This weekend, Trenia and I were entertaining ourselves by walking around, as usual. Literally. Just checking things out. A mall by our house always has something going - whether it be someone peddeling nail polish, DVDs, the Expo Mascot, Umbrellas, Cuff Links, Wallets, Socks, Purses, Fruit, McDonalds Coupons, Hair Clips, Clothes, Scarves, Luggage, WHATEVER YOU CAN THINK OF... it will probably be there. Long story short... Trenia and I enjoyed far more than an open market. We were treated to a show from some break dancers and some magic! The magician actually called me and a Chinese woman up on stage to participate in the act. Many of the tricks were visibly lame, but some, I was wowed by! The best part - the Hello Kitty Pen for participating. What more can you ask for when all you really wanted was to walk around outside?!
I mentioned earlier that we (Lindsey (classmate), Graham (her husband), and Craig (her brother)) conquered Shanghai. This is how and why.
They arrived Friday evening. I took them down the strip of street vendors that line one side of our apartment. Trenia and I have our set places that we like at this point:
Fried Noodles = First place with a blue awning Cold Noodles = Lady in the middle Fried Rice = A cart that changes locations, but they have a guy who appears to be about our age whose name is Dream, and his dad cooks the rice. Dishes with Meat and Vegetables = The little guys who wear the white hats (Cut me some slack. If I could speak Chinese I would find out more about what they hats mean and why they wear them!)
Anyway, we went to get some food. There was a new cart in town with a HUGE selection and a GREAT WOKER! Not only did I get my dinner there, but Lindsey, Graham, and Craig did as well. I felt like I was cheating on the fried rice crew who was sitting next to the new cart. It’s crazy how loyalties can be formed in a few short weeks!
We turned it in “early” and got up on Saturday to hit the ground running. Saturday morning we toured the East side of town along the river, hunted down a famous dumpling restaurant, and trekked our way to the Expo! It was a brilliantly exciting and adventurous day! (note: check a Johnson in Jilin for a great recap) Touring around with them made it feel like I was in a new city! I loved being a super tourist!
Sunday we were slower moving in the morning dew Saturday being so exhausting! Sunday was a rainy day. We were stoked we had made the most of Saturday when the weather was nice! We went to the aquarium with one million Chinese kids, shuffled around town for far too long looking for drunken shrimp, got a CUPPING MASSAGE, took a power nap, and then headed out again around 230am for the Holland v. Spain final.
Craig and I grabbed awesome videos on the walk home from the soccer match… FRESHLY SLAUGHTERED HOGS STRAPPED TO THE BACK OF A BIKE! T.I.C. (I’m stealing this from Team Africa… This. Is. China.)
After sleeping in until about noon, we started moving again and tried our hand at finding the allusive drunken shrimp! This is shrimp that are still alive, but have been bathed in sweet alcohol. Thus, making them intoxicated enough to be able to eat them alive!China strives to have the freshest food in their cuisine! Craig and I were DEAD SET on finding these things. We wrestled over a half hour through a game of of charades with the crew above to find out if they had the drunken shrimp google told us they had or not. Long story short, I’m glad we were with very patient people, or else we would probably have been ditched in the search. Our hunt for drunken shrimp lives on… I will find them before I leave China. Now that I think about not completing the drunken shrimp conquest, maybe conquering Shanghai is a bit exaggerated, but it doesn’t lessen our great time!
In defeat, Craig and I ate cooked shrimp... Sadly, Lindsey and company had to leave town and fly north. Their visit rejuvenated me and my relationship with Shanghai!
I know I still need to blog about last weekend, and I also need to blog about a couple of other things going on... BUT THIS IS CRAZY!
There was a UFO sighting in Hangzhou, the city that Mirch, Trenia, and I visited with Roger (the guy who sat next to me on my flight to Shanghai).
I'm not saying that I don't believe it. I'm not saying that I do. All I am saying is that the air traffic controllers completely shut down the airport near Hangzhou for over 4 hours due to an UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT!!!!
Maybe I can catch a ride on that thing back to the States!!!
I was talking about this "shout out" with my mom and sister on skype... until the call dropped. I would NEVER complain about skype... the fact that I can VIDEO CALL friends and family is endlessly fascinating, mind blowing, comforting, and entertaining all at the same time. I'm not complaining. However, it is frustrating when the robotic voices start or you can't hear the other person at all... that's all I have to say about that.
SHOUT OUT... as several people have blogged about packing topics here is mine:
Before I left, my concerned family was helping me prepare for my trip. They were helping me think of every last thing that I might need. The items below are things that I would not have packed had a) someone not bought it for me, b) physically took me to the store to purchase it, or c) inform me that I would need it.
1. EARPLUGS! Aunt Nancy - bless her for sleeping in the same bed as my Uncle Jim who can SAW SOME LOGS recommended this. This was really really clutch. I'm not sure I'll sleep without them even when I get back.
2. Rain jacket! Being monsoon season... I would have been a fool not to have had one. Thank god my mom took me to go get one when I was about to blow it off.
3. TRAVEL BOOKS! My sister took me to pick them out and even bought them for me! Many restaurants, fun things, and even art history lessons for my project have come from those books!!!!!
4. EmergenC and other meds... Rach saved the day here too. Encouraging me to get more than I would have! Fortunately, (knock on wood) I have not needed to take any meds since I have been here, but I've had them to share with those who have needed them!
5. My flip cam and flip charger!!!! Even though I haven't been able to load my videos this summer.... I will have them for when I get back!
