They see me rollin…

   I am not a huge fan of the roller disco club across the street. For one thing, it combines two things of which I have little interest in. That, and the beer is really expensive, and thats not how I roll (pun intended).
   Last night I was essentially coaxed and bribed into attending the roller disco club with my colleague Matthew and Chinese affiliate Terry. I agreed under the terms that we would have to bargain our way through the door to avoid the entry fee, and that we would sneak our own beer in. In order to accomplish the latter we simply squeezed some beer into our pant legs and tucked the ends into our socks. Did we look cool? Nope. Was it better than paying 15 RMB for a beer? Yes’m it was. 
   I didn’t really want to be there and I definitely was not in the mood for dancing, especially not the way people in these clubs dance. They look like those Hawaiian dolls you put on your dashboard, but with wild octopus tentacles for arms…its absurd. Needless to say I parked my grumpy ass at a table and worked on my beer. A few minutes later I noticed this girl was dancing right in front of me…a little strange considering most people did this on the dance floor. I tried to ignore her, but it became a little difficult after a while. Its kind of like watching a car wreck, or the Jersey Shore, or a Chinese disco octopus. Eventually I had to migrate, but the club was pretty crowded and I only got a few feet away from her. Before I knew it there was a light tapping on my shoulded, and I turned to find the dancing girl smiling behind me. She motioned for me to follow her, and since I wasn’t having much fun in the club, I figured what the hell. I knew I wasn’t going to leave with anyone, but I thought best case scenario this could end up being pretty funny, so I turned and followed.
   We got outside and met up with two of Dancing Girl’s friends. One spoke a little English, so we’ll call her English Girl, and the other one didn’t say anything, so we’ll just act like she wasn’t even there. Dancing Girl grabbed my hand and started to pull me across the street towards the ever-so-romantic KFC (open 24 hours). When we got there English Girl insisted that I eat something. I told her I wasn’t hungry and that I didn’t want anything, so her conclusion was to buy me a soda. I hate soda, and I tried to politely tell her that she could have it, but she just kept shoving it at me. Oh well, I pretended to drink it while my three companions scarfed down some french fries.
   We eventually got into some light conversation. They asked what I did, I said I was an English teacher, and they didn’t believe me. The I asked how old they were. English Girl said she was 200,000 because she was a manager. No no not your salary, I said, what is your age? She looked at me like a dog looks at the answering machine when its owners voice comes on. But of course, not five minutes later, she asked me what my age was. You’re kidding right? I told them I was 22, and this really shocked them. Dancing Girl started poking at my facial stuble. I told them I know I sometimes look older than 22. They then told me that they were 25 and that I looked older than them. Well for starters, everyone in China looks younger then they actually are. I talked to a kid the other day who I thought was 18 but later found out had three grandkids. Alright thats not true at all.
   They insisted I call my friend to come join us. I obliged since Matthew was the one who dragged me to the club in the first place. While we awaited his arrival English Girl told me that Dancing Girl loved me very much. Aaaaalright, GET ME OUT OF HERE! At that point I hoped Matthew would come with a good excuse for us to leave, but  instead he fell victim to the allure of free fried chicken once English Girl offered to buy…typical.
   After that we both made the best of our awkward situation. We used our limited Chinese to tell the girls the wrong translations of words (last week I tried to convince a girl that bread was called thundernut) as well as different lies about one another. By the time we finally called it quits, and left our comrades knee deep in chicken bones, I think Matthew was a married male model and I was still just an English teacher. In retrospect I would have liked to have seized the opportunity to finally convince someone I was an astronaut, but oh well there is always next time.
   We bid our buddies farewell and made a mad dash for the door. All in all it was a far more interesting night then I had expected, and it gave me a better excuse to avoid the roller disco club. Win win in my book!

