Paris, France

Ahhh….Paris. Love the city!! Lots of history to see during the day. And at night, it’s pure romance. As the lights come on, the city comes alive.

We love to walk….anytime, anywhere. And to truly experience a city, is to walk for miles, to do as the natives do…and to observe and to leave no rock unturned. That’s exactly what we did while in Paris.

We walked from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower and back, down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre and then back to the Arc de Triumphe…all in one day….and multiple times during the week that we were there. Loved every bit of it!!!!

We’d wake up to a French baguette and swiss cheese sandwich every morning. The bread is ohhhh soooo delicious…..crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. And the cheese…..sooooo smooth and creamy, unlike the cheese that we have in the US. It’s the best….and we looked forward to it every morning before our walking marathon!!!

The Eiffel Tower was amazing. Since we’d never done it before, we decided to walk up the many stairs to the top, resting a few times along the way to catch our breath. It was a beautiful spring day in Paris…not too cold…perfect climbing weather. By the time that we got to the top, our legs felt like rubber, so much so that we decided not to walk down as well. While going up gives you a great cardio workout, going down is much more difficult, especially if your legs have been compromised from the hike up. While at the top, we took in the views of the city down below, and in the distance, we saw Sacre Coeur sitting high atop Montmatre.

Our next venture was to the Louvre, where we saw the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory, among the most famous works of art. We also took in the Mesopotamia exhibit, with King Tut as one of the features. The museum was huge….and it took us a great while to get through it all. The Louvre itself is very beautiful — an interesting mix of old world and modern conveniences. I love the architecture!!

We walked along the Champs Elysees…great shopping street with a lot of good cafes…To rest our tired feet, we stopped at the cafes, ate some macaroons and relaxed and watched the many passersby…apparently a favorite French past time.

We visited the Notre Dame and took a lot of pictures of the beautiful stained glass within. The colors were amazing….red, blue, green, pink, purple. As the lights hit the stained glass, it was awesome. The Notre Dame architecture is amazing in and of itself. It’s beautiful during the day, but at night, its equally or more beautiful. It has somewhat of a mysterious glow, which makes it all the more interesting. Near the Notre Dame is the Sorbonne. Although the gates were locked and we weren’t able to go in, we found the buildings to be quite impressive. It was there that a lion almost bit my head off 🙂

We heard so much about the Moulin Rouge, so much so that we had to see it! As we approached the theatre, we were a bit disappointed. After all the hoopla, it was much ado about nothing. It appeared to be located in a seemingly red light district, of sort. I’m not sure that I’d be caught there at night for more reasons than one. We walked up Montmatre, a nearby hill, and visited the Sacre Coeur. The church itself was beautiful — a white ghostly structure that we saw from the Eiffel Tower.

In my opinion, some of the best museums are those that are small and that focus on one artist only. I love the Picasso and Rodin museums. In my opinion, these are ‘must sees’ while in Paris. The Rodin garden is awesome! The Picasso museum is nothing short of amazing. There were very unique pieces of art that can only be seen in the museum there…..nothing like it elsewhere. I’ve been to each of these museum twice in my life…and I don’t think that I’d ever tire of them…..I’d go there a third and fourth time, easily!

We walked along the Seine, which separates the Left Bank from the Right Bank. It’s just amazingly beautiful. Along the Seine is a lot of historical sites, including the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.

Speaking of romance, walking the city at night says it all. The lights are beautiful. It’s mesmerizing to watch the lights on the Eiffel Tower sparkle and glisten. The lights at the Louvre are very beautiful as well, with the pyramid being the focal point. The Place de la Concorde is also very beautiful at night, against the purple Parisian skies. And the Notre Dame, it’s simply amazing at night. Pictures can’t possibly tell the story…to experience it, is to see it in person!!

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Xian, China

We took a weekend off and flew from Shanghai to Xian, the primary purpose of which was to see the Terracotta Warriors. On arrival, we joined a tour that would take us to the site of the museum, which is approximately two hours from the city centre. Driving out to the site, we noticed still, a lot of coal burning, which unfortunately adds to the low air quality, which is especially bad in certain parts of China.

The site of the terracotta warriors consists of three buildings, two of which contain the ruins of the terracotta warriors and the third consists of a movie theatre and souvenir shop, where for a small price (a few thousand dollars), you can own a statue of your own, with your own face gracing the top. Since we didn’t want the mirror to crack, we decided to pass on ordering this life-sized souvenir.

