Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finally, setting up

We arrived in Boston on the evening of June 29, 2010 and I attended my first summer school class (with undergrads!) at Boston University on June 30. We bought our car and a bed on June 30 and moved into our apartment on July 1, when our bed arrived. We had ordered large furniture through the internet back in Hong Kong and these arrived within the first two weeks. Thankfully, Janey visited the first weekend we arrived and we had the luxury of her car to make a couple of runs to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy our dishes, iron, vacuum cleaner, lamps, clothes hangers... everything. So, thankfully, within about two weeks, we were efficiently set up! Of course, so we could focus on our summer school studies, ha.

Anyway, I was quite relieved. It was emotionally and psychologically comforting to feel like we had settled down somewhere for longer than a temporary sojourn. After we got married at the end of February, we moved into a 400 sq. service apartment, and then moved into a 550 sq. ft. service apartment, and then went to Toronto, Boston, back to Hong Kong, then Dalian (upon which we vacated our serviced apartment), four days in a hotel in Hong Kong, before leaving for Boston. I felt like I was living out of a suitcase for a good 3 months. So thankfully, finally, it was exciting to build our own home in this exciting new and extremely pleasant environment in Cambridge. The culture of Harvard Yard and Harvard Square is about a 10 minute walk away.

Of course, I'm writing this post as we are preparing to move again -- our lease will be up in 3 months and it is too expensive to stay here in this apartment with *wonderful* service. Alas.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, June 11, 2010

[I backdate posts for easy reference; I'll say I'm about 9 months behind to me feel a little bit better -- I've been terrible.]

June 2010 - Dalian, Liaoning Province, China

Is this Canada? Or is this China?

David and I spent two weeks in Dalian, a rarely visited city in Northeast China. Considering the enormous tourism industry in China, especially marketed to Hong Kong people (really cheap sightseeing), Dalian is considered completely untouched. No other Hong Kong tourists? It was great. Notice the clear blue sky in the pictures -- I'm pretty sure nothing was shot into the sky to make this effect. The weather and environment was fantastic here, one of the relatively unscathed cities in China.

David and I came here to take some mandarin lessons and to take a look at this city. Unlike the typical historic cities like Beijing or Xian, Dalian is relatively young but unlike other young cities like Shenzhen that purely grew in the past 20 years, Dalian has significant Japanese and Russian influence, which came out in the architecture. Read the Wiki page for a short summary; the history is quite fascinating. In addition, unlike Shenzhen, Dalian has pretty good city planning - evidenced by the wonderful tree-lined roads -- quite magnificent for China, I think.

It is called the "city of squares" -- as in those squares you'd find in Boston or London -- they're actually circles. The city is clustered around a number of major roundabouts, and instead of an ugly concrete structure in the middle, there is often a lot of green grass. Dalian has the most amount of green that I've seen in any Chinese city. There are a lot of *well-kept* parks, including the massive People's Square (this site is a 360 degree view of the park; unfortunately we don't have any good pictures of it.). The bottom pictures is with our lao shi in the also massive and new Xinghai square. The structure behind us is only one half of a "gigantic book" structure (imagine that we were facing the other half of the gigantic book laid out on the ground), to commemorate the city's 100 birthday as well as the return of Hong Kong in 1997. For a Chinese city, I still can't get over how clean it was.

But of course, this is still China, so there were sites of the following around the city -- a old and demolished stadium, but not yet cleaned up. I wonder how long it was lying there. It's scary -- it looks like an earthquake hit the city, but think it was just knocked down because a new stadium was built across the street in the massive Olympic Park. Overall, I'd highly recommend going to Dalian. There are also many side trips to scenic areas to take a look, which we unfortunately were unable to do. And if you ever want a mandarin tutor, we can recommend one that is decent and not that expensive!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.