Heeeeyyy. Long time no talk! Ha. ha. How bout them Padres? Oh, they choked in the end, you say? Hmm. Well, football season’s started, and I know the Chargers and Bears are probably rolling at this point! . . . you don’t say? Haha, no seriously, who beat them? And when you say the “Rams,” do you mean a team of actual rams playing football, cause there’s no way they’d lose to the St. Louis Rams. Ahh. That bad, eh?
Well this is awkward! Look, I’m sorry I haven’t called in a while, it’s just I’ve been busy with all that . . . stuff. Like, watching TV online. And going out to bars. Oh, and all the teaching of course. That too. Moving on then . . .
Seriously though, it has been a long time, and I know you’ve all been dying to hear about my latest exploits. And, to be honest, they actually are pretty crazy. For that reason, I’ve decided that what started out as simply a reaaaally long post is now going to become three separate posts, spread out over the next few days. In these posts, will be included; the trip to Shanghai, the trip to Xi’an on National Day (basically their Fourth of July, but they celebrate all friggen week, cause that’s just how they roll over here), and the last few weeks which include being shown where to find the good prostitutes! So let’s delve right into part one, in which Matt and I took advantage of a 3 day weekend to visit Shanghai.
By high-speed train, Shanghai is a mere 45 min to an hour away, and tickets cost $8 on average. And by high-speed, I mean high-speed. The train told us at one point it was going 324 km/hour, which = 201 mph, which is melt-your-face fast. Plus, the train seats were amazingly comfortable, so before we knew it we found ourselves in Shanghai!
After a few moments of confusion, we managed to find my friend Adam’s dorm. (Thanks again buddy for letting us crash there for a couple nights!) Knowing we had a big day of touring Shanghai in the morning, and that Adam and his friends had class the next day, we proceeded to settle in and go to sleep.
Come on, you know me better than that.
The first thing we did was grab a couple beers, obviously. Then, we went to the closest street market and bought some food which I’m confident would never pass FDA regulations. But, it tastes amazing, so who cares! We followed this up with stocking up on some more beer before heading out to a club that every one of Adam’s friends swore by, but to which he (and the rest of the people who came with us) had never been to before. One taxi ride later, and we found ourselves outside the entrance and ready to roll.
Sidenote: Cabs in China are way better, because you’re allowed to have open containers of alcohol and can actively drink.
Finally, we were in the club. I can say right now, without a doubt, that this was the most amazing incredible club ever. Oh wait, I mean it was terrible. Well, terrible unless you’re German/Eastern European. You know in movies/TV shows you see those German clubs were the lights are really low, drinks really expensive, and they play really loud, yet really slow electro music that is, as far as I can tell, just one track played on repeat all night? Well imagine one of those clubs, then increase it’s Stereotypical-ness by about 100 fold and you might have an idea of what this place was like. My favorite part was all the middle-age European guys (and a couple creepy looking girls) moving their bodies just a little bit left and right now and then, arms locked at a solid 60 degree angle holding beers, who would randomly cheer during the music saying “THIS SONG GREATEST!”
After very little convincing, our party decided to conduct a full retreat, and we headed back to Adam’s room, after another beer stop of course. Then after a few drinks, we realized it was getting late and that we all needed to do things tomorrow, and so went to bed.
Haha, good one.
Instead, we bought the largest paper cups we could find (which were the size of those little cups you get mouthwash in at the dentist) and played an epic (read: unbearably long cause the table was too short and the cups impossibly small) game of beer pong, which of course Matt and myself won. We followed this up with a rousing game of Kings, after which we determined that we had each (6 of us) consumed four 24 oz bottles of beer. Hooray for beer that costs less than a dollar!
Finally around 5 or so we all managed to pick ourselves up and quickly pass out. The next morning we awoke around noon ready to take on the day! (Keep in mind at this point we still have the entire weekend ahead of us). By 2 we were on the subway into the city, and taking the advice of Adam, began our day in People’s Square, followed by a trip to the Shanghai museum, a walk down Nanjing Road, and ending at the Bund:
From the Bund, we actually planned on continuing our trip to a park/temple in the city which is apparently beautiful. But, then we got sidetracked.
Before I continue, let me explain an aspect of China that travelers who have been around the world will be familiar with. If you’ve never really traveled, but plan on doing so in the future (especially to China) then heed the advice of this paragraph. Obviously in China, as in other parts of the world, there’s always people trying to sell their goods. One of the biggest problems in China however, is the so-called “Tea ceremony.” Basically what happens is an unsuspecting tourist(s) will meet a person offering them the chance to experience an “authentic” Chinese tea ceremony, invite them into the tea house, and proceed to . . . well, give them tea actually. The problem isn’t that you don’t get what you’re expecting, it’s that you end up drinking a small cup of lightly flavored hot water for about the equivalent of $500. And once you’ve had you’re “tea ceremony,” the tea house will often bring out the muscle to make sure you pay up (cause, technically, you did partake in their goods). Basically, the key thing to remember is just to stay-on your toes when you travel, only trust reputable companies etc. when doing tourist stuff and generally don’t be stupid.
Ok, now I bet you can guess what happened next in Shanghai. I’d like to first say that the girls who tricked us used a really clever ruse. They were four cute girls.