As we walked through the first building where the terracotta soldiers were kept, it was amazing. Hundreds, if not a thousand soldiers had been unearthed and pieced together to its original state. Each of the clay statues had a unique facial expression and each represented a certain soldier that fought during the Tang dynasty. The detail was unbelievable and the craftsmanship unparalleled. In addition, the statues of the horses were amazingly lifelike, and with our mouths agape, we marveled at it all.

The process of unearthing these soldiers is a feat in and of itself. In the second of the three buildings, they were in the process of unearthing more of these soldiers. In looking at the remains that had already been surfaced, there were a lot of small broken pieces that would eventually be put back into a standing soldier. How they would be able to fit the puzzle back together is truly amazing.

Through their excavations, they were actually able to unearth one of the soldiers completely in tact. After all these years, it’s truly remarkable. There were a couple others that were also close to being completely in tact. We were able to see those at close range — and it was very special….

As we were leaving the terracotta museum, we challenged one of our friends that we met on tour, to pose as a terracotta warrior. The picture was awesome!! He fit the character perfectly. We left there satisfied, having fulfilled our desires…..

The next stop, however, was interesting as well. We went to the Le Mountains, where Chiang Kai Shek was in hiding and where he was eventually captured in his pajamas, after fleeing the communist party. It was a very beautiful area, with various bath houses and a temple high above.

Our final stop before having lunch was to a jade store. Of course, we were told that Xian’s jade was the best in China. Their jade was supposedly used in the Olympic medals. The jury is still out on whether the story is true or not. We were told that the jade was the best in every city in China, by different people — Shanghai, Beijing and Xian..and I’m sure a host of other cities as well… You be the judge….

Lunch consisted of a lot of different types of dumplings, all of them small and all with a different colored wrapping. These dumplings were unlike anything that I’ve tasted. They were much harder in texture and much drier. I’m not sure that I like these, having been exposed to the juicy jao tse and shalom bao.

The next day, we walked along the city wall. Though much of it is in its original state, many parts of the wall had been reconstructed. It was, nevertheless, impressive!

Ninghai and Ningbo, China

We went on a trip with Joseph’s colleagues to the town of Ninghai. To get there, we took a broken down bus to a dilapidated port, where we rode a boat, which in all due respect, was in shambles, to a deserted island, with buildings in disrepair. We then went to a village in Ninghai, which taught us a lesson in humility and was very unspoiled in many ways — no commercialization, just raw living standards.  In many villages outside of the major cities, the local Chinese have very little amenities — their clothes are washed in the same canal in which they fish and in which the drinking water comes from. The young wives, children and older parents live in the villages, while the able men live in the city and work. The villagers eat off the land in which they farm and sleep in one-room studios, with only a few necessities. It’s a very difficult situation.

We then checked into our hotel, which was not too far from the village. We laughed at the accommodations, as it was a one-star hotel, with a toilet that was barely useable. As we sat on the seat, it bit us! — there was a crack in the seat and depending on how you sat on it, it pinched you. Further, the flooring was uneven and if you weren’t careful and if you walked around the room late at night without any lights on, you ran the risk of falling. It was very funny…..

The next morning, we went to the Ningbo Water Preservation area and it was very serene and beautiful. We walked about a mile in and experienced the beauty of the area — crystal blue waters!! A big surprise, expecting that we’d see water full of silt and grime.

Even with the broken down items, it was a fun trip nevertheless.

Beijing, China

We took yet another sleeper train to Beijing from Shanghai. Upon arrival, we were fresh and ready to go, after a good night’s sleep on the train. As soon as we checked into our hotel at 8:00 a.m., we got ready for our tour that would begin at 8:30 a.m. Our first stop on the tour was to the Ming Tombs. Although it could have been very beautiful if it was better maintained, we felt as though they let it go into a state of disrepair. The views of the tiger mountain were quite pretty, as the air quality on the day that we visited the tombs was quite good. There were some traditional customs that we found both interesting and unique — for example, you must step over a certain threshold with your left foot first, or good luck will pass you by. The biggest disappointment with the Ming Tombs was that we couldn’t see any of the ruins. Apparently, those areas were closed to the public because the outside air would cause the ruins to deteriorate. Of course, that’s understandable — we wouldn’t want anything to happen to historical artifacts that would enable us to figure out why things are the way they are. The other ruins had not been unearthed and were beyond the boundaries of the Ming Tombs, so obviously those were not available to us as well.