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Oh Hangzhou

So being that I had a few days off for the Lunar festival I decided to take a trip outside the city (my first time since arriving in Shanghai). My associate Matthew was taking a trip with his language exhange partner, Dott, to Hangzhou which is one of the more popular tourist destinations amongst the Chinese. I won’t go into too much detail about Hangzhou (although Wikipedia would love to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangzhou ) but I will say that it is a beautiful city situated near a massive body of water called the West Lake. The lake is a top attraction and people from all over the country come to see it. One reason is these three small tower-like objects that stick out of the water, and are featured on the back of the 1 rmb bill as shown here:
tower things

   Very interesting. So anyway, we left Wednesday morning at around 6:15 AM in order to make it to the train station by 7:30 and catch an 8:00 train. Well…that didn’t exactly happen. We got to the station and had some difficulty finding Dott. (A side note: Chinese often choose English names for themselves, but sometimes they simply choose an American word as their name… for example I taught a kid named Five the other day) Once we met up with Dott, we then had to cross the entire station to get to our platform. So needless by 7:55 Matthew and I were following Dott through the crowded station at an all out sprint. THEN we meet Dott’s girlfriend (later named Jane by Matthew and I) and proceeded to cut the security line and hurl our bags through that x-ray tunnel thing. All this, plus more sprinting through the waiting area and an olympic leap over the metal gates only to be stopped by a wall of locked glass doors. Could we have gotten through these doors? Yes. How? Well there was a woman on the other side of the door with a key, and she would only have had to reach far enough up her ass to retrieve it and we would have made our train…but that didn’t happen. She shook her head and did her best to ignore us. We uttered some foul words, re-hopped the gate, and headed to the ticket office where we were able to exhange our useless tickets for new ones which got us on a train at 1:05 but left from a different station.
   We got to Shangha South Railway Station with just over 4 hours to kill. I was exhausted so I fell asleep on the floor for a while which led to a horrible dead leg and me falling twice in the middle of the station. OH! I almost forgot, this is when we met Kevin (an American traveling to Hangzhou as well) and his four female companions from Finland. They will come in to the story later. But after my nap we proceeded to board the train where I discovered that I would not get a seat. Apparently booking a long distance train is like booking a plane ride, which makes sense, except that you can book standing seats which means you simply stay on your feet for the whole ride. Well thats what we had, and although the train ride was not far by Chinese standards (a little under 2 hours), I was still really tired. There seemed to be only one solution and that was to sit on the floor semi-close to the bathroom where people would likely not stand, which was exactly what we did. Was it comfortable? No. Did it smell? Surprisingly not that bad. Did I completely own the maze game on my phone? You bet your sweet ass I did. 
   I forgot to mention that during this entire time it was raining and, despite Dott’s prediction, it continued to rain at different strengths for the duration of our stay. About halfway through the train ride Kevin approached us and asked if we had a place to stay. We did not. He offered to inquire about any vacancy in the hostel he and his entourage were staying at, and we took him up on that. Now, I’m not sure what happened next because there was a lot of phone passing between Dott and Kevin, but our group of four ended up sharing a room with Kevin’s group of five. I was a little uneasy about this but whatever, its what happens when you travel. We eventually arrived at the hostel and saw our room, which thankfully could fit us all. We each had an air matress which was more than I could ask for, and at 65 rmb a night it was definitely a bargain.
   The next few hours involved food, conversing with other guests, and of course alcohol. I was pretty tired so I didn’t drink much and headed to bed pretty early. Our room was set up like a loft with huge windows, one of which allowed a bright light to shine right on my face. Whatever…air matress, pillow, blanket…I’m good to go. Or so I thought! I may slip into caps during the next paragraph because bringing it up will likely make me mad.
