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Published: December 14th 2010
(in Chengdu we had noodle street and dumpling street)
The bus ride from the airport to the hotel was an hour long, and our guide talked almost the whole time. She warned us not to walk around the streets late at night. Shanghai is safe, but you are not familiar with the area, but it is safe, but you still shouldn't walk around at night, but Shanghai IS safe. She also warned us about men who would try to take us into secret rooms to sell us fake brand name purses and wallets. They won't show you the way out unless you buy something!! And she warned us about Uighurs, a nationality originating in Xinjiang, to the north of Tibet. They are dangerous thieves!! Audrey and I gave each other a look when she said this. And most of us groaned. She also told us that Chinese girls value white skin, and this is why she hates herself. Because her skin is darker than she would like it to be.
We arrived at the Home Inn, which had a KFC, a 7/11, and a Starbucks across the street. As the driver was pulling all of the bags out of the undercarriage, my dad called to me across the parking
Are you sure we are still in China?
lot. He was in Shanghai for business and had arranged to meet me for lunch. Audrey and I received our key card and carried our luggage up to our room, then we met my dad and his friend/ business partner Harrison downstairs. Harrison drove us to a restaurant that was on the Discovery Channel. Harrison ordered a lot of dishes for just the four of us: lots of dumplings, beef soup, garlic broccoli, shrimp... way too much. The dumplings were cooked with soup inside of them, so to eat them you had to bite a little hole and drain the soup into a spoon, otherwise you would burn your mouth or splatter on your clothing. Some of the dumplings were bright colors: orange, red, green, yellow... It was all delicious.
After lunch, Audrey, my dad, and I walked around shopping mall center. There was a shopping mall shaped like a giant globe, one full of really high priced stores (Prada, Lacoste, Burberry...), one like a giant department store. We discovered that purple for men is in. We found a Sephora and a Best Buy.
Around six we said goodbye to my dad, and around seven we went to
bed. And did not wake up until 7:30 the next morning.
We went to KFC for breakfast. Kristiana met us there. My chicken(?) patty had corn, peas, and carrots in it. We moved to Starbucks soon afterward. Kaia and Joanna found us at Starbucks. They heard about our plans to find the Barbie Super Store and really wanted to join in. So, we went back to the hotel, found an address, and grabbed a taxi.
The Barbie store had a light pink facade and was six stories high. Besides dolls, it also had clothes for girls and adults, a pink Christmas tree, a hair salon for girls and their dolls, a makeup counter, a restaurant and runway, a play area, a create your own Barbie station, etc. We saw many parents and grandparents laden with bags, leaving with very happy kids. Everything was pink! It was fun.
We had difficulty thinking of anything to do after that. We walked around attempting to find a cheap nail or hair salon, but no luck for a long time. We did find a pretty good Lanzhou fanguan. We looked around a mall that boasted a tanning salon(woh!), a fencing classroom,
a cooking classroom, a scholastic center for English classes for children, a couple of spas. Finally we found a cheap hair salon: wash and style for twenty yuan. And not only did I get my hair washed and blown straight, but I also had my ears cleaned. I was not expecting that, but I went along with it.
In the evening, Audrey and I went to the Bund. This is a walkway along the river that separates a road lined with traditional European buildings built during the occupation, and a cluster of skyscrapers including the pearl tower. At night it was beautiful, all lit up. Audrey and I walked along dodging peoples' pictures and taking our own. Walking back down the street we found a candy shop. The nicest women worked there! They recommended their favorite candy and asked us why we were in Shanghai, how old we were, etc. They complimented us on our Chinese. In Chengdu we never would have been able to understand them. Older women and men always have thick Sichuan accents. But I could understand almost everything the ladies said in Putonghua.
We also met an Englishman on the Bund, hanging out next
to the statue of the bull with his pack of cigarettes and a beer. We talked about politics and what brought us to Shanghai... He told us that English people frequently call Americans "septic tank yanks." I wasn't offended. Just glad for the information. I also found out that England has two prime ministers right now, and that a lot of people blame America for the economic downturn. He is considering moving to Chengdu and we encouraged him to.
Next day, convenience store baozi for breakfast, Starbucks for coffee. Then we caught a cab to the Shanghai World Expo Site. The Chinese pavilion was a tourist hotspot. The lines for tickets were long. Scalpers wandered around outside, as well as people selling umbrellas. It rained all day Sunday.
Audrey and I chose not to enter the pavilion, but just to have a look around. From the bridge on the way into Shanghai I could see the whole Expo site. Each country had its own pavilion, and I had hoped to be able to wander around the grounds and take photos. But there were fences with barbed wire around everything, and PLA guards. We walked around the outside for
a long ways, but eventually had to turn back. The most we had seem was the "Urbanian Pavilion" and a CCP firehouse.
We decided to go on a subway adventure. The line system was really confusing, so we just bought two tickets for 5 kuai each and picked line number 8, because 8 is a lucky number in China. We chose to disembark at the People's Square because that is usually in the center of the city, and generally something is happening in the center of the city.
The underground did not only contain the subway system, but a mall, complete with hair salons, nail salons, clothing and accessory shops, and a juice bar. Lucky for us, the Shanghai Art Museum was near People's Square.
All of the art was contemporary, by all nationalities of artists, and using all mediums. It was really amazing, and sparked my interest in Shanghai. I have to go back! The atmosphere was very casual as well. A couple of the docents were leaning on a sculpture on the first floor.
I tried to arrange a group dinner, but in the end there were only six of us: Kate, Emily, Andrea,
Kristiana, Audrey, and I. Everyone else went to ascend the pearl tower.
After dinner, Kristiana took Audrey and I to an arcade she found near our hotel. We tried to play DDR, but it was all wrong. The arrow buttons were in the corners. I failed miserably. Kristiana left, and Audrey and I played the game that involves putting coins down a slot and trying to knock other coins off the edge of the shiny silver moving slide they are on. The machine produces tickets. Audrey and I traded ours in for two card holders with bears on them, and a lighter with Sichuan opera masks on it.
Then we stopped in Coldstone. Better in America.
Conclusion: I like Shanghai, and it would be really cool to come back on an art fellowship or if I ever have a lot of money to waste. It is a lot more expensive than other parts of China. The food isn't as good.
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