Before going to the Great Wall, we stopped at a clinic, where they read our pulse and told us how healthy we were. They suggested different herbs that would help to improve our constitution, which were very expensive….hundreds of US dollars for a small supply of herbs. Needless to say, we walked out and decided to wait outside, while the others got their pulses read and purchased these herbs.

Immediately outside, there was a peasant woman who was standing next to two sitting camels. We asked her if I could possibly ride one of them. This was a unexpected treat, as I got a chance to ride a beautiful white camel. This kind-hearted peasant woman guided me on a ride through the fields that her family farmed. I loved the ride — and you could tell that the camel was very well taken care of….it was well-groomed….and most importantly, it didn’t smell, unlike what I’ve been told by others who have ridden them.

We noticed that every tour in China has a sales gimmick similar to what we experienced in Beijing with the herbs. In Xian, it was the ‘best jade’ is found here. In Beijing, it was the herbs and the ‘red jade’. In Chengdu, it was the ‘best jade’ again. Well, how can two different places claim to have the best jade? It’s all a ploy to get you to buy these items at exorbitant prices, the quality of which is questionable. As always, ‘buyer beware’.

We finally made it to the Great Wall at Badaling……and it was amazing. At the entrance, we were greeted by large pens of black bears, all hamming it up for a few apple slices that they were being fed. While they looked tame, you knew that they were ferocious as they jostled for positioning, wanting the apples for themselves. After passing through the black bear exhibit, we made our way to a tram which would take us half way up the mountains to the start of the trail going to the top of the Great Wall.

As we stepped out of the tram at the top, it was very windy and cold, but conducive to making the lengthy climb up. Step after step and with a few inclines in between, we made it to the top. It wasn’t a very strenuous climb, but it was exhilarating nonetheless. We were on the Great Wall!!!…and this is what everyone was talking about…..Now, we experienced it for ourselves!!!  At the same time, we thought, “how was it possible for them to build such a monstrous structure, with bricks having to have been brought up from down below?” Some of the watch towers (observation towers) were huge, just like the one at the top of the Great Wall at Badaling. Simply amazing!!!

The next day, we walked to Forbidden City, which was about a half a mile from our hotel…and that was incredible. We walked through building after building, each of them very similar and each with a courtyard in between. It seemed as though we walked for miles to get from one end of Forbidden City to the other……and by the way, these buildings were beautifully maintained, with so much attention paid to the detailed ceilings and tile work. At the end of Forbidden City was a beautiful garden and off to the side, a museum with some beautiful Japanese art.

Across the street from Forbidden City was Tienanmen Square, where the student riots happened in 1989 and within the square, Mao’s mausoleum. Since we wanted to be able to see as much as possible, we decided to pass on the Mao mausoleum and head towards the Temple of Heaven. We walked for miles to get there, but in the end, it was well worth the tired feet and drained bodies — next time, however, we know to take a cab! The temple, built in the 1400s for the purpose of preying to the Gods for rain (and ultimately a good harvest), was so beautiful. There was an area that if you were to yell or clap your hands, an echo would come back. Well…..not so. We never heard our clap reverberate through the grounds….instead, we all just looked a bit ridiculous!!!

That evening, we went to Quan Ju De, where we had the best ‘Peking’ Duck. I’m sure that it’s not at all good for you, with the fat just oozing into your arteries, but it was so delicious. You wouldn’t think to do this, but to dip the crispy skin in sugar is ‘to die for’. Mmm……so so good!! We also ate some deep-fried scorpion, which was equally as good. To our surprise, the scorpion actually tasted like fried shrimp.

We couldn’t leave Beijing without seeing the Bird Nest and the Water Cube……so, the next day we took a taxi to the venue of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The structure was larger than life and very unique. However, because of its size, the fate of it remains questionable. It would be very sad if they decide to dismantle it…..it, of course, was such a prominent venue during the Olympics.

We left Beijing with fond memories. The weather was great….not too hot and not too cold…and the skies were clear. Very auspicious!

Yi Xing, China

On yet another weekend, our driver took us to Yi Xing, home of the purple clay teapots. Despite all it was cracked up to be, it was a BUST!!! This is one place that I wouldn’t recommend — it’s just not worth it!!

