Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shanghai parties hard with no signs of Rapture - May 21 2011

Found a good Cigarillo at M!NT club
Davidoff China no longer sells my favorite cigarillos :(  Will be on the lookout for other shops as the state-owned tobacconist doesn't sell imported cigars. Maybe I'll be able to find something during our travels through Scandinavia.

 One of my coworkers is from Harbin and another is from a neighboring town. Everybody is extremely curious about my experiences in Russia, especially about what type of homes people live in, whether people are happy... I seem to have steered the conversation towards corruption, political uneasiness, funny encounters with police - they absolutely loved hearing stories about run-ins with police during each of my visits to Russia. My coworkers say the most experience they have with police in China is when they find a [parking] ticket on their window.

The only other Caucasian on the metro -
drinking a large soda from McDonald's
Went to the market to design two suits. The tailor remembered me from over a year ago - actually I ran into her in October, but I wasn't ready to shop at the time, and she remembered me then too. A friend with a strong fashion sense had sent me links to 4 suits she liked, I narrowed down the design elements to two of each (narrow or heavy round cut on the suit jacket, single or double vent in back of jacket, notch or peak lapel, etc) and made one of each style: one in charcoal and one in navy with grey and light purple pinstripes. One will be very traditional and the other very contemporary - or in the broken English of my tailor, one is for young man, one for older man.

While I was in the market, I did some shopping - mostly gifts - but I did pick up a few nice work shirts. Almost everything requires lots of haggling. If you're short on time/patience/energy, you can't even get a pair of socks without a lot of work. Part of the negotiation of my final purchase involved buying cold drinks (milk) for the two shopkeepers.

The "Vanilla" gelato sign in yellow - can anyone translate??
Stopped for gelato in People's Square metro transfer station. There was one flavor that didn't have an English label. I asked the server what that flavor is, and he said it's Vanilla. I got a sample, and you can clearly discern berry, chunks of chocolate, and other goodies. All the goodies got lost in translation. Ordered a cup of the "Vanilla" - it was better than all the other traditional gelato flavors I sampled. Yum!

Doesn't look or taste anything like Vanilla
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by a tea place where I had customized a blend during my first trip 3 years ago. At least it's a very similar location and layout, if not the same exact store. They speak English now, so there's less mystery. When I asked about the Tea Cherry and Tea Strawberry, they very clearly explain that it's fruit soaked in a bit of tea (rather than the other way around). This is a marked improvement in clarity from 3 years ago. Then I tried to make a blend of tea and they looked at me very strangely. "If you want green and longing, for example, you'll have to fill them in separate bags." I wonder if I had completely misunderstood the first time and made something strange and unusual - or maybe I am in a very different store.

We partied like rock stars
Stopped back at the hotel for a 2-hour nap before heading out to the club. Met a crowd of my younger Shanghai coworkers at the M1NT club from 11pm-3:30am. Good thing I took that nap! The place is indeed so loud that you can't hear yourself think, which actually worked out pretty well. If you're wondering how bottle service works in China, with everyone being quite allergic to alcohol, I'll tell you. We started off with a bottle of champagne, then another. Then they brought out a bottle of grey goose and something that seemed to be a large virgin frozen daiquiri - and they mix them into small glasses for people. Then the same thing with cape codders. I tried mine and I'm pretty sure I didn't taste any alcohol, so I added my own vodka. Were most people drinking just cranberry juice?? Possibly: there were 12 of us and I don't know if we ever finished the bottle even after many rounds. After a LOT of dancing and juice drinking, we headed to a late-nite Cantonese restaurant. I don't know if this is the kind of food I crave in the middle of the night. Frog legs and chicken feet and duck livers... it takes a certain mood and temperament for me. But I tried a little of a lot of things, and went back for seconds of wonton soup and the veggies that the frogs and chickens and ducks were resting in.

Guy wearing ironic t-shirt on the Shanghai metro
 There seems to be a growing t-shirt culture in Shanghai. I guess I can't say it's growing because I've never been here in the summer before, but it seems recent to me. In addition to this guy on the metro, two of the guys I went to the club with were wearing t-shirts (one with "Life is fun" and the other said "This is me"). In my memory, the Chinese dress formally, so the most informal thing I packed is a golf shirt and the jeans I wore on the plane. But I'm finding they dress much more casually than that - especially this generation of 20-somethings. At this rate, I'll be getting a lot of mileage out of that one outfit.

Four time zones away, see how Olga is experiencing Spring in St Petersburg:


The other Olga said...

did you dance? :)))

Dave said...

yeah i danced like crazy trying to keep up with my coworker Johnson... but then when we were eating, they all said i needed a bit more practice before my next trip to China :) I did put all my heart and soul into it though!