A Travellerspoint blog

How many new things can fit in one day?

Getting my bearings, Museum, Garden, Chinese lunch, Squat Toilet, Lots of people, and A famous Street!

rain 75 °F

Apparently I am going to blog everyday while traveling (until the 29th) because there is too much to talk about. I thought I would wait until I was leaving Shanghai and condense today and the next two into one post, but today has just had too many adventures.

My first Hostel Experience: Post Night 1

My roommates were nice: One french, two Chinese, and one I didn't talk to because he came in late while I was sleeping. The beds were hard but not too bad and I woke up a couple times I think because the sheets are so loud they woke me up when I moved, but I felt refreshed in the morning. I woke up and showered (there is a tiny square single shower room on each floor, but it got the job done) and then grabbed breakfast at the hostel (ate Muesli and toast). I took a couple more pictures of the hostel, including the pond/bridge/garden area in the middle of the hostel and the hallway I like.
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And I'm off!

I really wanted to find a cell phone because it was making me nervous I hadn't gotten one. I found a store, it was really tiny and they spoke no English. I walked around kind of looking at the phones and contemplating whether or not I should dash and try to find an English speaking place. I probably should have, but my adventure streak was shining so I picked a cheaper one that still looked like it would work and told the woman (in Mandarin) that "I want this phone". It cost me about 450Y which is $70. More expensive than I expected but I wanted a phone, though I realize now I won't use it until I get to Beijing and probably could have found a better deal. You win some, you lose some. Oh and I have no idea whether or not I can currently make calls on it or how to get a minutes plan. My Mandarin wasn't sufficient to ask, I just kept saying "Can I make calls now?" and "Make calls one month" and "pay one month" because I didn't know how to ask anything more specific and the worker just kept saying yes and pointing to the 450Y price. I'll ask my program coordinators in Beijing I guess.
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People's Garden

Then I headed out for the Shanghai museum, but along the way I first found the People's Garden. I loved the Lotus Pond, complete with tons of pink Lotus flowers and some type of green pad, but my favorite part of the park was that there were a few guys randomly throughout just singing in Mandarin. I couldn't understand them but they really set the mood of the place and I heard several passerbys humming their song; the mood was infectious. I also saw a bunch of old people doing what I am assuming was Qi Gong or Tai Qi, but they didn't seem to appreciate my curiosity so I decided snapping a picture wasn't a good idea.
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Shanghai Museum

After that hiatus I headed back into the busy streets to the Shanghai Museum. It is located in the center of People's Square which is basically the hub of Shanghai (but not among the biggest skyscrapers which are in Pudong, mentioned later). I think museum pictures are generally boring so I tried to restrain myself and only took pictures of what I found most interesting. The Museum was pretty huge and the lobby pretty impressive.
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Pottery

This pot is from when ceramics were created: 8,000 years ago.
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Stamps & Seals

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Minorities section

I'm really fascinated by the minorities in China. The Eastern half (where I am and pretty much everywhere in China one can name) is overwhelmingly Han people, but there are over 50 other minorities that mostly occupy the Western half and are much more traditional. Each has a unique identity (from Muslim to Tibetan) and the Museum had a section dedicated to their costumes.
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There was a calligraphy section, too

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And finally, some statues I liked

There were a lot of Buddhism-related statues. The second is A statue of a heavenly guard, looks like he is squishing a baby.
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Onward!

I wanted to go to what's called "The Bund": It is a famous street in Shanghai along the river. Across the river is a great sight of the famous skyscrapers (the Oriental Pearl Tower is the one with the needle tip and spheres) and the Bund is full of restaurants, sights, and of course, people. But to get there I had to walk down Nanjing Street, which was insane.
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I stopped for lunch, my first legitimate Chinese-style meal

I wanted to go to this place for a massage, but it wasn't there anymore so I crossed the street to a fun looking restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was pretty typical on the street, but I was hungry and as I walked by this guy saw me hesitate so he ushered me in. In China, hesitating in front of something means you want it and the owner wants you to want it. I found out quickly that the workers spoke no English, so I said (in Mandarin) "I want vegetarian cuisine". The waiter was confused by my tones; I said the phrase three times and he finally understood then repeated it in what sounded like the exact same way I said it. After he understood, two more waitresses joined him so I said it again to which they replied something about a plate, so I said yes. Then they came and asked me if I want something, which I didn't understand. When I told them I don't understand she said in English "I want rice" to which I replied yes. I wasn't sure if I was buying her rice or me rice, but rice it was. I also didn't know if that meant I was just getting a bowl of rice for lunch. Turns out I got what I was kind of hoping for! I think it is Bok Choy; it was stir-fried in oil and garlic, maybe some lemon. It was pretty good. Only mistake I made was putting vinegar on my rice because I thought it was soy sauce. The meal and my water cost 24Y which is about $3.75.
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Being potty-trained: China style

