Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shanghai: Part II

In the morning we step out of our hotel and onto Nanjing road, where we notice a thin fog of persistent rain, and us with no umbrellas. As soon as we step onto the street, a woman comes up to us trying to sell us bags and watches. Although we’ve only been in China for about fourteen hours, this woman is something like the fiftieth person who’s tried to sell us the same stuff. Having lost my Midwest super-politeness, I said, more to Colin than her, “If you were selling umbrellas, then we could talk.” But since I had said anything at all, she decided to follow us for half a block. If I ever go back to Shanghai, I’ll stay away from Nanjing road. It’s stressful having someone aggressively trying to sell you something every twenty seconds. And sometimes they even look like completely normal people who suddenly emerge from the crowd of all the other normal Chinese people going about their business to try to sell you things. It’s a little unnerving.

Within a minute we see someone selling umbrellas, interestingly, just sitting out of the rain with her merchandise in a Tupperware container, not pursuing anyone, and we buy two, then head to the Shanghai Museum. Hardened from our fourteen hours, Colin and I were wearing our “leave me alone” faces. Anyone who greeted us, asked us where we were from, or tried to tell me how beautiful I was, we had to ignore completely, because we knew the next thing to happen would be them trying to sell us something. It was hard, because that’s kind of the opposite of my role as a good Samaritan in Japan. I’m always answering questions from strangers, and trying to smile and be warm, but in Shanghai, you just can’t. Anyway, when we reached the museum, we saw that the line to get in wrapped all the way around the building. Apparently, museum admission had just become free, which is great, but as a result it was crazy packed. Since the museum was one of the main sights we came to see, we decided to wait. We were comfortable with our umbrellas protecting us not only from the light spray of rain, but from the attention of the umbrella-hawkers walking the length of the line.

We had been waiting for about fifteen minutes when the woman in front of us in line turned around to say hello in English and started trying to coerce her young daughter to talk to us. We were guarded at first, but since they were fellow line-waiters we decided they really were just practicing their English. So I transitioned back into friendly foreigner mode as the little girl hid behind her hands and squealed in embarrassment while her mother suggested things to ask us. Even though she was mostly too embarrassed to say anything directly to us, from the phrases she ran by her mother, we were pretty impressed with her English. It was definitely better than most Japanese adults. When she asked us where we were from and we told her America, she exclaimed “Oh my goh!” That’s one phrase she has in common with Japanese kids. Then she started pointing to a phrase in her English book that translated as “In China, we believe in communism.” During the wait, the girl spelled the word “museum” for us, then asked Colin to sing, but was very displeased by his singing. Then he asked her to sing, and she did, nervously and in Chinese. It was a good time.

I’m getting bored writing this. I get the feeling no one will read it or care anyway. So I’ll end it quickly. The museum was excellent. We walked to the French quarter afterwards, which was very interesting, and Colin bought a cell phone strap that was a panda eating a piece of bamboo. The bamboo broke off within a week. We had a delicious lunch consisting of those steamed, meat-filled buns. I can’t remember what they’re called. At night faced my big fear and took the subway again during rush hour to get to the Shanghai circus. It wasn’t nearly as bad as before. And the circus was fantastic, like Cirque du Soleil only Chinese and awesome. For our late dinner, we ended up at Pizza Hut, and I would feel guilty but oh my god it was so amazing. I didn’t even like Pizza Hut in the States, and thought I wasn’t so big on pizza in general before I came here, but once it’s gone completely for so long, the taste of actual pizza without mayonnaise or seafood or corn or anything can give you such a mouth-gasm. The next morning we walked to Yuyuan Gardens, which was beautiful and pretty different from Japanese gardens, and we also petted a really nice garden kitty. Colin bought a pocket watch that had Chairman Mao shaking his fist on the face. He argued the price down quite a bit, but the watch still stopped within a couple days. By the time I left, I felt good about China as a vibrant, interesting and historically rich place. I’d definitely go back. I hate ending a post so stupidly, but nobody will read it, so who cares.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I certainly read it, and will post about it!
Okay, I don't know how many people other than your family check their computers every day to see if you have posted, but at least your gene-mates do! Are you still in China now, or back in Japan? Have you seen any Olympic/Tibet fallout?What was in the Shanghai museum? Thanks for calling Gram. Unfortunately, she got a virus and is very sick in the hospital part of Cottage Grove Place right now--not on death's door, but feeling like it. I had, and still have, the same bug for about seven weeks. It's really no fun.
Keep posting!!!
Love, Dad

