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The End… Or is it? Bum Bum Buummm

“The 5” had one last Chinese breakfast in Nanjing and said their good-byes before heading down the tracks on the high speed train to Shanghai. Arriving in the afternoon, we were excited for the sights of the new city, but a powerful storm blew in just as we exited the train station, knocking down signs and dashing our hopes of a walking tour of the city. Hustling through the rain, we managed to reach a taxi and catch an expensive ride to our hotel in the outskirts of Shanghai, near the airport.

Not wanting the rain to get us down, we ventured through the streets witnessing a still running local farmers market and some new street food. We bought an assortment of noodles and vegetables and headed back to the hotel where we cooked up some fortified ramen using the electric teakettle in the room. We capped off what we thought was our last night with some cards and reminisced about GP, China adventures and good times. China continued to cry on us throughout the night.

We are going to miss all things Chinese. In America, things happen to make sense—people understand us. When you don’t know what someone is saying to you, it can take a lot of pressure off a situation. In China, we’ve found the best answer is “ohhkayyy” and everything turns out just fine. What are we eating? What is that? What am I supposed to do? What is that person doing? None of it really makes any sense, and the beauty lies in the fact that no sense is the best kind.

The airport felt as it has in the past, a place to look forward toward new times, but this time we couldn’t help to think about parting ways for good. This would be our last time together for a while and GP was finally over. We were all reconciling sadness combined with excitement about the future; but then…..

The connecting flight from Tokyo to LA was delayed… then delayed more… then delayed more and food vouchers were given… Finally the flight was canceled as the universe refused to see us part ways.

Around 6pm we were finally headed to a hotel near by airport to spend the night. After quickly dropping off our bags, we set out on a journey to the center of Tokyo!!!
After a bus ride, confusion, and a train ride of about one and a half hours we arrived somewhere in Tokyo. Bright lights were everywhere, while pachinko machines games and interesting activities ruled the streets. We suddenly realized that we would need cash to get anywhere or eat anything, including getting back to the hotel. Scrambling, we found ourselves unable to extract money from Japanese cash machines as we could not read the prompts and when we finally could we were denied access due to the fact that only Japanese cards were accepted.

After calling the bank, asking an Australian, 2 police offices and an encounter with a very strange man, we managed to get cash. We felt a brief sense of accomplishment, but the time was nearing that the last train would run. We thought. Turns out, the trains back to the airport had quit running that Sunday night, but after some more semi-comprehensible conversations, we found that we could take a more local train that would get us close to the airport and our hotel. After fighting with some automated ticket machines, we bought platform tickets that would allow us to pay the difference when we arrived at our destination. Another hour and a half and the train arrived relatively near the hotel, but a taxi was required for the rest of the journey. Hungry and really wanting a drink, we set out to get food and beverage prior to returning to the hotel.

We found ourselves in what can only be described as a Japanese Applebee’s and enjoyed delicious treats such as beer, afro-man potato cakes and sushi (Aaron’s first sushi). At around 2:30am, we finally arrived back at the hotel for a good night’s sleep before the inevitable departure in the morning.

A fittingly interesting/crazy/adventurous end to an amazing journey together. The times will be remembered and very much missed. It is good to have good friends even if they are scattered throughout the country!!! We are sitting in the all-too-familiar Tokyo airport, boarding passes in hand for a confirmed flight. As we trade pictures and make plans for our arrival back in California, we look both backwards and forwards, still reminiscent and excited. Watch out world!

Thursday: SIP Status

Today we ventured into the Suzhou Industrial Park, otherwise known as SIP. This journey began early in the morning as we departed from our hotel around 6:30am. After a 3-hour bus ride, which most of us slept through, we finally arrived.

SIP is a 650,000 live-work industrial park, complete with factories, schools, restaurants, hospitals, and all kinds of residential choices. Our first stop at SIP was the Center for Science and Research where we were introduced to the ideas behind designing SIP. Renewable energy, green roofs and pervious surfaces were all a part of the plan. In fact all of the things we have discussed throughout our careers as students were present and have come to be in SIP, with one notable exception: integrated mixed use design. Multiple roads, few walking paths, separated uses, and far distances between things made apart the problems of urban sprawl. Despite this large snag SIP is a great start to many great ideas coming together.

Next, we visited the Science Culture and Arts Center. This building was designed by the same designer of the Bird's Nest for the Beijing Olympics. Inside there's an IMAX theatre, a performance hall, and an exhibit about SIP. The exhibit explained much of the history of SIP.

After a tour of the plans and seeing what has come of SIP we did not have a walk in the park but we had a great lunch.
The final stop in the day's tour was the Lion Forest Garden where amazing and unusual rock formations were carved into by monks to make walkways around a central pond. It was extraordinarily hot with many other tourists visiting and while there was no way to crank up the AC, the group did manage to get down at least 2 popsicles each. Luckily Gavin was the only one to unknowingly sample the saltwater popsicle.

Another 3-hour bus ride later we were back in Nanjing and ready to celebrate one of our final nights... Oh there will be celebrating!!! We are planning to check out the 1912 area of Nanjing, it is like an old town area with many bars and restaurants.


早安: zǎo ān (Good Morning)

After a great day off, including the tour of Nanjing, the group was ready to begin work Monday morning.
Michael started off the meeting with a recap of previous discussions as well as overall recommendations for progressing with SAFEGUARD-China creation. He then handed off the discussion to Allison who drew up images for a potential interface for the software. Finally, Justin ended the groups direction setting introduction providing a basic flow chart of SAFEGUARD framework and logic.

The entire group took it from there and added additional detail to the framework. The morning was one of the most productive yet and to celebrate the group went out to a fantastic lunch and tour around Nanjing University.

After lunch the group got back to work and made the decision to break into two groups. One group lead by Aaron and Allison moved forward with database creation for baselines. The other group lead by Gavin, Justin and Michael moved on with framework creation for strategies, scenarios and goals.

The entire team left satisfied with the days work, looking forward to more progress.

The night was filled with good times as "The 5" plus Lei Yue visited the lake in the middle of the city to find it was too late for paddle boats. This was followed by an adventurous bus journey out to the river. Near the river the gang experienced a large group of choreographed dancers and then a delicious meal.

Good good times in China!

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