I stopped in this huge mall (10 stories tall) full of expensive places like Dior, Rolex, and Cartier just to look around. The Chinese know how to make a mall. I decided to use the bathroom there since it was a nice place and was mildly surprised to find a Chinese-style squat toilet. The toilet in my hostel is a western style, so this was my first experience with a squat. After making sure several times I wasn't going to poop on my pants, I succeeded. I snapped an awkward picture of the toilet for your viewing pleasure. Someone was in the stall next to me so I turned the flash off but an orange light still flashed which made me feel super awkward.
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I continued down the crowded Nanjing road and finally found the Bund

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I decided to take a picture of myself with the Bund to prove that it is actually me here since none of my other pictures include me. I need friends.
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I visited again later, even cooler! Almost took the taxi, but I'm glad I didn't! Between being offered a sex massage and sex 4 times in less than two hours, seeing two groups of older women performing a dance routine to Chinese songs, visiting a couple food markets, and seeing all the lit up signs, it was pretty awesome.
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Dinner

First I got a foot massage! For a total of about $10 I had a 45 minute massage which included a back massage while my feet soaked in a ginger bath and then a foot massage with oil. I'll be going back I think.

I came across a woman, one of several I had seen throughout the day, with two baskets: one with cherries and the other with a fruit I didn't recognize. So I decided to go ahead and try it. It was pretty good, I still don't know what it is but it seemed pear-ish. The outside was really bitter and they probably thought it funny that i just bit into it, so I ended up ripping it in half and eating just the insides.
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I headed out in search of dinner and found this place with a "veggie bun". It was pretty good and only cost around $0.30! The outside was kind of like a semi-cooked bread and the inside a typical vegetable stuffing... spinach and mushroom I think.
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Walking back through Nanjing Road I found this indoor market-style shop where several vendors were selling a bunch of weird (in my opinion) things from roasted ducks to pre-packaged chicken's feet, mushrooms and dried fish just sitting out, and funny-looking sweets. I ended up with this thing that reminded me a lot of Willy Wonka; I got the one on the far right. I couldn't tell you what it tasted like but it was kind of sweet and bready, pretty good.
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I also liked seeing these groups of women group dancing to Chinese music.
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And these mini trains carrying people for a couple Yuan, this one was playing Jingle Bells haha.
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Today's thoughts

I feel much more comfortable here now; I know my way around the area some and had no problems finding things. It was a lot of fun walking down Nanjing street.

I also bought an umbrella from a man who didn't speak English (it cost me $6) and between that, lunch, dinner and my cell phone I am pretty excited to at least be able to function in Mandarin.

As I was walking back to the hostel from the Bund in the afternoon I made eye contact with a man and he walked up smiling and said in very good English "Welcome to Shanghai! Can I ask where you are from?" We proceeded to chat some and then he asked if I wanted to grab a cup of coffee. I had read plenty about people trying to scam you (most examples said a young girl bringing you somewhere for lunch and it being very high end and you footing the bill) and I was very aware that that is what he was probably trying to do, but I figured I would walk and see where he goes and that I would make sure to see the menu and control the situation. Well, we sat down and the prices ranged from 25Y ($3.93) to like 60Y for the stuff they had. $3.93 was the basic cup of coffee and is a bit overpriced by U.S. standards but really isn't a terrible amount of money, and I told him I couldn't pay for him, to which he replied something like "Oh come on, you choose the drink" so I decided the hell with it, I was there and it wasn't expensive, so I bought him and I the $3.93 cup. It turned out well worth the investment because, while I'm sure that that was a typical way he gets people to buy him stuff, he was fun to talk to, the coffee was interesting (semi-cold, black, and drank through a twirly straw), and he repeatedly told me I am very handsome like a hollywood star, my skin is milky, I have wonderful hair, and he cheersed me at least two times each to my parents health and my brothers' and my many years of good hair. haha.

Oh and on Nanjing street a guy walked up with a flyer (one of many) and it had a picture of a girl on it and he said in Mandarin "Pretty girl for you to date?" repeatedly as I brushed him aside, then in English he said "Fine, fuck the girl. Fuck the girl?" I don't know if he was angry and saying that in the suggestion that I didn't care about her or if he was actually offering her to me, but I continued to walk away regardless.

Then later in the day I was offered sex a few too many times. My favorite was: "You want massage?" me: "No thanks" him: "You want sex massage?"

Posted by TrevorCook 17:53 Archived in China Tagged shanghai chinese_food massage nanjing_street the_bun

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Comments

sounds good trev! glad to see you're experiencing a lot and learning so much :)and dropping deuces in squatters! love ya, have fun and be safe!

by Dandelz

Trevor ... you write so well and I feel like I am almost there with you! The pictures are fabulous, I laughed out loud at parts, and of course being your mother, cringed at others but I love it! Keep it up!

by Laura

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