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cassie, I love reading your posts....please, please don't stop!! You're a great writer. I mean it.
love, julie

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Pizza said...

Maybe the reason you didn't like Pizza Hut in the states, is because if you order Pizza Hut online, you end up with spam in your email inbox ...

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cassie, even I'm reading your posts (and i say "even" because we havent been keeping in touch except for the music emails). They're so very excellent. hope things are better in japan. china sounds great- my cousin is living there so maybe i'll go visit sometime too... take care! -- basak

7:01 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Yeah, we all read it, so you are silly to say something about how no one does. Especially since this is comment number 5 on your post when it hasn't been up a day.
Love ya sis, and thanks for calling to check up! Breaking up with someone sucks anyway but especially if you thought this was "it."
Love ya sis,

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cassie! It was great to talk to you, but I totally love your posts! It is so much fun to see your take on life abroad. Today in Iowa was another SNOWY yucky day, unspringlike, but punctuated with interesting critters. We captured a raccoon in the barn that I think Natalie named Melvin. We are slowly moving the raccoon population out to Palisades Park and Wildlife refuge. Natalie and I moved a pregnant female a few days ago that we'd caught in the live trap. I forgot what Natalie named her.

A squirrel moved into Mandi's place and has been having squirrel parties day and night, using the kitchen counter as his bathroom. Susan and I put out another live trap baited with peanuts and peanut butter. He tripped the trap Friday, but didn't get caught. Zay, who has been fighting with the squirrel over it's squatter status said if it is going to stay, it needs to pitch in on the rent! He was happy to find the squirrel in the trap when he came home at seven p.m. Mandi & I went over to take custody of the cage and the largish red squirrel, which Mandi named Milton Squirrel.

We decided to take him to Natalie's house and let him loose. Chloe, who had gone with us, was whining and frantic because she thought it was HER squirrel. We left Chloe in the car when we let it go. It ran on the ground across Natalie's yard, heading directly back toward 4th Avenue SW. Do squirrels have a homing instinct?

Well, it was fun and games in Iowa today!
Lots of love,

11:14 AM  
Blogger Claytonian said...

I never read anything you write and have no idea what the contents of this post were.

8:33 PM  
Blogger toctoc said...

I like how, in part, this is a record of Colin buying things and then watching them break. (Answer to yr. e-mail soon--in final paper hell at the moment.)

11:03 AM  
Blogger toctoc said...

pea ess that was me and me = Rebeca

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we museum types would have loved a description of the inside...

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Kurisu said...

Alas! How tragic that you ended it so quickly! I am a random internet surfer who stumbled across your page and have been reading it for quite a while now. Not only is it so informative (I'm headed to Japan in a couple of years), but your writing/stories is/are beautiful, fascinating, and addictive! I've seen you berate it/them countless times as worthless and boring, but I have little doubt that there are other random surfers out there enjoying your blog as much as I. And, according to all of the comments you get, nobody disagrees with me.

In the future, please don't cut your entries short! Onegaishimasu!

11:55 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I cares I cares! I have been waiting for days to hear how China redeemed itself after groping you on the subway!!

3:36 PM  
Blogger archipelagic said...

I just want to thank everyone who commented. I guess I have readers I didn't know about! I've been in a weird mood recently, and I assumed since no one commented that no one was reading. But thanks for letting me know that you do read and enjoy it, and feel free to continue to comment.

12:56 AM  

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