   Around 1 AM one of the Finland girls comes back with a guy all while talking on the phone to her friend and trying to convey directions. She hands the phone to the guy, WHO DECIDES IT IS BETTER TO YELL THE DIRECTIONS INTO THE PHONE! Clearly this lost girl is a moron, or deaf, or both…but yelling definitely seems like it will fix the problem. We yell at the guy, he shuts up, we attempt sleep. NOT FOR LONG. In the time span of what can only be equivalent to ten minute drift-off, two random Chinese people decided to sleep in one of our beds. Shortly afterwards the rest of Finland came back and decided to have a fit. There was clapping, there was yelling, there was very little thinking. These guys definitely speak English, but again yelling was seen as the appropriate response. Kevin eventually comes back and attempts to get the story out of the Chinese folks, who apparently just stumbled upon this bed. Eventually Kevin said to just sleep there for the night and we would figure it out in the morning, which in my mind seemed like a reasonable solution. Well, Finland no likey this and Finland come back with a vengeance. THERE WAS YELLING, CLAPPING, FINLAND ACCENTS, AND ONE VERY CONFUSED CHINESE COUPLE! Eventually these girls managed to drive out our squatters, but did they shut up then? Of course not. It was time to deliberate. I was about to People’s Elbow-erate when finally they called it quits and passed out. Oh and, as I determined shortly afterwards, the bed the Chinese people were sleeping in was an extra one nobody was using.
   DAY 2: GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! That was all I kept thinking. Kevin, who had believed the Chinese people were sleeping in a bed we needed, offered his bed up as an extra and spent the night elsewhere. Upon his return he found us packing our backpacks up. We explained that we were probably going to sight see and maybe come back to the hostel if we decided to stay a second night (which until then was our original plan). We bid him farewell (while in the back of my mind I thought, good luck dude!) and headed out into the, now, turrential down pour. With no umbrellas, and being dressed for warm weather, we decided to seek out some ponchos. After eating a bowl of wet rice (which had a bug in it) and an egg (which was brown) we hopped on the bus and were on our way to the lake.
   Now I thought we might walk around the lake and check it out from the shore, but Dott suggested taking a tour boat around the lake. Sounded like a good plan to me until I saw the boat. I had expected one of the larger boats I had seen. Each one held a few dozen people and seemed to have more equipment for providing an adequate tour, like a motor for example. The boat Dott brought us too was a small boat with a canopy, which seated four people, and was powered by a man on the back with a paddle. I thought to myself, any other day this would be pretty cool but its pouring rain and this row boat looks like it can barely float. There is no way in hell I am getting in this thing.
   So about twenty minutes later our row boat captain/tour guide had nearly padled us out to an island in the middle of the lake. The so called canopy did little to keep the rain out, but I have to say at this point I didn’t care. The lake was gorgeous and the perspective I got from being out there was unlike any I could have gotten from the shore. I could see the city, and in the distance there were mountain and hills with small temples situated on their peaks. Plus, I got to see those tower things which was cool. Dott did his best to fill us in on what the tour guide was saying, but honestly the visual stimuli was enough to keep me interested. And then, for some reason, before returning to the dock we stopped at a shoreside jewelery store which specialized in selling pearls. They explained how pearls are made, which is kind of interesting, and then attempted to sell us some, which was futile since I have no need for a pearl necklack. Matthew on the other hand managed to get the sales girls number, so I guess for him it wasn’t a total waste of time.
   I’ll skip ahead because everything after that is boring and this is by far the longest manventure I have written so far. After the lake we decided we would just head back to Shanghai rather than seek out another hostel and leave in the morning. We had standing seats again, but this time we ended up standing next to three seats that went unclaimed for the majority of the ride so we got to sit for most of it. The only annoying part was the guy sharing the seats with us who blasted Chinese pop music for the entire 2 hour a 40 minute ride home (more stops on the way back). I have never been happier to get off a train. I would have kissed the ground but lets face it thats pretty disgusting and its not like I was lost at sea or something. I need to better prepare myself for these rides because trains are a HUGE means of transportation in China, with some rides lasting over 40 hours! Maybe for those trips I’ll book a seat for myself, or a bed, or a plane.

