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China in Summary

Well, a week later I’m finally adjusting to the normal timezone of every day life. Its a little ridiculous that its taken so long to get back into a normal schedule. However, today I’m finally finding enough energy to not only upload my photos from China, but also attempt to write this.

While reviewing my photos from the trip, I must admit that I’m a little disappointed. First, compared to the 900+ photos that I got in Singapore, my little 40 photo collection is embarrassing. Plus, there really aren’t to many photos worth sharing. As usual, all photos will be uploaded via Flickr for your viewing enjoyment, but below are those I considered “share worthy.”

Welcome sign at JK - such a fun surprise

"Smashed weed tea" - not the best photo, but memorable anyway 🙂

This is me walking around downtown Shanghai. Apparently its a "famous" shopping area but for the life of me I can't remember what it was called

View of the amazing buildings just over the river (but oh, we took the Bund tourist tunnel ride to the other side, don't worry)

This is that very impressive insurance building that I got yelled at by a man carrying a machine gun for photographing... neat building but not risk-my-life impressive

The sky was so full of smog even the sun was having a hard time coming through

That was about it for Shanghai. Unfortunately too I wasn’t in Hong Kong long enough to get ANY photos. Which is a huge bummer, because out of all the places I got to see, I really think I would have enjoyed Hong Kong.

Next stop was Taipei. After the very dramatic experience getting there, I did have one free day after a series of (very successful) meetings and did the tourist thing. The morning started with a nice walk – I figured if I walked far enough I might see something cool. Wrong. I walked in one direction for over an hour and all I found was some cool tree in a park. So I turned around. However, it was the election in Taiwan on that very day, so it was interesting to see all of the political parades, fireworks, music playing in the streets (coming from trucks just driving around for the sole purpose, I can only assume, of playing loud music for all to enjoy).

Next up was the Museum – not sure what was expected but it ended up being a massive sea of tourist groups listening to headsets and making me trip over my own feet throughout three massive floors. I will admit that seeing some of the art was interesting, but I would never recommend it as a “must-see” for anyone visiting Taipei.

National Palace Museum - Taipei

Next up was the Taipei 101 – the only building in the world to maintain the title as the worlds tallest building for five consecutive years. It sounded interesting, but the sky was so foggy it was pretty much a wasted trip unfortunately. After the obscenely long lines and paying way too much for an observatory ticket, there was really nothing to see due to the smog and bad weather. Plus they have some sort of jewelry made out of coral that they were proud of enough to take up three full floors just to put it all on display. I managed to get lost (again) trying to find my way out, got a little mad and sat down for a while to watch all the middle aged people awe over the would-be view from the 89th floor (yes, although it is in fact 101 floors, you can’t actually go to the top). Here is a photo from ground level:

This was the best shot I got from the top - but its still hard to see much.

However, despite the disappointing stops, all was not lost – the evening ended with the best meal I had during the entire trip… at a Japanese restaurant. Yes, I admit, although I thoroughly enjoy my Chinese takeout meals here at home, REAL Chinese food isn’t really that exciting or appealing to me, with the exception of one meal that I had in Taipei – but I don’t even know if that could be considered real Chinese food either. Regardless, the Japanese restaurant was amazing – I had the best tuna sashimi of my life, kimchi – which is one of my favorite things in the world (although that’s Korean, not Japanese…), some sort of beef dish that was delicious, and a number of other things that really was the perfect ending to a somewhat decent day 🙂

I have to say, I’m a little disappointed in my first trip to China. Although, I think this might be due to having a lack of “local inspiration” to guide me through & show me the best food, the best things to see, and the real non-touristy experiences that I always crave. It is inevitable that I will be traveling to China again, and have prepared myself in advance by requesting guides with those I meet with for one full day, so I hope that my next visit goes more smoothly.

 

 

Willy Wonka Was Born in Shanghai

Or at least the crazy idea for that creepy tunnel in the original Willy Wonka movie was 🙂 Yesterday I had a bit of time to be a tourist & took full advantage by doing the most tacky thing I’ve ever paid for: the Bund Tourist Sightseeing Tunnel. I imagine this is what it would be like if Willy Wonka took acid.

