I love cultural exchanges…

Sorry I couldn’t post yesterday. I had every intention of getting online, but in usual fashion, I was running late for a train, so I opted for a shower instead of getting online, LOL.

I think the last time I posted was Monday. I didn’t do much Monday night. I was supposed to meet up with E, the girl that asks a lot of questions, LOL, but we missed each other through out the day. That’s the interesting thing about traveling. You meet people and since most people are traveling too, the only way to link up is to try and meet at a specific time. But that doesn’t always work…as was the case that day. So I wandered around Shanghai in the French Concession area. It really wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I expected a heavy French influence…something along the lines of the French Quarter. However, the area is absolutely nothing like that–very trendy, high end shops and shopping malls. It really wasn’t all that special. Shanghai is one of the most modern cities in the country–and I realized that during my visit. There’s nothing “old school” about it. I had images from the Indiana Jones movies in my head and clearly was disappointed, LOL.

The next day, E and I met up. We were supposed to go to a water village (about 2 hours outside of Shanghai). But since I had a train ticket for that night and the buses coming back wouldn’t get back until late, we had to do something else. So we went to this area called Yunan Bazaar. There’s a temple there (which was mediocre) and tons of shopping. So that’s basically what we did all day. It was a really cute area–a lot of Chinese style buildings–but 95% of them were shops and restaurants.

I hadn’t really done much shopping before Tuesday. I’d done a little along the way–but I already sent home most of my clothes because my bag was heavy and didn’t want to carry a whole bunch of stuff. But I figured Tuesday was a good a time as any since I am coming home on Thursday, LOL.

The whole day was really relaxed. I exerted so little energy that for once I was actually not exhausted at the end of the day.

E is a really interesting person. I’m not quite sure how I mean interesting. Not in a good way. Not in a bad way. Just…interesting. It was really cool because she speaks Mandarin and very good English (as well as French and I think some Cantonese too. She’s from Hong Kong and her father is Chinese). But sometimes I felt like she’s the type to just get bewildered and just sort of wait for things to resolve itself? That’s definitely not a common “characteristic” of people traveling–especially long term. Like, she would ask for directions and someone would say “it’s that way.” But she wouldn’t ask which way “that way” was? And instead of asking a follow up just get frustrated. I have to say, it is easy to get frustrated with directions around here–people are notoriously unclear when giving directions–even people whose job it is to give them. But you have to be persistent–and just keep asking questions until they tell you what you need to know.

Anyway–so after a day of shopping, it was finally time to leave Shanghai. I was actually excited to get back to Beijing (that says a lot about Shanghai, LOL. It’s great for bars/clubs on the weekend. But other than that…blah).

I was on another hard sleeper and again, on the very top bunk. I actually prefer that because it’s a little more private (if there’s such a thing). Unlike my last hard sleeper experience, there were several English speakers on this train. I met four people: an English guy named Roland, an Australian girl, Lena, a New Zealander named Finn and an American guy, Josh.

When I was in Europe, I absolutely loved the Australian and British folk. They have some of the funniest sayings and terms–it just cracks me up. So we’re all talking and Lena says something like “yeah, that dude on the TV show was so blokey.” Uhm, what in the hell is a bloke? The British guy and Lena disagreed a bit on the precise definition–Roland, the British guy said a bloke was just a term for a guy. (Ex: I met a bloke from America the other day). Blokey–from what I could gather even after an explanation–is like a beer guzzling man’s man? But for some reason an American can’t be blokey. They tried to explain why not–but it absolutely made no sense to me. Then Roland told me about a group in England called the “Cockney” people. They have their own bit of slang–which apparently isn’t really used in everyday English anymore, but now is used amongst friends. Basically, they use “code words” to describe people or things. And these code words rhyme with the actual object. For example: “dog and bone” means phone. “Trouble and strife” means wife. LOL. To put it in a sentence–
“Hey, can I borrow your dog and bone to call my trouble and strife to tell her we’re about to grab some Brittany Spears.” Translation: Can I borrow your phone to tell my wife we’re about to grab some beers. I don’t know why I thought that was the funniest thing ever–but it really was to me. I absolutely love hearing random slang terms used in other countries. (Dodgy is still one of my favorites–got that one from an Aussie too…)

Of course the train was late getting into Beijing. Today was pretty laid back–I went to the Lama Temple–which was cool. There’s a 26 meter Buddha in there–it was absolutely huge. Apparently it’s made from one tree–and was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for that fact. Unfortunately though, the temples in China have been a let down. Maybe because I’m used to seeing the absolutely beautiful ones in Europe. In China, they all look exactly alike on the outside and pretty similar on the inside. (Building is red, roof is gold, inside is a lot of gold and wood statues…)

Other than that, I’m winding down. I’m going to go to visit Chairman Mao tomorrow–and I deliberately saved that for the end of the trip. They love that man around here–he’s absolutely everywhere…

I’m going to try and get another post or two in before I head back home. I know I’ll have some comments about Mao (and maybe the museum if I have time). Some of my comments might have to be reserved until after I leave China though. Don’t want to risk getting locked up before I’m supposed to come home, LOL.

My British train friends
My British train friends