First Blood: Running Redemption

Anyone who ever considered themselves to be a serious runner knows that running is much more than a sport. Running is a virus that infects every inch of who you are. Like gravity, no matter how far you distance yourself from running it always pulls you back. I had every reason not to run in Shanghai. The air is complete shit, roads and sidewalks are rough and crowded, parks are few and far between and I have a better chance of not letting food fall from my chop-sticks then I do of finding a decent trail. But, as it often does, the withdrawel hit me hard and last night I set out for an easy three mile run. Three miles? That used to be my warm up, but I figured its better than nothing. I really had no way to guage what kind of shape I was in, so I thought it best not to overdue it. Well I ended up running three miles before deciding to turn around and head back, so my run ended up being a little longer than intended. I took a shorter road back, giving me about 5 miles total. Not great, but not bad. The atmosphere hanging over Shanghai makes me feel like I’m breathing through a snorkel as I run, and I was a little lightheaded when I got back, but I loved it. A worthy trade in my opinion. That said, the run felt great. It reminded me of the reason I liked running in the first place; simply the freedom to go wherever you choose all at the mercy of your own mechanics. Its nice to remember what you’re made of.  

NOW IN OTHER NEWS…

My certification class is wrapping up a little earlier than expected because of a Chinese holiday which, I think, is called the Lunar festival. All I know is people have been lining up for hours to buy these little pastries called Moon cakes which are a customary gift. They’re cakes? People line up for hours to buy concert tickets, or tickle-me-elmo….but cakes? I guess its just one of the many mysteries of the Chinese that I will have to figure out.

On a side note, the cakes are pretty good. One of the flavors is called MUNG berry…hehe mung.

Shanghai is starting to feel more and more like home every day. Thats not to say its taking the place of home(which I miss…esp. Eloise) but simply that I feel more comfortable here. I am still learning Chinese at an absurdly slow rate….which brings me to my next point:

MEAT: Everything in China is meat. People eat meat like its their job. Theres a guy across the street from my apartment who, late at night, drags a grill to the sidewalk and grills meat and vegetables for hours. Is this meat sanitary? Who knows. Is it awesome? Very. Does that cancel out any sanitary concerns? Almost. But anyway, my colleague Matthew and I often hang out with this guy and his buddies around the grill, and it is actually helping me pick up more Chinese. Most of the time I have no idea what they’re saying, but whatever, theres nothing more bro then a bunch of dudes chilling out and gettin that meat.

Its ok to laugh at that whole paragraph haha.

I refuse to fist pump

I went to my first Chinese club on Sunday night. The reason I am now writing about it on Tuesday (its officially Tuesday here) is because I had to wrap my head around everything I saw. Plus I don’t drink very often here so I spent most of the day in bed with a hangover. So, let me begin with a brief layout of the establishment I found myself in the fateful evening.

THE ENTRANCE: My associate Matthew and I took an elevator to the second floor of this building, the first floor being comprised of shops, and paid an 18 RMB entry fee. 18 RMB! That’s like 3 of those cheap DVDs!! I’m not made of money! This had better be good.

THE NOT-GOOD INSIDE: I guess Sunday isn’t a huge night to go out. The club was pretty much inactive. The crowd had essentially migrated to the perimeter of the dance floor and posted up at the tables lining the walls. In the middle of the room was a, surprisingly vacant, raised dance floor with a stripper pole. Feeling a little out of place, I did what every awkward person does when they walk into a bar, I strolled over to the bathroom.

THE SECOND ROOM: Neighboring the dance floor is a second room which contains, yup you guessed it, A ROLLER RINK! But not just any roller rink, this bad-boy was the real deal. No rollerblades, none of those lame things you buckled on to your shoes as a kid that turned them into a shitty pair of skates, just real roller skates. I haven’t ridden those since…ever. Are you serious? I wasn’t gonna be the only kid on the block using those while everyone else had rollerblades. I would have gotten beaten up! I would have beaten myself up! But anyway, the rink looked like something out of a roller disco movie. I was waiting for T.I. to skate by and ask me if I want to join him in a daring bank heist. Do you see what I did there? I combined two movies featuring T.I. (ATL and Takers) into one reference. I’m proud of myself, but not so proud that I’ll stop the story there.

