We spend our days wandering around Ningbo, doing errands, and discovering new things. These are some of our favorite phone snaps/ moments from the past month or so. Our hotel is right on the river. Nearby, down the river walk, is a luxury goods mall and restaurant complex. There are a series of fountains right along the river by this mall, and some of them come right out of the ground (like a splash pad). At night, there are light and water shows choreographed to music. During the day, it serves as a great splash pad/cooling off area. I’m still not quite sure if we are supposed to play in the water, but Landon loves it and no one has kicked us out yet, so I think we’re good. Thank you, Heyi Shopping Avenue, for being a great place to cool off!
Looking back at these photos, I am reminded that we need to continue to explore along the main river and find more boats! We walked to Laowaitan- the Bund area of Ningbo where the foreign traders lived. We walked along the main river in search for boats. We had to climb over a low wall (that had some sketchy stairs built into them), but we found some boats and some boat materials.
Down the river from the developed, tourist/ex-pat area of the Bund are some old, tumble-down buildings that I imagine were once grand, fancy waterfront mansions. The bricks are falling off of the buildings, the roofs are collapsed, and they are in a general state of disrepair, but I imagine that this area of Ningbo was the place to be back in the day!
Austin’s translator at the refinery loves Landon and offered to babysit. We took her up on it- we don’t get out much without Landon when we are overseas! We wanted to try something new so we decided on hot pot. Basically, it is veggies and meats cooked in a boiling broth. In some restaurants, you are provided with the raw meat and veggies and get to cook it yourself. We were looking for a place like this, but with no Chinese language skills we just walked around the Gulou (old town) area of Ningbo and walked into a restaurant that looked kind of like hot pot. It was different from what I was expecting, but still really good! We ordered a fried glass noodles dish and a hot pot with chicken, fish, chunks of ginger and garlic in a yummy broth. We did not get to cook it, but it was still delicious! It was so relaxing to just sit and eat without having to worry about Landon. A few things that I didn’t expect- they didn’t have any drinks except alcohol and hot water (they boil it and serve it in coffee pots so you know that it is safe). I think it is acceptable to bring-your-own water in this situation! The fish was cut up into pieces, but not de-boned or skinned, so there were fins, eyes, etc. in our broth. I’m sure that’s what made the broth so yummy (besides MSG) but it was a little off-putting to have to pick out a ton of bones in every bite of fish.
As I get more pregnant, we do less exploring and more planned adventures that don’t require as much excess walking. One day, we decided to just explore and go for a walk. On the way back, we happened upon this ancient tower alongside one of the main, bustling streets of Ningbo. Ningbo is in the middle of putting in a subway system, so the main streets are all torn up and it is dusty, dirty and just unenjoyable to walk downtown right now. This very old tower was a little breath of fresh air on this bustling road- right down the street from the iconic Drum Tower. Turns out, this pagoda, called the Tianning pagoda, is one of the only Tang dynasty pagodas in existence! Although rebuilt several times, stones from inside the tower have been dated back to 851 A.D. You don’t walk past a piece of history like that every day!
And that, my friends, is one of my favorite things about Ningbo. One minute you’re walking through a luxury shopping mall and the next minute walking through or past a piece of history dating back thousands of years. It is an eclectic mix of old and new, and I can see pieces of both in this city. Everyone has a smart phone, but not very many babies wear diapers (just a hole in the pants). Everyone gets around in cars or on electric scooters, but the retired people play mah jong in the park as retired people have been doing for hundreds of years. I’m grateful that the history is preserved for us to see. I, for one, really enjoy it.