First of all, the Zhanggong caves that are near Yi Xing were very tacky, with its Christmas lights illuminating the damp three-level caves. The only fun part was the tube ride, where we were suited up and directed to slide down a tube from the top of the hill back to the bottom, after having rode a tram to the top to see the temple. OK, so if that was the only memorable part of the trip, that doesn’t say much…..

Our next stop was to the area where they actually make and sell the purple-colored clay teapots. This too was equally disappointing. First of all, there was shop after shop, trying to sell the same wares. There weren’t any unique teapots that we hadn’t seen in Shanghai. And by the way, they charged more for the teapots in Yi Xing just because…..

We also drove to an area where the ‘dragon kiln’ is located. We drove up and down many different streets, sometimes retracing paths that we already crossed, asking the locals if they knew where this kiln was located. Having almost given up after more than an hour of getting lost, we finally found someone that knew where it was located. With as many locals knowing about this (I’m being facetious), I guess it isn’t such a ‘hot’ destination in Yi Xing. Supposedly, this is still an active kiln, the largest of its kind. However, when we got there, it was a dilapidated mess….And, by the way, I love these teapots and the art of pottery-making!!

Huangshan, China (Yellow Mountain)

We took a sleeper train to Huangshan (the Yellow Mountain) with a friend who visited us from California. It is here that a lot of the Chinese paintings have originated, especially as the billowing clouds cover the valley floor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there early enough to see that. But, we got there in time to hike through the beautiful mountains. We found the rock formations to be very unique, with one of them resembling a cell phone and another looking like a sitting elephant. Certain rocks were sparsely covered with pine trees, while others had a solitary pine tree growing out of it. As we walked on the open trails, we passed a cave with dangling icicles that resembled stalactites.

Since we went there in March, certain parts of the mountain were still covered in snow, while other parts of the mountain were very icy. While it wasn’t scary on the way up, it was hazardous – no, extremely hazardous – coming down. I was literally crawling down on my hands and legs, trying to avoid sliding off the side of the mountain, while the natives were sure-footed and walking down with confidence. I was afraid that one of them would slip, causing a chain reaction. Scary!!!

The views from atop the mountain were beautiful as we looked down at the valley floor and at the shear granite cliffs. While it was beautiful, I don’t think that it’s better than Yosemite, with its many huge waterfalls and smooth-faced granite cliffs.

Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou is about two hours from Shanghai, which made it a perfect for a weekend excursion. We went to Hangzhou’s famed Westlake, where we took a half day boat ride around the lake, stopping at a silk store, where they were making the thread. It was a beautiful ride, albeit very hot and humid — like everywhere else in China during the summer. The waters were very still, with very few people around, unlike in Shanghai, where people abound. We loved relaxing on the lake after a hard week’s work.

That evening, we went to ‘Impression Westlake’, a water show like no other. It was created by Zhang Yimou, the same director that created the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games. That says it all!!!

The following day, we took a leisurely stroll along the lake. We saw some people playing mah jong, while others engaged in tai chi. This just added to the zen-like quality of the area…

Suzhou, China

We traveled to a lot of cities on the weekends. Most of the cities that we visited were within a few hours of Shanghai, where we lived. During the time that we were in Shanghai, several friends came to visit. On one of those visits, we decided to go to Suzhou, which is about an hour and a half from Shanghai. We didn’t have an itinerary, but since we heard a lot about the canals, we thought that we’d make that one of our destinations. When we got to Suzhou, however, our driver didn’t know his way around and we were unable to find the canals. Instead, we stopped at  the Yunyan Pagoda, which from all angles, looks a bit tilted, just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was very unique in its construction and shape and looked somewhat like a beehive. In my humble opinion, it was one of the most unique pagodas in all of China (and Japan). We walked up and around the hill (Tiger Hill) on which the Yunyan Pagoda is located. The gardens were beautifully manicured, with a stream flowing through it.

We then went to the administrator’s garden, which was also quite beautiful, with lotus flowers floating on the water. Suzhou is known for its beautiful gardens and women — it’s where everyone wants to retire and live out their old age. While in the confines of the garden, we went to a Chinese opera, where a woman, dressed as a man and playing the part of one, cajoled a woman, telling her how much he missed her and taking her back to a place that they once shared. It was very intense and interesting to see — and the music was unlike anything that I’m used to. Based on the acting, I was able to get the gist of what was happening. I was also fortunate that my husband was able to translate everything for me. I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy the play when I first stepped into the venue, but I have to admit that I actually liked it a lot.