BACK TO THE DANCING ROOM: We met up with Matthew’s friend, Terry, in the dancing room. Terry is Chinese, but he speaks fluent English, thus making him both a valuable asset and a bro. After hanging out with him for about ten minutes a giant smoke machine was seemingly turned on by the Hand of God. I guess this is the signal for dancing to begin because almost immediately all manner of folk began crowding on the tiny stripper pole-stage thing. I think they were dancing. I mean I can’t dance very well but I have seen people who can, and this slightly resembled that. Needless to say, I had my reservations about joining the masses crowded on that little platform, but you know what they say, ‘If you can’t beat them, subject yourself to immeasurable embarrassment’.

THE DANCING: Trying to woo the opposite sex is difficult when you speak different languages. I decided to rely on the universal language of dance. Unfortunately my dance language is the equivalent to an illiterate homeless man with no teeth, and thus I was widely unsuccessful. I think I have a better chance of learning Mandarin then learning to dance, so I’ll probably just stick to that.

THE SIDEWALK: Having accepted failure and deciding it was best to save our energy and dignity for another night, Matthew and I got a few beers and parked ourselves on the sidewalk outside our apartment. We were joined shortly after by Terry, and the three of us had a pretty deep conversation about politics, China, and other stuff that I can’t remember. Sitting on the sidewalk with some bros, having a few beers and attempting to talk to passing girls via Terry, I began to feel pretty gangster. An American Gangster if you will! OH SNAP! A third T.I. movie! That’s the trifecta baby! The T.I.-fecta, if you will haha (Coach Pete would be proud).

Yea so that was essentially my first experience with a Chinese club. All in all, it was ok. Sorry this post was a little long winded. It was just such an important event…next time I go I will have to bring my skates along and get my Roll Bounce on! Haha alright that’s enough.

Ehhhh…its Sunday?

Other foreigners are few and far between. But today while eating in, where else, a Pizza Hut I saw one. I mean they aren’t that rare, they do exist. Its not like leprechans which, as a kid, you’re led to believe are real until your eight year old self spends three hours in the backyard looking for a four leaf clover and comes back with nothing but poison ivy. But I think in Shanghai the number of foreigners is something like 1 for every 200 natives, and the majority live in the central city. So anytime you see another foreigner you generally give one another a nod, its pretty strange. For my friends from home, its kind of like how Alex waves to other Jeep owners even though he doesn’t know them. Very strange, but surprisingly natural.

There is a really big grocery store/clothing store/other things store just down the road from my apartment. The building is multi-leveled, and the food, toothpaste, etc. is all on the top floor. I go here alot, its how I survive, I know the layout pretty well. So why bring up this seemingly normal aspect of my trip? BECAUSE TODAY THEY SWITCHED THE ESCALATORS! What do you mean Colin? Well I’ll tell you reader…they made the down escalator go up, and the up escalator go down. Why did they do this? I have no idea. Was it frustrating? Slightly. Is it shocking? Since my arrival in China I have come to expect surprises, but this was just unprecedented. I mean, I’m sure theres some escalator-scientist out there who will be hunting down escalator-porn and incidentally come across my blog and proceed to supply a detailed explanation of why escalator direction needs to be switched from time to time. Colin, its so the gears erode evenly….I don’t care, it was strange and it kicked off the number of odd discoveries in today’s shopping trip.

Like most grocery stores, my local store carries a wide array of live seafood. I generally try to avoid this section because it smells really bad and I feel like all the fish are looking at me and saying “Let me out please, blub blub”. However today I had no choice but to cross through this aquatic threshold in order to get to the cold aisle of snacks on the other side. I took a quick glance over at the fish tanks and what did I see?! TURTLES! FROGS! AND EELS! Well the eels I really didn’t care that much about, and I’ve eaten frog legs before so they weren’t too concerning to me, BUT TURTLES! I felt so bad for them, plus they were idiots and kept trying to climb over the glass to escape. Listen guy, you have feet meant for navigating soggy, thick, and heavily hydrated surfaces not to mention your one of nature’s slowest creatures…escape is not in the cards for you. That kind of ignorance is probably what got you caught in the first place. Yea, I’m sure that net looked super welcoming but I bet right about now you wish you listened to your mom when she asked, “if your dumb friends were all jumping off a bridge would that mean you should to?”. It wasn’t a challenge buddy, it was a warning. You shouldn’t have dropped out of school and pursued the first hot piece of shell that you crossed paths with. I mean who knows, you could have been as successful as the investment banker turtle from down the street that mom was always comparing you to. Instead you’re going to end up as soup…or whatever they do with turtles here.

