that I got that out... We went there and rented these interesting bikes... The guys saw the awesome 3 man tandem bike and got excited and of course the girls wanted something high tech and fancy so we ended up getting them this ghetto buggy...

So we headed off on our adventure... I was manning the steering wheel and what a ride... I had my two co- pilots leaning the opposite direction of me the whole time trying to make us crash... what do they care they're not at the front so they wont hit the tree, bush, or small Chinese child... From the very beginning though, we had a bad feeling about the mechanical integrity of the bike...

So after leaving the girls behind in our dust we rounded a corner and heard a loud pop and quickly came to a stop... apparently this bike wasn'tdesigned with the weight of threeAmerican males in mind... So we had to hijack the girls ghetto buggy and drive back with the bike on the luggage rack... funny thing the lady running the shop wasn't even phased by it... I'm guessing she has had this happen before...

After we returned to our women triumphantly with a brand new bike they told us they wanted to switch and of course being the gentlemen we are we told them that would be fine... that's when we realized we had been tricked... The ghetto buggy was not as fun as the bike... it was actually a lot harder to peddle... The girls shot off not to be seen again. ( we found out later they made sure to stay far enough away so that we couldn't ask them to switch back... good thing Deborah is so cute! ) Even though the ghetto buggy wasn't as fast or nimble as the bike it was sturdy... so we decided to see if it could handle stairs... it did, quite well in fact! So we played chicken with a couple of people, road down some stairs, chased some bubbles, and even stopped for a few pictures on what developed to be a very romantic man date...

So after we returned the ghetto buggy and the girls finally showed up from theiradventure we decided to share with them a little oasis we had discovered while cruising through the park... It was an awesome water fountain thing that was blasting water just like ol' faithful! It had everything we could ask for! Water, slippery tile that we could run and slide on your stomach like a penguin, little naked Chinese kids running around! What a great find! One of the best parts was watching a old man take his little grandson who had just destroyed his diaper and he decided that the fountains would make a great bidet! It looked more like a super enema but either way I think that kid was clean when it was all said and done... gotta love China :)

We felt like the day was a complete success! Now of course when you have three adult men acting like 5 year olds something is bound to happen... the secret was staying on the black tile... they were slippery... the concrete next to it... not slippery... So we all ended with a few cuts and scrapes... Taylor Sparks the hairy Yettie on the left took one for the team... I suggested that he slide through my legs like a penguin and between focusing on not hitting a kid, water blasting him in the face, and trying to knock me down once he was through my legs he forgot one thing... focusing on his landing...

Taylor took one on the chin... it was a pretty deep cut... It was all fun and games until someone had to get hurt... It was deep! I think you could have fit a quarter inside it! OK... itwasn't that deep but it was intense nonetheless. So we ended up walking to a Chinese grocery store and buying super glue... We went to the nasty bathroom inside the store and played operation on Taylor's face. It went well until Taylor pressed a paper towel to his face that got stuck and then couldn't pull it off...

Long story short the next 3 hours were dedicated to carefully shaving his mangy beard, using tweezers to pull out the hardened glue and flesh, and checking wikipedia on how to perform surgery with super glue... the second attempt was much better!

After that intense surgery we ordered munchies again and watched a movie... This truly was a great Saturday in Shanghai. Only three more weeks and then we are back in the good ol' US of A!

A day in Shanghai

Bikes are just about everywhere here. Most have a basket for food, purses, sometimes even toddlers.. Really!!. They do not need to be fancy, just functional..

Deborah and I were searching for some ground beef.. They did not have ground beef.. however, they did have a different "luxury". (pig feet, nails and all)

The building on the right, floor 6, is our place of residence. I am snapping the shot on the overpass bridge on my way to the super market.
This is our local super market, there is a magazine stand in front of it and lucky for you guys... you also get to see the delivery truck!. This market is about a block from our house. It does not have everything we need but it does have the essentials (such as peanut butter and rice).

I hear that if you are a good photographer, people should be able to smell and feel the atmosphere from your photo. Be glad that I am not.. it did not smell so pleasant. :) That being said, it was a really great atmosphere.

In the same alley, were these 3 men reading and kicking the breeze. I absolutely loved it and had to document it. :)


Tuesday night we took the night train to Beijing. That was quite the experience, we slept on bunk beds and shared the room with two other people. We got the top bunks, not because we called dibs on them or that we got there first.. we paid less money for our tickets so we therefore got the "lower class" top bunk beds.

We basically saw everything that could be seen in a 4 day period, we saw the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square, the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven and went down the street with the random skewed meats.

The weather worked out perfect for us, it was raining the day we went to the Forbidden City so we actually walked around rather than being herded around like sheep. :) We later learned that there are 9,999 and half rooms in the Forbidden City!. I think that Deborah and I went into 5 of them... In our defense, it is a huge city and all the rooms look a lot a like.


The Great Wall was amazing! It was an overcast day, so it was mysterious and a even more majestic. It was quite the climb, I don't really know what I was expecting but Deb and I got quite the work out for our glute's, calves and quads. We had a beautiful view and once again it was not crowded so it was a special experience for us.

One of our favorite parts was the luge ride on the way down! haha truly though, it was pretty fun :)

Deborah and I might come back a little more conceited.. We seem to be quite the popular ones here. We have become a new, must see, tourist spot. We get a lot of stares and sometimes even get stopped for a quick photo op. We have become good at striking our poises, putting our arms around someone and the other hand up with fingers doing the peace sign... gets em every time :)

We really enjoyed our Beijing adventure, however, we are both so happy to be back "home" in Shanghai!

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