Classes are done! At least for the next two weeks. The summer session has ended, and I have two weeks before the fall semester starts. And apparently we register a few days before classes start and everything sounds like a bit of a headache. What else? Oh, I might have a job for a few hours a week. We’ll see, it seems rather fluid and uncertain at the moment.
Saw some giant order Ionic pilasters on a building yesterday. Made me realize that one of these days I have to go to Rome. It’s hilarious to me when I see classical columns in Shanghai. It’s just so wrong.
Other random things I have noticed: Grapes here are annoying. There are no seedless grapes, so they all have seeds. And moreover, they all have to be peeled. Well, you could eat the peel, but it’s tougher than in the US and even if you wash them really well, they’re still not really really clean (especially since the water here isn’t that great). The elevators skip a heck of a lot of floors. The number 4 is considered unlucky because when pronounced in Chinese it sounds a lot like the word for death. Therefore, elevators (at least the ones in my building) skip every floor ending in 4 and the number 13, like in Western countries. It confuses me every time when I see it skip from 12 to 15. Weird, eh?
This week went by ridiculously fast. People are dropping like flies in my class … well, they’re all going home. There’s only one week left of the summer session, but my class (which started out at 17 people) is down to six. So things have been pretty quiet because it’s not as much fun going out to eat lunch when there’s only two or three people. Before we’d have huge groups of seven or eight and then it’s easier to order family style. Next week will probably be even more boring than this week was, but at least it’s been going fast, eh?
After class I usually will do a bit of shopping, or more of window shopping. I really shouldn’t be spending so much money … tsk tsk to me. Friday afternoon I went with a few classmates to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum. We never went to the museum, we just stayed in the subway station. That sounds really odd, but the subway station is actually one giant fake market. I ended up buying one “Jimmy Choo” bag. Not because of the “brand” but because I needed a new bag. I paid 150 RMB for it but I probably could’ve gone lower if I had tried and if I wasn’t so fed up with everything by that point. Oh, and I’m fairly small. And for some reason people think that makes it okay for them to grab my arm and drag me into their shops. And unfortunately my flip-flops didn’t provide enough traction, so I got pulled into places fairly frequently. That was really annoying. They would grab me rather strongly, block my exit, follow and chase me down the hall – not fun. I don’t think I’ll go back there for a very long time. It’s an experience, but it took forever, I got yanked around, bargaining was a pain, … yeah. I was ridiculously tired at the end of it.
The sculpture below is from a shopping street near Nanjing Road, which has more of the classy shops, where there’s no bargaining. The area caters towards Western tastes as nearby there was a Krispy Kreme and Papa John’s. Oh, and apparently a Carl’s Jr is in the works nearby. Further along the road there was a Nike store and some Gucci kind of places. Way out of my price range, but a nice place to walk.
Today is Saturday, yet again. I don’t have any new pictures because I’ve been rather lazy. It’s still hot as heck around here, but I’m getting used to it. Okay, so here’s one thing that’s oh so Chinese: They lie about the temperature. Apparently if it’s over 40C outside, people have to get paid more and people who work outside get the day off or some perks like that. So instead, the “official” temperature never goes beyond 40C … the record temperature is always 39.6C. That’s a load of crock, eh? These past few days have been listed at 37-39C, but supposedly the temperature’s actually been over 40C because I guess it would get too obvious if the temperature for the entire month was listed as 39.6C.
Anyway, today I’m staying in the whole day where it’s nice and air-conditioned. Just doing some laundry, tidying up my room, scanning my laptop for viruses, et cetera. Nothing too exciting. Last night went to a wine bar called Cuvée, a nice classy place owned by an expat (I think British). There’s another place I’d been going to called Malone’s, more of an American bar/restaurant. It’s all fun.
Getting to see more of the city, just by going out with friends and shopping. Rather easy to explore Shanghai because the metro system is quite convenient and oh so clean in comparison to New York. Though my one complaint still remains – way too many people. Little by little I’ll be able to explore this city fully. There are so many buildings around here I need to see (and document via pictures) like the Pearl Tower and bottle opener building (thanks KPF) … because they’re just too funny. Architecture in Shanghai is a bit of a mess. Some of it a nice mess, but still a mess.
On Saturday, I went with some classmates and some locals (a classmate’s friend and his friends) to the city of Taicang. Taicang is located about an hour away from Shanghai, but it was so quiet in comparison to Shanghai, with blue skies and lots of space. Spent about the entire day in the town. We went to the park and museum, which were largely centered around Zheng He, a famous Chinese explorer and diplomat. Then there was a place called Shaxi Town, which is part of the old town that had been preserved.
One of the locals said that most of the buildings around Taicang (which looked like any normal city) were probably five years old, ten at the most. Crazy to think about how much a town can change in such a short period of time. We walked around the city center a bit and we probably could have been anywhere. They had a KFC … ugh, that chain is everywhere.
Anyway, had a great time. They treated us to lunch and dinner, both of which were AMAZING. Lots of seafood (for lunch we had three different kinds of shrimp) since Taicang is located on the Yangtze River and is a natural port. Oh and we also ate roasted pigeon … yum. It was like roasted duck, but smaller. In Chinese it’s pronounced ge1 zi. We had a ball of a time saying it. Much fun. Not exactly a tourist city, but nice for a low-key getaway from Shanghai.