poor little guy

MOVING ON!
I think tonight I am going to my first Chinese club. I’m not really a “club” kind of guy, I would much rather sit in a bar with some friends and just hang out, but this place is right across the street and its loud so I guess I’m going. This place has big shoes to fill as far as night life goes, having already been to The Loft AND Sandbar. So yea I’m sure something interesting will come out of that. Thats all for now!

Long Break

So I recently moved everything into an apartment where I will be staying for the duration of my certification course. However, it took me about a week to figure out how to get my internet working, and thus there have been no posts. Thats not to say my week has been short of excitement though! Heres a brief run down of whats been going on over here in Shanghai…for me…basically just what I have been doing:

GOING TO CLASS: I go to class for most of the day. My course is 3 weeks long but my day goes from 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM, so its alot to cram in. I have been learning alot and on Saturday I will teach my first class, sort of as a test run.

EATING: The local food choices range from high end chinese restaurants to street side vendors, and so far all are pretty good. Chinese food is a little different here than in the states, but most dishes include some kind of rice or noodles. Dumplings are my favorite so far, but you can’t live on dumplings alone…which brings me to my next point.

MY FIRST SICK DAY: I am home today, hence my ability to update the blog, because of something I ate. I can’t be certain but I have the sneaking suspicion that it was the pizza place I went to for lunch yesterday. I started feeling a bit off after I capped off my 9 inch four cheese personal pizza, plus two of classmates unclaimed slices (tuna and onions…ick). Needless to say my pizza craving has been satisfied for now, and perhaps next time I’ll just hit up Pizza Hut. HOWEVER two days ago I sampled about four or five different types of Chinese dishes, all tasting fantastic, which could also be why I’m bed-ridden today.

SMOKING: It seems like everyone in China smokes, so I figured why not? I’m here, this is an adventure, and I’ll jump on that bandwagon for a little while.

QUITING SMOKING: 3 cigarettes later I pretty much called it quits. I just don’t think its for me, plus my clothes smelled. Gross.

HASH HARRIERS: I went on a run last Sunday with a group of runners called the Shanghai Hash House Harriers. Basically they meet once a week, and a designated person lays down markers throughout the city. The rest of the runners have to navigate their way along the designated route, which eventually leads them to a bar. I figured this was a pretty interesting idea, and as far as I can tell Shanghai does not have any designated “running clubs” so having people to run with would be nice. Well, the run was interesting to say the least as most of the markers were washed away but a brief but powerful rainstorm. Needless to say I had a great time, and met some really cool people. I look forward to more runs with them.

CHEAP DVDs: One of the other teachers here showed me a place near me apartment that sells cheap dvds, most of which are still in theaters or have not come out yet in the US. The basic DVD costs about 9RMB…which in American currency is a little over $1.50. This is, possibly, the best discovery yet.

PEOPLE IN THEIR UNDERWEAR: Old guys walking around in their boxers, and older women in their pajamas (underwear may not be there thing) is definitely interesting to see. Granted it is pretty hot here, and I’m not one to criticize any attempt to stay cool, but I’m not sure thats a trend I can get into.

PUBLIC URINATION: Yea, you see that too sometimes.

CHINESE PEOPLE: As most of you (all six people who actually read this) may have gathered from the bus driver story, the Chinese people are really warm and welcoming. So far everywhere I go they make every attempt to be accomodating, often times finding the one person in a store who speaks any english to translate for me, or doing their best to understand my poor attempts at gestures and body language. They definitely make a foreigner feel welcome.

MY CHINESE: It’s getting better, but slowly. At the pace of a glacier, but not one of the fast Al Gore glaciers. This would be like the slow glacier that none of the other glaciers want on their team at recess. But hey, progress is progress.

