I’m not sure if the slight burning in my throat is from the layer of smog coating the city, or the hot sweet pork soup from the lunch dumplings.
Early in the morning, I would have my language-barrier-battle. I needed a shirt and suit pressed for a charity event, and braved into a small dry cleaner attached to our hotel. Through a series of grand hand gestures and pointing at clocks and calendars, the sweet lady behind the desk and I were able to agree that I’d just have to iron it myself to have it in time for the event to night.
Note to self, need to learn the phrase, “Sorry. I’m American.” There’s something frustrating about the language barrier. It’s not that I expect them to understand anything I say, this is their home. Rather I feel rude not knowing and respecting their language. I’ve picked up a few phrases, but hesitate to say them, again out of respect and hope that I’m not butchering their language with the hint of a Midwest accent.
Walked down Nanjing Road, the Shanghai equivalent (and then some) of the Third Street Promenade and out to the historic Bund area overlooking the Huangpu river and the familiar cityscape of Shanghai’s business district. A haze lingers in front of the buildings in the distance, today a subtle reminder of the pollution in China cities.
While most of the noise down Nanjing Road is tourists shuffling about, or pushing salesmen offering you knock-off this or that, there was a pack of orange coat clad school children from Korea. Stray Americans to practice their [actually rather impressive] English skills on. When they asked for a group photo, I quickly passed off my camera to the group leader.
Traffic and drivers here (avoiding the stereotype) make the freeways of Los Angeles look tame. For the most part, the only rule of the road observed are the reds and greens of traffic lights. And even then, those rules are apparently wide open for interpretations. Taxis take on swarms of scooter jockeys. Moped drivers hover in the blindspots of tourist buses. Volunteers stand on street corners blowing their whistles and yelling at the brave, or stupid, pedestrians charging the crosswalks. As our host (Dr. Larry) pointed out, over the last few years, Shanghai natives have purchased approximately 10,000 cars a month, and that also means new drivers who may not exactly have anything resembling a license.
Lunch was devoured at the now legendary Din Tai Fung, where dumpling skins melt on your tongue and soy sauce covered snacks fight for their lives to stay off your chopsticks.
That evening, we were the guests at an American Chamber of Commerce charity event. Shook hands with the CEOs running the Chinese branches of companies like GM, DOW and Kraft. Sadly, there were no lost wallets on the dance floor. Reportedly, GM’s business in Shanghai and China is up 70%. The economy is booming here.
China Trip Archives:
China: Day One (Sort Of)
China: Day Two
China: Day Three
China: Day Four
China: Day Five (Haibaonanza)
China: Day Six (Str八 Beijingin’)
China: Day Seven (Maozies)
China: Day Eight (Lows & Highs)
China: Days Nine & Ten (No Ruby Slippers)
China: Loose Ends