Matt and I were taking some good pictures of the bund . . .
. . . when one of these girls, who was taking pictures as well, asked me if I could take a picture of them. I did (since I’m a nice guy), then asked them if they could take a picture of Matt and myself, to which they obliged. We then chatted/flirted a little, like you do, and Matt and I decided to continue our walk. To this, the girls said “Oh hey, we’re just walking around too, want to join us? We could tour together!” Now, who’d say no to that? Certainly not two early-mid 20 year old single guys, that’s for damn sure.
So after about 20 mins walking in the rain (we got soaked by the way), I noticed through all the flirting that the girls were leading us in an oddly specific way for “just touring.” Despite the fact that one of them was excellent at English and my Chinese has improved since I’ve been here, whenever I broached this topic they never understood what the hell I was going on about. “Oh sorry, my english not so good, I don’t understand! But to return to the previous conversation, I agree, the rapid industrialization of Modern China has really created a cultural clash that I think most Chinese are ignorant of, despite being surround by Shanghai, a city with perfectly symbolizes this juxtaposition.” Needless to say, I grew suspicious. But still, my naive young heart held out hope all the way to the moment we walked into the sketchy tea shop. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the laughter of all you readers, we both realized our peril and used our innate abilities of looking confused and pointing at our watches while slowly backing out the door (all men can do this) to escape the trap. Another couple hours later (after grabbing some much needed food) we were back at Adam’s. This time, we managed to hold the drinking to only a couple bottles each, knowing that we had to get up early to head to the World Expo!
The next morning, we woke up early, bid Adam a fond farewell, and headed out, ready for a solid day touring the rest of the World. By 9:30 am we found ourselves inside the park (and this place is surprisingly large. Like larger than disneyland! But with better animatronics).
Now, before I render my judgement, I will take you on another picture journey through the World (Expo).
That probably looks pretty good because, lets be honest, my photo-taking skillz are phenomenal. But honestly, the place was underwhelming. We were there on a work day, normal week, when it was supposed to rain, and the lines were still around 2 hours long for the mediocre places. The ones everyone wanted to go to were upwards of 5 hours. And unlike disneyland, or a rollercoaster park, where you wait two hours for a (hopefully) massive adrenaline rush, once inside a building it was mostly just a tiny museum explaining the basic facts of the country of which I could’ve read on Wikipedia. The U.K. for example (the “giant, hairy testicle”) had a four hour line. Luckily, Matt’s a British citizen, so he just showed them his passport and he got right through. And luckily, I’m white so they let me in too! (No, seriously, that’s exactly how it worked). But, what those people were waiting four hours to see was a grey, hilly, cardboard area and a small walking part discussing the botanical history of England. I wish I was joking about that, but I’m not. Matt almost cried with joy.
To top it all off, I got to the USA one, and the douche’s wouldn’t let me in! I was like “hey, I’m a U.S. citizen, here’s my passport.” But the guy (an American, btw) said “oh, ya, we don’t do that. You’ll have to wait in line.” Well, and you might want to excuse from the room any children reading this for the next part, but FUCK YOU! I’m a U.S. citizen and you won’t let me see my own country?! 22 years of letting my parents pay taxes for me earns me NO benefits? Not even like a, “but hey, here’s a free lapel pin!” NOTHING?! Is it sad that I’ve honestly considered writing President Obama about this monstrous desecration of American liberties? Hell, the Brits let me in cause I look like one! Fuck it, I’m moving to England.
Annnyways, over all the park was alright, and worth seeing, but not as awesome as I’d hoped or heard about. Basically, a solid “meh.” I’d imagine if you timed it better, got up earlier, and were willing to spend a few days there, it’d probably be better.
Around 5:30 Matt and I decided we’d had enough of the World, and found our way back to the train station, and finally back home to Wuxi.
The following week was fairly uneventful, though a short one, since we got the weekend off again in celebration of National Day (all told we had four days off). The two of us packed up our stuff, and on Friday evening boarded a train destined for Xi’an. But will our two heroes make it there in time?! Will National Day really be as epic as a four day weekend in a foreign country should be?! WILL BATMAN FIND A WAY TO GET RID OF THE BOMB, EVEN THOUGH SOME DAYS YOU JUST CAN’T GET RID OF ONE?! Find out on Part two of this three part tale!
And now, here’s your moment of zen:
Next time, on “Autumn Occurances (Part 2 of 3: From Xi’an with Love)”:
(all actual quotes)
[Police officer:”You know, it’s illegal for you to do that here.”
Matt: “Well isn’t there anything I can do?!”
P.O.: “For your own safety, your only option is to just return home.” ]
[Me: “So what you’re telling me is you met a Chinese girl on the plane, and now she wants us to join her ‘family’ on a ‘tour’ of Xi’an? And you don’t find that sketchy at all?”
Ben: “Nope, should be fun. And cheap!”
Me: “Alright, sounds good!”]
[Tim: “Hey, sorry to bother you guys, but would you mind if I threw-up into this trash can here?”
Ben (with Matt nodding in agreement): “No troubles mate! Go right ahead.”]
See you next time, viewers!