A small history lesson. That is what makes being here so cool, it all comes together, Marco Polo, Genghis Kahn, the Ming Dynasty, me, I will explain the connections. We just spent a three days in Hangzhou, about 2 hours from here on a 100mph high speed train. It’s a lot like Lake of the Isles, but this has mountains down to the lake, pagodas, water gardens, and misty islands.
Hangzhou’s history starts between 50,000 years to the Upper Paleolithic. By 1100AD, there were over a million people living here.
The Grand Canal was built (581-618 A.D., today still operating and the longest hand built canal on the planet) between Beijing and Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is famous for its silk production, unusual colored pearls and the gateway to the farm land of China.
The Mongols from the north led by Genghis Kahn and later his grand son Kublai Khan successfully “unified” China and he became Emperor of China. In 1279, The national capital of China was moved to Beijing.
Marco Polo arrived in Hangzhou shortly thereafter. Marco Polo saw Hangzhou and called it “..heaven on earth, there is not a city on earth to compare”.
A peasant rose up and raised an army and with his son finally defeated the Mogul’s, around 1297, and started the Ming Dynasty and built the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Sometime thereafter I, the great Mario and Elizabeth the Queen arrive and begin to teach English in Shanghai. This story will continue.
Some recent photography from Hangzhou. Bridge in Hangzhou
Here’s a temple full of Buddhas.
I just received a tentative job offer in Thailand to help design an exhibit on promoting healthy life choices for teens. There is a large HIV-AIDs problem there, and this exhibit would reach 1 million students in a year. They want me to start in February. We were planning on coming back to Shanghai after Christmas and teach till May. I have been waiting for a project like this to appear, while living overeas, and it does. I will hear from UNESCO in Thailand in a few days if this is for real. Stay tuned.
Here’s some of my art from my website.
And here are recent pictures.
Old town Shanghai street
This morning we got on our bikes to go to the Shanghai Museum, I am excited to go there. We bike and bike, we love seeing the city this way, eventually we pull over to check the map, can’t find any of the streets we are on, and ask someone, shoot, we took a right, we should of taken a left, but hold on, isn’t that IKEA up ahead, lets go in and have lunch. Meat balls, and lefse, the same menu as back home. We look at the map again, and find a very cool, beautiful active Buddhist temple nearby, 1000′s of Buddhas and spend the day there. Its hard not to have a good adventure here anywhere.
Everyday, all the students, about 700 students, go onto the big field and stand at attention in rows, and music comes on the loud speakers. This is through out China, and they do these proscribed set of exercises. They take it very seriously. Also during the day, music comes on the intercom through out the school twice a day, and the children do 15 minutes of eye exercises, a series of face massages, this is also through out China. I have also started to do the eye exercises, and sure enough, I feel eye tension gone, and a feeling of well being, its a sort of meditation and rubbing your brow, your nose and cheeks and around your eyes to gentle music.
We have this grand master martial artist/tai qi teacher, a beautiful man, about my age, wears all white silk jamas, speaks no English, not a word, we meet him twice a week, so far we have had two lessons, and he is a excellent teacher. more on this later.
Dudes, the craziness of riding a bike here, I am in the flow with 40 other bikes and small electric scooters, in our own lane, maybe 20 mph, do I have close calls, like 20 a day, but I am realizing everyone in the bike pack of 40 all have close calls, here comes a scooter going the wrong way coming at us, we open and flow around him, he almost touches several of us, maybe 1/2 inch away, up ahead is a slow going three-wheeler with some long metal poles hanging in back, we all flow around him, like a school of fish, not thinking just reflexing, let the body react not the mind, just keep up with the pack, I’ve gone two blocks past my get off point because the bike pack was thick and going so well. There is a life lesson here somewhere.