So thats pretty much what is going down at the moment. Hopefully now I will be able to update this more regularly. This way Vince can get his fix, so this ones for you Vinny Pelosi 😉

Bros on a Bus

Buses can be a tricky thing to figure out, especially when you can’t read the local text. Today was my first trip on a bus and needless to say I ended up going in the wrong direction, landing myself at the Shanghai South Railway Station. I made it pretty obvious that I was in the wrong place by not getting on the bus, and thus the crew (a man and a woman) took it upon themselves to escort me to customer service whose English is, for lack of better words, pretty basic. I couldn’t convey where I wanted to go, and they couldn’t grasp what I was trying to say, it was a mess. The situation ended with me sneaking back on a bus on the same line as the one I had just been on, and thus being taken in the correct direction and landing me at my destination. Honest mistake, typical tourist story, no big deal. Now I should mention that the reason for this trip was to take stuff from the hostel to my apartment, and I was transporting this stuff in my rolling suitcase. Fast forward about six hours. I went out with one of the other teachers and got back in time to take the last bus back to neighborhood of my hostel. I was catching this bus in a different spot then where I had been dropped off, but nevertheless I was pretty sure I had it figured out. I was a pro at this point! I got on the bus, and just my luck, it is crewed by the same man and woman as the misadventure bus. Right away the woman recognizes me and within minutes sends a girl over to ask where I am going. I try to pronounce my street…I can’t…the girl gives up. I’m a little aggravated at this point. Who is this woman to assume that I can’t navigate my way around Shanghai? Despite, of course, that she has no evidence to suggest the contrary. I kept looking at the woman as she glared at me menacingly. I couldn’t wait to get off at my stop. I started thinking about ways to exit. Should I smile and wink at her? Maybe that was too much, maybe just the smile would work. Should I do a cartwheel off the bus? That would be cool but I don’t think I have to coordination. At this point the number of people on the bus has been steadily dwindling. I couldn’t care less, I just can’t wait to get off at my stop and make this woman feel like a jerk. Now there is even less people on the bus. I look back at the woman and see she is counting up the days money. Yea you count that money bus woman. I turn to face forward and, to my complete and utter surprise, the bus is empty…we have passed the last stop, it was not mine, and now we are pulling into the bus station. Ah shit! I look back at the bus woman, she puts her hands up and tilts her head to side all while giving me a smart ass smile. I feel like Charlie Brown after he gets the football pulled out from under him. You win this round bus woman.

Oh but it doesn’t end there! Now I’m at the bus station, and the bus driver brings me into the manager’s office. By now they both know I don’t speak Mandarin, and so they decide to call their superior. After what sounds like a bit of a debate, the driver hands me the phone. The voice on the other end is speaking English, and asks me where I am going. Shit, I thought to myself, this is how I got in this situation in the first place. I try to pronounce the name of the street correctly, and fail. Eventually he figures out what I mean, and asks me to put the driver back on the phone. More debate ensues, followed by the driver hanging up and motioning for me to come outside. So the driver, the manager, and I exit the building and walk through the parking lot. The driver branches off and gets on his little moped, and I wave goodbye and follow the manager, assuming he will show me where a taxi is. I get maybe 50 meters and I hear the driver yelling to me. I turn back and I notice he has moved forward on his bike seat and is motioning for me to join. I almost laugh, this can’t be serious, that bike looks like something a little person would use to ride around one of those steel globes at the circus.

So now Chinese Evel Knievel and I are weaving through Shanghai traffic on the back of this glorified scooter, my balance only slightly affected by the massive rolling suitcase I am holding. You remember how I said crosswalks are meaningless in China? Well apparently red lights are too because we ran them left and right, all the while playing chicken with every pedestrian that got in our way. After a while I couldn’t do anything but laugh because, with the exception of feeling terrible for making this guy drive me home, this was pretty awesome. Being from New Jersey, the land of careful drivers, I have a great respect for anyone who can navigate the road with the elegance and precision that this bus driver displayed on his moped.

