Rainy Week in Ningbo, China

View of one of the rivers from our room…
Park trees

My favorite part about going to a new place is plunking Landon in the stroller and exploring our new home on foot. We had a few days of intense humid heat here, and we were trying to figure out laundry and grocery shopping, so we didn’t explore outside of our errands too much. In those early days of trying to get over jet lag and figure out how life works in China, I found several things to do on hot, sunny days. After that, it has rained basically all day every day. I have never been anywhere with such constant precipitation! I’m not afraid of a little rain, but when it is raining hard I like to have an indoor destination in mind to get out of the rain. The problem is, I don’t know the city well enough to have a long list of indoor destinations! It seems like in Asia more than anywhere rain is treated like hot lava falling from the sky, and everyone must have an umbrella and rain gear in order to survive. Needless to say, I get some weird looks if I don’t constantly use my umbrella when it’s misting, and I even had some young guys offer me an umbrella today because I wasn’t using mine.

Scenic bridge
Landon loves the park!

So, our plans for exploring this beautiful city have been squashed a little this week. I hesitate to bring my camera because I don’t want it to get wet. We stay inside the hotel more often than usual because I don’t want to get soaking wet (we have limited amounts of extra clothing!) We are so lucky this trip to have a large suite in the Marriott. This means wonderful beds, a living room, and doors in between Landon’s sleeping area and our sleeping area. It is a real treat after being in some pretty tiny hotel rooms the past year! Even still, Landon is getting bigger and needing more space to run and play, even in the rain. So we go to the indoor hotel pool, or we wait for the rain to abate and run around outside a little, or go to an indoor mall play area close to our hotel. I’m sad to not be taking full advantage of this city, but I know we’re here for awhile so we’ll have time later. We go swimming more often. We’ve been focusing on “school,” where we are learning to identify upper and lower case letters, letter sounds, counting and number recognition, shapes, colors, and stuff like that. I bought Landon a Sesame Street workbook for letter sounds, thinking we could do a page every few days to mix things up a bit. He loves it and wants to do multiple pages every day! At this point, he is OK with doing pages over again, but we’re going to be out of pages soon. I wish I had brought more workbooks, but I thought they would be too difficult/old for Landon at this point.

Boy on a bridge

Ningbo is a really cool, old city. Evidence of civilization in this area dates back to 4800 B.C. with the Hemudu civilization. As a seaport city with multiple rivers, it was a stop on the silk road and there are areas that were settled by Jewish, Portugese, and Dutch traders over the years. It is a very modern and bustling city, with tons of roads and buildings under construction. Amidst the sky scrapers and high fashion malls are these very old, traditional buildings. I wish I could read/speak Chinese so that I could figure out what the buildings are, but it is fun to see old pavilions and buildings still being used today! Some historic buildings have been re-purposed for modern use- like the Ningbo Museum of Art which used to be a waiting area for the Ningbo harbor. We are staying right at the intersection of the rivers, and each river has green space, parks and walking trails along the river. Because of all the rain, everything is so lovely and green!

Bridge ornament

Ningbo has many Buddhist temples and structures dating back hundreds of years. I have even seen monks in their characteristic yellow robes walking around near the temples located in the city. In the mountains between Ningbo and the sea, there are multiple temples that we really want to visit and hike around. As much as it sounds fun to do this alone with Landon (NOT!), I know Austin would enjoy these experiences as well so we are waiting for him to have a Saturday off before we venture too far outside the city. The problem is, we never know if/when he is going to have a Saturday off. Thankfully, he has at least Sundays off each week, so we can count on that. Another issue is that Landon is really enjoying running at full speed for long distances, toward busy roads right now, and I am only getting slower. We love it when daddy has a day off!

Awesome building at the park

Nearby our hotel is a big park. It seems that the park is the center of the community for the Chinese. I have not seen any community centers or rec centers (although I know they are around in the suburbs of the city), but people are always congregating at the park. Even in the rain, the elderly come to the park to exercise in various forms, sit under the pagodas, and listen to live music. Every time I have walked through the park by our hotel, there have been at least two bands playing and blaring music out of loud speakers. Most of them include a singer, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument (I don’t know the name) and a flute-type instrument. The exercise being performed in the park includes good old-fashioned walking, ballroom dancing!, a line dancing-type aerobics class that is hilarious to watch, and many different variations of tai chi. This is in addition to the many people taking advantage of the outdoor exercise equipment found at every park. In other areas of the park are tables where mah jong, card games, and other board games are played. It seems like a really fun place to be!

I heard from one of Austin’s Japanese co-workers that the reason it has been raining so much is because three typhoons passed over Japan recently and we are getting all of the moisture from those typhoons one after the other. All I can say is:

Dear rain,

Please leave us alone so we can explore more comfortably on foot!

Sincerely, Me

P.S. All pictures were taken at Moon Lake park, which will have a separate post once we spend more time there/take more pictures. All of these were taken during one of the hot, humid days, before the week of rain started. 

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