We went to yet another garden in the area. This one contained buddist temple, similar to those that can be found in Japan, with the red and white paper on the trees. After getting our fill of gardens in Suzhou, we decided to head back to Shanghai…

Chengdu, China

All I can say is that I love the pandas!! We decided to go to Chengdu just to see the cuddly critters. As soon as we arrived in Chengdu, we headed straight for the Chengdu Panda Research Facility, where the first stop was to the infant ward. During the time that we were there, there were a number of panda babies being tended to in incubators. In looking at them, they were like giant rats — pink in color, without any visible black stripes. These babies were drinking milk from a bottle, just like little infants. Their eyes hadn’t opened yet, so they were actually quite funny looking, but at the same time, so very cute. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any pictures of the babies because of how sensitive they were. There were a pair of older infants that had already developed the black stripes – and these were the cutest animals that I have ever seen. They looked just like stuffed animals – and I so wanted to bring them home!!!!

Our next stop within the Panda Reserve was to the teenage area, where there were four pandas playing together. They were such rascals. One of them started to climb to the top of the swing and the other playfully grabbed his butt and pulled him down. The other pair, instead of walking down a three-foot mound, simply took the lazy way out and rolled down, wrestling each other on the way down. I could have stayed there all day, just watching them play and roll around in the dirt – they’re rollie pollie and yes, clumsy! Unlike at the zoo, where they’re in cages, these were seemingly at a playground with all of their buddies. Very cute!!

Pandas are herbivores, with their diet consisting primarily of bamboo. These high maintenance bears don’t eat any bamboo — it has to be a certain species, which flowers every 15 years and dies. Further, they want their bamboo fresh, which means that they have to have it brought in from the mountains daily. The pandas also eat random fruit — while we were there, the trainer was feeding them some sliced apples, which the pandas were fighting over. It was so cute to watch them…stepping over each other, trying to get the next piece from the trainer.

The best part of being at the park was that I was able to carry a panda by the name of Shino, who was a 90 pound teenager. He wasn’t as soft as I thought he would be, but he was cuddly nonetheless. To keep him distracted, the trainer gave him a piece of fresh bamboo to chew on while he sat on my lap. The bamboo fell to the ground a few times, so he decided to use my arm as a ‘toy’ to chew on. While it didn’t hurt, the trainers were quick to stop him from knawing on my arm, giving him another piece of bamboo to keep him distracted. While I know that they’ve mauled a few people and they have very sharp teeth, they just seem so content if they have something to eat and at other times, very playful. When you see them, you wouldn’t think that they would be able to hurt anyone — but after all, we have to remember that they’re bears — and bears are dangerous…

We then saw the adult pandas. As they age, these pandas get lazy and complacent — and quite large. They don’t like the heat, so they’re kept indoors during the summer days. If it’s cool, they sleep outdoors, atop these structures made of bamboo. After watching the pandas for awhile, we drank some bamboo tea, which Chengdu is known for. It had a very different taste, but it was very delicious.

Chengdu food, in general, is some of the best food in China. The hot pot is amazing — it’s quite an experience. The mushroom broth on one side is one of the most delicious broths I’ve ever had. The spicy side had an interesting taste. There must have been a hundred red chili peppers in the broth, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as spicy as you would expect. There’s a numbing spice, however, that adds heat and flavor to the dish.

After our trip to the panda reserve, we drove to the Sanxingdui museum. This was an amazing place to view the copper masks — huge masks, with animal-like ears, big noses and protruding eyes. Our guide told us that the significance of the eyes protruding in the mask is that our ancestors are keeping a watchful eye on us. Many pieces were amazing — oversized, exaggerated and impressive — and a cross between Incan, Mayan and Aztec art.

During the evening, we watched a mask-switching show at a tea garden. It’s a secret art in Sichuan to learn how to change these masks (and costumes) in the blink of an eye. Instantly, the mask changed from red, to green and then to blue. Very impressive!! We also saw a few silhouettes of animals through a backlit screen using different hand formations. Pretty cool.

The following day, we went to Dufu’s Thatched House, the home of one of the greatest poets in the Tang Dynasty. While it was set in a peaceful garden-like setting, it wasn’t something that I would say is a must see while in Chengdu. There are many homes with thatched roofs in China. This wasn’t very special. The pagoda wasn’t very impressive either. There are many places in China with amazing pagodas — Beijing and Suzhou, to name a few.