When our journey finally ended, after me and the driver fist bumped, I jumped off the moped and reached in my pocket to give the guy a tip. Now I can’t understand Chinese, but I assume this is what he said, “Nah bro no worries, come by my house for dinner sometime and we can play Chinese Madden and pound a couple natties”. I felt a tear start to build up in my eyes. I bid my fellow bro farewell, and watched that hell hog race off into the night. The captain of the Bro Bus, master of the Broped, and a classy dude all around, this one is for you bus man.

The World Expo

The World Expo, originally the Worlds Fair, is being held in Shanghai this year. For those not familiar, its a chance for countries to show off what they are developing on the technological front and I guess how that will benefit the rest of the world. This year the theme was ‘going green’, so alot of the building had earth-esqu themes. It was honestly really cool, and despite the grueling heat, I can almost say the 4 hour line for the Japan exhibit was worth it. Their whole presentation was centered around this bird, some kind of crane?, which I guess was just recently reintroduced into the Japanese wild after being bred in China. Then, somehow this turned into robots playing the violin, personal motorized chairs straight out of WALL-E, and a camera that looks like one of those x-ray machines from the dentist. Clearly PIXAR failed in its attempt to warn the world that too much assistance from robots will lead us into a life of floating obesity, but hey if that robots serenades me on command with its eclectic musical talents…i think thats a sacrifice I would be willing to make. 

I attended the fair with four American bros I met in the hostel. They wanted to go to some fancy Japanese restaurant afterwards, and invited me along. Who am I to turn down food? It was easily the most absurd restaurant I have ever been to. There was a motion censored touch pad that caused the outside was to slide open, which is how you enter the restaurant. I was told everyday there is a different passcode. The restaurant is pretty dark, and the food was fantastic. Going to the bathroom required the individual to navigate an intircate labyrinth, in which some doors merely opened to mirrors. The bathroom doors themselves had knobs on the wrong side, so you had to push on the opposite side of the door to get it open. By the time I finally got into the bathroom and was prepped and ready I was half expecting my piss to defy gravity and start floating up to a seperate toilet in the ceiling (which didn’t happen). After that I joined my fellow Americans in a drink of saki (im looking at you here o-leaders) and then headed back to my hostel where I collapsed upon arrival, and woke up 45 minutes ago lol. I’m still working on posting those videos, or finding an external sight not blocked by the government that I can post them on. That is all for now, in the meantime, you stay classy America.

Colin-1, Chinese scammers-0

I almost got scammed today by 3 groups of people. Well let me rephrase that; three groups of people attempted a well known scam on me which, luckily, I was informed about prior. I guess it’s a common thing for young Chinese individuals who have some fluency in English to walk around areas with a heavy tourist presence and strike up conversations with unsuspecting foreigners. This happened to me today. The conversations come out of nowhere, almost always starting with “where are you from”, and from there lead into questions about how you like your stay in Shanghai, etc. Eventually they ask you if you want to join them at their favorite tea house, or something like that, and I guess once you go with them they scam you. I’m not sure if they mug you or try to convince you to buy something. I was significantly larger than the males that were part of these groups so I can’t imagine why they would think mugging me would work, unless they pull a gun on me or something. Either way, I knew about the scam and simply told them that I was going to do my own thing today and just wander around the city, then shook their hands and left.  At first I just thought I was getting hit on a lot, which may have actually been the case in one instance when three girls asked me to join them at the restaurant we were outside of, but this was probably a scam haha. I find this kind of disappointing; it would be cool if people were just open to inviting random individuals to lunch or to hang out. This all happened as I explored the Bund area of downtown China, which is the area along the river. I took a few videos but I can’t upload them for some reason. I’m going to have to figure out some alternative method of getting videos on here, or find out a way to convert the ones I have in order to make them compatible. Alright well that’s all for now. Me and Yao Ming have a long overdue game of streetball tonight and frankly its time that guy got dunked on in his own house, luckily I brought my PF Flyers to Shanghai.