I know there are more... but these are the MVP items that I am constantly thinking... MAN - I sure am glad I have these!!!
My mom sent me this pic from the Neighborhood Fourth of July Parade!
Grandpa and Maizi are rockin' it out in their 90's... if we all can only be as lucky!
I have another blog in me. However, it is not in a place where I can tap into it right now. My 6am bed time after SPAIN CONQUERED THE WORLD CUP... has tonight's bed time setting in much earlier than usual! Lindsey, Graham, and Craig (Lindsey's brother) were in town this weekend. Not to brag... but I'll say one thing... WE CONQUERED SHANGHAI! I absolutely loved having them here!!!
Some have said that in some regions they eat everything that flies, swims, and EVERYTHING in between. Another saying is that they eat everything that has legs, except tables and chairs! AYE!
Other than food, their use of bamboo constantly amazes me! Scaffolding, mean street-sweeping-machines (bamboo brooms), my house shoes, side dishes, table decorations, and on and on and on… bamboo is everywhere. I kind of feel like bamboo is China’s duck tape!
And waste management… Scotty here you go! China is all over it. There are people hauling (not brush like Dad, Jim and Gpa!) cardboard, random construction materials, styrofoam (you knew that one was coming), and anything else you can imagine and doing something with it! I have no idea where most of it goes, but it seems as though, everything will have a place and be reused if it can be!
Last week, I happened upon a waste sorting area! I was dropped off by my taxi a little premature while in route to an art gallery. I was supposed to meet some people so I thought that if I just stayed put, they would find me! I ended up having a “conversation” with this man sorting the trash. He was speaking Chinese, I was speaking English. Both of us were gesturing, talking rather loudly, and laughing (mostly) for about five minutes; I have no idea what we actually said to each other. It didn’t really matter.
Luckily the people I was meeting found me and we were on our way! Oh China.
I single handedly derailed progress this afternoon. I was obsessed with the cement pouring in the area around the gallery this morning. I don’t know why, but wet pavement is like a magnetic force drawing me in without escape! I jokingly (but secretly very seriously) mentioned how much fun it would be to write our names in the sidewalk or break some of our ceramic pieces and make a mosaic at the gallery entrance!
Before I knew it… We were ALL outside… Best. Day. Ever.
Mosaics... will take place tomorrow! The ceramic pieces are staged and ready!
My blogging has been abysmal lately. At BEST! I’m sure most people have given up on the blog at this point, but I plan to do my best to give the “cliff’s” of my last couple weeks, and once again… make aspirations to do better!
In the other times that I have been away, specifically, Spain or in Washington at Holden, (a retreat center – not a cult like Rachel and Jessie like to claim that it was! :)) I went through the same sort of phase that I went through over these last couple of weeks. During the middle point, I unintentionally, semi-lost communication with people outside of what I was doing. The lack of communication was merely a byproduct of my general mood and questioning of everything going on around me.
I still do not fully understand the culture (desperately want to, but that can’t happen in 10 weeks, let’s be real.) I see things and want to ask people questions; I can’t. Many of the things that were crazy-shiney-new the first few weeks have lost their sheen. I question if I’ve been as efficient with my time as I could have been. I hope my project will turn out great. I wonder what it is exactly that I’m learning or have already learned.
I know… the true “ah-ha” moments will come later on down the road (BUT I WANT THEM NOW!) at a least expectant-moment, when I think – YES! China! That is where I came to realize… At least this is the way my major life experiences have been thus far. As I’m moving through this crazy Chinese woked experience – it’s hard to discern the full impact of what I’m moving through.
What I DO KNOW is that a lot has happened since I have last blogged! In the spirit of my fellow Rebecca who I will be living with NEXT MONTH – I am making a list.
1) Dinner with Dr. Singhal’s friend – Arthur Wang. (note: read Mircha’s blog for a more detailed account!) It was a fantastic evening filled with great advice, genuine conversation, new friendships, new project opportunities, tequila (oh… my…), and TEXAS BBQ!!! For me, the new project opportunity happened when Arthur said, “Don’t plan for an event; HOST AN EVENT! I can make this happen. NEXT WEEK!” (That will be a whole blog post…)
2) More AWESOME GALLERIES! The translator from Yale ended up helping me out a lot and was lots of fun to hang out with!
3) Trenia and I have started CHINESE LESSONS!
4) A concert by Abigail Washburn, Belafleck’s wife!
5) DIRTY, yet delicious crawfish! AH!
6) Chinese Kareoke! SO. MUCH. FUN. Every party has a private room and controls the play list. I must admit that the random singers were missed, but this type of karaoke was super fun.
7) 4th of July! Apart from having NO FIRWORKS show, parade, neighborhood yard volleyball, or lake time… we managed to have a great time. We went to a bar where there were lots of Americans (and SOUTHERNERS!) who enjoyed American music, a pie-eating contest, and a beer drinking contest. (Fortunately, I did not participate!) Hallie… we did meet some AWESOME people from Vanderbilt!
8) The clothes from the fabric market are FABULOUS! Trenia and I are stoked about everything that was made.
9) Loads and loads of random encounters with people, new foods, new friends, and more to come…
If I slack and you are missing my blog, shot me an email and harass me about it; that tends to get me in gear! :)
I am a Clinton School of Public Service graduate student. This summer I will be working on my international public service project in Shanghai to help build community engagement through the arts. I am SO EXCITED!