Shanghai, China

We spent a year in Shanghai and during that year, we traveled to many places in and around the city. On a clear day, the Bund is beautiful and full of life. However, there are many days that the smog just seems to take over and ruin the photo op for the visitors and locals alike. At night, the Bund comes alive with its many restaurants…..and more than that, it’s the happening place to be, especially for the younger crowd. Often times, it’s difficult to walk from one end to the next, without bumping into anyone.

We were very lucky to be living near the Bund, within close proximity to the center of the city where all the action was. While there, we loved to eat Shalom Bao, a tasty Shanghai dumpling that’s juicy in the middle with a thin skin outside. There’s a debate going on as to whether you prefer the Shalom Bao at Din Tai Fun, a Taiwanese restaurant or Nan Xiang, a Shanghainese restaurant. You be the judge, but in my opinion, the filling is tastier at Nan Xiang, but the skin is thinner (therefore better) at Din Tai Fung. Whether you get it at Nan Xiang or Din Tai Fung, just get it!! It’s very delicious. Love it!!

For every westerner, Xin Tien Di is a must! It’s a very ancient street that has been modernized and revitalized, with many expensive restaurants and shops. The restaurants are not the best, but the area is very attractive….and it’s a great place to see and for the Chinese, be seen. Yu garden is another area that is steeped in historical value. The architecture is very ‘Asian’ and it’s a great place to bargain for souvenirs. The food there is also very inexpensive and quite tasty, especially from the street vendors.

We went to the Shanghai Modern Art Museum and to the Shanghai Museum, both of which had art that was amazing. Immediately outside the Shanghai Modern Art Museum is a place that on the weekends, the parents of single men and women try to match-make their sons and daughters with others that are equally as despearate. They have their children’s credentials on a piece of paper that is hung on the trees. As interested suitors walk by, it appears that its a barter transaction. We had to laugh when we walked by.

When we were there, we enjoyed just walking around the city. One fateful weekend, however, we had a mishap on Nan Jing Road (the walking street), where someone stole our wallet from a Kipling bag that was zipped up and which was held close to our bodies. The streets were very crowded, with people bumping into us and flashing pieces of paper to distract us. Nevertheless, we were very surprised. Something like this has never happened to us in the past in any other part of the world. How could we have been so careless so as to let it happen to us in Shanghai. The odd thing about the incident is that the people who took the wallet called one of my co-workers in Shanghai and told him to meet them at the subway station near Nan Jing Road. Once there, they handed the cards over to my co-worker and had the gall to ask him for money, saying that they were doing us a favor by returning the credit cards and ID. Needless to say, my co-worker was very gutsy by refusing to pay them. He figured that he already got the items from the extorters and being that they met in a busy place, it wasn’t necessary to pay them anything more. By then, however, we had already cancelled the credit cards. We lost a few hundred dollars in the process, but at least, we looked at it from the perspective that we didn’t get hurt and neither did my co-worker.

We went to the Shanghai zoo and to our surprise, there were a lot of bears….brown bears, black bears, small bears, big bears, the red panda, which is not a real bear, but part of the raccoon family and of course, the panda bear. I found it a bit sad to have seen the panda bear in it’s cell. It appeared that he was literally climbing the walls, wanting to get out. He’d walk to the back of the cell, then would approach the glass from where we could see him. He’d hit the glass with his forepaws and walk back towards the back of the cell. Over and over, he’d complete that cycle. Once, twice, three times, on and on….why couldn’t he have been outdoors in the wild…..

While we were in Shanghai, we were fortunate to have gone to an Olympic soccer event between Argentina and Australia. It was a great game and a great experience for us to be there to share in some of the excitement. The Chinese were very proud to be hosting the Olympics (One World One Dream) and were very proud that their team won a lot of gold medals. I’d be proud as well. It was a very well-organized event of all the world to see. By being in Shanghai, we got a different perspective of the games — it wasn’t so US-centric, which in many ways was very refreshing. We were able to see a number of different events that we wouldn’t normally see — ping pong, weight-lifting….Yes, they focused on mens swimming, but who wouldn’t. Whereas the US focused on Michael Phelps only, the Chinese station focused on the US team that helped Michel Phelps win his 8th gold medal. That, in my opinion, was the right thing to do. It’s a team effort and not only one man’s effort.

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