I had always wondered about the lure of a single stone wall standing at the end of a seemingly endless flight of steps, that is the remains of St Paul’s Cathedral in Macau.
When I got there on a day trip from Guangzhou, I could not immediately recognize it because I had expected a monumental landmark but it was smaller than envisaged. That, and also because I had alighted from the taxi on one of its sides instead of the front, not to mention that the remnant was surrounded by a dense entourage of ornate buildings and structures that are vying for attention at the same time.
When I finally got to walk around the area behind the wall, which was once the premises of a church that was destroyed by fire, and climbed up the metal decking behind the wall, although it was not quite an epiphany, the sense of history and panoramic views made it a worthwhile visit.
This plan shows the location of the front facade (top) and the crypt in the church (bottom):
I wonder if the martyrs would prefer to rest in peace than be superstars under the glare of the public eye day in and out, everyday of the year…
I took the high speed train to Suzhou three days before the Chinese New Year. A one-way ticket from Shanghai cost 41 yuan. I had narrowly missed the train and with one and a half hours to kill before the next departure, I decided to have lunch at, ahem, McDonalds which was packed with travelers.
It’s pretty impressive, the train. It could travel at up to 350 km/h and arrive at Suzhou Station in just 25 minutes from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Station. The ride was smooth and comfortable too.
When I stepped out of the train station, there were old ladies waiting at the exit, selling maps to tourists. One approached me with two maps – one cost 6 yuan, the other 3. Fortunately, I bought them because I got lost later.
I wandered around the bus depot searching for the bus that would take me to Modern Avenue and when I finally found it, the driver did not know where it was because he was new on the job. Nevertheless, I hopped on. After about half an hour’s ride, I realized that I was lost and found myself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
As it was getting dark, I decided to hail a taxi in order to save time and finally arrived at IN CITY. I was thankful for the warm reception in offered compared to the cold outside. One unique feature of the mall was the layout of the escalators although it proved to be quite confusing for someone new to move from one level to another.
There was only enough time for me to explore WalMart and take couple of pictures before reluctantly rushing back to the station to catch the 8 p.m. train back to Shanghai.
Suzhou express indeed.
The next day, I decided to leave home earlier for my trip to Hangzhou.
The odd couple, English and Mathematics, can make a great couple that spells fun for the kids in school.
Well, turn them into budding architects – get them to draw houses by communicating with prepositions and geometrical shapes. Pair them up and ask one to describe a picture of a house to his partner who will draw it as he listens to the description.
That effectively gets rid of the boredom in teaching and learning about prepositions while getting the restless ones to speak, listen, draw and apply what they have learned in English and Mathematics.
The Shanghainese celebrate Chinese New Year with a blast, literally, with fire crackers and fireworks. A little after dusk on Chinese New Year’s eve, isolated bursts of crackers mark the beginning of a cacophony that intensifies into the night and climaxes at midnight when it feels almost like a war zone if not for the the multicolored sparkles of fireworks dancing in the night sky that linger like stardust in the eye. And that goes on well after midnight, on the 5th and 15th days of the Lunar New Year as well.
Well, it’s winter solace, to be exact. The second time it snowed, I had time to savor it – the refreshing sight of soft fluffy snow that transformed the landscape from old and dusty to delightfully bright and clean does wonders for the soul, like music to the ears.
Some pictures of the resort where we stayed while hunting for apartments.
The view from the hotel room balcony.
We lugged our luggage across this patch of green to our rooms on the evening we arrived.
The tree-line path to the main road where a coach awaits us every morning.
And this is a welcome sight after a long day out hunting for an apartment under the hot scorching summer sun.
It did not snow in Christmas Day but the temperature on the Bund at night was at freezing point. Lights go off at 10 p.m. but I managed to snap some shots of the shoreline and historic buildings. Funny how almost everyone disappears right after that but I waited for a while to capture the Christmas greetings screened on the Aurora Building facade, as well as that of its neighbor. It is my first Christmas in Shanghai after all and that is pretty neat for posterity.