For a mild taste of this experience and your viewing pleasure:


(apparently Apple doesn’t allow embedding either – I apologize, but I encourage you to click on this link – the surprise inflatable people & super cool star wars sounds are well worth 3 minutes of your time).

However I also got to walk around downtown Shanghai, in the freezing cold wind, and see some really amazing architecture. I’ll share photos in a few days since I can’t connect my camera to the iPad. I even got yelled at by some creepy looking guards for taking a picture of an insurance building (it looked cool). It’s ok to pee on said insurance building but don’t dare take a photo of it.

We had lunch in a distant restaurant, ordering only by pointing at pictures on the menu since no one spoke English & the menu was in Chinese with very odd, incorrect translations. For example, the following dish was called “Jew’s Ear” – which I highly doubt was an accurate translation:

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This was either some really messed up fungus or something else I don’t want to know, but it was actually really good despite the slimy texture. I’m trying very hard to open my mind to new culinary experiences, but it’s all baby steps for me 🙂

The day ended with an extremely awkward massage in some back ally parlor full of people who didn’t speak a word of English. I was too freaked out about the thought of a possible awkward moment where I must explain I really didn’t actually want to hire a prostitute and wondering if a communist country has a sex trafficking problem to even mildly enjoy the massage. Thanks, Robert, for that memorable moment.

On the plus side, I slept wonderfully last night and I think I’m starting to adjust nicely to the time change.

More to come soon!

Day 2- A long but memorable day

I realized today that I have no way to transfer photos from my camera to the iPad, so that will all have to be shared at a later date.

Today was a very busy day – my first meeting was at 9:30am and I didn’t get home (“home”) until 11:30pm! Not all was business though, there was a whole lot of food & getting lost involved during that time frame.

My day began while sharing breakfast with a grumpy German man who refused to accept that someone my age could be in a position to travel to China on business. Good morning to you too, sir. But the day took a great turn after my horrible (and I mean HORRIBLE) instant coffee was replaced with a delicious latte. The driver picked me up at 9:30 and drove 1 1/2 hours to my first meeting that lasted through both lunch and dinner. It would be a lie if I said the day was dull though – we ate at a fantastic local organic restaurant that grew/raised everything they prepared. I tried black rice juice for the first time as well as a fermented drink made of the leftover fruits & vegetables from their farm (which was oddly delicious). It was really wonderful to finally have the opportunity to meet those I talk with so frequently each day.

Later I had another meeting, and although I was so full we ate yet again. I tried some dish made with the connective tissue between the leg joints on a pig. Gross. But at least I tried I guess. I chickened out on the duck tongues. They actually looked like tongues & my stomach just couldn’t handle that lol.

A 2 hour cab ride later I finally made it back to the hotel. Unfortunately I’m not tired enough to fall asleep even though it’s the middle of the night. Tomorrow will be a little more relaxed – only 1 afternoon meeting on the agenda so hopefully I’ll have a chance to get out & see some of the city.

More to come 🙂

Shanghai – The Arrival

I like to think that I’m open to new experiences and cultures – that I’m “immune” to culture shock. Let me tell you that’s clearly a delusion. I arrived in Shanghai yesterday evening after a 14hr plane ride (much shorter than I expected!!) and immediately noticed the crazy amount of people coming from every direction. It’s really something to witness, but being caught in a swarm of people rushing to get somewhere was a little nerve wracking. Somehow we made our way to the train – I’m not quite sure how, and was then thrown immediately into yet another new experience – the Chinese subways. I saw a YouTube video a while back where people were cramming into every square inch of the subway. It made me laugh at the time but experiencing that is a trip. I was terrified I’d miss the correct stop simply due to the fact that I couldn’t get past the 2000 people standing on top of me!

But, for better or worse, I made it to the hotel in one piece. I have a headache that could knock me over and it smells like fish in the hotel but I’m still looking forward to what today holds. I just “enjoyed” the worst cup of coffee in my life – heading out for a new adventure now. Hope to have some pics to share by this time tomorrow!