Monday, March 12, 2007

I think I am officially ready to leave China.

Shanghai is a good city... It goes on for miles and miles and on a (rare) clear day you can see all the way to the ocean and it is city the entire way. The buildings here are awesome, they seem to each want to outdo each other for modern look and we had fun naming the buildings in the skyline (batman building is my favorite). The hotel is the Radisson Shanghai and it is in the center of the city on what is their times square. It has a very distinctive flying saucer top that is easy to navigate by because I ended up lost in a shopping plaza and popped out on a random street blocks away from where I thought I was and I could still find my way back. When I get back I’ll post the pictures I took, hopefully they came out ok.

The weekend was fun, the engineer I have been traveling with and I went all over the city and we bargained and bought all sorts of stuff on Saturday and we went to a huge Hindu temple where we took a ton of pictures and hopefully did offend too many people in there praying (bowing a lot mostly, I’m assuming they were praying). With the shopping we couldn’t go too crazy because we have to fit it all back in the bags we brought but Engineer was looking at a cool tea set that he sorta wanted and I started the negotiation process by offering a quarter of what the first price was and then we waked away because he really didn’t care much about it, anyway, the guy ran after us and sold the set for 60rmb, about $7, and he could not pass up that deal. Luckily he brought a decent size extra bag, a bigger one then I did, so I’m taking his bag and all the bulky stuff directly home since he has 3 more days in Japan and didn’t want to do two sets of customs and baggage claim etc. This works out well for me and him because with the extra bag everything I got too fits and I can check it easily. Engineer used to work for Ford so Sunday we took a trip out to the Ford dealer here just to say we did and we were a spectacle in the showroom because we were the only ones looking at the Navigator, the 4 door car is considered too big here and nobody was interested at all in the SUV but he helped design that vehicle so we were checking it out. Next we went to the Ritz with a supplier from the first stop, his wife and kids (they are the ones that live in the hotel) and an employee of our Company that moved over here with his family. It was a huge group and there were 4 kids under 3 and it felt like a family thanksgiving or something with everyone chasing a kid. The Ritz Shanghai is the same as the Ritz anywhere, fancy and over the top and the food was great. After that Engineer and I went to the ChoGarden market for more shopping and site seeing and we had tickets to a Chinese acrobat show at 7:30. The show was a show, I’ve seen similar troupes in the US but we had great sets, third row center, we could see everything. It was such a ballet like performance and I had such a busy day I nodded off in the middle but I don’t think I missed much. Engineer also fell asleep for some but all in all we both were glad we trooped across town for the 3rd time in one day.

Today we went to the last visit in China and Engineer ran to get his plane and now I’m here solo for the evening. I don’t have any fantastic plans, I should really look at my homework but basically I’m just worn out from the last 10 days. Thinking back I feel like we really didn’t do too much, a lot of time is spent getting to and from places but I think it was worth it. I made good business contacts and I think I understand the product better now due to copious amounts of time confined to a car with Engineer. I walked down town to get some McDonalds because I was hungry and I’ve had McDonalds in every country I have visited (that had them) so I couldn’t leave without sampling their Big Mac. I had to will myself to actually leave the hotel and face the throngs of people again, a sign I’m just tired because I really don’t mind crowds, but here people don’t really have personal space boundaries. I am glad I have NYC training for walking quickly in a crowd, ignoring people selling me stuff, and dodging cars. The energy level really reminds me of NY but it is just way more spread out and varied from the glass and steel order of rows and rows of downtown Manhattan. I am pretty tired of playing charades for just about everything, I shouldn’t complain because I only know about 10 words of Chinese but trying to communicate is really difficult. McDonalds was a lot of pointing and gesturing at the menu and all the shopping we did contained overly dramatic facial expressions to show that I thought they were selling something too expensive or a pantomime of what I was looking for like a necklace. I had fun doing it some but I’m glad I don’t have to do it all the time. I am also sick of the smog, there is so much air pollution some days you can’t see across the street, the air is thick and in Chongqing is was even worse, there just are no controls on the junk pumping into the air from cars and factories. People also smoke here all the time and everywhere and there is no such thing as a nonsmoking section... Right now I am just not motivated to do much more and I can’t wait to get home to my own house and husband, clean air, normal food and I even miss work a little. I have one last bit of shopping to do, Boss left without getting his kids presents so I have to go find something and I wanted to get Timmy some candy. Tomorrow is an early morning and a long day of travel, I have a 10am flight but I need to navigate a taxi and the maglev (fastest train in the world) so I’m planning on leaving around 7:30. I have an hour in Tokyo and get on the next plane back to MSP at 3:45... I will be back in the US about noon so I arrive earlier then I left.

I promise pictures soon – the movie from yesterday was requested by my mom who does Ti-chi and wanted a movie of people doing some in the park (I didn’t add the music, they had that playing)

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