This weekend was an exceptionally eventful weekend for us Iowans in China. On Friday Angela and I had musical pit rehearsal after school, so we did not get home until a little before 6:00 PM. We went out to a great local dumpling restaurant just down the street with a big group of friends, and even got one basket of dumplings for free, as the owner seemed to be enjoying us. Afterwards, we wandered into the park right next to our apartment complex. There is social dancing in this park every single night, and Angela and I have been here a few times before. On Friday night, we took turns dancing with one another, and I even got to dance with an older Chinese woman named Ms. Lee. Her English was very good, and she told us she taught Chinese. One of the new teachers got her phone number so that we might call her for lessons someday.
On Saturday we were scheduled to travel to Hangzhou, China to raft down the Shuangxi river. The weather was dreary when we awoke on Saturday morning, and Angela was even contemplating bailing as she was not feeling 100%. We both decided to go anyway, even though it was raining. The bus ride took us out of the Shanghai city limits, which was a first. The countryside was not very picturesque for many miles, but eventually we saw some actual nature out the window.
At this point, although it was an interesting (3 hour) bus ride, it was raining fairly hard and I did not think today was going to be a good day. Sitting on the river in the rain did not sound like much fun. Still, I had hope that maybe we would have a nice time. We arrived at the river to some very aggressive aquatics salespeople. They were peddling very cheap ponchos and high-powered water guns. More to come on that later. Several teachers brought their children along, and this trip was very popular already with them. Every single one of them was instantly armed with a water gun and already blasting us pedestrians as we tried to load up our bags with the important commodity: beer. We then made our way to the rafts.
Some of the animal rights activists might need to turn a blind eye for this part. Instead of walking to the launching dock, we were carried in little rickety carts pulled by water buffalo.
I guess they got to chill out in the water until they were needed, but this part made me a little uncomfortable. The walk was totally doable. After a brief (and much faster than I would have imagined) buffalo cart ride, we arrived at the rafts.
Those are three rafts side-by-side pictured above. They were small, the benches were not really connected to the raft, and they sat about 10. We had a great raft of all of our friends.
The beginning of the trip was a little traumatic as the secretary’s son was on a neighboring raft, and soaked us completely with his water gun until his raft pulled ahead. This was especially saddening as any time river water got into our beers we were too scared to drink any more. The trip was incredible; very scenic and peaceful.
We did have an opportunity to catch up with the secretary and her son, along with the rest of their unfortunately innocent raft to extract some revenge. Though the young child was valiant, he did not have the advanced tactics that we had. I reloaded several water guns exclusively, while our friend Ian unloaded them on the poor child. Needless to say we won the battle, and ultimately, the war.
At the end of the raft trip, we had a cookout. There were several little grills all around a shelter, and they filled each one with hot coals for us. The school brought frozen burgers and hot dogs and we made our own lunch. We had a very nice time, and being surrounded by a bamboo forest added to the scenery. The trip ended up being fantastic.
All for now!