There was donkey on the menu!
As with Rio de Janeiro, we arrived and so did the rain. This was not too bad though since it provided respite from the heat (upon leaving Paris it was 12C and the forecast for Shanghai was 28C). This made the drive from the airport uninspiring since I was unable to pictorially capture my first views of ChinaL
So let’s go back to the airport – the immigration and customs line wasn’t too long and the interview was a breeze with no redundant questions like “why are you here?” After this it was a mad dash to the baggage area, returning residents were definitely the clear winners (home court advantage), but we made it unscathed as we quickly learned agile cart movements so as not to get run over. Lucky for us, we were greeted by our professors and Eric (our tour guide of sorts), I was very happy to see a few familiar faces to take us to our nice pink bus and ultimately to the Mingde Hotel.
Yes our bus is pink. Here we are driving in the rain in a pink bus and as I peer through the fog and rain all I see are modern skyscrapers, endless crisscrossing highways and transmission towers. In my alternate reality, all of China looks like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and sad to say, this modern Shanghai did not fit the bill. I was hoping to see a visual juxtaposition of modern and ancienne (can you tell we were just in France?) but this was not to be, well not initially.
Aha, so let’s get back to the donkey on the menu. In our quest for real authentic Chinese food and all that it entails, we ignored the recommendations given to us and took a taxi (green, yellow or white but not red, never red) to this trendy little shopping district where at 9:00 PM on a Sunday night it felt like Times Square on a Thursday night in July! There was an Apple Store and next to it, a tiny merchandiser who offered us cards for faux products, and many other stores one of which was a traditional restaurant with donkey on the menu. Did I try it? No, I kept seeing “Donkey” from SHREK and so I ordered hot pot shrimp instead. But I must admit this was my first time going out in a group where none of us knew the local language despite the five languages spoken between the three of us. Communications is going to be a challenge here. How big? I don’t know, but what lovely stories it will provide.
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