What We Did on Spring Break: A Visit to Tianjin


Tianjin. It’s a beautiful Chinese city–or at least it seems beautiful to me because of all the European-architecture everywhere. Sure, there are plenty of ugly skyscrapers and apartment buildings too, but at least there’s some variety in this city.

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The Haihe riverfront

If you pay close attention to that blue sign, you may be able to see that it says “No Fishing.” Well, a couple hundred feet away, we then saw this:

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I’m sure he passed his reading comprehension classes.

Tianjin had a lot of French, Italian, and British businessmen living there from the end of the 18th century until China was closed to foreigners. So they had a huge influence on the way the city looks today.

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Influence like this.
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A giant clock. It’s kinda ugly, but kinda steam-punky too.

While in Tianjin, we rented a bicycle built for two and rode around the city. It was a little awkward because the second seat was so low and they didn’t have the tools to raise it for us so my knees kept hitting the handlebar in front of me, but we managed.

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The bicycle guys had no idea how to use my camera. Took them about five tries to get this one, and they’re all about flattering angles!

While riding around, we noticed the super cool stoplights they had there. Instead of being giant and bulky and ugly like they are everywhere else, they were just a light on a pole, and would count down for you so you knew how much longer they’d be green or red.

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This one had just turned green, and the light would move down until it hit the line in the middle. Then it would turn red.

After biking for our allotted hour, we went to the Cultural Street. It was about like every other cultural street in every other Chinese city–lots of paintings and knickknacks and people selling the same kinds of food and hordes upon hordes of tourists.We tried a rice cake thing that wasn’t great and some ice cream and figured we’d seen enough.

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Ice cream…and feet.

Oh, and they had this stall selling pearls…with the dead shellfish that they harvested the pearls from just sitting there. Let’s just say I’ve smelled better smells. But the pearls were pretty.

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So after we got our fill of ice cream and dead oysters (NO, we did not eat them!), we headed over to the Italian quarter for some lunch.

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…and more crowds.

This was the most multicultural place we’ve seen in China–they had Italian restaurants, Thai restaurants, French restaurants, German restaurants, and Chinese restaurants. They might have even had more, but those were the ones we saw. Of course, all the people were Chinese, but at least the food was different, right?

We opted for Thai–and even remembered to take  pictures of the food.

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Spring rolls (it started with six….)
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And Pad Thai.

It was good, and good to have a little variety from run-of-the-mill Chinese food.

Then we walked around the Italian quarter for a while and took pictures of all the brides and grooms getting their pictures taken.

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Isn’t her dress pretty?

The brides had beautiful dresses, but this groom’s fashion sense was rather odd, to say the least. I didn’t want to seem TOO creepy, so I didn’t maneuver quite as well as I could have, but a purple plaid suit with a bright orange tie is not exactly my idea of sedate wedding wear.

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See? His tie is ORANGE!

I’m not exactly sure, either, why someone would want to get pictures taken with approximately two thousand people in the background, but apparently the flowers and the houses outweighed the people.

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The other “bride” (her “groom” was in jeans and a t-shirt, so I think she was just getting pre-wedding pictures done or something. They do that here.)

When we were done looking critically at men’s fashions for the day, we strolled around the rest of the square and enjoyed the random statues of famous Italians like Dante. Because he’s so connected to China.

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And since this post is eons long already, I’ll leave you with that and be back with part II shortly, I hope.

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